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Hot Butterbeer Arrives at Universal Orlando
Posted by Megs

Today, Universal Orlando Resort began serving hot Butterbeer to guests at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They celebrated with guests by surprising some of the first visitors to Leaky Cauldron and Three Broomsticks with complimentary cups of the new beverage.

Guests have tried it cold, frozen – and even as an ice-cream flavor. Beginning today, November 21, 2014, Universal Orlando Resort will now offer hot Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. To celebrate this new addition, some of the first guests at Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley and Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade were surprised with complimentary cups of the new drink.

Hot Butterbeer is a smooth, hot beverage reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch served year-round with a whipped topping. In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, it will be served at Leaky Cauldron, The Hopping Pot, and The Fountain of Fair Fortune. In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, it will be available at Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head Pub.

Since the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in June 2010, millions of Butterbeers have been sold each year at Universal Orlando. It has quickly become a guest favorite and appears as a popular drink in the Harry Potter books and films.

Filed Under: Harry Potter Theme Park
J.K. Rowling’s Lumos Starts Campaign to Help Children with Disabilities Go to School
Posted by Megs

Today, J.K. Rowling’s charity, Lumos, started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money to help children with disabilities get an education. They are raising funds for a Special Education Unit in Moldova that will enable local children with severe disabilities to attend their local school for the first time in their lives. The Unit will be adapted for the special needs of the children to ensure that they receive a good quality education, supporting them to achieve their full potential.

Every child has the right to an education and every child should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. We believe that disability should never prevent a child from accessing the education they deserve or separate them from their family and community.


Since 2006, we have been working in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. We have been part of establishing an inclusive education system, this has meant that hundreds of children have been able to return home from institutions. But special care and attention is needed for the children with the most severe disabilities, to ensure that they receive an education – a good education!


The Special Education Unit has been specifically designed to support children with complex disabilities, and will include a variety of facilities and support services. The Unit will provide psychological and social counselling, for children and their families. There will also be special rooms for Hydrotherapy, sensory, art and music therapy and speech therapy. A specialist gym will be provided for vital sports and movement therapy. In addition, there will be areas that cater for the special health care needs of the children.

In addition to constructing and furnishing the unit, Lumos will train teachers and specialist support staff to ensure that the children receive high quality education and all the care and support that they need. We’ll also purchase necessary special equipment such as adapted minibuses, wheelchairs, adapted desks and chairs, sports equipment, toys and much more.

For full information on the campaign, visit IndieGoGo. Every penny or cent they receive goes directly to their projects and is not used to pay for overhead costs such as administration or fundraising, thanks to J.K. Rowling’s support.


Filed Under: JK Rowling
Video: Jim Broadbent in ‘Get Santa’ Clip & Trailer
Posted by Megs

A clip from the upcoming British film Get Santa featuring Jim Broadbent has been released.  The film, which will be released on December 5th in the UK, also stars Potter alum Warwick Davis (and Timothy Spall’s son, Rafe.) The film is about a father and son who team up to save Christmas once they discover Santa Claus sleeping in their garage after crashing his sleigh and finding himself on the run from the police.

It’s days before Christmas and reindeer are found running loose through the streets of London. Meanwhile an astonished 9 year-old Tom (newcomer Kit Connor) discovers Santa (Jim Broadbent) in the garden shed.

He has crash landed while test driving his new sleigh and enlists Tom and his father Steve (Rafe Spall) to help him get back to Lapland. But what happens when Santa is arrested and thrown into prison? Will Steve and Tom be able to break him out in time for Christmas?.

Get Santa is a heart-warming and funny family adventure about a father and son reconnecting to discover the magic of Christmas.

Additionally, a trailer for the film can be watched below:

Filed Under: Jim Broadbent, Warwick Davis
Kenneth Branagh Talks Cinderella with Oh My Disney
Posted by Megs

In a brand new interview with Oh My Disney, Kenneth Branagh discusses his latest project, Cinderella. The trailer was just released and may be watched below.

