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Lego Dimensions: Harry Potter Team Pack


Out of all the offerings in the second year of Lego Dimensions, the one my kids were most excited about was the Harry Potter Team Pack.  Both of the girls are slowly working their way through J.K. Rowling’s series of books and have watched most of the movies.  It would be accurate to describe my oldest as a Harry Potter fan.  The youngest is getting there.  They couldn’t wait to explore iconic locations like Hogwarts and Diagon Alley in Lego form.  In that respect, this Team Pack did not disappoint.

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Lebeau and Daffy on Holiday Movies 2016


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Merry Festivus, elves of LeBlog!

Each year is made up of a series of movie “seasons,” with every production company vying for box office dominance during these peak portions of the cinema calendar. Although there are 12 months in every year, movie theater attendance is, of course, way up during those times of the year when kids of all ages are out of school. Because of this, you’ll see most of the big event movies released in time for extended holiday periods.

Earlier this year, Lebeau and I sat down for a chat about the important releases and trends of the summer movie season, and this time we’ll be covering the same topic as it applies to what we’ve seen in November and December. Come along as we discuss the relative value of this holiday’s offerings and what it might mean for audiences and filmmakers long-term.

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Underrated Universal: Dragon Challenge


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The Universal theme parks in Orlando are completely in thrall to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, right? Just throw something up and slap Hogwarts or Gringotts on it and people will practically throw their money at you, right? Well, not exactly. Ever hear the three most important things about real estate? Location, Location, Location.
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The Leaky Cauldron – Lunch and Breakfast


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One of the things Lebeau and family had fewer opportunities to experience than I did when they visited Universal on Father’s Day prior to their Disney cruise this past summer was the variety of food offerings. In the interest of offering the most complete coverage we can here at LeBlog, I’m presenting some of my thoughts on the eateries I had a chance to try while my family and I were in the Universal parks in late March. I visited the Hot Dog Hall of Fame in CityWalk for lunch one day and experienced dinners at Mythos and Lombard’s.

Today I’m going to talk a little about the primary meal destination in the relatively new Diagon Alley area in the original Universal Studios theme park. Come along, won’t you?
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10 Things I Loved about Universal Orlando’s Theme Parks


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My family and I recently spent a few days in Orlando at Universal’s theme park and entertainment complex, and there is plenty to like when a large company puts so much effort into drawing big crowds in with lively, exciting, and immersive attractions and environments. There are some obvious examples that people who have only thought about visiting Universal are probably already aware of. First and Foremost, there’s the twin Harry Potter lands. Also, there’s the expanded Simpsons area of the original Universal park. With a truly impressive group of properties like Shrek, Despicable Me, Jurassic Park, Transformers, Men in Black, and their legendary set of classic monsters to choose from, Universal has created a crowd-pleasing destination. This list will mostly avoid the more obvious examples of the attractions which pull people into the parks by the millions each year. Mostly. There will be little to no coverage of the new Diagon Alley area here and we’ll be sticking to the theme parks exclusively, so that means nothing about CityWalk or the resort where we stayed. You’ll have to wait for information on those topics in later posts.
Got it? Let’s begin!
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Readers Rank the Harry Potter Movies


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I recently ranked the Harry Potter movies from worst to first and asked you readers to pitch in with your own opinions on the matter. We had some interesting discussion in the comments section, but when it came down to it, the readers pretty much agreed with my rankings. Either that’s because I’m a really persuasive writer, or it means after careful consideration I had managed to pretty much come to the right decisions.

