Besides California Disneyland, Hollywood is perhaps the other most recognised icon of Los Angeles – more specifically the 2km-long Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Dolby Theatre (known as Kodak Theatre until 2012) – Home of the Oscars and of course the Hollywood Sign.
Most tourists would have taken a short walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and taken a photo of themselves with a few of the stars embedded in the pavements and then would have considered as having seen Hollywood! I don’t think so – to appreciate Hollywood and its history, more specifically why Hollywood is THE HOLLYWOOD today, you need good tours to guide your along. Don’t worry, there are lots of tour companies along Hollywood Boulevard so you have a wide range to choose from but if you just want to reach Hollywood and start your adventure without bothering with the hassle of comparing price of different companies – I recommend the Hollywood CityPASS.
The Hollywood CityPASS (US $59 for adults) allows you to save 46% on admission to 4 famous attractions and tours in Hollywood – it is valid for 9 days and allows the flexibility for you to visit attractions in any order your like. The Hollywood CityPASS includes the following tours and sights:
- Starline Movie Stars’ Home Tour – a 2-hour narrated movie stars’ home tour
- Red Line Tours’ Hollywood Behind-The-Scenes – a 75-minute guided walking tour around Hollywood
- Dolby Theatre Guided Tour – a 30-minute guided tour OR Hollywood Museum general admission
- Madame Tussauds Hollywood general admission
But first, let’s talk about getting to Hollywood – very simple, if you are staying in Downtown or any parts of Los Angeles with access to the city’s Metro Stations, take the Metro Red Line to the station – Hollywood and Highland (it will be indicated in the map as Hollywood/Highland). Don’t get off at the other Hollywood stations e.g. Hollywood/Vine and Hollywood/Western.
If you are driving, check this map for the Hollywood Walk of Fame’s location – one of the most busy parts of the walk.
I will be sharing with you on how to effectively use the Hollywood Citypass to cover as much ground as possible and show you around the sights you can expect to see.
If you have just arrived in Los Angeles (especially after a long flight from Singapore for your USA West Coast adventure), consider taking the Starline Movie Stars’ Homes Tours with your Hollywood CityPASS first. Minimal walking required as you will just cruise about Hollywood in a mini-bus with some photo stops e.g. at a lookout point for the world famous Hollywood sign. Take this opportunity to rest from your jet lag by taking in some sights as your cruise around (just a quick tip: you shouldn’t try to sleep off the jet lag but try to accustomed to the day of the country you have arrived i.e. while it might be 3am back home, if it is 3pm here – you should do what you will normally be doing at 3pm (keep awake)).
On this tour, you will see about 40 luxurious homes of the rich and famous as well as glimpses of the Magic Castle – the manor used for the X-man house and Batman’s villa. You will also catch a quick peek of Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, Nicolas Cag, Simon Cowell’s houses along the way. Some of the houses are very well sheltered from public view so for example, you will only get to see Tom Cruise’s house chimney and flag pole.
You do have to manage your expectations as you will very rarely get to see the actual stars and definitely not the interior of the houses.
To start your adventure, present CityPASS booklet or voucher at Starline box office at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (beside the huge stone). Tours depart every 30 minutes from 9.30am til sunset. For more info, see http://www.citypass.com/hollywood/starline-tours
For the Hollywood CityPASS choice between Dolby Theatre Tour or general admission to Hollywood museum, I recommend you skip the latter as the Dolby Theatre tour provides a very good behind the scene look and understanding of the Academy Awards process and how Dolby Theatre plays an important role in this entire process. For example, do you know that celebrities, no matter how famous they are, will not be allowed into the Dolby Theatre if they did not bring their photo ID during the Academy Award ceremony? Do you also know that there are professional seat fillers hired to take the seat of celebrities or guests who left their seats for a short while e.g. for a toilet break – so that the theatre looks filled at all times.
Interesting info? – These are just quick snippets of the 30-minute tour around the Theatre. Tours depart every 30 minutes and no photography or videography allowed inside the theatre at all times. See http://www.citypass.com/hollywood/kodak-theatre-tour for tour timings and details.
After the tour within the Dolby Theatre, you can also roam around the shops within the theatre and take pictures with the famous Dolby Theatre staircase where celebrities walk up to the theatre during the Academy Award ceremony. Lining the 2 pillars leading to the staircase are the Best Picture winners of each year e.g. in the picture below, the Gladiator won the Best Picture Oscar in 2000.
The Dolby Theatre is contracted with the Academy Award organisers to host the Award ceremony til 2037 so you will see unfilled pillars from the year the Oscars was last held til 2037. Who knows what happens after 2037 – maybe they will build more pillars or the Oscars will move somewhere else.
If you are up for a walk along Hollywood Boulevard to find out more about its history, check out the Red Line Tours Hollywood Behind-The-Scenes tour. This is a 75-minute guided tour where the guide will bring you along Hollywood Boulevard to the Egyptian Theatre, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and provide you with some less-known facts about the stars and footprints on the ground.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is not just famous for the stars on the floor but also for the live entertainment provided by the freelance entertainers dressed up in the costumes of well-known characters. I have seen the “dead celebrity revived” as Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson walking along the boulevard and talking to each other as well as some not so well-dressed characters e.g. the Smurf and Puss in Boots characters in the picture below.
Also check out the black star in the picture below – Elvis Presley’s star used to be here before it was located somewhere else along the walk – to honour him, his previous star location was reserved and never replaced by another celebrity’s stars.
The Walk of Fame consists of 2,474 stars. These are spaced at 6-foot (1.8 m) intervals, each consisting of a coral-pink terrazzo five-point star rimmed with brass inlaid into a charcoal-colored terrazzo background. In the upper portion of the pink star field, the name of the honoree is inlaid in brass block letters. Below the inscription, in the lower half of the star field, a round inlaid brass emblem indicates the category of the honoree’s contributions. The emblems symbolize five categories within the entertainment industry:
- Classic film camera representing motion pictures
- Television receiver representing broadcast television
- Phonograph record representing audio recording or music
- Radio microphone representing broadcast radio
- Comedy/tragedy masks representing theatre/live performance
There are also many film locations along Hollywood Boulevard – for example, in The Italian Job, a heist takes place underneath the Hollywood/Highland station and through the Red Line tunnels until it reaches the Blue Line tunnel opening between 7th/Metro Center station and Pico station.
Our guide shows us the picture of the actual film footagethat was performed here as mini coopers rush down the stairs to the Hollywood and Highland metro station – the railings were removed during filming.
One of the many Hollywood trivia we learned from the tour include the interesting prints made by celebrities at the footprint/handprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. For example, some celebrities even made horse “footprints” and “gunprints” (the horse and gun were used during the movie) and even “faceprints” as seen in the picture below.
For more info on the Red Line Behind the Scenes tour, please see: http://www.citypass.com/hollywood/behind-scenes-tour. To book your Hollywood CityPASS, please go to: http://www.citypass.com/hollywood
For flights to the States, you can consider CheapTickets.sg multi-stop trip functionality which effectively serve as a one-stop for us in planning our flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and internal flights to Las Vegas and finally from San Francisco back to Singapore. Please click on link for our USA West Coast trip itinerary.