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Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

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.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Plan the Studio Backlot Tour into your day
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.

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 plus in your own charger at Starbucks.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Try all the food
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!

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Make Magic Happen at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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 creapy out with The Walking Dead
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
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.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Watch the shows
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.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Entertain the littles in the play areas
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.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Meet the characters
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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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!

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

The most magical time of year at the happiest place on Earth is the period between November and January (check dates as they change annually), when the Disneyland Parks receive an enchanting makeover. Celebrating Christmas at Disneyland is a must-do experience for young and old.

Visiting Disneyland at Christmas can be an incredible experience but also takes some planning and preparation. The tips in this guide will help you create a magical trip for your whole family.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Plan your dates wisely
By very careful planning, we were able to avoid the bulk of the crowds who head to Disneyland to celebrate the holiday season.

Check the following before booking your trip:

*US school holiday dates
*Australian school holiday dates (there are a lot of Australians who make the trek each year!)
*Annual Pass Blockout Dates (obviously it’s good to go when annual pass holders can’t!). Check them here.
*The busiest days according to the previous year on a calendar such as this. Weekends are always the busiest so I suggest avoiding them.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Book a hotel near the park
We always book a very budget hotel that is extremely close to the park. Our last trip we stayed at the Grand Legacy At The Park and found it to be extremely convenient.

A full review of the Grand Legacy At The Park can be found here.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Pack wisely
My daughter is too big for a stroller this year, so I took a backpack to put in water, food and small purchases and keep my hands free. Clothes-wise, mornings and evenings can be cool at this time of year while the middle can be super warm.

We were comfortable in jeans and tees during the day and added a light jumper/sweater for the mornings/evenings. Shoes are so important at Disneyland when you’re walking 22K steps a day: go for comfort! My daughter and I wore extremely comfortable sneakers ever day.

If your kid fits into a stroller then by all means take one or hire one from the parks. I saw kids who were aged seven in them being pushed around, so there’s no shame in it if it’s what you need to do to get the kids through the long days without tears.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Download the Disneyland App
It’s invaluable for planning your day – character meet-and-greet times and locations, show times, ride wait times, view and make dining reservations, see your Disney PhotoPass pics, and even buy your park tickets app. Plus it’s a must-have if you’re planning on upgrading your ticket to include a Maxpass (the below).

Get more info on the Disneyland App and download it here.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Purchase Maxpass
Upgrading our passes with a Maxpass (they cost $10 per person, per day) was the best decision we made. Maxpass does two things:

1. Provides digital FASTPASS to rides (A FASTPASS lets you take a ticket with a specific time printed on it so you can return to the ride at a later time and skip the queue.)
2. Provides access to download all PhotoPass images taken by Disneyland photographers each day.

If you like to get lots of photos taken then the Maxpass is fantastic value for the photos alone. While you can still get FASTPASS without a Maxpass, it does require walking a lot more all over the park to get the paper ticket from the machine and then return again later. A Maxpass lets you book your FASTPASS selections on your phone from anywhere in the park. It was a game changer for us.

Only one member of your party needs to purchase the Maxpass if photos are your goal rather than digital Fastpasses.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Plan your Disney days
I’m a big believer in schedules, particularly at Disneyland where timing is important. I created a spreadsheet in advance and researched the events that would be taking place each day, such as parades, fireworks, shows, character meet-and-greets, tree lightings and so forth, to slot them into the time we had at the parks.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Go early!
Not a morning person? Your experience at Disneyland will be vastly improved if you are! Mornings are the best for rides as it’s when the parks are quietest, so we would arrive each morning between 7 and 7:30am and be one of the first few people inside the park when it officially opened.

This meant we had from 8am-11am each day with basically no queues for rides as a result, and used the Maxpass to schedule the top rides for throughout the day to get them in several times.

Take a break for lunch in the middle of the day to early afternoon, and then enjoy the special Christmas entertainment.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Check out the holiday decorations
Both parks feature a stunning 50-foot-tall Christmas tree, wreaths, baubles, and more, festooning the lampposts, rooftops and window displays.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Two of the Disneyland’s rides get a holiday makeover as well: The “It’s a Small World” ride is lit by over 50,000 lights and video projections, while the Haunted Mansion is taken over by the cast Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, including Jack Skellington.

The town of Radiator Springs (AKA “Cars Land) in Disney California Adventure Park was given a makeover on our recent visit, including the actual cars themselves, plus the ride Mater’s Jingle Jamboree.

