Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights 2010 Review

This will be my first Halloween in LA and I have every intention of going to as many haunted houses, mazes, etc. as possible. First up, let’s talk about Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood. I went for opening night last night and had tons of fun! I will discuss the mazes individually and the event overall, but not really any of the rides.

My recommendation, if you can, shell out the $20 for preferred parking. It sure beats walking with the masses through City Walk at 1am to the parking structure. I don’t usually do preferred parking, but there was NO traffic from our lot when we left around 12:45am. I can imagine leaving from the other lot was crazy and road rage inducing.

Also, if it’s crowded and you can afford it, shell out the extra money for the front of the line pass.  The lines were crazy last night, with most mazes having at 30+ minute wait. With our passes, we zipped right on through Not sure if it’s cheaper to buy front of the line passes in advance online or at the park, so make sure to check the rates.

We went to the Vampyre Maze first since it’s located near the front entrance of the park. I think it’s the least scary and probably a good warm up for what’s ahead.  The Friday the 13th Maze was fun and I particularly enjoyed the A Nightmare on Elm Street Maze for their themed rooms. If you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll like all the little details from the movie.

Rob Zombie’s House of a 1000 Corpses 3-d Maze had scary ass clowns galore and the cheap-o 3-D glasses kept falling off of my regular glasses. You just wanted to reach out and touch everything there. I don’t recommend doing that, though, because my friend accidentally stuck her thumb in one of the monster’s mouths. Ew.

The Saw Maze was, by far, the scariest maze in the park. I think that’s why it’s located at the very back. I won’t give away too much, but I will say that it’s quite an experience.  At one point, I was gagging through the room. Save this maze for last!

The Terror Tram is quite long and you should be warned that at some point, you have to get off of the tram and walk  through a few areas (so make sure you wear appropriate footwear). I enjoyed the chaos of walking through the War of the Worlds area, with bodies strewn all over the blown up houses like red Christmas lights. Because this one takes kind of long, make sure you plan your time accordingly.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure was hilarious, but be warned, it runs about 30-45 minutes long. I don’t think we timed this right and after watching it, a few of us lost momentum to go through more mazes.

King Kong 360 3-D was AWESOME, but way too short. The time it takes to ride the tram before going onto the sound stage is way longer than the 3-D experience itself.  If you are pressed for time, skip this one for another time.

Overall, I had a great time.  Sometimes I think the Mazes were too crowded, so we you could see someone scare the people in front of you and know what to expect. But I know that can’t really be avoided. If you want an extra scary experience, try going on a night that might be less crowded. Maybe a Thursday night when they start offering that?

I scanned a copy of the map so you can get a feel of where the mazes and scare zones are.

[click here to see pictures from Halloween Horror Nights 2010 at Universal Studios Hollywood]

Renegade LA Craft Fair: Oh There Went my Paycheck

2010 Renegade LA Craft Fair

It looks like I’ll be eating pasta and microwave pizza for the next two weeks. This past weekend was the Renegade LA Craft and it was amazing.  Young crafters from all over were there to show off their best.  Joni had the difficult task of making sure I didn’t spend all my money on the first row of sellers (which I totally wanted to do).  There were many times where she’d have to trick me and say, “why don’t we look around first and come back after?”  We all know that’s parent-code for “No.” So bless Joni’s heart for keeping me in check and not letting me blow my entire rent this weekend.

We got there around 11:30am (half an hour after it opened) and it was already packed. There were so many great designers from all over the country, plus a few of my favorites from the Long Beach craft fair last month.

By 2pm, I was sunburnt and broke.  Oh well, I scored lots of good loot!

[click here to jump to the gallery]

The Rescues & Garrison Starr at the Troubadour – I Think I Love You, LA

One of the things I loved about DC was their music scene.  I would discover a band, fall in love with their music, and soon after they’d be passing through for a concert.  I never had quite the same luck in Hawaii and I was excited to see what kind of concert possibilities being LA would bring me.

The Troubadour is an interesting venue. It reminded me a bit of the 930 club in DC, intimate and historic. You never really get over your first show at the Troubadour if you remember past musicians who have shared the same air as you. The walls of the tiny venue were definitely worn, decorated with staples like a telephone pole with tiny poster edges left behind.

My friends and I had great seats balcony level for Garrison Starr’s set.  When she performed “Beautiful in LA”, it felt like hearing a song you love for the very first time.  It had become sort of my anthem after moving to LA a couple of months ago, so when I heard it live for the first time, it was an amazing feeling.

When the Rescues took stage after Garrison Starr’s set, I could feel the balcony floor rumbling under my feet. There was a surge of energy that pulled me back to one of my first concerts in DC and I was overwhelmed with emotion.  It’s amazing how music can transport you to such specific moments in your life.  As many times as I’ve listened to the Rescues’ studio music and youtube videos (which are fantastic, too), they are so much better live. Their harmonies…they floor you. Each of them separately is such a strong musician and vocalist that when they sing together, you suddenly feel so small, as if tucked away in one of their instruments.  And even cooler, for many of their songs, they’d rotate positions and play a different instrument.

After the show, I let myself get swept up in the sea of people leaving the Troubadour. With the Rescues’ newest album in hand, I ripped off the plastic before even reaching my car, and then listened to it at the highest volume possible for the long drive home.

They ended their set was an awesome cover of “Shout” originally done by Tears for Fears (posted below).

A Piece of LA for Me

Last night I went to a show at Largo at the Coronet called the Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour. Great musicians and actors have passed through this venue and I felt humbled to share this space with them. While waiting for the show to begin, I sat in the side room and saw a piano Elliott Smith played at a show there nearly ten years ago. The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour was hilarious and it was awesome to see so many of my favorite actors in person and sharing the same stage. I think seeing actors you admire and respect in their element can be a revelation, especially in such an intimate venue like Largo.

There were some great special guests: Dave Foley, Martin Starr, Linda Cardellini, Samm Levine, Chris Hardwick, David Anders. Not to mention a great core cast, which included Paget Brewster (who is on Criminal Minds <333).  Best of all, for me at least, was special guest Nathan Fillion. He’s awesome for many reasons, but he happens to be the star of my latest obsession, Castle.

Last night I could feel myself falling in love with this strange new city.

[pictures] Settling in to LA

So I’ve finally made the big move to LA. Sometimes I find it hard to believe I’m here. I wake up some mornings, still disoriented, and go through the day feeling like I’m on a very long vacation. Then on other mornings, I wake up happy with all the newness that comes with moving to a new place. It’s been hectic trying to settle in. But  I finally have most of my furniture, so I don’t have to sit on the carpet and eat on the floor anymore.

The other day, I bought one of those cheap Ikea bookshelves and spent a few hours putting all my books away. After I was done, I stood there and stared at it for a long time.  It’s stupid, perhaps, but in that moment I finally felt at home.

I haven’t been taking photos as often as I’d like, but the other week,  I went down to Universal Studios for some fun.

I promise to do more exploring once I’m finally settled in (and finished with some writing I need to do).

[click here to see more pictures!]