Mouthful of San Diego

San Diego, a city in Southern California, is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches and delicious seafood. The most southern city in California, its culture is in-between the busy Los Angeles and the laid-back Orange County. It is a perfect vacation destination to feel the ocean breeze and the lively nightlife.

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In every major city, there is a list of the best tourist attractions. San Diego is no different. Here, I will highlight the top tourist attractions that are found on almost every website and tell you if it is worth visiting.

San Diego Zoo

The best thing to do with the family in San Diego is to visit the San Diego Zoo. In fact, San Diego Zoo is one of the facilities that is AZA Accredited on taking care of animals, fewer than 10% of the nation’s zoos and aquariums meet this standard. This zoo is one of the best and largest zoos in the world with a huge variety of animals and insects you can view and interact with. There is just so much to see and do that you will need the entire day to look at everything!

In the past, you could view the cute pandas as they munch on their bamboo. Now, they have platypuses! The zoo is either a temporary or a permanent home to many diverse animals. Whichever your favorite animal might be, the chances of you seeing them there is pretty high. 

Feeding the giraffes at San Diego Zoo

You can purchase cookies to feed the giraffes, go on a guided tour, watch the otters swim, or pet the sheep in the petting zoo. The possibilities are endless at San Diego Zoo!

Is it worth a visit? Yes.

Admission fee: Yes, purchase tickets online or at the gate.

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Balboa Park

The San Diego Zoo is located in Balboa Park. Balboa is a big, free community park that is home to several theaters, museums, and gardens. Every winter, you can watch the performance of the popular story of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss at The Old Globe Theater.

The San Diego Museum of Art, Natural History Museum, Air & Space Museum, Museum of Man, Timken Museum (free!) and Automotive Museum, just to name a few, are all found at Balboa Park. Within each Museum, they periodically have new exhibits such as the Cannibals and Post Secret Exhibit at the Museum of Man. For nature’s beauty, you can choose between the free Botanical Building, Desert Garden, and 1935 Cactus Garden or pay for admission to the Japanese Friendship Garden. 

Balboa Park is also a place where people can congregate in the open space and explore the halls and culture within the perimeter of Balboa Park. Take a stroll to the Spanish Village or see the House of Pacific Relations, UN Association, and International Cottages. Not to mention, there are recreational facilities such as an Archery Range and a public Municipal Gym, as well.

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The park has many attractions with an assortment of cafes to eat and drink, gift shops, and centers to showcase performing arts. You can easily spend an entire day here.

Is it worth a visit? Yes.

Admission fee: No, but you must pay for individual entrances to several museums, gardens, and performances.
*Bonus: For local residents, certain museums are free every Tuesday!

SeaWorld
Photo courtesy of Julian Ames

SeaWorld

SeaWorld has been one of the most controversial theme parks to open, but if you set that aside and take it for face value, SeaWorld is a neat place to witness sea life that you would normally never witness outside of SeaWorld.

SeaWorld
Photo courtesy of Julian Ames

At SeaWorld, you get exposure to observe penguins, beluga whales, walruses, sharks, and my all-time favorite, otters! Take a glimpse at your favorite animals close up through the aquariums and exhibits. You can meet and interact with the sea life at Explorer’s Reef, ride the several thrill rides such as Journey to Atlantis, or watch the animal performances.

There is a lot for you to discover as you start your voyage to explore marine life.

Is it worth a visit? Yes, if you love aquatic creatures.

 Admission fee: Yes, purchase tickets online or at the gate.
*Bonus: If you plan to hit both San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, there is a package deal for the admission tickets!

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Japanese Friendship Bell

On Shelter Island, there is a bell that the Japanese gifted San Diego for a sign of their friendship for opening the port to them.

Is it worth a visit? If you’re in the area, but not worth going out of your way.

On Shelter Island, there is a bell that the citizens of Yokohama, Japan gifted San Diego as a  token of their friendship and relationship between the two sister cities. Take a moment to reflect and observe the bell, feel a sense of peace and calmness. It is a perfect place to set this symbol, as it is away from the hustle and bustle of other busy tourist attractions.

