Westworld

Being the fan of westerns that I am, I was immediately taken in by the new HBO incarnation of Westworld. Even though I enjoyed the original 1973 film, it wasn’t without its flaws, which is why I was open to a new take on it, and I can say the show did not let me down, and ended its first season with me begging for more. Parts of the show, including its jaw-dropping finale were filmed at the very accessible Paramount Ranch (which we visited before, back in 2015, you can view that post here) so I felt it was time for a revisit! I also took along my friend, Kaitlyn, also a fan of the show, who had never visited Paramount Ranch before.

If you didn’t read my previous post on Paramount Ranch, but are familiar with the 1990s TV show Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, then this will look very familiar, as it was used for Colorado Springs. It was also used in the sci-fi sudo-western, Firefly.

Between our first visit and this one, little changed, with the exception of fresh paint and the addition of the church, which was used in Westworld, and I was delighted to find still there.

Keep reading for more images of Paramount Ranch!

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Goodbye to the Fantasyland Skyway Station

Sorry for the dead air as of late. I caught what has been going around down here, a late spring cold that had me laid up for the last two weeks. I’m finally beginning to feel better and can finally begin to focus on blogging again.

Four years ago I wrote a post dedicated to one of Disneyland’s lost attractions, but one that still had a physical reminder at the park, the Skyway. Opening in 1954, the Skyway was a gondola lift type attraction that took Guests high above Disneyland, through the Matterhorn, and to either Fantasyland or Tomorrowland. While it closed in 1994, I still have vivid memories of riding it, and miss it greatly, as it was a great way to get from one side of the park to the other, especially during parades. Shortly after closing, the Tomorrowland station was dismantled quickly, however the Fantasyland station remained, tucked away behind trees.

Very soon the Fantasyland Skyway Station will meet the fate of the neighboring Frontierland areas of Big Thunder Ranch, as the Disneyland Resort makes way for their new Star Wars themed land. So, Patrick and I took a little visit the other day to snap some more pictures of it before it is lost forever.

This post, while about Disneyland, still hits home to the heart and soul of what I want to do more of; photographing something before it is lost entirely – contributing in some small way to the history of something. Focusing in on this approach to posts has made me less concerned about whittling down the number of photos I post too. So, gear up for a pretty picture heavy post.

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Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Warner Brothers Studio is the powerhouse behind some of the greatest classic films of all time. Casablanca being at the top. But they also produced James Dean’s three major motion pictures, East of Eden, Rebel without a Cause, and Giant, along with some wonderful television series. And today the Warner Brothers continues to make great and award winning movies and  TV shows. What some people may not know is that you can actually visit Warner Brothers Studios and take a tour of its backlot and sound stages! I was thrilled when I found this out, and Patrick surprised me with tickets over the weekend.

First, I’m always happy when I can visit filming locations, but Warner Brothers’ backlot holds a special place in my heart with its ties to the James Dean’s films, the 1960s Batman series, and my favorite show, the little known series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (Some readers may remember that my devotion extended into me making not one but two cosplays of the character of Dixie Cousins.) However, I knew ahead of time that where the majority of Brisco filmed no longer existed. Like many studios, Warner Brothers had a western area on their backlot. Built in 1957, at the height of westerns, Laramie Street, as it was called, had scenes from not just Brisco film there, but the James Garner classic show Maverick (perhaps my favorite role of his), and Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles shot there as well. But as westerns grew less popular, and family sitcoms and one hour contemporary dramas began to take over the airwaves, Warner Brothers saw little use for Laramie Street, and bulldozed it in 2004 to make way for Warner Village, “a New England-style residential street” where the homes are not just facades, but working production offices as well.

However, Laramie Street is not the only location on Warner’s backlot that Brisco used. They shot extensively on their “New York” sets as well, which acted mostly as San Francisco. Including the Westerfield Club, the Horseshoe Club and the hotel where Brisco and Socrates dangle from a window. (All of the screencaps and their counterparts below are shown respectively.)

And like all shows, Brisco also shot on sound stages. Warner Brothers Studios’ stages all feature plaques that have a list of all of the movies and shows that have filmed on that stage. We were lucky enough to pass by one of the ones Brisco used, stage 19.

We also passed by the building used as police headquarters in Batman, as well as building that acted as the police station that an intoxicated Jim Stark was dragged to in Rebel Without a Cause. Which is currently being used as a high school for Pretty Little Liars.

The tour also featured a museum that rotates exhibits. During our visit the first floor was dedicated to Batman, since the new Batman vs. Superman movie is coming out soon, as well as it being the 75th anniversary of the caped crusader. However, the floor was given to Batman films beginning with Burton’s 1989 version through Batman vs. Superman. The upper floor on the other hand was dedicated to Harry Potter. At the conclusion of our tour we visited Stage 48, part museum, part store, part coffee house, that allows guests to gaze upon items from the archives, such as costumes, artwork and props, as well as experience green screen technology, forced perspective use, and sound mixing. I was most excited over the original Scooby-Doo pitch board and the puppets used in The Corpse Bride.

The Warner Brothers Studio Tour is similar in some ways to the tour at Universal Studios Guests. However when visiting Universal Studios you are mostly visiting an amusement park. The Studio Tour is a part of their heritage, and offers a peek into how movie magic is made, but they do not shy away from gimmicks. Warner Brothers’ tour is different in that it stays away from gimmicks, the tour group is smaller, and guests get to step off of their tour buses and walk along portions of the backlot, as well as onto sound stages (we walked onto the stages for The Big Bang Theory and Ellen), so overall, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour feels much more like a real working backlot, rather than a ride, as with Universal, although Universal is still very much a working set. I was so pleased to be able to visit such locations that mean a great deal to me, and I would honestly go back and do the tour again sometime in the future or when interested friends or family visit.

Other notable movies and shows that have used Warner Brothers’ backlot extensively are A Star is Born, Blade Runner, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Bonnie and Clyde, The Dukes of Hazard, ER, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Pushing Daisies.  For those wishing to visit the Warner Brothers Studio you can book through their website.

Paramount Ranch

One of the many things I love about California is its rich history with the film industry. The movies were born here, and there is a wide array of places to visit that offer glimpses into the magic of movie making, as well as thousands of locations to visit. Some are boasted on large billboards, while others are tucked away. One of these hidden gems is Paramount Ranch.

In 1927 Paramount Pictures purchased a massive plot of land in Agoura Hills. With its sloping hilltops and looming Santa Monica Mountains the area offered solitude from the bustling city outside and thus a perfect place to film. Many sets came and went, and in 1953 Paramount sold the land to William Hertz, who built a permanent western set on the land, but sold the property in 1955. After changing hands multiple times, the National Parks Service purchased much of the original 2,700 acres that Paramount had owned, including the western film set. The set was maintained, as it continued to be used for filming, most notably as the stand in for Colorado Springs in the 1990s series, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.

If you visit, you can see that the buildings have seen better days, but it still feels rich with history, and is still recognizable as the growing town in Dr. Quinn. I was able to spot out her clinic, Bray’s store, Jake’s barber shop, the bank, Robert Lee’s home, and even the area where Grace had her outdoor restaurant.

I had a total geek-out moment when I spied Dr. Quinn’s clinic. I remember watching Dr. Quinn with my mother, and loving it. Visiting locations, be it a filming location or a historical location, makes me immensely happy. I swear, as I have mentioned before, I get some sort of history geek high off of it. I’m all like “THIS THING! It happened HERE! Important/famous people stood RIGHT HERE!” Yep…

We had so much fun walking around the buildings and I took loads of photos! So keep reading for a peek at the western town of Paramount Ranch.

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Look Not into the Eye of Mara!

On March 3rd Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure, the Temple of the Forbidden Eye turned 20. Yes, the Indiana Jones attraction is 20 years old. I remember when when the attraction wasn’t even there! And I remember when it was being constructed, and guests could walk up to the imposing temple for a peek. We visited again the summer after the attraction opened and how absolutely terrified I was when I rode it for the first time! But it was fun none the less! To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the attraction, Disneyland hosted an exclusive, after hours party for annual passholders.

For the event I was inspired by the attraction, and wore an “adventurer chic” outfit with elements of the attraction, including an eye of Mara pendant from the shortly lived Adventureland Trading Company adventure, and a cobra belt, as the attraction features a giant cobra.

The party offered live entertainment with bands, fortune tellers and, best of all, a special presentation with Disney historian Tim O’Day and Disney Imagineer and Legend Tony Baxter to discuss the development of the attraction. Baxter is one of my favorite behind the scenes Disney guys, and I’ve even labeled myself a Tony Baxter fangirl on occasion, because his credits include some of my favorite attractions at Disneyland, including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the development of New Fantasyland, and of course Indiana Jones. It should also be noted Baxter started his Disney career scooping ice cream! Baxter and O’Day shared with us the many ideas were discussed in the attraction’s infancy, showcased concept art, photographs of models (including outlandish plans to integrate the Jungle Cruise and Disneyland Railroad) and the technology that was developed for the attraction.

When the attraction first opened, Guests were given cards to aid in deciphering the Maragliphics (named after Mara whose temple it is) that adorned the walls of the temple. The cards were discontinued, finding their ways into antique shops with dealers who specialized in Disneyland memorabilia, or Ebay, and soon the strange writings on the wall were left to be thought of as just decor. But for the celebration, Guests were given the card again! And could once again decipher the various warnings and hidden gems throughout the attraction’s queue, including a room that features the initials of those who worked on the attraction.

It was an exciting and fun night, and I was thrilled to be able to see one of my favorite Disneyland legends in person, and speaking about one of my all-time favorite attractions.

Outfit
Coat by Desert Suedes: Some antique mall in California, I don’t recall!
Blouse: From my dear friend, and fellow blogger, Christine of Smitten
Skirt: Skirt: Made by me, McCall 7153
Shoes: Miz Mooz
Snake Belt: Antiques at the Market, Las Vegas, Nevada
Watch: Fossil

That Thing You Do in Orange

Since our decision to move, we have been asked a lot of questions. One was “Why Orange?” Often followed by “Why not LA?” There are a lot of answers to that question, some practical, and others rather superficial. First off, I adore Orange. During my many visits to California over the years we would often stop in to visit the plethora of antique shops in the Old Town area. The shopping is great and the buildings adorable. Two other reasons were job related. I was seeking a position with the Disneyland Resort (which was successful!), and wished for it to be easy and quick to get to, and if lucky enough, able to get to on transit as we are a one car household, not really doable if we were to be in Los Angeles. And where we are now, we are roughly five miles from the Resort. For the move, Patrick had to agree to go into the headquarters of the company he works for a few times a week. From Orange it’s roughly 45 minutes to an hour. If we were to be in LA, tack on at least another hour to that drive time. One of the more superficial answers is that much of my favorite movie, That Thing You Do! was filmed in Orange. While the opening scenes of That Thing You Do! are portrayed as taking place in Erie, Pennsylvania, it is in reality the Old Town portion of Orange that I love so much.

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“Tell ’em Howard Hughes Said So”

Over the weekend one of my favorite movies showed at The Hollywood, Disney’s The Rocketeer. It was an early afternoon screening, so I decided to go for a more casual look, instead of getting gussied up.

The Rocketeer remains one of my favorite films over the years for its endearing characters and great story, and while I also love the comics, there is just something about the movie that I like more. Sadly, its initial box office numbers were rather sad, though over the years The Rocketeer has developed a cult like following, especially at comic conventions. Over the last few years there have been rumblings of Disney attempting a remake, and I pray to god they don’t. I really have my reservations on the matter because since when has a Disney remake ever been better than its original? Alice in Wonderland, Escape to Witch Mountain, and most recently the entirely new twist with Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent, anyone? These remakes also have me cringing over the news that the next live action Disney films on the table are Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, the latter of which being my absolute favorite Disney film.

How about you? Are you a fan of The Rocketeer? How do you feel about the possibilities of a remake? Or about these live action remakes of animated classics?

Outfit
Peasant Blouse: FabGabs
Jeans: Vivian of Holloway via Animal Traffic, Portland, Oregon
Shoes: Miss L Fire
Purse: Thrifted by my dad!
Necklace: Birthday present from my dear friend Alicia
Bangles: Here and there