Santa Monica, California: Candytopia

 

img_0559Pop-up museums are popping up all over the place (Get it? Yes I know I’m not that funny). I went to the Museum of Ice Cream last year and loved it so I was really excited when I learned about Candytopia.

This place was really fun but it’s about time for it to move on. I’m sure when it first opened and the features were shiny and new it was amazing. Now it is run down and you can tell a lot of people have come through.

It’s a super cute idea but there needs to be better maintenance throughout the whole operation. I really hope I can check it out in NYC when it first opens to get the best impression and the original intent of the pop-up.

The venue isn’t air conditioned so it wasn’t the most comfortable environment temperature wise but there were fans located throughout the rooms. So if you want a img_0584cute outfit for photos just keep that in mind. Also there is no restroom in the venue so be sure you go before entering. There is one near by, just go up the escalators and down the hall from the entrance of Candytopia.

img_0572I recommend getting the Sugar Rush code for photos. Their Sugar Rush feature are cameras set up in certain rooms that will take photos from high angles that you may not be able to get. Not all of your photos will come out great since a lot of people are inconsiderate of what others are doing but you will get a few gems.

Just like the Museum of Ice Cream, Candytopia has it’s own pool….. a marshmallow pool! It was a lot of fun to swim around in a bunch of marshmallow like things but be sure to leave all your valuables in the cubicles as it is very easy for things to get lost in the pool.

I’d definitely go again in New York if I get a chance!

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Hollywood, California: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

IMG_2794“You’re a WIZARD Harry!” Anyone who has read the Harry Potter series will love The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the Universal Hollywood theme park. This has to be my favorite section of the park! I wish it was a little larger but it is still a lot of fun anyway. Be sure to try the Butterbeer while you’re here!

There are 2 rides in this area, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. Ollivanders is considered a ride but it’s more of a show. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey has to be my favorite ride in the entire park. I could spend all day riding it over and over. There is a locker room you must put your belonging in before going on the ride. Even the walk through the castle before you get to the actual ride is a fun experience.

If you purchase an interactive wand, throughout the wizarding world you can cast spells. Just look for the medallion on the ground and it will show you the wand motion as well as the spell.

There are also 2 shows that happen throughout the day. You have the Frog Choir and the Triwizard Spirit Rally. At the end of each show there is an opportunity to take photos with the performers.

The Three Broomsticks is where you would want to grab a bite if you’re hungry and looking for a place to eat. Hog’s Head Pub is your place to grab an adult beverage. The women’s bathroom also has a little surprise for those Harry Potter fans. A certain ghost may be hanging out in there.

There are many different shops to look through to find the Hogwarts gear you need for yourself or as gifts.

Museum Of Ice Cream

IMG_0310I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM! This has to be one of my favorite “museums” ever! I absolutely love this exhibition! How could you not love a museum with an ice cream theme?! Each room has a different flavor or inspiration and you are given samples throughout the whole experience.

You do need to purchase a ticket online before going to the venue. Tickets cannot be purchased there so be sure to get yours as soon as possible for the day you want. They also want you to arrive around your specific ticket time. If you are early there is a waiting area with seating and some outdoor games to keep you occupied until they’re ready for you.

You don’t really have a time limit (except for the sprinkle pool) and you can’t go backwards. I recommend you take all your photos in your current area before moving on to the next. Be sure to check out everything the room offers before moving on. The sprinkle pool was my favorite part and I wish we got a little more time to spend there. If you’re with a larger group it is hard to get everyone’s pictures in during the short time they give you.

The Museum of Ice Cream started in New York City before migrating over to Los Angeles. After some time in Los Angeles it moved onto San Francisco where it is currently. I highly recommend going and I hope I can go again!

Hollywood, California: Universal Studios Hollywood

img_4060I recently went to Universal Studios Hollywood to celebrate a friend’s birthday and then went back with my sister a few weeks later. We had an absolute blast! It has been years since I’ve been there and it was fun to see all the changes and felt nostalgic to see what has remained the same.

