I’m 100% convinced that I’m not made for places with impossible crowds (like Disneyworld), because I couldn’t be any happier to spend 2 whole days in Universal Studios. There were still a lot of people, but there were less strollers parked everywhere. Finally, some space! I guess it also helped that my family and I arrived in the theme park just in time for opening.
We headed straight to Islands of Adventure for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Best to be early! Found ourselves suddenly brisk-walking from the entrance because literally EVERYBODY had the same idea as us.
But that’s because the Harry Potter crowd supposedly gets worse in the afternoon. Yikes! And it did!
Spent a good few hours in Hogsmeade before checking out the other attractions. So excited to post my Harry Potter experience already!
The adventure begins, alright. It was a race to Harry Potter!
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls at Toon Lagoon. One of those death-defying log rides that’s sure to get you soaked!
Hello to my parents!
It’s so weird to see Universal Studios so empty! Perks of waking up early, for sure. Everybody else was busy lining up for the Harry Potter rides after lunch, while we had the rest of the theme park all to ourselves (and the other people who had the same strategy as us).
"I’m going to need a vacation from this vacation." #storyofmylife
Another reason to visit Universal Studios - Marvel Super Hero Island!
The first time I tried the Spider-Man ride was about 5 years ago when I went to Universal Studios Japan. I was never one to ride traditional rollercoasters, but the Spider-Man ride in Osaka got me hooked on 3D/4D simulation rides! My life has drastically changed since!
Lining up can be quite interesting too, especially if the rides have these small exhibits that you can take photos of.
Storm was sooo pretty and in character! Rogue though…
I’m pretty sure it’s just me, but I think this kid looks like a mini Chris Evans…?
Photobombed by a duck and a slice of pizza.
Not a real person, but a life-sized figurine inside one of the stores!
Spider-Man onesies. Start them young.
Just in time for the Daily Superhero Parade! Which lasted for only about 5 minutes. Boo.
Lunch and dessert at Emeril’s! This Banana Cream Pie was everything.
Poseidon’s Fury, found in The Lost Continent, just before the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. People just breezed through this place like it was nothing, lol. Kind of felt bad for it.
Favorite part of The Lost Continent - The Mystic Fountain! It’s an interactive fountain that tricks people into doing all sorts of silly stuff.
The worst (or best?) part about it is that it randomly switches the water up like crazy, and everyone within a meter or two has a huge change of getting wet.
That RPG realness…
Chanced upon some Legend of Zelda merchandise at the Weapons shop. Just another ordinary day…
*spazzes deep inside*
Seuss Landing! This part had mostly small kiddie rides so we didn’t really bother trying them. One day, maybe I’ll be forced to try them out anyway? When I have my own kid? D: *grown-up/future issues*
The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about that!
One does not just pass by a Panda Express and not try out their yummy walnut shrimp…
The next day, we went to the regular Universal Studios a.k.a. the one that we’re all used to seeing. First stop was the Transformers ride which was similar to the Spider-Man ride. It just opened last year!
The Transformers merchandise store = definitely worth checking out! Toy collectors, prepare your wallets.
Too cool for words!
For the love of photography. <3
Obligatory Mel’s Drive-In photo.
Lunch at Hard Rock Cafe! Man, this place was huge. If rock and roll had a museum, this would be it.
"Take my picture here because my outfit matches the scene." Just another day in the life of a blogger, lol.
WAAA It’s so cute, I’m gonna die!
Enjoyed the Despicable Me ride too! It’s not super intense like Harry Potter, Spider-Man, or Transformers, but the story was adorable! My parents have never seen the Despicable Me movies, and the ride was able to win them over in such a short span of time.
Princess Fiona and Shrek’s serious discussion. Dat shade, Fiona.
Spot Manny Pacquiao.
Classic case of deja vu. I was just in San Francisco a few days before this was taken.
Hair color envy.
Watched this because we ran out of things to do, lol. Enjoyed all the corny puns they used. Wonder how long it took for them to dig all of that up.
