Friday, May 30, 2014

Living It Up in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills, or more fondly known merely by one of its prominent and primary post code made famous by the tv series, 90210, is another star in the City of Angels (Los Angeles).
Known for its highly publicized and affluent neighborhood which was said to be home to many of the celebrities, Beverly Hills is definitely more than just your usual district in the county of the California state.

History of Beverly Hills
The home to the rich and famous, as it is often referred to in a casual manner, Beverly Hills also had her own simple story to tell of its early days when it began as a land or rather, a Spanish plantation/ranch for growing the lima beans. The area was also originally thought to be a prosperous land, and a potential oil field by a group of investors interested in that area. However, oil was not found in their exploration of the land but it was water that they found, and since then, they decided to develop the land into a residential town instead.

Today, Beverly Hills is home to more than 30,000 population and rose to such prominent status due to its close location to Hollywood and cities of Los Angeles and thanks to the producers who came up with the highly acclaimed tv series watched by all around the world featuring this city.
The TV series was originally Beverly Hills 90210, which was first broadcasted in the 1980s and following its popularity of the series, there was another version of the remake, named 90210, produced in the last few years.

With the hefty tag of being an affluent township, it is no surprise that the town housed one of the most renowned retail district, Rodeo Drive. Celebrities and famous figures in the movie industry can often be spotted in this area, which is home to most of the world famous luxury designer brands.
Rodeo Drive is definitely an upscale shopping district, and there is nothing short of luxury when one walks down the high end streets of this area.

Besides the celebrities and high end retail reputation, Beverly Hills is also home to a large and still active oil field; the Beverly Hills Oil Field. Yes, there was oil after all in this piece of land and is definitely prospering well from this oil field which was discovered in the year 1900 and spans underneath the city of Beverly Hills to some parts of Los Angeles.
Read all about it here in Wikipedia

The city of Beverly Hills is indeed designed in an upper class manner and definitely a city that lives it up to its reputation with its chic urban lifestyle depicted here through the scenes seen in the city.

This is truly one stylish neighborhood; and one will definitely be living it up in style and sophistication (or even feel like it) in this prominent city.

All we need now is that familiar tune of the theme music from Beverly Hills (the TV series) to play in the background to complete the picture~

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Hollywood Story

Hollywood, a name that we have come to know so well from the movies we have watched on the screens and the mere mention of it brings to mind the picture of glamour, style, fame and glittering moments on the red carpet. It is no secret that Hollywood is the representation of the motion pictures industry in the United States which many longed (from their screens) to be a part of all that fame and celebrity lifestyle with the glitz and spotlights shining on them.
Hollywood is definitely known for its entertainment hub; with the movie studios and galas taking place in this very location every year.

Located in the central region of Los Angeles, Hollywood is a district with a humble beginning. Starting from an agricultural past, the area slowly bloomed under the direction of H.J. Whitley, who had also became known as the founder, or fondly referred to as the "Father of Hollywood" when he first purchased a 500-acre land and planned for the development and resale of the land. In the age when the real estate business embarked on its early period of boom in late 1887, it was when Hollywood showed signs of minor growth.

The name "Hollywood" was coined by Daeida Wilcox Beveridge, who was also known as the "Mother of Hollywood"; a co-owner of a ranch located in the eastern part adjacent to the district. It was probably inspired by her neighbor in Holly Canyon (now known as Lake Hollywood) and she wasted no time in recommending the name to her husband, Harvey H. Wilcox who then filed it with the Los Angeles County Recorder's office when he sold the property, naming the place "Hollywood".
Daeida Wilcox was a well-established investor in her time, and was coincidentally a friend of Whitley (the Father of Hollywood).

Who would have thought that the place would today be one of the most talked-about place in the world, and even an important representation of the movie industry in the entire country and the world?

Despite the small population they have back then in the 1870, Hollywood became a municipality in 1903 and then eventually merged with the city of Los Angeles in the year 1910 where the film industry started to pave their way in, making them today, the capital of entertainment.
Hollywood is today,  the 7th most dense city in the county of Los Angeles, and is truly a melting pot of multiple ethnicities and diversified backgrounds. Besides entertainment, Hollywood is also varied in its economic sectors and flourished as one of the major retail business hubs in the country.