Oh My Disney: What do you what the audience to take away from the new trailer?
Kenneth Branagh: I wanted to let the audience feel that [with the movie] they were going to enter a very sumptuous, lavish world. It’s a new kind of fairy tale where the emotional development feels very real. In the trailer I wanted to show people that there would be a great, big, immersive world to go into and that it would be fun to spend some time there. It’s playful and complex; full of energy.

Oh My Disney: What drew you to this project?
Kenneth Branagh: I love contrast in my work and I love surprise and challenge. I had previously worked on Thor and then Jack Ryan. And then along comes a fairy tale, and trying to work out what made a classic like Cinderella resonate so deeply across hundreds and hundreds and of years, and across the movie landscape for decades and decades, was a revelation. I wanted to figure out how you make Cinderella in the 21st century.

Oh My Disney: Why do you think has Cinderella remained so popular?
Kenneth Branagh: Life can be pretty rough sometimes for everybody and it’s wonderful to be able to go to the ball, or have a moment where all of your troubles are put to the side, and you get to dress up, and dance, and maybe have a wonderful romance. Our alliance with the underdog tells us if you hang on, if you believe in courage and kindness, life really will work out for you.

Oh My Disney: One of the themes of the new film is courage. How did that inform Cinderella as a character?
Kenneth Branagh: I think that she learns to turn the other cheek with strength. She has no sense of self-pity, no sense of being a victim. She makes her own choices, She doesn’t indulge in her own pain or hardships. She looks at the world with compassion. I find her such good company because she’s so un-showy, and yet she’s so charismatic. I think she really knows herself.

Oh My Disney: Do you have any advice for fans who might want to break into the film industry and follow in your footsteps?
Kenneth Branagh: Don’t limit yourself or your imagination. Imagination is a big beautiful space in your heart in which to live. Dream big, dream happy, dream kind.

Filed Under: Kenneth Branagh
Universal’s Diagon Alley to Receive Thea Awards in 2015
Posted by Megs

It was announced yesterday that Universal Orlando’s Diagon Alley theme park will be formally presented with Thea Awards at an official Gala in 2015.

The Thea Awards, sponsored by Economics at AECOM, were created by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) to help realize a key mission of the association: bringing recognition to achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. From a modest beginning in 1994, the Thea Awards have become internationally recognized as a symbol of excellence.

Steve Birket, president of the TEA, says, “Each Thea-honored project represents a step forward in our industry and our collective drive toward excellence in the making of compelling experiences and places. We encourage the public and the press to learn about these achievements and their creators – and to celebrate with us.”

The following attractions where honored:

Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida [Diagon Alley//Hogwarts Express//Diagon Alley Retail/Dining] (Orlando) – AOA, Paragon Award

When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade opened in 2010 at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the superlatives that were bestowed upon that amazing project – retail, and food & beverage experiences, attraction and technology – were legion. Nothing like it had been seen before and no one could imagine that it could be topped. Four years later, Universal Studios Florida opened the audacious and incredible Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. Not only was it more but it was also better. Better because the environments were richer, the experiences even more immersive and the world building more total than its predecessor.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley does something that no other theme park in the world has managed to do (with the exception of Universal’s own Hogsmeade): It has created a completely seamless storytelling experience without parallel that is unmistakably superior to anything. Thanks to the creativity, storytelling and technical prowess of Universal Creative, the brilliant production design of Stuart Craig and the strong collaboration with Warner Bros., Diagon Alley is bigger, richer and more detailed than what that same team created at Hogsmeade. From the Muggle world environs of London and King’s Cross all the way to the day-for-night environments of Knockturn Alley, the craftsmanship, attention to detail, delights and surprises that amaze around every corner are just… better.

The dining, food & beverage and retail experiences are richer, more varied and more immersive here, too – as a result of collaboration between Universal Creative and their colleagues in Food & Beverage and merchandise. Muggles can visit the Leaky Cauldron, taste Earl Grey and lavender or (of course!) Butterbeer ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. The world is so complete that even the mundane task of getting water from what would typically be a street cart or vending machine has been turned into a storytelling opportunity. Ollivanders wand shop has been expanded here and there are new retail environments to discover, including the dark Borgin and Burkes for all your Death Eater outfitting needs. Even transactions have been transformed for the experience as guests can trade their Muggle money into Gringott’s bank notes, while interacting with an animatronic goblin teller.