Old New York!
Waited in this area for the last parade of the day, which ended up quite odd because I couldn’t recognize some of the characters…? Am I too old? :(
Anyhow, I just took photos of the ones that I knew—
This angle made the minion look like he was wearing a hat, haha
I’ve never finished a whole episode of Spongebob. I could, but I can’t. MY BRAIN!
I’ve also never watched Dora The Explorer! Maybe I’m really that old! D:
Whew, long post! I took way too many photos, as usual. I have x number of travel diaries left to post, and I’m not even close to finishing all of them! At least there’s something to look forward to other than my sponsored posts nowadays, haha
Our family trip to Orlando was all about theme parks. 2 days Disney, 2 days Universal Studios, and it’s still wasn’t enough. Disney World would probably take you a week to complete! Sound crazy? Not really. There is some sort of adrenaline rush that comes with theme parks - the amount of fun that you’re having will make you forget about your tired feet and sleeplessness.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of the 4 (Yes, there are 4!) theme parks in Disney World. The whole place is inspired by the heyday of Hollywood during the ’30s and ’40s.
But really, our main purpose was STAR WARS!
Eat me, you will! If I eat the Darth Vader cookie, will my breathing start sounding like his?
Compared to Magic Kingdom, there were more teenagers and adults in Hollywood Studios. And most of them were there to fawn over the Star Wars rides and characters!
How do I spell the sound that Chewbacca makes when he’s happy?
Boba Fett! /flails
I don’t know why but as a kid I’ve always had a crush on Boba Fett.
Every spring (May-June 2014), the theme park holds a special event called “Star Wars Weekends”. They feature the 501st legion, actual (and not just cosplayers) Star Wars actors’ appearances, Jedi Training Academy classes for little kids, and some ewoks running around the theme park.
There’s also a Jedi Training Academy that happens every hour throughout the whole year!
It was actual scorching hot during our visit, but the kids didn’t seem bothered by it at all, even with their thick robes. Would love my future kid to experience this one day! My boyfriend would totally spaz because he’s a huge Star Wars geek.
The smaller kids trained on stage, while the bigger kids were situated in front. They had to learn a few moves before their skills were tested.
The smaller kids got to battle Darth Vader, while the bigger kids got to spar with Darth Maul.
I want! They should make a similar event for adults too, huhu.
Jedi Duffy! Didn’t know bears were allowed to enroll in the Jedi Training Academy.
R2D2, what did they do to you? You’re my only hope…
Enjoyed our lunch while watching the Padawan Mind Challenge. The kids had to answer some questions about the Clone Wars. The questions were actually pretty difficult!
Start them young. These kids totally knew what they were talking about!
Woot! Stormtrooper cup holder!
Dressed according to the theme park, lol. Really wanted to fit in the vintage exteriors!
Back details. A lot of people were dressed comfortably (t-shirt and shorts) so it was hard to take any good street style photos!
Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage! Was disappointed at Gaston and human!Beast, huu /dreams shattered
Spent a good 5 minutes laughing at this with my mom and my brothers, haha
I’ve never seen Ratatouille! D:
There’s no place like home.
Temporarily transported back to San Francisco. Wasn’t I just here a few days before this photo was shot…
Before dinner, we went to EPCOT to catch the fireworks. Epcot, or Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, opened during the ’80s, and is somewhat like a world fair / world showcase.
The giant sphere at the entrance of the park is called Spaceship Earth.
How Walt Disney envisioned the future. So pretty.
Guess where we ended up staying…
Starts with the letter J. Ends with N.
There was some sort of exhibit inside one of the structures. It was quite old, and actually very funny. I have no idea if they were able to confirm if certain anime characters were really based on ancient Japanese myths.
There was also a Mitsukoshi at Epcot where you can find all sorts of Japanese goodies. You can’t miss this place if you love all things Japanese. I think they were also selling food and beauty products in there!
Remind me to get a PS Vita so I can play FFX/X-2 Remaster already.