If you get time, check out the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel, which is decorated beautifully for the holidays.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Catch the holiday entertainment
Disneyland has a twice-daily Christmas Fantasy Parade (check the Disneyland website closer to your visit to check parade times) featuring traditional Disney characters plus Santa, dancing gingerbread men, prancing reindeer and twirling snowmen.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

We also highly enjoyed the Disney Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park, which featured seasonal celebrations from around the world. Our particular favourites were the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party, where mariachi and samba musicians and 12-foot-tall mojiganga puppets took to the streets, as well as Princess Elena of Avalor’s Grand Arrival, where Elena arrived on a float several times a day and sang her famous songs live. This was my daughter’s favourite live show of our trip.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Watch out for fun roaming entertainment in both parks, such as the drummers in California Adventure Park and carol singers in Disneyland. The festive fun is literally around every corner.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Meet the characters
We love meeting the characters anyway, but they’re that little bit extra special when dressed in holiday garb! We brought an autograph book with us (it’s a great ice breaker) and hunted down our faves throughout the day.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

We especially loved Mickey and Minnie in their festive clothes, meeting Jack Skellington and Sally from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and watching the Disney characters dance in their ¡Viva Navidad! attire. You can locate the characters using the Disneyland app on your phone.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Eat all the food!
The Disney Parks employ a wide variety of exceptional pastry chefs and confectioners, so I highly recommend trying some of their seasonal treats.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Disneyland Park features peppermint Mickey Mouse beignets, festive candy apples, gingerbread men, snowman-shaped cookies, snowflake and Jack Skellington cake pops, and handmade candy canes that take three hours to make each batch. Watch them being made on Main Street; it’s mesmerising!

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Disney California Adventure Park has a large Festive Foods Marketplace where you can try holiday favourites from around the world.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

The popcorn is a fave of ours (for some reason, it tastes really amazing!) and we love to pick up a holiday-themed or limited-edition popcorn bucket to take home as a souvenir.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Watch the park light up when the sun goes down
Since we are such early birds at the park, we rarely make it to evening and always miss the nighttime lights. The benefit of visiting at this time of year is that sundown is earlier so the lights come on earlier, and we get to see the magic before bedtime!

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

The earliest display to watch is Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle which, at 6pm each evening, transforms into a shimmering display of 80,000 lights. Dazzling to watch!

Two special evening shows are presented if you can stay up late enough to watch them (we never made one, our eyes just wouldn’t stay open!):

The “Believe…In Holiday Magic” Fireworks Spectacular in Disneyland Park and World of Color – Season of Light in Disney California Adventure Park, which is a a show featuring videos projected onto screens formed by fountains.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

Last thoughts on Disneyland during the holidays
Our time at Disneyland was magical. I would go every year if I could. The crowds weren’t as bad as when I have visited previously in summer (note: this might be because I planned the days we visited so carefully), and we found the temperature perfect for long days at the parks. I highly recommend this experience to families of all ages.

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

A Guide To Celebrating The Holidays At Disneyland

We received Disneyland Park tickets courtesy of Disney. All opinions our own. We are life-long lovers of Disney.

 

 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

5 Reasons To Stay At The Grand Legacy At The Park Anaheim

Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim

When we visit Anaheim for a Disneyland holiday, accommodation is an important decision. This trip we stayed at the Grand Legacy At The Park and found it to be an excellent budget choice for a Disney vaycay for the following reasons:

Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim

Location, Location, Location
The Grand Legacy At The Park is so incredibly convenient. It’s a very short stroll to the park entrance. I would say it took us under 10 minutes to walk there, maybe even five. We like to get up early and enjoy the parks when they open, so being so close means we can get that little bit of extra sleep! It also means that coming home at the end of the day is quick and pain free.

There are plenty of amenities very close by, too, such as Pizzaterian, Jimboy’s Tacos, and Creamistry out the front of the property.

Budget-Friendly Accommodation
We always travel on a budget. Since our Disneyland trips involve us spending as much time as possible at the parks and minimal time at the hotels, we prefer to save money by booking hotels that are in the budget category. The Grand Legacy At The Park is great value for money as well as fitting into our budget requirements, so it’s a win-win.

Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim
Great Swimming Pool
The Grand Legacy At The Park has an excellent heated swimming pool with a splash area for kids and disabled access into the spa. It’s a great way for guests to relax in-between hitting up the parks.

Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim

Clean, Fresh Rooms
We found the room at the grand Legacy At The Park to be extremely clean. Everything was in great working order, and the daily room cleaning service was excellent. All of the facilities at the hotel were similarly well maintained.

Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim
Additional Facilities
The Grand Legacy At The Park offers guests a whole host of added extras during their stay, such as free wifi, a complimentary “grab and go” snack bag containing water, a cheese stick, seasonal fruit, and a granola bar, guest laundry, complimentary roll-away beds and cribs and in-room refrigerator and microwave. Guests can also buy their park tickets at the hotel to save on lining up at the park.

