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  • #41
    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    I've been lurking here for a really long time and just wanted to tell you, I really am enjoying your trip report!
    *September 1994-First visit to Disneyland* *July 2005-First visit to WDW (with a bun in the oven!)* *June 2012-Disneyland vacation (first time with my hubby and daughter)* [*Upcoming] October 2013-Anniversary trip to DLR with the hubby* [*Future Visit] July 2014-Family trip to DLR*

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    • #42
      Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

      I'm inspired to dart out of lurking as well for just long enough to thank you for the fantastic TR. Those of us that don't get to the parks often find the greatest satisfaction in such threads.

      Scott

      (now back to lurking)

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      • #43
        Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

        I very much love shots of the park in the rain, and you got lots of them with no people in it- even better!
        I pledge allegiance to the Earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe in which she spins.

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        • #44
          Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

          Day 8: Beverly Hills


          Today was our final full day in Southern California. We had just survived our 16 hour day in the Disneyland Resort so dispite sleeping in for as long as Daniel would allow us to we still took it easy today.


          Frankly we didn't have anything planned at all for our final full day in Southern California. We still had a day at Sea World in San Diego on our City Passes that we could use. But we didn't feel up to the nearly 2 hour drive to get there. Plus by the time we finally got moving for the day it was around 2pm. It would have been fun and i'm sure Daniel would have loved seeing the sea life but being exhausted from the theme parks, the long drive, and now short day we figured it just wouldn't be worth it.


          I looked for ideas of what we could do on the internet while Kiera and Daniel got ready. It could be cool to go see the Space Shuttle at the science Musium in LA but then I found it was already sold out for the day. Maybe Hollywood? No we will do that tomorrow. I eventually came across a trolly tour of Beverly Hills that sounded like it could be fun. It was only $5 a person and about a 45 minute tour of the famous landmarks and some celebrity homes. So thats what we decided to do.


          As I mentioned before it was nearly 2pm by the time we started our day. We grabbed some Jack in the Box (one of my favorite Fast Food locations that we don't have in Utah) thru the drive thru and then started what we thought would only be about a 45 minute drive to Beverly Hills. Well we were wrong. Traffic was HORRIBLE this Saturday afternoon heading in to the LA area. In total it took us nearly 2 hours to get to Beverly Hills. Maybe the drive to Sea World in San Diego wouldn't have been so bad after all.


          We eventually made it to Beverly Hills though. As we drove down Santa Monica Blvd we passed the Los Angeles LDS Temple and soon we were in the heart of Beverly Hills. There were many parking garages next to Santa Monica Blvd but with the many one way streets that ran around the city it was kind of difficult to get in to some of the garages as they too only had one enterance and exit. Finally we figured it out though and got the car parked. The rates were more reasonable then I thought they would be as well.





          The parking structure we were in was located about 2 blocks from the famous Rodeo Drive. Thats the street we were heading to as thats where the Trolly Tour would be departing from. The roads many trees were decorated with Christmas Lights and decor just as many of the High End Retailers store windows were. For being a Saturday afternoon though the street wasn't nearly as packed as I thought it would be.





          Before starting the Tour we wanted to make a bathroom break so we stopped in to a small shopping area. This place was deserted. It was kind of errie actually and possibly one of the most complicated areas to find your way around. We practically went up and then back down to the bottom to find the restrooms. Luckly they were still open.






          It was now a quick walk to the main part of Rodeo Drive where we would meet the trolley. The trolley was scheduled to leave at 5pm and that would be the final tour of the day. No worries though as it was a short walk and we made it on time. Infact we were the 2nd group on the trolley.









          For the Holiday season it was advertised that the tour would be given buy Mrs. Claus. And sure enough she was on the trolley. But in addition to her there was also a regular tour guide as well. The Trolley was soon loaded and we began our tour driving around the city streets as Mrs. Claus pointed out some of the more famous stores, buildings, and locations used in film.









          Mrs. Claus was a pretty good guide and pretty engaging. It was really fun hearing her tell us about the city. But that didn't last long. Since this was the final tour of the day she wouldn't be with us the entire trip. Right before we finished with the city portion of the tour she got off the Trolley and the other tour guide took over.








          This guide wasn't nearly as exciting to listen too and honestly at times didn't seem like she knew what she was talking about. One of the things the tour mentioned on the website was that you would go by some celebraties homes. That was pretty much a half truth though. We went by some homes that some famous people lived in. But at this time they no longer do. They have long since moved. The Trolley Tour is actually ran by the City of Beverly Hills so I guess it makes since that the City doesn't want to upset the actual famous residents by taking the city sponsored trolley by there house ever hour. Theres plenty of other tours for that stuff.







