Out and About in Hollywood

Even after living in Los Angeles for over 10 years, there are still things that I have never done, or I don’t do enough.  In addition, I’ve always appreciated being able to explore Los Angeles to do things that are interesting.  There is definitely no shortage of things to do in Los Angeles, but living here, I tend to do the same things all the time.  I had half a day off of work, and wanted to make the most of my time.  So, I decided to have a fun filled afternoon and evening in Hollywood.

In the things I’ve never done category is PaleyFest.  PaleyFest is an annual festival celebrating some of the best shows on television.  For about 2 weeks, each night, there is a panel with members of the cast and producing team.  Ever since I moved here, I’ve wanted to go.  I love television.  That actually might be an understatement.  Many people think it is a waste of time, but I get so much enjoyment out of it.  Anything that brings you joy is not a waste of time.  And since I live a fairly active life, I don’t beat myself up about watching television.

This year, they had popular shows Riverdale, Stranger Things, The Big Bang Theory, and others.  One of my favorite shows this year was The Good Doctor.  To say this is good, is selling it short.  This show is one of those shows that comes along every once in awhile that intrigues you, not just entertains you.  The show is about surgical resident, Shaun Murphy, who has autism and Savant syndrome.  The cast is top notch, especially with Freddie Highmore in the title role.  Anyone in their 30s or older has literally watch Highmore grow up on screen.  He is a brilliant actor who is going to be one of the greatest of our generation (in my opinion).  Highmore is backed by a stellar and fantastically diverse cast that includes Richard Schiff, Tamlyn Tomita and Antonia Thomas.  Its obvious how much I love the show.  So, it was a no brainer when I heard one of the nights of PaleyFest was for The Good Doctor.  And I’m so glad I went!

If you live in Los Angeles or New York, and you love television, I highly urge you to go to PaleyFest.  It allows the audience to get a glimpse into the processes behind the show, whether it be the writing, the acting, casting, etc.  It also lets you get to know the cast as real people, and not just their characters.  For this panel, they actually treated us to the season finale before the cast and producers came out.  It was fantastic, and I might love the show even more after this.

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PaleyFest:  The Good Doctor @ The Dolby Theatre

Now…onto the things that I don’t do enough.  One of my favorites theaters in Los Angeles is the El Capitan in Hollywood.  It is now owned by Disney, and they only play Disney movies.  I took advantage of its proximity to the Dolby Theatre (where PaleyFest was) to see the latest Disney film, A Wrinkle in Time.  The movie was fantastic, and I was reminded that I don’t go there enough.  After the movie, it was time to eat before I went to PaleyFest.  I chose a place that I love.  On the ground level of the Roosevelt Hotel, is a diner/bar called 25 Degrees.  They have one of my favorite burgers, and I’m never disappointed.  An added bonus is that you can walk through the lobby and feel a little bit of that old Hollywood glamour for a bit.  In fact, the mirror you can supposedly see Marilyn Monroe’s ghost in was moved to the lobby because of its popularity.  On this particular trip, I ordered the Number Four which is a tuna burger with butter lettuce and crispy onions.  It was delicious.  If you are ever in the area, check it out.

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Decorations at El Capitan for A Wrinkle in Time.

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Solo Travel: Disneyland and California Adventure

Ah…the Happiest Place on Earth.  Disneyland and its companion park, Disney California Adventure (DCA), are surely two of the most popular destinations in Southern California.  However, they are probably not 2 destinations that people think of going solo to.  But I’ve got to say, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

One of the major things about Disneyland is the cost.  There are different tiers of tickets, ranging from 1 Day/1 Park up to Multi-day Park Hoppers.  Since I live within driving distance, I opted to go with the 2 Day/1 Park a Day pass.  This was $185 when it was all said and done.  Although I live close, I don’t live around the corner.  I opted for a decently priced hotel for the night to make it easier on myself.  If you are coming from out of town, the hotels in the area are pretty decently priced.  I stayed at the Anaheim Wyndham.  I give it a Fair Rating, but it didn’t matter, as I was really only there to sleep.  When traveling solo, I like to pick chains I am familiar with and that are in a well populated area.  Safety first!

