For answers to more of your burning questions, visit the Ask Chris archive.
Q: Is it true that McDonald’s shoots all its TV ads at a defunct burger place in L.A.?
A: Ronald, Grimace, and the Hamburglar once shut down busy restaurants for filming, but since 1978, most TV ads have been shot at what the company calls the McDonald’s Production Center in the City of Industry. The 5,000-square-foot facility has a soundstage, a dining room, and two kitchens: a facsimile of a real one and another filled with clothing steamers, dry ice, and bins of sesame seeds used by food stylists. Fun fact: microwaved tampons are placed behind cups to create the illusion of steaming coffee. This year is the 50th anniversary of the McDonaldland characters. (McDonald’s was founded in San Bernardino in 1948.) Maybe they’ll let exiled Mayor McCheese and the gang out of the wardrobe closet.
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Q: Who owns the amusement park at the end of the Santa Monica Pier, and how long has it been there?
A: When the first roller coaster and swing ride were placed on the pier in 1916, Pancho Villa was still fighting the Mexican Revolution. Rides came and went through storms, fires, and redevelopment schemes until 1996, when 37-year-old TV executive Richard Olshansky reinvented the amusement zone as Pacific Park, which sees 8 million annual visitors and sports a solar-powered Ferris wheel and electric bumper cars. His kids grew up, and he sold it to his CEO in 2012. She flipped the lease to a real estate trust spun off from AMC theaters with an eclectic portfolio that includes water parks, a Margaritaville hotel, and two Titanic museums. Don’t lean over the railing while wearing expensive jewels.
Q: What’s the biggest cemetery in Los Angeles?
A: The largest on the whole continent is Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, sprawling across 1,400 acres east of downtown. It used to be nearly twice as big, but 1,100 acres reserved for future burials were sold off and developed as an industrial park in the ’90s. Tommy Lasorda, Eazy-E, and a couple of Little Rascals are among the roughly 700,000 residents of the rolling hills studded with rose gardens. The skyline of the 107-year-old park includes the largest Buddhist pagoda in the country, artificial caves, and an enormous pink neon sign rising above it all.