          Now I can't remember who use to live where but the houses we saw on the tour were big and very fancy. The pictures do not do them justice at all. I mean these are full blown Mansions. Costing 10's of Millions of Dollars. Houses we could never fathem living in let alone walking in to.






          In the middle of the neighborhoods though we came across one of the most famous Beverly Hills Landmarks. The Beverly Hills Hotel which has a rich history in the entertainment industry. We pretty much circled completly around the hotel before continuing on with the mansions tour.











          As we passed the Beverly Hills park that spans across many city blocks Daniel starting to become impatient and was done with the trolley ride. Apparently looking at homes and buildings were as exciting to him as Disneyland was lol.












          One of the final stops on the tour was by a house known as the "Witches Cottage". This house looks like it comes strait out of a fairy tale and is really cool and unique. I thought they said it was used in a movie as well although i'm not sure which one.







          After the Witch house we were back in the city area and the tour ended where it began. The tour was alright for what it was. It was cheap entertainment for about an hour of our time. We saw some neat houses and the Mrs. Claus part was fun. However I feel that the website made the tour sound like more then it was and the guide we had for the majority of the trip wasn't exciting to listen to at all. This isn't something we would do again but if your in Beverly Hills and looking for something cheap to kill some time then it might be worth checking out. It diffenitly wasn't worth the time and drive though that we spent getting there from Anaheim.













          With nothing else planned after the tour we decided to walk around Rodeo Drive a little bit more. We walked into the famous shopping area and looked at the expensive shops windows without ever going in anything. This area had a nice Christmas Tree and also some Carolers to help set the Holiday mood.











          We exited the area across the street from the famous hotel where Pretty Women was filmed. Then we headed back up Rodeo drive back towards where we parked the car. Other the the tour and expensive shops there really wasn't much else to see here that interested us. It was crazy to look in some of the shops windows and see 4 or 5 employees just standing around doing nothing. I mean how much money do these shops have to make off so few sales to pay 5 employees to do nothing most of there day.













          It was pointed out to us on the Trolley tour and we didn't realize we were parked on the same block as it. But we had heard about a Cupcake Vending machine somewhere in LA and how fun it would be to go to it. By luck we were right there next to it. I couldn't turn this thing down so before leaving we walked over to the Bakery called "Sprinkles" which is home to the worlds only "Cupcake ATM". The line to use the ATM was actually longer then the wait inside the bakery. Yeah it would have been quicker to go inside but that would take away the novelty of using a freakin ATM to get a cupcake.







          The ATM was very easy to use. You just scroll thru the screen, pick the cupcake you want, swipe your credit card, and out comes the brown box with your cup cake. We decided to try a Holiday Pepperment Chocolate cupcake and it cost around $4.50. I'm not sure if there was an upcharge for the ATM or not. The Cupcake itself was pretty good although we thought it was on the small side considering how big the box was it came in. Still we bought a fresh cupcake from a vending machine. Not many people can say they have done that.







          We loaded back into the car and started to make our way back to Anaheim. We were hungry and ready to find something to eat for dinner. I thought tonight we could keep it simple and just find a Chilies or Applebees or something. I was suprised that after searching on my phones GPS that there wasn't anything in the immidiate area. We finally found a Applebees somewhat close to Anaheim and it took us over 45 minutes to get there. We were glad to find though that there was no wait once we got there and got right in.


          After dinner we called it a night dispite it still being fairly young and headed back to our hotel. It was our last night so we needed to get packed and ready to go in the morning. But not without taking a final swim in the pool and relax in the Hot Tub. While we were in the pool once again the Disneyland Fireworks went off which drew many people out of the Hotel and around the pool area to watch the show. We enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub more though having seen the fireworks twice now.


          The night really was over after our swim. Daniel quickly crashed out and then we started to get the final things packed for the morning. We took the traditional photo of all the things we bought on the trip and then packed them up. Then we retired to bed. Although we were going home tomorrow we still had most the day ahead of us as we had a later flight leaving LA that evening. One day left. We hope we would make the most of it and that the weather would continue to cooperate like it did today for us.


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          • #45
            Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

            Day 9: Hollywood


            Our final day of vacation was upon us. By the end of the day we would be back in Salt Lake City and our trip would officially be over. Being such a short flight from home though we decided to book a late flight giving us almost another full day before heading home.


            Hotel Check Out was at 11am so we were up early to finish getting everything packed and loaded back into the rental to be on our way. The car was packed and at 10:45am we were on our way out of the Hotel. I just had to stop to check us out where we got a nice surprise. This hotel has a $10 per night parking fee. We stayed 8 nights so I expected to pay $80 at check out for the fee's. Upon seeing how long we stayed at the Holiday Inn though the desk clerk said thank you for as long as we did and waved the 1/2 of the parking fees for it. So we only paid $40 for parking. Such a great jesture that I am a Holiday Inn fan now and wouldn't hisitate to stay there again.


