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|Update 9/8/00 -
For the Dusty Traveler, long weekends are a chance to explore, and I sure
took advantage of the extra day this past weekend.
While Jerry Lewis was raising millions across the nation, I searched the hills and valleys around the ol' LA homestead to find a few low key and low cost attractions. Of course I still found time to visit Universal, Disneyland, and rustle up some fun and frightening news for you as well. Folks, my life is truly a thrill a minute!
As a newcomer to the land of LA, I found a delightful surprise this past weekend in Griffith Park.
I didn't have much time or money when I happened upon this oasis of green in a land of concrete and traffic. Almost anyone who lives in LA is aware that the park is home to the Los Angeles Zoo and Griffith Park Observatory, but I venture to guess that many would be as pleasantly surprised as I was to find some lesser known attractions such as Travel Town and Live Steamers as well.
Nestled in a small patch of trees and train tracks on the valley side of the park, Travel Town plays host to some wonderful old trains and antique transportation equipment. Surrounding this enclave is a charming miniature train ride.
I spent about an hour walking around Travel Town, but saw many families camped out on the lawn for an afternoon picnic. What an ideal place for a family get together. For that special event, they also have two train cars which can be reserved in advance (some lucky child was having a birthday party the day I was there). Best of all, travel town doesn't charge admission (but a small donation is highly recommended), so you can save the dough without cheating the kids out of a little fun. You can thank me later.
I got a little turned around leaving Travel town and found another train related attraction just around the corner. Los Angeles Live Steamers, is a model train hobbyist's dream.
The entire area is crisscrossed with tiny little railroad tracks. Live Steamers is open to the public most Sunday's from 11 am to 3 pm. If I was 10 again, this is where I'd want my dad to take me. Disney nuts will be thrilled to see Walt Disney's original Carolwood Pacific Railroad barn.
In 1950, Walt and his wife Lilly purchased a house in Holmby Hills (Near Beverly Hills, CA). While the house wasn't huge, it did have room for Walt to build a half mile loop of 1/8th scale train tracks. Walt enlisted the help and craftsmanship of Roger Broggie (whom many claim was Walt's first Imagineer).
Although Walt's home and fantastic Carolwood Pacific are now gone, his railroad barn can be viewed by you in it's new location at Los Angels Live Steamers in Griffith Park where on rare occasions it is open to the public.
Now on to the news and rumors that all you Mouseplaneteers have become so addicted to:
The word from Universal is that Chicken Run and the Clumps are being evicted from their homes at the Studios to make room for new tenants. Seems that the residents of choice this time of year are of the ghoulish variety. I've heard rumors that Mrs. Tweedy has plans to turn all those dispossessed chickens into . . . . Oh its too horrible to think of.
Here's the quick run down for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. The big haunted houses for this year will be inspired by some of the most frightening names in entertainment.
Buffy and Angel have their Hellmouth Haunt, Clive Barker brings us Harvest, Rob Zombie has left the recording room to inspire House of 1000 Corpses Maze, even the World Wrestling Federation is getting into the act with The Undertaker: No Mercy. Oh my!
The frights begin Friday October 13th (how convenient is that?) and continue on October 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 and 31 from 7 pm until 1 am.
While tickets are $39 for the event ($19 for annual pass holders!), those who purchase regular admission during the day can "Stay and scream" for only $20.
Not bad at all, considering that Knott's doesn't seem to offer any sort of discount for day and night visitors and Disney no longer celebrates Halloween at all.
So how does a theme park follow up a major Halloween event?
Well the lucky answer for us is rumored to be Whoniversal. Whoniversal? Yep, to tie the park in with the upcoming Jim Carrey film, part of the park will be themed to Whoville from the silver screen adaptation of the Dr. Seuss Christmas classic "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."
They may even set up a post office in Citywalk where you can get your mail stamped "Whoville." How cool is that? Universal just keeps getting better all the time. I'll fill you in on the details of this event very soon.
Well my friends, this old traveler is pooped and hungry. I have so much more for you in the coming weeks. I still owe you a load of information on Citywalk, the various studio tours around LA as well as how you go about becoming part of the studio audience on your favorite shows (Bob Barker are you listening?).
Now I'm off to the microwave to nuke that chicken pie... ;)