While you are there, cruise along the shore and take a deep breath to inhale all of the clean, crisp air.

Is it worth a visit? If you’re in the area, but not worth going out of your way.

Admission: Free

Gaslamp District

Gaslamp District

If you want to truly experience the nightlife in San Diego, visit the Gaslamp District! There are restaurants, clubs, speakeasy’s, and bars for you to choose from for your perfect outing. Regardless of the occasion, you will find an excellent spot to celebrate anniversaries, girls’/guys’ night out, birthdays, bachelorette/bachelor parties, and other festivities.

Whether you want a tame night to enjoy drinks and dinner, or a wild black-out drunk outing, Gaslamp District has got you covered. 

Is it worth a visit? Yes, if you like food or drinking.

Admission: Mostly free, some places require a cover charge.

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Old Town

A historic tourist attraction that is reminiscent of the early frontier era, similar to cliche ghost towns like Calico. Unlike ghost towns, there is a lot of foot traffic from tourists that often times it becomes crowded. 

Old Town mainly consists of shops and restaurants of the Mexican heritage and culture. Its alleys of outdoor shopping and markets are filled with vibrant colors and live entertainment. You can find pottery, trinkets, clothing, food items, decorative pieces, and many more souvenirs here. There is no shortage of historical buildings and festivities to remind you of the past that took place here. The main square of Old Town typically shuts down relatively early, when the sun sets. 

If you plan on having after-hours fun with a spiritual experience, you stay at one of the old hotels in Old Town, such as The Cosmopolitan (no, it’s not similar to the one in Las Vegas). There are the haunted Whaley House and a ghost adventure tour that takes place here to recount and seek out ghouls and hauntings at graveyards and other known areas with sightings and activities. 

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After your ghostly experience, you can rejoice with another type of spirit. There are several bars and restaurants, such as Oculto 477 and Cafe Coyote, that serve delicious, massive margarita and fresh handmade tacos.

Is it worth a visit? Maybe. It’s a bit of a tourist trap but you could find great places to eat and see. 

Admission: Free

Is the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich to Die For?

Not to that extreme.

Many of you have heard the news that there was a fatality over the Popeyes chicken sandwich, if not, Google it.

I had the Popeyes chicken sandwich on two separate occasions. The first time was on Sunday, the official release of the permanent menu item of the chicken sandwich and the second time was on Tuesday during the Popeyes Tuesday 2-piece special.

The verdict?

Short answer: It’s good!

Long answer: It really depends on the Popeyes you go to.

On Sunday, it was 2-3 hour lines! Fortunately, we found a way around it by ordering online and having it delivered. When I finally got it within my possession, the hype was real y’all! 🔥

The chicken was hot, crispy, flakey, and juicy, meanwhile the bun was buttery and not too soft or too hard. I was on board with everyone that says Popeyes chicken sandwich is bigger and better than Chik-fil-a, and it helped that it is a better value for $3.99.

I enjoyed it so much, I had to get another one. And so I waited 1 day until it was Tuesday. And sadly, this time around, it wasn’t the same. The wait at the Santa Fe Springs location was only 15 minutes, go figure. Should’ve known that was a red flag already because the chicken sandwiches tasted pre-made and just waiting under a heat lamp.

Good things come to those who wait. In this case, delicious Popeyes chicken sandwiches will be had if you wait at a busy Popeyes location. Why? Because that means they are making it fresh to try to catch up to its demand (Economics 101 people!).

In conclusion, if you thought the chicken sandwich was “whatever” you probably didn’t have a fresh batch.

HAPPY EATING!

And don’t get killed out there for a sandwich.

OC Fair 2019 Recap

Wow, I haven’t been to OC Fair in so long! The last time I remembered was when there was a threat of OC Fair ceasing to exist, fortunately, it is here to stay!

Not much has changed but it is surely a much different experience when you are an adult versus when you were an adolescent. The main contributor to this difference? Money! You now have money to spend on all the food and everything that may tickle your fancy.

