Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Canberra Travel Guide: Parliament House

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

No trip to Canberra is complete without a visit to the most important building in town, Parliament House.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Parliament House is the meeting place of the Parliament of Australia. The building was opened on 9 May 1988 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, so as you can see, it’s quite modern in its design.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

I would say that the grass ramps up the sides of Parliament House are its most distinctive and popular feature. As a kid I remember running up them and rolling back down again. Now sadly there is a fence that prevents you from reaching the top of the roof from the outside – it’s now required to go through the security check at the entrance, which makes complete sense!

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The grass ramps actually recreate the shape of Capital Hill before Parliament House was constructed. Much of the building lies beneath Capital Hill, and current shape of the hill is very similar to its original form. Parliament House sits just four metres higher than the original hill.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Of the 4,700 rooms in Parliament House, many are are open to the public. It’s incredibly easy to just turn up at any time and visit Parliament House – no booking or tours are required. There is a short queue to get through a brief security check, and then you’re on your own to discover the house.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The security check leads you to the foyer with it’s gorgeous marble staircase. This room leads into the the Great Hall, which has a large tapestry on display. (If you’re wondering what happened with the scooter, we left it with the super helpful and friendly security guards).

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

While in the foyer, take a close look at the tiles on the floor. Some of them have tiny fossils hidden in them, captured while the blocks for the floor were being created. Can’t find them? As the helpful security guards who pointed them out to us.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Available for visiting are the House of Representatives chamber, which is decorated green, and the Senate chamber, which has a red colour scheme.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Take some time to see the fantastic art work on display in the rooms, including portraits of former Prime Ministers and important figures and documentary photography of the British Royal Family’s visits to Australia.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

If you get hungry on your visit there is a light and bright cafe inside for casual dining.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Before leaving, take the elevator to the roof for an incredible view of Canberra. You can see the Australian War Memorial Memorial in the distance – from there you can also get an incredible view back the other direction of Parliament House.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Tips for visiting Parliament House with kids
Parliament House is extremely accessible. Strollers are fine to bring inside and there are elevators between floors.

Make it fun by running up and down the roof before going inside.

Look for the fossils in the floor in the main foyer.

Explain the rudiments of what Parliament House is for. We explained to our five-year-old that this is where “rules are made” for the country. She found that fascinating and it lead to questions like “what rules?”.

For older kids, the visit can be much more focussed on how Parliament works and how laws really do get made.

Don’t be afraid to bring kids of all ages inside. This is not some hushed library where kids have to be silent. They are very welcome to enjoy wandering around the building.

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Parliament House
Parliament Drive, Canberra
Hours: Parliament House is open every day except Christmas Day.
Non-sitting days 9am-5pm, sitting days Monday-Thursday 9am-6pm
Prices: Free
aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Canberra with Kids: Questacon National Science and Technology Centre

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Questacon has been THE place to take kids to learn about science since I was a kid myself, so it’s been an important institution for quite a while (let’s not go into details on how long that’s been!). My childhood memories are a bit foggy but the feelings remain – visiting Questacon as a child was a place of wonder and excitement – and this hasn’t changed, even though the place itself has changed significantly since I visited many moons ago.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Located on the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre – is filled with more than 200 interactive exhibits relating to science and technology. Their aim is to promote greater understanding and awareness of science and technology within the community in a way that is fun, interactive, and relevant.

Questacon is suited to children of all ages, however each of the eight galleries, the foyer and outdoor Science Garden areas are best for certain age groups.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Foyer
The fun begins before you even enter the galleries! Robo Q makes an excellent first impression. Visitors can control how this humanoid sings, speaks and makes gestures by using a nearby touch screen.
Best for: 6+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia


Above And Beyond

This is a new and temporary exhibit focussing on space. Presented by Boeing in collaboration with NASA, Above and Beyond celebrates the power of innovation featuring immersive simulations, augmented reality, interactive design challenges, (make your own space ship!) iconic pieces of history and exciting concepts for the future.
Best for: All ages (I personally thought it was best for older kids as there weren’t as many interactive elements as in other galleries).

