By Jamie Ruby
This October (10/9-10/10) marked the 5th annual Syfy Digital Press Tour, which once again took place in Orlando, Florida, this time at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel. I at SciFi Vision, along with reporters from other sites, were invited to take part in the press event.
The first event was Destination Luau, which was in the Wantilan Pavilion. It was a unique experience and the place was perfect for the theme. Upon entering each reporter got a Syfy bag with some goodies, including Josh Gates new book, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter
, as well as a beaded luau necklace.
We all mingled for awhile during cocktails and I spent some time with some old friends and new. I also was able to chat with a few of the actors at the event, including Emily Rose and Colin Ferguson, both who posed for photos with me.
I was also eager to talk to Rhys Ifans, because I'm a huge Harry Potter
fan, but I didn't get the chance until the next day.
I also talked a bit with Josh Gates, who was hosting the event. He told a couple of us how he obtained his Hawaiian shirt - by buying it off of a man at the pool for $30!
During the luau I also noticed some other talent was there as well. I didn't get a chance to talk to them, but I did see Eddie McClintock as well as Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne
Before the buffet style dinner, both David Howe and Mark Stern came on stage to welcome us. They were followed by Gates, who continued with the introduction to the luau.
In between there were men on stage playing luau music and at one point hula dancers.
Most of dinner I spent talking to my friend Sammi Turano of TVGrapevine.com and others at the table, until it was near time to leave for Halloween Horror Nights 21 at Universal Studios, this year headlined by Lady Luck.
Everyone took a bus to the park. It appeared that many of the talent also attended the event.
Upon arriving we were given drinks in these cool glasses that blinked red. During the intro I sat at the table that the Being Human
cast - Sam Witwer, Sam Huntington, and Meaghan Rath - was at, and was in their group during the haunted houses. It was a lot of fun hanging out with them.
During the evening it started to rain and we all donned our ponchos but still got pretty wet, but it was still a fun experience.
Later I left the park and met up with Turano and Melody Simpson of Hollywood the Write Way for some pizza and to watch a bit of Neverland
, before I went back to my room for the night.
The next day was the main part of the tour - the panels. After breakfast we all sat down and set up for the day. In between each panel we also got a few minutes to take photos with the talent as well as do quick personal interviews.
The first panel was for Being Human
. The cast talked about the upcoming season and what we could expect to see. Afterwards I asked each of them if they had finally seen the British series on which it is based (last year at the press tour they hadn't seen it), which they had. Witwer had great things to say about it, and Rath talked to me about how this year the story really veers away from the original.
Next was the panel for Neverland
, the four-hour miniseries which will air this December. The cast - Rhys Ifans, Anna Friel, and Charlie Rowe - talked about the upcoming origin story, from green screen to fencing, and more.
I made sure I got a chance to talk to Ifans and asked him about what it was like working on Harry Potter
. He seemed genuinely excited about it. I asked him if he would be going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that night, and said he planned to try. I did see him there later that night, and made sure I got a photo of him at the park.Face Off
was the third panel. Ve Neill and McKenzie Westmore talked about the upcoming season and some of the things we could look forward to. Neill also talked a bit about working on the upcoming films Hunger Games
and the new Spiderman
I later asked Neill what her most interesting makeup job was, and she talked a bit about Spiderman
and also working on the Pirates of the Carribean
Westmore talked to me about her favorite results from the makeup challenges both last season and this year, including Gage's Hansel and Gretel.
The fourth panel of the day was for the Christmas episodes of Eureka
, and Warehouse 13
, which consisted of stars Colin Ferguson, Emily Rose, and Eddie McClintock. Before the panel we got to see clips of all three specials and were also given a DVD with the episodes (which I'll be reviewing soon). This panel was definitely one of my favorites; the three were great together.
Ferguson talked about doing voice work for the Eureka
animated Christmas special. He also told us Jim Parsons and Chris Parnell will be guest starting in the episode, along with Matt Frewer, who returns as Taggert.
Rose answered my question about how she felt about Nathan and Audrey's new relationship.
McClintock talked about how the Warehouse 13
holiday episode this year would be less fluffy and more of an actual episode.
After the panel, I asked McClintock what he was most looking forward to everyone seeing in the Christmas episode. He talked about how McPherson is returning, which is going to be great; he was a fantastic character.
Next was lunch at Jake's American Bar with Sanctuary
leads Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne, who had "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" t-shirts on which was cute. They first talked about the new season and then moved from table to table taking questions.
After lunch we all went back into the conference room to hear from Anna Silk and Zoie Palmer of Lost Girl
. We saw a clip of the upcoming acquired series about a succubus, a powerful female entity who feeds off sexual energy, and then the actresses told us more about the series.
