Moonlight Theater

Shrek Just before show G
This week we take you to the Moonlight Theater in Vista, California.

I was reading a question on the Moonlight Theaters web page and it asked, “ Is it a good place to bring a date?”   I had to laugh because I thought, “Heck yeah it is a great place to take a date!!!” Unlike the movies, you are sitting outside and in most cases on a warm summer night. You will be under the stars and get to see the oranges and reds of the sunset as it sets just beyond the stage. You can bring your favorite food or your dates favorite food and set it up with a table and wine, then enjoy a romantic meal before the stage production begins. However, don’t forget you’ll have plenty of neighbors close by so don’t get too romantic.

Shrek Picnic G
The Moonlight Theater is an outdoor venue that is known for having some of the most professional Broadway caliber shows.

The venue offers reserved seating with actual stationary chairs but a lot of people prefer sitting on the grass that is adjacent to the seating area or on the hillside just beyond. The hillside seating offers a state-of-the-art sound system so you hear the whole musical clearly. The grass area on each side of the reserved seating is the closest to the stage and that real estate can get snatched up by those early in line.   I hear it is now artificial turf because of the water shortage but still gives you that picnic feel. It opens an hour-and-a-half early so get there to claim your space!

Sgrek-The mixing Booth G

If you don’t want to bring your own food, the on-site Artisan Café sells a variety of wines and beers and has sit down seating available two hours before the show, however I would suggest reserving your seats. There are also walk up concession stands available at the venue.

Shrek-Cage G

Low chairs are provided when you walk in the door and yes you have to give them back, but they are included in the ticket price. No, you can’t bring in your own chairs. If you grunt and groan getting out of a low beach chair, you may want to opt for their reserved seating chairs that are normal height.

Beside romantic dates, it is a great gathering place for friends and family to kick back enjoy a meal, socialize, and finally enjoy a top notch musical production. You can bring everything you need except alcohol. As mentioned, that is available at the Artisan Café.

Adding to a great evening and keeping the first date expenses low, they provide free parking that is available adjacent to the Amphitheater within Brengle Terrace Park. Plus they operate a free shuttle in the main grass parking lot before and after the show.

I have been there many times and have never seen a bad production or had a bad seat.

The production of Shrek runs through August 29th. Staycationer JoJo was lucky enough to catch it during the week and has a a few photos of the venue for us below. The show was inspired by the DreamWorks animated film, “Shrek”, which featured the green-skinned ogre that we have all come to love. This show has all sorts of characters, spectacular stage and lighting effects, levitations, a huge fire breathing dragon operated by 4 stage hands and of course the music and the actors.

Shrek The stage day G

The actors are all either professional regional actors or Broadway artists. Each production also is accompanied by a live orchestra.

So if you are on a first date or married 50 years, the Moonlight Theater gets you out enjoying the wonderful summer nights of California under the stars above. Oh, and a Broadway caliber production doesn’t hurt either.


See a teaser of the production of Shrek the Musical at this link:


The Golden Hour in California.

The Golden Hour
Sometimes you don’t need to write a long blog when a picture can say a thousand words.    One of the golden hours in photography is right before sunset where the sun is low in the sky, producing a soft, diffused light. California at this time can be beautiful and captivating. In my opinion, sunsets in California can rival any around the world.

Harbor boats Facebook

30 miles or so north of San Diego, we strolled around the beach and harbor of Oceanside to give you that California feel. Here are a few things we found along the way:

Oceanside Harbor

Harbor Facebook
The quaint village features shops, restaurants, boat rentals, etc.


Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise Facebook
Bird of Paradise are not reserved just for tropical areas.  They do quite well in California.

Oceanside Garage View

Tunnel Facebook
Along the narrow street called “The Strand” in Oceanside, homes are built right up to the ocean. Often you are pulling out of your garage with a view like this. It is no wonder anyone in that area goes to work at all.

Hanging out

Toes Facebook
Nothing like viewing the cool Pacific Ocean from a lifeguard tower. Even though you are not supposed to sit on them when they are closed, people do anyway. This person was having the time of their life, with their feet constantly moving. I was lucky to get the shot.

Rock Stacking

Rock Facebook
Rock stacking is becoming popular but only a few can really master it. To stack really high, you have to have the feel.  Even though this was only 3 high, where it was placed was difficult with the waves crashing below.

The Seals of the Harbor

Seals Facebook
A recently erected dock has now become home to the many seals in Oceanside Harbor.

Looking East

Sometimes the sunset isn’t the star of the show. Five minutes after the last ray of sunshine dips below the horizon, the eastern sky can be illuminated
with beautiful pastels.

Sky Facebook


Proud to live in the U.S. and California

Flags Facebook
At the base of the pier, the three flags proudly wave.

PanIQ Room

Paniq The sign
PanIQ Room

One of the members of our Staycations crew is a Groupon hunter. In her search for new things to do she saw that the Paniq Room was opening on July 27th in San Diego.

The Paniq Room is a live escape game that pits players against clues and puzzles to help them break out of a series of rooms before an hour is up. In San Diego there are three different themed rooms: a graveyard, a Voodoo shop, and the one we played which was a drug cartel room. In our case we had to get out of the room within an hour as the DEA were on their way to bust us.