It is no surprise that Hollywood is home to affluent communities and also buzzing with the movie icons and filmmakers who are often spotted in the district; owing to the fact that the district is also filled with the movie studios. In fact, some of the movie studios have come a long way and have even become part of the historical background which made up the history of the district.

Hollywood Sign
The famous Hollywood sign, located on Mount Lee in Hollywood Hills of the Santa Monica mountains is today a major tourist attraction and it is so famous that it has become an iconic landmark for the city of Los Angeles.

While many would probably dream of standing next to the lettered-sign to capture that jubilant moment of being in Hollywood, it is probably disappointing to learn that the sign is not accessible as it is situated on a rough and steep terrain on the part of the hill and is barricaded with alarm systems set to be triggered upon any unauthorized access which would have the local police notified immediately.

History of Hollywood Sign
It is interesting to note that the sign was initially made to state "Hollywoodland" in a marketing effort to introduce a new housing estate in the hills above Hollywood district of Chinatown, in the year 1923. The sign, in its early state was constructed to be 30 feet (9.1m) in width and 50 feet (15m) in height; along with an approximate of 4,000 light bulbs studs to light up the sign. The intention was to partition the sign into three segments; with HOLLY, WOOD, and LAND to be lighted up individually alternatively and in sequence, before lighting us a whole sign, in a design conceived by Thomas Fisk Golf, the owner of the sign company.
The total cost of the project was about $21,000 at that time, and the sign was initially planned to be placed for only a year and a half, for the duration of the development of the housing project but as fate would have it, the sign was retained and eventually became an iconic landmark sign until this very day following the emergence of the movie industry in the United States which continue to flourish and grow.

The sign has also been through many incidents in which the letter H was destroyed in an accident caused by the sign's official caretaker himself, Albert Kothe when his car crashed off the cliff; destroying the car and the letter, leaving Albert Kothe uninjured.
Following the incident, measures were taken and discussions were made to restore the sign in 1949, between the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the City of Los Angeles Parks Department in a contract which states that the word "LAND" would be removed to reflect the identity of the district instead of the housing estate project. The light bulbs were also removed at the decision of the Chamber of the Commerce who were supposed to maintain the costs of the lighting and hence, the new sign, Hollwood, sans the word "LAND" and lights was constructed and remained until this very day.
This sign was also marked as the site associated with the death of a starlet; Peg Entwhistle in 1932, when she committed suicide by jumping off the letters at the age of 24.

The crowds would usually gather at the peak in the quiet and affluent neighborhood; to catch a glimpse of the iconic sign and to take photos, which led to major traffic congestion in the area, to the displeasure of the local residents. This have raised various issues of controversy over the sign as residents complain about the flocking of tourists to an area which is clearly not designed for crowds and posed much inconveniences to their local community. Furthermore, the steep hilly area with narrow winding turns could pose a safety hazard to large tour buses and vehicles thronging the area.

I could empathize with the sentiments raised with the residents, and hopefully, there would be a good solution to end the residents' woes in the near future.

Hollywood is indeed a place where most dream to be, with its buzz of glamour and glitz, and even I myself could not believe the surreal experience of finally being here; of course, sans the Academy Awards and floor sweeping gowns, but still a memorable experience and yes, the sign is living proof that one is finally here.

*The Academy Awards continue to be held here every year; in the months of February/March since the year 2004.

Hollywood, is truly the capital of Entertainment....and will continue to live it up to its reputation and legacy~

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Universal Studios Hollywood - Where Movie Entertainment Lives

Known as "The Entertainment Capital of LA", the Universal Studios Hollywood is no longer a stranger to anyone in the world. While many are accustomed to the existence of Universal Studios sprouting in various locations around the world, this particular one in Los Angeles remains one of the most prominent, not to mention on the list of one of the most visited tourist attractions around the world.

The famous movie studio and filming location site is one of the oldest to exist and is still in use till this very day. It is not hard to imagine why, as the name Hollywood is synonymous with movies, celebrities, fame and glamour as fed to most of us around the world in the trendy showbiz which have been in existence for so long, as far as any of us can remember.