Pikachu, I choose you!
Floating Torii in Miyajima? Nope, just EPCOT!
Highlight of the day. It always feels good to conclude a long day at the theme park with fireworks.
Wish we had an extra day just for EPCOT. You can go around the world in only a few hours. PRETTY MUCH MY DREAM! When people ask me what superpower I’d love to have, I always answer with teleportation so I can go anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.
Spaceship Earth at night. Last Disney post before I start with Universal Studios and Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m on a roll!
How can anyone fly to Orlando, and not go to the happiest place on earth? After the red eye flight from San Francisco to Florida, we freshened up a little (Sleep? What is sleep? Kids don’t need sleep. And jetlag only happens to adults.), and headed straight to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
It still holds the record for the most visited theme park in the world. And boy, was it cramped in there! I got used to the smaller HK and Tokyo Disneyland theme parks where the crowds are usually more manageable, lol. Didn’t stop us from enjoying the rides though!
Disney World, serving happiness for more than 40 years now. Thank God for bringing Walt Disney to the world!
As soon as we entered, there was a parade along the Main Street! Lucky, lucky!
Alternate outfits for Mickey and Minnie. Mickey, your sneaker game…
Little Princess Jasmine waiting for the parade to finish.
Had brunch at Tomorrowland. YAAAS to retro-futurism, but I couldn’t take good photos because THERE WERE STROLLERS PARKED EVERYWHERE. All the pathways were about 50% occupied by baby strollers!
What’s wrong, Aladdin?
I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE. Oops, wrong movie.
Disney couples dancing on stage! So cute.
While my parents and brothers were having coffee somewhere (We finally got to admit to ourselves that we are full-grown caffeine-dependent adults, not kids, lol), I managed to catch another parade!
Just in time for my favorite Disney movie - Beauty and the Beast!
SO MANY THINGS HAPPENING IN DISNEY WORLD, SO LITTLE TIME. One short toilet break, and you might just miss the important events. I’m so lucky I got to catch this particular parade, because the floats were beautiful! Also got to see the characters up close without having to line up for a photo.
First time to see Anna and Elsa (and Olaf)!
The Princess and the Frog. Tiana and Prince Naveen’s costumes <3
And at last I see the liiight~
Peter Pan and Wendy say hello!
Tink is not amused!
HIGHLIGHT OF THE PARADE. Ariel was everything. The float was perfect, and nothing hurt.
Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.
The fairies from Sleeping Beauty!
Maleficent was showing back then, and with all the movie hype, it was only natural for the people to cheer when this badass steampunk dragon started breathing fire!
You don’t say!
Every little girl’s dream.
There was a store in Disney World just dedicated to these costumes! To be a young girl again…
Make your own lightsaber. More Star Wars photos in my next post!
HAGGARD. But wait, let me take an #ootd…
It was my mom’s birthday, so we went to a fancy place for dinner - Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Boardwalk. But I couldn’t remember most of it as I was pretty much dead from exhaustion/lack of sleep/jetlag, haha. This is what I get from not exercising!
Disney Hollywood Studios, Universal Studios, and a separate Wizarding World of Harry Potter post coming soon!
I can’t believe I’m down to my last San Francisco post! I was there for such a short time that my only sure way to go to all the touristy places was to go on a bus tour. Not complaining though, because the view was spectacular. Most of these earlier shots in this post were taken from a double decker bus with an open deck a.k.a. every travel blogger’s best friend.
The initial reasons why my family and I decided to visit San Francisco were for us to be able to rest after a long flight from Manila, as well as for us to meet up with my youngest brother Calel (who’s been working in the US this past year). Wish we could’ve stayed longer because I’ve always been in love with this place! It’s been 10+ years since my first visit to the Bay Area (I have some relatives in Vallejo!), and my feelings haven’t changed since then.
San Francisco was, and still is one of my favorite places to visit in the US. More than LA, for sure, lol. Though I think I’m good anywhere as long it’s chilly? 15C - 25C weather is perfect!
