View Full Version : Family of WDW vets visit DL & CA for the 1st time 6/14-18

halfway there
06-28-2006, 08:21 PM
I guess I will start with my trip report for 'other California' destinations first since it seems there will be little competition! LOL

We are a family of 4: myself, DH, DD15 and DS10.
Destinations: Hollywood and Huntington Beach (for this portion)
Hotels: Hollywood Renaissance Hotel and Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort & Spa
Airport: SNA (AKA Orange County or John Wayne)
Rental Car: Dodge Magnum via Thrifty
Restaurants: California Pizza Kitchen, El Compradre, Johnny Rocket's
Attractions: Walk of Fame, Disney's El Capitan Theatre, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Kodak Theatre, Hollywood Entertainment Museum, Guinness Museum and Hollywood Wax Museum, drive along Sunset Blvd and Mulholland Dr

Technically, we arrived on the 9th and headed straight to DL but that is for another trip report on another board apparently! I was shocked to return home and find all these new categories for the DL board! It's growing by leaps and bounds!!

Anyway, after checking out of the GCH and renting a car at the airport (DH took a bus back to the airport to get a car since we hadn't needed one during our 6 days at DL), we drove to Walmart on Euclid for supplies. The new DL/SoCal Passporter helped us out with its location. We had a boy with severe motion sickness which had become obvious on the flight over! We purchased Dramamine which helped immensely, both in the car and on the plane ride home. We also picked up some snacks, beer and water that had been missing during our stay at GCH.

Continuing on to the hotel in Hollywood, we followed the directions in our Trip Tik given to us by AAA. Arriving about 1pm, we went to check in and noticed a fairly large crowd of people gathered in the lobby with signs for Jay Leno. We were not sure if they were waiting for him or what. At first, I thought they were all checking in and got a little nervous at how long it would take us to get a room! Thankfully there was no one actually at the front desk so I went right up and started the process. I had previously requested a city view with seeing the Hollywood sign in mind so I asked about that and the guy wrote down a number, 1500 something and started checking around in his computer then came up with 1819 and stated it was the best room in the house! I thanked him profusely and wondered if the fact that we were coming from FL had any influence on him since he told me he was flying out the next day for Orlando. I like to think that our little exchange garnered me 'the best room in the house'! LOL

Upon arriving in our room, we were pleasantly surprised to see the sign right outside our window! The room was immaculate with big comfy bedspreads and the squishiest pillows. We had requested a fridge so they brought that up a little later and we soon stocked it with beer and water. It was a good size portable, not like the beat up, tiny square one with the missing leg we got at GCH. We quickly assessed that we were all ravenous so we examined the map of the mall they gave us and spotted a California Pizza Kitchen! How much more Californian can you get than that?

Actually, we have one here in our local mall but I have never eaten there so I wanted to try it and thought it appropriate that it would actually be in CA! My husband thought I was nuts and rolled his eyes a bit over our choice (DD was with me on this) but relented so we headed down the elevator to the 3rd floor or what we thought was the 3rd floor. There's actually an "M" floor where the meeting rooms are and an entrance to the mall. We came out on the 3rd floor of the mall and going up to the 4th floor to check out the other restaurants (just in case!) we ended up down on the 2nd floor where the CPK was. While waiting for a table we got a few great pics of the sign in the background as the patio kind of juts out here, perfect for that kodak moment.

We were quickly seated in the corner window nearest the sign and I knew it must be a uh, well...a sign! We began with Avocado Club Egg Rolls then DD had the White Pizza, DS surprised us all by ordering the Hawaiian pizza from the kids menu, I got the Pepperoni Pomodoro on thin crust and DH had Thai Curry Noodles with Shrimp along with a Beverly Hills Iced Tea followed by a standard Long Island Iced Tea. We enjoyed our meals immensely! In fact due to late hour, about 3pm by this time and the filling pizzas, we didn't need to eat again today! Of course, DH went out and picked up some Chinese at a nearby donut shop which he claimed was very good to eat later that night while we watched the AFI's Most Inspiring Moments. We really didn't get out much at night during this vacation. I blame it on the time change. We were in bed so early the first few nights and never seemed to adjust till the vacation was almost over.

