Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

It was raining the night we all went to The Magic Castle, which felt thematically appropriate in some ways. I mean – a creaky old castle full of secrets on a rainy night? As if our adventure to the Magic Castle could POSSIBLY get any better!


Once again (this was the same weekend we went to Club 33) my friend Jenny invited me to experience a rare event in LA – dinner and shows at the private magicians’ club, the Magic Castle!

Sadly, you aren’t allowed to take any pictures outside of the reception area, so these are the only pictures I have from our evening:


The rose garden at the club’s entrance


Entrance Guardians


The Magic Castle Mission Statement, in the foyer

It was a fantastic evening though! We happened to be there for their 50th Anniversary week, so all of the shows were performed by former Magic Castle Junior Magicians (the education program the Castle started to keep the art of magic alive).

The show we were guaranteed entrance to with dinner featured a variety of magic styles which was a nice experience since I had never seen a magic performance before. Surprisingly I even got pulled from the audience to assist one of the magic tricks! It was an elaborate, comedic card trick – at one point the magician cut open an orange and there was a rolled up card inside!

There were also magicians just milling about the various lobby/bar areas who perform close-up magic (like card tricks etc) at small tables. We watched one man for a while who was fascinating – we were literally sitting a couple of feet from him and I have NO idea how he did the majority of his tricks.

After the shows we did a little bit of exploring as well – I was fairly insistent on finding the secret passageways that MUST be in that castle (right?!). Alas, no passageways, but we did wander down to the basement (?) area where there was a small museum and a couple of weird hallways with some illusions and trick mirrors in them. One of the stone hallways even had a few artifacts from The Haunted Mansion! I may have actually squealed with excitement.

Another Disney tidbit about the castle – they have a stained glass door there as tribute to Richard Sherman, similar to the Main Street Window that Richard and Robert Sherman share at Disneyland!


Jeremy & I in the foyer area 🙂

Who knows when or if I’ll ever get the chance to go back, but if you ever meet a magician or member of the Magic Castle who would invite you to attend, it’s definitely a great Hollywood secret and worth the visit!

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On one of the recent sunny warm LA spring days, I decided to head over to Universal Studios to take their studio tour — I’d heard that they had recently completed all the construction on their backlot (they were still rebuilding from the 2008 fire when I went with Arden) and I hadn’t been on it since they added the King Kong 3D experience.

Here are some highlights of the tour — just think of me as your own personal tour guide!


Arriving at Universal Studios Hollywood

The view on the way to the studio tour — backlot sets below, with Warner Brothers Studios in the distance.




Part of the newest areas on the backlot — the rebuilt city streets. We were told that the new Spiderman movie would be using some of this area for filming!


The new courthouse, where the courthouse from Back to the Future once stood:


I was surprised they didn’t rebuild the courthouse in the same look as before, since they continue to make such a big deal out of the fact that Back to the Future shot there, but it doesn’t look like itself anymore. I feel like the original courthouse (below) was just as multipurpose as the new one!

I have never heard Peter Jackson name dropped more than I did on this tour. He probably tied with Spielberg (which is slightly more expected, but still). Way to not be subtle, Universal!


Seems like something BIG got here before us...

Just another pleasant day in Amityville:


I’m incredibly proud of this next shot, because I just about jumped out of my skin in the middle of pushing the button.



Meanwhile, it’s been snowing on the northern parts of the lot in Whoville:


Some of these tour stops really prove that Universal used to be the King of Horror. Case in point:


Anyone wanna check in? Seems Norman is helping the last guest out...


So. Much. Debris.

And just because I like that they added it to their Universal Experience display (not on the tour, but in the Lower Lot area of the theme park):


I just finished Bossypants and LOVED. IT.

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I have always loved the idea of a drive-in theater. I can probably blame Grease for that, but they always seemed so incredibly cool.

Like a mix of large-theater bonding and privacy-of-own-home luck of NOT being able to hear that guy 3 cars down talking way too loudly during the film.

They felt so retro American (thanks, Grease and love of all-things-50s!) and I’d unfortunately never been able to go to one before — they weren’t exactly a staple in NC and even though LA is the Movie Capital of the World, most of theirs have been put out of commission — so I have pretty much romanticized them to death.


THEY probably went to lots of drive-ins

BUT. For my birthday this year? I GOT TO GO TO A DRIVE-IN MOVIE. *Cue happy dancing hot dog commercials I was so sure I would see*


Hipstamatic makes this appropriately old-school

Actually, I got to go to two, since the theater Jeremy found (like an hour-ish away…) played double features.


Which two to choose...

We decided on Hop/Rango, since I was really interested in Hop (Russell Brand, James Marsden & Kayley Cuoco!) and Jeremy wanted to see Rango. Win, win!


We got there a little early, since traffic can be hard to judge out here, and the movies didn’t start until dusk, but that just meant I had PLENTY of time to photograph our surroundings. (Most photos taken with Hipstamatic for iPhone, mostly b/c I found the camera settings appropriately retro).

One of the big screens:


Our sweet movie-viewing set-up:


I kept trying to get the screen in the background, but failing:


FINALLY almost time for the movies to start!


The way you listen to the films being projected is that you tune to a specific radio station (since they’re outdoors, and there were 4 separate screens, it would be a little difficult to have sound systems for each screen without major overlap). It was a little scratchy at times, but overall worked really well! It was really weird to run to the restroom though, and see things playing & not hearing anything but empty outdoor space and the occasional train.

And the movies them selves were decent choices. Hop was really funny/adorable for most of the movie, though the plot (well, PLOTS) was (were) a little jumbled at times. Russell Brand apparently makes an adorable bunny, in case any one was wondering. Rango, while a little more cohesive on the plot front…was a little confusing. It looked great visually, but for those thinking that Rango is a kiddy movie just because it’s animated (thank you, misleading previews) should look a little more into it before taking any youngsters. It’s actually much more of a classic western movie, with a fair amount of the classic film Chinatown thrown in, that just happens to be populated with lizards and other animals…and a (SPOILER?) Clint Eastwood look-alike.

While it’s a bit too far of a drive to make this a semi-frequent trip, I’ll definitely be checking back periodically to see if any other double features are playing that I’m DYING to see. It’s definitely an experience I would recommend if you can find a drive-in near you!


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