April 15, 2001

Well, vacation is over. While we were in Los Angeles, we went to:

Day 1.Universal Studios: Hollywood. My brother went with us to the Universal Studios park. We took the tram ride and saw the Terminator 3-d show. We also ate lunch at Wizards. We expected a walk-around close up magician but there wasn't one. It was also kind of rainy that day, which sort of put a damper on everything.

Day 2.Sea World. We drove to San Diego to visit Shamu and the other Sea World shows. They were all amusing, and I got some fantastic photo ops here! There was also a show here referred to as 4-d. We went in and it was a 3-d show, augmented by things like water spray and wind that was built into the seating. It made the show seem more alive and more interactive, as long as you didn't mind getting a little wet or scared by wind rushing behind your head to simulate flying bats. While driving to San Diego though, I was following the Magellan 750 in the rental car, and it took me on a toll road. That would have been fine, had I known that the tolls are paid in the middle of the highway. What I thought was an exit turned out to be the toll booth, which I should have pulled over for. We'll end up being mailed a ticket (as I drove right under some gadget with cameras on it).

Day 3. Unbelievingly, it was scheduled to rain in Anaheim and Buena Park, so we visited the CA ScienCenter, a science museum. Of course, while there, we saw the 3-d IMAX show Galapagos, about the Galapagos Islands. It was a very interesting show, as well as the awesomeness of IMAX 3-D effects. We didn't even see all of the exhibits in the center, and there was a space museum next door that we didn't even touch on. We could have spent more time there for sure.

Day 4. Well, we went to Knott's Berry Farm. This park is very large with lots of different things to do for all ages. While we were there, they had extra things going on to celebrate Easter. Knott's Berry Farm apparenly has the rights to use the Peanuts characters, and Snoopy was everywhere. They gave all the kids these light up beagles headpieces, very cute... They had shows about native American Indian dances and culture, a wild-west action show [which was more comedy than action....weak!] and a saloon show we only caught small sight of. For extra dough (which I shelled out), you could pan for gold which was interesting to do. It's interesting how much work they go through for so little return.

Day 5. Disneyland is the flagship of local entertainment in this area, especially if you have a small child like we do. The park is the most expensive one in the area (but not by much). The park is well taken care of, and most of the employees seem to generally like staying in character, so it was fun. The only thing I found to be weak was 'Innoventions'. Maybe because I read so much about new things in Wired and other tech magazines, I felt that Tomorrowland was basically Todayland. Perhaps I am being too critical of the exhibit. What would have been nice to see would have been exhibits about what new polymers and plastics are capable of, or how molecular computers will work. Of course, that would bore their audience for the most part.

Day 6. Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park. My son went on the pony rides, and we all went to the planetarium show here. The show was about Venus, and our perceptions from the past and our observations now. It is very interesting to watch science at work, and the show was enlightening in how our thinking can be so sharply affected by observation, even on a planet thousands of miles away from our own. To think that early observers thought there might have been life on Venus!! For the evening, we went to Medieval Times. We even paid the extra money to sit down front for this dinner show! It's a fantastic horse and knight show. They bring out show horses and then bring out fully clad knights and well-trained war horses who battle to the 'death' for the right of chamionship and to do battle with the Black Knight. There are only 7 of these places in the country, but it's a show worth seeing at least once in your life. The atmosphere can be very pushy [take your picture, sell it to you for $8 - three times in one night], but if you can turn a cold shoulder easily it's not overbearing. Make sure you bring cash to tip the waiter though! I paid for the tickets with a credit card, but that was before the show. At the end, you'll want cash for the bar and to tip your server. I, and therefore my server, came up about 5 bucks too short of what I should have paid him. The tickets are less than Disneyland, but only slightly so. And there are plenty of opportunities to spend money here. You can pay to be knighted, purchase a sword in the giftshop, or go dancing afterward in the Knight Club [sign up for the later show].

All in all a good vacation....I'd recommend it to anyone, but bring lots of ca$h with you. Everwhere you turn you're being pandered to, and occasionally you'll just HAVE to buy something.

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