BravoCado!
Many people in Orange County, California gather at the OC Fair & Event Center every year during mid-July for a month until mid-August to attend the OC Fair. Not everyone has the same agenda and the OC Fair caters to everyone’s main objectives. There is a lot to do at the fair and may include, but are not limited to, drooling from all of the fried food, thrilling over carnival rides, eyeing enormous plush doll prizes, enjoying entertainment shows, seeing the farm animals, and SO much more!
I attended the OC Fair on Saturday of the last weekend the OC Fair is opened. I loved my experience because I felt a sense of community, oddly enough. Everyone that I encountered, whether it be employees or other fairgoers, was super friendly, I did not encounter any issues for the venue or the people. Having partners and friends to split food with is key to a good time.

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Tip: There is free parking at OCC (right across the street from Green Gate) on the weekends!

FOOD

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Food is a great motivator for people to go anywhere. As long as there’s tasty food, people will come!
The term “fair food” consists of all the things bad for your health: fried, greasy, and enormous portions. Every year there are new food items invented that many fairgoers feast on. I typically like to go in bigger groups so I can sample many things, rather than getting full on 1 item.
Here are a few items I tried this year:

Papi’s Puffy Tacos

New to the OC Fair 2019! One of the better things we got at the fair because the puffy tacos had pretty good flavor. Two tacos will set you back $11.76, with your choice of meat. We got 1 Asada and 1 Al Pastor. You can see the taco shells fried in front of you. As you bite into the taco, the taco shell gives you a crunchy texture while the meat and pico de gallo give you a fresh and savory flavor. The two together are a perfect combination of a taco.

Pignotti’s Pasta

Lasagna nachos! The inventiveness is there. However, they sounded better than what it actually was: tortilla chips, marinara sauce, ricotta cheese and they ran out of parsley. Sadness. $14.

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I would skip the Lasagna Nachos and try one of their other food items like the fried ravioli on a stick or spaghetti donuts.

Tasti Burgers

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Pictured is the Green Acres Fire Burger which is supposed to be an “all-natural Harris Ranch beef, ghost-pepper cheese, lettuce, jalapeños, spicy mayo and avocado on a potato knot bun”. However, it was not really spicy. Not bad, but nothing special. $12

Chicken Charlie’s

Known for their ridiculous fair food creations that are intended to stop hearts. Our pick? The Triple Decker Cheeseburger, which is a triple cheeseburger sandwiched between 2 Krispy Kreme donuts. The verdict? Hard pass. They do not go well together and both of them tasted very separate. The patty was obviously a low quality, frozen one. $10.99

Dippin’ Dots

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With the tagline, “Ice cream of the future”, I always have to get Dippin’ Dots every time I see it. I don’t know what it is but it is always good, anytime and anywhere! At the fair, there are multiple flavors, this time I got Moose Tracks. For a small, expect to be spending a little over $5.

Juicys

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Oh man, for big appetites, stop by Juicys! Here, you can get a footlog hotdog or corn dog. These are “Texas-sized” portions that are not only big in size but also big in flavor. Delicious hot dog that did not disappoint and is literally the size of your arm.

Fresh Frys

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The Blooming Onion is a staple as far as fair food goes. The Blooming Onion is essentially an onion cut into a flower-shape and then deep-fried. You can get the fried onion by itself, starting at $9.28 or with toppings such as cheese, chili, and more fries for an additional cost.

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Not a fan of onions? There are other items such as fresh frys, ranch frys, cheese frys, monkey frys, chili cheese frys, garlic parmesan frys, deep-fried green beans, and chicken tenders available.

Chuckwagon

Brisket Mac ‘n’ Cheese Sandwich
To end our night, we got the Brisket Mac ‘n’ Cheese Sandwich, which we were surprised by how tasty the meat and the ingredients went well together. Meats are supposedly smoked for 8-10 hours. $12.76

Other Options

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There is an abundance of food stalls and food areas to find unique dishes you can try. Here are a few others to note:

Bacon-A-Fair

Eat all of the bacon to your heart’s content! One of the newest food item for 2019 is the bacon pupusas, which is a Salvadoran dish made of masa and cheese.

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Australian Battered Potatoes

Love potatoes? Get a whole bucket of it here! Top it off with your favorite sauce, cheese, sour cream, or ADD BACON!

