I took my 2017 California trip back in March and it has only taken me six months to write about it! In between going to school and working, it has been hard to find the time. So here it is!
I love California. If I could, I would move in a heartbeat and try to be the entertainment journalist that I have always wanted to be. For now though, I am content with the times I get to visit, plus I am thankful for the cousin who lets me stay with her and goes on the adventures with me!
I still have a lot of California bucket list items and on this trip I got to tackle a bunch of them; The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, the WB Studio Tour in Burbank, a visit to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and a day at WonderCon in Anaheim. Harry Potter was first on our agenda! The last time we were at Universal Studios in 2014, they were starting to build this so we were anxious to go! I had been looking at pictures and reading about all of the things to do so finally being able to see it in person was amazing. All of the details that they put into everything is super impressive; from the pygmy puffs at Zonkos, the pumpkin pasties at Honeydukes, the entertainment provided by the frog choir, to the Butterbeer that tastes just like you have always imagined it would. They don’t leave anything Harry Potter out! One of the main things to do there is to walk around and browse the shops; Ollivander’s Wand Shop, the Owl Post, Honeyduke’s and Zonko’s to name a few where you can get pretty cool merchandise. For food there is The Three Broomsticks, plus some beverage carts where you can get Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice. The Three Broomsticks serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with dishes like shepherd’s pie, roast chicken and ribs on the menu. I had the fish and chips at the restaurant and it was delicious. Plus if you want an adult beverage head over to the Hog’s Head Pub, which has beer and hard alcohol (if you want to add an extra kick to your Butterbeer, add a shot of fireball!)
For the rides in the area, there is The Forbidden Journey and the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster. The Forbidden Journey should be the first thing you get in line for when you get to the park as the lines can get over an hour long. The wait isn’t so bad though because you get to walk through Hogwarts and it is very cool! I won’t spoil the ride or what is inside, but both are worth waiting for! What isn’t worth waiting for is the roller coaster as it is only like a thirty-second ride. If there is no line for it then I would say go, just so you can at least see Hagrid’s Hut and Sirius’ motorbike.
Overall, Universal did such an amazing job with it and I can’t wait to go back. I definitely want to go to the Orlando Wizarding World one day as it also has Diagon Alley and more rides than Universal Hollywood. The rest of the park is pretty fun, Jurassic Park being one of my favorite rides, but we spent almost the whole day in Hogsmeade. We got a little time to walk around, but ended up going on just the Studio Tour and the new Walking Dead attraction. Our day ended with looking in shops at the CityWalk , which is a fun place to hang out at without having to have a ticket to the park, and having dinner at Margaritaville.
We spent our next day at the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, taking their amazing tour. After you check in, you join a group and hop in a cart to be driven around the studios by a guide, stopping at places along the way to see sound stages where TV shows and movies have been/are being filmed, the prop department and cool exhibits. We got to walk around their New York City set that they still use and have used for Annie, Friends, Gremlins, etc. and got to check out the set of the Freeform show, The Fosters. We stopped at cool exhibits featuring Harry Potter and DC movie’s costumes and props. You also got to make a stop at the prop department to check out the tons of items that have been used in many movies and TV shows and that they continue to use today. Anything with a tag on it was going to be used for a show later on! We also got to see inside the picture car vault that currently has some of the vehicles and props from the Batman movies. This was my definitely my favorite part of the tour and one prop that I thought was cool was the Gotham snow globe from Batman & Robin.
My favorite sets we got to see were the cafe that was featured in La La Land, which was only a limited time feature and after the tour, we were dropped off at Stage 48 to see the Central Perk set from Friends. This was so cool to see and you get to sit on the Friends couch to take a picture! My favorite show is Friends so it was so fun to see the set and we got to drive by the stage where they filmed the show. Stage 48 also features some cool interactive stations where you can sit on a Bat Pod or a Harry Potter broom in front of a green screen and take some pictures! The tour ended at the Central Perk Cafe where we got some coffee and we walked through the WB Studios Store. Being a TV/movie/pop culture buff, this was one of the best tours to take and one of the coolest things I have ever done. They change the exhibits from time to time and it is definitely something that I would consider doing again.
After our tour we decided to go to the Griffith Observatory where we met up with my sister who was on vacation with her family. We parked near the Greek Theater and caught a bus up to the observatory as it was only a few dollars and better than trying to park somewhere on the hill. There are no fees to get on the grounds, go into the building or check out the telescopes, but one to go to the planetarium. There were a lot of people and it was late in the day so we didn’t stay too long. Just enough to walk around the property and look inside for a few minutes. It is a pretty cool place and I definitely want to go back to see a show at the Planetarium.
We did go to Disneyland the next day to hang out with my family and it was crazy busy. But that was expected since it was Spring Break! There weren’t too many new things since I had been there last and they were still building the Guardians of the Galaxy ride. It was a fun day with getting to ride my favorite rides, eat all of my favorite things (dole whip, churros and Sprinkles cupcakes with a new Downtown Disney location) and have a great time with my family. It was my niece and nephew’s first time to the park so it was pretty cool to hear about all of their favorite things at the parks!
We spent my last day in California at WonderCon, which is why I went down in the first place! The convention is held at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is a pretty nice space. We mainly walked around the show floor and while I had hoped to see the Agents of Shield panel, the line was too long by the time we got to it so instead we got to see the WB panel which featured Annabelle Creation and Wonder Woman. We got to watch some clips of both movies and it was fun to listen to Patty Jenkins talk about Wonder Woman, which turned out to be my favorite summer movie. I did an entry a while back ranking my favorite conventions and I would put WonderCon in the middle of the pack. It had a good amount of exhibitors/artists, but I thought that there would be more TV show/movie panels. Overall it was a good first time there. It is nice that the convention center is withing walking distance of Disneyland and we finished the day at Downtown Disney, having drinks at the Jazz Kitchen and checking out the shops.
It was such a fun five days and I was glad to be able to cross some things off of my bucket list that had been on there for a while! I am hoping we will get back to SDCC again, plus hope to see more on my Cali list; Hearst Castle, San Francisco, the dinosaurs in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure which are near Palm Springs and Disneyland during Halloween to name a few! I always have so much fun on my trips to California and I can’t wait to plan the next.