Adventure, baby!

Theme Parks

Goofy’s Kitchen Disneyland Hotel

Goofy's Kitchen, Disneyland Hotel, Disneyland, California

Enjoy dining with your fave Disney pals over breakfast or dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen, inside the Disneyland Hotel.

You do not need to be a guest of the hotel or have a park ticket to attend the dining, which is open daily for breakfast from 7am-12pm and dinner 5pm-9pm.

No matter which time you dine, you will enjoy a buffet with a huge variety of food. It was the most impressive array of food we had seen at any of the character dining experiences.

Goofy's Kitchen

Start the experience with a photo at the entrance with Chef Mickey, then enjoy getting food at your leisure while characters drop by. Every half an hour or so the characters all march around the restaurant and diners twirl their napkins in the air.

Goofy's Kitchen

We found the characters to be excellent at Goofy’s, with several of them dropping by on multiple occasions and sneaking up on us to make us laugh.

Goofy's Kitchen

I also liked that you could meet Chip and Dale here at the same time.

Goofy's Kitchen

The buffet features five food stations. At breakfast the food includes choices such as made-to-order omelettes, cheese blintzes, Mickey Mouse waffles, pancakes, French toast, sausage, bacon, eggs Benedict, yoghurt, frittata, glazed ham, smoked salmon, pastries and fresh fruit, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and fresh vegetables.

Goofy's Kitchen

At dinner Goofy’s Kitchen serves up a carving station, pasta, salads, veggies, fruit, pizza, rice, hot dogs, Goofyroni and cheese, and more hot and cold dishes.

Goofy's Kitchen

At both breakfast and dinner the dessert station is open, featuring cookies, cakes and a soft-serve frozen yogurt sundae bar, as well as Goofy’s wacky pizza creations. Try Goofy’s special peanut butter and jelly pizza if you dare!

Cocktails can be ordered for an additional fee.

Diners at this character experience can expect to meet five or six characters. We met Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Goofy and Pluto.

Breakfast costs $39 for adults and $23 for kids. Dinner costs $43 for adults and $25 for kids.

Reservations for “Goofy’s Kitchen” are highly recommended and be may be made up to 60 days before your visit. A limited number of reservations may be available same-day, subject to availability.

Make your reservation online or call 0011 1 (714) 781-DINE or 0011 1 (714) 781-3463.

https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/au/disneyland/dining/goofys-kitchen/

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Start your Disneyland day the right way with Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

The Minnie & Friends breakfast is a favourite of ours due to the sheer number of characters that are available during the experience.

The Plaza In is located inside Disneyland, near the entrance to Tomorrowland. The restaurant opened in 1955 and was reportedly one of Walt Disney’s favourite places to dine inside the park.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Walt’s wife, designer Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife, chose many of the restaurant’s authentic 19th-century interior furnishings.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Minnie always greets guests at the entrance to the Plaza Inn for a photograph. The photographers will come around to your table later with a photo package to purchase, but if you have bought the Maxpass that day you can ask to add the digital photos to your Maxpass Photopass and it won’t cost anything extra.

There is inside and outside seating at the Plaza Inn. While the inside seating has a really cute atmosphere and is closer to the food, the tables are quite close together and if you’re seated in the back seating sections it can be hard to get out to meet the characters and get good photos. We prefer the outdoor seating for this reason.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

While you’re waiting to meet characters, head to the buffet for a hearty breakfast. Our fave is the made-to-order omelette station and Mickey waffles. This time they had Banana Foster sauce to add on top, which was so delicious. The buffet also featured food such as French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, breakfast potatoes, fresh-baked pastries and breads, fresh fruit, and hot and cold cereals.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

The characters have been the same the last three times we have dined at the Plaza Inn. Minnie Mouse, Chip, Dale, Rafiki, Tigger, Pooh, Eeyore, Pluto, Captain Hook, Fairy Godmother, Max and Perla, the mouse from Cinderella. Not all characters are available during each dining session however, so we’ve never met all of these characters in the one sitting.

