Saturday, May 26, 2018

Best Western Hollywood Plaza Inn

Date of Visit: May 15-22, 2018

Pretty much immediately we hated this hotel and not just because we couldn't check-in when we arrived around noon and had to wait even after the normal check-in time of 3 p.m. to get a room key and then still wait 10 to 15 minutes for them to finish cleaning our room. The real thing that made us dislike this hotel immediately was that we learned it doesn't offer free breakfast, which of the nearly 100 Best Westerns I've stayed at all over the country (and China) have always had and the only reason I chose this hotel over the ones next door that were priced at $10 to $30 cheaper per night.

The room quickly added to our dislike of the hotel as the bathroom is not designed for the wheelchair to be rolled next to the toilet and, in fact, is barely large enough to even take in there.

The lack of a roll-in shower wasn't a big deal as I don't recall it specifying what kind of mobility accessible room it was when I booked. However, the location of the grab bars for the toilet was a major problem as Mik couldn't use them. I don't so much mind having to help him, but it meant that when he was worn out for the day I couldn't go do stuff on my own like usual (or at least not for long enough to really to anything).

The layout of the rest of the room was relatively spacious and reasonably easy to maneuver even the wheelchair around it. It was nice that it had a bed and a couch, although the sink's location was rather strange and would probably be awkward to annoying if you actually used the foldout aspect of the couch.

Another reason why I tend to go with Best Western is that you almost always get microwave and fridge. The fridge was rather small, but not that unexpected. The microwave worked adequately, but was rather annoying in that it was the style you turn to how long you want making it difficult to accurately select the desired time. The Keurig was probably the only good feature here, though.

Overall there just really isn't anything that makes it worth staying at this hotel, especially considering it was more expensive than the nearby hotels that are probably just as good if not better and slightly closer to Hollywood Blvd. We were particularly annoyed that most days we had to go without getting our room cleaned because they never got to our room before 2:30 p.m. or even 3 p.m. some days. At least the internet was decent except for the one afternoon it was out, but that was understandable as the cable company was there working on it. As for TV, it's standard def, which would've been fine if it hadn't also kept freezing for 10 to 30 seconds every 5 to 10 minutes.

Destination Info:
Best Western Hollywood Plaza Inn
2011 N Highland Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90068

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hollywood Museum

Date of Visit: May 20, 2018

The Hollywood Museum was by far our favorite museum of the trip (We also think the Hollywood Heritage Museum might have been a favorite of ours, but it ended up not being open when we tried to go on Saturday). It was interesting in that it was in the historic Max Factor building and contained some of the history related to the makeup on the first floor. The museum also has a wide variety of props and memorabilia from various movies.

The main entrance to the Hollywood Museum has steps, but they have a lift to get up into the museum lobby if you enter through the diner next door. Also, the diner doors have a button to open them.

We spent the most time on the first floor of the museum. Here there are four different color rooms designed for makeup consultation for different hair/skin types. The doorways for some of these were barely wide enough to get Mik's wheelchair into and we actually had to backtrack through the blond one when we found we couldn't get out the other door of the brunette one. It's understandable, though, as these are originally from the 1930s and the part of the museum dedicated to the buildings historic usage.

To access the other levels of the museum you a staff member has to operate the freight elevator for you. The freight elevator is kept on the first floor as it is actually part of the exhibit space with an Eiffel Tower prop and Moulin Rouge playing on a big screen. Once we notified them we were ready to go up, the staff member took us up to the third level and then came back for us after 15 to 30 minutes to move on to the next level until finishing back on the first floor and operating the lift to exit back out through the diner.

The highlight of the third floor is an exhibit on the original Batman TV series. There is also an exhibit on the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars. This floor also seemed to have the most TVs playing parts from the movie/show related to the costumes/props on display.

Mik's favorite part of the museum was the Harry Potter wands on the second floor. The second floor also had a large Mouseketeer/Annette Funicello display.

The final level of the museum was the basement, which is dedicated to horror movies. We didn't much care for this level since it isn't a genre we have watched much of, so didn't really know any of the movies/shows represented. However, while waiting for the freight elevator, we did find the documentary about one director that was playing interesting.