 

Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim Grand Legacy At The Park, Anaheim

Grand Legacy At The Park
1650 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim
grandlegacyhotel.com

We stayed as guests of the Grand Legacy At The Park. All opinions are my own. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Gingerbread Holiday Tea at the Fairmont San Francisco

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

The holiday season really isn’t complete without a delectable holiday tea! Lucky us, on our San Francisco visit we were treated to the delicious Gingerbread Holiday Tea at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel.

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

During the holiday season, the hotel decks out its lobby with incredible decorations, a 23-foot Christmas tree and a life-sized gingerbread house. It certainly is a sight to be seen, and draws plenty of visitors just to check out the lobby.

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

The gingerbread house is especially impressive. It is 25 feet high and 35 feet wide, and includes more than 10,000 pieces of gingerbread topped with with over a tonne of icing and candy.

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

The Gingerbread Holiday Tea, which is why we were there, is a special annual tradition at the hotel, running this year from November 24 2017 to January 1, 2018.

It features three layers of delicious food and includes a glass of champers plus choice of tea.

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

Savoury 
Deviled Egg Salad (Watermelon Radish, Pickled Cucumber, White bread)
Smoked Salmon (Chive Creme Fraise, Pumpernickel)
Dungeness Crab & Mango Salad (Chives, San Francisco Sourdough)
Curry Chicken Salad (Curry Leaf)
Caprese Salad Sandwich (Mozzarella Cheese, Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumber, Basil)

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea
Scones
Holiday Spice
Aged Cheddar & Chive
Served with Spiced Pear Compote, Devonshire Cream, Meyer Lemon Curd

Sweet
A daily selection of miniature desserts

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea
Children’s Tea

Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Traditional Egg Salad
Ham & Cheese
Tuna Salad

Scones
Holiday Spice
Aged Cheddar & Chive
Served with Spiced Pear Compote, Devonshire Cream, Meyer Lemon Curd

Assorted Pastries

Choice of tea, sparkling apple cider or hot chocolate

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

The food was as delicious as one would expect from a top class hotel such as the Fairmont. Piles of fresh sandwiches (ours were vegetarian substitutes), delicious scones (I really enjoyed the savoury cheese one and the three different toppings on offer), and the tiny little pastries. The four types of jam was also a lovely touch.

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

Where the Fairmont really outdoes itself is in catering to families. A huge gingerbread cookie was brought over on arrival with icing and decorations to keep the kid busy – and it certainly did the job. In case the cookie wasn’t enough, we were also given a colouring in book and crayons. We didn’t even need to open the book thanks to the arrival of Bree the “Elf”, who made the table rounds to share her “toy testing” tricks with the kids and a special Christmas ornament to take home.

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

The whole Gingerbread Holiday Tea was a delightful experience for us both. It’s very rare that we attend a tea where the two of us are equally happy with the offerings and entertainment. What a delightful afternoon we had, where neither of us wanted to leave, and very special memories were made.

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

FAIRMONT SAN FRANCISCO GINGERBREAD HOLIDAY TEA 2017
The hotel’s famed Gingerbread Holiday Tea is available starting November 24, 2017 through January 1, 2018. 
Reservations 1:00pm-3:30pm Daily 
Weekdays (November 24, 2017– January 1, 2018) Price: $99 Adults/ $69 Children under 12 (+ tax & gratuity) 
Weekends (November 25– December 31, 2017) and Peak Dates (December 15-26, 2017) 
Price: $119 Adults/ $89 Children under 12 (+ tax & gratuity) 
* Gingerbread Holiday Tea is not available on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

FAIRMONT SAN FRANCISCO SANTA SUITE
Fairmont San Francisco’s Santa Suite offers guests a stay in Santa and Mrs. Claus’s San Francisco “home” away from the North Pole!
Santa Suite includes: Overnight accommodations in the a Two-Bedroom Luxury Suite, decked out in 
Santa-inspired décor, Breakfast for up to four registered suite guests in Laurel Court or delivered to suite, “Candy and Hot Chocolate Bar” + adult beverage for parents
One Gingerbread House Kit, Use of suite’s holiday movie library, Overnight Parking for One Vehicle, Rate starts at $1,599.00+ tax per night, pre-paid non-refundable at time of booking. Available: December 3, 2017 – December 25, 2017  


Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread Holiday Tea

Fairmont San Francisco
950 Mason St, San Francisco

Thank you so much to the Fairmont San Francisco for hosting us. All opinions are, as always, my own. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