The Foggy Graveyard

Paniq Graveyard Paniq Graveyard 1

One of the rooms in the VooDoo scenario

Paniq The VooDoo room
Paniq Voodoo room 2

With a big IQ in the name of PanIQ room, I assumed that your logic, puzzle solving, general observance, and math skills might be of service. So five of us that in my humble opinion are pretty smart set out to attempt the drug cartel room. We had a few Masters degrees in our bunch so I felt pretty confident of our chances.

Room One
Ready to tackle the game we were led to the first room with some basic instructions and were then handed a walkie talkie in case we needed help. As the door was slowly shutting, the facilitator’s last words were, “Find the clues to lead you to the next clue.”   Then came a small clinking sound and the door was shut. All master degrees and smarts aside, we looked like five lost and clueless children.

As we looked around the room we noticed we were in a chemical room or, in the case of our scenario, a drug making room. We desperately started looking for clues and soon found some obvious puzzles. We set out to solve the first one which ultimately was the combination to another challenge.   This is a hard story to tell because I don’t want to give anything away for those who want to try it themselves. So everything will be a little vague.

The very first room, the chemical room.

Paniq Chemical Room

Our first mistake was locking up the supplied IPad which would have helped us move on to the next hint. So they had to come in and verbally give us the combination. This helped us to enter the next room.

Room Two
The next room was the marijuana growing room with plants lined up on shelves all around. Not to worry, they weren’t real cannabis plants for you DEA agents that might be reading this. As we were working on one problem, we totally overlooked another clue nearby. In retrospect, we should have had some players looking for other tips and hints while some were working on the existing challenge. It was the first time we discovered that you had to go back to the first room to find more information. The bright yellow walkie talkie squawked out a friendly reminder of the neglected clue as time was ticking down. We set about working on that challenge and were stumped at first until we discovered that the item had a smudged number that looked like the number one but was really an eight. So, we never could get the right combination to the lock. Again, we were helped out by our hand held safety line.

Room Three

We soon entered the last room which was the office and money laundering room. There were obvious clues in that room but solving them was a different matter.   One puzzle stood out like a sore thumb but it had a lock on it so all of us thought that we had to find the key first. As it turned out the lock had nothing to do with it and we eventually solved that puzzle to get to our next hint. Thanks in part to the booming voice declaring, “Solve the puzzle first,” which was transmitting from the now all familiar two-way radio. Hey, we were 50-something’s and it was hot in there. We run at least 200,000 degrees hotter than everyone else. Our melting brains were not working as well as the 20 year olds that left the room just before us. At least that is my story and I am sticking to it.

The final clues, we did figure out and eventually found the combination to let us out of the room. Five minutes earlier we heard another group exiting a nearby room and they were all ecstatically yelling with pure delight and accomplishment. When we all exited, you could hear a pin drop. It was cool in the hallway and that is all we cared about.

Looking back we all agreed that once we knew what it was all about and what to expect, we would do way better at the next one. That doesn’t mean the clues would be any easier, but finding them would. As an example bring a light source, some areas were dark and most of the wasted time we spent was trying combinations on locks that we could barely see. Mostly due to our waning eyesight, so bring strong reading glasses if you need them.

Also, have some people working on finding other clues instead of everyone working on the same thing. We also thought that all of our clues would be in the room we were working in, but in truth you had to go back and forth.   There were also a few things they could have done to improve and they were open to hear our input. After all, it was their first week and there were some kinks to work out… like air conditioning!!  Also, fix that eight that looks like a one! However, I think once they get going, this will be a well received and great attraction for San Diego.

All and all it was a fun time. We were a little slow and dense on some problems while others we were able to solve on our own.   As mentioned, the second time around would yield a better result. Again, a story I am sticking to. We did make it out of all the rooms and the final exit although they did give us a little wiggle room on the clock. Or, maybe the DEA agents stopped at a local doughnut shop which gave us that extra time.

If you love this type of thing and your brain feels up to the challenge, I recommend the PanIQ Room in San Diego which is located close to Horton Plaza.

I would do it again and try the other rooms. Nothing like being in a foggy, scary, graveyard to help you solve the clues as quickly as you can.


For more information on the history, this is direct from their website, please read below:

The original live escape games were launched in Budapest in early 2011. With more than a 100 locations now, escape games have become the number one tourist action of the Hungarian capital. The game itself attracts thousands of players on a daily basis as it provides an unforgettable and very unique experience for everyone.

Being one of the best reviewed escape games in the industry and now that more and more players come and experience the game, PanIQ Room is becoming the gold standard for live escape games worldwide.

Live Escape Game Room escape is a game emerged from the well-known 90’s point-and-click adventure PC games, where searching, puzzle solving and excitement remain, but what makes it the ultimate experience is that you are physically participating in the story.

The goal is to find and use objects that help players through a range of logic and skill tasks, thereby progressively guiding them to the final puzzle, which ultimately gives them the key to escape. You are locked in a thematic environment for an hour, where your primal survival and problem solving instincts are fully utilized. You need to work in teams and use all your senses: keep your eyes on every detail in the environment searching for hints that will allow you to accomplish the mission and escape from the room!

Story and photos:Debbie Colwell


Parting shots: The neighborhood around the PanIQ Room near Horton Plaza and the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego.

Paniq Building Victorian

Paniq street 2

Paniq Street