Street art can be found all over San Francisco. Definitely adds to the place’s hipster charm.
This one was by Australian artist REKA.
By twins How and Nosm.
Currently, the Tenderloin District is somehow infamous for its homeless population and crime rate, but it used to be home to theaters, hotels and restaurants during the 19th century, and famous jazz clubs during the ’50s and ’60s. Lots of unfortunate events happened along the way, and it eventually got a bad reputation for gambling and gangs, among other things.
Why “tenderloin”? A long time ago, a police captain was overheard saying that ever since he moved to this neighborhood, he was able to earn so much that he could finally afford tenderloin. This, versus the cheap chuck steak he was limited to in his previous neighborhood. Little did people know that it was all because of the bribes he did on the side! Yikes!
Clear skies. For once, I must’ve done something good for the weather gods not to curse me with impossible rain.
How pretty is San Francisco City Hall? JoeDiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were married here!
This may look familiar if you were able to watch Milk, The Wedding Planner, Bedazzled, and Bicentennial Man (RIP Robin Williams).
Named after one of the city’s former mayors, but I’m pretty sure Vanness Wu’s face popped into your head just now.
Haight and Masonic. Didn’t have time to check out the Haight Ashbury District, but it seemed like a groovy place!
This district was the center of the summer of love! It was *the* place where all the hippies hung out during the ’60s.
Pacman! The one with the glasses is so cute!
Jimi Hendrix tribute on 1524 Haight Street, his home when he lived in San Francisco.
What do you hear?
The de Young fine arts museum.
Obligatory Golden Gate Bridge photo. I was so lucky the sky was so clear that day because San Francisco is usually foggy!
The most celebrated and photographed bridge in the world.
It’s always featured in pop culture, but the gate’s cameo (if you can call it that) in Rise of the Planet of the Apes is still super fresh in my mind.
Crossed the bridge twice to get back to the city.
Suddenly, Victorian-style buildings! I wasn’t able to take a proper photo of the “Painted Ladies” or the famous row of Victorian houses facing the park on Steiner St., huhu. Next time!
Downtown San Francisco / The Financial District.
"Hey, it’s Macklemore!" - my brother, lol
Telegraph Hill, with Coit Tower on top. They say that the tower was made to resemble a fire hose nozzle, because Lillie Hitchcock Coit, the wealthy socialite the tower was named after, loved to chase fires.
Besides the Golden Gate Bridge, this is probably the next most touristy area/place to go to in San Francisco.
Bread animals D:
Real animals :D
Balclutha, built in 1886.
Comfy wear! Top from Moussy, Jeans from Topshop, slip-ons from EMODA, jacket from MURUA.
Behind me is the Ghirardelli Square! Domingo Ghirardelli bought the entire area to make it into his chocolate company’s HQ. I used to think Ghirardelli chocolates came from Europe! It’s actually a proudly San Francisco brand.
Alcatraz Island from afar. Alcatraz prison used to be known as one of the most inescapable prisons in the world. It’s now a tourist destination!
Apparently, someone tried to escape by pouring grease over himself, slipping through the bars, and swimming to the shore, but the whole ordeal was so tedious that he fell asleep and eventually got caught.
Crazy for crabs.
Time for a magic show!
"Hey, it’s Colonel Sanders!" - my brother, huhu
Great food at Fisherman’s Wharf. Not much to do except take pictures and eat like there’s no tomorrow.
If I enter the house on the right, will I end up in Narnia?
Can’t get over San Francisco street art! I wish we had similar ones in Manila. I’m happy that there are some really tasteful ones at The Fort / Bonifacio High Street!
On our last day, and on the day we were leaving for Florida, my family and I decided to visit Sausalito as a last farewell.
Good thing we did, because I got a good photo of myself with the Golden Gate Bridge!
Sausalito is worth visiting for the quaint hillside and seashore view. Because of this, Sausalito real estate ranks among the most expensive in the US!
You can also find some really awesome burgers in Sausalito. Food is always relevant.