A must-visit in Monterey, California, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a non-profit public aquarium that is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. The aquarium opened to the public in 1984, and now houses more than 35,000 creatures, with over 550 species in 34 major galleries.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The Monterey Bay Aquarium aims to inspire conservation of the ocean. There is a strong focus with all the exhibits on conservation, including information on how we as individuals can modify our choices to be more environmentally friendly.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The aquarium has a variety of tours where visitors can go behind the scenes and learn more about the work they do. We did the family tour, which was advertised as being suitable for kids under 8, but we found it to be more suitable for kids aged around 6-10 as there was a lot of talking and asking of questions.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The tour was an extra $15 on top of general admission and lasted half an hour. The tour took us behind the scenes of the aquarium where the kids were able to see how it runs and learn about some of its inhabitants. There were plenty of hands-on elements involved, and the 30 minutes was a good amount of time to hold short attention spans. The kids loved holding the hermit crab and hearing how the animators of the movie Finding Dory visited to the aquarium and based the scenes on it.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The aquarium is large and has a lot inside to see and do. It’s very easy to spend an entire day here, particularly with kids as the kids’ education and play stations are extremely well designed and plentiful.

Highlight exhibits include

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

The Kelp Forest
At 28 feet tall, the Kelp Forest is one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. We enjoyed watching the swarms of sardines, leopard sharks and wolf-eels weaving through the swaying kelp, just like in the wild.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Sea Otters
The spirited sea otters are all rescued animals that are no longer able to survive in the wild.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Penguins and Splash Zone
A fave with families, there are over 45 interactive exhibits in English and Spanish in this area to explore. African penguins and clownfish can be found in this area, as well as telescopes to look out over the bay and spot sea lions or wild otters.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Open Sea
This is the the aquarium’s largest exhibit. it includes several types of luminous jelly fish plus a 90-foot window that feels like being under the ocean, with tuna, sharks, sardines swarming in mesmerising schools, and sea turtles floating by.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA
Hours: Daily, 9:30am-6pm
montereybayaquarium.org

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Things To Do In San Francisco With Kids

The Best Things To Do In San Francisco USA With Kids | Family Travel | Travel With Kids
San Francisco is a town with many faces and a long, fascinating history. Originally a Spanish mission and pueblo, it joined the United States in 1846, and became a thriving city with the Gold Rush in 1848. San Francisco is known for its diversity and tolerance. While it’s no longer the hippy city famous for the 1967 “Summer of Love”, it’s still a place where activism is part of the culture, particularly gay and women’s rights. Walking the streets of San Francisco is a stroll back through time to historic moments in history that gained media attention worldwide.

Today, San Francisco is also a hotbed for the tech industry, so it’s not surprising that the city boasts numerous science and cultural centres both in the city and outlying suburbs. When visiting San Francisco with kids, you’ll be spoiled for choice with activities everyone will enjoy. From incredible museums and kid-friendly galleries to lush parks and innovative playgrounds, San Francisco is a city that welcomes families with open arms.

The Best Things To Do In San Francisco With Kids

Downtown San Francisco
The heart of San Francisco, Downtown/Union Square is the busiest part of town. Filled with restaurants, shops and hotels the constant stream of people in the area makes downtown an assault on the senses (and the wallet!).

Union Square, San Francisco

Union Square
A busy plaza that was set aside for public use by the city’s first mayor in 1849, Union Square is in the heart of the shopping district of San Francisco. We love the public art and kids adore the Disney Store (39 Stockton St, San Francisco) where upstairs they can watch Disney videos and colour in and the Lego Store (Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St C41, San Francisco) which has various Lego stations set up for free play.

Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets

SF MOMA, San Francisco

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Give kids an early education in modern art at SFMOMA. Head to level five to explore the Oculus bridge, sculpture garden, kid-friendly cafe and eye-popping Pop Art. Our fave was
Richard Serra’s Sequence sculpture on Floor 1 in the Atrium, which is kind of like a labyrinth. Best of all it’s free to enter off the street and explore. Kids under 18 are free to enter the SFMOMA.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
151 3rd St, San Francisco
sfmoma.org

Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Yerba Buena Gardens
An oasis in the heart of busy downtown San Francisco, Yerba Buena Gardens is a place to find culture and green space. Galleries, museums and cafes frame landscaped lawns with a stunning waterfall at the back, a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. During the warmer months, free performances are held in the park.

Children's Creativity Museum, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

Also housed in the park are the Children’s Garden, play circle and Children’s Creativity Museum, an ice skating rink, bowling and the historic Leroy King Carousel, built in 1906.

Children's Garden, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco

The Children’s Garden, located on the top of the Moscone Center, features a sand play area, water play, several climbing structures and slides.

Yerba Buena Gardens
750 Howard St, San Francisco

yerbabuenagardens.com

Children's Creativity Museum, San Francisco

Children’s Creativity Museum
Children’s Creativity Museum is a hands-on, multimedia arts and technology museum for kids of all ages. Little kids will enjoy the lower level, filled with hands-on activities that including building, shaping and dressing up. Older kids will enjoy the singing studio, animation studio, tech lab where they can program robots, and the innovation lab that encourages curious minds to solve problems. It’s impossible to leave the museum without taking a ride on the Leroy King Carousel outside.
Read more about our experience here.