            Before leaving Anaheim we stopped by Downtown Disney one last time. Kiera wanted to grab some more things from the World of Disney store (we still had another 20% off coupon) and we figured we could grab lunch as well before leaving. It seemed much less crowded then it was a few days earlier.


            Since we missed the Hotel Santas earlier in the week we figured we stop by and see if they were out now. First up was the Disneyland Hotel but Santa was nowhere to be seen. We didn't spend much time here though as we continued on into the Rest of Downtown Disney making our way towards the World of Disney store.










            The next stop though was at the Grand Californian again to see if the Santa was out but we were dissapointed once again as he was nowhere to be seen. So we quickly reexited the hotel and moved on.






            We finally got to the World of Disney store and Kiera knew exactly what she was looking for (a certain christmas ornament for me). While she got the item and waited to check out me and Daniel looked around the store again to see if there was any last items we would want to get. Unlike the rest of Downtown Disney though the World of Disney store was very busy at the moment.






            As I mentioned we also wanted to grab lunch while at Downtown Disney and decided on none other then Earl of Sandwich again. What can I say. We love this little sandwich shop. I so wish we had one closer to us then the one in Las Vegas. Unfortunatly though since its taken me 6 months to write this report I honestly don't even remember what it was that we ordered. All I remember was that it was once again very delicious.






            After lunch we were done with Downtown Disney and Anaheim all together so we hit the road to drive to our next destination of Hollywood where we planned to spend the rest of our day. Unfortunatly though we hit a familiar sight as rain started to fall again the closer to LA and Hollywood that we got.






            We made a quick stop for some gas (wow was it expensive in the Hollywood area) and then made our way to Hollywood Blvd. We decided to park at the Hollywood and Highland center as its right in the center of the Hollywood attractions and the pricing is alright. I actually first turned into the Valet Parking located under the Madam Tussau's Wax Musium and that too was a great deal. However it was cash only and with no cash we left and parked in the regular parking.


            The Hollywood and Highland Center is located right next door to the Famous Grauman's Chinese Theater. Its not only a large shopping complex but its also home to the Academy Awards which take place in the complex's Dolby Theater. The theater use to be known as the Kodak theater but do to the companys financial issues they no longer sponsor many things (as seen in the Disney Parks).






            Exiting the Theater entrance across from the theater where Jimmy Kimmel Live is filmed we turned and headed towards the Chinese Theater. The rain had let up a little bit at this point but it was still lightly coming down. The Chinese theater hasn't really changed since the last time we came. Although I do belive its ownership has changed hands again. Now to enter the theater courtyard your required to have a photo taken that they try to get you to buy before leaving.









            The World Famous Grauman's Chinese Theater is most well known for it's concrete hand and footprints of famous celebrity's that make up the theaters courtyard. It is also the inspiration for the facade of the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Its too bad that Disney has felt the need to hide this replica behind that hidious hat.









            You can't go to Hollywood and not visit the Chinese Theater. Its basically a symbol for Hollywood. Its actually a lot of fun looking around at all the different hand and foot prints and seeing what different celebrity's you can find. We would have spent more time here but the rain once again started to pick up and we were ready to get out of it.










            A newer attraction in Hollywood is the Madam Tussaud's Wax Musium. We've always wanted to check out a wax musium before but we just couldn't ever justify the cost of them being around $25 a person. However while at the Chinese theater we were given a buy 1 get 1 free coupon for the Wax Museum. $12.50 was a bit easier to pay and wanting to get out of the rain we decided what the heck and decided to check out the museum.







            The Museum is 3 stories tall and you actually start at the top and work you way down. As we took the elevator up to the top it dumps you out in an area that looks like a lounge with many wax models of celebrity's all over as if its a party or something. We've seen the Wax models before that they typically have out in front of the attraction. But it was kinda eery seeing so many in one place. Its amazing how real and lifelike they look. Especially there eyes. Can you make out who the celebrity's are that we are "hanging out" with in the following pictures?
















            The next room we came to was one the celebrated the Stars of an earlier Generation. From the 30's to the 60's there were many of that eras most famous celebritys here.









            The 2nd level is the largest portion of the museum and had the most Wax Models. This was really the best part of the museum as many of the Models are set up in front of backdrops from the famous films that they are representing.


















            Eventually you come to a room that is like the backstage area of a set and then the themes change to once with famous Musicans and Sports Atheletes.















            The final room on the 2nd level still has many of the backdrops but it also has many models just standing around like that first room on the 3rd level. However this room is themed to Superhero's and Actions stars.












            After this room you will go down some steps back to the main level and probably the most interesting room of the bunch. This room doesn't have any famous celebritys but instead is a behind the scenes section that shows how they create these amazing Wax Models.