Nifty toys at a toy store beside the Starbucks there.
Probably the shadiest thing in Sausalito.
Speaking of butts, you need to watch this video. Laughed my ass off!
Hope you enjoyed my San Francisco travel diaries! The fun has only begun. I’m going to bombard everyone with Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter in the next few weeks.
I’ve actually drafted most of the entries already, and I took so many Wizarding World of Harry Potter photos that it merits its own post. It’s been 2 years since I shared my experiences during the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour in London (read here) so I’m really excited!
I was just in Tokyo about 2 days before this trip, so you’d think that going Japantown would only be redundant. But as expected, my family couldn’t go to San Francisco and not make it the first stop in our itinerary. The level of our love for Japan is off the roof, lol.
We simply took a bus to Japantown from our hotel in Union Square. I was leaning on my mom’s shoulder, about to doze off (the jetlag was starting to kick in), when one of my readers recognized me! It was quite surreal because a) I was pretty much half-asleep, and b) I never expect anyone to recognize me, let alone in a foreign country. (Hi Denise! If you’re reading this, thank you for the quick chat! <3)
This is one of the 5 Peace Pagodas in North America. The rest are in Canada, Mexico, Massachusetts and New York.
It was presented to San Francisco by the people of Osaka, way back when they established a “sister city” relationship in the 50s/60s.
There are some areas in Japantown that are definitely worth checking out, especially if you’ve never been to Japan! There’s a Kinokuniya Book Store where you can buy the latest Japanese magazines, artbooks, etc. Just outside the bookstore are places that sell CD/DVDs of Japanese movies and dramas.
Great place to find figurines as well!
Heaven for otakus.
Random (not sad) Keanu. I never got to watch 47 Ronin because of mixed (mostly bad) reviews, but I’ll probably get to it soon. Will watch for Shibasaki Ko and Kikuchi Rinko, and maybe Akanashi? I’ve been so out of the KAT-TUN loop ever since he left the group, but yay for the prettiness of AkaKuro couple.
Purikura in the US - they exist! A lot of the machines are old and broken, and they’re all overpriced at $10 (It will only take you 400yen or $4 in Japan), but I guess they’re still better than nothing.
Sunny weather bird feeding.
Neko, inu, tsuru.
Sanko, for all your cooking supplies. Japantown is quite a small place, so it only took us about 2 hours to go around and check all the interesting places out.
We went back to the Union Square area again since everyone was starting to feel groggy from jet lag. Gotta save our energy for the city tour the next morning!
Westin Hotel along Powell St. on the left. First floor had Goyard and other luxury brands.
The glorious view from one of the restaurants in Macy’s along Geary St.
The Dewey Monument with the Goddess of Victory. It was named after Spanish-American war hero George Dewey. Sound familiar? I’m pretty sure we’ve all read about him in our history books back in high school. Back in the 19th century, his fleet won over the Spanish forces in Manila Bay.
When in America, stuff yourself with the most delicious burgers and fries.
Post St., with Designer Shoe Warehouse on the left. I never leave the US without any impulse shoe purchase, huhu. I’ll probably end up broke if I ever I get a chance to live in the US.
Since the shipping process is so easy over there, I’ll probably just lock myself in my room ala Shintaro in Mekakucity Actors/Kagerou Project and have all my food and toiletries shipped to me, lol.
Someone please bring Urban Outfitters to Manila please!
Because I matched the T-Mobile pink in the background. Hello to the iconic San Francisco cable car behind me. Didn’t get to ride one this time, but I remember trying it out during my first visit in San Francisco about 10 years ago.
Decided to wear a simple Korean-inspired outfit with pink color accent because SNSD! Tiffany and Jessica were both born in San Francisco. <3
Jack Skellington socks and Doc Martens. Tracy, I found your doppelganger.
I’m blue da ba dee da ba die~
Someone bring American Apparel to Manila please!
Japantown and Chinatown in one day! Someone obviously loves Asia too much.
