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HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

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West Hollywood...
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HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

After 7 years of hearing some of the most vocal contributors on this Forum advise visitors to 'skip the Celebrity Homes Tour' because "all you see are hedges and gates" of "the houses of dead actors", I felt compelled to check out one of these tours to see if they were right. I chose Starline's Celebrity Homes Tour because they invented the tour and they are a popular tour company. The remarks to follow will cover two aspects of the tour:

a. The process of purchasing tickets, making my way to the bus and a general review of the mechanics of the tour (comfort of the bus, etc).

b. An analysis of the homes (and other attractions) that were visited. I brought a checklist with me and -- for each property -- made a note of whether the owner was: alive, was over or under 40 years of age and whether the house could be viewed from the bus.

Please see below:

Thousand Oaks...
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1. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

Hey.... Where were you???

West Hollywood...
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2. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

I arrived 10:30 today at the Starline box office in the courtyard of the Chinese Theater to meet my Trip Advisor buddy (who never showed up! Thanks, "you know who you are"). I had with me a $6-off discount coupon from visitcalifornia.com but I had noted that the starlinetours.com website was offering a special on the tour (regular price: $47; special price today: $42). I had no idea whether the box office price would be $47 or $42 and I wasn't sure whether Starline would accept the coupon I had on top of the discount price of $42.

There was an extremely short line (queue) at the box office but as I was waiting, a uniformed Starline employee approached and asked if I needed assistance. I told her that I was interested in the Celebrity Homes tour and was meeting a friend who hadn't arrived yet. She told me that the price was $47 but she could sell me the tickets for $39 each; I told her that I would rather not buy both of the tickets since I wasn't sure whether my friend would be coming. I decided to purchase one ticket and she escorted me to the ticket window and told the clerk to sell me the ticket for $39.

I honestly don't know whether they would have offered my the $42 price that I was on their website (had I just talked to the clerk at the window) and further, I wasn't sure whether they'd take off an additional $6 for the coupon I had (even though the coupon said that it couldn't be accepted along with other promotions) but I was happy with the $39 (my original hope was to get the tour for $36, i.e. $42 "special price" less the $6 coupon. I've heard people say that they've negotiated with the clerks and gotten lower prices but I didn't try to do that. (There were 2 buses for the 11:00 tour and they were both full).

After purchasing the ticket, I was told to go to a candy store in the mall and meet the tour there. I arrived at the store at 10:51 and saw a large group of customers being lead out of the rear door of the store by a Starline employee. (I hoped that wasn't my tour). By 11:00, I was starting to wonder since there were no Starline employees in sight and only a handful of others with tickets in their hands.

At 11:04, a rather tired, unenthusiastic uniformed employee appeared and mumbled that someone would be by soon to start the tour. A minute later, another unenthusiastic employee appeared (no smile, no energy) and asked for tickets. It was now 11:05. We were taken to the driveway on the west side of the Hollywood & Highland Center Mall (a 45-second walk) where we saw other ticket holders already there, and one partially filled bus. I got onto that one and was asked again by the same employee for my ticket. I told him that I had given it to him and he said: "Oh, did I see you in the candy store?" to which I said: 'Yes". (I'm not sure why he took our tickets in the store when it would have been clearer if he had waited until we were all at the bus).

In any event, our bus took off at 11:15 and our driver/guide whose name I've already forgotten (sorry) was a woman (an apparent rarity for Starline as I've perused previous reviews of Starline and have seen no references to any tour guides with female names). I guess I should start by saying that I'm not a huge 'celeb fan' so I wasn't expecting to be wowed by the tour but the tour guide did a decent job (not great, not terrible).

There were some mechanical aspects worth noting: Only the left earpiece on the ear buds worked and from time to time the guides voice became fuzzy or absent. This only happened a occasionally. I found her bantering to be a little dull (she praised the fire fighters that passed us and shouted to a pedestrian -- which meant shouting in all of our ears) about the behavior of another driver (of a luxury vehicle).