            The final room before the exit is set up as an awards ceremony where once again there are many of the Wax Models around dressed up in there most elegant wear.









            Of course as with all major attractions you end your tour of the museum in the gift shop. As I mentioned above we thought the museum was pretty cool. Its amazing how life like these models are and they really are a sight to behold. However I stand by my original statement. Is it worth the $25 admission? I would say no. But it was worth it if you have a buy 1 get 1 free admission.


            We were in the museum for nearly an hour and a half. We really hoped that while in the Museum the rain outside would have stopped. Unfortunatly it had gotten worse though. Dispite the rain we decided to walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame anyways. The Walk of Fame is the sidewalk along Hollywood Blvd that has "Stars" for those most derserving celebrity's in the Entertainment industries. Just like at the Chinese Theater its fun to search and find the stars of your favorite celebrity's. The Walk of Fame is fairly long though and will go miles past the main area of Hollywood Blvd. There will also be many people dressed up as Characters out on Hollywood Blvd wanting you to come take photos with them. Just beware that these people expect to be paid for there photo.
















            We didn't walk too much of Hollywood Blvd though and decided to turn back around and head to the Hollywood and Highland Center after passing the Disney Soda Fountain and the El Capitan theater. I thought there was a gift shop at the Disney Soda Fountain but I didn't notice one. It also seemed pretty expensive to grab a snack from there.

















            The shopping side of the Hollywood and Highland center isn't all that different then your typical outdoor mall. You will find many of the same run of the mill stores and there aren't really many high end options. Even most of the restaurants are what you could find at home. In addition to the Dolby Theater that usually has a Circ De Soula show running there are also additional movie theaters and some night clubs. The complex is I think 5 levels tall and on a clear day will give you some great views of the Hollywood Sign on the Hill.












            Unfortunatly for us though the rain still hadn't let up and the cloud cover was low enough to completely hide the Hollywood sign from view. With the exception of our very first day in town we never saw the Hollywood sign again. Had it not been getting dark so early we would have drove up closer but the sun was already setting by the time we were done in Hollywood.





            We tried to kill some time at the Hollywood and Highland complex but we did all there was to see and not wanting to pay any more for parking we decided to grab a pretzel and then we were on our way out of Hollywood for the day and trip. We still had a few hours to kill before our flight home. Unforutnatly with the rain and early darkness there wasn't a whole lot that we could find to do. We swung back over to Westwood where we grabbed a dozen cookies from Diddy Reese and also picked up a Dinner at a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken and then it was time to head to the airport.





            After stopping to finish topping of the Rental Cars gas tank we returned it to Alamo. Its still so weird to me that all of the Rental car locations are located off property away from the airport. It kind of made the location hard to find but with the help of my phones GPS we were able to find it. We then loaded on to the Bus that would take us to LAX to catch our flight.


            We were at the airport at around 7:30pm. About 2 hours before our flight. I thought the LA airport would be quite busy to fly out of but we were suprised to find it as a ghost town. We checked in very quickly and were soon at our gate ready to head home. We had plenty of time to kill and Daniel had fun playing around until it was time to leave.











            We boarded the plain and it was very empty. I guess not too many people fly to Salt Lake City late at night lol. We thought for sure that Daniel would sleep the whole way home but he decided he wasn't tired on the plane and really didn't sleep. The flight was uneventful for the most part and before we knew it we were back on the ground in Utah. Where we were soon greeted by the Friged cold and Snow.






            One new thing we tried on this trip was with our late arrival (after midnight) Kieras parents brought our car and dropped it off at the airport already for us. This worked out but we really didn't know where it was parked so it took us a little bit to find it. Which in the cold late at night really isn't the funnest thing in the world to do. It was nice to be able to go strait home from the airport though instead of stopping somewhere to pick up the car first.


            Overall we had a wonderful and amazing vacation dispite the issues we had with the weather and rain. The parks are beautiful during the Holiday Seasons and the Disneyland Resort continues to prove itself as my favorite theme park destination in the world. Someday I hope to return once more to Southern California and the Disney and Universal parks again. But right now we have no idea when that will be as our next few trips are already planned out to be on the East Coast again.












            And thats it everyone. Thanks to those of you who have been patent with me as this report took forever to write. Thanks for following along and reading and checking out the photos and especially thank you for allowing me to share them with you. Vacationing is a big part of our lives so there will be many more reports to come. I will shortly start on my trip review to Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from this past May shortly. And this September we already have a Eastern Caribbean Cruise booked on the Carnival Dream where we will not only return to cruising but we also plan to become Universal Orlando Annual Pass Holders that same trip. Until then thanks again everyone.

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            • #46
              Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

              Congrats on your next trip plans. Thanks for the report!

              I found with all the pix it was slow loading. Is there anyway to put just one or two days in a post titled "day 1..." and make another post titled "day ..."?

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