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Awesome Earth
Lots of hands-on ways for kids to experience the power of Earth! The Earthquake room was a major hit here, where we felt a simulated Earthquake and its effects on buildings.
Best for: 8+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia
Excite@Q

The most popular gallery when we visited, I would advise keeping a close eye on kids in this dark and busy room. The famous six metre slide still gives kids thrills in this gallery, but we were happy to play air hockey against a robot, test our reflexes against each other and chase scarves as they flew through pipes and into the air.
Best for: All ages

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

H2O—Soak Up the Science
Learn all about how water shapes our world. Hands-on features let visitors boil water, launch a hydrogen rocket, pump water towards the ceiling and reveal how much water is used to manufacture food and clothing.
Best for: 8+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia
Mini Q—fun for 0-6 year olds
Mini Q is like a children’s museum / play space, with its various areas designed to engage little scientists, especially babies, toddlers, pre schoolers and school aged children up to 6 years. Each zone in Mini Q encourages kids to explore their environment through hands-on activities. They are free to watch, try, see the results of their actions, then try again.  This process of observation, prediction, testing and refining teaches them the basic way scientists, both little and big, learn about the world around them. Mini Q is also a great spot to nurture the imagination, with zones set up to represent real-life places such as a construction site, veterinary hospital, grocery shop and car shop.
Best for: 0-6

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Q Lab
Kids can look at the world through a microscope and slow-motion footage, try their hand at science experiments or watch demonstrations with Questacon’s science communicators and visiting scientists. The giant periodic table containing actual samples of 94 of the 118 known elements that are the building blocks of the universe is a popular feature of this gallery.
Best for: 7+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia
The Shed
Little makers, this one is for you. The Shed is dedicated to experimentation with ideas, tools, science, technologies, and art, with the highlight being a tinkering studio where visitors can design and make to their hearts’ content.
Best for: Ages 10+

Science Garden
Outside Questacon, the Science Garden features exhibits inspired by the sun, wind, water and rock.
Best for: 6+

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

What else is there to do at Questacon?
It’s easy to fill a whole day just in the galleries, but Questacon also runs daily science-based shows that are included in the general admission price. There are lots of shows on each day, so it’s hard to choose which one to see. We saw a show that was all about collisions, with an extremely engaging scientist leading the action. As there is no age guide for the shows, I would ask staff as to their suitability for your kids.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Eating at Questacon
We bought lunch at the onsite cafe, which serves basic sandwiches, burgers ($11.50-$12.50) and pasta dishes ($12.50/14.50), plus hot dogs, cakes and fruit cup. Kids can choose fish strips, chicken strips or pasta for $6.50, or a sandwich / grazing platter from the sandwich stand. You are able to bring your own food and eat it at the tables inside.

Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia Questacon, Canberra, Australia

Questacon
King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT
Hours: Daily 9am – 5pm including holidays. Closed 25 December.
Prices: Adult $23.00, Concession $17.50, Child (4 – 16 years) $17.50, Child (Under 4 years) Free, Family (2 Adults + 3 Children) $70.00 ($8.00 for each additional child)
Questacon online

We received tickets to Questacon for reviewing purposes. All opinions my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Canberra Travel Guide: The National Gallery of Australia

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra is often host to the most incredible art exhibitions, and is often the primary reason for us to base an entire visit to Canberra around.

On this trip, the exhibition was Versailles: Treasures from the Palace, which brought to life the incredible history of one of the world’s most famous (and fancy!) palaces. Featuring paintings, tapestries, sculptures, furniture and objects, this exhibition brought to Australia life in Versailles during the 17th – 18th centuries.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

While the exhibition has since finished, the gallery has a series of rotating exhibitions so whenever you visit there is something incredible and new to see, in addition to the permanent galleries.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA is the national art museum of Australia and is home to than 166,000 works of art, including over 7500 works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

In the Australian art section, the Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan have long been a favourite of mine to visit, as well as the works by Australian Impressionists such as Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton on display.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Upstairs, a stroll through the European and American art collections reveals Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works including a lovely Waterlillies by Claude Monet and one of Degas’ exquisite sculptures of a dancer.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA also displays modern and contemporary artworks in the gallery, and on this visit the whole family was entranced by a video work by Pipilotti Rist, called Worry will vanish revelation. On display until August 20, 2017, this large-scale work takes up an entire room and is completely mesmerising.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Entrance to the NGA is free. Fees apply for special exhibitions only. I absolutely love free galleries when we travel as a family as it means there is no pressure on us to see everything to get our money’s worth – instead we can see one thing or a few, leave when the youngest member has had enough, and even return again to see something else the following day. We did this on our recent Canberra trip when, over the four days we were there, three of them included a visit to the NGA.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Visiting Art Galleries With Children
I’ve been visiting art galleries around the world since I was a child myself, so when Cheese came along, she was bundled up from a few weeks of age and taken along with me to continue my artist explorations. As such she is now, at age 5, an excellent art gallery companion. When we visit galleries we do so to observe the art together, even if it’s at a much faster pace than I would go if I was doing so alone!

