It has gone on for forty years, so it is quite popular. We flew into Orange County airport Saturday morning, and flew out Sunday. We decided to stay at the venerable Ritz Carlton Laguna Nigel, which has been refurbished recently. I would rather not stay in the many motels that surround the Coast Highway through town - on a weekend night in summer, it feels like Where The Boys Are - hordes of hormonally-enhanced 20-somethings roaming betwixt beach and bar. A bit noisy to say the least.
We drove down the San Diego freeway, expecting to turn right onto the Coast Highway where the freeway hits the ocean, but ran into the quintessential LA experience: a traffic jam. Locals would have likely taken the tollway 73 which cuts between the coast and the inland freeway. We came back via the Coast Highway, a very sweet drive, but one to be avoided on a sunny Saturday morning in July as the hormonally-enhanced cruise to sartorial pleasures without much in the way of clothes - and surfing too!
The downtown proper is small and easy to walk around. We had dinner there, parked behind the restaurant, and walked to the outdoor amphitheater. As the show ended and people poured out into the streets, we had a pleasant walk back to the car, surrounded by dwindling mobs of happy folk.
The question of whether this is art or kitsch continued into the evening. It certainly showcases the extraordinary craft of Hollywood set and lighting design. It has also captures the popular imagination, being showcased in the once-popular TV show Arrested Development (fast forward to 17 minutes in):