We spent about 90 minutes at the Plaza Inn and didn’t feel rushed to finish up and leave, which is great because some of the characters take a long time to come around.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Reservations for “Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park” are highly recommended and be may be made up to 60 days before your visit. A limited number of reservations may be available same-day at the Plaza Inn, subject to availability

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Adult buffet meals are $34 and children are $19. Breakfast opens when the park opens and is open during Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour. I highly recommend this option if you don’t have access to the MM or EMH as it means the dining won’t take away from your park time in the morning. There is a separate entrance open for character dining, but valid tickets for Disneyland are required to enter and access the restaurant.

Make your reservation online or call 0011 1 (714) 781-DINE or 0011 1 (714) 781-3463.

https://disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/disneyland/plaza-inn/

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is an absolute must when visiting Los Angeles. It’s the place where movies are made and dreams come true! This is the original Universal Studios and home of the Backlot Tour, where visitors are taken around the “back lot” to see the real sets where blockbusters are made. Universal Studios Hollywood is the only one in the world where this attractions is on offer. If you’re visiting the park, these tips will help you make your day a fun and successful outing that the whole family will remember for years to come.

Buy tickets in advance

This is always something I do as it saves an extra step at every place we visit. You can buy your tickets online here.

Options include (at time of print):

Single day general admission: $105-$116 USD
Two-day admission: $129-$159 USD
Universal Express: $179-$269 USD
VIP Experience: From $309

Tickets cost different amounts depending on the time of year that you go. Busier times of year cost more.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Get early entry by buying tickets online

Buy your tickets online at http://www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com for early park access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ (see details here).

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Consider Universal Express Tickets

if you’re visiting during busy periods, consider upgrading your ticket to a Universal Express Ticket. This gives you one-time express entry  to attractions and priority seating at shows. We visited on a busy Saturday in December and found the pass to be an excellent time saver.

Note: You can only use the express pass ONCE per ride/ attraction.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Download the app

The Universal Studios app is particularly helpful with showtimes, ride wait times and character appearances, plus you can also plan a basic itinerary for yourself in it and leave yourself a reminder for where you parked your car! Download the app here.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Arrive early

This is my number one tip for any theme park. Always arrive as early as possible! Check the calendar for park hours here.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Choose your form of transport wisely

Universal Studios is easily reached by train or you can drive. There is ample parking but it will cost you from $20 per day.

Plan the Studio Backlot Tour into your day

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

The Studio Backlot Tour is a must-see when visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. It takes you behind the scenes of the historic studio where many famous movies and TV shows are filmed. The tour takes an hour so budget plenty of time for it. You are allowed to take food and drink on the tour.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

The Studio Backlot Tour is exclusive to Universal Studios Hollywood, so you won’t see it at any other Universal Studios in the world.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Be aware of the park layout and opening times

The park is divided into the Upper Lot and Lower Lot. It takes several escalators and a good 10 minutes or more to get between the two, so factor this into your planning. The Lower Lot opens an hour after the Upper Lot.

Make use of park rentals and lockers


There are lockers inside the park entrance as well as dotted around the park to store your belongings all day. You can also rent strollers and wheelchairs if needed. Make your day easier by keeping your hands free and companions comfortable.

Collect free buttons

Drop by Guest Relations inside the park entrance to pick up free buttons for special occasions. We nabbed “first visit” buttons, but they also have them to celebrate birthdays, graduations and weddings,

Keep your phone charged

If your phone doesn’t have the power to last all day, you can borrow a charger from Guest Relations or plug in your own charger at Starbucks.

Try all the food

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

We really enjoyed the giant donuts in the Simpson’s themed land, and had the best theme park meal we’ve possibly ever had at the Three Broomsticks restaurant in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We also loved the frozen Butterbeer! I really appreciated that Universal Studios has a link on their website that details all of the park’s vegetarian options!