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

I love to observe what stands out to her when we look around galleries. It’s rarely works that are famous that will draw my attention because I recognize them from being featured in other media. She will stop before works that I might completely miss and walk past, which was the case at the NGA.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

We stopped for quite a while in the Indigenous section while she took in the works and asked questions about what was going on in them, and she could have stayed in the video installation room all day, asking me with every changing scene what was happening.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

The NGA is extremely family friendly, from its accessibility to friendly staff and activities designed especially for children. We’ve often been at galleries where staff have kept a close eye on us and hovered closely to ensure we didn’t get to close to the art works. It was a relief at the NGA to be able to wander through the galleries without feeling like we were constantly being watched.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

NGA PLAY
When we visited the NGA they had a fantastic area set up called NGA Play that was designed especially to engage children in art, craft and play activities relating to the Versailles exhibition. It was a lot of fun for all of us to get involved with making objects together as a family.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

After this exhibit is removed, there will be a new interactive feature built in its place to engage visitors of all ages.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

Sculpture Garden
Outside, in the grounds surrounding the NGA, are 26 sculptures on display by both Australian and International artists. It’s an extremely pleasurable experience to walk through the bush discovering these incredible works of art, and also a very easy way to introduce kids to art if you’re a bit nervous of taking them inside a gallery with their sticky hands.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

On the south side of the gallery you’ll find a major new Skyspace by American artist James Turrell. The Skyspace is a viewing chamber that uses light to affect the way we perceive the sky. It’s a wonderful work that is really engaging as well as fun as one needs to move into, through and out of it, and each step taken reveals a different element of the work.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

NGA Cafe
Overlooking the Sculpture Garden the newly refurbished NGA café offers morning and afternoon tea and lunch options, children’s meals, plus a selection of wines by the glass, great coffee and sweet treats. It cost us $40 for a flat white coffee, two sandwiches, Vegemite toast, a fruit salad and an apple juice.

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT National Gallery Australia, Canberra, ACT

National Gallery Australia
Parkes Pl E, Parkes
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm (closed Christmas Day)
Prices: Free
nga.gov.au
Parking: Free underneath the gallery on weekends.

Thank you to the NGA for media tickets to see Versailles: Treasures from the Palace. All opinions my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Review: Novotel Canberra

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

We often stay at Novotel hotels when we travel because they are always to the high standard we expect from hotels in this brand’s family. The Novotel Canberra is no exception.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

With its excellent location right in the centre of Canberra, the hotel is a fantastic place to stay when visiting Australia’s capital city. A short walk away you will find restaurants, shops, a pharmacy, convenience stores, taxis and buses. It’s an excellent place to base yourself for a Canberra visit.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

The Novotel Canberra is a 4 ½ star hotel with 286 rooms. It’s located 0.2km from the city centre, entertainment and retail precincts and 8km from the airport. 24 hour room service is available, with healthy meal options, plus the hotel offers a complimentary in-room yoga channel with yoga mats available, a newly renovated indoor swimming pool as well as gymnasium, spa and sauna.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Reception is manned 24 hours a day, which is great for late and early check ins/outs. There is a small play area in reception for kids to play while adults are handling the paperwork.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Our room was light and spacious, with two queen beds, tea and coffee making facilities, a bar fridge and a great Angry Birds welcome gift for kids.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

Wifi is offered for free to members (it’s free to sign up).

We always drive to Canberra and were pleased to see that we could park underground at the Novotel Canberra at a cost of $20/night. A bit pricey for parking, but the hotel locations is such that you would otherwise struggle to find anywhere near the hotel to park.

Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia Novotel Canberra, ACT Australia

As always, we highly enjoyed our stay at the Novotel Canberra.