After eating we went to see when the next showing of Cars would be at the El Capitan Theatre across the street. We had promised DS that we would see it at DTD since it had just come out the day we arrived but we never seemed to have time to do it. We kept putting him off so I really felt we had to at least check it out this time. As it turned out a show was just about to start so we bought tickets, at $12 a pop ($11 for a child) and went in to the theatre. It is really a beautiful theatre and there was an organ player up on stage playing a lot of Disney theme songs. We found a seat up front since the middle section was roped off for the premium members who pay something like $24 to be escorted in and brought to the front of the concession line for popcorn, candy and a drink then taken to these special seats. We were happy where we were and could see and hear the movie just fine and there was a cool little preshow where they had a pit crew work on a race car on stage then they tossed out posters to the audience which of course landed squarely in this especially segregated section. So I guess you get what you pay for. The movie was really funny if you haven't seen it yet and make sure you stay through the credits. We stopped off for ice cream at the Cold Stone Creamery in the mall on our way back up to our room. We also got a chance to spot a few of the stars on the Walk of Fame as we travelled back and forth across the street at the crosswalks.

The next morning I got up early (that was no problem with the time change!), showered and dressed before anyone else was even up and got breakfast downstairs in the mall. I first headed to this Green Earth Cafe (3rd floor) because we had seen the night before they had smoothies and my son is on a smoothie craze of late but they were closed that early. I continued further down to the Nestle TollHouse Cafe (2nd floor) expecting them to be closed since they only sold cookies right? but I was delighted to learn they had two muffins left (a cranberry which is my favorite and a blueberry, DH's fave - another sign!) and of course coffee so I brought all that back up to the room, by myself, and had to wake them up! The kids munched on Gotarts we had picked up at Walmart.

We decided to explore more of the Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theatre (which we had seen a bit of the night before) and some museums. We also walked up to the Kodak Theatre where the red carpet would have been during the Oscars! They have all the Best Pictures/years listed on the columns. As we came down the escalator from the mall right into the forecourt at Grauman's we heard some announcer say something about Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Salma Hayak having just been there (see, those lazyheads made us miss the stars!) and to come book a tour of the movie stars homes or something like that but we just figured it was some sort of ploy and continued on our way. There is a Visitor's Center in the mall so we got some info on the museums we were interested in and headed down the street to the Hollywood Entertainment Museum. I had read online before I left that this was closing at the end of June forever so I thought it was important to see it while we had the chance but we wouldn't have missed much. The best thing about it was the Cheers set and that isn't saying much. They had moved a lot of stuff already and it looked kinda bare in places. Other things weren't working like the lights for the timeline and the miniature model of Hollywood which were two things I really wanted to see. The rest of it was costumes, props and info on how movies are made (the foley artist, sound machine etc). Honestly, I'd rather go to MGM Studios in Orlando which we frequently do. I learned more or at least pretty much the same stuff at MGM but it was neat being in the real Hollywood and seeing the really old film editing machines was kinda cool. We may have made the wrong choice on that museum over the Hollywood History Museum but the guy at the Visitor's Center had said it was mostly costumes and the kids groaned over the 'history' aspect of it.

With that under our belt we continued on the Walk of Fame all the way to LaBrea and saw the beginnning of it or what I assume is the beginning since there's a big statue of sorts and a large star that says Hollywood Walk of Fame and all the biggies like Elvis and the Beatles were nearby. We decided to take a drive around Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Laurel Canyon. These are places we see and hear about in movies but wanted to experience the real thing. Unfortunately we got back to our room just as the maid was starting to clean up so we only grabbed a few things we thought we'd need then headed out without a bathroom stop! My DS decided he had to go after entering BH where there was horrible traffic and no place to stop at all. My DH got the brilliant idea of taking a shorcut up some road which led nowhere but to a Country Club. Of course, acting like the out of town hicks that we are, he managed to use the facilities in the basement or something. I cowered in the car, supremely embarassed!! That was our adventure in BH, one for the kids to tell their kids!