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Dutchmen’s

Churros, lemonade, and funnel cakes. Any of those sound good to you? If so, you’ve come to the right place! You can start with a regular churro or a basic powdered sugar funnel cake and then get creative by adding on different toppings and flavors such as whipped cream, strawberries, Nutella, or Oreos. Change the batter to red velvet or try their newest Nilla wafer banana creme flavor!

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Squeezers

Wash down all of the fair food with an old fashion lemonade!

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RIDES

Feeling that adrenaline rush? There is a whole area full of rides you can hop on for a spin. Most fair rides often try to make you end up throwing up, but that’s what makes it fun … right?!


For those like me and aren’t adrenaline junkies, there are other rides such as the ski lift ride and Ferris wheels that are more family fun. You can oversee the fair lights and view everything from a bird’s eye view.

CARNIVAL GAMES

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Test your skills at these rigged carnival games and convince your significant other to win you an enormous stuffed animal to show everyone how loved you are. In my honest opinion, a big waste of money and space but hey, if that’s your thing, go for it!

ENTERTAINMENT

There are several shows that are scheduled throughout the fair day. One of which is the comedy hypnotist, Mark Yuzuik. Whether or not you are a believer, it is surely entertaining to watch. I have seen the show several times and still have fun watching it every time. Other entertainers include dancers and martial artists.

FARM ANIMALS

Interact and pet farm animals at the fair! When there is a fair, there will be animals. Although they may smell, it is fascinating to see a cow in real life. There is a petting zoo as well as demonstrations such as cow milking!

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The fun doesn’t stop there! There are also pig races throughout the day. Yes, you heard that right. Pig races! They are cute little pigs that run laps around the track. Catch a show with your friends and have a little friendly bet amongst each other!

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CONTESTS

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The fair is not just about animals and food, the competition is also fierce here! There is a contest for just about anything! From homebrewed beer to artworks, it is truly interesting to see the creativity of everyone in the community. There are also contests on who can grow the biggest vegetable as well as who can create the best looking cake or table setting. Walk around the promenade to get a glimpse of all of the winners!

… SO MUCH MORE!

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The possibilities are endless! There are different promenades for your shopping needs, whether you’re looking for candy, hot sauce, household items, beds, etc there is something for you to sample or look at. My friend purchased some olive oil while I was shooting the shit with the ADT guys in the next booth, they were such awesome guys (shout out to Mike and Matt).

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Feeling like you want to get a little loose? There are alcohol stands for you to get beers or cocktails such as margaritas. Feeling lucky? There is a CA Lottery stand where if you spend $20, you can spin the wheel to win more money!

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Want to interact with butterflies? There is a tent area to take those Instagram photos with them.

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The OC Fair is truly a fun experience if you go with the right people, you can spend a whole day there! I was only expecting to spend a few hours but ended up staying until almost closing time. In total, I was there for 7 hours and I felt like I could’ve been there longer!
There is just so much to see and do. I can’t wait until next year!

HAPPY OC FAIRING!

OmG Omakase by Gino

With an advanced 3-month reservation, OmG Omakase by Gino currently has been one of the most sought after seats in Orange County, a restaurant located in Downtown Santa Ana that only seats 10 around the sushi bar. Within less than a year since the opening of the restaurant, it has already gotten many recognition and praises from chefs and foodies throughout the city.

OmG Omakase by Gino

For those that do not know, “omakase” is a meal where you completely entrust in the chef to pick out all of your dishes in your meal. Based on what they think you will like and their expertise, you will follow blindly as they take you through a (hopefully unforgettable) experience with food. Be sure to book a reservation through Yelp here!

It is strongly advised to come 5-10 minutes before your reservation time as the dinner will start promptly. My dinner was on a Saturday at 5:30 PM and we got there about half an hour early. We were directed and seated a few minutes prior to our reservation time, placed our drink orders, and got handed the menu.

OmG Omakase by Gino
The menu as of August 2019.

There are 2 different dinners you can order, either the “House” (top) or the “Seasonal” (bottom) menu. I noticed the prices of the menu has been increased by $15 since the time I made the reservation.

