Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well. This is post is most delayed, which I apologize for. It’s kind of a vicious cycle when you get behind on a blog. The more behind you get, the more you have to cover until even attempting to write feels overwhelming. I guess I am glad to be living such a life that my August and September were so full of incredible experiences. It really isn’t too bad to be Rachel Wagner in 2022.
The highlight of August was my epic trip to Los Angeles. I was in California for 10 days (too long a trip honestly!). The first part was covering Christmas Con for Hallmarkies Podcast. This was an amazing experience where I got to meet co-hosts Megan and Ann and we covered the red carpet together.
Then Megan and I had an incredible, surreal experience where we went to the beach for a few days and I got bit by a stingray! To recover we splurged and spent one day at the incredible Ritz Carlton in Santa Barbara and I will honestly never forget it. I’m dreaming of it daily.
The epic trip continued with my first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood (do the VIP tour. It is so worth it). I also did the tour of Warner Bros studio, saw Jaws with my LA friends, and spent a lot of time at my amazing AIR BNB with an incredible pool.
The trip was finished off with a 2 day HCA TV awards event where I was privileged to get to present Arcane with the Best Animated Series Streaming prize. I’ll never forget it.
Other fun stuff that happened in August includes seeing 8 shows that were all a lot of fun with the highlight being Matilda at Payson Community Theater and Hamlet at the Parker Theatre. I’m constantly blown away by the Broadway-level quality of so many of these local productions. You can read many of my theater reviews on utba site.
The big highlight for September was attending the D23 expo in Anaheim and 4 days of Disneyland. I debated about attending the expo this year because it can be a bit of a mixed bag of an experience. All the lines can be grueling especially when you are sitting for hours with no back support hoping to get it. This time it was a better experience because I knew what I was getting into and only waited for one Hall D23 line. The highlights were the Muppets Christmas Carol panel and the Encanto Celebration panel.
I also spent 2 days in Disneyland, 1 day in California Adventure and went to the Oogie Boogie Bash twice. My friend Jen was there with her family and I got to meet her adorable niece Ellie and we had a great time together. She is such a sweet little girl. It was super hot during this trip so it was beyond nice to go to Jen’s hotel room at the Grand Californian (and go in the pool!). Because I had a longer trip I could pace myself and not feel like I had to kill myself each day. This is the way to do it in my opinion.
My only major complaint is the portion sizes on the food have gotten outrageous. I paid $10 for a tiny cup of chili at the Carnation Cafe. I paid $30 for a meager portion of Chinese food at California Adventure. The food is always over-priced at Disneyland (delicious but overpriced) but this is at a new level.
Still I had a great time at both D23 and Disneyland and I hope you are all following me on instagram to see all the photos and more details.
Even with my D23 trip I still managed to see 7 shows in September. They were all very enjoyable but the highlight has to be Bright Star at Centerpoint Legacy and Addams Family at Scera. These are both Broadway level quality productions that are still playing. I can’t recommend them more highly (I think 5 local theater companies are doing Addams Family this year. It’s a phenomenon and I wish I had time to see them all). I also enjoyed seeing A Chorus Line for the first time at the Empress Theatre in Magna (loved it there!). I wish I had time to write up my thoughts on the touring company of To Kill a Mockingbird because Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation takes many liberties from the book and I had mixed feelings on the result. Didn’t hate it but didn’t love the changes.
So there is as quick a look-back of August and September as I could come up with. What a ride! I feel so blessed to have had such incredible experiences. And the fun continues in October going to New York for NYFF and the beginning of Christmas coverage on Hallmarkies Podcast (yes before Halloween). If you enjoy what I do and feel like you can support an independent podcaster and critic check out my patreon which has tons of great benefits and helps me more than I can say. Thanks so much and hope you all have a great October!