Children’s Creativity Museum
221 Fourth St. San Francisco, CA
creativity.org

Lombard St, San Francisco

Lombard Street
This topsy-turvey street is like something out of a Dr Seuss book. Lombard Street is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns past beautiful Victorian mansions. Be warned, kids will want to bolt down at high speed.

Lombard Street, San Francisco

sftodo.com

Painted Ladies, San Francisco

The Painted Ladies
This postcard-perfect row of houses is located on Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square park. While this particular row of houses is known as the “Painted Ladies”, the term actually refers to any set of Victorian or Edwardian houses that use three or more colours to show off the detailing of their architectural design. Over 48,000 houses were built in this stye between 1849 and 1915, with the famous seven constructed between 1892 and 1896.

Alamo Square, across the street from the Painted Ladies is prime viewing position as well as the perfect location for a picnic. It also has a gated playground that will occupy kids.

Painted Ladies
710 to 720 Steiner St, San Francisco

Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

Fisherman’s Wharf 
This is considered the “touristy” part of town, but I think it’s worth a visit as it’s right next to the aquarium and has a few fun things for kids to see.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.meVisit the California sea lions at Pier 39, where several hundred sea lions like to doze in the sun (be warned, they smell and are very loud!).

Eat at Boudin’s Bakery, home of the most delicious sourdough bread. This is their flagship location.

Ghiradelli Square, San Francisco

Dine and shop at Ghirardelli Square. Formerly headquarters of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, the factory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is now a retail and restaurant complex. On the lower floors of the Clock Tower you’ll find the Ghirardelli chocolate shop.

Fisherman’s Wharf
fishermanswharf.org

Aquarium by the Bay, San Francisco

Aquarium of the Bay
This little aquarium has over 20,000 marine animals to visit. With a focus on conservation, kids will learn a lot about taking care of our water and the animals within, while getting up close to exotic and local aquatic life. Highlights include 300 feet of crystal clear tunnels with marine animals from San Francisco Bay and nearby waters and Touch the Bay, featuring touch pools with sharks, rays and sea stars. Our fave exhibit was the feisty river otters. It’s a small aquarium and we were in and out in under an hour.

Aquarium of the Bay
2 Beach St, San Francisco, CA
aquariumofthebay.org

Alcatraz via christineknight.me

Alcatraz Island
A very popular day trip, Alcatraz Island is located 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco. A visit to Alcatraz offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast as well as the infamous federal jail.

As well as being steeped in history, the Rock is also home to tide pools, bird colonies and stunning views of San Francisco Bay. Wear very comfortable shoes, bring a light jacket no matter how warm the day begins, and be sure to book your tickets well in advance.

Buy tickets for the cruise across to Alcatraz online.
Ferries depart from Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33.

Alcatraz Island
nps.gov/alca

Embarcadero
The Embarcadero is the eastern waterfront of San Francisco.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Cupid’s Span
Kids absolutely love this sculpture by artist Coosje van Bruggen on the Embarcadero along San Francisco Bay. The art work was inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home port of Eros.

Exploratorium science museum, San Francisco

The Exploratorium
More than a museum, the Exploratorium is a hands-on laboratory designed to help visitors learn about the world through science, art, and human experience. A heavy focus on science will engage curious minds for hours. The Exploratorium is divided into six main galleries, with each one focused on a different area of exploration. Our favourite exhibits included a hurricane maker, spiral drawing creation and light play. Be prepared to spend the whole day tinkering, exploring and learning about how the world works.

The Exploratorium
Pier 15, The Embarcadero & Green St., San Francisco
exploratorium.edu

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Golden Gate Park
You could easily spend a week just exploring everything Golden Gate Park has to offer. This 1,017 acre urban park is open to the public for free (however there is an entrance cost for some of the attractions). Be sure to check out the American bison who have happily lived in the park since the 1890s.

Other attractions of note include Golden Gate Park Aquarium, Strawberry Hill (where you’ll find a waterfall and gorgeous views), Koret Children’s Quarter with its new and improved playground, Japanese Tea Garden, Carousel, windmill and tulips and the California Academy of Science.

Golden Gate Park
goldengatepark.com

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Japanese Tea Garden
The oldest public Japanese garden in the United States is a fun place to explore. Kids can discover giant koi carp in ponds, climb the steep drum bridge and search for serenity at the zen garden.

Japanese Tea Garden
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco
japaneseteagardensf.com

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Koret Children’s Quarter Playground
In the southeast corner of Golden Gate Park you’ll find a fantastic playground filled with climbing structures for all ages, a sand pit, slide and sea-themed structures for bringing imaginations to life. The playground opened in 1888 as the Sharon Quarters for Children, and is thought to have been the nation’s first public playground. It was a groundbreaking idea for the time, to have an area dedicated to children’s play.