Today, the mention of Hollywood still brings to our mind the glamorous moments of the celebrities walking down the red carpet and posing for the photographs while clicks and flashes go off in a frenzy while we watch from our televisions at home. The visuals can do wonders in the mind; and hence, the image of glittering moments are embedded as our mind works remarkably at associating the images with the term, and automatically, Hollywood; it is the place where movies and social excitement reside, at its highest point of brilliance and right in the spotlight.

It is for this exact reason that the people behind Universal Studios came up with the idea of a grand entrance with the iconic red carpet leading to the main gate for visitors to enjoy that momentary thrill of being a movie star; to strut on that well-acclaimed walk of fame just like the celebrated idols most have dreamt so much about. It is almost customary to pose for a photo when you are here, simply because you're living a dream; even if it just for a few seconds, or make it minutes.

I have not been to the other Universal Studios around the world; no, not even the one closest to home, the recent site being in Singapore, mainly because I have always wanted to visit this particular site first. After all, it is termed 'The Entertainment Capital' and also 'The Coolest Place in LA'; both the much publicized advertising tag lines for Universal Studios Hollywood.

Located in Universal City in the Los Angeles country of California State, United States of America, the Universal Studios Hollywood is also the First movie studio recreational theme park around the world. While the site was understandably a filming site; with studio and filming sets set up across its land, Universal Studios Hollywood was originally intended as an introduction to the movie filming, sound stages set up and access to the actual filming sets through its customized tour packages to offer visitors a glimpse of movie making and production, since the year 1964.

This gradually revolved and grew into a recreational theme park over the years, following the reception of the public and also the blooming minds of the creative folks running the place.
Thanks to their creativity that we can now enjoy and be thrilled with the wonderful insights we get from directly accessing the filming sets and locations available on this very site, while also be entertained with the rides and moments with the appearances of some of our favorite animation characters here.

The memorable and animated Woody Woodpecker; which was created since the 1940s, is an iconic and much-loved character with whom most of us are familiar with the sounds of his pecking(adorably so), is also interestingly named the mascot of the Universal Studios Hollywood.

With the mascot, Woody Woodpecker and his recognizably, significant other, Winnie (in case you're not aware, yes, Woody's taken!)

Like most theme parks, Universal Studios Hollywood is a land filled with much enjoyable and entertaining attractions to look out for. From spotting costumed characters of familiar animation and movie icons to the thrilling movie-themed rides and museums, there is just something to fit everyone's preference and to keep one happy while on the park.

One of the most recommended would be the Studio Tour; which is probably the emblematic ride for an insightful experience into the world of movie making right here in Hollywood.
Visitors would embark on an approximately hour's tram ride which takes them around the backstage lots and filming locations; while witnessing some of the special effects taking place and the 3D motion pictures unraveling in some of the locations. Enjoy the ride, and be prepared to laugh to the animated tour's guide narration while on the tram and also, be ready to be thrilled with the exciting events unraveled on this tour.

Movie-themed rides are also the crowd drawing attractions here; and some of the more memorable ones(may differ according to personal preferences) based on the highly-acclaimed movies are as follows:-
(located on the Lower Lot)

Transformers: The Ride

Revenge of the Mummy

Jurassic Park: The Ride

The above rides impose the height and age restrictions due to the level of excitement which may be deemed unsuitable for young toddlers and children.
(Also, some of the rides such as Revenge of the Mummy and Jurassic Park also restricts bags to be carried on the rides and there are locker facilities provided in a designated area for visitors to store their belongings for free (within an allocated time) or for a minimal fee).

However, Universal Studios Hollywood is not all about the adults as back on the upper lot of the theme park, there are various animation-themed parks which are bound to fascinate the younger ones.

The Simpson Ride

Shrek 4D

There are also dry and water theme parks created for the enjoyment of the young children.

Another attraction not to miss out is the Special Effects Stage, which is an enlightening session on the revelation of the secrets and tricks involved in the making of the blockbuster movies.
Do be there early, as the studio is packed to the brim with the eager crowds, and who wouldn't want to know what really happens behind those fantastic images we often wonder about on the screens?

Enjoy exploring the Universal Studios Hollywood on foot, to take in the various scenes unfolding at the different themed-location sites.

Be prepared to recognize/bump into familiar and lovable costumed characters on the streets, and when you do, just smile at the camera and take a picture!

