Tuesday, January 13, 2009

West Coast Diaries - 3. Los Angeles

Where San Francisco was beautiful, Los Angeles was dirty. Where San Francisco was small, Los Angeles was huge. There is a highway called Pacific Highway One that leads from San Francisco to Los Angeles and hugs the coast of the Pacific Ocean and passes through picturesque towns. I rented a car in San Francisco, and we drove partly through this highway, before switching to the faster interstate to head down to LA. With traffic, the total drive was about 8 hours. My uncle lives in LA, so we bunked at his place, ready to explore the three big attractions of LA.

I already knew Hollywood was dirty but even then I was unprepared for how dirty it really was. The weather was a bit gloomy, rainy at times, and the whole area had a run down look to it. It was hard to imagine, standing next to the Kodak Theatre, that this was where the Oscars take place. Just opposite the road was a hobo urinating against the wall. Some tourists passing by took a picture, I don't know why.
There are some famous buildings and monuments in Hollywood, such as the Capitol Records building above, and of course the Kodak Theatre.
It's fun to walk along the Walk of Fame and see the numerous stars and trying to find your favourite actor or actress, but that soon gets tiring after a while. The only fun thing in Hollywood is the Hollywood Museum (where they have the set of USS Enterprise with the Captain's chair!) and the tour of the Kodak Theatre.
The famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre (above) is right next to the Kodak Theatre, and you can see this building when a famous movie premiers on Hollywood.

Universal Studios
Now this is the fun thing to do in LA! I honestly had a really great day at Universal Studios, and not just due to the weather which the day before had been gloomy but on this day the sun came out in full force!

What we in our group did was to upgrade to "Front-of-line" passes when we purchased our tickets online, back in November. It was marginally more expensive as we purchased online and it allowed us to skip ahead to the front of every line at every ride or show, as well as get preferred seating at the shows. A fabulous buy, especially when the weather is great and the lines are long! Oh, for a whole day we were VIPs.
San PedroThe beautiful San Pedro valley, as seen from the tram ride at Universal Studios.

They have a tram ride (which shuts way earlier than the park) that takes you on a studio tour. The ride is not just a sight of the buildings however. For example, when they take you to a bridge that broke in the movie King Kong, you are ON THE BRIDGE as the driver is narrating this and then the bridge breaks! When they are explaining how they create flash floods in movies, suddenly a flash flood erupts right AROUND THE TRAM (see below).

The best, however, is when the tram passes through the plane crash set used in the War of the Worlds.

They destroyed a whole Boeing 747 for this movie!

Then they take you around Wisteria Lane (the sets for Desperate Housewives) as well as other famous studio sets. Other than the studio tour, there's lots of rides and shows that keep one occupied. I really enjoyed the Terminator 4-D show, where the Terminator actually shows up in front of you in a person and takes you INSIDE the movie.

They also have a show involving lots of sounds, special effects and oh, explosions.
Again, the lines were huge, but we cut everyone across and got the best seats in the house!

What can I say about this place that has not been said! Truly, the Happiest Place on Earth. The employees were literally smiling all day. Everyone was super eager to go out of their way to help us in case we needed anything.

Mostly though, we stumbled upon a secret. December 24 may be the best day to go to Disneyland if you want to avoid crowds. Seriously, rides that have 2 hour waits, we just waltzed through and went on again if we liked it! We covered both the parks and had a great time. After Disneyland, Wonderland does not even compare!
An African boat cruise that featured elephants and tigers and cannibals!
Elephants taking bath. You don't want to get too close!

A spook at the haunted house.

Pirates of the Caribbean

High School Musical 3's cast performing

Mrs Incredible during a parade

Pinocchio waves us goodbye


misspecs said...

The pictures are absolutely fantastic!

'liya said...

Your Disneyland reminds me of when I went to Disneyworld, it truly is a wonderful place! :D

geekisiddiqui said...

I was looking at this.......and thinking.....I thought for sure I had already commented on this....then I realized....that was on fb :P

Anyhow, great pics! Makes me want to go back again :)

mezba said...

Missspecs: thanx!

'Liya: it really is. Not only was I amazed at the scale of it (the costs must be immense!) but at the near flawless way the operations are run. They take planning to the nth degree.

Geeki: Hmm... your comment seems to have been eaten up!