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AutoMatters & More: Lunar New Year Celebration at Universal Studios Hollywood & ‘Black Panther’

01622-20180210 Universal Studios Hollywood Lunar New Year-Megatron-Minions-Wishing Trees-Po & Tigress-Mr Pings Noodle Shop+attractions-D5
Tigress and Po celebrating Lunar New Year at Universal Studios Hollywood
(Jan Wagner )

The Year of the Dog

Always a fun place to visit and a great entertainment value, Universal Studios Hollywood is ringing in the Lunar New Year through Feb. 25 in celebration of the Year of the Dog.

On your way there after you park, you’ll walk through Universal CityWalk with its colorful signs, and amazing shops and eateries.

Pose for photos just past the large, revolving UNIVERSAL STUDIOS globe. Then enter the park and proceed to Universal Plaza where you will find a recreation of Po’s Village from DreamWorks’ delightful “Kung Fu Panda.” Beautiful Chinese lanterns are suspended above, and radiating outward from the center of the plaza. Red is the predominant color.

Jade Palace
Participatory story time at the Jade Palace Performance Stage Jan Wagner

At the Plum Blossom Wishing Trees, visitors write wishes for the New Year and then, for good luck, hang them on the tree branches.

At the Jade Palace Performance Stage, kids enjoy listening to and participating in a story. Then they learn some basic martial arts skills at the Dragon Warrior Training Show, and practice those skills alongside Po.

Fun, interactive photo opportunities abound for young and old alike, with Po, Tigress, and Minions dressed in traditional Chinese attire, and with Mandarin-speaking Megatron from “Transformers.”

At Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop, where the Asian food choices include stir fry noodles with beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu, Mr. Ping engages in light-hearted conversations before posing for photos: “What’s your name, young lady? Oh Cynthia, so nice to meet you Cynthia, my name is Mr. Ping! Welcome to Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop. We offer delicious noodles and service with a smile! I would love to take a picture. Here we go! On three say ‘noodles’!”

Draw Po
Learn how to draw Po Jan Wagner

Learn from an expert artist how to draw characters from “Kung Fu Panda.”

No visit to Universal Studios Hollywood would be complete without boarding a tram to take the famous Studio Tour. You will be treated to close-up looks behind the scenes in Hollywood as you drive slowly through streets lined with realistic building facades, experience an earthquake and a raging flood, get surprised by an underwater inhabitant of the seaside Amity Village from “Jaws,” and take part in “King Kong” and “Fast & Furious – Supercharged!” in 3-D.

Enjoy the live “Special Effects Show,” visit Springfield, USA – home of “The Simpsons,” and explore the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” where you’ll find the thrilling “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride.

Jan Wagner
Jan Wagner having a conversation with Mr. Ping at his noodle shop Courtesy

Do not miss “Transformers: The Ride—3D” and “Jurassic Park: The Ride,” which ends with a plunge down a steep waterfall.

At the live WaterWorld show, you’ll be blown away (figuratively speaking!) by massive pyrotechnics, and witness daring stunts and jaw-dropping special effects. Be warned, you may get wet!

For more information, visit Universal Studios Hollywood online at

Black Panther
Black Panther poster © 2018 MARVEL

“Black Panther”

The Black Panther character was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016, in “Captain America: Civil War,” but the character has actually been around in print long before that, first appearing in “Fantastic Four Vol. 1” Issue 52, in 1966.

The modern day Black Panther is the strategic leader of the proud, tradition- and honor-bound, secretive people of Wakanda in Africa. The Wakandan people are resourceful, and their society is technologically very advanced.

The story begins where it last left off in “Captain America: Civil War,” with T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) still mourning the death of his father T’Chaka, the murdered King of Wakanda. A monumental conflict ensues which will ultimately decide the fate of Wakanda.

The leading female characters are strong, independent and exude a sense of style. Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T’Challa’s spunky little sister and a whiz with technology. Okoye (Danai Gurira) is the fierce head of the all-female Wakandan Special Forces. Nakia (Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o) is a spy, often imbedded in countries to observe and then report back to Wakanda.

Evil villains include Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis). CIA agent Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman) returns to play a pivotal role.

As always in a Marvel film there is a Stan Lee cameo. Do stay around until the very end of the credits for a teaser scene that you won’t want to miss.

To learn more and to watch the really cool official trailer, go to

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Copyright © 2018 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #528