Arts and Entertainment

LA SkylineSouthern California (SoCal) it a cultural center full of entertainment, arts and sport venues. Unlike places like New York, where many of the venues are found close together, entertainment venues in SoCal are spread out and harder to find.

In this section I will be publishing articles highlighting main entertainment complexes, museums, fun centers and shopping centers in the area.
A good source of information about fun in SoCal is http://www.socalfunplaces.com/. Venues are divided into categories like “Amphitheaters and Stadiums”, “Drive-in Theaters” and “Family Entertainment”.

As usual, you are invited to add your own articles about places you visited or comment about existing articles.

Some of my favorite places: The Getty center and the Getty Villa; Griffith Observatory and Planetarium; Hollywood Bowl; Honda Center; Spreckels Organ Outdoor Pavilion; Garden Walk; Balboa Park; Bowers Museum; Hollywood and Highland; and California Science Center – to name a few.

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Bodies and Titanic Exhibits

nullThe Bodies and Titanic exhibits reside in the former Wax Museum building on Beach Boulevard and offer two totally different journeys for visitors. One takes you to the past to relive the grandeur and tragedy of the Titanic and the other takes you deep into a scientific exploration of the human body. 

Important Note: The Buena Park exhibits closed recently to make room for a new attraction, but you can still see the same exhibits at the Luxor, Las Vegas. A new theme park called Butterfly Pavilion is being built on this location. Stay tuned for the review. 

Although the exhibits can qualify as museums, they are definitely not your typical museums. It is important to make this distinction because some people – especially teens – are allergic to the word museum. 

Since those 2 exhibits are separate, you can buy tickets for one or both. Each exhibit will take around one and half hours to complete – so plan your time accordingly. If you have an inquisitive young one in your party, plan on staying longer. The docents are very helpful and informative. 

nullOnce you buy your tickets, you can pose for some photos with Titanic props. The backgrounds in those photos are blue so they can be exchanged with more elaborate backgrounds. For example, we took a picture in front of the grand staircase. When we viewed the finished photo it looked like we were on the Titanic in front of the staircase. 

At the Bodies exhibits, you will see many exhibits of the human body in full color and to scale. Each room highlights a different part or system like Muscular, nervous, respiratory, digestive, urinary, reproductive, endocrine, and circulatory. 

The specimens are created from real human bodies and using an innovative preservation method called Polymer Preservation which uses a special liquid rubber. Using this method the specimens can last for a very long time without any decay.

All exhibits were informative and entertaining but my family and I especially enjoyed the exhibit showing the human fetus during different weeks of development. It is mind boggling how tiny the fetus is at 3 weeks and how fast it grows after that.

Another eye-opening exhibit was the stark difference between healthy lungs and damaged lungs due to smoking. If anyone is still smoking in spite of all the warnings then this exhibit might just make them quit.

The Bodies exhibit is mostly independent at your own pace experience. The Titanic artifacts exhibit, on the other hand, is more choreographed and guided.

nullAt the entrance to the Titanic, the docents let small groups in every 15 minutes where they are greeted by a large room with a big screen. The first part of the journey is a short video about the construction, launch, and tragedy of the Titanic. 

The Titanic was built to rival any other cruise liner in size and luxury and was billed as unsinkable. During its maiden voyage in 1912, the unthinkable happened. It struck a large Iceberg and sank to the bottom of the ocean, sending around 1,500 passengers to their doom. The biggest tragedy in this story is that many more lives could have been saved if the ship carried adequate lifeboats. Read more about the Titanic at Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic.

Throughout the ensuing years, many salvagers and researchers recovered a treasure trove of artifacts from the doomed ship. 

This exhibit showcases those artifacts and the opulent life aboard ship. In some of the exhibits, you will see the life-sized Grand Staircase, the first class staterooms and expensive china that survived the drowning. In contrast, you will pass by the cramped crew quarters, with 4 crew members in each cabin. 

nullThe Titanic’s maiden voyage attracted many of the rich and famous who also brought with them their luxury items like jewelry and perfumes. You will see some of those on display too.

In other exhibits, you will see the huge propellers and the engine room where the crew toiled to keep the ship running. Another display plays a looping 3D film showing the sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean. 

In most rooms, there were docents - dressed as crew members – providing information about the exhibits and answering questions. 

One of the rooms shows a huge Iceberg made out of real ice. You can touch the ice to feel how cold it was on that fateful night. 