After the panel I asked Silk about the Fae and other supernatural creatures that would be in the series. She told me there would be both human looking Fae and Under Fae.
was next, which is a reality series about making creatures for television and film. Cleve Hall runs the workshop with his daughters, including Constance, his business partner Roy Knyrim, and his ex-wife. The three talked about what it takes to make these creatures, often in a short timespan.
The next to last panel of the day was for WWE Friday Night Smackdown
with Wade Barrett and Alicia Fox. The show has now become the second-longest-running weekly episodic series in US history.
One thing Barrett talked about was his quick journey to becoming a WWE superstar, and Fox talked about how before being a WWE Diva she was a wedding planner.
The last panel of the day was for the new, previously unannounced reality series, Total Blackout
, hosted by Jaleel White and created and executive produced by Henrik Nielsen. The series is about timed competitions that will happen in complete darkness. We got a taste of the show as a few reporters along with Colin Ferguson each had to put their hand in a tank and tell what was inside it. The objects consisted of a snake, a teddy bear, and a person's foot. It was hard to take photos of the live video we watched, but I did record part of Ferguson playing the game.
After the panel, we had time to return to our rooms to change. We all met back to take the bus to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure. I believe that most of the actors attended the event, except for the Being Human
cast, who I learned when I talked to Witwer the night before, had to go back to work and couldn't stay. I even saw Ashley Eckstein of Her Universe there. I realized when I got on the bus that Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne were riding with us.
When we arrived at Islands of Adventure, we were given our "passes" for the exclusive event on a Hogwarts lanyard (I got Slytherin). After walking in on the red carpet, we headed over to the Mythos Patio restaurant where we had cocktails and appetizers. Each of the plates the servers brought around had the name of the food in a little digital frame. There was also a Syfy ice sculpture again this year.
During the evening I talked to Emily Rose and Josh Gates. Rose was talking about her recent trip to Jordan and showing us some of her gorgeous photos of the place. I also got to hear the interesting story of how Gates landed Destination Truth
After a little bit we were joined by Colin Ferguson. At this point it was just the four of us. I talked to him for awhile as well until it was time to leave for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We all walked into Hogsmeade, where all of the employees are dressed and stay in character. There was also Harry Potter
music playing everywhere.
At the park I hung out some more with the three actors. I also met up with my friend Karen Moul, who I had lost in the shuffle to get out of Mythos.
During the night I rode the Dragon Challenge with Ferguson a few times, which was great. We always sat in the front, however, only the one dragon, the Hungarian Horntail, was running at the time. The actresses from Lost Girl
were also there. Unfortunately during this time Rose had gotten sick from riding one of the rides and had stayed back at the Three Broomsticks where they had some food and desserts set up.
The Three Broomsticks is a tavern / restaurant in the park, named after that in the book series. It's connected to the Hog's Head pub, where you can order Butterbeer, pumpkin juice, or other brews or juices.
I also saw Rhys Ifans at the park but didn't get to talk to him. I also saw Eddie McClintock a couple times who waved as he passed us.
Moul and I enjoyed the rest of the park as well. We went into Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey quite a few times, which is my favorite. We also took a turn on the Flight of the Hippogriff, and of course we also enjoyed some Butterbeer (of the frozen variety) which we got in exclusive glasses.
I also made sure we took time to go into Ollivander's wand shop so that I could take photos inside the store, since normally it is hard to get in to because of long lines.
There are other places to visit inside the park, such as Zonko's, the joke shop, and the candy store Honeydukes. Both are in the Harry Potter
books and recreated from the films.
There are also gift shops, such as Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods, which also sells photos from the Forbidden Journey ride, Dervish and Banges, and the Owl Post post office where you can send letters from Hogsmeade.
Other attractions in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are the Frog Choir and the Triwizard Spirit Rally, which includes a performance by the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students.
Eventually the night was over and we all rode the busses back to the hotel.
A group of us, including myself, Moul, Ferguson, Gates, Silk, Palmer, and a few other reporters, met up after in Jake's American Bar for drinks. We chatted for awhile and at one point Silk was healing Ferguson with her magic wand.
Eventually it was time to leave and the press tour was over, but it's an event I will never forget.
More articles for each panel as well as a detailed description of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which I also attended after the conclusion of the press tour) will be available soon. All of the photos from the event, with many more on the way, can be accessed from the gallery
(you can also click on the photos above), and the video clips (more coming) from YouTube
. Eventually I will come back and add links within the article to more photos and videos.