Friday, June 13, 2014

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Disney Studio Store

                                         Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Disney Studio Store

 Next to the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, Ca there used to be the Disney Soda Fountain and Disney Studio Store. Late last year the Disney Soda Fountain closed and the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain opened. The Disney Studio Store remained a part of the location.

The Disney Soda Fountain was a place my husband and I would go when we needed a Disney Fix but could not get to Disneyland or we just wanted a special short date. We would hop the MetroRail and ride to the Hollywood & Highland stop and walk across the street to the Soda Fountain. It was a wonderful Disney Touch. Why Disney chose to close the Soda Fountain and allow Ghirardelli to take over I don’t have a clue.

Some of the problems with the Disney Soda Fountain was its limited size and the number of people it could accommodate at a time. They would have pin trading events there and sometimes the Pin Sharks got out of control. There were fights between traders and weapons showed up. It was reported that one person even got tasered over a pin! We never went when we knew there was a pin event.

We recently decided to stop at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and we were not impressed. The Disney touches were mostly removed in favor of Ghirardelli pictures and ads.

Before you could go to the Disney Soda Fountain and have a wonderful lunch or dinner. Now Ghirardelli only serves ice cream with different types of chocolate toppings and brownies. So it is now just a desert stop.

It was no problem for us that they only serve deserts as we were hoping for an ice cream sundae. We were pleased to see they still serve the Pin Traders Sundae where they give you a limited edition pin along with the Sundae. We did not choose the Pin Trader Sundae but were still happy they have it.

When it was the Disney Soda Fountain was that they limited the number of people allowed in to eat. If you just wanted to shop at the store they let you in without much waiting, unless that area was also crowded.

When we got to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain it was crowded inside. They were not controlling the number of people in the Fountain at all. There was a lone line to order. Once we ordered we were given a number and told to find a table. There were no tables available! As we walked around we noticed that there were tables (enough for fourteen people) were pushed together and there was a large group crowded around the tables. On the tables were Starbucks Coffee cups and Pin Trading books. There was only one Ghirardelli product on all the tables! It was obvious that these people had been there for quite some time and really had no plans on leaving anytime soon.

We wondered around for about 15 minutes waiting for our Sundae and looking for a table. Finally we asked a supervisor of the Soda Fountain if she thought it was right that the pin traders took up tables and did not have products from there. She went over and asked the group to please let the two of us have a table. She also mentioned that they had not ordered anything from there. Our Sundae came and we stood waiting for another 10 minutes or so for 2 of the pin traders to finally give us a seat!

The Sundae was fantastic (as all Ghirardelli Sundae’s are) and we enjoyed a few moments together. It was noisy there and the pin traders were still hovering around making trades and not caring they were crowding people who were trying to enjoy their treat.

While I will give the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain high marks for the quality of the Sundaes they serve I rank it at the bottom for atmosphere and comfort. The management needs to get control of the pin traders and limit the number of people in the soda fountain at a time. This is for both the comfort and safety of the customers.

While we used to go to the Disney Soda Fountain several times a year I don’t think we will be going back to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain anytime soon if ever.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Maleficent ~ Non-Spoiler Review & Spoiler Review

Maleficent ~ Non-Spoiler Review & Spoiler Review

Non-Spoiler Review
This is the first weekend for Maleficent to be in theaters. I was one of the many that went to see it. . . Yes it was worth it!

Maleficent is the Sleeping Beauty story from Maleficent’s point of view. I found it quite interesting and predictable at the same time. This is NOT your 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty! Do not expect the same tale. While quite enjoyable it is different enough to make me do a double take and wonder if I like, love or don’t care for the movie. In the end I do give it 2 wings way up!

While it is from Maleficent’s point of view don’t expect Arora to be absent or not a focus of the movie. She is also essential to the story. King Stephan is there as is his wife, still only a small part of the story. The three good fairies are a required part of the story and just as silly as they are in the cartoon, Sleeping Beauty.  The story is told differently so don’t expect the same ending.

If you go to see this expecting to see Sleeping Beauty as you know it from Disney’s 1959 animated classic you may be disappointed. If you go expecting to have another enjoyable version of the classic tale you will be very pleased.


The movie starts out with a young and happy Maleficent living happily in a marsh populated by fairies. She is happy and carefree. She is aware of the human world outside and how dark it is. The evil king of the land outside the fairy borders is set on taking over their land.

Her day of frolic and fun was interrupted by a ruckus at the border. A human was in the forest! Maleficent stepped in and took over the situation and talked to the creature! She found a young human boy about her age. He had stolen a gem and she made him return it. His name is Stephan.

As she takes Stephan out of the Fairy realm they talk and when they part the boy shakes her hand. His iron ring burns her hand, because fairy folk are burned by iron. He is a poor and orphaned. Maleficent is also an orphan. Stephan tosses his ring away so he can shake her hand. Maleficent is taken by the fact that one with so little will toss it away to shake her hand. As he leaves Stephan tells Maleficent that he has a goal of living in the castle someday.

