We've had a fantastic time on our vacation, but now the holiday is drawing to a close. We chose Los Angeles as our destination because the Teen has never been here (other than as a 2 year old in the Los Angeles Airport). She's considering a career as a Disney Imagineer so we thought she should see the west coast which is where the magic happens.
Well we've toured Disneyland and California Adventure and that was fun, but also a bit of compare and contrast to Disney World for us. In the end, we preferred our Florida theme parks. Then we toured two movie/television studios. First up was Warner Brothers. We loved our tour guide and how relaxed the atmosphere was at this studio. We got to see where The Mentalist is filmed on the sound stage, the Friends' television show set, other sound stages and outdoor sets as well. We saw the props area and learned that it is like a huge lending facility for all the studios in the LA area. Then we toured a museum and saw tons of Harry Potter costumes as well as old favorites.
Great tour. Loved it. Well worth the price of the tickets.
The next day we toured Paramount Studios. This tour felt like an Ivy League school tour with a hushed and muckety muck kind of atmosphere. We wore cool little headpieces so the tour guide could talk in normal tones to us, were ushered around all kinds of sets but not able to go inside because they were filming at the time, and sat on Forrest Gump's actual bench--life is a box of chocolates, right? We saw cool film clips of the different movies that were filmed at various locations as well as of different television shows (remember THE BRADY BUNCH and HAPPY DAYS?). We learned about Desi/Lu Productions and got a boatload of information about the lauded history of the studios. This was a good tour, but didn't really give us a nuts and bolts insider look at the process of film making. Personally, I preferred the Warner Brothers' Studio tour much more, but that's a subjective call. If you are interested in all the history and lore and more then this tour might be a better bet for you.
We went to The Grove and were filmed as audience members with Mario Lopez on EXTRA. That was pretty darned cool. Darling Teen was thrilled when he put his arm around her shoulders. I got to stare into his beautiful eyes and *ahem* got a fine view of his derriere. Yes, ladies, he is gorgeous.
We ate a lots of great food all over Los Angeles. The Grove featured a fabulous Greek restaurant. And we wandered through the farmer's market as well. A fun side trip.
We saw all there was to see of Hollywood Boulevard. Grauman's Chinese Theater with the hand and footprints, the Kodak Theater AKA the Dolby theater which featured a movie premiere ROCK OF AGES starring Tom Cruise. We saw all the glamor and all the not so glamorous aspects of the area. Los Angeles isn't particularly beautiful. It has beautiful pockets of wealth and history surrounded by ugly and dirty buildings and streets. We toured the Stars Homes and saw Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica Pier, the beaches, 3rd Street Promenade and were lucky enough to see Mel Brookes eating lunch outside a bistro with his writer friends. Woohoo!!
And cars... lots and lots and lots of luxury vehicles in Los Angeles. BMW, Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Lambourghini, Ferrari, uber expansive SUVs and Land Rovers... I can't tell you how many we counted in a block radius, but the status symbol addiction is alive and well in Los Angeles. The wealth is unbelievable. So is the poverty. Homeless people walk the streets alongside the parked luxury celebrity cars.
So now our journey draws to a close. We are spending one more day in the area and will travel up the coast line to share the vistas with our Teen. Has she fallen in love with the Hype and Mystique if Los Angeles? Nope. Not in the least. But if she could get her dream job here and afford a box in a faraway subdivision of the area, she'd move here in a heartbeat.
Los Angeles is where the magic is made--the land of smoke and mirrors. A dreamer's delight if one wants to become the next star or writer or producer or director. The trick is to get there and beat out all the other wannabes because this city is filled with dreamers and people with lost dreams. For every star that is born here, there a hundreds of waitresses and waiters and tour guides hoping to break into this industry. The talent is amazing. The opportunities to succeed will take tenacity and lots and lots of luck.
So we're homeward bound. And you know what? I'm glad. I miss my world in Normal USA.