We headed to the Santa Monica Pier on a beautiful August day to check out the Disney Plus Summer Days pop-up event. We arrived a little early, but we were able to do a virtual check-in which would send a text to our phones when we able to go in.
We walked around the pier while we waited for the Disney Plus event and got a coffee near the carnival rides. We only waited about thirty minutes before we received the notification that we could enter the pop-up.
The pop-up was small, but they had a few costumes and props on display. There were a couple of lounge areas where you could relax and watch some Disney Plus. They had themed water bottles available, too. If you signed up for Disney Plus or showed the app on your phone (you needed to be logged in) you could spin a wheel for prizes where I won a small inflatable beach ball. You could also get a special embroidered hat if you purchased, or upgraded to, the Disney Plus, ESPN, Hulu package, but we didn’t want to upgrade so we didn’t get the hats. There was a live mural painting which was fundraising for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica which was nice to watch for a few minutes.
There was a photo op where you could also pick up a promotional booklet which had different covers to choose from. I chose the Loki cover and my partner chose the Mandalorian cover. The entire experience took about 30 minutes, although we could have hung out in the lounge areas, so it was a little bit of a letdown.
As we exited the Disney Plus event area we saw an ABC pop-up about 20 yards away. The ABC event was promoting The Ultimate Surfer and Bachelor in Paradise. I’m quite honestly not remotely interested in either show, but we went in to see what they had going on. There were a few photo ops, including a GIF opportunity for Bachelor in Paradise. There was an area where there would be surfing lessons, and a few games such as cornhole you could play. There were double-sided hand fans and carabiners holding a travel sized bottle of sunscreen and a lip balm giveaways.
There was also an area to get tote bag silkscreened, but the line was cut off while we were there. Just outside of this area was a straw hut where they were giving away long-stemmed red roses as part of the Bachelor in Paradise promotion. I picked up a rose and we decided to leave rather than wait to watch the surfing lessons or for the silkscreening station line to re-open. The ABC promotion had more interactives and fun photo-ops than the Disney Plus event which is surprising and disappointing.
The Disney+ Summer Days was part of a four-city tour. Did you attend? What did you think of the event?
I’ve been lucky enough to get to sit in the bleachers of the Primetime Emmy’s red carpet. It was a very hot September day in downtown Los Angeles when I was in the bleachers for the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards. The staff for the bleachers made sure to have water available for us to drink to stay hydrated in the intense heat. The bleachers are also partially shaded so most of us aren’t in the direct sunlight.
If you ever get the chance to sit in the bleacher for the Emmy’s be sure to bring a small handheld fan and a phone charger or two. They only allowed us to bring a small clutch or a medium sized clear bag, and no “professional” cameras. If the lens can be removed, they consider that a “professional” camera. Some fixed lens non-SLR cameras they didn’t allow, either, but there’s some inconsistency there. I apologize in advance as I only had my older model smartphone to take photos with.
It can be very slow for about an hour or so once you are seated in the bleachers, and I highly suggest charging your phone and not using it during this lull. You are given a swag bag when you arrive at the bleachers which usually contains a People Magazine as they are usually one of the sponsors for the bleachers experience so you’ll have something to read. There will also be a camera crew or two filming the fans in the bleachers, often asking you to hold up a particular item from your swag bag for the sponsors or to just stand up and cheer excitedly for the cameras.
The bleachers are situated at the end of the red carpet so you are seeing the celebrities just before they enter the venue. It will start as a trickle, then it gets really crazy about thirty minutes before the telecast is scheduled to begin. Quite a few celebrities will wave and say hi to the fans when the fans start screaming their names. If it’s not during the rush, many celebrities will stop and say hi. Selfies are difficult because the bleachers are set quite high up. Some of the celebrities are willing (this was pre-COVID) to take your phone and do a selfie to get you in the background. I really enjoy watching the celebrities meet the people they are fans of. At this show the Queer Eye guys were really excited to meet Sandra Oh who was there with her parents, and they all took a photo together. It was great to watch them, and I don’t think Sandra Oh’s parents had any clue who these men were.
