LA-mazing

Our time in LA was mostly split between Hollywood and Burbank. Hollywood was where we slept and ate most of our meals, as well as a bit of sightseeing, whereas Burbank has the TV and film studios where we spent four of our days. We had two days at Universal Studios like big kids (one bigger than the other). Having been to the parks in Florida the California park is a mere baby. The rides are largely 3D simulator type rides and a lot were no different from the Florida counterparts but still buckets of fun. The big difference between the two is the parks are intertwined with the actual working studios and there’s a “tour” around the sound stages where we saw the crowd for American Idol queueing up.

One benefit of turning up on a weekday in May was that the queue times were tiny. We had queued for 3 hours to ride the Harry Potter ride in Florida but we went on twice in 20 minutes! 10 points to Gryffindor!

The other two days in Burbank were spent in the Warner Bros Studios down the road. The first was a tour of the studio lot including a drive around mock-ups of New York, Chicago and Midtown America, and poking our heads into a few famous sound stages. We saw the sets for the Ellen Show and Big Bang Theory as well as props and costumes from Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts. The tour finished with a visit to the Friends set and a photo on the Central Perk sofa.

Whilst driving us around our guide, Jose, recommended we see a taping of the Conan show because it’s funny and it’s free. In the gift shop I checked the website and there were tickets available for a day we were free so we came back a couple of days later to watch Mr O’Brien film that night’s show.

We turned up early because they can overbook and you get numbered on your way in. We had to wait in a cordoned off area of a car park with a huge Conan bobble head.

After a while a lady came round and gave us a star but told us nothing about what it did. We didn’t know if we’d been selected as the pretty faces for the audience shots, or perhaps we’d get Ellen esque prizes like a trip to the Bahamas. Turned out that they have a golf buggy for people who require special assistance and if no-one needs them they just put some random people in the buggy. But it did mean we got front row seats!

It was fantastic! We saw Conan interview Tom Middleditch and Eric Christian Olsen. I’d never heard of either of them either. But then he also did an extra interview with Kristen Schaal off of Flight of the Conchords for a future show, which was a great bonus. There was a musical performance by a tiny lady called LP who was dwarfed by Conan when we went over to say hi and then our Conan experience was over.

We went for breakfast at a place called The Waffle a couple of days later and there was a bit of a commotion. I had heard it is very easy to celebrity spot in LA and I was really excited to find out who it was! It was Conan. Well we’d already seen him hadn’t we…

Our one day sightseeing in Hollywood consisted largely of going around four different museums: Ripley’s, Guinness World Records, Hollywood museum and Hollywood Wax Museum. The first two are very similar with exhibits of unbelievable feats and achievements. The third was a large selection of largely old time Hollywood memorabilia in the old Max Factor factory. The fourth unsurprisingly contained loads of wax figures of Hollywood idols. Some of them were a bit inaccurate and I imagine the nearby Madame Tussauds would be better, but this one had costumes! We spent a while wandering the many streets of the Walk of Fame stars and tried to find links between them but just couldn’t find two together that had anything in common.

So that was our LA experience. We missed a lot, and would have liked to see downtown and the many beaches but we had plenty of fun without them. I am sure we will be back, just not for the green juice.

Accommodation

We spent our time in LA in Hollywood in a lovely AirBnB. Our hosts were a couple who both worked in the film industry. We got a curtained off area for our room and bathroom and it was walking distance to all the Hollywood sites.

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