A Travellerspoint blog

Knotts Berry Farm - our last day in America

sunny 30 °C

Brian and I almost didn't go to this park but I am so glad we did. I would have to say this was my favourite park we went too!

Monday was our last day in America so what better way to spend it than at America's 1st Theme Park - Knotts Berry Farm. We had to check out of our hotel at 10am and then our flight didn't leave LA until 10pm so we had some time to kill in between and didn't want to carry our luggage everywhere with us. We decided to spend a few hours at the park and leave our suitcases with the hotel lobby while doing so. It was a brilliant plan!

We decided to go on the water rides first so if we got wet we could dry out through the rest of the day. That was a really good plan coz we got soaked! First water ride was your typical river rapid which threatens you with getting wet but doesn't actually deliver. It was a nice little ride though. Then we headed over to the Perilous Plunge. Just looking at the drop this ride had made me a little nervous. Who cares about getting wet when my stomach would jump out of my mouth on the way down? This didn't happen but we did get off the ride looking as if we decided to go for a swim fully clothed, shoes and all. Little info about the ride - The Perilous Plunge is the worlds tallest, steepest and wettest ride ever. It drops you 35m on a 75 degree angle at 80km/h. Needless to say this ride was lots of fun and my stomach didn't even drop!
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Next water ride we went on was the Riptide. This is just like the Wipeout at Dreamworld but Knotts Berry Farm decided to incorporate a little water into their ride so whenever you flipped over you would get water splashing you in the face and soaking your feet. Brian was actually a little nervous about this ride. First time he had ever showed any hesitance about a ride at all. He walked on it bravely of course but i think he was relieved when it ended! Me on the other hand? Loved it!
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Other notable rollercoasters we went on - The Boomerang and Silver Bullet which both send you upside down 6 times or more whilst sending you threw corkscrews, twists and turns. The Silver Bullet was the best and we went on it twice but the Boomerang did do the whole ride backwards too! We didn't get to go on the Montezooma which is the other rollercoaster. It was closed that day :(
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Photo of Brian and I on the Silver Bullet

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Photo of the Boomerang.

This is Brian sitting by himself on a rollercoaster:
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This is the reason why!
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The Xcelerator is the ONLY ride I didn't go on throughout the whole trip and I bailed at the last minute of course. Brian wasn't overly happy with me but I really didn't think I could enjoy this ride at all! Brief overview - The Xcelerator launches you at 132km/h in 2.3 seconds up a 64m ascent and then drops you back down at a 90 degree angle. I feel bad for leaving him but I just couldn't do it! That picture of the rollercoaster is actually Brian on there. You can't see him of course but if you look closely I think he is sitting in front of the people with their arms up in the air.

After that ride I told Brian I would go on any ride he wanted me to except for that one! So we headed over to Ghost Town and went on the old wooden rollercoaster. This was the first ride we went on in the park that day and the last. It is also unexpectedly scarier than you would think! It was lots of fun but just because it doesn't involve loops don't assume that it wil be quite tame! Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of it! :(

It was getting late in the day by this time so we headed back to the hotel and had a shower and got into comfortable clothes for the long flight home. There are showers in the gym downstairs but we had to turn in our key at checkout so luckily someone happened to walk in to use the gym and we walked in after.

We got to the airport with some time to spare so we had a drink, ate some food and read some magazines whilst we waited. It was actually a pretty good flight home and our jet lag wasn't too bad as we slept that night on the plane and woke up in the morning when we reached Auckland for our 2 hour stop over. It was sad leaving the beautiful warm weather behind but nice to get home and FINALLY eat some Vegemite... oh, and see my parents of course! :P

It was a great trip we had and i'm glad we decided to make this blog. It's been good reading over what we got up to at camp and seeing the pictures again. I'll be making a new blog for the time Brian and I are up at Port Douglas but it will stay at this address. It should just open up a new travel entry so stay tuned for when that happens in a few weeks or so!

Thanks for reading!

Jess and Brian.

Posted by Jess_F 00:11 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Grand City Tour of Los Angeles

sunny 29 °C

This tour took us to Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Century City Ave. of the Stars, 20th Century Fox Studios, Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood Hills, Chinese Theatre and the walk of fame, Sunset Strip, Sunset Blvd, Down Town LA, Santa Monica Beach, Third Street Promenade, Venice Beach and Marina Del Ray. So basically it was a big day!