Novotel Canberra
65 Northbourne Ave, Canberra
Book your stay at the Novotel Canberra

I received a media rate for our stay. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are used on this page. This means if you use a link to purchase or book something, I will receive a small commission at zero extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Adventure, Baby!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Why You Should Visit Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan

As I was heading off to Japan this week a friend commented to me that they’d never thought of visiting Universal Studios outside of Hollywood, as this is the original studio and why wouldn’t you visit any but the original?

It was an interesting question, and I have the answer! It turns out that each Universal Studios has unique elements that are special to that location only, so visiting each park you are able to experience attractions or meet characters that you are only able to in that specific location. If you’re wondering why you should visit Universal Studio Japan, even if you’ve been to both Universal parks in Hollywood and Orlando, here is your answer.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Minion Park
The world’s largest Minion-themed attraction opened in March 2017. Take a spin on the incredible Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem ride, try Minion-themed snacks, watch the crazy Minions street show and meet the characters afterwards. It’s all Minions, all the time! More info on the amazing Minions Park here.

Universal Studios Japan

Cool Japan
The attractions in the Cool Japan section of the park are all based on iconic anime, video game, music, and manga titles produced in Japan. They change seasonally so there is always something new to see. The attractions are based on games and movies such as Resident Evil, Godzilla and, when I visited, Dragon Quest.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Black Lake in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
While you can visit Hogwarts and Hogsmeade elsewhere, Universal Studios Japan is the only place where you can see Hogwarts overlooking the majestic Black Lake. Honestly, the view from here is incredible and watching the evening show with fireworks reflected on the lake is just amazing. More info on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter here.

Sesame Street
This is the place to go to meet all your favourite Sesame Street characters and take a spin on some similarly themed rides. The Count, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby are all ready to meet guests with hugs. Universal Studios Japan is also home to Moppy, the adorable pink Japanese Sesame Street character.

Hello Kitty
It’s no surprise to find Hello Kitty here! She is everywhere in the park, from a life-size character you can meet and take photos with, to shops, merchandise and a design studio.

Snoopy and Friends
All the Peanuts characters are here, plus a Snoopy-themed cafe and ride for littlies. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy were all around for photo ops when we visited.

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. It has fantastic Minions theming in the lobby and a few of the rooms.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33. Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au

Planning a trip to Japan? Get fantastic ideas for your Japan itinerary from Sher She Goes.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

The Hotel Universal Port is the perfect place to stay for a visit to Universal Studios. Located a short stroll from the entrance to the park, it’s an easy place to stay for quick access and a fast homecoming – perfect for when you’ve had a long day at the park and just want to get back to your room and rest.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Theming is something Universal Studios does particularly well, and the Hotel Universal Port is no exception. The outside has fantastic Jurassic Park theming, while the inside has a T-Rex-themed cafe plus the new Minions all over the main foyer.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Minions statues, plushes and images are displayed all over the lobby, as well as playing the movies on a TV screen near a small soft play area for small children.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

If you are particularly mad about Minions you can stay in a Minions-themed room as well.

The regular rooms, which is where I stayed, are standard hotel rooms. Mine had two twin beds, but there are larger rooms available that suit families in size. Each room has a standard bathroom, free Wifi, a TV, fridge and tea making facilities.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

I found the room to be comfortable and contain everything I needed for a short stay. I also enjoyed the excellent view of the park out of the window! It put me right into the mood for visiting the park.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Breakfast was included in the package and was a highlight each morning. The breakfast buffet served up around 90 dishes, all of which were traditionally Japanese as the hotel caters mostly to local tourists. A map available at the entrance explains the layout in both Japanese and English so it’s easy to understand where everything is, and each dish is labelled both with a name and ingredients in both languages too. A word of warning – the labels are not 100% accurate so approach items like dumplings with caution if you have dietary restrictions.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

The hotel has a casual cafe in the lobby area that serves traditional Japanese food such as udon noodles and so forth, which is great to grab dinner from after a long day at the park. They also serve amazing looking cakes if you’ve got a sweet tooth like me.

Hotel Universal Port
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, 大阪市此花区Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 1 Chome−1−111
http://www.hoteluniversalport.jp/en

I stayed at the hotel as a guest of Universal Studios Japan. All opinions are my own. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The magical world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan is a must-visit for fans of the books and movies. Inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the village of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts have been faithfully recreated for fans to immerse themselves inside the story.

