Guilty Pleasures 5/24/2019

Guests watch a show near a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse on January 9 in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, part of the Orlando area in Florida. Magic Kingdom was the best-attended park in 2018 with 20.8 million visitors, followed by Disneyland in California with 18.6 million visitors.

Park attendance crosses half-billion mark for 1st time

ORLANDO, Fla. | Worldwide attendance at the 10 biggest operators of amusement parks increased 4% last year and crossed the half-billion-visitors mark for the first time.

According to a report released this week by Themed Entertainment Association and the Economics Practice at AECOM, global attendance at waterparks increased by 2.5%.

The report credits the adaptation of strong intellectual properties into new attractions.

Walt Disney parks across the globe had more than 157 million visitors in 2018, more than double the next-closest theme park company, Merlin Entertainment Group, which owns the Legoland parks and other attractions.

Magic Kingdom in Florida was the best-attended park with 20.8 million visitors in 2018, followed by Disneyland in California with 18.6 million visitors.

Nik Wallenda, sister plan highwire walk over Times Square

NEW YORK | For his next trick, daredevil Nik Wallenda plans to cross New York’s Times Square — without his feet touching the ground.

ABC announced Thursday that Wallenda and his sister Lijana will cross the tourist hotspot during a 1,300-foot simultaneous highwire walk 25 stories above the ground. ABC will air the attempt during a two-hour prime-time special on June 23.

It will be Lijana Wallenda’s first highwire walk since a 2017 accident in Florida left her and four other members of the family’s troupe seriously injured . The Times Square walk will involve unspecified safety devices, but organizers say it does not eliminate all risks.

ABC says the siblings will start from opposite ends of the wire, which will be suspended between two of Times Square’s towers, including one that is home to The New York Times.

Nik Wallenda said in a statement: “I am beyond excited to be able to walk with my sister, Lijana, as she overcomes near-death injuries and continues the Wallenda tradition of never giving up.”

His feats have included a 1,800-foot tightrope walk from the New York side of Niagara Falls into Canada in 2012 and a 2013 crossing of the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon.

The special, which is being produced by dick clark productions, will include footage of the siblings’ preparations and their family’s history of death-defying stunts.Rotten Tomatoes

to link ratings to ticket purchases

LOS ANGELES | Rotten Tomatoes is taking another step to verify that users posting a rating of a movie have actually seen it.

The review aggregator said Thursday that users who purchase tickets on Fandango will get a verified badge next to their review, beginning with films out this weekend like “Booksmart” and “Aladdin.” The verified audience scores also will be displayed on Fandango, which owns Rotten Tomatoes.

Fandango president Paul Yanover said in a statement that this step will increase consumer confidence in the sites.

Charlottesville drama teacher to be given special Tony award NEW YORK | The special Tony Award that honors educators this year will go to a drama teacher in Charlottesville, Virginia, who has encouraged her students to explore their differences and heal rifts, especially following a deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in the city.

Madeline Michel from Monticello High School will receive the 2019 Excellence in Theatre Education Award on June 9 at the Tony Awards in New York City.

Under Madeline Michel, Monticello High School has put on student-written shows such as “A King’s Story,” about a fictional black Charlottesville teenager who is shot and killed by police; “#WhileBlack,” about racial profiling; and “Necessary Trouble,” which explores racial and identity symbols that high school students can encounter during a normal school day.

“This program is not about me, because it has to be about my students,” Michel said in a statement. “They are our future. They are the people that are going to change the world and make it better. These are the kids who give me so much hope in some very dark times.”

Charlottesville was where white nationalists descended in 2017 to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. They fought in the streets with counterdemonstrators. Later, as counterdemonstrators were peacefully marching through a downtown street, a car drove into the crowd, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring many more. A self-avowed white supremacist pleaded guilty.

The annual Excellence in Theatre Education Award bestowed by the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University recognizes U.S. educators from kindergarten to 12th grade who have “demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession.”

The award includes a $10,000 prize and a pair of tickets to the Tony ceremony and gala. A panel of judges comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon and other leaders from the theater industry selects the winner, based on candidates submitted by the public.

“Theatre and arts education are fundamental to our educational system. Today, more than ever, we need our local school auditoriums, their wonderfully creative students and courageous theatre educators like Madeline Michel to put powerful new ideas on stage and to share them,” said Heather Hitchens, president of the wing and Charlotte St. Martin, president of the league, in a statement.

Michel is a graduate of the University of Rochester and Johns Hopkins University. She began her career as an English teacher in the Baltimore school system. For the past 12 she has been teaching theater in Charlottesville.