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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Universal's Grinchmas And The Sleigh Ride Plummet Down Mount Crumpet

Ever since Seuss Landing at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Florida opened in 1999, there's been chatter in Whoville about when visitors could expect to see a certain famous snow-capped summit. What better way to celebrate Grinchmas at the Universal Orlando Resort than a sleigh ride with the Grinch down the top of Mount Crumpet?

Here I am showcasing official blueprints for Universal's Grinch roller coaster. Don't get too excited, because it is only about the same height as a toaster.

You can build this Grinch coaster while eating a bagel and lox and getting an injection of Botox while drinking a Scotch on the rocks. It's really quite simple once you've opened the box. You won't need help from the Red Sox, or the White Sox, or even Courtney Cox.

Man, when you are racing through the abominable snow covered caverns of Mount Crumpet, watch out for the Grinch! He's not exactly scary, but he might make you flinch.

The Grinch seems like a menace, yet he sings and is pleasant. At the end of your sleigh ride, maybe he will give you a present (a souvenir photograph, for a fee---after all, we are talking about Orlando, where nothing is free).

The Grinch's sleigh is one awesome, fast ride. There's all sorts of blinking lights and gadgets inside.

Whoville is a place that's always on the move. It has its own style and has its own groove.

When the 2000 live action "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" movie debuted, brand new cartoon versions of the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who and Max inspired by the Jim Carrey film were created for merchandise and promotions. You could find the new Grinch characters on books, toys, and probably bottles of shampoo and lotions.

An unusual Grinch Sleigh Game could be found at your local RadioShack shop. It is not very high-tech, as it features a scrolling paper backdrop.

The Grinch takes his sleigh through the drive-thru at Wendy's for a Green Eggs and Hamburger feast. If his promotion had been at Arby's instead, he could have gotten a sandwich filled with hot Roast Beast.

The Grinch toys at Wendy's double as ornaments and are quite the sight to see. Haven't you always wanted something that smells like greasy burgers and fries hanging on your Christmas Tree?

Max is the Grinch's friendly and loyal assistant pet hound. Living with the Grinch is not great for him, but it is better than being locked up in a cage at the pound.

Max is not only good at pretending to be a reindeer, he obeys when the Grinch gives him a call. I bet you Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer can't play fetch or catch a ball.

Is the Grinch stealing your stocking or filling it full of trinkets and toys? This clever double stocking is perfect for greedy girls and boys.

Will you get treasures of all sizes and shapes that will put you in a good mood? Or will you get lumps of coal due to your rotten attitude?

They say it is always better to be bigger and bolder. Yet this set of tiny Grinch and Max plush clips each doubles as a Hershey-ets chocolate candies holder.

Hershey's Max and Grinch plush are among the best Seuss toys I've seen. Max is adorable and the excellent Grinch looks just the right amount of mean.

The Max Candoodler Pen and Candy Dispenser is an amazing invention. It allows you to enjoy eating candy while doing school work in detention.

Use the Candoodler to write checks to the cable and electric company and you'll still have a good day. Use the Candoodler to sign divorce papers and eat your worries away.

In the Grinch Viewer, see pictures of actors Jim Carrey, Christine Baranski and Molly Shannon. They've got lots of cool Rick Baker prosthetics, fur and makeup on.

The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who share a heartwarming moment, about which Grinch director Ron Howard knows a thing or three. It is still fun to watch him on the Andy Griffith show as little boy Opie.

Max would like to get a Grinch Koosh ball during Whoville's Christmas celebration. He can chew and slobber on it to take out some of his simmering frustration.

Throw the Grinch Koosh ball to Max and it is something he might not retrieve. He might bury it, or it could be subjected to fluid that he might have to relieve.

The Grinch is eye pleasing in complementary red and green. That's the only compliment he will get here, since he tends to act so mean.

The Grinch is not afraid of bold self-expressions. To bad he focuses on objects and material possessions.

In the original Grinch story, Cindy Lou Who was no more than two. For the live action movie, she grew and grew and grew.

This kind of rapid character aging happens all the time in Hollywood to give projects a storytelling fix. Remember how Andrew Keaton on the TV show "Family Ties" was a baby one year, and the following season he was age six?