DH had seen some route described in one of our books (LA for Dummies, I think?) for driving down Sunset Blvd all the way to the coast or something so we picked that up somewhere along the way and noticed all the outdated landmarks it pointed to while struggling in bumper to bumper traffic. We finally bailed onto the 405, which was not much better, intending to head to the Getty Museum but never made it. DH had the lightbulb moment of driving along Mulholland down through Laurel Canyon on our way back to the hotel. Now let me tell you people that I am no mountain girl. I live in the FL flatlands and I barely survived driving through the Smokies in TN! Here we are on this windy, scary road, waaaay up high and I almost lost it! My kids thought it was great (thanks to Dramamine) and commented that they now understood why Mulholland Madness at DCA is so named!

Safe back at the hotel, I forgot to mention that we had lunch at El Compradre's Mexican Restaurant on Sunset before embarking on our harrowing ordeal at the recommendation of a hotel employee who shall remain nameless. LOL No, the food was very good but it was really dark and musty in there so we couldn't really see what we were actually eating! We had the basics: tacos, enchiladas, chicken quesadilla, taquitos, rice and beans along with some Coronas. Anyway, my son was bent on going to the standard Ripley/Guinness type Museums we almost always visit on vacations but I refused to give into Ripley's this time as we had just been to the one in Orlando in March. So we got a two for one deal at the Wax Museum for that and the Guinness. We also needed to see the rest of the WoF so we walked all the way to Vine St but not up or down it and missed the one star DH was looking for: Jimmy Stewart. It was quite a long walk, further than to LaBrea the other way and a much seedier, scarier area. The Wax museum was under construction of some sort so the Star Wars section was closed much DD's dismay but it had a nice little gift shop out front where we got a souvenier map and magnet of Hollywood. The Guinness was interesting but typical of that type of museum if you like that kind of thing.

By now it was time to eat again so we ended up at Johnny Rockets in the mall late at night (or maybe that was just late to me on east coast time?). Again we have one in our local mall but it's good standard fare when you're hungry. DH had a chili dog, DD a grilled cheese, DS chicken fingers and a BLT for me with shakes all around. We dropped into bed that night since it was probably the latest we had stayed up all week!

DH was in charge of breakfast this morning and he got donuts from the famed donut/Chinese shop across the street. They were actually very good. The lemon donut I had was huge, overfilled and fresh, dare I say better than Dunkin's? We had to check out this morning and DH wanted to make a stop at the LaBrea Tarpits on our way to Huntington Beach. I can't believe I've only covered parts of 3 days activities and it is this long! I will continue the HB portion at a later time as I'm exhausted from detailing this much of our journey. Whatever will I do when it comes time to write about 6 days at DL?? Actually, it was much faster to read than to write!

Hope you all enjoy this!

Judy from Boise
06-29-2006, 07:21 PM
Great report! Congratulations on "Christening" the new board!

06-29-2006, 10:12 PM
Sounds awesome! I really enjoyed reading your trip report. Just have to ask, what is a Beverly Hills Iced Tea??

06-30-2006, 12:45 PM
Thanks for the great report - and HURRAY for this new forum!!! :thumbsup2
I'm anxiously awaiting your review of LaBrea as I'm still considering a stop there on our check out/drive down to Coronado Sunday. We're staying at USH - do you have any sense how far that is from the Hollywood attractions you were at? :smooth:

halfway there
06-30-2006, 03:03 PM
Just have to ask, what is a Beverly Hills Iced Tea??