From the entrance to the world, it’s clear that this is a distinctly seperate part of the park from the other attractions. Harry Potter theme music plays as you walk up the path, lined by trees and featuring the famous Flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It flashes its lights and honks as it lies crashed into a tree – a sign that you’re about to embark on a magical adventure through the world of Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Inside the entrance to Hogsmeade lies the Hogwarts Express steam train. You can take a photo next to the train and with its conductor, or if you walk around the corner you can have your photo taken inside a replica of one of the train’s carriages.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Nearby, Butterbeer, in various varieties, is available for sale, as are plenty of other Harry Potter-themed food, clothing, and, of course, wands. Hogsmeade village is lined with shops each selling various items.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Visit Honeydukes sweetshop to buy your own Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™ and Chocolate Frogs™, and Ollivanders™ for your very own wand. A small alleyway next to Ollivanders is where you can line up to see a wand choosing a wizard.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The main restaurant in this part of the park is Three Broomsticks™, a tavern-themed eatery where you can buy Butterbeer in a collectable take-home mug and traditional British dishes such as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Outside, the dining area has the best view of Hogwarts castle in the park, overlooking the Black Lake – a feature that is unique to Universal Studios Japan. The dining area is a great place to watch the evening light show from as there are minimal crowds.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

A brand new feature of the park when I visited was “Wand Magic”. After buying a special magic wand from Ollivanders, visitors are able to cast their own spells in the village.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

At various points around Hogsmeade such as a window, stone wall and in a back alley, muggles wishing to be magicians can chant special spells, wave their wands and, if they’re performed the words and actions correctly, watch magic happen before their eyes.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

There are two rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Flight of the Hippogriff™, which is a small, family-friendly rollercoaster, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ in 4K3D, which is the main attraction.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

To enter this ride, one must walk through Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which as been recreated with extraordinary attention to detail. Pass through Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor™ common room and the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom before embarking on a thrilling journey on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™. The ride is incredible, and completely immerses riders in a magical journey.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

A new evening light show is also on offer for guests. The show plays twice and I would strongly recommend arriving early to mind a place at the front where you can see the action.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The show takes place above eye line however, with projections on the castle, so even if you’re not right at the front you’ll be able to see the magical experience very well.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

The light show is a perfect way to end a day at Universal Studios Japan – it’s exciting, awe inspiring and extravagant, and leaves guests on a high as they make their way to the exit.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan

Note: On weekends and busy days, guests must collect a free, timed entry ticket for entrance into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at a designated time.

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park
opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33
Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au

Thinking of heading to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando? Get tips on saving money, time and hassle here via the Barefoot Nomad, and here for an excellent overview of visiting with kids via the Kid Bucket List.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Minion Park at Universal Studios Japan

Minion Park, Universal Studios, Osaka, Japan

The mischief-loving Minions have a new home at Universal Studios Japan.

“Minion Park” has recently opened inside Universal Studios, and is proudly the largest Minions-themed attraction in the world.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Inside the plaza, the mayhem of Minions reigns supreme. Try a Minion-themed snack, pose for a photo, watch a Minions show and jump on the brand new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The plaza is so full of Minions that it’s difficult to know what to look at first. Do you pose for a photo with a Minion?

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Or do you try a snack? I absolutely loved these Minion-inspired cookies from the Delicious Me store. They have a biscuit base and a choice of fillings. I selected the cream with fruit and the cookie tasted like a delicious fruit tart.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Other Minion-themed snacks include a fluffy pork bun, banana and caramel-flavoured popcorn in the cutest collectable carrier, and Minions-themed hamburger at The Happiness Cafe.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride is the centerpiece of the plaza. It’s an incredible ride featuring hyper-realistic projections that takes you whirling through the chaotic world of Minions. It’s a heart-stopping, thrilling ride that is fun, fantastical and you’ll absolutely want to jump straight back on and ride it all over again.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Dotted around the plaza are Minion-themed shops and statues that are incredibly fun to shop for Minions goodies and get a great selfie with.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Stop by Sweet Surrender for unique Minions plushies, food, clothing and toys. They’re incredibly cute and make for great souvenirs to take home.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

A Minions street show completes the new attraction. The show is performed multiple times a day and is filled with chaos, fun and mayhem, just what you would expect from the Minions!