Gino explains the menu and tells you what is on the seasonal selection for the day. For my dinner party, it was Uni, Ootoro, and A5 Wagyu. I opted for the House since I am not a fan of Uni. Unlike other Omakase places, the chef does not ask you if there’s anything you do not like, which is fine but just a difference that I would like to note.

After everyone has been seated and ordered their drinks, Gino started the dinner courses:

OmG Omakase by Gino
One: Tomato with Caviar

OmG Omakase by Gino
Two: Oyster

OmG Omakase by Gino
Three: Monk Fish Liver

I dislike monkfish liver so I gave this dish away.

OmG Omakase by Gino
Four: Seared Toro

OmG Omakase by Gino
Five: Steamed Egg

Six: Sashimi

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Seven: Uni Truffle Pasta (cold)

The chef made us a cold take on uni pasta since we were eating in the hot summer weather. The truffle on the pasta smelled so delectable!

Soon after, the server will quickly take away your plate and give you a towel on a tray rest. The towel is for you to wipe your fingers as you grab one by one your sushi off the bamboo serving tray. You can also use your chopsticks if you choose to.

Please do not pay any attention to my soy sauced sushi tray.

OmG Omakase by Gino
Eight: Blue Fin Toro

Nine: Kanpachi Belly Sushi

OmG Omakase by Gino
Ten: Sea Bream with White Soy Sauce

OmG Omakase by Gino
Eleven

OmG Omakase by Gino
Twelve: Seared Scallops with Uni from San Diego

OmG Omakase by Gino
Thirteen: Clam soup with mushroom

OmG Omakase by Gino
Fourteen: Toro

OmG Omakase by Gino
Fifteen

OmG Omakase by Gino
Sixteen

OmG Omakase by Gino
Seventeen: Ikura

OmG Omakase by Gino
Eighteen: Tamago

OmG Omakase by Gino
Nineteen: Dessert

Seasonal Dishes:

OmG Omakase by Gino

There were 3 seasonal dishes that you can get as an upgrade to the house menu. These are presented in lieu of the dish fourteen, sixteen, and seventeen.

OmG Omakase by Gino
Seasonal selection #14: Toro, caviar, and black truffle

OmG Omakase by Gino
Seasonal selection # 16: A5 Wagyu with gold flake

OmG Omakase by Gino
Seasonal selection #17: Hokkaido Uni

Overall, I was pretty full by the time the dinner ended, but it didn’t deter me from grabbing a beer afterward! Truthfully, I was content with my choice of picking the House menu because the feedback I got from my friend on the Seasonal menu wasn’t enough for me to have FOMO.

She mentioned the Wagyu was torched a little overcooked and the Hokkaido Uni was not as sweet as the San Diego one we received prior. If you have an extra $30 to blow through, I say go for it!

Happy Eating, Sushi Lovers!

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Alas, the time has come and the most anticipated event since the park opened its doors in 1955 has arrived! One of the biggest cult followings in today’s pop culture and has nerds screaming their hearts and dreams out with excitement.

Still don’t have any idea of what I’m talking about yet?

Well, it’s none other than …

DUHH DUHHHH DUH

DUH DUH DUHHH

DUH DUH DUHHH

DUH DUHHH DUHHH DUH DUH …

STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE!

Also lazily known as “Star Wars Land”

Doors to Happiness

Reservations

There are strict terms to follow before this grand opening. Galaxy’s Edge allowed cast members to take the first peek at the new land but since the land has not officially opened, no pictures were allowed to be taken. Afterward, those with reservations until June 23rd are able to go in increments of 4 hours. Only those registered on the reservations are allowed to attend.

During the month of June reservations, if you don’t have an annual pass, guests are to cough up $150 for a 1 day, 1 park ticket. Thus, if you and one other person go, you are looking to spend $300 plus $25 for parking. That is just to get you inside the park. For food and merchandise, be prepared to spend a total of at least $500 for 2 people.

