Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hollywood Wish Story (and pictures)!

I am not even sure where to start, but I want to document our amazing time in Hollywood with Ally's Special Wish.

We rolled into Hollywood, and courtesy of Clark Griswold (Jerad), we had exact directions to drive up through a winding neighborhood to get the closest view of the Hollywood sign. I did call him Clark for pretty much the whole trip. Always up before seven....pushing us all to get ready and get out the door...maps in hand. Ahhhh. You gotta love him for taking control. He drove us all around in our minivan--A Toyota Sienna, which we called our swagger wagon from those hilarious commercials. We would crack up. I do believe it was the only minivan I saw in the entire state of CA. They just don't drive them there. I have no idea why.

Ally's exact wish was to see a taping of the Wizards of Waverly Place. This is a pretty popular show on the Disney channel...and its star, Selena Gomez, is the latest and greatest "it" girl in Hollywood right now. The crazy thing is that we submitted this wish about a year ago, and ever since then her stock has grown exponentially. She now has three top 40 songs, a couple of movies , and the show. She is on every teenage magazine and the preteen stores (Justice) are carrying shirts with her name on them.

As I mentioned before, I knew we were going to the taping (and was told we would be able to see about a half hour of it) but I left everything else a surprise. (for all of us) So we knew to go to Hollywood Center Studios at 1pm and the guard would let us in. The studios were basically a compilation of all these very plain, warehouse looking buildings. Not glamorous at all. Other shows taped there were Sonny with a Chance, Suite Life on Deck, Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader, Brain name a few. We went to Wizards particular studio, and in their warehouse they have built all kinds of sets. The ones you see on the show like the Dragons Lair, the substation, their house, the outdoor NY street, but the sets are all much smaller than you would think and the lighting must make them look great because they were also nothing very special. I thought we might be sitting in a studio audience and watching some filming. But....the studio audience is there on Friday and we were there on Thursday. Part of the surprise was that we were getting our own private day there which was an unbelievable treat for all us. Two production assistants met us at the door and stayed with us all day (Jill and Betty). They were super nice and accomodating and seemed very excited to be making a little girl's wish come true. I don't think they had done anything quite like this. I believe everyone on the set was privy to who we were, and there were tons of people working there, although we never really talked about Ally's disease or a whole lot of medical stuff. The PA's told me that the cast was very excited to MEET us. Again, this was something we were not expecting, so surprise again!

The cast was filming a very beautiful scene on a set that they don't normally was an angel club. They had built the set just for this episode and it was all white. White floors, white lights, white curtains, white accessories and everyone in the scene wore white. They were even drinking a white liquid. For the first hour, we sat next to the set, where we could hear it, but watched what they were doing on televisions. Then, they took us to their cafeteria for a catered lunch. Everyday all the workers get their lunch brought in. This is so they can eat and get right back to work. They work at least 12 hours a day on taping days. After lunch, they let us explore every single set. We walked around, sat on the furniture, played with the magic props, tried on some wizard robes, and pretended to run the substation. They even let the kids try to find Alex's locker (Selena), which they did and were excited about it. They let us sit in the Wizards directors chairs and we talked to the producer, the director, the lighting woman, etc. We got to see the inner workings of everything even down to looking at the fake steak that they cook on the fake grill with the fake mustard bottles right beside it. It was very cool.

After lunch, came the prime event. The producer came and got us and took us back to Selena's dressing room. She was hanging out in there with Jennifer Stone (Harper on the show) and a few of her friends. Again, tiny little dressing room, but she had made it homey with her own touches. Selena seemed very nice. She is 18 years old! Right away she hugged Ally and Evan and thanked us a few times for coming. Both her and Jennifer signed autographed pictures for the kids. Selena picked Carly up and just started carrying her around on her hip. Carly didn't blink an eye. It was like a totally normal thing to her. I thought it was amazingly cute. She talked to us for a few minutes, and yes, she is just as pretty as you would think she is....big pretty lips I kept noticing! We got pictures and then Ally gave both her and Jennifer an Ally's Army t-shirt. Selena went on an on about how much she loved it and would be wearing it at Halloween because it was orange.

After this, we got to go to the craft services room (any snack you want, icee machine, popcorn machine etc) and then David Henrie (Justin on the show) came back out to see us. He seemed like a really funny guy, nice. He was sort of the class clown of the set. We also gave him a shirt and got autographs, pictures, etc. He was super nice to Evan and Carly too.

