Happy Tuesday everybody and welcome to some fun early week speculation. Just like we did with NintendoLand last year (or was it earlier this year) we're going to have some fun with some park stuff that may or may not happen (let's face it, it's probably not going to happen). But that's not going to stop us.
Written by Gregg Condon
A couple of things have inspired this, so we're not TOTALLY coming out of left field.
First, reports that a TV series based on The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings is in development. Which means only one thing, the suit between Warner Brothers and that of the estate of Tolkien that was resolved in July has led to a softening of the relationship and they are ready to work together again. This had to do with characters in The Hobbit Movies used in online slot machines and other games which led to the Tolkien estate not trusting Warner Brothers anymore. And who could blame them.
So let's look at that aspect of it first.
I think anybody who's a fan of Tokien's work could tell you the Hobbit Movies were a HUGE disappointment. For me, The Hobbit is my favorite all-time book. It's the first book I remember reading growing up and I've read it every couple of years since. I was very excited about these movies, and even re-watched them over the weekend once this news broke, just to refresh myself with them.
Now I will say, on this recent re-watch I actually enjoyed them more than I had before. Sure, the movies aren't close to the book AT ALL, but a few scenes such as "Riddles In The Dark" are perfectly done.
But at the end of the day, there was way too much added, too much from the book not in the movies, WAY too much CGI and WAAAAAAY too much color correction done for these movies to be part of my yearly rotation.
In fact, this was a problem we all could have seen coming with the release of Return of the King which suffered from the same over-use of CGI and color correction.
But I digress ...
So all that being said, I'm actually interested to see where a Hobbit and/or Lord of the Rings series could go. A lot more time for character development for sure. Because we all know why all those battle scenes were added to The Hobbit, because there aren't many in the book, it is a children's book after all.
Still, I'd love to see a straight book adaptation of both stories. And then have the side stories created with the input from the Tokien estate. That would be the perfect scenario for me, as a fan of the books.
So why is a theme park site writing about this, and why is it in the Universal Studios section of the site?
Well in Orlando, it's been rumored for a LONG time that Universal Studios is planning on building a third park in the future. They've been buying land like crazy as we've written about quite a few times.
And last week, they added another 100 acres of land in the proposed area of the third park where they already had purchased 450 acres in 2015.
And today they announced 2 new hotels being built on the former site of Wet and Wild. So the expansion is coming, they are getting ready for it before they announce a 3rd park. (imagine that Disneyland Resort)
So what if the softening of the WB/Tolkien relationship happening the same week that Universal purchases even more land isn't a coincidence at all? Universal has worked with WB to bring theme park worlds to life, to the benefit of all.
A theme park based on Tolkien's work has been rumored and thought of since long before Peter Jackson's movies made their debut in 2001.
So maybe now is the time? The property is so rich in character, so steeped in literary history it'd be hard to pass up the chance to turn this into a themed environment.
The possibilities are endless. In the Tolkien works you have the possibility for both thrill and family attractions. Dining with the Dwarves. Drinking with the Hobbitses. Singing with the Elves.
Do we think there will be a complete park based on Lord of the Rings? No. But a fantasy park with a Tolkien based land as one of the main anchors, it's definitely something that could happen.
And that trip to visit Middle Earth may be as close as Orlando in the very near future.
What do you think? Is it finally time for the world of Middle Earth to come to the world of Central Florida? Would you be excited to have Middle Earth as an anchor of a 3rd Universal park?
Our Halloween coverage continues today with opening weekend of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando.
The Frequent Fear Pass is a thing of beauty which means we should have a few updates from this amazing event this season. Check out Renée's opening weekend fun.
Written by Renée Girard
Heading into Universal Orlando for the opening night of Halloween Horror Nights!
If you can do the Stay & Scream it's totally worth it!
American Horror Story is our first house of the night. It features Asylum, Coven & Roanoke from the series. Loved it!
Next up is Dead Waters. Very cool house with a voodoo theme. I just wish it was longer!
The Fallen wasn't one of the best houses, but maybe our timing was off and missed some scares.
I like the addition of the Tribute Store from last year, and how there are displays for some of the houses. #
The Purge scare zone is back once again, and it's always a crowd pleaser.