SiliConSJ (formerly Silicon Valley Comic Con) is the first convention we’ve attended since Vegas ToyCon in March 2020. Although at its heart SiliConSJ is the same as Silicon Valley Comic Con there is a distinct emphasis on creators and makers. We were very excited and a bit apprehensive of attending a large event, but everyone was very good at wearing their masks appropriately with the exception of the panelists. All in all it was great to attend our first convention in seventeen months.
As Adam Savage is now the “Creative Director” of SiliConSJ, and he was everywhere. He hosted the traditional Opening Keynote panel along on Saturday morning, opened the costume contest Saturday afternoon/evening, and he had his own panel on Sunday morning.
A few of the panels we attended included Bruce Boxleitner, Mark Sheppard, Jim Cummings, and Denise Crosby. The Costume Contest showcased some amazing costumes. Unfortunately it was very difficult to take photos of all of the costumes, because many of the cosplayers zoomed across the stage with hardly a one or two second pause at center stage. I don’t know if it was a lack of instruction to the competitors to stop and pose to show off their costumes or if was due to the nervousness of the competitors participating. After all of the competitors crossed the stage, the judges had to take several minutes to go and talk to the competitors and take a good look at the costumes before they could make their decisions. I had seen a few of these costumes up close around the convention center and these deservedly won prizes in various categories.
You can check out a video slideshow of most of the costume contest participants on my YouTube channel here.
There was a feeling of excitement in the air at SiliConSJ. We were all happy to be back at a convention, and I feel that there was a sense of hope that we are getting back to “normal” after a long hibernation. Adam Savage was certainly contributing to the feeling of happiness around the convention, and he was quite exhilarated to be back at conventions and being able to meet and talk to people in person again. I’m looking forward to attending a few more conventions this year, including San Diego Comic-Con: Special Edition this November and LA Comic Con in December.
There was a truck parked near the doors to the stadium complete with a little smoke and periodic sound effects which startled me as I waited in line for the security screening. Once inside the stadium we picked up our complimentary concessions and proceeded back outside to our seats.
Chris McKay, director of The Tomorrow War, and star Chris Pratt said a few words of thanks to the studio, producers, and the crew prior to the screening starting. Being outdoors in June required the screening to start later than most screenings after 8:30pm. The movie is a bit long so I was quite grateful for the cushioned seats at the Banc of California Stadium. These seats were unexpected for an outdoor sports complex, and they were very comfortable. My only complaint about the seats is the way they are designed/installed caused your seat to move whenever a person in your row within 3 or 4 seats of you leaned back, forward, or even shifted around.
Overall, we found The Tomorrow War to be an entertaining alien movie, and we had a great time attending our first post-COVID premiere. It also gave us a chance to see inside the new Banc of California Stadium.
Note: Photos of the actors on the red carpet taken from 150-ish yards away on a Samsung Galaxy S21+
After the screening we were sent across the street to after party at Highland Park Bowl. Highland Park Bowl is basically a bag with several bowling lanes. I loved the historic and vintage vibe. There was a small selection of pizza flavors to choose from for our free slice, and it was pretty good pizza. They also had themed cocktails the bars and our punch cards gave us two cocktails. The entire place was themed and decorated for the Hunters show including photographs on the staircase. I apologize for the blurry photos of the staircase photos. I was trying not to block the stairs as they led to the busy restrooms.
There was also a sword swallower performer in a side room where another bar was located and a cotton candy maker. Across the hallway there was a photo booth area where we were given mustache disguises. The photo booth took a photo and a gif, which were emailed separately. I received the emails within 10 minutes of taking the photos. We stopped by the “merchandise” booth located near the entrance/exit of the bowling alley and collected our free “bowling” sock, which was part of our punch card. The lady working the booth asked us if would like a t-shirt, too, and gave us each one. It’s the same shirt all of the bar/bowling alley staff was wearing and wasn’t part of the punch card freebies.
The last Star Wars Line Up to date was for Solo: A Star Wars Story. We returned to our Line home at the TCL Chinese Theatres Imax forecourt for a two day line which began at 7pm on May 22 and ended with the screening at 7pm on May 24, 2018. LiningUp.Net organizes shorter lines for the off-shoot films of the Star Wars franchise. Rogue One and Solo were both 2 day long Line Ups, and longer Line Ups being reserved for the core Star Wars films.