If Max wanted to find a new home, it wouldn't be rough. Resisting his charm would be very tough.

Max is easy to train, and is easily led. He's already stuffed, so he doesn't need to be fed.

Da Grinch looks like a hooligan that is up to no good. Folks wouldn't take kindly to this Dirt-Bike delinquent in a quiet neighborhood.

We know the Grinch is a bad boy, and his reputation ain't sunny. He can sure give Jack Nicholson a run for his money.

The Grinch used to love going to Blockbuster Video, then they crossed his path. He got charged a late return fee, and the store felt his wrath.

Blockbuster Video stores closed down and the Grinch got his way. If it's up to the Grinch, Redbox will be Greenbox someday.

The Grinch is happy to give folks the game of Whoville-opoly, where cash is king and more green is better. After all, people have more fun with money than a tacky holiday sweater.

You can play Whoville-opoly as the Grinch, the Roast Beast, the Stocking, Cindy Lou Who, Max, or the Heart. If you don't get your first choice game piece to play with, please don't have a dramatic come-apart.

The version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" that people seem to remember best is the 1966 special, which was both heartwarming and funny. It was directed by animation legend Chuck Jones, best known for his work with Warner Brothers characters like Road Runner and Bugs Bunny.

The animated special features the voice talents of Boris Karloff as the Grinch, with singing by Thurl Ravenscroft (so GRRReat as Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes) and a memorable line from June Foray as Cindy Lou, the tiny Who girl. Foray may be best known to folks as Bullwinkle the Moose's friend, Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

The Grinch has appeared on more than just one holiday decoration. And it looks like his TV special was the source of some "Grinchspiration."

Hallmark's 1987 Reindoggy ornament looks like he could be TV special Max's long lost kin. Compared to the dog in the 2000 Jim Carrey movie, Reindoggy looks like Max's twin.

In 1998, Jim Henson Productions brought the Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss to life with their famous puppetry and innovation. The Grinch, The Cat in the Hat, and other famous Seuss faces could be seen on TV screens in homes across the nation.

In "Horton Hears a Who" (1954) Horton the Elephant discovers the tiny Whos of Whoville living on a speck of dust (a few years before the Grinch made Christmas in Whoville Merry). In the 2000 Jim Carrey Grinch movie, the Whos lived on a snowflake, and in the 2008 Horton computer animated movie, the famous elephant was voiced by Jim Carrey.

In 1957, the original story of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Theodor Seuss Geisel debuted as a storybook. In this incarnation of the Grinch, the character had a very different look.

The original "Classic Grinch" is still quite popular these days, and he loves to show off his sinister sneer. He can be found on merchandise in book stores, cards shops, and as a theme park souvenir.

For many years now, Christmas time at Universal theme parks in California and Florida is celebrated in a different form. That's when the snow-filled Grinchmas can be found where it is typically sunny and warm.

The wild world of Grinchmas in Whoville is a kinetic, wacky place. It's sure to put a smile on even the most Grinchy face.

At Christmas, the Grinch's heart grows rather large. So does his ego, because at the Universal parks, he's now in charge.

It's getting close to Grinchmas, so we'd better start counting down. If you're good, the Grinch won't steal the decorations and gifts from your town.

Since it's better to give than to receive, how about a gift for the Grinch, please? I'd like to suggest Advantage for his ticks and his fleas.

The Grinch will accept monetary tips, since he loves green money. Make it easy on yourself---how about a ten or a twenty?

Be sure to leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk out for the Grinch, and for Max, Kibbles 'n Bits in a bowl on the floor. If you do, they just might leave you presents galore.

Yes, I did it! I made this whole thing rhyme. What can I say? I have lots of free time.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Disney And Jim Henson Present Dino-Motion Dinosaurs At McDonald's

Since the dawn of time, there have been TV sitcom families featuring a fat husband and a skinny wife. Yes, ever since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. That was the premise of ABC network's 1991 "Dinosaurs" series (created by Michael Jacobs and Bob Young), which was one of the first collaborations between Disney and Jim Henson.

Workers for the WESAYSO Development Corporation included Earl Sinclair, Roy Hess and B.P. Richfield. I had never noticed that the characters shared names with big oil companies.

