SoCal fun: Hollywood, Ren Faire, & Disneyland parks

Two years ago, I blogged about our visit to Disneyland and California Adventure and predicted it would probably be another seven years before I visit again but we decided to cough up the dough for park hopper tickets once again, and it was fun, but my gripe about long lines is still one of my major beefs about visiting these parks. They are still using the reservation system, which leads you (falsely) to believe the park will be less crowded.

My other main issues are the ridiculous amount of money you have to pay to get in, and also the audacity of charging people extra money to take cuts in front of us poor folk, making the lines that much longer.

We finally got to do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which was extremely cool, but it broke while we were on it and had to wait 20 minutes for them to let us off. Fortunately, we were able to try it again later in the day, and I would say it is the best thing at Disneyland right now. It’s a combination of several different types of rides – the traditional Disney “dark ride,” motion simulator, a walk-through portion, and a small drop. It makes you feel like you’re in the movie, more than any other ride I have been on. I hope they figure out how to keep it from breaking. It was “temporarily closed” several times while we were there that day.

I assume the increasing price of Disneyland tickets reflects all the cool new attractions, but a lot of the time, you can’t even get on them because they’re closed, or you don’t have time because the lines are so long.

I guess I didn’t learn my lesson about park hopper tickets the last time we were there. You can’t do everything you want to do at both parks in one day. Maybe you can if you pay extra for their line-cutter passes. I wouldn’t know.

It is important that you put the (free) Disneyland app on your cell phone because you need to check it frequently to see the estimated wait times for rides and stuff like that. (You can just uninstall the app after your visit.) Also be aware that parking is $30, because apparently Disney is not making enough money from admission fees and overpriced food and drinks – and Genie and Lightning Lane and all the other ways they price-gouge those willing to pay more (whilst screwing over those of us who aren’t).

If you read my last post about the Avengers Campus at California Adventure, you know we had to wait more than four hours just to get into this new, Marvel-themed area of the park. This time, we walked right in, which was nice. Last time, we couldn’t get on the Web Slingers ride, but this time we did. It was a sort of video game/ride hybrid. It was fun, but not really what I was expecting. My daughter is more of a Spidey fan than I am and also more of a gaming type, so she was more into it than I was.

We also got to see the Guardians of the Galaxy dance-off this time, which was a little dorky, but that’s par for the course. Ha. We also got to see the Dora Milaje and Spider-Man shows again, which are short but very cool.

Costumed characters the day we were there included Black Panther, Ant-Man, Black Widow, and both captains – America and Marvel. Get in line early if you want to see the Doctor Strange show. We missed it both times we were there unfortunately, so I can’t comment on it.

My husband, daughter, and I have become somewhat obsessive Marvel fans. If you aren’t a huge fan of the franchise, you can skip California Adventure altogether, unless you have small children. Last time we were there, we only had time for the Avengers Campus, but this time we went on the Cars-themed Radiator Springs Racers, one of the park’s most popular rides. The line was super long, but it was fun.

I keep saying I’ve had enough Disneyland, but I’m a sucker. I say I won’t be going back anytime soon but … we’ll see.

The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale

We visited the Renaissance faire again this year, and it was fun. We love to go in costume, and also look at everyone else’s costumes – the employees’ and visitors’ costumes are always impressive. We didn’t attend the joust this time, but I would definitely recommend it if you go next year. Also, it’s usually hot, so I also recommend bringing an umbrella. I brought a paper parasol that I purchased there a few years back, and it helps when you’re not in the shade. My complaints from last year stand: The bird show has still not returned (maybe it’s gone for good, I don’t know); there aren’t as many bands playing on the stages; and it’s a bit of a hassle to get into the parking lot.


We went to a show in Hollywood recently, so we made a point of checking out the new Carrie Fisher plaque that was unveiled a few weeks ago (May the Fourth!) at TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s). That area is a bit annoying and touristy but it’s worth a visit if you’ve never been there, if only to cross it off your bucket list. Parking was $30 here too, in the lot we chose. It’s pricey, but if it’s nighttime when your show gets out, it’s nice to not have a long walk past dark alleys, which can be anxiety-inducing.

I feel very fortunate to live in Southern California. I don’t live in Los Angeles, but I’m about an hour or so away, depending on traffic, so there are lots of fun things to see and do. What cool sci-fi things are there to do in your hometown? Comment below or visit me on my Facebook page!

Tune in next time when I will return to my usual programming: reviewing my favorite TV series and movies! Until then:

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3′ is bringin’ on the heartbreak

No, the Def Leppard song isn’t in the new movie, but the third and final installment of James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy brings on the heartache in a big way. This one hurts.

I don’t think I’m giving too much away to tell you that Rocket’s origin story is intense – he’s a talking raccoon with cybernetic implants and a past he won’t talk about.

I’m sure some will say the depictions of Rocket’s early years are too disturbing, but the truth is that animal experimentation is real, so in the interest of awareness, I’m OK with it, even if it was difficult to watch. (Go to if you want to know more about ending animal testing.)

Of course, the film isn’t just about our favorite feisty hero; there’s a lot going on in this movie. It’s loud, it’s chaotic, and it’s the Guardians so it’s also fun and funny and heartwarming. It’s also dark and heavy. (Of the three Guardians movies, this one is the most disturbing and violent. Don’t bring young children.)

If you love these characters, prepare to feel all the feelings.

That was my spoiler-free review. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, come back and read the rest of this later.


While I did like this more than the latest Thor, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man sequels, I did not love it as much as I loved Guardians Vols. 1 and 2. For starters, it was too dark and creepy. If you’re going to put in animal torture, then maybe don’t also add a bunch of other awful stuff, like the genocide of an entire planet (Counter-Earth), or company headquarters (Orgocorp) built from biological material that looks like nasty human skin, or the horrific and disgusting face under the High Evolutionary’s mask, or … well, you get the idea.

It was arguably a little too violent for a PG-13 rating. I like bad guys getting what they deserve – and the Beastie Boys – as much as anyone, but there was an excessive amount of gun violence, even for a Marvel movie.

And the number of times a main character appeared to be beyond saving was way too high. I thought Rocket was a goner more than once, and I thought we were going to lose Drax. And Peter. At what point are you emotionally manipulating your audience more than you’re entertaining them? I had a feeling this would be a tearjerker, but I didn’t expect to be almost sobbing for half the movie.

I loved Cosmo (good dog!) and the way that the film continued to develop friendships (Mantis’ defense of Drax, Nebula caring for a heartbroken/intoxicated Peter, etc.). I also liked that they tied up a lot of storylines. Rocket got closure (and we find out why he likes to steal batteries), Drax got to be a dad again (and danced!), Peter went to see his grandfather on Earth, etc. Last but not least, the audience got to feel included in the end because we, like the Guardians, finally understood what Groot was saying. That was a nice bow that wrapped up the package.

Goodbye, Guardians. We will miss you.

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