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

After the show you can get a photo with the Minions if you feel like braving the crowds. I would advise seeing if you can find out what times the Minions appear in the plaza for photo opportunities throughout the day instead of lining up after a show.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Tips for visiting Minions Plaza
Be early! The Minions area is incredibly popular and was busier when we visited than the Harry Potter section of the park. I would recommend heading there as soon as the park gates open.

Get into the spirit! Wear anything Minions-themed that you own and you will fit in well with the crowd.

Try a bit of everything! The snacks are all quirky and fun. I loved the biscuit and popcorn as I have a sweet tooth.

Get to the show early. It’s super popular too with people sitting on the ground in preparation well in advance of the show time.

The World of Minions at Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan Tickets
A studio pass grants you admission to the park and a Universal Express® Pass will shorten the waiting time for attractions. The admission ticket includes park entrance and use of all attractions in the park. You can buy tickets in advance from these travel agencies or on the day at the park. Ticket Booths are open from one hour before the park opens for business.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

Where to stay
I stayed at the offical Universal Studios Hotel, Hotel Universal Port, which is just a short walk from the park and about 10-15 min train ride from Osaka CBD. It has fantastic Minions theming in the lobby and a few of the rooms.

Hotel Universal Port, Osaka, Japan

There are plenty of food options outside the park as well as restaurants inside the hotels if you stay onsite. You could easily spend two days at Universal Studios Japan and if you do, it’s a good idea to stay at a nearby hotel to make the commute easier.

Get more info on my stay at Hotel Universal Port.

Universal Studios Japan
Japan, 〒554-0031 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima, 2 Chome−1−33. Universal Studios Japan Online

How to get there:
Take the subway to Universal City station (JR Yumesaki line). Universal Studios Japan is about a 5-minute walk from there.

For more information on on Osaka and Universal Studios Japan, head to gdayjapan.com.au.

I visited as a guest of Universal Studios Japan and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. I genuinely loved the experience and all opinions are my own. Additional images courtesy of Universal Studios Japan.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

“I can see a fairy!” the children scream as a pair of wingers flutter through the trees. We are sitting on a picnic blanket in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden waiting for the performance of Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land to begin. The stage is the lawn in front of us, a fitting location for a production about the adventures of fairies.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

The fairies flutter to the “stage” and the show kicks off with catchy songs sung by gorgeously costumed and very talented fairies. The children are captivated seeing their dreams come to life before them – real fairies in a real garden! The adults relax and enjoy their children’s joy.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

This is a “theatre” where there’s no need to hush your little one or beg them to sit still in a seat. Dancing is allowed, interaction encouraged. This production is a dream come true not just for kids but for their parents, too. With age appropriate content, gentle music and a relaxed environment, this is a show for families to truly enjoy themselves.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land arrived in Sydney for the Easter holidays fresh from a sell out tour in London’s Kew Garden. Created by the award winning artistic director of the Australian Shakespeare Company, Glenn Elston, Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies was imagined especially for a young audience after years of experience creating theatre in magical garden settings.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies
The storyline for the show is simple: the adventurous Tinkerbell happens upon the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Travelling from the Dream Land, the cheeky Mustardseed, fluttery Moth, daring Cobweb and sweet Peasblossom all go on a magical quest with Tinkerbell to find her wings,  learning about the different worlds they are from along the way.

Plenty of upbeat songs and dances pepper the show, with simple actions the young audience are able to follow. The fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream drop in and out of Shakespearean language which lends a poetic tone to the dialogue, but amazingly in a way that the children were still able to understand and be engaged by what was going on in front of them. I would call this a young child’s first introduction to Shakespeare!

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

There is no set seating for this performance, just a large space to throw down a picnic blanket to enjoy the show. After about half an hour of singing and dancing, the fairies encourage the children to join them on a seperate part of the lawn where bubble machines are set up.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

There is much bubble-popping and dancing by the children, followed by forming small groups to assist the fairies in their quest to find Tinkerbell’s wings. How lovely for kids to join in the action rather than being forced to sit for an entire performance! It was not at all surprising to read afterwards that the show was developed with early learning experts to ensure it truly engages and inspires young minds and bodies.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

After the show the fairies returned to meet their fans and have a photo opp. These talented young performers gave an enchanting performance that many of these children will remember for a long time to come.