Our first stop on the tour was of course Hollywood Blvd where Chinese Manns Theatre is and the Walk of Fame. May I add that the Walk of Fame is huge! There are 2,300 stars which are placed on Hollywood Boulevard: from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue, and on Vine Street: from Yucca Street to Sunset Boulevard. That's how big it all is so unfortunately Brian and I only got to see the Stars that were between our bus drop off point and around Manns Theatre sidewalk. We were able to see the Hollywood sign and have photos with our hands in famous handprints, have a look around the shops and unfortuanetly see no celebrities. We weren't expecting them to be there anyway!
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We then headed down Sunset Blvd, passed all the celebrity hangouts, saw Johnny Depps night club called the 'Viper Room' where River Pheonix died out the front of, plus Chateau Marmont where Lindsay Lohan often stays when she's not in rehab. We then went through Beverly Hills and saw the street that was used in the Beverly Hill Billies and we had an hour stop on Rodeo Drive to peruse through the ridiculously expensive designer shops.

Our driver and tour guide was a funny old guy who cruised around the town on his rollerblades while everyone on our bus got off and had a look around elsewhere. So when we went to Venice Beach he fit in quite well! We drove past Santa Monica Beach first and saw all the rides at the pier and drove past THE Hotel California (in the Eagles song).
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Venice Beach is then at the end of it (or beginning, which ever way you look at it) so we got about an hour and half to look around the shops and go for a swim for those who dared. Brian and I didn't. I wanted to put my feet in the water until Brian told me how dirty and polluted it was so I settled with just looking at the water instead.

We both got Venice Beach Lifeguard jumpers which are pretty cool (Brian bought mine for my b'day) and we had a look at guy's playing basketball (where White Men Can't Jump was filmed) and of course the body builders at Muscle Beach, where Arnie used to pump weights. The shops are your typical touristy t-shirt and postcard selling stores that are all owned by Mexicans. The sidewalks are filled with artists, musicians and some people openly trying to sell marijuana while smoking it too. It's a very colourful place and a great place to go to experience it all. Venice Beach is exactly how they show it in TV shows and movies!
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After that it was getting fairly late so we all got back on the bus and drove past Marina Del Ray, saw some canals (which is why Venice is called Venice - although there's only about 6 canals remaining), drove past the airport and saw the planes fly VERY low over the highway and past a few other places where celebrities were murdered or stayed at.

It was a great way to spend my birthday and I had lots of fun. I don't think I am ever going to have the chance to spend my birthday in Hollywood again so I'm kind of glad our plans had changed and we were able to go on the Sunday!

Posted by Jess_F 23:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Medieval Times

sunny 30 °C

July 21st - Technically July 22nd in Australia, akka my 23rd birthday, but not in America as Brian so matter-of-factly pointed out to me that morning! He didn't quite get his way though coz that night he took me out to Medieval Times for my birthday :)

The actual plan he had so sneakily concocted was for us to go to Medieval Times on the 22nd and do our Hollywood Tour on the 21st. So he went downstairs one night while pretending to get ice and booked the bus for us to go to Seaworld San Diego and then booked the Hollywood Tour through the same company. After Thursdays trip to Seaworld he was unimpressed with that company (well we both were), so he spilled the beans on his plans and re-booked the Hollywood Tour for the 22nd (we couldn't get it any earlier) thus changing Medieval Times to the night of the 21st. I was happy with the plans either way it turned out and thought it was sweet that he wanted to surprise me, but cancelling and re-booking caused us to have a few problems with getting deposits back from the sneaky little bell desk boy downstairs who was dodgy to begin with. We got our money back and everything worked out fine in the end.

Anyway, on to Medieval Times. Medieval Times takes you back to the 11th century where Knights once existed. You are greeted by the King on entry and get given a specific coloured crown representing the Knight you are cheering for. Ours was the Green Knight hence the green crowns. You then sit down for a 4 course meal (which you eat with your fingers as they didn't have cutlery back in those days) and watch all the different Knights go head to head in order to win the tournament. It was a pretty cool way to spend my birthday dinner!

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Posted by Jess_F 17:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Universal Studios

sunny 33 °C

8 hours was not enough time spent at Universal Studios! This jam-packed theme park had us running from studio tour to amusement ride to Haunted House to special effects show. It was a beautiful warm day spent having loads of fun!