There is simply something for everyone in Universal Studios Hollywood, and the best is that one can enjoy an entertaining yet exhilarating experience in a place where the spotlight shines on and one have long imagined from the screens and have harbored hopes of living that lifestyle.

Yes, Universal Studios Hollywood is not just an ordinary theme park; it is a lifestyle and it is where Movie Entertainment and fame lives~

For more information on Universal Studios Hollywood, kindly refer to their official website here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Magical Day at Disneyland (Anaheim, California)

The First Disneyland ever built and the only one which was built under the direct supervision of Mr. Walt Disney himself, is the Disneyland located in Anaheim, California.
Conceived by the bright mind of the great man himself following his visits to many amusement parks with his daughters, the concept of a recreational park promising thrills and happiness as well as being a major tourist attraction was well-established and Walt Disney saw to himself the overall progress of building the park until the completion. His dream of building a park for both adults and children to enjoy together came to mind as he watched his daughters enjoying the merry go round at an amusement park in Los Angeles, and after careful planning and construction, he finally had a park to call his own following his purchase of a 160-acre (65ha) site near Anaheim in 1953.

Disneyland Anaheim, California officially opened its doors to public on July 17, 1955 and is today on the list of the world's top and most visited tourist attractions. Formerly the only attraction on the site, it is now known as Disneyland Park following the expansion of the property to include another theme park; California Adventure Park in the 1990s.

However, Disneyland Park still remained the crowd magnet, evident from the large crowds queueing outside the premises awaiting for the gates to be opened every day; including weekdays.

I am a big fan of Disney; and has always been since I was a child. I blame it on my parents who have been filling my childhood with images and live characters from Disney; who have been portraying the perfect and magical dream every child could have dreamt of.
I have watched almost every single animation released from Disney, and my dream was to visit Disneyland someday. I have, in fact, visited the one in Hong Kong (read here and here) but I knew that nothing would beat the original Disneyland, or the very first in California where it was the brainchild of the great man himself.
(Don't get me wrong, the Disneylands around the world are all great, and they have all been conceptualized to be exactly the same replicas but it is just a personal aim to be at the original and very first site of Disneyland).

The iconic scene at the main entrance as one steps into Disneyland

Disneyland Park in Anaheim; part of Orange County (O.C) in California consists of eight theme parks; Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland which were part of the original park when it was opened in the year 1955. The park expanded with the addition of New Orleans Square, Bear Country (later known as Critter's Country),  and Mickey's Toontown.

Main Street USA

Shops on Main Street USA

A statue built in memory of the founder, Walt Disney and the world's most famous mouse; Mickey Mouse

The ever famous and magical Sleeping Beauty Castle (many have mistaken this for the Cinderella's Castle) is the entrance to Fantasyland

The buildings and cottages we are so familiar with in the fairytales are all found in Fantasyland

I love carousels; there is always something magical about them and I didn't care if anyone were to call me a big kid. I would always, always be excited to see a carousel, and I think I will still have a go at one even if I am an old lady!

Look who I met in Disneyland!
Alice and Mad Hatter were just so friendly :-)

And the boy who never grows up, Peter Pan!
(I do not feel like growing up either here :-P )

Mickey's Toontown
This has got to be my personal favorite park, and it is not hard to understand why as this is the park filled with all the earliest characters I have known from Disney and they are every child's greatest and happiest friends!

Pluto :-)

My Love, Mickey Mouse!! 
Mickey was definitely affectionate! :-)

Mickey's Home

With the Love of Mickey's life, the ever sweet Minnie Mouse

(He kept running around the whole Toontown, it was really hard to catch him for this photo! :-)

Mickey is truly everywhere in his own Toontown~

Enjoy a good ride on Mark Twain's Riverboat with a view of the Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island

New Orleans Square
Haunted Mansion with a long queue leading to it

I bumped into Princess Tiana here; at the Princess Tiana's Mardi Gras Celebration

Be back at the Main Street USA for the most popular Main Street Parade at the designated time (a few rounds throughout the day).
Watch all the favorite Disney characters in action as they take on the street with their live performances and in beautifully, colorfully decorated floats.

Stay on for the grand finale with the fireworks at night if you are up for it, always a spectacular show and a magnificent finish to the Disneyland tour~
Need I say more?
I love Disneyland, it is where dreams come true....

Now, when is my next Disneyland trip? *winks*

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