Around the middle of your journey, you will be seated in a simulated lifeboat while a crew member tells the story of the Titanic passenger’s escape and rescue. 

As you are exiting the exhibit you will walk through a memorial for the people who perished and who survived along with their photos - A very touching experience that makes the whole story more real and personal.  

Our favorite parts of the exhibit were the 3D film, the Iceberg and the engine room.

 

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Encounters: UFO Experience

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I was always fascinated with the idea that aliens from far away planets visited Earth throughout history – or that they are still visiting us today. 

I read many books and watched many TV shows that make such claims. I really would like to believe, but the evidence is still not there. 

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I have no doubt that there are millions of earth-like planets in the universe and some of them may harbor life but I am waiting for absolute proof of their existence.

Until then, it is always interesting to browse through any possible such evidence.

Recently I paid a visit to the new “Encounters: UFO Experience” museum at the Garden Walk, Anaheim, California. 

The curators tried to collect sightings, replicas of artifices, Alien models and evidence of encounters and abductions all in one place. The museum is divided into 7 galleries -each focusing on a different topic. In the background you can hear audio and visual recounting of sightings and events.

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The exhibit is intriguing and entertaining, but it doesn’t break any new ground. My problem is that I already saw and heard most of the evidence and theories about the subject. For example, most of the material was covered in episodes of Ancient Aliens TV series.

My favorite exhibit was the alien autopsy display. The little grey alien corps was very realistic. 

Other interesting exhibits are: The Easter Island statues; Area 51; Roswell and the Nazca Lines.

The tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for kids. You can purchase a pack of 2 tickets for $14 (with audio tour) from Groupon. 

We spent about 40 minutes going through the whole exhibit – I already knew a lot of the information. To be fair, if this is new to you, you probably can spend up to 2 hours going through each and every display. 

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If you decide to go, make sue to make use of the audio tour. Each display has a number you can enter in the device – which will give a recorded description if the item. 

The museum is located inside the Garden Walk center in Anaheim. The Garden Walk is home to dining places like PF Chang and Cheesecake Factory and entertainment places like Bowlmor Lanes (Bowling) and Billy Beez fun center. More about the Garden Walk in a separate article.

400 West Disney Way
Anaheim, CA 92802 

 

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Out Of This World Circus

nullThe circus is in town!

Circus performers and animals have been entertaining audiences for decades. Every circus has acrobats, high wire walkers, aerialists, lion trainers and clowns – and this show has them all and much more.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey took all those acts and wove them together with a storyline that ignites the audience imagination and makes every performance much more interesting.

nullThe arena is set up with floating globes and bright LED projections. Images of stars and galaxies flash all around and on the big screens. The ice floor is illuminated with astronomical designs. The whole setup prepares the audience for a trip to outer space.

The ice flooring is a new innovation for circus shows. Many of the acts were performed while skating on the ice. 

nullAs you wait for the show to start, you will be tantalized with appearances by some of the performers and animals. 

The show opens with a countdown, and on lift-off, you see three astronauts balancing on high-wire. With the lighting and special effects, it looks like the moonwalk.

nullThe story is a typical struggle between good and evil. The good ringmaster is on a quest to find the best circus performers in the galaxy and bring them to earth for the greatest show in the universe.  While the evil queen wants the performers for her own show. 

The show featured some returning acts like the Torres family from Paraguay who raced motorcycles in a small (6-foot) globe with speeds up to 60 mph. Up to 6 bikes were cramped in this tiny space while spinning fast. With the stage lights dimmed and the cycle’s lights blasting, it looked like a tornado of light. 

nullAnother popular returning act was big cat trainer Alexander Lacey who brought his well-behaved lions and tigers.

There were also new acts like the Chinese aerobatics team who were tumbling on the ice and the Simet family who presented their new Space Walk at the beginning of the show. 

One of my favorite performances was by the cute domesticated animals. The stage was invaded by every kind of pet you can imagine. There were cats and dogs, donkeys, goats, Lamas, Alpacas and pigs. 

nullNotably, absent this year were the Asian Elephants. Thankfully they were all retired to a conservation center in Florida. The decision to retire the Elephants was largely driven by new legislation regulating travel and accommodation conditions for the huge animals. 

In general, my family and I loved the show, especially the new innovations and the space theme. I also noticed that the children around us were enthralled by all the acts.   

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