One of the best things about living in Scottsdale is its location; so this Labor Day weekend we decided to drive to Hollywood California!
Two parents, two kids, and two dogs loaded up our 2020 Thor Windsport to drive west into the setting sun. Our destination, Universal Studios Hollywood and then Palm Springs & Joshua Tree National Park on the trip back.
Leaving Friday evening meant the majority of the 6 hour, 400 mile drive from Scottsdale Arizona to Hollywood California was during dark; so we filled the time enjoying RV life!
Our thirty-four foot home on wheels provides plenty of entertainment for long road trips. The kids enjoyed streaming shows on the widescreen TV, playing board games, and playing with the dogs, Mello & D'jango, who were thrilled to come along for the adventure.
Hollywood RV Park
When we arrived in Hollywood late Friday night, we pulled into the Hollywood RV Park.
The RV park was not like typical RV campgrounds where we usually stayed.
Residence of the park seemed to be more long term, and the space we rented for parking our bus of a vehicle, barely fit, with about 6 inches to spare. Backing into a spot took about 5 minutes.
Our struggles with the campground, however, were only beginning.
Next we had issues with the electrical hook-up at the site. Our RV runs on a 50 amp hook up, and we reserved a 50 amp hook up. So, you can imagine our surprise to find a 30 amp hook up as the only option for us that weekend.
Why’s this important?
We don't want the dogs to get roasted alive!
Tomorrow will be one of the hottest days of the year, 105°, and for our Mello & D'jango to stay comfortably cool in the Thor, its two air conditioning units need to be running, and they need 50 amps of power.
KNOW DIFFERENCES BETWEEN 30 AND 50 AMPS
With 30 amps, we can only run one AC unit. The RV would be warm, but not deadly so.
To make that prospect a bit more precarious for our adorable K-9 friends, was that the fuse at our campsite would randomly “trip-off”, leaving us with no power until the park's handyman manually reset it.
We did have another option, boondocking, and run the RV's generator. The RV has its own electrical power supply; a generator that runs off the same gas as the engine and is also powerful enough to run both AC’s.
Unfortunately, it is very loud. A fact made worse by our extreme close proximity to our park neighbors.
We ran the generator for about 30 min and had 5 different visitors knock on our door to turn it off. 😳
We spent the rest of our stay managing what we turned on in the RV at the same time to keep that 30 amp fuse un-tripped.
When Ky turned on the microwave with the AC, everything went dark 😅
Overall, Hollywood RV Park's location was super convenient, but the onsite experience left much to be desired.
That Labor Day weekend, the temperature hit triple digits every day. 🥵
Staying hydrated and within the cool moist air of the air misters throughout the park was a priority for the day.
...that and Talita checking in with Carl, the handyman, who she texted every 20 minutes for constant updates on the dogs and their AC power supply.
(They would be fine! Power stayed on the whole day) 🐶
Universal Studios Hollywood
Located in Hollywood CA, Universal Studios is split into two areas; on a valley hilltop is Universal Studios Hollywood, the theme park where all the thrill rides and attractions are located. It has spectacular views of the valley below where the actual Universal Studios is located.
There’s a tour of the studio lots where, if lucky, you’ll have the chance to see movies, commercials, and TV shows being filmed.
Tickets: prices vary by day; from $109-$134 per person.
For those looking to skip the lines,the park also has fast passes.
Thanks to an extremely knowledgeable Uber driver, we found out Universal Studios Hollywood has an attraction assistance pass:
For anyone who has a heart condition, are prone to overheating, or have certain "invisible" medical issues where you one can’t stand in long lines
If you qualify for this free service, it lets you skip the line.
Stop by the guest services desk after you enter the park for details.
Our Adventure into the Movies!
Our Uber dropped us off in front of the park's main entrance and we proceeded through the ticket gate onto a bustling promenade. We were immediately immersed into a motion picture fantasy world filled where familiar live-action characters interacted with the packed park's visitors.
Marilyn Monroe, Donkey & Shrek, and Fiona greeted us, took pictures, and engaged the guests in playful banter.
We then went on the famous Studio Tour, a mix of informative cinematic history, surprisingly thrilling interactive experiences, and silent voyeurism through active production sets.
Our favorite park was the action-packed Fast & Furious - Supercharged!
After the tour, we explored the park's many attractions and were transported into our favorite movies! We loved the Minions, (Duh!) Secret Lives of Pets and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
If you buy a special magic wand, you can use it throughout the town of Hogsmeade and discover actual secret interactive magical spells.
Universal Studios Hollywood REEL
Next, were the Thrill rides, always our favorite part of any amusement park! Universal's best were Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the insane water drop in Jurassic World, and the Revenge of the Mummy, which line was so short that we went on it 3 times in a row!
For dinner, Dongpo Kitchen took us on a flavor journey; including succulent Pork Belly Sliders, sinus-clearing Spicy Chicken, and Dan Dan Noodles.
We were too full for dessert, however, the Voodoo Doughnut looked tempting.
We headed back to the RV, ecstatic to see the dogs had survived the day despite the shady power situation.
By Sunday, we were ready to escape Hollywood RV Park.
T made us breakfast, I took down the RV, while the kids packed. We were ready to bounce in under 30 minutes.
Palm Springs Here We Come!
But first, we took the scenic route out of Hollywood Hills and stopped at Griffith Observatory.
On the top of one of Hollywood Valley’s many hills in Griffith Park, the observatory has the best view of the iconic Hollywood Sign . The observatory itself, also insanely recognizable, has been in countless movies throughout the years.
Dre flew his drone for some breathtaking pictures while Talita hiked the labyrinth of trails lining the mountain side. Typical behavior for us, practicing healthy living while geeking with a drone. 😂
Finally, on to Palm Springs!
Driving to Palm Springs felt like we were in an episode of Breaking Bad, driving through the desert landscape, hoping the engine didn’t overheat.
The visually captivating southern California landscape during the two hour, 120 mile drive was as gorgeous as it was awe inspiring. The arid landscape was spotted with bright patches of green and along stretches of the San Bernardino valley mountainsides.
Closer to our destination, the valley spread wide into vast open spaces where fields full of massive turbine windmills looked more like forests.
Scores of 500 foot steel towers produce 600 million kilowatt-hours of power nearly enough for the entire Coachella Valley.
Palm Springs Windmills REEL
We arrived at our Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA after passing multiple street corners occupied with Mexican fruit vendor carts adorned with temptingly refreshing, fresh cut fruit.
Looking for a consistent, well maintained, convenient and easy to book online campground? If there's one in the area you are traveling to, go to a KOA Campground.
We Love Them!
Palm Springs KOA was not like our stressful stay in Hollywood Park. Wide open spaces made it a breeze to pull in and out with the RV.
The camp grounds pool was busy with other traveling families looking for relief from the blazing sun.
Ky loved it all, and even made some friends.
Palm Springs is probably most known by the current generation as the location of the Iconic music festival that’s held there every April.