Make Magic Happen at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

We bought the special wands that allow wizards to perform “spells” around Hogsmede. They were pricey souvenirs (around $45 for non-interactive resin wands and $60 for interactive wands), but well worth it for us as this is where we spent the majority of our time at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Get creepy with The Walking Dead

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

A second attraction that is exclusive to Universal Studios Hollywood is “The Walking Dead”. Due to its intense nature, it’s not recommended for guests under the age of 13, but older teens and adults will enjoy some the authentic make-up effects, detailed costuming and set design, plus and sophisticated (read: scary!) animatronic walkers.

Check your child is tall enough for rides

The majority of rides at Universal Studios Hollywood are aimed at older kids and adults. While there is plenty to entertain littler kids, you should check that your child is big enough for the rides if that is your prime motivation for going.

The following attractions have minimum height requirements:

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™: Must be 48″ (122 cm) tall.
Flight of the Hippogriff™: Must be 39″ (99 cm) tall.
Children 39-48″ (99-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: Must be 40″ (102 cm) tall.
Children 40-48″ (102-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
Transformers™: The Ride-3D: Must be 40″ (102 cm) tall.
Children 40-48″ (102-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
The Simpsons Ride: Must be 40″ (102 cm) tall.
Children 40-48″ (102-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
Jurassic Park® — The Ride: Must be 42″ (107 cm) tall.
Children 42-48″ (107-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
Revenge of the Mummy℠ — The Ride: Must be 48″ (122 cm) tall.

Visiting with little kids? Use the Rider Switch Option

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood


If your kids aren’t big enough for the rides you want to go on, use the “child switch” program. One or more of your party goes on the ride while the rest can wait with the kids who are too small in the attraction’s Child Switch room. When the party returns, they switch with those who were waiting with the kids, without having to wait in line again.

Watch the live shows

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

I find the live shows to be great fun, as well as pretty kid-friendly. They’re a great way to get into the spirit of movies in-between rides. My 6-year-old loved the Animal Actors and WaterWorld shows in particular. The Special Effects show had a few too many monsters for the little one, but was incredibly interesting for the older kids and adults in the audience. The wand selection show in Ollivanders at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is really fun (and a bit magic!). If you’re lucky, you might get chosen in the show to find your perfect wand (and keep it!).

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

In the Lower Lot, the Raptor Encounter out the front of the Jurassic Park ride was also a lot of fun, even if the raptor was deemed “too scary” to get too close.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Visit during the holidays

We were lucky enough to visit just before Christmastime and enjoyed seeing the park at its most festive. In the centre of the park there is a special “Grinchmas” set up, with a huge Suess-themed Christmas tree that looks stunning at night when it’s lit up, as well as all-day live, family-friendly entertainment and photo opportunities with the Grinch himself.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is also excellent to visit at this time of year, with the Frog Choir singing a special Christmas tune and a spectacular evening light show on Hogwarts Castle.

Entertain the littles in the play areas

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

The Upper and Lower Lots both have designated play areas for little kids aged 5 and under. The Upper Lot area is water-themed so take swimmers if it’s a hot day, while the Lower Lot area is dinosaur themed and next to the Jurassic Park ride.

Meet the characters

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

I love meeting the characters – you’re never too old! I particularly enjoyed seeing the characters from Shrek, Madagascar and Minions while at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
universalstudioshollywood.com

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Our Favourite Disney Souvenirs (That Won’t Break The Bank)

Our Favourite Disney Souvenirs

We love to bring home a little bit of Disney magic when we travel, so we can enjoy the memories of our Disney trips long after we are back into the daily grind. Here are a few of our faves take-homes.

Disney Souvenirs

Mugs
I love both the mugs from the Disney stores well as the special “You Are Here” Starbucks mugs that can only be bought at Disneyland. There are Starbucks stores on Main Street in both parks where you can buy these mugs.

Disney Souvenirs

Husband loves the Star Wars mug and I love the Ariel and Aulani ones. We picked them up at random little stores around the parks (the Aulani one is from Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii). The mugs cost around $20 each.

Disney Souvenirs

Pressed Pennies
We are new to these and they are so fun. You’ll need a selection of quarters and pennies and be on the look out for the machines around the park to convert them into little collectables. They’re a cheap souvenir to take home and are run to make as kids can put in the coins, select the design and turn the wheel to press the penny themselves. Serious penny collectors can use a map to locate all of the machines in the park. A pressed penny costs either two quarters or two quarters and a penny.