The playground was renovated and reopened in 2007 as the Koret Children’s Quarter with new features including the climbing wall shaped like waves and a rope climbing structure. The historic concrete slide remains as a remnant of the original playground.

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Also located in the Koret Children’s Quarter is the Herschell-Spillman Carousel, the last of three carousels to be housed near this location. It was built in 1914 and, after operating at amusement parks in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, was installed in Golden Gate park in 1940. The carousel features 62 colourful animals including a camel, dragon, cat, ostrich, horses, dogs and roosters.

Koret Children’s Quarter Playground
Martin Luther King, Jr and Bowling Green Dr, San Francisco

De Young Museum, San Francisco

de Young Fine Arts Museum
Kids will love running around the sculpture garden which is free for the public to enter and the extremely kid-friendly cafe. The museum, located in Golden Gate Park, also offers families hands-on art making activities designed by the Museums’ artist-in-residence.

de Young Fine Arts Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco
https://deyoung.famsf.org

California Academy of Science, San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is a natural history museum in that is among the largest museums of natural history in the world, housing over 26 million specimens – 40,000 of them live. Inside the one building is an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and rainforest – all under one living roof (literally – the roof is alive!).

The Academy has plenty of hands-on exhibits and activities for kids to explore. Our favourites were the Shake House section of the Earthquake exhibit where kids can experience what it would feel like to be on top of an earthquake, the aquarium with its immersive glass tunnels, the dinosaur in the foyer, and the rainforest with live butterflies and birds.
Read more about our experience here.
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco
calacademy.org

The Mission
The centre of Latin culture in San Francisco, the Mission is an eclectic and hip neighbourhood in San Francisco. Mission Dolores, the oldest original intact mission in California and the oldest standing building in San Francisco, is located in the northwest of the area.

The Mission, San Francisco
Street Art

The Mission District is full of vibrant murals, particularly between 17th St. and 18th St., and Mission St. and Valencia St. Our fave was on the Women’s Building, a women-led non-profit arts and education community center at 18th Street.

Paxton Gates Curiosities, San Francisco

Paxton Gate Curiosities
A whimsical store where you’ll find a wide range of creative, educational and interactive toys, games and projects for children.

Paxton Gate Curiosities
766 Valencia St, San Francisco
paxtongate.com/curiosities

Bi-Rite Creamery, San Francisco
Bi-Rite Creamery
Delicious ice cream, hand-made in small batches in flavours such as the extremely popular salted caramel. Take your ice cream to go and eat it on the benches outside (there is an additional “eat in” tax if you stay inside!).

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St, San Francisco
biritecreamery.com

Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

Tartine Bakery
A bakery famous for their pastries and cakes. There is often a long wait to buy treats, but on the day we went there was no queue at all.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco
tartinebakery.com

Mission Delores Park, San Francisco, USA
Mission Delores Park

This lush, 16-acre green park lies in the vibrant Mission District. Located two blocks south of Mission Dolores at the western edge of the Mission District. You’ll find sprawling lawns, shady trees, a soccer field, six tennis courts, one basketball court, a multi-use court, a playground, and two off-leash dog play areas.

Mission Delores Park, San Francisco, USA

Helen Diller Playground
The newly renovated Helen Diller Playground inside Mission Delores Park contains seperate play areas for preschoolers (kids aged 2-5) and school ages (kids aged 5-12), plus a sand garden, wooden climbing structure, shipwrecked boat, nets and stones for climbing and swings, plus a 45-foot long super slide. The park has bathrooms and water drinking fountains.

Mission Delores Park
Dolores St & 19th St, San Francisco

Mile Rock Beach, San Francisco

Coastal Trail to Sutra Baths
We started the trail at Lands End, behind the Legion of Honor Museum. The trail goes along the headland to Mile Rock Beach, Lands End Viewpoint and Labyrinth, to Sutro Baths.

Labrynth,Land's End, San Francisco

Part of a much longer trail, we found this section to be easy to do with a child in tow at about 2km in length in one direction, not including the detours to each look out, and included plenty for her to enjoy.

Sutro Baths, San Francisco

Take plenty of water for the trail, and enjoy a late lunch at the end of the trail at either the historic (and slightly pricier) Cliff House or Louis’ Cafe (a traditional American Diner).

Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave, San Francisco
legionofhonor.famsf.org

Sutro Baths
1004 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco
nps.gov

Marina District

Palace of Fine Arts
While the Palace of Fine Arts is actually home to art exhibitions, visitors also go to enjoy the beautiful structure (originally built in 1915), walkways and lagoon. The palace is iconic in San Francisco, and is a popular destination for family and wedding photos. Kids will particularly enjoy spotting the swans who live in the lagoons. Bonus: it’s free to walk around the grounds.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Palace of Fine Arts
3301 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA
palaceoffinearts.org

Crissy Field, San Francisco

San Francisco Beaches
You’ve got to be pretty tough to swim at the beach in San Francisco but they do have fantastic views of Golden Gate Bridge, and provide ample space for kids to run around on, splashing in the waves and digging in the sand. Dip tiny toes in the Pacific Ocean at Crissy Field, Baker Beach and China Beach, three beaches in San Francisco city.

Crissy Beach is the easiest to access: an 100-acre shoreline park and restored marshland along the Bay, you can reach it by strolling alone the shorelines from Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Golden Gate Bridge
And lastly … don’t forget to check out Golden Gate Bridge. While the bridge can be seen from Alcatraz and various points on around San Francisco Bay, my favourite place to photograph it is Battery Spencer, on the Marin Headland just north of the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

You can also get fantastic views from Crissy Field and any areas on the coast line in the marina and Presidio areas, and at Lands End.

If you have enough energy, hire bikes from Fisherman’s Wharf and bike over the bridge into Sausalito, then catch the ferry back to the wharf. We used Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals, who have plenty of options for kids including kids bikes, trailers, tag-a-longs and baby seats.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

How to get around
The Cable Car is fun but expensive ($7 per person a ride, $21 for a day pass) and limiting in the directions it goes in, as well as slow due to the wait for a ride. You can also use the Muni Public Transport System. We found it easiest to walk and use Uber. When requesting an Uber, it costs $10 extra to request a car seat for kids up to 48 lbs. or 52 inches.

San Francisco Cable Car

San Francisco Cable Cars
It’s a must to ride the last of the world’s manually operated cable cars. There are three San Francisco Cable Car lines, each going to a different location: the Powell-Hyde Line, the Powell-Mason Line and the California Line.

The Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines both begin at Market Street and stop at Union Square. The Powell-Hyde Line ends near Ghiradelli Square, and the Powell-Mason Line ends at Bay Street in Fisherman’s Wharf. The California Street Line runs east-west from Van Ness Avenue to the Financial District. Maps and stops here.

Note: the cable cars are NOT accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. If you bring a collapsable stroller, as the conductor if there is room before boarding – there may not be space to place it onboard.

Riders can board at the beginning/end of each route or anywhere along the routes where you see the brown and white stop sign. The cable cars are cash only – pay the conductor directly when you board, or buy a 1-day Visitor Passport before boarding if you’re planning to take more than three rides in a car ($7 per person for a single ride, $21 for a 1-Day Passport). More information on fares.

We found the cable cars to be fun but they’re so popular that it can be a long wait (30 minutes or longer) to get on board, so I would suggest taking a ride on one in one direction for the experience, but then catching an Uber back as they’re faster and cheaper, particularly if there are several people in your party. (an Uber from Fisherman’s Wharf to our hotel in downtown cost $15).

Exploratorium science museum, San Francisco

CityPASS
We used the San Francisco CityPASS to save money on visiting attractions. The $89 adult/$66 child pass (ages 5-11) includes Cable Car and Muni Bus Passport,entry to the California Academy of Sciences, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure, Aquarium of the Bay and entry to either the Exploratorium or de Young Museum.

The regular pricing for adult entry to these is: Cable Car/Muni pass $32, California Academy of Science $35.95, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure $31, Aquarium of the Bay $24.95, Exploratorium $29.95, de Young Museum $15 = $153.85. If you’re like me and want to see and do everything, this is a massive money saver.

You can also do what we did and substitute our Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure for tickets to Alcatraz. Read the instructions here carefully regarding purchasing your CityPASS if you want to do the same.
citypass.com

The Best Things To Do In San Francisco USA With Kids | Family Travel | Travel With Kids
Sutro Baths, San Francisco

What to pack
San Francisco has unpredictable weather all year round. July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 14°C (57°F) and the coldest is January at 10°C (50°F). No matter what time of year you visit I recommend jeans, comfortable sneakers and several layers such as a tee, light sweater and jacket. Even in summer you will find yourself wearing a jacket and scarf. It can also get hot in summer, so be sure to pack light layers, sunscreen and a hat.

What to tip
While tipping isn’t mandatory it’s an intrenched part of American culture and is deemed extremely bad form not to tip. A 10% tip is the absolute minimum and usually indicates bad service. If you’ve received good service, 15% is the norm. Tip hotel porters $1 per bag carried and leave $2-$3 USD per day in your hotel room to tip service staff. I prefer to leave the money daily rather than a tip at the end as there are different staff who service the room each day.