The shorter Line Ups work differently than the longer Lines. Instead of accumulating hours in Line to pick your seats, we were given a raffle ticket when we checked-in for the Line. The raffle takes place on the first night, and that’s when we get to select our seats. We also paid for our tickets and badges, and t-shirts (if we ordered one) in advance of the Line starting.
Here are the logistics for how the Line Up is run for the longer Line Ups in the time of internet pre-purchased tickets. You sign in with the organizer manning the check-in table. A release is completed and signed when you first sign up/check-in at the table. You can leave the line for a short time (to smoke, go to the bathroom, get food) as long as it’s a short-time, I think about 20-30 minutes. If you leave for a longer time, you need to check-out with the check-in/out table. So it’s easy to run home to take a shower, get more clean clothes, etc. The organizers tabulate the amount of time each person spends in line. The person who has the most hours gets to select their seats/tickets first, the person with second highest time selects their seats/tickets second, etc. I believe it was the Star Wars: The Last Jedi line they added a QR code to our name badges to use an app to tabulate the hours. It was easier for the organizers and for the rest of us, because there was more than one person who could check us in/out.
Before the opening night screening the TCL Chinese Theatre Imax hosted a plaque dedication ceremony for Carrie Fisher. The idea of the plaque was revealed on opening night for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and you can read more about that event here. The plaque was installed into the concrete in the forecourt during night of May 23, 2018. There’s nothing like the sound of a saw cutting into concrete at 2am. At least I remembered to bring my earplugs. Todd Fisher and his wife, actress Catherine Hickland, were present for the ceremony.
A couple of us mentioned an error in the plaque to theater management who was not happy. See the photo of the installed plaque. Do you see what it is? I believe it has been corrected from a recent photo I saw, but I haven’t been to the theater in a long time to see it.
After the ceremony, we milled about and did any press interviews requested for a few hours before having to clear the area. About an hour before show time, the forecourt is cleared of people and the barricades are placed between the forecourt and public sidewalks. All ticket holders get into a literal line along the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard. After the screening the Lining Up group heads up to the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on the third level of the Hollywood and Highland Center for our after party.
Information on the amazing work the Starlight Children’s Foundation does can be found here, and you can donate to our cause here.
You can join us for the next Line Up at the TCL Chinese Theatre Imax in Hollywood from December 10-19, 2019. Help us raise money for a wonderful charity, the Starlight Children’s Foundation, and have fun meeting fellow Star Wars fans! Check out the Facebook event page for the next Line for more information.
The LiningUp.Net Line for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was fun-filled to be sure. The Line Up started on the evening of December 7, 2017 with a number of the Line being given seats for the 200th Episode of Fatman on Batman (now called Fatman Beyond) being held in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatres Imax instead of Scum & Villainy Cantina. Scum & Villainy was present to provide non-alcoholic Star Wars themed drinks for donations to Starlight Children’s Foundation. The TCL Chinese donated a 55-inch TCL 4K HDR television to be raffled off. The raffle tickets were $10 each and all of the proceeds went to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. I bought two raffle tickets and got a blue milk drink.
Kevin Smith & Marc Bernardin
LiningUp organizer, Sameer Bakhda
Grimlock telling Kevin Smith & Marc Bernardin stories
I managed to get a seat in the front row for the podcast. You can watch the video of the podcast here. Spoiler: I won the tv!! I was in need of a new tv as I had recently moved and didn’t take my old one with me since it was near its end.
That Justice League popcorn tin has the winning ticket!
My brand new television!
I gave myself a craft project of making some felt and yarn Princess Leia headbands for Line members and whomever else would want one. Using hot glue in cold weather made this project a little difficult. I used some scraps to make a mini headband for the Porg plush of one of our young Line members. The headbands also doubled as earmuffs to keep us warm.
As usual, there were press around doing interviews and taking photos of the Line. One of the nights, Red Robin made a generous donation to the Starlight Children’s Foundation and provided the line with free dinners of burgers and sandwiches. Skywalking Through Neverland podcast brought the inflatable At-AT and hosted Star Wars trivia with prizes.
