Day 16 – LA

Winding down. Went back to Universal Studios to do the studio tour, Simpsons ride and another go on the Mummy coaster. Queues were busier today, but not too bad. We spent a few hours in the park and then hit the city walk outside for lunch. We decided to go and see Cowboys & Aliens to pass some time, and then when we got out from that we went and say Captain America too. Both movies are good fun.

And that’s about it for the trip. We fly home late tomorrow. The bags are mostly packed and the airport shuttle bus is booked (which required so much info we thought they were going to demand a DNA sample too).

Day 15 – Universal Studios Hollywood

Fun day at Universal Studios Hollywood. We got there reasonably early and managed to avoid the crowds … for a while. When we first got there the waiting times on everything were only 5 or 10 minutes. By the end of the day they were all up around an hour or so. Nothing compared to the Comic-con queues from last week, but I’m glad we got a lot of stuff done early. We walked straight on to the Jurassic Park and Mummy rides, and even stayed on the Mummy ride for a second go (and then came back later for another).

We got most of the other rides and shows done except for the studio tour, which we’ll get to early tomorrow. We sat in the soak zone for the cool Waterworld stunt show, and boy did we get soaked! Absolute Drench Zone might be a better name. 🙂

Day 14 – got to Los Angeles

Farewell San Diego! We were up early and on the train to Los Angeles. What a nice comfy way to travel. 🙂

Speaking of comfy ways to travel: we got met at LA’s Union Station by our stretch limousine. Shannon had already organised a tour schedule with our driver, so we just had to relax and see the sights from behind long, dark tinted windows.

First stop was Santa Monica. Lunch on the pier and then a walk around the main street. After that it was back into LA proper for a look around Rodeo Drive and Hollywood Boulevard. Finally we got delivered to our LA hotel where we had to go back to being “regular people”. 🙂

Day 13 – San Diego Sea World

Off the the famous San Diego Sea World today. I’ve visited before, and been to the Florida park too, so I decided to leave the camera behind and just be a regular tourist. It actually felt a bit strange not being able to photograph everything (although I plan to get copies of Nathan’s photos). 😛

Sea World was great, as always. It’s always interesting watching whales, dolphins, sea lions, polar bears, etc. playing around. We had a good day for it, both weather and crowd wise. The sea lion show was standing room only but we had a great view at all the shows we went to. It was a little disappointing to see that the trainers no longer do much in-water interaction with the killer whales, but I guess you can’t blame them (or their OHS people).

After Sea World, for our final night in San Diego, we had a unanimous decision to return to Phil’s BBQ for a late lunch/early dinner. Pork ribs this time, and only the regular size (we learned our lesson last time). Very tasty, although I think the beefy ribs are the winner.

Now there’s just cleaning up and packing to get ready to be at the train station bright and early in the morning. Next stop: Los Angeles!

Day 12 – San Diego

A fairly easygoing day today to recover from the excitement of Comic-con. We headed over to Balboa Park, which is a kind of cultural centre in San Diego. There are a bunch of museums, gardens, galleries and so on. We had a good look around the Museum of Natural History, which got off to a great start on the first floor and then seemed to run out of stuff on the others. It was still an interesting visit, just shorter than expected … although we still spent a few hours there.

After the museum we looked around some of the rest of the park and then walked to downtown San Diego. More browsing, some shopping and then back home.

We did a test pack of our suitcases to make sure everything was going to fit. It did, but Nathan’s came in about 5 kg overweight, so some repacking was done and some old clothes were sacrificed. It’s all good now. My bag is almost spot on, so I won’t be able to do much shopping in LA. 😛

There are a few photos from today in the gallery under the San Diego section.

Day 11 – Comic-con last day

Final day of Comic-con today. 🙁

It was only a fairly short day, but we still got to see some good stuff. We got into the room we wanted early and saw the Wild Cards panel. It’s a long running superhero book series by a variety of authors including George R.R. Martin (who was there) and Roger Zelazny (who wasn’t there, as he died in 1995). I can vaguely remember the series starting in the 80’s, mainly through its role playing game spin-off. I hadn’t realized it was still going though. Might be something to check out, although the older books are hard to get hold of.

Next session, and the one we’d really been in the room for, was Castle. Nathan Fillion and most of the regular cast were there. We got a sneak peek at the the first scene of the new season, although it didn’t answer the cliffhanger ending we’d been left with. The panel was great, all the actors were really entertaining and Nathan Fillion seems like a big kid (in the best possible way). Probably the funniest panel we saw.

Last up was Merlin. We had the producers and most of the cast. Another preview of the new season which didn’t give much away, and then a chat and question and answer session.

After that it was shopping time! We hit the expo hall and squeezed through the crowds to buy some loot! 🙂

And then … that was it. Comic-con was finished. I had a great time, and a very busy time, and wished I’d had some clones. 🙂

Back to regular holidays now.

Day 10 – Comic-con third day

We had a live edit session with Francis Ford Copolla and Val Kilmer this morning. They want to use digital technology to enable film as a “live performance” where the director can edit the flow of the movie as it plays, depending on the mood of the audience. They’re trying it out with their new movie, Twixt. It’s an interesting concept but still has a few bugs to work out.

A sneak peak at Immortals was next, along with a bunch of cast, producers and the director. It’s a visually stunning fantasy epic. They’ve assured us it will be better than Clash of the Titans. The 3D looked pretty good too. Not a movie for the little kids though – tonnes of the red stuff splashed around.

