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Universal Studios Hollywood
Airship Ventures Hollywood Studios Zeppelin Air Tour Over Los Angeles
Airship Ventures has ceased operations due to lack of corporate sponsorship.
After my first Airship Ventures Zeppelin Tour of Long Beach, I couldn't wait to get back up in the air for the longer flight to Hollywood, preferably a sunset flight, as I was picturing in my head the perfect photo of the late afternoon sun lighting up the Hollywood Sign, with the Zeppelin shadow crossing it.
I was blessed to have the chance to take that Sunset Hollywood Tour a couple months later, even if the sun didn't cooperate with my photo plan. There's just nothing like the experience (the closest is probably a hot air balloon) of floating over the city in a quiet gondola with a 360 degree panoramic view. You can walk around to take advantage of the view in every direction.
Even though the clouds interfered with the perfect Hollywood Sign photo I envisioned, they made a spectacular backdrop to reflect the pink sunset. Here are... some of my favorite photos from the flight. Read more about booking a flight on a Zeppelin Tour of LA
This view of the Hollywood studios in Burbank, which is the highlight of Airship Ventures Hollywood Studios Zeppelin Tour, gives a great perspective on where things are in relation to each other. I've annotated it for easy reference. Cahuenga Blvd runs along the 101 Freeway on the right of the picture, through what is known as the Cahuenga Pass. Universal Studios Hollywood is front and center.Continue to 2 of 40 below.
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Aerial View of Downtown LA
The view looking northwest at Downtown Los Angeles from the Zeppelin Eureka. The Staples Center and LA Live are at the left edge of the photo. The Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles is the left-most tower. The white dot above that on the hillside is the Griffith Observatory. You can just barely make out the Hollywood Sign on the hill at the very left of the photo.Continue to 3 of 40 below.
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LA Convention Center
The Los Angeles Convention Center has 720,000 square feet of exhibit hall space and 147,000 square feet of meeting rooms with parking for 5,600 cars. It first opened in 1971 with expansions in 1993 and 1997.Continue to 4 of 40 below.
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Staples Center and L.A.Live
Entertainment and hospitality options were expanded substantially around the Staples Center and LA Convention Center with the addition of LA Live, which includes the Nokia Theatre, the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live and the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles as well as the Grammy Museum and a variety of restaurants. The tallest building at LA Live is the Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live, which includes 224 luxury condos on the top floors of the 54 story tower. The hotel itself is only 123 rooms on the 22nd to 24th floors. The Ritz-Carlton shares the shorter extension abutting the tower with the JW Marriott Los Angeles.Continue to 5 of 40 below.
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Downtown LA from the Air
Downtown Los Angeles seen from the air.Continue to 6 of 40 below.
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Zeppelin Tail over Downtown LA
The Downtown Los Angeles core is really rather small compared to the vast geographic footprint of the City of Los Angeles. This view is looking southeast. About an inch up on the left side of the photo, the flat rectangular building is part of the Los Angeles Music Center. If you follow that street diagonally, you can just make out the silver waves of the Disney Concert Hall. At the far right of the photo, the thin tower is the Ritz Carlton Los Angeles at LA Live. The athletic fields on the right are at Belmont High School.Continue to 7 of 40 below.
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Echo Park Lake
Aerial view over Echo Park Lake in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park.Continue to 8 of 40 below.
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Dodger Stadium from the Air
Aerial view of Dodger Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.Continue to 9 of 40 below.
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Getty Center Aerial View
An aerial view of the Getty Center in Brentwood.Continue to 10 of 40 below.
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Hollywood Sign & View
Los Angeles is the only major US city bisected by a mountain range. In this photo, looking northeast, most of what you see over the top of Mt. Lee (where the sign is) and Mt. Hollywood is the City of Burbank in the San Fernando Valley, but west of Burbank, most of the San Fernando Valley is part of the City of Los Angeles.Continue to 12 of 40 below.
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Flying Over the Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign is probably LA's most famous landmark. It sits on top of Mt. Lee in Griffith Park, which is a little confusing, since the next mountain to the east is Mt. Hollywood. Beyond Mt. Lee in this photo, you can see Burbank, the Verdugo Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains.Continue to 13 of 40 below.
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Universal Studios Hollywood from the Air
Aerial view over Universal Studios Hollywood looking into the Valley and the Verdugo PassContinue to 14 of 40 below.
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Universal Studios Hollywood
Aerial view from Universal Studios Hollywood to Downtown Los Angeles.Continue to 15 of 40 below.
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Universal Studios Hollywood from the Air
This aerial view encompasses just part of Universal Studios Hollywood from the War of the Worlds plane crash site, next to the Whoville set from Grinch at the bottom of the frame over the theme park and Universal CityWalk, where you can see the white dome of the Hard Rock Cafe, to the Lower Lot and sound stage in the top 3rd of the frame. The Back Lot cityscapes and building sets are out of frame to the right.Continue to 16 of 40 below.