Disneyland California

Popcorn Buckets
My daughter is a popcorn monster so we eat a lot of popcorn when we are in the parks. The buckets are an additional cost to the standard popcorn in a disposable container – between $10 and $25 depending on which design and size that you choose. The buckets have seasonal and limited edition designs so we love to collect them – and yes we re-use them at home!

Disneyland California

Bubble Wands
One of our best souvenirs ever, as this bubble wand really goes the distance. We have refilled it over and over again and it continues to work flawlessly. At around $20 it’s an expensive toy but it’s lasted so well that we were happy with the purchase. Wands are available all over the parks.

Disney SouvenirsFridge Magnets
A really cheap and easy souvenir that we like to look at every day on the fridge. Our fridge is covered in magnets from around the world and they’re a nice reminder of our travels each time we open the door. You can buy these magnets at little stores all over the park and they cost around $10 each.

Pins
Pins are an easy souvenir to collect. There are stores all over both parks that sell the pins alongside other merchandise so they’re easy to find. If you get super into it, you can wear them on a lanyard to the park and swap them with the Disney cast members. Some pins are limited edition so make for particularly good collectables. Pins cost between around $11 and $20 each.

Disney Souvenirs

Christmas Ornaments
We collect Christmas ornaments from all over the world and get a great deal of joy every year unwrapping the ornaments and putting them on the tree, while reminiscing about our travels. Disney ornaments are available in several locations in each park all throughout the year, and cost around $20-$40 each depending on the size.

Disney Souviners

Silhouette
We discovered the silhouettes in Disneyland on our recent trip. It costs $10 to get two (identical) silhouettes cut and $20 for a frame. They only take about 10 minutes to get made and make a great gift for grandparents.

Disney Souvenirs

Stuffed Characters
The small stuffed characters are fun to collect. We love to find the seasonal and location-specific ones when we travel. These three are from Disneyland at Christmas and our Disney Alaska cruise. They cost around $20 each.

Disney Souvenirs

Mickey Sink
This delicious treat is available at Clara’s hand-scooped Ice Cream in Disney California Adventure Park. It costs $13.50 plus tax and you can take home the sink.

Disney Ears

Disney Ears
These are fun to wear at the park and make for great photos. Mickey and Minnie ears like this can be purchased all over both parks and cost about $20.

Disney Souviners

Hats
A useful souvenir to take home! Hats can be found in both parks in lots of stores and cost about $20-ish.

Disney Souviners
Keyrings

I use these as zipper-pulls on my bags and my daughter puts them on her school bag. They cost about $10 and can be found in lots of places in the parks.

There you have it! I’ll add to this post in time as we find more fun little Disney souvenirs to take a little of the magic with us.

 

 

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Guide To Using MaxPass At Disneyland

A Guide To Using MaxPass At Disneyland

In 2017 Disneyland California introduced a new ticketing addition called MaxPass. You can read about it here on the official Disney site.

Basically, a MaxPass is an addition to your Disneyland park tickets that gives you added benefits. For an extra $10 per person, per day, a MaxPass will let you:

*Save time at popular attractions by making Disney FASTPASS selections on your mobile device using the Disneyland app while you’re in the parks. Guests with Park Hopper Tickets can even make selections for attractions in our other theme park.

*Download all photos taken by Disney PhotoPass photographers.

(A FASTPASS is a ticket that lets you come back to popular attractions at a designated time and skip waiting up. The FREE PAPER FASTPASSES can still be collected from near the attractions).

What do I need to use Disney MaxPass?
You will need to download the official Disneyland app onto a mobile device. I highly suggest doing this the day before your park visit.

You can download the app here.

Disneyland parks do have WiFi but I found it a bit inconsistent, so it’s preferable if you have data on your mobile device.

You will also need to buy regular park passes, either single day or park-hoppers. If you buy your tickets from the website or app your tickets will automatically be linked and should appear when you log into the Disneyland app on your device.