Overall we found the Hollywood Museum to be a great museum representing a good variety of shows and movies both old and more recent. The layout is also pretty well done to navigate through, although there were a few parts that Mik couldn't get to on the third floor because the exhibit stuff was too close together. The freight elevator was actually pretty interesting, too, as when it was the Max Factor building the trucks would be driven into it and taken up to be loaded with product.

Destination Info:
Hollywood Museum
1660 N Highland Ave
Hollywood, CA 90028

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Madame Tussaud's Hollywood

Date of Visit: May 18, 2018

We had kind of higher expectations for Madame Tussaud's than the Hollywood Wax Museum, which may be why we ended up liking it less, but really it came down to it just not having many figures of interest to us. Also, Madame Tussaud's D.C. is just way better in terms of interactive things along with figures that we were more interested in.

For everyone, the visit starts with an elevator ride to the third floor. Then there are stairs (or you use another elevator, which has a fun mural) to go down floor by floor.

The signage is pretty good, but the lady that scanned the tickets also clearly explained how to navigate through the museum (not just for us, but in our case explained about the elevators instead of the stairs). This especially was helpful in that she told us you have to backtrack at the end of the second floor exhibit as the sign by the stairs tells you to go through double doors, but those were locked.

Since we skipped the stairs, we also almost skipped my favorite part, which was the little display about the history of Madame Tussaud's at the bottom of the stairs on the ground floor (go down the hall to the left after getting off the elevator on G-R).

Mik's favorite area was the one featuring figures from action movies such as Jackie Chan, James Bond, Spiderman, and The Hunger Games.

Overall we like the layout of Madame Tussaud's being more open than the Hollywood Wax Museum and thus better for navigating. However, there really isn't more here and the figures and props at the Hollywood Wax Museum were more fun.

Destination Info:
Madame Tussauds
6933 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

Friday, May 18, 2018

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Hollywood

Date of Visit: May 17, 2018

Ripley's Believe It or Not! was probably my favorite of the three museums that are part of the combo ticket. Mik also enjoyed it, but not quite as much as the Hollywood Wax Museum. He did like that there were a lot of actual items along with information about them, but it was kind of overwhelming and a lot to take all in at once.

The Ripley's Belive It or Not! has two levels. The ticket taker immediately told us to tell him when we were ready to go downstairs so he could show us how to use the lift. It is pretty much also explained on the wall with the buttons right by the stairs, but it was helpful to know.

Downstairs we enjoyed wandering through the exhibits including seeing some of the Brown Derby portraits. Mik's favorite was the Minas Tirith Matchstick Model.

The downstairs part ends back at the stairs. There is a gate to open in the railing to go back to the lift. Just remember that you hold down the down button to get the lift and not up like you would call an elevator to go up. Once back at the top, there is a gate in the stair railing to continue on with the upstairs part of the museum.

The upstairs area was actually our overall favorite part. One of the most interesting parts is how they kept the bank vault entrance from the buildings previous use. Mik also liked the part of the Berlin Wall on display.

Destination Info:
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
6780 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

Guinness World Records Museum

Date of Visit: May 17, 2018

The Guinness World Records Museum was the museum Mik was most excited about seeing. Unfortunately, it ended up being the worst of the three that are part of the combo ticket. I think it mainly was disappointing in that it is just walls and walls of information with very few items on display to go with them.

One of the few interesting parts was the weigh yourself to compare to the heaviest man and that was only because the other day Mik was telling me he weighs 130 pounds and I couldn't believe that was true, especially since he clearly made it up as he hasn't been weighed in at least 5 years. Accounting for it being tared at 76 and not 0 it seems quite accurate as I know my weight. Not sure what his wheelchair weighs (and the stuff in the backpack probably added a few pounds), but it seems his 130 estimate may not be that far off.

Of course, since they had facts about elevators in the elevator, that was our favorite part, which reminded us that one of these days we really need to put our mental list of favorite elevators down as a real list.