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The Back Lot at Universal
The Back Lot (or Backlot) at Universal Studios Hollywood is where they create artificial cities and buildings that provide the backdrop for TV shows and movies. A fire in June 2008 destroyed part of the Back Lot, including most of New York Street, part of Courthouse Square (used in Back to the Future, among other things) and the King Kong attraction. In this photo, taken in January 2009, the reconstruction is ongoing, but then again, construction and reconstruction of movie sets is always ongoing.Continue to 17 of 40 below.
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Jay Leno Show Studio 11
Jay Leno handed the Tonight Show over briefly to Conan O'Brien in 2009 and created the short-lived Jay Leno Show, which taped in Studio 11 at NBC Universal. The outdoor race track seen here was used for his frequent race car challenges with guests.Continue to 19 of 40 below.
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Aerial view of Disney Studios
Disney Studios in Burbank has a rather small footprint compared to its neighbors, Warner Bros Studios and Universal Studios. The Animation Building (bottom right) with it's Mickey Mouse sorcerer's hat can be seen from the 134 Freeway.Continue to 20 of 40 below.
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This photo gives a nice overview looking southwest over Hollywood, but because there was no contrast in the lighting on this cloudy day, you don't get a real sense of how hilly the Hollywood Hills are. You can see how beautifully isolated the Hollywood Bowl is in its basin off Highland Ave, while being within reasonable walking distance (0.8 mile/1.2 km uphill) from the heart of Hollywood at Hollywood Blvd and Highland for people who like to walk. Hollywood Blvd is the street lined with taller buildings.
The red roof down Highland Avenue from the Hollywood Bowl is the Belmont Village assisted living facility, followed by the Hollywood Heights Hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Hollywood and the tall white building is the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.Continue to 21 of 40 below.
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Hollywood & Highland Looking Southwest
The densely packed intersection at Hollywood Blvd and Highland Avenue is considered the heart of Hollywood. This photo looks southwest over the Hollywood & Highland shopping and entertainment complex, which includes the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel at the bottom of the frame, with the helicopter pad on top. The Babylon Gate and the white elephants overlooking the Babylon Courtyard were based on the ancient Babylon set from D.W. Griffith's 1916 epic "Intolerance."
The Kodak Theatre is conveniently marked, set at the back of the mall, away from the Kodak Theatre entry facade on Hollywood Blvd.
You can see the green peak of Grauman's Chinese Theatre peaking up through the complex at the edge of Hollywood Blvd. The boat-shaped roof next to that is Madame Tussauds Hollywood. On the south side of Hollywood Blvd, beginning at the left of the frame is El Capitan Theatre with the orange sign, followed by the Disney Entertainment Center, where Jimmy Kimmel, Live! is taped. The... black tower is the former TV Guide Building, now dominated by the Trailer Park entertainment marketing company, whose sign replaced TV Guide on top. To the right of that with the billboard on the sign is the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.Continue to 22 of 40 below.
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Hollywood & Highland
Take a look at my Hollywood & Highland Guide to get an idea of all the things to do near Hollywood & Highland.Continue to 23 of 40 below.
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TV Taping in Hollywood
As we flew over Hollywood Boulevard on the Airship Ventures Zeppelin Tour of Hollywood, I zoomed in with my 35-350 mm lens and caught a team putting together a transparent band stage hanging over the edge of Hollywood & Highland over the Kodak Theatre entrance. I don't know what they were taping, but there's an X visible on the top of the transparent piano. The drum set on the stage is also clear. American Idol and other musical performances frequently tape at the Kodak Theatre.Continue to 24 of 40 below.
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Above Hollywood Boulevard
This aerial photo looks east down Hollywood Blvd. The left side of the frame is the north side of the street, beginning with Madame Tussauds Hollywood with the red signs at the bottom, Grauman's Chinese Theatre with the green peak sticking up, the Hollywood & Highland complex, including the Kodak Theatre off frame to the left (you can see the yellow entrance way for the Kodak next to Grauman's but the actual theater is deeper into the complex) and the First National Bank Building at the top center across Highland Ave.
There are are always a lot of people on the sidewalk in front of Hollywood & Highland and Grauman's Chinese Theatre exploring the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Forecourt of the Stars, but on the day we flew over, they were preparing to tape a musical performance on top of Hollywood & Highland and had cranes with lights and cameras blocking off part of the Boulevard.Continue to 25 of 40 below.
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Above Hollywood Boulevard
An aerial view looking down Hollywood Boulevard.Continue to 26 of 40 below.