Do kids need a MaxPass?
If they want to use the digital FASTPASS feature, then yes, they do.

Is MaxPass worth the money?
If you’re going at a busy time of year or for a short time, then a MaxPass can be a game changer. When we visited at Christmas, thanks to the MaxPass we were able to secure FASTPASS tickets constantly all day to rides in both parks, and hence didn’t line up for any major attraction. If I could see that I was going to miss the FASTPASS window for one ride, I would cancel it and then make another ride selection with zero effort.

I love getting lots of photos taken as well, so being able to download over a hundred images from a three-day visit for an extra $10 per day is an absolute bargain to me.

Should I buy MaxPass tickets in advance?
While you can buy the MaxPass at the same time as your Disney park tickets, you can also buy it through the app on the day.

I found it very easy to purchase the MaxPass each morning on my phone as I entered the park, so if you choose to wait until seeing how busy the park is each day and deciding then if you need it, then that option is available.

It is however much easier to already have bought the MaxPass and it also enables you to start booking in your FASTPASSES quicker.

How soon can make a FASTPASS selection using MaxPass?
As soon as your ticket is scanned at either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure park each morning, you are able to book a digital FASTPASS using your phone. This means if you are early to the gates and have your ticket scanned and then wait half an hour for rope drop and official opening, that you ARE able to make your first FASTPASS selection during this time.

What if the time I want isn’t shown?
You can refresh the app and, as people cancel their FASTPASSES, new slots sometimes open up for other times.

How many FASTPASSES can I have at once using MaxPass?
You can have two FASTPASSES booked in at the same time. As soon as you enter the return window for a FASTPASS (each window is usually an hour long) then you are able to book another FASTPASS. If you take a look in the app it will tell you what time you can make your next FASTPASS booking.

What if I just want photos?
Only one person in your party needs to buy the MaxPass each day if all you want are photos. Disney PhotoPass photographers will either scan the app on your phone or a physical PhotoPass card to give you access to the images. You can scan the physical card with your phone to link the photos to your Disney park tickets. While it’s easier to keep track of the one PhotoPass card, you can collect and scan as many as you please, meaning if you have a large party who splits up and gets their own photos taken in different locations, all of the cards can be consolidated into the one account at the end of the day for the single cost of $10.

I chose to use a physical card during our stay to save battery power on my phone.

How do I stop my phone battery from running out?
One of the biggest things to be aware of is how using the Disneyland app all day will run down your battery super fast.

A few tips to make your phone last the whole day:
*If each member of your party has their own mobile device: take a screenshot of your ticket and set it as your screensaver on your phone and have each member of your party do the same.
*If you’re a family with little kids: Take a screenshot and keep the images handy for scanning.
*Use a physical PhotoPass card for scanning with the Disneyland photographers instead of opening the app to let them scan your phone. Ask the photographers for the physical card. You can get one card and re-use it for your entire stay, or collect several and link all of the cards by scanning them with the Disneyland app.
*Take a portable phone charger if your battery is not the best. This will mean you can charge on the go.
*Set your phone to airplane mode when you’re not using the internet.
*If your battery runs out, either purchase a portable charging device or rent a charging station locker.

How to Purchase and Use Disney MaxPass If You Have Tickets
Taken from the Disney website

Download the Disneyland app.
Enter the park you wish to visit using your tickets.
Open the Disneyland app.
Tap the circular character icon at the bottom of the screen.
Sign in with your Disney account.
Tap “Get FASTPASS with Disney MaxPass”.
Select all Guests in your party who wish to use the Disney MaxPass feature—if someone is not listed, link their ticket or pass.
Purchase the Disney MaxPass feature for any Guests who do not already have it.
Make your FASTPASS selections and enjoy your Disney PhotoPass downloads.