After all of this, we got even more of a treat. They let the four of us (not Carly) go down to the actual Angel Club set and sit right behind the huge cameras as the scenes were being taped. Ally LOVED this. It was so interesting to see exactly how many times they have to tape the same few sentences...over and over and over. We watched for a couple of hours. A very cool part that we got to see was when Justin casts a spell on Harper that makes her be able to fly. For this scene, they actually brought in a stunt double that looked just like Harper. They hooked her all up to pulleys, etc and in the scene they raised her up and then yanked her back and forth through the air as if she were flying. She also crashed at the end...and it was just interesting to hear how they do it, etc. The stars would, at times, look over at Ally and give her a little wave, which was nice. And the cameraman by us was super nice and explaining stuff etc.

We found out Selena is 18. Still lives with her parents. (her stepdad had come to the set when we were there). Her real Dad not in the picture since she was little. She drives herself to work. She can now work longer hours, since she turned 18, and her parents no longer have to stay with her. Her BFFs are Taylor Swift, Leighton Meester, and Justin Beiber (whom she likes to go bowling with but would NEVER date because he is only 16). She finished her HS education already with a tutor on the set. And she is from Texas. She played with her iphone a lot, slipped on her UGG boots in between scenes, drank a smoothie from the coffee truck, and did a lot of rehearsing her songs when she appeared bored.

Jerad's lifelong friend, Marc, happens to live about five minutes from the studio. He was super kind to take the afternoon off his work and come along with us. He sat with Carly while the rest of us went down to watch the taping. And Carly made a new friend in him....they had a great time too and were watching us all on the TV screens from the other side. This is the same guy that came to the Walk last year, all the way from LA....and raised $1000 for LLS. Just a great guy.

And Ally....well Ally is not a dramatic, fainting, screaming, kind of girl. It is just not her. She is laid back to the hilt (which Marc quickly pointed out is exactly how Jerad Barnett's child would be, because he is just the same) But the whole entire time she had this glimmer in her eye and smile on her face and she was just soaking it all in. It was HER idea (not ours) and it came true and I could tell she was relishing in it. She didn't want to leave, and they said we could stay all night, but after five hours we headed out. We were profusely thanking everyone for making her wish come true. And Carly asked if Selena could babysit her....

We went back to our studio apartment, at the Renassiance Hotel...a couple of rooms with floor to ceiling windows wrapping around the building. We had a great view of the all the city lights. We all slept well knowing that the wish actually happened. I can't stress enough how many times I thought it might never happen. Even the day before the wish, she started crying at lunch, and I thought for sure she was sick. (she wasn't) I can send myself into a panic very quickly. Thank you God for letting this happen for her without incident.

Sorry this is so long. I have so much I want to remember. Ally is doing well. We had a full full day at the hospital yesterday. Another round of chemo welcomed us home. And an antibiotic infusion. And an immunity infusion. All things to keep her well, but all taking a huge amount of time. She had an allergic reaction last time, so they had to be cautious and slow. She missed school and we closed down the clinic! She is now on the lovely steroids for the next five days. I better go make her midnight snack.

For now, I will close with the link to my pictures. I tried to cut out a lot, but there are still so many pictures. I know a lot of you would like to see them, so I finally have it ready to go.

Click the link to view our Amazing Wish pictures:

Thank you to The Wizards of Waverly Place for a day we will never forget. Thank you Special Wish for making it all come true. We are grateful.


  1. Wow, Janel, I am so glad you had that opportunity with Ally. How special, and what an incredible memory with her!!! I will share my link with my girls tomorrow- Ally is famous!!!! :)

  2. Perfect video for a perfect trip. Love the sleeping pic at the end. :)

  3. Amazing video and story. YOu made memories for a lifetime! So thankful all went well and that everyone stayed healthy. what a blessing. THanks for sharing...

  4. Pretty close to heaven, what an amazing trip. Glad it went well and it sure did look like everyone had a wonderful time. Congrats---thanks for sharing this with all of us.

  5. THANK YOU for sharing all of it. I really so appreciate it. So so glad you had a fantastic time. Hopefully great memories like these will help the crappy ones fade quicker...