After park entry and lodging, the major variable cost wise you can play with is food!  The great thing about Disneyland and DCA is the wide range of food options.  There are quick options like pretzels, churros, etc. and full service options like Blue Bayou and Carthay Circle.  When traveling solo, your comfort level is always the most important.  Since I love eating a nice meal at a nice restaurant, I made sure I had one meal somewhere nice, and took advantage of all the quick options the rest of the day.

PARK ENTRANCES AT NIGHT

PARK ENTRANCES AT NIGHT

Must-Eat quick recommendations are as follows: 

*Corn Dog – This can be found at a little red cart at the end of Main Street.  Yes, there will be a line.  Yes, it will be worth it.

*Dole Whip – This can be found right next to the Tiki Room.  Although this is not a live or die item for me, it is for a lot of people.  And I won’t kid you, it is delicious.  Definitely get one if you have never had one, or if you are trying to kill some time.  Its the only place to get it, and there will surely be a line.

*Mickey shaped food – I had 2 versions.  I had the Mickey pretzel and the Mickey beignets.  The pretzel can be found all over the place.  The beignets can only be found at a couple places.  I got mine at the Mint Julep Bar in New Orleans Square.  They were delicious.    I’m not sure if the only other place to get a beignet here is actually outside at Downtown Disney.

*Candy – Whatever your preference, hard candy, fruity or chocolate, Disney does it right.  The one Must Eat item candy-wise is the Peanut Butter Heaven.  Do I really need to explain?  Heaven is in the name.  You can find delectable sweet treats in both Disneyland and DCA.

*CHURRO!!!!!! – Once again, you can find these all over the park.  They are probably the only must have, I won’t leave without one, item on the list.  A churro is the one thing that transports me back to being 5 years old, watching the Electrical Parade with my Grandpa.  One of the most reincarnations of the churro are the Churro Bites served at the Cozy Cone Motel in DCA.  They come with a side of chocolate sauce.  Wash them down with a Red’s Apple Freeze.

TREATS AT THE COZY CONE MOTEL (DCA)

TREATS AT THE COZY CONE MOTEL (DCA)

MICKEY BEIGNETS AND PEANUT BUTTER HEAVEN

MICKEY BEIGNETS AND PEANUT BUTTER HEAVEN (DISNEYLAND)

Must-Eat Sit Down Recommendations:

Probably the most popular of these options is the Blue Bayou.  It has a view of Pirates of the Caribbean, and their food is pretty good.  This time around, I opted for another restaurant, but I recommend it at least once.  This time around, at Disneyland, I opted for River Belle Terrace.  They were having a Fantasmic! Dinner Package that included priority view seating for Fantasmic! and a Prix-fixe menu.   Definitely worth it if you are going to watch Fantasmic!  The food was delicious and I was super impressed with the wait staff.  The next night, at DCA, I opted for a nice lunch instead of dinner.  I ate at Carthay Circle.  It is a replica of the now demolished Carthay Theatre in Los Angeles, and its beautiful.  The food was delicious (I recommend the pot stickers), and the service was outstanding.

The only downside to sit down restaurants now is that you need to make reservations.  I made mine about a week in advance for River Belle Terrace and same day for Carthay Circle.  Since I love old Hollywood, I knew I wanted to eat at Carthay.  However, they also have a winery themed restaurant as well, at DCA.

Other than being able to eat when and where you want (because no one else is there to dictate to you), you can navigate the crowds easier as a Solo Traveler.  Also, some rides have Single Rider Lines.  Biggest advantage in Disneyland is at Indiana Jones, and at DCA, Radiator Springs Racers.  An example of the difference is this…I walked up to Radiator Springs Racers, and the Wait Time said 80 Minutes.  In the Single Rider line, I was in and out in 20 minutes.  Even if there is no designated line at the ride you are on, sometimes, they ask if there are any Single Riders.  Trust me, any pride goes out the window when you can get on ride that much faster since you are by yourself.

Now, just a couple tips…

Don’t forget sunscreen.  Dress in layers (take advantage of the lockers).  Bring a power bank for your phone, camera or other electronics.  Use the bag/purchase check where available.  Don’t be afraid to ask cast members to take your picture.

And last but not least, don’t forget to buy yourself some mouse ears!

Happy Traveling!

QUICK PIC WITH MY MOUSE EARS

QUICK PIC WITH MY MOUSE EARS