Audaciousness and innovation truly come into play when considering the Hogwarts Express. What could have been a mere transportation mechanism to commute visitors from one park to the next within the two worlds of Harry Potter, the Hogwarts Express is a near-perfect recreation of the experience Harry, Ron and Hermione have while riding from Platform Nine and Three Quarters at Kings Cross to Hogsmeade Station (and back again). This experience delivers on the uncanny sense that guests have traveled somewhere else… and, of course, you have. Recreating the stations, engine, train cars, compartments – even the views out the window to an all-media countryside and cityscape full of magic, creatures and surprises – not to mention more nuanced surprises along the way, turn transportation into yet again another innovation in seamless storytelling.

The Thea Committee created a new award category – the Paragon Award – for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley for the entire land, integrated retail and food & beverage in addition to the Hogwarts Express.

Harry Potter & The Escape from Gringotts, Universal Studios Florida (Orlando) – AOA, Attraction

he excellence of guest experience and placemaking in Universal Studios Florida’s new Harry Potter built environments continues with the innovative Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. It begins with a highly elaborate, deeply immersive queue experience featuring a visit to the Gringotts Bank where animatronic goblin tellers appear to work in an incredibly imposing space and even interact with guests. An elevator ride (that could, in other circumstances, stand as an attraction in its own right) and filmed characters integrated into dimensional settings have been taken to a new level of believability in the lead-up to this incredible ride.

The ride system is outstanding in its ability to confuse the rider with its capabilities, performing as a coaster at one moment, an omnimover the next and then as a simulator with complex motion control. All of this is synchronized to the action in the show with media so well integrated into dimensional sets that removing the 3D glasses is the only way to tell for sure what is or is not constructed. Using what must be the largest screen images ever employed in a ride-through attraction, combined with extremely sharp-filmed imagery, delivers the convincing illusion of absolute reality.

The story is engagingly understated: We are merely here at the same time as Harry and friends were in the vaults during the last film – so the perspective is familiar to fans and also understandable even to those not conversant with the Potter ouevre. Music is a key part of making this adventure emotionally engaging as well. The final notes as the ride concludes are strong enough to get some riders welled-up with emotions – having just experienced something extraordinary. In the themed entertainment industry this attraction seems clearly to be the new yardstick by which all will be measured.

Interactive Wands – Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida (Orlando) – AOA, Technical Excellence

Within the land is a surprising array of innovative,  interactive wand experiences that allow guests to say a spell, gesture their wand a specific way to accompany that spell and watch – if they get it right! – as the results of their magic are seen in display windows, on the streets of Diagon Alley, in magical illusions and more throughout the environment. The uniquely devised and ingeniously applied, proprietary wand technology is the key. The end result is an “invisible” technology that engages guests and activates the land in a whole new way. The Thea Nominating Committee found this to be an impressive technology, impressively used.


The prestigious TEA Thea Award is considered one of the attractions industry’s greatest honors. The 21st Annual Thea Awards Gala, set for March 21, 2015, is a ticketed, black-tie dinner affair at the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim USA. Tickets go on sale in early 2015, and are available to the general public as well as to the industry. Title sponsor of the 21st Thea Awards Gala is AECOM.

Thanks to Mugglenet for the tip!

Filed Under: Harry Potter Theme Park
Video: Trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, Featuring Helena Bonham-Carter
Posted by Megs

The first full trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella has been released by Disney. Kenneth directs the film, starring Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham-Carter. The film will be released on March 13, 2015.

The story of “Cinderella” follows the fortunes of young Ella (Lily James) whose merchant father remarries following the death of her mother. Eager to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) into the family home. But, when Ella’s father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother’s dying words and to “have courage and be kind.” She will not give in to despair nor despise those who mistreat her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an apprentice at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella’s hopes of once again encountering the charming Kit (Richard Madden). Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand, and a kindly beggar woman (Helena Bonham-Carter) steps forward and — armed with a pumpkin and a few mice — changes Cinderella’s life forever.

Filed Under: Helena Bonham Carter, Kenneth Branagh

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