I made reservations for Galaxy’s Edge on Thursday, June 13th from 5:00 – 9:00 PM and thought this was a perfect time, seeing the best of both worlds, the land during the day and night.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Bonus: Take photos of the Millennium Falcon in the day with great natural lighting and at night with the lights turned on!

After June 24, 2019, reservations will no longer be needed and thus anyone with a Disneyland ticket can get inside without having any time restrictions.

Journey to Batuu

Since the reservations are at 5:00 PM and you are able to only check-in 2 hours prior, I spent the time prior to browsing other lands and going on other rides. During the month of June, Disney Parks are at a moderate level of busyness because people are anticipating the official opening of Galaxy’s Edge to visit the park.

Around 4:45 PM, I went to Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland and made a dash towards Hungry Bear restaurant for my 5:00 PM reservation time. I forgot it was on the other side of the park so the walk felt like a long journey to get to Batuu.

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When you first enter through the Hungry Bear entrance, you will be first greeted by the Resistance Supply and some photo opportunities. My initial reaction was, “Is this it?”. I omitted these things and headed straight to the center where there are a few small shops called Merchant Row.

Merchandise

In Merchant Row, you will find shops with various knick-knacks such as: 

Toydarian Toymaker

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Come collect cute plush dolls of your favorite characters and toys. The ones in my hands are priced at $19.99 each.

Creature Stall


Adopt and take home a pet creature like the ones in the movies. Some vibrate and move while the adorable Porgs can flap its wings and open and close its mouth!

Jewels of Bith

0607-2019-0502369789048399214.jpegMainly apparel and little trinkets such as pins, patches, magnets, and key chains.

Black Spire Outfitters

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A clothing store with outfits and robes so you can fit right in with the people in Batuu.

Aside from the little merchant stands, there are other shops you can spend your “credits”: Ondar’s Antiques, First Order Cargo, and the aforementioned Savi’s Workshop and Droid Depot.

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Even if you don’t build a droid, you can take a peek at the 25,000 credit life-sized R2D2!

Food

At the end of the Merchant Row’s walkway is a quick-service eatery, Ronto Roasters where you can order a Ronto Wrap for $14. This is deemed to be the best thing in the area but I feel as though it is overpriced for what it is, even for Disney prices.

Food in Batuu is at a higher price level than other lands inside of Disneyland. If you want to get the full experience then go ahead, go crazy and buy all of the foods but if you are on a budget, I’d suggest eating elsewhere. Besides Ronto Wrap, there is:

Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo for a full meal,

Kat Saka’s Kettle for the special spicy and sweet popcorn

and the Milk Stand for blue and green milk.

Tip: For reservations dates, if you have a group of friends going, make sure to split up so a couple of friends run to Oga’s Cantina and the other 2 can get a reservation for a hand-built lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop.

During the beginning of the reservation, everyone SPRINTS to the Oga’s Cantina line to put their name on the list for a call back to get inside this exclusive club. This new waterhole is the first of its kind in Disneyland Park, aside from the ultra-exclusive Club 33. Oga’s Cantina is the only thing that fills up and closes any additional reservations. In this case, you snooze, you lose.

Also for the lightsabers, only a certain amount of Jedis are able to design and build their own lightsaber. Once it fills up, it fills up and you will need to come back another time and spend your $100 at that time.

Since I was too slow, I was unable to get into Oga’s Cantina, build a lightsaber, and create a droid at Droid Depot. Thus, leaving me to only be able to walk around and go on the ride, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. With only so much I was able to do left, four hours seemed more than enough.

However, when there are no longer reservations needed, I would assume you would be able to do Oga’s Catina and build a lightsaber easily.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run can be up to a 60-minute wait initially, but wait a little while and the queue will start to dwindle down to a mere 25-minute wait.

My thoughts of the ride are that it is pretty cool and the best way to describe it is to think “interactive Star Tours”. In the beginning, you are given a brief instruction on what to do and then you are given the role of a pilot, gunner, or engineer. The best role would be a pilot because you steer the ship and have the most interactive part, so try to be that if you can! The gunner will shoot and the engineer is supposed to fix the mistakes of the pilot and gunner.