The voice of B.P. Richfield, the ferocious boss at WESAYSO, was provided by the late Sherman Hemsley (who starred in the famous TV shows "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons").

The Dino-Motion Dinosaurs McDonald's Happy Meal featured push-button "puppets" of the Sinclair family packaged in gigantic plastic bags.

Fat dad Earl Sinclair (voiced by Stuart Pankin, who many people remember as an anchor on HBO's "Not Necessarily the News") was sort of a cross between Fred Flintstone and Dino the dinosaur.

Earl's wife, Fran, was voiced by Jessica Walter, an actress who has appeared in front of the camera quite a bit lately, starring in shows like "Arrested Development" and "Retired at 35".

Jessica Walter can also be heard as the voice of Malory Archer on the animated series "Archer" on FX.

Fran's mom, Ethyl (voiced by the late Florence Stanley) makes life miserable for Earl.

Florence Stanley appeared on many sitcoms over the years, including "My Two Dads," "Nurses" and "Mad About You." She also continued voicing characters in shows like "Family Guy" and in films like Disney's "Atlantis."

Many of the stories in "Dinosaurs" centered on teenagers Robbie and Charlene.

Robbie's best friend, Spike, was voiced by actor Christopher Meloni.

The cast of "Dinosaurs" was a mix of actors in costumes (with highly sophisticated animatronic faces) and traditional (yet still elaborate) hand puppets.

The funniest Dinosaur character name I remember was TV anchor Howard Handupme (a traditional puppet performed by Kevin Clash).

Robbie (voiced by Jason Willinger) was a rebel and often the voice of reason in the family.

Jason Willinger and Florence Stanley can also be heard in Disney's "A Goofy Movie" (1995).

Teenage daughter Charlene was voiced by Sally Struthers, so "Dinosaurs" reunited her with "All in the Family" co-star, Sherman Hemsley.

Sally Struthers also voiced Rebecca Cunningham on Disney's 1990 "TaleSpin" animated series.

Baby Sinclair was performed and voiced by Kevin Clash, who is known to millions of people as Elmo from Sesame Street.

The abusive Baby had his own music video and song called "I'm the Baby, Gotta Love Me."

Many McDonald's Happy Meal promotions had a special toy for kid under three years old. They were never seen in any of the advertisements.

Spitting at people was tame in comparison to some of the other things Baby Sinclair did on "Dinosaurs."

"Dinosaurs" was supposed to be the tip of the iceberg in the early 1990s partnership between Disney and Henson.

When Jim Henson died in 1990, the fate of many of the projects planned was in question.

Luckily, "Dinosaurs" made it to the small screen.

"Dinosaurs" is nothing like Disney's 2000 movie "Dinosaur." Except they both have unimaginative titles.

The writing on the "Dinosaurs" show was lots of fun, and the characters were not afraid to mock their own series.

"Dinosaurs" aired on ABC before the network was bought by Disney. In 1996, a similar Henson show called "Aliens in the Family" debuted on ABC. It did not do so well.

"Dinosaurs" had enough of a following for merchandise, including action figures and Valentines.
You'd have to be cold-blooded not to get a smile from Dinosaurs Valentines.

The characters work well as hand drawn characters.

Earl has a heart on for Fran.

The hand drawn Dinosaurs could also be found in comic books.

The artwork in these books kicks Jurassic.

ProSet had a line of Dinosaurs Collector Cards.

The range of expressions and emotions seen with these puppets is astonishing.

As part of the 20th Birthday Celebration for Walt Disney World in Florida, the Dinosaurs became one of the 20 reasons to visit Walt Disney World in 1992.

Since the Dinosaurs seen at Walt Disney World did not have moving eyes or mouths like their TV counterparts, they couldn't complain too loudly when they were told to leave the Disney MGM Studios (now called Disney's Hollywood Studios) by the time their show was off the air in 1994.