How to Purchase and Use Disney MaxPass If You Don’t Yet Have Tickets
Taken from the Disney website

Purchase tickets on disneyland.com with the Disney MaxPass feature for your party.
Download the Disneyland app.
Enter the park you wish to visit using the tickets.
Open the Disneyland app.
Sign in with the same Disney account you used to purchase tickets.
Tap the circular character icon at the bottom of the screen.
Tap “Get FASTPASS with Disney MaxPass”.
Select all Guests in your party who wish to use the Disney MaxPass feature—if someone is not listed, link their ticket or pass.
Purchase the Disney MaxPass feature for any Guests who do not already have it.
Make your FASTPASS selections and enjoy your Disney PhotoPass downloads.

How to Link Disney PhotoPass Photos
Taken from the Disney website

Ask Disney PhotoPass Photographers to either scan your Disney PhotoPass card or the code on your phone. Be sure to also link your Disney PhotoPass card to your Disney account.
Enter the ID code for attraction photos in the Disneyland app. You’ll find the 8-character code on the photo monitor near where you exit the attraction. Ask a Cast Member for help if you cannot locate your photo.

Disney MaxPass for Annual Passholders
Taken from the Disney website

Guests who have a valid Disneyland Annual Passport may purchase the Disney MaxPass feature as an annual add-on for $75 at a Disneyland Resort Ticket Booth or as a daily add-on for $10 through the Disneyland app. The Disney MaxPass feature is an included benefit with the Disney Signature Plus Passport and the Disney Premier Passport.
The cost of the annual Disney MaxPass feature cannot be prorated for Annual Passports expiring in less than a year, and the feature expires when your Annual Passport expires.

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.

If you’re visiting Osaka it’s only a train ride to Kyoto – here is the perfect 3-day itinerary.

There are loads of places near Osaka that are worth seeing if you have the time. Check out the best day trips from Osaka here.

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!

Luna Park Sydney: Just For Fun

Luna Park Sydney

Luna Park Sydney might just be the most gorgeously positioned amusement park in the world. Perched on the shorefront of Milson’s Point, the juxtapositioning of the old-world carnival colours against the stunning blue of Sydney Harbour makes it an incredible spot to visit, even if you’re not planning on actually riding anything.

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While children and adults flock to the park to enjoy hair-raising rides, Luna Park is also an historical icon in Sydney, being listed on the State Heritage Register in 2010.

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Whether rides are or aren’t your thing, Luna Park is a fascinating piece of Australian history. The fist Luna Park opened in St Kilda, Melbourne, in December 1912, with a second opening in Glenelg, South Australia, in 1930. The later, however, encountered push back from the locals, who thought the park was a haven for unsavoury types – as a result, the park was packed up and shipped to Sydney.

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Sydney’s Luna Park was constructed at the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1935, and, once open, ran for nine-month seasons until 1972, when it was opened year-round. The park closed in mid-1979 following the infamous Ghost train fire, which killed six children and one adult.

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The park has been partially demolished, renovated, re-opened and closed again several times since due to various problems – the most recent being the noise pollution complaints from locals surrounding the Big Dipper rollercoaster that caused the ride to be heavily restricted and, as a result, saw a drop in attendance that lead to the park’s closure in 1996.

After further redevelopment, the park re-opened in 2004 and has been open ever since.

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In 2010 the Luna Park Face was listed as an item of national heritage by the National Trust of Australia, making it one two amusement parks in the world that are protected by government legislation; several of the buildings on the site are also listed on the Register of the National Estate and the NSW State Heritage Register: most notably Luna Park’s Coney Island Funnyland, which is the only operating example of a 1930s funhouse left in the world.

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Coney Island was built in 1935, and although there have been some changes made over the years, the layout is almost identical to when it opened, including the rotating barrels, moving platforms, long slides and arcade games that line the walls.

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I recently took the little Cheese to experience Luna Park for the first time and have some tips if you’re intending to go:

Luna Park Tips

Buy your tickets online
They are cheaper to buy from the Luna park website than in person at the park. You will also avoid the queues this way.

Look for special deals
Take a look for even better deals before you buy them directly from the park. For example, try Groupon, or Telstra and Optus perks. I received the best deal through Optus.