Some of our late night shenanigans included all night Cards Against Humanity session and trapping a Line organizer in his tent. I didn’t sleep in a tent the night they did the tent thing. I woke up to giggling and saw what they were doing. I took a couple of pictures and went back to sleep.
A celebration for Carrie Fisher was held the in the afternoon on the last day of the Line Up, December 14, 2017, prior to the screening on opening night. An image of a plaque which will be placed in the forecourt in honor of Carrie Fisher was revealed. The forecourt was closed to the public during the ceremony and only press and the Lining Up group were allowed to be inside the barricades. There was also a cake which was cut after the plaque announcement ceremony which included some words from Todd Fisher, Carrie’s brother.
There was an after party for the Lining Up group held at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres after the movie where we ate pizza to our hearts content and played some games provided by Dave & Busters which has a location at the Hollywood and Highland Center, too.
My BB-8 drink cup and straw
BB-8 in a trash bin & R2-D2
Go to LiningUp.Net for more information on past and future Star Wars Lines. You can also follow them on Instagram (@LiningUp_net) and Twitter (@LiningUpNet), and be sure to check them out on Facebook here.
Get information on the amazing work the Starlight Children’s Foundation does here, and be sure to donate here.
Nerd Expo was held on September 21, 2019 at the Pasadena Convention Center. I only stayed for a few hours, but I really enjoyed the live concert by Ragnarock on the lower level. They played some great songs from the 80s including the theme to The Neverending Story which you can watch here.
My primary intent for attending Nerd Expo this year was to add Ray Park’s autograph to my Darkside hockey jersey. The room he was in for signings was on the lower level where the Nerf shooting was happening, too. Some of the kids were rapid firing and hitting their targets with ease. It was a very popular spot with the kids at the show.
Matty Cardarople was another special guest doing signings and photos, but he also made an appearance on the Main Stage prior to Ragnarock’s performance. You may have seen Matty on Stranger Things as the arcade attendant in season two and as the video store manager in season three. He seemed as shy and awkward, but very nice, on the stage as he does on screen.
Nerd Expo is organized by Nerd Bot, and it’s a small convention which had some good live music, special guests, and fun cosplays.
James and Oliver Phelps at Silicon Valley Comic Con
October 10, 2019
James (Fred Weasley) and Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) from the Harry Potter films appeared at Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose, California on August 16-18, 2019. They had a great panel talking about the practical jokes the cast played on each other, and they gave a detailed account of a prank they played on the intern in the hair and makeup department.
The twins did clarify a rumor that they had once switched characters for a day which required reshoots. They said that there are hundreds of cast and crew on set each day, and they would never intentionally do something to cost the production time and money. I remember reading about this joke a few years ago, and I’m glad to hear that it isn’t true.
I think it’s great that they received a copy of the book when filming each film which the cast would sign. The books became school yearbooks in that way. Oliver tells a fan that he has George’s missing ear. James thinks this is a bit weird and tells the audience that Oliver has the ear prosthetic displayed on the plaster mold of his head in his (Oliver) house.
Tom Felton always gets their names wrong even now, but they don’t correct him because they think it’s funny. When they first started the first film and did the table read they still didn’t know who was playing Fred and who was playing George. They had to ask the casting director, but they don’t know if the director/producers even knew who was playing who until that moment.
James and Oliver talked about the wide reach of Harry Potter around the world even if people haven’t read the books or seen the films, they still get recognized for Harry Potter.
I’m not sure how I heard about the line for Star Wars : The Force Awakens, but I know I signed up on Eventbrite. The line up was organized by LiningUp.Net. I had already bought Star Wars marathon tickets for an AMC Theater for my niece and myself, but I wanted to see what the line up was all about. I signed up on the first day in the forecourt of the historic TCL Chinese Theatre Imax. I brought my folding camp chair and a bag of snacks and found a spot to hang out. The line event began on December 5, 2015 and ended on December 17, 2015 with the first show of The Force Awakens followed by an after party inside the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on the 3rd level of the Hollywood & Highland Center.