At Orlando HHN, where alcohol has always been served, it seemed like the options were more limited this year.
Really loved the Trick R Treat scare zone! Definitely the most elaborate and fun of those we experienced
Caught a performance of Bill & Ted tonight too, in their final HHN appearance. They will be missed. Be excellent to each other!
And it wouldn't be HHN without Mel's Die-In. That's all for tonight in Orlando, but we'll be back for more soon!
Back at HHN Orlando tonight!
Some of the houses are already getting longish wait times. So worth it to get here early!
Trying one of the signature drinks, Midnight Madness. Anyone know where to get the pumpkin, s'mores & candy corn drinks?
Characters from all the houses gather in the Alters of Horror scare zone at the front of the park.
Students of Hogwarts support the Purge.
Enjoyed visiting the vampires of The Hive. Creepy and cool house, really long too!
Walking through the Invasion scare zone, for terror that is out of this world.
Blumhouse was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most. So much fun!Featuring scenes from Sinister, Insidious & The Purge.
Lower crowds at HHN tonight than last night. Loving having a Frequent Fear Pass again. Be back in a few days I'm sure!
Welcome to another year of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, where your favorite scary movies come to life.
Our opening night report is here, we have some great pictures of the mazes and scare zones and we definitely recommend the event this year despite a couple of repeat themes. Enjoy!
Written by Gregg Condon
Pictures by Matthew Nelson and Gregg Condon
Welcome to Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood where we are kicking off another year of amazing Halloween events.
This was EASILY the lowest temperature for the opening night of HHN Hollywood for as long as we can remember. And it was AMAZING!!
Before heading to the park we decided to head in early and grab some food and butterbeer. And since Wizarding World wasn't open for HHN, some Forbidden Journey.
After leaving our extra people in the park we headed out to check in for the media portion of the event. No red carpet for us this year, we had another reason for getting here early.
We wanted to check out this years Opening Scaremony with a whole bunch of new friends.
The opening moments of HHN 2017 ... we shared this during the event and a lot of people loved it. We hope you will too.
But Matt had other ideas and they headed in a bit earlier to see how the early entry worked (and since so many of you have been asking about it)
Some sunset pics from the backlot
As the sun began to fade it was time for the rest of us to head deep into HHN
Would have loved to see an actual maze, but capacity would have been the scariest thing of all
How you doin' ...
Heading into the backlot ...
Really fun scare zone as you headed to the three backlot mazes
Some sunset/nighttime pics for you to enjoy
This scene was really hard to capture in pictures, but we wanted to give this actress a shout out. She was AMAZING. If you know who she is please pass it on. Her hard work was appreciated.
The first of the backlot mazes was American Horror Story
This year they stuck with one season and I think it worked much better this way
Ash vs Evil Dead which was my favorite maze of the night. But I'm a HUGE fan of Evil Dead and the TV show ... so that may have had some influence.
Ashy Slashy ... Ashy Slashy ... Ashy Slashy ...
Not really our thing, but a lot of you love Saw so we totally understand why it's come back
Let's head back upstairs
Time for the Titans of Terror Tram with our amazing host Chucky
They basically separated the three area's of the Terror Tram among the three Titans of Terror
Sawyer Meats ... get it?
Lots of different Freddy's running around
We loved the theme of the Terror Tram but without using the back trail (which so many people complained about in years past) it just didn't seem long enough this year.
Headed into the Blumhouse maze
Started off with The Purge ... this part reminded us a lot of the Purge Gauntlet from last year, which we loved.
Headed inside the maze portion
The first part was dedicated to Groundhog ... we mean Happy Death Day. =)
And finally Sinister
Let's check out the Scare Zone on the upper lot
Despite not having fire this year we really enjoyed this scare zone. Wish it would extend throughout the entire upper lot though. It was a lot of fun.
Trick or Treat ...
Lots of Chainsaws
Our last maze of the night was Titans of Terror. We weren't really sure what to think of this one but we absolutely LOVED it.
You could tell they had a lot of fun with this one
Thanks again to Universal Studios Hollywood for having us out for another year of Halloween Horror Nights. We had an AMAZING time as always.
Check out my Maze rankings below (Gregg):
Check back tomorrow as we'll have our update from the first two nights of Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando.