Theme Parks

Heartlake City Opens at LEGOLAND!

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Disclosure: My family was invited to attend LEGOLAND California to preview the new Heartlake City LEGOLAND opening. 
Heartlake City Legoland

Heartlake City opened last week at LEGOLAND California and LEGO Friends fans will be delighted with this sweet new addition to the theme park!

My girls and I had the opportunity to preview the new Heartlake City, located on the west side of the Park in between Fairy Tale Brook and DUPLO Village.

When we entered the Heartlake City gate we were greeted by Olivia, Emma, Stephanie, Andrea and Mia singing LIVE on the Friends Forever Stage, which rotates to provide different backdrops for the 5 – 6 different live shows per day.

friendsforever

And, to my girls’ delight, Emma and Stephanie were available to sign autographs and take photos after the show.

Tip: The line starts behind the carousel – high tail it over to get in line when the show ends!

If you have another adult with you, have someone take the kids on the carousel while one person holds the spot in line.

After the show was over, the LEGO friends TV show plays on the big screen over the stage where little ones can take a break and watch to rest tired legs.

legofriends

Heartlake City includes these attractions: 

Heartlake Stables

A large building “trough” for children to play and build with LEGOS and then they can make their horses “gallop” by placing them on an interactive pulsating table.

Mia’s Riding Camp  

LEGOLAND’s first carousel which has 60 life-size horses and can accommodate 1000 people per hour. The horses are so cute I wanted a ride on one!

heartlakestables

Heartlake Fountain

Splash pad in the shape of a heart in the “heart” of Heartlake City.

Heartake City Boutique

Darling boutique where you can purchase LEGO Friends gifts and toys.

Wok ‘N’ Bowl Ramen 

Yummy restaurant serving ramen noodles and story fried fresh meats and veggies along with an assortment of kids meals.

City Park Creperie 

Stand by Heartlake Fountain serving four different flavors of delicious crepes.

Outside of the City Park Creperie we had the opportunity to pose LEGO Master Builder, Robbie, and one of his creations – Olivia.

He told us a model like Olivia is made out of about 30,000 LEGO bricks and takes the  builders about a month to build.

master builder robbie
Heartlake City is included in LEGOLAND California park admission.
For more information visit www.california.legoland.com/LEGOFriends.

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LEGOLAND’s new addition to Star Wars ™ Miniland

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Star Wars Legoland

We were VERY fortunate to be able to attend the unveiling of the latest addition to the LEGO® Star Wars™ Miniland at LEGOLAND this past week.  Having two boys…ages 2 1/2 and 5 1/2, Star Wars™ is a BIG DEAL around here.

They are mesmerized by the movies and pretty much all things Luke, Vader and Yoda. We even donned the costumes this year for Halloween.  Who wouldn’t pass up a chance to be Princess Leia?! I think that having a husband (like so many of us!) that grew up in the original Star Wars™ era, dads really feel connected to their kids with the shared love of these films.

We’ve been to LEGOLAND several times before with our oldest but this was the first trip that the little one could actually enjoy it.  I just love everything about the park.

Legoland California

It has nice, wide open walkway spaces, tons of areas for little ones to explore and play and a really wide variety of rides.

There are also fantastic and HEALTHY food options, which at theme parks is sometimes hard to find.  We highly suggest the Pizza & Pasta Buffet for your trip.  They serve amazing salads, pasta and pizza (buffet-style, aka FAST) in a sit-down restaurant.  It’s super easy and quick if you are juggling strollers and multiple tired and hungry kids.

We usually spend the first half of the day exploring the rides and attractions, then a fair amount of time in Miniland in the center of the park.

Legoland Star Wars Miniland

It’a s great area to rest a little (that’s when you put the littles in a stroller) with a lot of benches for seating and to just marvel at the amazing LEGO® models of cities all over the United States.

The Star Wars™  area is quite impressive, depicting tons of characters and also mini models of full scenes from the movies.

We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the latest MASSIVE addition on March 4th…The Death Star.

 

Photo credit: LEGOLAND

It is HUGE…8-feet wide, 13-feet high, weighing more than 1,900 pounds and made out of more than 500,000 bricks.  It is incredible to see the features of the film scenes made out of the bricks.  Especially the famous trench run scene where Luke Skywalker maneuvers his X-Wing fighter through the combat zone to destroy the Death Star.  If you have boys, you KNOW what I’m talking about!

And the best part, is that adjacent to the model, guests are invited to construct their OWN starship at building stations with special LEGO® bricks.  My boys LOVED this part and I love how Legoland is so interactive and encourages creativity in our children.

Star Wars Legoland MIniland

I loved this picture with Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers.  Mind you, my oldest wouldn’t even LOOK at a costumed character one year ago so his silly nervous grin just makes me laugh!  And the little one was SO brave until the Stormtrooper talked to him.  This is the best group shot you can get with kids these ages, I guess!

Legoland Stormtroopers

So if you have the chance to hit up LEGOLAND soon…do NOT miss this new attraction.  It’s sure to be fun for kids…and Dads too.  🙂

www.california.legoland.com/miniland_usa/STAR-WARS-Miniland

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Disney California Adventure Tips for Little Ones

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Okay, mamas – get ready for my Disney-theme follow-up – this one is all about my tips for visiting Disney California Adventure, a fabulous park that has LOTS of toddler-friendly, fun rides and activities. In case you missed my last post, here are my top 10 tips for visiting Disneyland with toddlers.

Here they are in no particular order…I hope these tips and tricks for visiting Disney California Adventure (or DCA) in Disney lingo!

Don’t Miss These Rides!

1.  “A bug’s land” is a great area for toddlers.  The rides are similar to “Fantasyland” at Disneyland – the Francis’ Ladybug Boogie is like the teacups, the Flik’s Flyers are like Dumbo, and so forth.  My munchkins love this area, and can easily spend awhile here.

Bonus?  There is a small splash pad to let the kids cool off on hot days, so make sure to pack a swimsuit, towels, sunscreen, etc. if you plan on getting wet

Note to mamas – the bug’s It’s Tough to be a Bug “live show” can be scary for little ones – it’s a cute show, but is “underground” and the majority of it is in the dark with…well…bugs.

2.  Cars LandA super fun “land” that tends to be one of the busiest places in the park to visit since its grand opening.  A word of advice – if you know that the Cars “Radiator Springs Racers” ride is really important to you and your kids, go straight to the FastPass line, like first thing when you enter the park (walk straight in, pass the Carthay Circle Restaurant on your left, and it is tucked in on the left). The ride is pretty awesome, but is typically a 90-minute+ wait.  FastPass is the only way to go, but they run out quickly.

I also have to give a shout-out to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.  Super cute ride, cute music and cute things to look at in line.

Note to mamas– most of the line is covered – important in warm weather!

If you can, try to be walking along the Cars Land “main drag” at dusk…they light up the streets and play music like they do in the movie (you know what I’m talking about if you’ve seen the movie 83 times, like I have).  Super cool and super cute.

3.  Take a ride with the Little MermaidI have never waited more than 10 minutes for this ride (usually five minutes!).  It is air conditioned, adorable, and my kiddos want to go on it multiple times.  Works for me!

Note to mamas – if your kids are uncomfortable in the dark, this ride is not for you.  I wouldn’t consider it scary at all, but you are “under the sea,” and there are pockets of darkness in between the singing and character displays.

4.  Love Toy Story?  My kids do.  The 4-D “Toy Story Mania!” is a must, but always has really long lines…with no FastPass option.  So if you know you want to do this, head over after you pick up your Cars Land “Radiator Springs Racers” FastPass and try to avoid the crowds.

Need a Break?

5.  Disney Junior – Live on Stage.  THE show to be at, according to my kids.  Yes, mamas.  There is an actual “live” show that  features Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First – interactive, air conditioned, and lots of room to squeeze in people (you sit on the floor…lots of room and I’ve never actually been turned away from a show…there always seems to be enough places to sit).  This show is so cute…and such a fun way to get off your feet, cool off, and enjoy seeing your kids go nuts over their favorite Disney Junior characters!

6.  The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.  This is a cute play area next to the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and is a GREAT place to let your kids run around and burn off some excited energy.  There is an obstacle course for the kids, caves to walk through, slides for little ones, a “zip line” for older kiddos, and even a chance to earn a “Wilderness Explorer badge,” by searching for clues (on a guided map).

Note to mamas – no strollers allowed, they must be parked outside of this area.

7.  The Grand Californian Hotel and Spa has cute little rocking chairs with fun, black and white Disney cartoons on televisions in their lobby, if you and your kids need a break to cool off.  You can enter from the DCA park, but remember – make sure to get your hand stamped for re-entry!  Also, the entrance to DCA from the hotel is reserved for hotel guests, so beware that you may have to re-enter the park from the main entrance if you plan to return.

Rumbly in our Tumblies

8.  We took our daughter to Ariel’s Grotto for a “princess lunch” on her birthday (they also do breakfast).  Oh.my.word.  This was SUCH a cool experience for both of my kids.  The food is fabulous (several courses from a fixed menu), the atmosphere is beautiful and Ariel and her princess friends are announced to the room, enter, and actually walk to each table to chat with you and take as many pictures as you want.

My little girl was in heaven.  When we were there, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White were part of this experience (in addition to Ariel greeting each family as we walked down the staircase and into the dining room).  Make sure to call ahead for reservations (I would make them as far in advance as you can) – (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463.  It’s a little pricey, but it is WORTH it!

9.  Disney California Adventure has lots of yummy places to eat, so you really can’t go wrong.  My personal favorite is the Pacific Wharf Cafe on the “Wharf” – they have great salads, fresh bread bowl soups, fruit, nice, plump sandwiches…yum! (Note to mamas – seating is outside on the wharf).

Keep an Eye Out for Characters

10.   On “Hollywood Lane,” we typically find the Disney Junior characters right outside of the Disney Junior – Live on Stage area.  Toy Story characters are usually on the Paradise Pier in the little gazebo across from the carousel.  We’ve seen Buzz Lightyear, Jesse the Cowgirl and Woody – super cute and rarely long lines.

Who else loves Disney California Adventure as much as my family does?  What tips and tricks do you have?  Please comment below and share your ideas!

 

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Hyatt Regency Mission Bay San Diego

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[Photo credit: Hyatt]

Recently I was contacted by a PR representative for the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay San Diego to tell me about their brand new, one-of-a-kind SeaWorld Suites. Does that sound fun for kids or what?!

As luck would have it, my family was planning a trip to San Diego at the same time to celebrate my father-in-law’s 80th birthday, so the resort was kind enough to put us up at their lovely property while we were in town so I could check it out first hand.

Located near SeaWorld in San Diego’s beautiful Mission Bay, the property consists of one main tower with views of the marina, Mission Bay or gardens, and then an adjacent three story suite building facing the marina, which has Waterfront Suites.

It is also the only resort hotel in San Diego with multiple waterslides! 

First let me tell you about the SeaWorld Suites. We were not able to stay in one (boo hoo), there are only four total so far in the hotel, but I was able to get a tour of one that had been vacated on the morning we left. A-MAZING!!

These two-bedroom LARGE suites feature a twin over full sized bunk bed decked out in sealife decor.  This room also had a large conference table and chairs for coloring, dining, snacks, etc.

Two of the four suites feature kitchenettes, and the other two have a second bathroom. I got a tour of the kitchenette room. Gotta love a kitchenette for all the necessary snacks when traveling with small kids!

Located on the second floor, they are close to the pool and the suites each feature two separate balconies off each room.

I love the fact you can put the kids to bed in their fun bunk bed room, then enjoy a little quiet time with your husband in your king-sized sleeping room with private balcony.The room was off-the-charts awesome.

Plus, because Hyatt Mission Bay is a preferred partner with SeaWorld, if you buy your SeaWorld tickets through the concierge desk, you will receive 10% off the ticket price, plus, get this ->  your one day ticket will be good for 7 DAYS So during your stay you can go to SeaWorld for a few hours each day. I LOVE THIS. I understand this is an ongoing offer, but make sure to check prior to traveling to ensure this deal is still valid!

The concierge also offers 10% off tickets to the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park and LEGOLAND. However, these are just one day tickets.

Now a little about our tower room.  We got a marina view room on the 12th floor with two Queen beds and the view was beautiful! The girls also got a kick out of hearing the barking sea lions below.

The second morning I walked out onto the balcony and saw an OWL sitting two balconies down! So cool! And he hung out there for quite awhile just basking in the morning sun. At least we were pretty sure it was an owl.  If there are any bird watchers reading this who want to correct me if wrong, please do! Here he is just hanging out…

Our room was very comfortable.  Adequate size, comfy beds, and my husband and I were able to put the girls down to bed at night and sit out on the balcony and enjoy the view for awhile. We also found the room to be very quiet.

As we also came to find out, one of the benefits of a marina side room facing SeaWorld in summer time was the fact that we were able to watch the SeaWorld fireworks show from our balcony each night!

The girls went CRAZY! Click here for the fireworks schedule. Snuggling up with blankets and watching the fireworks on our balcony in jammies was one of my favorite memories from this summer.

Now let me tell you about the pools! With big corkscrew waterslides for older kids (and adults – I even went on them – FAST and fun!) along with a mini waterslide for littler ones, the family friendly pool was a kid’s paradise.

Here is a view from my parent’s room, who were also able to join us for this trip. They had a room in the tower facing Mission Bay and the pools. So beautiful!

My husband and Emma had a lot of waterslide races. I can’t remember who won this one!

The second day my dad rented us a poolside cabana so we could have a comfortable place to lounge with the family with some shade.

In addition to time by the pools, it was also fun to be able to take walks along the marina, which also offers a plethora of water sports, every kind you can imagine. Each morning we walked down to Einstein Bros. Bagels on the marina for a bagel and coffee and at night after dinner we made our own s’mores by the outdoor firepits.

I can’t say enough about this property. My family had the best time! We will definitely be back. This is the perfect spot for a summer SoCalCation, as they have lots of fun summer activities for kids at the pool, including Camp Hyatt, and water taxi service to SeaWorld. I understand many of the family attractions and activities are also available around Spring Break.  Check with the property ahead of time to see what might be offered during your desired dates.

We loved the Hyatt Mission Bay! Thank you for the wonderful memories!

www.missionbay.hyatt.com ~ Hyatt Mission Bay on Facebook ~ Hyatt Mission Bay on Twitter

[Disclosure: My family received a special media rate and one complimentary night stay to facilitate this review. Thank you Hyatt Mission Bay!]

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Camp Spooky at Knott’s Berry Farm

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On Saturday my family and I had the opportunity to attend “Snoopy’s Costume Party” in Camp Spooky at Knott’s Berry Farm.

I hadn’t been to Knott’s Berry Farm since probably my sophomore year in high school, which was, um, quite some time ago so I was excited to visit again and take my girls for the first time.

During the weekends in October, Camp Snoopy, the area in Knott’s dedicated to rides for little ones, is transformed into Camp Spooky, a knott so scary way to celebrate Halloween!

Geared towards little ones ages 3 – 11, your little ghosts and goblins (or in my case matching cheerleaders) can dress up in their costumes and enjoy Halloween festivities like trick-or-treating, a “Haunted Harvest” corn maze, Linus’ Foam-tastic Pumpkin Patch, a costume parade, Monster Mash Dance Party and more.

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