Let’s take a look at how the readers rank the Harry Potter movies!
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Worst to First: Ranking The Harry Potter Films


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In keeping with the Halloween-y theme Lebeau has been fostering this month, I’ve decided to offer up another installment in the popular new “Worst to First” series. Although the Harry Potter series might initially seem to have a less obvious link to everyone’s favorite horror-themed holiday, if you take just a moment to tally its Halloween credentials you will likely be convinced that it is a pretty clear fit. In fact, I’d argue that any need to second think such a consideration only points to the unique and personal qualities J K Rowling’s world of wizards, witches, trolls, charms, hexes, and horcruxes possesses. After all, this is a series in which magical people wear pointy hats. That’s about as cartoon Halloween as you can get. Harry and friends became so famous of their own accord that they seem to exist outside of any reductionist genre.

The Harry Potter series began with the modest kids book Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (The American release would be switched to Sorcerer’s Stone) penned by British author Rowling, but strong word of mouth and a few excellent reviews gradually transformed the bespectacled young wizard into a household name on both sides of the Atlantic. The film series was a foregone conclusion by the time the second book in the series was setting up shop in the NY Times best-sellers list. All seven books have sold more than 50 million copies and there are plenty of people out there who will do a double take if you admit that you haven’t read them yet.

So let’s get on with ranking the film versions!
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Lebeau Family Trip Report 2015: Universal Studios


Universal Globe

For the last few years, our big family vacations have mostly involved going to Walt Disney World.  Last year, we made a special trip to check out Disney’s latest additions in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom.  At the airport on the way home, we got into an elevator with a guy carrying a clipboard with the Universal logo on it.  He asked if we enjoyed our trip.  We said we had.  Then he asked if we got to visit “the fun place” and tapped his clipboard.  We said we hadn’t because the girls were still a bit young.  He chuckled and said, “Those are good Disney ages.”

This year, I wanted to do something different.  For one thing, Disney wasn’t offering anything new.  But we were also getting a bit tired of the typical Disney World vacation which is simply exhausting.  I didn’t think the girls were old enough for Universal, so I looked into a Disney cruise instead.  Over the course of planning the trip, we allowed a little time in Florida both before and after the cruise.  When I realized that the day before we boarded the ship was Father’s Day, I decided to spend a day at Universal to get a taste of what we had been missing. Read the rest of this entry

Movie Heroines Bracket Game: Princess Leia Vs. Hermione Granger


Princess Leia Vs. Hermione Granger

With Cinderella in theaters and the Divergent sequel opening today, it seemed like an excellent time to rank our female heroes.  What exactly it means to be a movie heroine is open to interpretation.  We’ve got some of the action heroines you would expect.  But we also have some real world figures and some flawed protagonists.  Who’s the best movie heroine?  It’s time to find out.

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Disney World Rumors: What’s Next?


With the exception of the Seven Drawfs Mine Train and Princess Fairytale Hall, the Fantasyland Expansion at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is nearing completion.  Officially, the Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid sections of the expansion are set to open December 6.  Previews for annual passholder start Nov 19.  Unofficially, rumors are starting to fly about what comes next.

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A Moment of Silence for the Jaws Ride at Universal Orlando


Jaws the Ride Concept Art

Those who know me know of my love for Jaws.  As a kid, without even having seen the movie, I was caught in the grip of the cultural phenomenon.  We played the Jaws game.  (Those of a certain age will remember it.)

The secret technology behind Jaws' bite is... rubber bands.

When I finally got around to watching the original Jaws (after having already viewed the sequel out of order) my fascination with the story of the great white shark deepened.  But that fascination was fully realized in 2008 when I finally got a chance to ride Jaws: the Ride at Universal Studios Orlando.

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Leaked Plans for Universal’s Harry Potter Phase 2


The plans for Universal Studios Harry Potter Phase 2 in Orlando have hit the net.  Here’s a link to all the goodness.  Enjoy!

Universal Announces Harry Potter on Both Coasts


In perhaps the least surprising development in theme park history, Universal Studios has announced plans to build more Harry Potter attractions in its US theme parks.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park has been an unqualified success.  So, it only makes sense that Universal would want to capitalize on that success.  But rather than just expand in Orlando, Universal has decided to double down on Potter by building new attractions on both coasts.

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