The pop quiz game looked like it would be fun, but it ended up being very disappointing. The main problem was that the questions were put up on the screens and you didn't have much time to answer them on the screen in front of you. It would've been fine if it read the questions aloud or perhaps even if you could just look at the one screen. Also, Mik had trouble with the touch responsiveness of his screen.

What really made us not like the museum is that when you get to the end of the second floor exhibit an arrow points downstairs that the museum continues and nothing tells you how to continue via the elevator. We ended up just taking the elevator down and exiting the way we entered the museum, but we feel like maybe we missed part of the museum, especially after doing Ripley's, which had a decent amount after the final stairs (its signage wasn't much better, but its layout made it reasonably obvious how to continue if you didn't use the stairs).

Destination Info:
Guinness World Records Museum
6764 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

Hollywood Wax Museum

Date of Visit: May 17, 2018

The Hollywood Wax Museum was one of the things we planned for Hollywood that Mik was most interested in and it didn't disappoint him. It was particularly enjoyable in that we went when it first opened and were the only ones there.

The museum does have some almost too steep ramped parts as you go through it (and one tight fit hallway by the Ninja Turtles), but overall it is nicely laid out. We especially appreciated its one level design after visiting the other two museums that are part of the combo ticket.

Mik enjoyed posing with several figures, especially with the weight props.

Our favorite was Nicolas Cage in his National Treasure role.

Mik also loved that there was a figure of Indiana Jones.

Destination Info:
Hollywood Wax Museum
6767 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

Thursday, May 17, 2018

El Capitan Theatre

Date of Visit: May 16, 2018

I've wanted to see a movie at El Capitan for awhile and we even planned to see one (I think I even bought tickets back when we used to have Disneyland annual passes and visited several times a year, but instead decided to do an extra day at Disneyland). This year we decided to finally just do Hollywood (and maybe also Disneyland later as its own trip) and, in particular, finally see a movie at El Capitan. Mik wasn't sure he'd go for just whatever was currently playing, but it worked out that we planned our trip while a movie (Avengers: Infinity War) he was actually going to see in the theater anyways was playing.

Mik really enjoyed how there were props and costumes from the movie to set the atmosphere including the Infinity Gauntlet in the lobby by the concession stand and costumes on the balcony in the theatre.

However, there were even more in a small exhibit downstairs by the bathrooms that he missed out on because I'm pretty sure there's no elevator down to it.

The wheelchair seating was somewhat disappointing. The fact there are only two areas in the back isn't bad considering it's an old theatre. However, online when you select seats it makes it seem like there are spots for two wheelchairs with one companion each per area. However, in reality, there are four seats in each area and only enough room for one wheelchair to go in between the two sets of seats. The seats can be moved, so I guess you could put more than one wheelchair, but then the companions wouldn't necessarily be able to sit next to them. Also, Mik didn't like that the seats are not in the middle of the theatre, but really the view was just fine.

I purchased the VIP tickets, which were only $10 more and included popcorn in a souvenir bucket and a bottled soda. Mik says next time he would just buy the ticket and food separately. Not that it's a bad deal, but the concession stand has other things he would've gotten instead if we hadn't done the VIP tickets, especially since he ended up not really liking the popcorn.

Overall we enjoyed the experience of seeing a movie at the El Capitan Theatre. If we ever did do Hollywood again, which we really don't think we will as it seems like a do it once kind of thing, we probably would only do this theatre again if it was something Mik was really into seeing as he doesn't think he would've enjoyed the experience at all if it hadn't been a movie he was really interested in.

Destination Info:
El Capitan Theatre
6838 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Disney Studio Store

Date of Visit: May 15, 2018

We've been here twice before, but the last time was probably something like 2010 and it was still the Disney Soda Fountain (or something like that). We knew it wasn't the same now that it became a Ghirardelli's and didn't plan to go, but it ended up being a convenient place for a snack when we had to kill time waiting for our hotel room to be ready.

Overall it's still a great place for ice cream, but it's sad there's no longer the giant Sorcerer sundae even though we wouldn't have gotten it this time. Also, the tables were difficult for Mik to really roll up close to, although I don't remember if that was or was not a problem in its old layout.

Destination Info:
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Disney Studio Store
6834 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028