The oldest Chinatown in North America is in San Francisco, and it also houses the biggest Chinese community outside Asia. Whoa!
My brother Juju and his pretty Herschel backpack with teal accents. Did I make a mistake when I didn’t include this in my first San Francisco post a.k.a. the ultimate hipster post?
Obligatory cute couple photo.
Stay tuned for my next post! My San Francisco adventure isn’t finished yet.
In the meantime, I hope everyone’s having a good holiday! So many people flew out of the country today (including my boyfriend who, as of this writing, is on a plane to Kuala Lumpur), and I’m definitely green with envy! I’m itching to travel again, and my Osaka trip in September somehow seems so far away.
Annual summer trip with the whole family! My brother had a year-long internship at Four Seasons Jackson Hole, so we didn’t really see him for a long time. Well, my mom and I visited him in Chicago last October 2013, but it was only this May that all six of us were complete again. It’s been 10 years since my last visit to San Francisco too!
On our first day in San Francisco, I met up with Kiks, one of my best friends in college. He’s been taking his master’s degree at an art school over there for about a year now, and is actually on a summer vacation here in Manila as of this writing! My brother’s flight from Wyoming got delayed so I had the whole morning free to do whatever I wanted!
Kiks brought me to Mission District, a rather hipster neighborhood which I instantly fell in love with.
Bright yellow pants! I belong here.
We didn’t expect the weather to be so warm and sunny that morning that we immediately had to take a break from all the walking within the first 30 minutes of our meeting.
Dandelion Chocolate along Valencia St. was our first stop! Kiks had an iced chocolate and I had some sort of chocolate-coffee hybrid drink which was absolutely glorious.
So many pretty, photogenic places in this area.
Taken at an overpriced barbershop. If I lived in the US, I’d probably just DIY everything! Don’t want to spend $50-100 for a simple haircut, lol.
Mission District is known to have the largest concentration of street art and building murals in the city. Can we have something like this place in Manila, please?
Día de los Muertos? San Francisco’s Hispanic neighborhood is also on Mission District.
Clarion Alley is a small street between Mission and Valencia Streets and 17th and 18th Streets. Here you can find immensely colorful murals…
And houndstooth patterns on the floor!
I am too pastel for this wall.
"These hearts are dedicated to some members of the SF community who died. If your name’s here, you’re dead. :)"
Voldemort, is that you?
Normally, I’d be grossed out with giant insects, but…
I found a rare flamingo!
The area is also notable for vintage-inspired furniture…
…and bikes, the hipsters’ vehicles of choice.
Ever since I got hooked on Yowamushi Pedal, the idea of biking appeals to me so much. I never learned how to properly bike as a kid, but I’m set on starting in the near future.
So pretty! I want to own one of these.
Density was one of the independent shops that caught my eye. Good grammar is indeed sexy!
This reminded me so much of my friends who never go out without lipstick on.
I bet you read the “shiiing” part out loud.
Sock it to me! Let me have it!
A trip to the most artsy neighborhood in San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without some third wave coffee.
Apparently, they have a rule sheet at their back alley which reads, “Please be respectful of our Caledonia neighbors by not talking about annoying hipster topics, or who you f*cked last night. You shouldn’t do that anyhow, but our neighbors actually can hear you.”
Not talking about annoying hipster topics… is so hipster!
I wonder if you’ll get checkered tan lines if you stay put in this area the whole day.
One of our last stops before I had to head back to my hotel was FLAX art and design.
Arts and crafts supplies heaven right here. The possibilities are endless if you have this many available materials!
Somehow, I wasn’t surprised to see pink hair, tattoos, and patterned tank tops after going to The Mission.
Our the way back to my hotel on Geary St., Kiks and I passed by Christopher Clark Fine Art since they had Mucha lithographs. Spazzed like crazy people because we (and our little college group) adore Art Nouveau!
Aaand that, my friends, was the most hipster morning that I’ve ever had in my life. Stay tuned for more San Francisco goodness in the next couple of weeks!