Well, here we are in Tinsel Town! Just like the Muppets making their journey in The Muppet Movie, Tough Pigs has arrived in Hollywood (or HollyWeirdo, as Gonzo might predictably call it) and is ready to take in the sights. It’s been a long road all the way from New York City, through Orlando, Leland, and Reno, past the amber waves of grain and over the purple mountains majesty. And our connect-the-dots of Muppet fanaticism across the nation has finally brought us to the west coast.
So let’s get started with part 3 of our Muppet Road Trip through the Los Angeles area!
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Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
6925 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
What better place to start than a drive down Hollywood Boulevard? Why not take the same path the Muppets did in the Electric Mayhem bus? You can have breakfast at Hollywood and Vine and wave hello to the Capital Records building; see the majestic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in all its glory (just don’t try to stop Fozzie from making his own imprint); and pass by the Venice boardwalk. But wait! Before we get to Venice, let’s head back up the road and see the stars. Or at least the stars’ stars on the Walk of Fame.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame
Jim’s Star: 6631 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Big Bird’s Star: 7021 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Kermit’s Star: 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
The Hollywood Walk of Fame winds down Hollywood Boulevard, and as we’ve noted here before, the Muppets are well represented. Big Bird, Kermit, and the Muppets as a group all have a star on the Walk. Kermit has some prime real estate just down the street from Grauman’s, in front of one of the best sunglasses stands in California. Big Bird is just down the way from there, near the L.A. Fitness building. But a real hidden treasure is Jim Henson’s star, located just outside the Loteria! Grill. Not only is it great to see the star award to the Muppet Master himself posthumously, but if you get to the Walk early enough there is a jewelry store across the street that has a mural of Jim and Kermit painted on the steel gate they pull down overnight. Insider Info!
El Capitan and The Muppets’ Star
6838 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
No Walk of Fame trip should be complete without a stop at the Muppets star, conveniently located just outside the box office of the El Capitan Theatre, which has some Muppet history of its own. The Muppets used it as their version of the Muppet Theatre, filming exterior scenes there. This is also the street where the finale number was filmed. If you can stop traffic long enough you might even be able to recreate your own version of “Life’s A Happy Song.” The theatre is located between Jimmy Kimmel Live’s studio and The Disney Soda Fountain Store, if you’re so inclined to visit either one. The Disney Soda Fountain Store is usually good for a few items of Muppet merchandise, and this is where my girlfriend and I attended Disney’s Most Sensational Muppet Party! in December after seeing The Muppets, which came complete with a stage show. Two of Disney’s puppeteers, Alex Villa and Art Vega, were there to give us quick puppeteering lessons and later told me about their happy experiences working on the film. This was one of those great right place, right time things that happens in Los Angeles all the time, and I hope happens to you on your Muppet Road Trip. The El Capitan also had a fantastic exhibit of Miss Piggy costumes and other movie props during this time, including Peter Savieri’s beautiful Piggy portrait. Chances are pretty good that once the Muppets’ sequel hits theaters they’ll have something similar for children and mega-fans like us alike.
1660 South Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Stop in at Mel’s to have your very own “Me Party”! Even if you have to do it solo. Independently. Unaccompanied. Individually.
The Jim Henson Company
1416 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
While not right next door like The Muppets would have you believe, the location for Muppet Studios is close to the ol’ El Cap. And it has a lot more history than those few scenes, as I’m sure you know. Housed in the former Charlie Chaplin Studios, The Jim Henson Company now occupies the space where movies like The Great Dictator and Modern Times were filmed. The lot isn’t open to public tours, however you can see the giant statue of Kermit dressed as Charlie from the outside and peer in to imagine yourself with Alan Arkin getting ready to see the ropes and medium gauge wire.
Pink’s Hot Dogs
709 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
And make sure to get a hot dog at the famous Pink’s before you leave Hollywood. It’s a great idea; just ask Walter! But don’t bother picking up a Stars’ Homes Map. They’re never current, anyway, so save your time and fifteen dollars.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza
5220 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA
Also in Hollywood is The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, the only physical representation the Television Academy Hall of Fame boasts. Here you’ll find sculptures honoring many of the Academy’s inductees, including an odd-looking bronze wall sculpture honoring Jim Henson and featuring many Muppets.
City National Plaza
520 South Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA
In downtown L.A. you can drive by Richman Oil HQ, at City National Plaza. Why not make an impassioned speech about helping Kermit save the theatre, since he’s done so much for you? Come on, don’t be ungrateful!
Warner Bros. VIP Tours
3400 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA
To get that small town feel of … well, Smalltown, visit Warner Brothers Studios’ VIP Tour in Burbank. A fairly personalized tour, these are done in small groups of about 12 and bookings should be made in advance. But boy are they special! You get a personalized experience on your back lot tour, complete with an almost-guaranteed stop in the town square used in The Muppets.
905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
Also nearby in California, you can visit Kermit’s mansion. The legendary Greystone Mansion is situated in nearby Beverly Hills and while the house itself doesn’t do tours, it has a city park open to the public. A famous site which many movies have featured, Kermit may not be the most famous to have fictionally inhabited it, but he was certainly the most green. Except maybe the Green Goblin in the ‘00s Spider-Man film series.
Paley Center For Media
465 North Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
And the west coast location of The Paley Center for Media is a great destination to see some Muppet rarities. Unless you already saw all the rarities on your list at the Paley Center in New York. (We can only assume everyone reading this is actually visiting all these sites, right??)
1313 North Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, CA
If theme parks are a perk for your trip, Disneyland in Anaheim is about an hour away from Los Angeles – even faster if you’re with friends and take the carpool lane. While they don’t have a store as big and Muppet-adorned as Walt Disney World in Florida, Disneyland has the same attraction, Muppet*Vision 3D. It’s a blast of an experience (Blast? Somebody keep Crazy Harry under control!) and there is a large kiosk parked right outside with plenty of Muppet merchandise, including Kermit-shaped mouse ears and the coffee mug Joe and I both bought on our separate Disney trips.
SeaWorld Bay of Play
500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, CA
Did you get enough SeaWorld fun on your trip so far? The SeaWorld in San Diego has yet another “Bay of Play” with Sesame Street walk-around characters, stage-style shows in the park, and plenty of kid-friendly rides. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a place called “Bay of Play”.
It’s hard to pinpoint on Google Maps, here’s the best I could do.
If you’re up for a longer drive, about 8 hours away from Los Angeles is Cantus Cove, named after Jim’s Fraggle Rock character by Jerry Juhl and his wife, Susan. Cantus Cove is part of the California coast line, located on the Pacific coast near Caspar Point in Caspar, CA. It was donated by the Juhls, as this public area was once part of their private property, and when they found out it was unnamed decided to dedicate it in memory of their Fraggle days. I hear the area is beautiful, just like Cantus’ music.
And finally, if after all that driving, on your way back to Los Angeles stop in Sun Valley and trade in your old car (FOR 12 WHOLE DOLLARS!) and get yourself in one of Mad Man Mooney’s (or one of his sons) fine automobiles. Formally known as Jr’s Auto Sales, this used car lot is the one you want for a great car, even ones with detachable fenders for narrow garages. And for an even better special offer, just ask for Jack!
Oh, wait. Jack not name. Jack job.
Happy trails, Muppet fans!
Click here to read my lips: “Holl-lee-wood” on the ToughPigs forum!
by Matt Wilkie