So... I mentioned this in a few threads but also figured maybe I could relay it in a thread of its own to get buried eventually :) The story is that there is this company Omaze that has experiences for charities. Basically, you donate money, you get some swag and you get a chance for a grand prize experience. The experience here was a trip to the Star Wars Premiere in Los Angeles.
I found out on Thursday of last week that I had won since I was the bonus round (the other winners found out on the Saturday prior). I was incredibly lucky because I hadn't planned to enter although I've loved Star Wars since I was a kid. I decided to enter on the last day. They emailed me on Wednesday night to say that I was one of the finalist, then Facetimed me on Thursday to tell me I had won.
The next few days were busy with planning (dog boarding, planning to drop off cats with in laws, signing release forms, finding a notary, letting work know, figuring out work things, etc, etc). We didn't have our hotel/airline ticket info until Saturday and we flew on Monday morning. We had a direct flight to LAX on the morning of the premiere. So we grabbed a rental car as soon as we got our luggage and drove off to our hotel. We stopped at Real Food Daily for a couple sandwiches, which I had ordered and paid for online. We got to the hotel, settled in, then started getting ready. About half an hour before we were set to leave, we finished our sandwiches and headed down to the lobby. We found the other group waiting there and started to chit chat before one of the co-founders of Omaze showed up to prep us for our ride.
We drove to the premiere in a big black SUV and arrived where everyone else arrived. We went through security quickly and were greeted by bleachers full of fans. I believe most of them belonged to the 501st. Some were dressed as storm troopers, others as republic pilots. They cheered for us which was awesome and posed for pictures. We were then situated near the side of the bleachers next to Make a Wish, which had about 6 kids there? with their families. We chatted with them a bit while we waited. I didn't know what to expect at the time but it was mostly us waiting for people to arrive.
We ended up meeting most of the Stars of the Film but there were a few people I didn't see such as the guy who plays C3PO and the guy who plays Chewbacca (we saw them later). I ended up getting a hug and kiss on the cheek from Harrison Ford (!!!), got an enthusiastic hug from Carrie Fisher and got a hug from John Boyega. Everyone was really, really nice. We saw stars of previous films such as Billy Dee Williams, but mostly only those that were involved in the film stopped (with the exception of Mario Lopez who came by because he wanted to see our lightsabers). JJ Abrams (director) and Kathleen (Producer) also stopped and were very nice. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were there but didn't stop.
Anyway, after all that, we were walked in. We walked past the paparazzi, who smartly ignored us, and then saw the various tv news outlets giving interviews to the various stars of the film. We were then walked into the theater. I think 3 theaters were showing the premiere but we must've been in the main one because all the stars sat in our theater. They also took our cameras before entering the theater which meant no pictures.
So, we sat down and waited Eventually, the head of Disney came on stage, started introducing JJ Abrams and Kathleen as well as others. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg sat a few rows behind us toward the middle. We were sitting in the 4th row, on the right side near the aisle. It also happened to be the aisle that all the stars of the film walked down to their seats and walked up to leave. After a pretty lengthy intro, the movie started. Oh I should also mention that we were sitting next to the 501st, who was a very enthusiastic bunch. Everyone cheered for the Star Wars logo and during the movie when people like Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were first shown. It was a great overall experience.
Afterwards, we had to go grab our phones that had been checked so waiting in long lines while chatting with those around us. I also saw Daisy Ridley again in the bathroom as well as passed Billy Dee Williams and the guy that plays Chewbacca in the halls.
Then we were escorted to the After party, which was ok, we didn't stay long. We asked for a plate of vegan food and they brought us something to eat, which we didn't eat much of. There was a droid making station, where we made a few plastic droids (1-2 inches tall). They also had stations of Star Wars Battlefront around.
After wandering around for a bit, we decided it was time to go so the big black SUV grabbed us and took us back to the hotel around midnight (and we did really well considering we had been awake since 6am EST and it was 12am PST). The adrenaline is really what kept us going.
I posted many of the pictures that I have from the premiere on my Instagram/Facebook but Omaze and the other group will be sharing with us as well.https://www.instagram.com/turtlezoned/
So non premiere stuff is that we were given 2 nights in a hotel, which we were told was unusual so we spent the next day in Hollywood. We went to breakfast at a vegan friendly place called Hugo's, then we went to find the Hollywood sign, which I thought we could hike to but unfortunately not. So we drove to Griffith observatory and hiked up Mt Hollywood, which was great. We saw a guy walking his parrot, which was unusual and I was worried for him due to the hawks flying above but guess he was ok. we saw a Charlie brown type tree near the top. And there were quite a few people near the top, enjoying the nice day.
After climbing down the mountain, we decided to check out the Disney studio store for Star Wars swag, but sadly, it didn't have much. So we decided to walk to the Chinese theater but due to cleanup of the premiere, we had to take a long detour. We ended up walking along where all the stars in the sidewalk were until we got to the Chinese theater which has various handprints and what not of stars that have been there. We then decided to grab a quick bite to eat at a Thai type place called Vegan House.
After that, we went to the La Brea Tarpits, which we liked. We then went back to the hotel and got ready for our Dinner at Crossroads, which was amazing.
The next morning, we went to breakfast at Café Gratitude, which was really good (despite them not having soy for my chai latte). And then we decided to drive to Downtown Disney on our way to my parents house. We picked up some Star Wars swag and checked out the menus on the restaurants as I know my mom would like to go there sometime (it is fairly new? she loves Disney and didn't know about it).
We had time for a quick bite to eat before we left and went to a place called Vegan Junk, which I wouldn't have gone to if I had known was Gardein based products prior but they really knew how to make a good burger/sandwich. Then we drove to my parents house and that is basically it :)