Showing posts with label California. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California. Show all posts

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Hampton Inn San Diego-Downtown

Date of Visit: November 7-8, 2019

We booked an accessible room with two beds. When we checked in around 1pm, there wasn’t one ready and instead of asking us to wait they offered us two rooms. This worked great as Mik and I stayed in an accessible room with King bed and Mom and Dad got there own room. It all worked out well except it would have been nice to have been on same floor or at least Mom and Dad on the higher floor as we ended up having to evacuate for a fire in the middle of the night.

The room had a nice area of the far side of the bed for Mik to hang out. It would have been perfect if the USB port by the bed there hadn’t been broken, but it did still have enough outlets for him to have his devices plugged in to use.

The bathroom was designed on a way Mik was able to get on toilet himself. One odd thing was there was a tissue box holder on wall that was empty and the tissues for the room were up high on the shelves behind toilet. The bottom shelf behind the toilet was also a slight problem as Mik kept hitting his head on it.

The bathroom appeared to have a good roll-in shower, although we didn't try it out.

Evacuating at 1am was what Mik called fun later that morning and he wasn’t being sarcastic. We went to the stairwell as when we lived in a condo they always told us to do that in the event of a fire because it is more protected and the firemen would find you there first.  There were others entering with us and people coming down. Before I could even consider carrying Mik down separate from his chair, three people helped carrying him down the stairs in his chair. When we got outside, I texted Dad we were outside. Dad had gone to front to tell them about Mik being on the 4th floor and then told them we were out when I texted. The bigger problem was once the fire was taken care of and we were allowed back in there was only one elevator working (it was the way our whole stay except they mostly had two going with one of them acting funny and mostly going to garage when you wanted to go to lobby) and one of the out of order elevators wasn’t locked off so the call button wouldn’t call the working one. Thus, it took about half an hour to figure that out and get back to room.

Overall Hampton Inn San Diego-Downtown ended up being a good choice for us. In particular, it was nice to have an easy walk to the cruise terminal in the morning and also was easy walk back to hotel for Dad and I dropping off rental car at airport after we checked in. There are a few closer options, but we didn't find it worth the extra cost.

Destination Info:
Hampton Inn San Diego-Downtown
1531 Pacific Highway
San Diego, California, 92101

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Date of Visit: November 7, 2019

While Mission San Juan Capistrano is a historic site, it is mostly accessible. They even provide an accessible version of the map guide (reminds me of when we actually used to get guide maps at Disney and would grab the accessible version). The cost of admission includes a free audio tour, but we choose to not do that part. There isn’t a lot of signage for information and that would have made the experience better, but it also would have made it slower and as it was we ended up rushing through parts to finish seeing the site because we were hungry and tired of waiting to see things between the school groups coming through the areas.

As Mik had to go to the bathroom, we started our tour at the back of the second courtyard (there’s a family/companion bathroom back next to women’s back there).  Off of this courtyard, we particularly enjoyed the Mission Treasures exhibit.

We also enjoyed the garden area behind the West Wing. This area is marked on the map as uneven surfaces, but it is mainly just dirt paths.

Next we went through the Legacy of Saint Serra exhibit, but this was when Mik was getting hungry and annoyed with the constant school group tours. The guides and kids were good at staying out of the way as much as possible for their guide talk in each area, but some areas are quite small in the first place and groups were constantly coming through all the areas.

Thus, Mik and I sat in the courtyard for a few minutes for Dad to go in the Serra Chapel and then walked around the Ruins of the Great Stone Church for a few quick photos before leaving to go find some lunch. If it had been closer to 11am and the places near the mission were open, we probably would have gone back in after eating, but an early lunch and heading down to San Diego while there was no traffic ended up being much better than how we ended up in rush hour after the Petersen Auto Museum the day before.

Destination Info:
Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Ortega Hwy
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Petersen Auto Museum

Date of Visit: November 6, 2019

For our Panama Canal Cruise, it ended up being fewer flights as well as cheaper to fly direct into LA, rent a car, and stay a night between LA and San Diego than fly into San Diego and spend two nights there. It also allowed us to have time to do something in LA the day we arrived. Originally, we considered doing one of the presidential libraries, but when I stumbled upon the Petersen Auto Museum that became Mik's pick for the trip.

We started our tour on the top floor and worked our way back down. On the top floor Mik enjoyed taking a photo of Dad and in the 1910 Ford Model T Speedster.

Mik's favorite car was the Speed Racer prototype.

He also enjoyed seeing the other movie and TV cars such as this police cruiser from Robocop.

Mik's favorite exhibit was "Winning Numbers: The First, the Fastest, the Famous."

We also found the "Legends of Los Angeles: Southern California Race Cars and Their Builders" an interesting exhibit.

Most of the exhibits were spacious with plenty of room to navigate around. The only exhibit that we ran into problems with was in the "Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy" exhibit. Although he could see everything, some of the items in that exhibit were put rather close together and Mik couldn't roll through all the pathways to view them from the best angles.

Destination Info:
Petersen Auto Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

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