It's just like a Long Island Iced Tea (all sorts of different liquor mixed together that tastes like regular iced tea) but with raspberry flavor added. DH usually likes various flavored regular teas (including raspberry) but he said this was a bit too sweet for his tastes. Not sure what exactly they used for the flavoring but it was rather pink!

halfway there
06-30-2006, 03:16 PM

Forgive my denseness but I'm not exactly sure what you're asking. If you mean how far is it from Hollywood to the tarpits, not very. From our hotel at Hollywood & Highland we drove down Highland to Wilshire. The tarpits are at LaBrea & Wilshire. I would say about 15min. The hardest part was finding parking since we didn't realize there was a designated lot behind the museum. We parked on the street so it took a few minutes of drivng up and down Wilshire to find something close. There was also a lot next to where we parked across the street from the tarpits but I think there may have been a fee. We did have to pay a meter on the street.

Hope that answers your question. I am not familiar with USH. Is it a hotel or a college? Also, are you driving down this Sunday? If so, I had better get on that review! LOL

halfway there
06-30-2006, 08:59 PM
Continuing on with our Huntngton Beach portion....

We are a family of 4: myself, DH, DD15 and DS10.
Destinations: Hollywood and Huntington Beach (for this portion)
Hotels: Hollywood Renaissance Hotel and Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort & Spa
Airport: SNA (AKA Orange County or John Wayne)
Rental Car: Dodge Magnum via Thrifty
Restaurants: Pete Mallory's sunset Grille, Sugar Shack, Ruby's
Attractions: Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Huntington Beach, swimming and movies at the pool

We checked out of the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel and drove to the LaBrea Tarpits. We parked on the street and walked in through the park nearest the art museum. We got a good look (and smell!) of the large pit in front of the museum. It is partially fenced off but there is a nice little bridge toward the street that is barrier free. After staring at the goo for a bit and taking a few pictures we headed into the Page Museum. It was only $20.50 for all 4 of us with different prices for adults, children and students.

It's fairly small inside, kinda U-shaped but lots of display cases filled with a variety of fossils so it could take some time to look at every little thing. There are replicas of some animals such as the Sabertoothed Cat, a Sloth, a Camel, a Bison, a Mammoth etc. Two different theatres show a couple of short films which run continuously. In the middle of the U or the center of the building is a small atrium with a pond and a little path. There are restrooms at the end of the U as you exit. There's also a small gift shop between the entrance and the exit.

Outside there is a large park with paths leading to various pits. A couple had an observation area. They apparently do all of the digging in July and August when the tar is the softest. There was a whiteboard with a list of all the things they had excavated the past summer and a "See you in July 2006". We spoke with a young girl working in that viewing station. She had worked there a couple of summers and had qualified to go into the pit this summer so she was looking forward to that. I'll tell you that is not a summer job I would want! The smell was bothering me enough, I couldn't imagine trudging around in that gunk! All in all it was an interesting and informative diversion and not at all like I had pictured it would be.

We then began the drive down to Huntington Beach again following directions in our TripTik. We originally had wanted to drive along Pacific Coast Highway at least part way there but we were getting hungry and in a hurry to get there so we ended up back on the 405. I know I read somewhere before we left that this is the busiest highway of all and yet we seemed to be on it more than any other except maybe the 5! I believe it took about 45 min to an hour at most to get to the hotel even with traffic. I remember telling DS that it would be longer than our trip up to Hollywood from GCH and that didn't seem to take all that long either despite traffic. I guess we were just allowing a lot of 'cushion'.

We debated about stopping to eat along Beach Rd as there were many fine restaurants typical of home but decided against getting something 'we could always eat at home" and went right to the hotel to check in. This hotel, the Hyatt Huntington Beach is gorgeous! I felt like one of the rich and famous arriving for my vacation. We got a chance to walk around a bit while we waited to check in and it is quite spread out but it's so pretty to look at we never minded walking from one end to the other! It's kinda shaped like 3 U's put together and we were in the 'leg' of the 2nd and 3rd U. We had to walk through the lobby, outside through a courtyard next to the pool, through a building to the elevators on the other side in another couryard in front of the Spa. It was all lushly landscaped with fountains and ponds and paths.