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Beverly Hills Civic Center
The Beverly Hills Civic Center's Spanish Colonial buildings designed by architect Charles Moore were added in 1990 to the Mediterranean Revival architecture of William J. Gage's 1932 Beverly Hills City Hall. The Beverly Hills Police Department showcased in Eddy Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop movies is part of the complex.
Beverly Hills Civic Center
455 North Rexford Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4817
United StatesContinue to 27 of 40 below.
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Pacific Design Center
West Hollywood is the epicenter of interior design in Los Angeles, due in no small part to the Pacific Design Center's 1,200,000 square feet of design showcase galleries.
The blue building, Center Blue, known affectionately as the Blue Whale, was first to be constructed in 1975. Center Green was finished in 1988; and the final phase, Center Red is under construction in this photo (far right), taken in January 2010. It is projected to be completed in 2011. The lighter green building is the parking structure, accessible from Melrose Avenue.
In addition to design galleries serving the architectural and interior design industry, the Pacific Design Center is home to a branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as two Wolfgang Puck Restaurants.Continue to 28 of 40 below.
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Wilshire Blvd through Westwood
If you drive down Wilshire Boulevard from downtown Los Angeles to the coast in Santa Monica, you might get the impression that Los Angeles is filled with high rise buildings instead of the sprawling neighborhoods of single family homes and small apartment buildings that cover most of the LA Basin. This view of Wilshire Blvd through Westwood, near UCLA, reminds me of trees growing along a river.Continue to 29 of 40 below.
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UCLA Campus from Above
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is one of the most prestigious state universities in the country. Its prime location in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles next to Beverly Hills doesn't hurt.Continue to 30 of 40 below.
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An Open Window Over LA
Looking through a zeppelin window over Los Angeles.Continue to 31 of 40 below.
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Aerial of Beverly Hills Hotel
Built in 1912, the original Beverly Hills Hotel building was designed by architect Elmer Grey. There was nothing else in the neighborhood when the hotel was built. The City of Beverly Hills grew up around it. The property has had many owners over the years and is now owned by the Sultan of Brunei and managed by the Dorchester Group. Wikipedia has an interesting lists of Famous Guests who have stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel.Continue to 32 of 40 below.
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The Spelling Manor
Aaron and Candy Spelling razed the former Bing Crosby Mansion in Holmby Hills to build their palatial Manor. Designed by architects James Langenheim & Associates, the mansion was originally named L'Oiseau (the bird) for its winged shape from above, but became known simply as The Manor. It's nearest neighbors are the Los Angeles Country Club golf course and the Playboy Mansion.
Aaron Spelling passed away in 2006 and Candy Spelling put the Spelling Manor on the market in early 2009 for $150 Million. It was still listed at that price in January 2010. There's no official room count in the real estate listing, but Wikipedia lists it at 123 rooms.
There is, of course, a screening room, a bowling alley, gym, billiards room, game room, a beauty salon, wine cellar and tasting room, 5 kitchens, 5 bars, a dog-grooming room and a gift-wrapping room (I wonder if they have official dog groomers, beauticians and gift wrappers on staff as well) to name just a few. There is also reported... to be an entire level of closets below the attic. In addition to 4 two-car garages, the driveway can hold 100 cars.Continue to 33 of 40 below.
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Playboy Mansion from the Air
The Playboy Mansion in the exclusive Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles is the home of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. The Gothic-Tudor mansion was built in 1927 by architect Arthur R. Kelly and acquired by Heffner in 1971. The main house is reported to have 29 rooms, with a separate "game house". That makes it seem almost tiny compared to the 123 rooms of its nearest neighbor, The Spelling Manor.
In addition to all the well-known escapades that appear in the pages of Playboy and on various reality shows, the Mansion hosts events that are open to the public if you can afford the price of a ticket. Keep an eye on my Halloween and New Year's listings for public events at the Playboy Mansion or check out the Playboy Mansion Facebook Page.Continue to 34 of 40 below.
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Sunset View of Malibu
This 13 miles of scalloped Malibu coast line begins just north of Pacific Palisades.Continue to 35 of 40 below.
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Sunset view over Santa Monica
Sunset view over Santa Monica from a zeppelin tour.Continue to 36 of 40 below.
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Shooting the View
Passenger shooting the view of LA lights at sunset from a zeppelin tour.Continue to 37 of 40 below.
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Aerial Sunset over LA
Los Angeles Aerial View at SunsetContinue to 38 of 40 below.
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Picture Perfect Sunset
The bench seat at the back of the Zeppelin Eureka with the sun setting is a popular spot for romantic gestures. Many marriage proposals have occurred here. If you let the crew know your intentions, they can help orchestrate your big moment for maximum romance.Continue to 39 of 40 below.
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Night Aerial of Downtown LA
Night Aerial View of Downtown Los AngelesContinue to 40 of 40 below.
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Zeppelin Night View of LA
Aerial view of Los Angeles from a zeppelin.