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land
The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Dates: Sunday 9 to Sunday 30 April
Times: 10am & 12.30pm (No Shows Good Friday/Easter Monday)
No Shows (Monday 24 – Friday 28 April)
Prices: $25 for weekday/Sunday performances; $30 Saturdays
Group price 4 tickets $90 weekday/Sundays & Saturday $110
Bookings: shakespeareaustralia.com.au and ticketmaster.com.au
Cash and card sales available at the on-site box office unless sold
out, box office opens one hour prior to each performance.

We were provided with tickets for reviewing purposes. All opinions my own. Additional images courtesy of Shakespeareaustralia.com.au.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

The very instagrammable East Hotel is our fave place to stay in Canberra. It’s a vibrant, contemporary, very artsy hotel, in the perfect location for a stay in our nation’s capital.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

Located only 2.3 km from Parliament House and 2.9 km from the National Gallery of Australia, the East Hotel is what I would class as walking distance to all the major attractions we like to hit up in Canberra. When we travel with the little one we taker her scooter so the distances are still manageable for her, and a good amount of exercise for us.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

The hotel is fantastically designed to appeal to a wide range of people – from young hip couples thanks to its visual appeal, to families wanting more space and amenities. The free lollies and fruit at reception doesn’t hurt its popularity either – it’s hard to tell who liked the lollies more, the kids or the adults!

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

A big draw of the East Hotel, beyond the contemporary aesthetic, are the bright rooms that feature either kitchens or kitchenettes, balconies, free limited Wi-Fi and Nespresso machines. There are one and two-bedroom apartments that have full kitchens, and fantastic rooms for kids with bunk beds, bean bags and Xbox 360 video game consoles.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

We had a one-bedroom apartment with a king bed and fold out bed in the living room, with a full kitchen. It was a huge room for the three of us, compared to the amount of space we usually have in a hotel.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia The full kitchen is amazing and means we can buy plenty of food and make our own stuff, cutting down massively on the costs of eating out – as well as making sure we always have something on hand for the fussy five-year-old to eat.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

While the popular “Kid Cubby” rooms, that feature the bunk beds, Xbox 360 and other fun stuff were all booked out for our stay, we still really enjoyed the extra toys, games and books the staff thoughtfully put in our room for us.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

We stayed over Easter weekend and the staff very thoughtfully held a free Easter egg hunt for the guests.

If biking is your thing, the East Hotel offers free bike rental at reception, including kids bikes.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

Parking is available under the hotel for $10 a night. Check the website for special offers, however, as I happened to find a voucher just as I was checking in that gave me free parking plus two free drinks from Joe’s Bar in the lobby.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

An added draw for the hotel is the brand new restaurant that lives on the base level of the hotel, Agostinis. This gorgeous Italian restaurant has beautiful decor, a welcoming vibe and, most importantly, delicious food.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

Guests of the East Hotel can order room service from Agostinis by dialling hotel dining on the room phones. Our meal arrive quickly and was honestly the best room service we’d probably ever had.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

We also chose to dine in the restaurant the following night because the room service was so good, and had a wonderful evening in this very family-friendly, chic restaurant. The staff were friendly and attentive, the food exceptional.

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

From the menu we selected the Insalata Caprese Con Burrata (heirloom tomatoes, Burrata cheese, basil & Agostinis’ olive oil, $15), the Spaghetti Al Pomodoro E Basilico (fresh house-made pasta with tomato, garlic, basil, $18) and the Capricciosa (prosciutto cotto, mushrooms, artichokes, olives & Fior di Latte mozzarella, $24). For the little one, she had one of the kids pizza and pasta meals $15 each (including a drink and gelato for dessert).

East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia
East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia East Hotel Canberra + Agostinis Restaurant Australia

I would highly recommend dining at Agostinis regardless of where you are staying in Canberra!

East Hotel
69 Canberra Ave, Kingston ACT
Book your stay at the East Hotel

We received a media rate when staying at the East Hotel. We have previously stayed paying the full rate. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you book using my links. It will not cost you any extra. Thanks for supporting Adventure, baby!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!