The ride is a little difficult to enjoy what is in front of you because you will be so focused on the buttons next to you and what you need to press. After all, you don’t want to let your crew down!

The Land of Batuu

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The amount of time and effort Disney put into Galaxy’s Edge is shown through the details and experience guests get when visiting the land. Everywhere you look there are things to remind you that you are on another planet. The landscape and views are works of a masterpiece and out of this world. Just take a look around you and notice the various props you might have seen in the movies.


Wandering around and immersing into the land of Batuu, I cannot imagine how crowded it will be once the land is opened to everyone. The walkway through Merchant Row and through the center of everything will be too crowded to fully enjoy the experience, I’d imagine.

Characters


I thought there were going to be interactive things you can do, aside from downloading the app, in addition to the Star Wars character interactions. When I was there for the whole reservation time, I only saw Rey, Stormtroopers, and Chewbacca roaming around.

May the Force be with you!

Orange County Study Spots

As I am studying for my certification, I am constantly in search of a place to rest my book and occasionally form study groups. Beyond your Starbucks, there are several other great places in Orange County for students studying for classes or to further their education. It’s difficult to decide whether or not a place is fit for you until you actually arrive and scope the place out.

Fortunately, I have already done the hard part for you and here are a few places I would suggest you check out:

 

Huntington Beach Public Library

Best things about libraries are that they’re free, a place where silence is golden, the library is the choice to hit the books and study. There are many areas of seating based on how you best study and what you are trying to accomplish. There are divided sections where you can eat, group study, and areas where it is ultimate quietness.

Volume Level: Low, it is a library

Seating: Very easy to find as there are multiple seating arrangements available. There are study carrel desks for independent, no distraction study as well as open desks for group study

 

Contra Coffee & Tea 

Coffee shop near Chapman University with a variety of coffees and teas on tap. Great place to get good drinks, however, there are no outlets available and the Wi-Fi is extremely slow and spotty. It would be ideal if you went old school and studied with a textbook, notebook, and pen.

Volume Level: Medium

Seating: Pretty limited as there is a community seating area in the middle with pairs of desks facing each other.

 

Phin Smith

A busy Vietnamese cafe located on Main Street of Garden Grove with delicious, high-quality and highly caffeinated coffee drinks brewed to fuel your study sessions. A shop you would not mind staying at for long hours at a time, but cannot because there is no food available to rejuvenate your energy. The customer service is top notch, as the baristas are welcoming and ensure you have a phenomenal experience.

Volume Level: Medium to Loud

Seating: Plenty of tables and outlets, however, it can get pretty packed during the afternoons and weekends

 

O.C. Mix 

Located in Costa Mesa, it is strange that I would recommend a shopping center as a study spot. However, O.C. Mix is a space with retailers, such as eateries, boutiques, and cafes. Portola, a seriously good coffee roaster, has several open tables and seating outside for you to enjoy your cup of coffee. There are also tables sprinkled throughout the building to rest your legs, eat, and study. Charge your laptops prior to coming because there are no outlets available to plug your computers.

Volume Level: Medium to Loud

Seating: Abundance of tables but can get really crowded

 

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

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Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) is similar to Starbucks by the layout of their coffee shops. The offerings are similar but CBTL, in my opinion, is less basic, better tasting, and less crowded. This makes CBTL a better contender to get work done without too much of a distraction if you were to go to a bigger coffee shop chain.

Volume Level: Medium to Loud

Seating: A few tables and chairs with a few outlets available

 

Old Quarter Coffee 

A new coffee shop in Garden Grove that serves as an excellent study spot. Old Quarter Coffee has a peaceful atmosphere (sometimes with questionable music choices), great seating, outlets at every table, free Wi-Fi, and FREE PRINTING!

Volume Level: Low to Medium

Seating: Plentiful, although lately there seems to be a lot of odd characters that come here

 

Milksud

With chairs and tables filling up the entire space, Milksud is a fine contender for a decent study spot. This drink shop specializes in unique draft coffee and tea. For whatever your social needs, the table, and chairs are designed as a lounge to catch up with friends, play board games, enjoy your beverage, and study.

Situated in a plaza, parking is easy to find and the shop is not extremely crowded or loud.