You’re immediate thought may be “It’s going to be stinky with all those unwashed people.” That’s not true. Here are the logistics for how the Line Up is run in the time of internet pre-purchased tickets. You sign in with the organizer manning the check-in table. A release is completed and signed when you first sign up/check-in at the table. You can leave the line for a short time (to smoke, go to the bathroom, grab food) as long as it’s a short-time, I think about 20-30 minutes. If you leave for a longer time, you need to check-out with the check-in/out table. So it’s easy to run home to take a shower, get more clean clothes, etc. The organizers tabulate the amount of time each person spends in line. The person who has the most hours gets to select their seats/tickets first, the person with second highest time selects their seats/tickets second, etc. I believe it was the Star Wars: The Last Jedi line they added a QR code to our name badges to use an app to tabulate the hours. It was easier for the organizers and for the rest of us, because there was more than one person who could check us in/out.
It was easy to make some friends, but I began the day by just hanging out with myself and observing the crowd. I read a little, played on my phone, and people watched. In case you are unaware, the block of Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Orange is very tourist heavy. Many of these tourists come into the forecourt of the Chinese to see the famous hand and footprints. The weather was nice for December around the mid-70s, but I brought a lap blanket, scarf, beanie, and warm gloves. There were other newbies like myself as well as veterans from past lines (beginning with Episode I) some of whom hadn’t seen each other for several years. The purpose of the line is obviously to see the newest Star Wars film, but with pre-purchasing of tickets, it isn’t necessary. LiningUp.Net uses the line up as a way to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
The forecourt of the TCL Chinese Imax Theatre is private property which is “fenced” off from the public once the theater closes for the night. They have their own security personnel stationed in the forecourt to keep people out. The staff of the TCL Chinese was fantastic in supporting the Line Up group, allowing us to use the restrooms throughout the day and night. Being able to sleep on top of the hand and footprints of Hollywood’s famous past and present is an amazing opportunity. We had fun calling “dibs” on certain celebrities’ hand prints each night. I’ve slept on Natalie Wood’s prints and Marilyn Monroe, but I sat on Denzel Washington’s prints a lot during the Line.
Tents being set up for the premiere
Tents being set up for the premiere
I didn’t camp overnight the first weekend and worked the following week, but I took some vacation time so that I could camp out all day and night for the second weekend through to opening night. Of course the temperatures dropped significantly the second weekend of the Line Up, and I hate the cold. I’m a Southern California native, of course I hate the cold. It was also raining off and on so that didn’t help me to keep warm. I had packed the free rain poncho I had received in my swag bag from the Oscars bleachers in 2013, so I put all of my stuff onto my chair and placed the poncho over everything to keep them dry. I then went to the “$10 souvenir store” (in reality everything is $5—every single day so don’t believe the hawkers they have outside) to see if they had any umbrellas as I had left mine at home. I did go home after 2 days to take a shower and grab my regular umbrella for the rest of the week.
There are a lot of news outlets who came to cover the Line Up, so be prepared for that. You don’t have to do press if you don’t want to, but you may be on camera which may be an issue if you called out of work saying you’re sick as some people have done. We also had some special guests stop by the Line Up such as Anthony Daniels (C3-PO) who spent quite a bit of time taking photos with us and telling us a story about C3-PO footprints in the forecourt. Ray Park (Darth Maul) stopped by when it was raining a little (it had been raining off and on all day), and did a little lightsaber “sparring” with a few of the Line members. I may put some short (and shaky) video of that on my YouTube page.
Taking a photo of the Star Wars footprints with Anthony Daniels
Anthony Daniels telling a story about the Star Wars footprints.
There was a lot of noise from the tents being set up on Hollywood Boulevard for the Red Carpet Premiere which was scheduled for December 14, 2015. We had to clear the area by 6am the day of the premiere, and we were all given time in line during the premiere festivities until we were able to return. The premiere had closed off 3 or 4 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard to traffic. On the day of the premiere, there were security stations with metal detectors on every corner. This made it impossible to line up on a side street during the time we were cleared out from the forecourt. I didn’t return to the Line Up after the premiere except for a brief visit to say hello on my way to the Star Wars marathon at the AMC Theatres in Burbank. I made some great friends during my first Line, and these became deeper friendships during the following Lines and beyond.
Ray Park visiting the Line
Ray Park lightsaber sparring with Line members.
You can get more information on the Star Wars Lines at LiningUp.Net. Like their Facebook page here.