Universal was a bit like our trip to Seaworld in how we got picked up from our hotel, put on another bus at a depot and then got to the park around lunch but at least this time we knew it was going to happen and we got 8 hours at the park instead of 6.

There is just soooooo much to see and do at this park but Brian had been before and knew where to go and what to do first so upon entering the park (where we got our fingerprints recorded with our ticket details!!) we ran straight to the Studio Tour. This is where we got shown around the Hollywood backlot and saw the sets for War of the Worlds, Desperate Housewives, Fast and The Furious Tokyo, Skull Island from the new King Kong, Jurassic Park, Psycho, The Grinch and much more. We got to see flash flooding, be in the subway for an earthquake, see Jaws, King Kong and drive through the fake city which they transform into New York, London, Chicago, Paris etc, depending on what is needed for the movie. It was very cool!
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After that we decided to go on the Jurassic Park ride which they describe as "Now Wetter Than Ever!" The line for this was huge so we decided to buy hot dogs and eat our lunch while waiting in line to save us some time. You get put in a boat of about 25 people and cruise past the nice dinosaurs before heading into a dark tunnel with raptors, spitters and of course a massive T-Rex. Just when you think you're about to get eaten you get dropped down the slide (which is actually pretty steep) and absolutely soaked with water. This is Brian and I after getting off the ride!
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We then thought it would be a good idea to dry off while watching Backdraft. You walk through several rooms where they tell you what a backdraft is, how the shot the movie and of course show you a "blazing inferno of heart-pounding heat and fury in a 10,000 degree blast furnace of searing pyrotechnics and special effects excitement!"

Next up we headed to the Special Effects Stages which were pretty cool and we got to see alot about the new Evan Almighty movie and how they filmed alot of the scenes. Brian also took me to the House of Horrors which only was scary when they had people dressed up as Chucky and Frankenstein chasing you and trying to touch you. I screamed, it was horrible.

They have a Fear Factor Live Show where during the day you can audition to be on it and actually compete later that day which Brian wanted to do but unfortunately we didn't have the time for. We did get to watch a show which consisted of the usual strength and endurance rounds and of course making the contestants eat really gross things. I'm glad Brian didn't do it but he reckons he would have been ok about it. Eeeww!
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The Waterworld Show was really cool and also had a soak zone set up. The actual show doesn't leave the crowd that wet but they have actors walking around 15 minutes before the show and spray people walking to their seats. Very funny!
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With only about an hour left we managed to squeeze in the Universal Animals Actors Show which left Brian now wanting a monkey and of course the Back To The Future Ride which is a technology simulated ride, probably one of the best I've been on. This ride will be closed down soon to make way for the new Simpsons ride so it was pretty lucky we got to go on it. The only other ride we really wanted to go on was 'Revenge of The Mummy' but sadly we just couldn't fit it in :(

We had about 10 minutes at the end before our bus came so we did some shopping and took some pictures. It was a great day and we slept the whole bus ride home!
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Posted by Jess_F 02:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Seaworld San Diego

semi-overcast -17 °C

Thursday started off with a nice sleep-in which was nice for a change. We were headed to Seaworld San Diego that day so we had till about 10am until the bus would pick us up. We both figured that we must be the last pick up as it was pretty late in the morning and then we would head straight to the park. Unfortunately that was not the case. The bus picked us up, went from hotel to hotel picking up other guests and then dropped us at a depot where we changed buses, collected tickets and then headed to the park. By the time we got to Seaworld it was about 1pm. Brian and I were not impressed, especially when the driver announced he would pick us up at 6pm.

Apart from that little hiccup, Seaworld San Diego is a pretty cool place. It's a lot like our Seaworld back home - lots of animals and not many rides, which I'm glad stayed the same.