Our room was awesome too! We were in room #3365 overlooking a spa grotto with 3 individual hot tubs. It was beautiful. We could also see the beach at an angle across the street. The beds had big fluffy comforters and down pillows. There was mini fridge inside a cabinet with a little countertop. The bathroom was huge and the biggest so far. It was completely covered in tile from floor to ceiling! We were at the end of a long hallway so we could exit out the staircase on the end right into the spa courtyard but we couldn't get back in the locked door so I propped it open a couple of times when I went down so I wouldn't have to go the long way around.

We immediately started looking for someplace to eat and decided close was best so we went to one of the hotel restaurants, a casual indoor/outdoor place called Pete Mallory's. I had a burger, DD a tuna sandwich, DS chicken fingers and no one can seem to remember what DH had and I can't find the receipt anywhere! Oh well, probably nothing spectacular it was typical American fare but good nonetheless. We decided to familiarize ourselves with the resort and take a look at the beach. We eventually went to the spa grotto and partook of the relaxing hot tubs. We transitioned to the pool area for drinks and a movie. They set up a blow up type screen to show movies on when the sun goes down. DS continued swimming right through the entire showing but DD and I went over to the fire pit by the pool bar to get warm and make s'mores. They had a kit you could buy for 9$ which included a small bag of marshmallows, two candy bars and a few packs of graham crackers. It was enough to make 5-6 s'mores.

The next morning we took a drive down to Main St where there is quite a bit of shopping and restaurants. DH had read about a place called the Sugar Shack that had really good breakfast so we found a spot on the street to park and walked down to a row of breakfast joints all in a line with patio seating and tried to determine which one was indeed the Sugar Shack. We put our name on a white board hanging on the wall with a very long list of names and stood around trying to get comfortable for a long wait but when the waiter came over to call off names a lot of the people had already been seated and not crossed off so we were able to get a table right away! DS had a 'mouse' pancake in the shape of you know who with bacon, DD got french toast and a 'Surf' which is coffee mixed with hot chocolate, I had a Denver omelette which was huge and I couldn't finish it, DH got a Spanish omelette. It was all very filling and if it weren't for the early hour we probable wouldn't have eaten again today either. Between snacks, ice cream and smoothies we didn't eat more than two meals per day practically the whole time we were on vacation!

After breakfast we drove down to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. There wasn't much to see here as the path was under construction so you couldn't walk all the way around. We took a few pictures of 'nature' and headed onward. I had read about an old shopping area called Old Town which reminded me of Helen, GA but the map in the Visitor's Guide had numbers/locations switched so I originally thought it was near where we had breakfast. Since we were driving around aimlessly I suggested we try to find it based on the address. It wasn't hard to locate but there wasn't much there, just a few shops with overpriced stuff that we weren't interested in. It may have been a quaint little area at one time and in fact, someone was getting married there that day so I guess there's something to it but my kids wanted out of there fast!

We went back to the hotel and got ready for the pool and beach. After swimming a bit in the pool we headed down to the beach. The water was surprisingly cold like the Atlantic. I guess I expected it to be warm due to the sunny tropical nature of CA like FL but of course, we swim in the Gulf which is like bath water! We all got sunburned on top of our Disney sunburn but it was worth it. We came back to our room to shower and change for dinner. We had decided to walk down to Main St this time as we were told it was only a 15 min walk and our feet had recovered nicely from the marathon days at Disney! LOL

We were headed to Ruby's at the end of the pier but entertained dining elsewhere as it was getting cooler as the sun was going down. This is one thing I could never get used to. In FL it is warm all the time whether it is dark, stormy, rainy or otherwise unsunny! I had to remember to bring a jacket or overshirt every night when we went out and with a sunburn I was getting the chills fast. We pressed on however and were able to watch the sunset from the pier while waiting for a table. I thought that the sunset would be so spectacular being in the west but since we live on the west coast of FL it is really nothing new. I was impressed by the fact that I was the furthest west in this country I could go (meaning just the contiguous US of course!). Being on a California beach at sunset actually made me appreciate what we have at home more. I really need to take advantage of the nearby beaches, restaurants on the water and sunsets right here in my own backyard.

