July 8, 2018

Aladdin, London…bland Disney magic

Colourful designs and lively song and dance routines. The songs themselves are a mixed bag: the big romantic number A Whole New World is completely upstaged by the magic carpet that floats through the air with no strings attached. Not visibly, anyway. The Genie’s big show-stopper Friend Like Me – a jazzy riot of infectious trick-mustering showmanship that conjures the spirit of Las Vegas and hits the jack-pot in terms of hummability.

There’s so little of Lion King’s fecundity of imagination here that the ideal target audience would seem to be much younger, and more easily impressed. There’s been a cull of the animals – Abu  and Iago – that featured in the 1992 cartoon. It barely rises above the generic.

My honest advice, save your pound sterling. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

aladdin ldn

February 4, 2017

4DX Theatre, Paragon Cineplex, Bangkok…the next generation in movie watching

4DX theaters come with the technology providing environmental effects synced with the movie. Imagine seeing a movie in 3D (glasses and all) but with added physical sensations like wind, rain, and a moving seat.

I tested the technology for the first time through Disney’s new release, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” I have to admit that at times watching the audience seems more compelling than the movie I was viewing. Perhaps, thankfully too, I could not detect any smells during the movie. I am not sure whether a malfunctioning system, a programming error or my sinus allergies were to blame. Whenever someone was firing bullets, compressed air was fired at my head. The flashing lights on the side of the auditorium that were supposed to represent lightning and timid sprays of water whenever the action got near bodies of liquid. Whenever punches are thrown, your chair pokes you in the back, like an airport massage lounger gone berserk

The short of it? 4DX is unlike anything I’ve felt in a movie theater before, and it was just cool enough that I would recommended splurging on a great movie. However, movie selection is key. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…




July 6, 2016

The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 3/4, London…a Potter fan’s paradise

Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and three quarters is real and it’s at London’s Kings Cross Station.

The store packs a large variety of different merchandise – wands, clothing, snowglobe, plush white owls, unique art, sweets, and recreations of artifacts from the books – into a very small space. This looks like a cheap disney store (I do love Disney stores). No magic, just a display of merchandising to capitalise on some of the best books and movies out there. It is small and does get quite overcrowded and quite hard to navigate through.

One very good thing is that outside, there’s the cart filled with suitcases and an owl cage halfway through the wall. There’s a snaking queue to pose for a photo opportunity: while you’re holding on to the cart, a member of staff gives you a scarf and swings the scarf up to make you look like you were really flying through the platform, while another takes a picture.

Be ready to get really uber-nerdy here but you’ll be surrounded by the equally nerdy, so no worries. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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934 lhr2

March 8, 2011

Hilton Sofia hotel, Sofia…they aim to please so much you’d think you are in Disneyland. This is the place to be!

This Hilton have the friendliest, most polite and accomodating staff I have ever seen in a hotel….and I have been around. They seem to have the “spirit of Disney” all the front liners aim to please so much, I thought I was in Disneyland. Everyone has a sincere smile on their faces and the people at front desk and the restaurant were so happy to see us, you’d think we were long lost relatives of theirs. The service here is incredible

Minto, in the restaurant was exceptionally attentive. he was playing and entertaining a toddler at breakfast, making everybody in the family so happy. I’d dropped my napkin while standing up and had picked it up, when he appeared within the next 5 seconds (where from, I wouldn’t know) and gave me a new one. Illiyan, the bellboy was a cut above the rest. During one of our trivial chats, he found out that the airport taxi driver had charged us Euro 20. he took it on this own to call the cab company and traced down the driver and made him return the excessive portion.

The rooms are nice and clean, the gym is small but adequate. However, the pool is more for a dip than a swim. The free shuttle will take you to the airport. It’s not even a scheduled run. It’s better than that. It’s on request basis, meaning they will depart to fit your timing.

Location-wise, the hotel is not directly in the centre, but a half and hour walk away from the Alexander nevski Cathedral. There is a small shopping mall nearby.

Hilton Sofia is easily the best in town. You want a happy stay? Don’t stay anywhere else. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

December 14, 2010

Universal Studios Singapore…it’s a Mickey Mouse (very small) park

It is a small amusement park, big enough to see in one day, especially if it is not crowded. At 20 hectares, it’s got to be the smallest Universal Studios in the world.
But this Singapore version may not be so bad for theme park lovers if they are fed up with the notoriously long lines in the extremely crowded Disney parks in Tokyo. If you arrive when the park opens, start at the back of the park, people tend to go to the first ride they come to and work their way back.
The twin Battlestar Galactica roller coasters is still closed and is  reported to re-open next year, as is the  ship-themed show Madagascar: A Crate Adventure. The splashdown at the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure is a mini one. On the thrill scale where 0 is wimpy and 10 is yikes!, I’d rate this at 4. The Revenge of the Mummy ride is dark, loud…and haunted! Very young children may find it disconcerting. The best attraction to me is the Lights, Camera, Action…show presented by Steven Spielberg
The park is a good place for families, but there really isn’t a lot there for more than a few hours worth of entertainment.
This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

January 5, 2010

Tokyo Disney Resort…monster queues

I’ve never queued so much before in my life…until I got to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea. If queuing was an Olympic sport, I would have been a Gold medalist.

3 hours 20 minute for the new Monster Inc ride. I thought I’d have to tell my son that he will be a deceased old man by the time he gets on the actual ride. The ride was not worth it. Not worth it at all. What gets me is, I waited in line for 200 minutes to do this.

Monster queue at Monsters Inc

There are queues to buy popcorn. Queues for every ride and attractions. Queues to even get into the park. Seriously, I queued for 1 hour 20 minutes just to get into the park in the morning. Half the population of Tokyo must be here. I was told by a friend that we have to be smart to pick the best time to go to Disney resort in Tokyo. I think the best time is 1962.

Not that I am complaining.  You can’t have a bad time at Disney resort.

Everywhere, cheerful uniformed employees will offer you any information about the park, such as where the rides are, where the popcorn kiosks are and where the restrooms are. The food are actually pretty good, and we tried Captain Hook’s galley, Cape Cod Cook Off, Center Street Coffeehouse, Great American Waffle company and Restaurant Sakura. The Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull ride was awesome as was the night illumination parade.

Disney is still truly The Magic Kingdom, even in this age of Playstation and WII. I tell the true truth and am still saying it as it is…

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