Knights of Badassdom was up next. This was perfect for the Comic-con crowd. It’s about a group of live action role players (the ones that dress up and play Dungeons & Dragons) who accidentally summon a demon. It’s played for laughs and it certainly got a few from the audience.

The next couple of sessions we had decided to sit through just to keep our seats. The first of these was Snow White and the Huntsman, which hasn’t even started filming (in fact, some of the cast only met each other on the flight to Comic-con). They showed a “proof of concept” clip they’d done, along with the leads in costume. It actually looks pretty good. Much more a fantasy action movie rather than a fairy tale. The other session was for Dorothy of Oz, an animated sequel to the original film. It’s definitely aimed at kids, but the author, great grandson of Frank Baum, was there, as was Patrick Stewart. The entire 6500+ audience sang happy birthday to Sir Patrick, which was pretty cool. 🙂

The last session was Kevin Smith. He wasn’t particularly promoting anything, although we did get a clip of his latest movie, Red State. He sure can talk though, and did so, almost non stop for a couple of hours. His only pauses were to take audience questions which he would then give a 15 minute answer to. Very funny though. He kept the packed audience well entertained the whole time.

And that was day three. I’m still trying to decide what to go and see tomorrow. There are a few different thing on in the morning (all at the same time) and the afternoon is free for souvenir shopping.

Day 9 – Comic-con second day

Another jam packed day! We lined up early for the giant Hall H (>6500 capacity) this morning. Hall H caters mainly for the movie panels, and today had some biggies. We kicked off with Steven Spielberg (his first time at Comic-con) and Peter Jackson showing off their new Tintin movie, which looked considerably better in the clips we saw than it did in the trailer that’s floating around.

Other highlights from today:
– 30 Minutes or Less, Amazing Spider-man, Attack the Block, Fright Night, Ghost Rider 2, Haywire, The Raven, Total Recall and Underworld 4.

Now we just have decide what go and see tomorrow. The biggest problem we’re finding with Comic-Con is that there’s just so much good stuff on. It’s impossible to see everything because of the overlapping schedules and enormous queues. We have found the best thing is to get to one hall early and just stay there all day. We’ve been lucky so far that the rooms we’ve picked have had a great selection of panels. I’m not sure about the next few days though: there are quite a few things I’d REALLY like to see and they’re scattered all over the place. Whatever I get to I’m sure it will be good!!

Day 8 – Comic-con

First day of Comic-con today. Wow!! I knew it was a popular but … wow!! It is MASSIVE! The papers were estimating around 150,000 people today and I’d say that was about right. We packed out the entire San Diego convention centre and most of the function areas of the two hotels beside it.

I’m glad that we braved the crowds and got our tickets last night as it let us get into the queue for the first of our chosen sessions this morning. We joined when there only 2500 people ahead of us, but updates through the day mentioned there were over 6000 waiting to get into the already full hall. We wisely decided to stay in the one hall for multiple sessions rather than try jumping from room to room.

So, what did we see today …

– Bruce Campbell: the man, the legend. 🙂 Fun guy from a tonne of movies such as Evil Dead. He was at Comic-con talking about Burn Notice and the spin off TV movie with the show’s creator. It was a good, fun start to the day.
– Covert Affairs: a show I haven’t watched but might try now. The cast, writers and producers gave the show a good plug.
– Psych: a funny show and a fun panel. All the main cast were there along with the show’s creator. They started things off with a live sing along of the theme song and then chatted about the upcoming season and the fun they have making the show.
– Ringer: a new series with Sarah Michelle Gellar playing twin sisters who end up in a heap of trouble. It was being billed as a “modern noir thriller series” and looked like it might be worth checking out.
– Games of Thrones: a good selection of the show’s fairly large cast, along with the show’s writers and George R.R. Martin, author of the books. No sneak peaks of season two as they haven’t started filming yet, but a good panel nonetheless.

After that we tried to swap rooms for a session with the Archer cast, but the room was already packed and had a massive queue before we got there. Instead, we had a quick look around the huge expo/show floor and made our way to collect our loot. Some of the sessions had handed out tickets which we could redeem for show themed goodies. We scored a couple of t-shirts, a folding stool (for waiting in queues), the Game of Thrones novel and some other cool bits and pieces.

Day 7 – San Diego

Today was planned as a rest day, so we decided to start with a two hour cruise (not a three hour cruise 🙂 ) around the San Diego Harbour. We got a great look at the city and surrounds. There were plenty of cool warships, sea lions, sailing ships (including the Star of India – the world’s oldest sailing ship) and great scenery.

After the cruise we hopped on a train (trolley) bound for San Ysidro on the USA/Mexico border. Nathan had wanted to take advantage of the good shopping prices while over here and San Ysidro has a huge outlet centre. I behaved myself and only got a comfy pair of Nike’s (for about a quarter of the Australian price) but Nathan shopped it up big time. He actually got himself a new suitcase and filled it with loot. 🙂

Back on the trolley and back to San Diego. We had the option of picking up our Comic-con tickets tonight rather than in the morning which we thought sounded like a good idea. About 10,000 other people had the same idea and we joined the biggest queue I’ve ever seen. We thought we doing great at first; we got to the doorway in under an hour. Then we went inside and saw it was a huge hall with the queue snaking around the entire area. The Comic-con folk had everything running smoothly though and the line kept moving. It still took over two hours, but we got our tickets – and the world’s biggest show bags. I don’t have a photo of the bag they gave us yet, but it must be about 80cm square. 🙂

We finished the day at Phil’s BBQ restaurant where we had a huge feast of extra tasty beefy ribs. Once again, I am totally stuffed.

The queue ... :O