If the Dinosaurs happen to be lurking in the swamps somewhere at Walt Disney World in Florida, I'd like to suggest that they should go visit Dinoland at Disney's Animal Kingdom and maybe they'll be invited to stay there to become park mascots.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It Takes A Universal Studios Monsters Halloween Village

I'll never forget when I was a little kid and someone at a shopping mall playground called me "fish face." It was such an odd name to get called. I should not have been upset. There's a very famous star of stage, screen and theme parks who could claim that nickname. It's the Creature From the Black Lagoon, and he is one of the Universal Studios Monsters.

Ever since Universal opened the Islands of Adventure theme park at their Universal Orlando Resort in 1999, rumors were swirling about an entire land devoted to the classic Universal Monsters.

Universal Orlando does host the popular Halloween Horror Nights, and the Classic Monsters Cafe serves up cold shivers with snacks.

In 2005, collectibles creator Hawthorne Village had a trick and a treat for fans of Dracula, the Mummy and other classic characters.

The Universal Studios Monsters Halloween Village set allowed theme park fans to create their own Island of Adventure not seen in Florida.

Look, there's lightning in the background. That is a good representation of Orlando. And, I guess, a Halloween Village.

It's easy to imagine trick-or-treating in a real version of the Universal Studios Monsters Halloween Village.

Dracula's Castle had also been sold by Department 56 back in 2003.

You could also get Dracula's neighbor, Scarlett (from "Gone With the Wind").

It's time to sink your teeth into something tasty.

Yes, Universal's CityWalk has a Burger King (with a Whopper Bar, so you can add garlic to your burger).

In 1997, Burger King had Universal Studios Monsters action toys.

Dracula likes to play with the ketchup dispenser when he visits Burger King.

There were four toys available, but I failed to get Frankenstein. Me disappointed.

The Wolf Man thinks you should add a jar of jalapeno peppers to your burger at CityWalk's Whopper Bar because it will grow hair on your chest.

The Wolf Man usually orders a Large Value Meal at Burger King. He can't finish the Large Value Meal at Burger King, but he likes to take home a doggy bag.

The Wolf Man was responsible for most of the North American sales of the Bacon Sundae that Burger King sold. Bacon, Bacon, Bacon! It's BACON!

You would think that the Creature From the Black Lagoon would love the BK Big Fish Sandwich at Burger King, but you'd be wrong.

The Creature From the Black Lagoon does not eat the BK Big Fish Sandwich because that is called cannibalism, my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon by most societies.

The Burger King Creature From the Black Lagoon toy spits water. He's more of a prankster than a real threat.

When he is not working at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, the Creature From the Black Lagoon enjoys visits to Sea World.

At Universal Studios in Florida, many of the Universal Monsters have performed in Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue.

Beetlejuice is actually a Warner Brothers character, setting the groundwork for other licensed characters to appear at Universal parks.

The Universal Monsters love to visit the Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios. That's where they met Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie. Poochie suggested that the Monsters should try skateboarding.

Frankenstein is my favorite of these, and I was not able to find him.

The fun new versions of the Monsters were sculpted by Mat Falls.

Little Big Heads Monster Shredders were made by Sideshow Toys and sold in CVS Pharmacy locations in 1999.

I see you, Invisible Man.

"Look, I'm Invisible!"

The Creature From the Black Lagoon wants everyone to call him "Flying Fish."

Look at that expression. "Fish Face" IS more fitting.

For purists, Sideshow made a more traditional set of Little Big Heads Monsters, too (also sculpted by Mat Falls).

Here we see the Phantom of the Opera. It would have been fun to see him on a skateboard.

The Wolf Man is itching to star in a new werewolf movie.

The Wolf Man better watch his step, or he could fall into the trap of his new foe, which could be a villain called the Dawgcatcher.

After years of silence, the Universal Monsters have something to say.

When slammed down, the Frankenstein Monster Screamer says "Candy good!" and "Friend!" Gotta love Frankenstein.

The Wolf Man spent too much time howling, and lost his voice (this product was sold way back in 1999) so what he said must remain a mystery. I'm guessing he said "Don't neuter me, man!"

Remember the movie "Van Helsing" starring Hugh Jackman? Somehow I never saw that. It seems like the idea was for Van Helsing to re-launch the careers of different Universal Studios Monsters.

Legend has it that a "Van Helsing" attraction proposed for the Universal parks became the basis for "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Florida.