First up we headed to the dolphin show which was cool to watch. Brian tried to get a photo of me next to the big tank with a dolphin swimming behind me. He was successful but as he took the picture the dolphin kicked up its tail and splashed me. At all their sea mammal shows they designate the first 10 - 16 rows to be the "splash zone." Basically if you sit in these rows you won't just get a little bit wet, you literally will get soaked! They make the dolphins and whales swim close to the crowd, turn around and splash down with their tails soaking the crowd. It was hilarious watching people get soaked!
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We then headed to the Shamu Show which was probably the highlight of my day. Killer Whales are so beautiful and it's amazing how well they are trained. Shamu is the big attraction of the park so they allow for plenty of photo taking opportunities. This show also had a designated splash zone and of course it was more hilarious watching a huge whale splash people compared to a few dolphins.
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It was then a rush to squeeze in as many animal habitats as we could before the other shows but we managed to see baby killer whales, puffins, penguins (even emporer penguins which are so tiny!!), sharks, seals, a walrus, flamingoes and many more.

Other shows we saw included the 'Cirque De La Mar' show, which was just like Cirque Du Soleil but intergrated water slides and jet ski's into their show, then the 'Navy Seal' show - with your typical seal tricks but set on a marine sub.
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There was also a pet show on where the had trained dogs, birds, cats and a pig to compete in events and show the crowd how having a "normal" pet was as much fun as having a seal or whale and is alot easier to train (obviously). Brian walked away wanting a pet dog and I walked away wanting a pet parrot which I thought was fairly hilarious as we had just been to SEAworld :)

Posted by Jess_F 00:49 Archived in USA Comments (0)

California Adventure Park

sunny 30 °C

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California Adventure Park is part of the Disneyland Corporation and is positioned right across from the entrance to Disneyland. The monorail goes from Disneyland into California Adventure Park and you can arrange for your ticket to be a park hopper so you can go between both parks throughout the day. CA Adventure is a fairly new park. I think they said it was opened in 2001, so they've looked at the way Disneyland works and improved it with this park.

The park is based around all things Californian so you enter the park under the mini golden gate bridge and have options to visit the Hollywood back lot, Paradise Pier, The Golden State, Sunshine Plaza or a Bug's Land. All of these areas recreate either landmarks, culture or history of California.

Brian and I caught the shuttle from out hotel and got to the park right on 10am when it opened. We went straight to Paradise Pier where there are 2 rollercoasters, a giant drop type ride, big ferris wheel and chair-o-planes. The big rollerocaster "California Screamin" wasn't operating so we went back to the park later on and rode it at dusk. It was lots of fun and I took a picture of the picture they take of you on the ride. I was lucky to take that photo too because we forgot to get stamped on the way out and when we went to go back into Disneyland we almost weren't allowed in. The lady let us through only because I took a picture proving we did come from CA Adventure.

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Brian and I then headed to the Hollywood back lot and had our picture taken with Sully from Monsters Inc. and then headed to the Hollywood Tower where the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride is. The ride is themed to resemble the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel. The storyline of the ride is that in 1939 the hotel was struck by lightning, transporting an elevator car full of passengers to the Twilight Zone. So the ride is where you are seated in the elevator in pitch black and get dropped up and down between different levels. I've never been on a ride like it and I don't think I've screamed so much on a ride before. It was lots of fun though!
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Another cool ride was a "Soarin' Over California" that simulates a hang glider tour of California. We got a fast pass ticket to this ride but still ended up waiting over an hour to get on it. It was worth the wait! This ride lifts you high up in the studio and it's as if you are flying directly through the screen. It's a 4D type ride so when you fly over the ocean you feel the breeze, get sprayed with some mist and smell the salty smell of the ocean. It was very well done and Brian and I were very impressed!

Another notable ride was the Grizzly River Run. It starts off as your typical river rapid attraction where you spin around through rapids in a giant tyre. The difference with this ride is that everyone gets wet and there's a few big drops throughout the ride. It was nice and refreshing too to get wet as Tuesday was a nice hot day.

A Bug's Land was cool to walk through as it is set up just like the animated movie but it's more of a kids section so we didn't bother lining up to go in the kiddy rides. We didn't spend the whole day at the park as we didn't have to wait long in lines for rides so we did pretty much everything within a few hours. We ended up heading back to the hotel just after lunch, ate at the restaurant downstairs and then did some shopping in the nearby mall.

*Apologies for taking so long to update the blog and photo gallery! We only have limited space in the photo gallery as we have a limit on how many pics we can upload every month so unfortunately you aren't seeing ALL our photos from our LA trip. It may take awhile for the pics to upload... it may even go into next month for me to put them all up but I will update the blog so you can at least read everything we did!

Posted by Jess_F 20:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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