The View, Marriott Marquais, San Francisco

Where to stay
We stayed at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis this time, located on Mission St, near Union Square. The location is fantastic for a stay in San Francisco; all the major shops, restaurants and amenities like grocery stores all a few blocks away. Be warned however about hidden charges at this hotel – $100 a week for internet and $15 per packaged delivered. We did enjoy The View bar and lounge inside the hotel is open from 4pm and has them most incredible views over the city, as well as being super kid-friendly.

San Francisco Marriott Marquis
780 Mission St, San Francisco
Find the best prices and book online.

Other popular places to stay include Fisherman’s Wharf, which I find too touristy and out of the way apart from a few attractions, and Nob Hill, which is nicer than downtown, but means a lot of walking up and down the steep hill it’s located on or catching a lot of cable cars.

Find, compare and book your hotel in San Francisco online.

The Best Things To Do In San Francisco USA With Kids | Family Travel | Travel With Kids

Thank you to CityPASS for the complimentary passes to explore San Francisco. They are a genuine money saver and we will use them again in other cities we visit. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you book through my website I will receive a small commission from the vendor at no extra cost to you.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Our time at Disneyland was magical! My almost five-year-old and I spent a wonderful day-and-a-half at the park and it just wasn’t enough time. While we loved pretty much everything about the experience, we had to have our favourite rides and experiences, right? Here they are, through a mix of photos from our last trip as well as our time at Disneyland in 2014:

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland ride: Mad Tea Party
So much fun we went on it over and over and over again.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Kind Arthur’s Carousel
It’s a gorgeous carousel and rarely has a queue.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Dumbo The Flying Elephant
This is just fun. Best to visit in the morning when the lines are short.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Character meet and greets
Ask at guest services for a schedule of character meet and greets so you’re always the first one there.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Jedi training: The Trials of the Temple
My daughter still talks about defeating Darth Vader. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrow land: Buzz Lightyear ride
We went on this ride so many times. My daughter loved the laser gun that you use to shoot targets.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Absolutely favourite of my daughter’s. Read about our experience here.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Mickey’s Toontown photo opps
While there are cool rides in Toontown, my daughter loved all of the pretend “toon” things she could climb on.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Cinderella’s castle
Enchanting – an absolute must to walk through.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Tomorrowland rides: Star Tours and Space Mountain
A bit scary for little ones perhaps, but we did them anyway and survived to tell the tale.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Frontierland: Jungle Cruise & Tarzan’s Tree House
Easy fun for little ones.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Minnie & Friends Character Breakfast at the Plaza Inn
The only place to meet characters like Winnie The Pooh, Chip & Dale and Eeyore. Book in advance.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet princesses at the Royal Hall
A must for any princess-lovers! Meet four princess in the one hall.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Must-see – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
See all your fave Disney characters.

The Best Bits of Disneyland with Little Kids via christineknight.me

Fantasyland: Meet Tinkerbell in Pixie Hollow
Walk through a replica of Pixie Hollow, meeting Tinkerbell and friends.

Get tips on planning the perfect Disneyland trip here.

Travelling with a little one? Get tips on taking a toddler here.

What are your Disneyland highlights?

 

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!

Meet Anna & Elsa at Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The Frozen sisters have found a permanent home in California Adventure Park’s Hollywood Land. The meet and greet isn’t anywhere near as crazy popular as it was when we visited two years ago. Back then, if you didn’t get to the link as soon as the park opened you were in for an all-day wait.

This time, we did the rounds in the morning to get FastPasses for our fave rides and then came back to meet the sisters. Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome is located deep inside the Animation Academy within the Disney California Adventure Park.

From the outside, it’s unclear that this is even the place to meed the Frozen duo as there are no clear signs that say so.  We asked a helpful Disney cast member outside who confirmed that this was the place and pointed where to go.

The Animation Academy has several experiences inside, just one of which is the Anna and Elsa Royal Welcome. it’s a huge space with Disney films playing all over the walls, which makes waiting to meet the sisters much more palatable. The queue wasn’t too bad – maybe 10 people before us, and we waited in total about 30 minutes to meet the pair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Anna and Elsa share an Arandelle-themed room in the Animation Academy for meeting their royal guests. I really think the pair are best as a dual act – they play off each other, make witty jokes, and in general are so much fun when they’re experienced together.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

The princess and queen really took their time talking to Cheese. They wanted to know all about her kingdom and commented on her beautiful hair.

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park Meet Anna & Elsa | Disney California Adventure Park

After the meet and greet, with Frozen stars in our eyes, we head off to the new show, Frozen – Live that is now playing at the Hyperion Theatre next door. If you have an avid artist on your hands, drop by the Royal Academy (it’s tucked inside the Animation Academy) where a real-life artist is on hand to teach you how to sketch characters like Olaf and Marshmallow.

Get more information about Frozen experiences at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park here.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!