At Ruby's, DD had a shrimp Caesar salad and Oreo milkshake, DS had chicken fingers and a mocha shake, I had turkey sandwich and a mocha milkshake and DH had their special, a kobe steak with cajun fries and a beer. It is much like Johnny Rockets but we like that kind of thing and it was something I really wanted to do, eat way out on the pier like that. We actually got a table upstairs but it was in the middle of the room. It didn't really matter at that point since the sun had already set. We passed on dessert so we could check out the ice cream stores along Main St. We found a Baskin Robbins to suit our needs and started off on the long walk back to our hotel, reminiscing along the way as this was our last night.

The next morning DH went down to a little cart near the pool to pick up some breakfast foods, fruit, croissants and muffins along with coffee. We ate and packed, checked out and drove back to SNA where our journey had begun. We were hopeful that DS would be OK on the way home with Dramamine in his system and indeed he was. He made it through both flights (changing planes in Dallas) without so much as a look at a puke bag (we went through several on the way here!). DD and I got headphones and were able to decipher most of Failure to Launch, the in flight movie. It was pretty good but the sound cut out a lot so we missed some of the dialogue.

So ends our first trip to California. We thoroughly enjoyed it. One thing I will say is that we had fabulous weather the entire time especially at Disney. It's so nice to walk around and wait in lines in the warm sun with an actual breeze to cool you off! Stay tuned for the first part of our journey - DL, DCA and GCH to be posted on the other board after we return from our unexpected quick trip to WDW this weekend! YAY!

Thanks for reading!

06-30-2006, 09:37 PM
Another great trip report :thumbsup2
Thank you for taking the time to share your vacation with us!
I love reading the DL trip reports, but it's rare to find a Hollywood report so it's all the more exciting to read!

I can't wait til I get to post about our trip....if October will ever get here! :teeth:

06-30-2006, 09:40 PM
It's just like a Long Island Iced Tea (all sorts of different liquor mixed together that tastes like regular iced tea) but with raspberry flavor added. DH usually likes various flavored regular teas (including raspberry) but he said this was a bit too sweet for his tastes. Not sure what exactly they used for the flavoring but it was rather pink!

This actually sounds pretty yummy to me, I'll have to make a mental note to try one :drinking1

06-30-2006, 10:01 PM
Sounds like another awesome portion of your trip ! - can't wait to hear about DL/CA!! I appreciate hearing about LaBrea (we don't leave until Aug, though) - I think I will triptik it and see how we feel that day - sounds like we could see enough of it within an hour or 2, and DNeph is absolutely fascinated with dinosaurs - and I was thrilled this spring to put my hand right on an actual dinosaur footprint on a trail out in CO - so this would probably be really cool to us.

What I was wondering before was if you knew how far your hollywood location was from Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) - not sure if I'll be up to wandering too far from the hotel there, but seeing the walk of fame might be fun.

Had to laugh (sorry) about your DS on the plane - my poor DNeph filled 2 bags on the way home from WDW last month (we flew through Alberto!) - I told him he was now a 'seasoned' traveller - every one of my kids has gotten sick at least once on a trip somewhere or other :rolleyes: - we've had a few really rocky flights and emergency landings - but I still love to fly! :smooth:
Thanks again for all the detailed information - can't wait to be in CA again!!

07-01-2006, 12:14 PM
Enjoyed reading your report ~ Thanx for sharing.

Alice's Mom
07-04-2006, 02:45 AM
Great Reports!!! I love hearing an out of towners perspective, sometimes you get stuck in a rut of work and errands you forget about how cool a place you live in. Thanks for the reminder. :goodvibes

I love El Compadre's, my favorite mexican restaurant in Hollywood :thumbsup2

Mary Jo
07-14-2006, 01:58 AM
Thank you for your report. I live here in So Cal, and have never visited the hotel at Huntington Beach. I think it would be fun to check it out & the environs.

I am so glad you had an enjoyable stay here out West. :)