The tour lasted about 2 hours and included a drive through Hollywood, the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, past celebrity homes in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, a ride into downtown Beverly Hills including Rodeo Drive and finally a ride up to Mulholland to view the Hollywood sign. The tour took 2 hours and there was some traffic during parts of the tour.

See below for info about the content of the tour.

West Hollywood...
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3. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

Hi, Drill

I msged you last night and didn't hear back, msged you again this morning and was at the Starline box office at 10:30 as we agreed. I didn't see you there!

Thousand Oaks...
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4. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

I was there! We were to meet at the Star Wars square in the Theater courtyard. Oh we'll, we'll plan something else

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5. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

This is why you exchange cell phone numbers. Sorry you missed the tour Dr. Z. but I'm looking forward to the rest of hsj's experience.

West Hollywood...
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6. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

I tallied the houses that we went to and made note of the following info about each:

1. Whether the owner of the house was dead or alive

2. Whether they were old or young (I used 40 years of age as the 'cut off').

3. Whether the house was visible from the street.

It's important to point out that the tour consists of sites other than celebrity homes. They drive by homes that were seen in movies, public buildings that are named after celebs and other public buildings (like famous shops on Rodeo Drive).

Okay, let's look at the facts and figures:

There were 66 celebrity homes and 33 (50%) were visible from the bus. The others were either completely obscured or were partially visible.

There were 11 structures that were either:

a. homes that were 'seen in movies'

b. public buildings (like the MIchael Jackson Auditorium at a Hollywood school he attended).

These 11 structures were all visible from the bus.

Of the 66 houses, 30% (20) were famous because of owners that were now deceased; however, about half of those were still owned by family members. So 46 of the homes were NOT owned by dead actors.

And, then, of course, the shops along Wilshire Bl (Saks. Neiman Marcus, etc) and along Rodeo Drive were all visible.

So, of the total number of homes (celeb and 'famous for being in a movie'), 33 or the 77 homes were not visible from the bus (43%) and 44 (57%) were. And, of course, all of the public buildings/shops (dozens and dozens of these) were visible.

Now, let's look at the age of the celebs being featured. 30 of the homes were occupied by actors who are over 40 (or deceased) so 45% fell into that category; meanwhile 55% were owned by actors under 40 years of age.

As I mentioned above, I'm not a huge celeb fan so I was worried that I would find this tour boring. I didn't. Was it THE BEST thing I ever did? No but it certainly wasn't the worst and if I were interested in celebs, it would be an okay way to spend a couple of hours. At the least, the bus drove through some magnificent neighborhoods (both residential and otherwise) and I got to work on my tan (bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen).

Hope this is helpful!

West Hollywood...
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7. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

Sorry, Drill. I forgot about the 'star wars' spot although I did look at it briefly between 10:35 and 10:50 while I was milling around the courtyard waiting for the tour to start. We should have exchanged phone numbers. I did send you a msg that I was wearing a Yankees baseball cap but I guess you didn't check your TA messages this morning.

Edited: 24 May 2013, 23:03
West Hollywood...
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8. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

Drill, so I guess you didn't take the tour?

San Francisco...
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9. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

So who were these celebrities ? Is it like the folks who come on shows such as Dancing with the Stars ? and we wonder who these Stars are or are these real stars ? Michael Jackson, check ? who else ?

What % of the stars whose homes were shown have been, were or are currently in prison or out on bail ? How many were accused of committing a capital crime ?

Now as far as visitors go, how many were from the US ? which other countries ?

And what candy did you purchase ?

^&%(*(( YANKEES ? I know you were undercover but *&()_*) ?

Edited: 24 May 2013, 23:08
West Hollywood...
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10. Re: HopSkipJump Goes Undercover on Starline Celebrity Homes Tour

Well, you'll have to take the tour to get all of the details but I'll tell you this:

1. I bought no candy (although the candy store there is IMMENSE)

2. Our bus was filled with people from TN, Argentina and Brazil.

3. I hesitate to mention the name of specific celebrities because I know that someone is going to post that 'such and such' person doesn't live in Beverly Hills and that the whole tour is a scam. But I will say that I knew most of the names. Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake were both featured -- one of their houses was visible, the other one not.