Stephan and Maleficent became friends and for years the two meet at the edge of the two realms. They talk and as teens eventually Stephan kisses Maleficent and tells her it is true loves kiss.

Years pass and Stephan has not come to visit Maleficent. Maleficent wonders where her friend is. One day the king shows up at the edge of the forest and tries to come into the fairy realm. Maleficent has risen to be the most powerful fairy there and takes to the sky and directs the defense of the fairy realm. She is pivotal in stopping the humans from breaking in.

When the wounded king is taken back to the castle he tells his men whoever kills Maleficent will become king when he dies. The gown Stephan hears this and decides he can do it. He goes to the edge of the realm where he use to meet Maleficent and calls out to her. She comes to him and they talk. He gives her a drink that he spiked with something to make her sleep. He stands there with a knife planning on killing her. Instead, using iron he cuts off her wings and takes them to the king claiming that Maleficent is dead.

Maleficent awakes and is angry. She has been betrayed by someone she believed was her true love. This turns her cruel and she takes over the fairy realm and instead of each fairy trusting each other and there being not designated leader she declares herself queen. She leads her people with one thought in mind, destroy King Stephan!

Maleficent saves a crow and it becomes her wings, protector, friend and advisor. She sends the crow, named Diaval to spy on King Stephan. When she finds out that King Stephan is having a celebration for his new baby Maleficent decides to make an appearance. She come in after two of the three good fairies had given their gifts of beauty and grace.

Maleficent’s gift is to say she will indeed grow in beauty and grace. But on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into sleep and she will only be awoken by true loves kiss. Because King Stephan said his kiss was true loves kiss she believed true love did not exist.

King Stephan becomes frantic in his desire to save his daughter and stop Maleficent. He sends his precious daughter out into the forest to a cottage with the 3 good fairies to hide her until the day after her 16th birthday.

The 3 good fairies are comically inept in their good intentions. They have no clue how to care for a child. They do not know what to feed a baby and are even easily distracted to the point where they allow Arora to be in danger. Diaval had followed the 3 fairies with the baby when they hid. Strangely this became a good thing because Diaval lead Maleficent to the child.

Maleficent sees the baby starving because of the incompetent actions of the 3 good fairies. Maleficent sends Diaval with proper food for the child and keeps her eyes on the child. When the child gets into peril Maleficent is there to rescue her. Maleficent things she is watching to gloat over the impending doom of the child. Instead you see her slowly growing to care for the “Little Beasty” she has cursed.

As Arora’s 16th birthday approaches Maleficent revels herself to her. She takes the child to the fairy realm and lets her meet the other fairies. Arora knows that Maleficent has been following her all her life and thinks of her as her Fairy Godmother. Arora asks if she can stay with Maleficent in the fairy realm and Maleficent agrees thinking this is the way to avoid the consequences of the spell she cast years before.

On her way home to tell her “Aunties” that she is going to live in the fairy realm Arora runs into a young man her age. He is on his way to the castle and his name is Phillip. She points him in the right direction but before leaving he asks if they can meet again.

King Stephan was also getting ready for Arora’s return. In my opinion he was driven almost insane with guilt and shame for what he did to Maleficent along with fear for his child’s life. He was planning on getting Maleficent before she had a chance to get at Arora.

When Arora returned to her home and started to tell her Aunties that she was going to live with Maleficent they surprised her by telling her she was the Princess and had to return to the castle. She felt betrayed, angry and confused. She decided to go to the King for answers and went straight to the castle. Once there King Stephan was angry because she returned a day too early and therefore was not safe yet. He had Arora locked up but did not connect to her in any way.

Locked in her room Arora looked for a way out and found a hidden door. She chose to try to run away and in the process the curse too control and lead her to a room where all the destroyed spinning wheels were locked up. Once there she walked over to a magically reconstructed spinning wheel and pricked her finger on the spindle falling into her magical sleep.

Maleficent knew the curse and taken hold. She knew about the young Prince Phillip being interested in Arora. She grabs Phillip and takes him to the castle, breaching King Stephan’s security she takes the boy to Arora’s room where he does kiss her. Nothing happens! Maleficent is angry and sad it did not work! She wanted to save Arora, She had already tried to reverse the curse but could not.

While grieving Maleficent kisses Arora and Arora awakes! While the two woman and Diaval try to leave the castle the king finds them and attacks. He does not even seem to notice that his daughter is awake and the curse lifted! He is fixated on killing Maleficent, driven by guilt, fear and sorrow.

Arora finds Maleficent’s wings hidden in the king’s chambers. She releases them and they fly strait to Maleficent reconnecting to her. This turns the tide of the battle and Maleficent is able to defeat the king!

In the end Maleficent introduces Arora as the queen of the fairy realm as well as the human realm. By her side is the young Prince Phillip.