Day 5 (Tuesday, Sept. 19)(Click on any image to see a larger version of the photo.)
I got up at 7:00, finished packing, and headed downstairs to get some breakfast and found Nick already there. I checked out, got some food, and waited for Meg and Lloyd to arrive in their car, which happened about 8:00.
We then set out for Hollywood. I had discovered shortly before the trip that "The Little Mermaid" was playing at Disney's El Capitan Theatre, and Meg and Lloyd and Nick agreed that it would be fun to make a trip up there to see the movie. We had reservations for the 10:00 a.m. screening, but because we weren't sure how much traffic we would encounter, we wanted to allow plenty of driving time.
We were parked at the Hollywood and Highland garage by 9:30. It's adjacent to the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscar ceremonies are held, so we walked through the theater's lobby to get to Hollywood Boulevard. The lobby has the names of every "Best Picture" winner, and I took a photo of the 2004 and 2005 winners for my fellow Paul Haggis fans.
We emerged right across the street from the El Capitan. Meg and I went across to that theater while Nick and Lloyd went to explore Grauman's Chinese Theatre, just a couple buildings away from the Kodak. I took a few photos of the stars on that stretch of Hollywood Blvd., including the one for the Sherman brothers, composers of many of Disney's most famous songs. (Not to mention their infamous ones, such as "It's a Small World.")
The guys rejoined us, and we entered the El Capitan about 9:50. We had paid for VIP tickets, which entitled us to a small bucket of popcorn and a soda each, as well as reserved seating. It turned out that we didn't need the latter, as there was hardly anyone in the theater. I thought maybe Disney was scheduling late-morning and early-afternoon screenings on weekdays because tour groups were coming in, but if that happens, it wasn't the case today.
Despite the small attendance, Disney gave us the full El Capitan experience. The organist was playing when we entered the theater proper, Ariel appeared amid a flurry of bubbles to welcome us before the movie, and Sebastian danced his way across the stage during the closing credits. I enjoyed seeing the movie on a big screen for the first time in years, and the digital restoration looks great.
It's worth attending a movie at the El Cap just to see the beautiful theater itself. Built in 1926, it's one of Hollywood's real movie palaces. Its illustrious history includes the premiere of "Citizen Kane" in 1941. Disney bought it in the late 1980s, restored it, and reopened it in 1991. It's now the site of many Disney movie premieres, as well as stage shows and special events. (For example, when this run of "The Little Mermaid" opened, there was a panel discussion with some of the film's creators and cast members.)
While playing on my computer a couple of nights ago, I had checked the menu for the Disney Soda Fountain next door and seen very few lunch items; basically just a few things for kids. So I figured we'd have to go elsewhere for lunch and only be able to get desserts there. But it turns out that there are more pages to their menu that aren't in the PDF file on their website, and we were able to order a variety of salads and sandwiches.
Whenever there's a special movie playing at the El Capitan, the soda fountain offers a special food item to complement it. For example, during the 2006 screening of "Lady and the Tramp," they had spaghetti and meatballs. This time it was a "Dinglehopper Sundae," featuring foamy blue ice cream, fish-shaped sprinkles, a plastic fish accent--and, of course, a dinglehopper. (I guess they figured a crab salad sandwich would be in poor taste.) I thought they might use a souvenir plastic dinglehopper, but I guess they wanted to be authentic, so they used a real metal one, one of the restaurant's standard pieces of silverware.
The sundae also came with a souvenir "Little Mermaid" pin. Our server said they were out of Ariel pins, and offered me a choice of Sebastian or Flounder. I went with the crab. The same pins could be purchased at the store for $8.95, so getting a full ice-cream sundae and a pin for $8.50 was a great deal.
After eating, we spent a little time shopping at the Disney Studio Store inside the Soda Fountain. I bought a very pretty pin showing the marquee of the El Capitan with the "Little Mermaid" logo and some of the characters. I also got one with the soda fountain logo, which features Mickey and Minnie sharing a soda.
After leaving the soda fountain and store, we went back across the street to Grauman's. They were setting up for a movie premiere that night, so a lot of the courtyard containing the footprints, handprints, and signatures was covered up by red carpeting, and they were shooing visitors away from the area in front of the theater. So we didn't get to see very much, but I did manage to take a few photos of the pavement.
There were some guys hanging out around the theater who were dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, Zorro, Superman, etc. I don't know quite what their schtick is. Probably they charge tourists for photos with them. Hollywood is weird. :-)
We returned to Meg and Lloyd's car and drove back to Anaheim. We dropped off Nick at Disneyland, then Meg at the nearest Kaiser clinic (one of her feet had been bothering her since the race), then Lloyd took me to Orange County Airport.
I was so early for my flight that the American Airlines check-in clerk offered me an earlier flight. I took her up on that, and was at the baggage claim in San Jose at the time my scheduled flight was leaving Orange County. Hey, there've gotta be some trips where everything goes better than you hoped, just to make up for the ones that don't!
Planning and Day 1
Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
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Text and photos (c) 2006 Patricia F. Winter, unless otherwise noted.
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Last updated 12/17/06