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Adult accompanying rider tickets cost some serious money
If you’re not planning to buy an adult ticket for yourself but your child isn’t tall enough to ride everything on their own, you will need to buy an accompanying adult ticket. These are not available for discount purchase online at all – they must be bough at the park, full price, and they are EXPENSIVE! They are also only valid for rides where accompanying the riders who are too short to ride by themselves – so you can’t ride without them, either.

Pack your own food
There is basic food available at the park, like hot dogs, burgers and chips kinda stuff, and they are expensive. I suggest packing healthier food for lunch and bringing it with you to save money.

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Prepare for the weather
There is very little shade in much of the park, particularly in the little kids’ area out the back. Pack wide brimmed hats and plenty of sunscreen.

Go early
This is my mantra for theme parks in general. Go as early as possible when the queues are shorter and the sun isn’t as hot.

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Be aware of height restrictions
Make sure your kid is big enough to get the most out of the cost of park entry. You can find a list of the height requirements for each ride here

Know how much money it’s going to cost if you buy tickets at the park
Unlimited Rides Pass – Yellow (130cm+) $52 (vs $48 online)
Unlimited Rides Pass – Green (106-129cm) $42 (vs $38 online)
Unlimited Rides Pass – Red (85-105cm) $22 (vs $22 online)
Accompanying Adult – Green $42
Accompanying Adult – Red $22

The cheapest day to go is Mondays
During the school holidays this is an excellent deal for school kids
Mini Money Mondays – Yellow (130cm+) $40
Mini Money Mondays – Green (106-129cm) $30
Mini Money Mondays – Red (85-105cm) $16

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Other ticket options
A Coney Island Pass ($12) lets you access just Coney Island all day. Coney Island was our kids’ favourite of the whole day, and is blissfully indoors!

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Luna Park Sydney

How to get there
Luna park is so easy to reach by public transport. Catch the ferry or train directly to the park, or, if you have to drive, park in their car park. Either way, there is very little walking involved, so great for little ones.

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Luna Park
1 Olympic Dr, Milsons Point NSW 2061
Hours: The days and hours Luna Park opens varies. Please check the website before going.
lunaparksydney.com

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The hot ticket at Disney California Adventure Park this year is the brand new stage show, Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

The show is exactly what you would imagine it to be: a very closely followed adaptation of the movie Frozen, performed live on stage by excellent performers on some seriously stunning staging.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The show is one hour in duration (the movie is 1 hr 49 minutes) and as a result there are small cuts in places – a few minor characters are either missing or have their parts shortened significantly, but the changes I noticed the most were to take away anything remotely “scary”.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

As a result, the show is billed as “suitable for all ages” – and I have to agree, it was extremely mild and even my scaredy cat Cheese who refuses to see the movie at the moment because she deems it “too scary”, didn’t find a single moment of the show anything other than thoroughly entertaining.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

As per all of Disney’s productions, Frozen – Live At The Hyperion is of the highest standard. I was particularly impressed with their Elsa, considering the difficulty of the song Let It Go, (which she nailed, by the way).

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

The set design for the show is incredibly impressive, particularly the scenes from the sisters’ childhood, where the props are made larger than usual to make the “child” Anna and Elsa really look small, even though they are played by adults.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Even with the show significantly shortened from the original movie, it seemed a perfect length, with all the major songs and moments covered beautifully. It was also a great length for all of the small children in the audience, who were happily belting out the lyrics to each number and wiggling joyfully throughout the show.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Tips on how to see the show:

When we went the show was new and popular and tickets were available through the Disney FASTPASS Service. As of September 2017, FASTPASS is no longer available for the show.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me
Line up for the show at least 30 mins before the show begins, earlier on really busy days.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

If you have a stroller with you, be very aware of where it is parked when you go into the show. Our stroller was taken from us and parked by a Disney cast member and we didn’t see where it was taken. As a result, at the end of the show it took us a very long time to search for our stroller among a sea of about a hundred or so.

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion, Disney California Adventure Park via christineknight.me

Get more information on Frozen – Live At The Hyperion and the latest show times here

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!