Category Archives: California

Just in Time for the Oscars, Go Behind-the-Scenes at the Dolby Theatre

Going Behind-the-Scenes at the Oscars with a Tour of the Dolby TheatreThe Academy Awards, aka the Oscars, are on this Sunday so I thought it was the perfect time to share my behind-the-scenes tour of the Dolby Theatre. The Dolby Theatre is right in downtown Hollywood and was built specifically for the Oscars. On the tour, one learns interesting facts like the stairs are built wide but shallow to make it easier to walk them in gowns and heels.

The tour began just as it does for the stars, at an entrance on the balcony level. After a little Academy Awards history, we were escorted down a large, spiral staircase to the VIP level. On Oscar night, only nominees, presenters, and seat fillers (which I will talk about later), basically just the big names, can get past security down those stairs. Instead of heading into the seating area of the theater where I thought we were going, however, we headed backstage and… Continue reading

Did you know that you can attend the People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles? I did!

Want to See a Hollywood Awards Show in Person? You CAN Go to the People’s Choice Awards!

If you’ve watched anything on television or listened to the radio, then I’m sure you know it’s awards season. The Grammies, American Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Academy Awards; they’ve all either been on lately or will be on soon. For most of them, it is impossible to attend in person, but one of them is open to the regular public like you and me. Being true to its name, not only can “the people” vote on who wins, but they can also attend. My sister and I did just that for the 2016 People’s Choice Awards. Continue reading

10th Anniversary Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Recap – Part 2 (The Finish Line!!)

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Recap - How I Earned This BlingBack to the races! On Saturday morning, my husband and I were up early ready for the 10K. For this one, the villains took over. Cruella de Vil was at the starting line. The best part for me? My favorite character, the Queen of Hearts, was stationed in front of It’s a Small World along with the Evil Queen. She’s not a character one sees often around the parks so it was a real treat. At the finish, Cruella was waiting, but so were our “magic mirror” medals! Continue reading

Introducing the Every Kid in a Park Initiative for 4th Graders

For the 2015-16 school year, 4th graders and their families can visit the national parks for free. Which one would you visit?Living in Arizona, we are surrounded by national parks. Everyone knows the Grand Canyon, but there is also the Petrified Forest and Saguaro National Parks. Heading into Utah and California, there are many more and all are great to visit, which is making me wish that my son was in 4th grade this year.

What’s so special about 4th graders this year? Continue reading

Behind-the-Scenes at SeaWorld – Our Search for Daphne

Taking a Behind-the-Scenes Tour at SeaWorldIf you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you already know that my son is on the autism spectrum and has a couple of other disorders as well. I don’t talk about it much because it’s just part of our normal lives. We adjust and adapt and go about our lives as usual just like everyone else does. For today’s post, though, it’s important to know of his issues because it gives more background as to why this one thing was so important.

He loves animals. I mean really loves animals. All animals. He gets upset if we kill a spider in the house. With that, he loves animal interactions even more and remembers them for a long time. When he was little, he did his first dolphin interaction at SeaWorld San Diego. He loved it and really, really remembers it. To give you an idea, the dolphin’s name was Daphne. Well, we now have a dog named Daphne, named after that dolphin. So, while we often have fights over whether or not he is going to leave the house (or even his bedroom), he leapt at the chance to head back to SeaWorld with one thought on his mind, seeing Daphne the dolphin again.

Unfortunately, I learned on a trip in January that Daphne is being kept in animal care for some extra special attention and is not in the main dolphin tank where the public can see her. Fortunately, I knew that some of the Behind-the-Scenes tours go back to animal care and booked one.

Taking a Behind-the-Scenes Tour at SeaWorldWe started our tour, not in animal care, but with the bat rays. We had fed the bat rays before, but not like this. Instead of the usual fish, we were given little squid to feed them. After getting over my squeamishness at the squid, I fed them. I love the feel of the rays. So soft! We learned that the softness comes from a layer of mucus over their bodies. Eww! There came the squeamishness again! My son would not feed them. Remember that love of animals? He felt bad for the squid, although he does understand that the rays have to eat so was not upset by it. He just couldn’t do it himself. On our visit with Daphne, he would only feed her ice cubes and not the fish.

Taking a Behind-the-Scenes Tour at SeaWorldNow it was time to head behind the scenes into animal care. Our group was introduced to two young dolphins. We were able to interact with them as well as learn about them. We saw how they were cared for and behaviors rewarded. Here my son surprised me. He was so excited over the dolphins, he actually took a fish from the trainer and fed one and then another. There were gelatin cubes, too, but he actually fed them the fish. I guess his love of the dolphins overpowered his feelings for the fish at least a little. Although while my son loved being with these dolphins and even fed them, he was still asking about Daphne.

Taking a Behind-the-Scenes Tour at SeaWorldWe then saw the rescued sea lions. Our guide told us that SeaWorld San Diego has already rescued over 1,000 animals in 2015, more than they usually do in an entire year. Most of them are California sea lions. Those sea lions are cute, but they sure are noisy!

At this point, we were going to leave animal care so I asked one of the trainers where Daphne was. She was in a back pool that we could see, but due to maintenance work in the area, couldn’t get back to it. Just as I was thinking that my son wouldn’t get to see Daphne after all, she poked her head up out of the water to the point we could see her. He was so excited. That one glimpse was all it took to make him (and therefore his momma) happy.

Taking a Behind-the-Scenes Tour at SeaWorldAfter that, we fed the sea turtles. Most of them were green sea turtles, which we learned were green due to their diet. It was fun to see them swim after the lettuce and my son found it interesting that they eat the same lettuce as our tortoise at home, although to be honest, he was still talking to me about how he was glad that he got to see Daphne. He was still giving me hugs about it and had tears in his eyes.

I know that most people don’t have the reason I did to book a SeaWorld Behind-the-Scenes tour, but having done it several times, I can tell you that even without that, it really adds to a day at SeaWorld. Seeing the animals in the main pools and the shows is fun, but seeing how they are cared for and learning about the rescues is really amazing.