Volume Level: Medium

Seating: The tables for group study are limited, but the individual study seats along the perimeter are plentiful.

Disclaimer: This place might be closing soon.

 

Know any awesome study spots? Leave them in the comments below!

 

Tips for Coachella Music Festival

Coachella is just around the corner… actually it’s HERE for all you Weekend 1 festival goers! Here are just a few tips and reminders to make your experience a more pleasant one:

Besame Mucho

1. Stay hydrated!
Water is essential for life. Make sure you drink lots of it because the sun and the dancing can take a lot out of you. Bring a CamelBak or water bottles to fill up, there are several free water stations spread throughout the festival grounds.
Bonus: Tip a chill bartender and ask if you could fill your water pouch with ice (YMMV).

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2. Be shady!
No, I don’t mean be untrustworthy, sneaky, or backstabbing. What I mean is bring a hat to shield yourself from the sun and sunglasses so you can see when it’s bright outside.

3. Keep your body temperature low
The temperature will increase during the peak hours, you can seek refuge and free air conditioning at the tents such as Heineken House (21+) or the Antarctic Dome. Also, bring your own fan or spray bottle to keep yourself from overheating, especially if you are day drinking.

4. Sunblock is your best friend
It gets hot in the desert (obviously) and you want to enjoy the weekend without burning and peeling of your skin because that’s not cute.

5. Bring a bandana to cover your mouth and face
Winds in the high desert can pick up an abundance of dust. Bring a bandana to cover your mouth and face from it, you don’t want to end up getting sick with black snot.

6. Wear comfortable shoes
You will be on your feet most of the time, dancing and walking from stage to stage. Make sure you wear shoes that you can walk all day in and don’t mind getting dirty.

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7. Pack a blanket
The Polo Fields is an actual field (surprise!) and is great for a picnic or laying down on the grass. It is relaxing to sit down and gaze up at the clouds while your favorite music artist is playing live music in the background. This part was a highlight of my Coachella experience. Weekend 1 typically will have grass but come Weekend 2, there is only dirt. Regardless, having a blanket to set on the floor and claim as your little area is nice to have. You can lay down or sit with friends without having to worry about bugs and dirt.

8. Keep an eye on your belongings
Phone thieves are at large. Make sure you store everything safely and tightly. It is best to keep your items in your front pockets if you don’t have a fanny pack or a bag. You don’t want your stolen items to ruin your experience.

9. Locate the flush restrooms
One thing I hate about festivals is the dreadful porta potties. Luckily, there are actual restrooms on site with many stalls and flushable toilets. HALLELUJAH! The bathroom facility is next to the Do Lab.

10. Germs and hygiene are a real thing
Nothing is worse than getting sick. When there are a lot of people congregating together, it is inevitable for germs to spread rapidly. Bring wipes and hand sanitizers because it can and will get dirty out there, especially if you are using the porta potties and sitting on the ground.

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11.Set a meetup spot and time stamp your texts
If you lose your friends or part ways, set meeting spots and times to catch up with them later. The reception will be spotty so make sure you time stamp your texts when checking where they are.

12. Purchase a battery pack and a cellphone charger
Your phone will drain battery life quickly with all of the photo taking and video recording. Make sure you have back up battery juice to meet up with friends and post your photos on Instagram (if you can get reception). If you don’t have a power bank, purchase one, it is a good investment. There are also outlets placed throughout the festival for you to recharge your electronics, but make sure you bring your wire.

13. Don’t forget to recharge
Often times you can get carried away at events that you forget to eat. This is important to keep yourself from fainting and feeling weak. Remember, Coachella is a marathon, not a sprint. Plus, the food at Coachella is actually pretty tasty (shout out to Crab Fries!).

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14. Let yourself be flexible
Don’t get too caught up with your schedules on who you want to see that you end up missing things that are happening around you. There are small surprises (such as special guests) that are sprinkled throughout the festival.

15. Be mindful of others
If you see someone in trouble, help get medical attention. After all, we are all human and we should look out for one another.
16. Most importantly, HAVE FUN and GET HOME SAFELY!

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