First things first. The park is divided into two sections. Theres the upper lot and the lower lot. I recommend hitting up all your must do attractions in one lot before heading to the other. It takes about 5-10 mins to get from one lot to the other. Limiting traveling between lots will give you more time for rides, finding characters, and seeing shows.

img_4735My favorite area has to be The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Butterbeer, wands, and spells… OH MY! Being in this world is like taking a small peak into the magical land of Harry Potter. Reading the books growing up I’ve imagined what it would be like to wander the streets of Hogsmead and now I can make that a reality, magical spells included! My  favorite ride in the park also happens to be in this world, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! It feels like a real life ride through the books. (*SPOILER ALERT!*) You come face to face with a dragon, the whomping willow, and demeanors all while following Harry around some of the memorable places near Hogwarts.

Some of the rides I highly recommend going on are the Studio Tour, Jurassic Park, Transformers, and the Revenge of the Mummy. I also recommend seeing the Water World show. Rumor has it that the live show will be closing to make room for an expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to include Diagon Alley. So go see the show while you still can!

There are plenty of options for dining in and around the park. If you are looking for a sit down restaurant you will have to go outside of the park to the City Walk. The dining options in the park are an order and take to a table type of dining. I usually go to the Jurassic Cafe on the lower lot. It has chicken strips, burgers, and salads.

If you can go during the off season, on a weekday (preferably Tuesday or Wednesday) you can do pretty much the entire park in one day. If you go during the weekend or during the peak season you may need a few days as wait times for attractions will be longer, limiting how many you can go on in a day.

I have a great time every time I go and can’t wait until I have the opportunity to go again!

Chiang Mai, Thailand: Tiger Kingdom

A tiger is not the animal at the top of my list when it comes to answering the question, “What animal would you like to interact with?” While traveling in Thailand with a friend, the opportunity to do just that, interact with a tiger, came up. I may not have done a lot of research about it but lucky for me I was with the queen of research and Q&A, my bestie Alana!

IMG_0822A lot of people believe these tigers are just there as a tourist attraction and are drugged 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I can assure you these tigers are NOT drugged. These animals would not have interacted with each other the way they did or have as much energy as they did if they were drugged. These tigers were very reminiscent of domesticated house cats that were playing with each other, except they weren’t small house cats. Both Alana and I were very adamant about going to a location that did not drug their tigers even if that meant only observing them and not being given the opportunity to physically interact with them.

Tiger Kingdom is a facility that is regulated by the government. Should a tiger be born, it must be reported. If a tiger dies, it must be reported. The government also conducts check ups at least every three months to ensure every tiger is accounted for and in good health. We were even able to witness the facility’s care first hand while we were there. Towards the back in one of the enclosures they was a tiger being observed by employees and seemed to be isolated from others. Upon talking to the employees, the people interacting and observing the tiger were veterinarians and handlers. This tiger was constipated and they were making sure nothing was wrong. Instead of using sedation or anything that could be harmful they used ethical techniques and the trained veterinarians administered the medicine in the cat’s rectum. While we were there they were playing the waiting game to see when the constipation would pass. Had this place been just another tourist trap, they would have just sedated the tiger and done what they needed to to get this tiger back in front of the cameras.

TIMG_0724hese large jungle cats also do not appear to be abused as some people claim. They are trained with vocal queues to keep those visitors sharing their environment safe. The trainers also have bamboo sticks that they use as a distraction.
The reason why these facilities are open and are important for these tigers are because tigers don’t roam around freely in Thailand. They are hunted by poachers and with Thailand’s urban population expanding at a rapid rate and there is not enough free untouched wild environment left for tigers to live freely. If these tigers were roaming free and found itself in a civilian environment it would most likely be killed to protect us humans.

This was definitely an experience I will always remember!

Paris, France: Eiffel Tower at night

The Eiffel Tower is one of the iconic attractions in Paris. At night you get a different experience than during the day. On the top of the hour the tower glitters and lights up. I feels like there are hundreds of starts dancing around the tower.

You have to pay a few euro to go up on the tower but it is well worth it! I paid to go to the top and had some of the most beautiful views of the Paris at night. Walking around and seeing all the city lights is an experience I hope everyone can have at least once in their life.

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The ride up the tower is an interesting one. You’re in an elevator but it’s not like a traditional elevator that goes up and down vertically. With the shape of the tower your ride is at an angle. It made me feel a little uneasy but it is a safe ride up and down the tower. Once you get to the mid level there are different options where you can have a bite to eat or during the winter they have an ice rink where you can skate. Iceskating on the Eiffel Tower is probably one of the neatest experiences I have had.

I highly recommend taking a trip out to the Eiffel Tower after the sun sets the next time you’re in Paris.