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California

Stepping Back In Time At The La Brea Tar Pits And Museum, LA, California

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Stepping Back In Time At The La Brea Tar Pits And Museum

The La Brea Tar Pits and museum were an unexpected delight that engaged the whole family, including the hard-to-please husband. Science-lovers of all ages will get a real kick out of visiting this incredible time capsule, where active tar pits are still in play and fossils being still being discovered and excavated.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Right in the centre of Los Angeles, the tar pits are an Ice Age fossil excavation site where natural asphalt has seeped up from the ground to form pits of tar where animals were trapped and died many centuries ago. The tar preserved the bones of the animals, resulting in one of the biggest collections of Ice Age fossils in the world.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

More than 3.5 million fossils have been discovered in the tar pits, including over 600 species of animals from snakes and sloths to mollusks, mammoths sabre-toothed cats and mountain lions.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Next to the actual tar pits is the George C. Page Museum, which is dedicated to researching the tar pits and displaying specimens from the animals that died there. The La Brea Tar Pits are a registered National Natural Landmark.

When visiting the La Brea Tar Pits, begin outside in the park where the actual tar pits are located. Pick up a map from the entrance and walk around the tar pits in order, reading about the animals that have been found in each pit.

We found it a fascinating journey back in time to a land of apex predators such as sabre toothed tigers. Walking around the pits we learned that 90% of the mammals found in the pits were carnivorous – the likely reason being a herbivore would wander in to a pit and get stuck. A carnivore would then spot the animal, assume they were easy pickings, and enter the pit to become stuck themselves.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Some of the tar pits are still active and you may see excavators at work when you visit.

Once the fossils have been excavated, they’re brought inside the museum. the best fossils are on display. Over 1 million Ice Age fossils, from 650 species, can be seen inside, from a Columbian Mammoth, excavated in 1914, to the tooth of a baby mouse.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Visitors can see paleontology in action in the lab in the centre of the museum, where fossils are being cleaned, studied and prepared for future exhibits. When we visited, paleontologists and volunteers were working on fossils of animals who had lived between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, excavated from Project 23 in the outside tar pits.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Kids in particular will enjoy the 15-minute multimedia performance that brings the Ice Age to life, and features a life-size saber-toothed cat puppet.

The museum is also home to a 3D cinema where visitors can watch entertaining shows on relevant subjects. When we visited, the show was “Titans of the Ice Age 3D”.

 

La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
tarpits.org

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Visiting LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

LACMA, LA, USA

The iconic Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles is a must-visit for any lover of art and design.

LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, featuring an excellent collection of modern art including works by Picasso, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Willem de Kooning and Joan Miró, plus collections of American and Latin American art, Asian art, Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art, Islamic art, Decorative arts and design and photography.

LACMA, LA, USA

Outside, there is an outdoor sculpture garden and palm garden to enjoy

In front of the entrance to LACMA on Wilshire Boulevard you’ll find the famous Urban Light light installation, featuring 202 antique cast-iron street lights from various cities in and around LA. The lights turn on at night so be sure to visit during the day and evening for the full experience.

LACMA, LA, USA

At the rear of the gallery sits another large-scale installation, Levitated Mass. A 340-tonne boulder sits atop of a 456-foot-long trench allowing visitors to walk underneath.

LACMA, LA, USA

 

Kids are more than welcome at LACMA, they’re invited to participate in art making in the Boone’s Children’s Gallery, a free, creative space where visitors of all ages can explore painting. LACMA also offers Story Time in the Galleries, featuring folk-tales and stories aimed at engaging young children, every Friday at 2pm in the Korean art galleries adjacent to the Boone Children’s Gallery.

LACMA, LA, USA

Families can also enjoy Andell Family Sundays, a weekly event featuring artist-led workshops, family gallery tours and activities.

LACMA, LA, USA LACMA, LA, USA

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
Hours: Mon, Tue, Thur & Fri 11am-5pm. Sat & Sun 10am-5pm.
Children aged 17 and under are free (3-17 need a “free” ticket)
lacma.org

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting The Getty Villa, Los Angeles

Getty Villa, LA, California, USA

An absolute must-visit in LA, the Getty Villa is a recreation of an ancient Roman country house, built in the 1970s and modelled after the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy, which was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

The villa is filled with artefacts and art works from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire, while the garden design reflects those found in ancient Roman homes including a herb garden, decorative fountains, arbors and reflecting ponds.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

We spent a peaceful few hours walking through the gardens and villa following the Art Detective Cards, which direct families to find art and solve a mystery while exploring the galleries, garden, and architecture.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

The Family Forum is a highlight of a visit to the Getty Villa with kids. This interactive room brings ancient history to life with hands-on activities designed to encourage families to play and learn together. The Greek vase, how they were made, decorated and used, is the focal point of the Family Forum.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

Another free activity, the GettyGuide® Family Favorites multimedia tour lets kids discover the myths, legends and daily life of the ancient Greek and Romans.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

 

Admission to the Getty Villa is free but must be reserved prior to your visit.

Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades
getty.edu

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting the Getty Center Art Museum Los Angeles

Getty Center Art Museum LA USA

 

Getty Center Art Museum Los Angeles

Getty Center LA, USA Perched atop a hill with a stunning view, the Getty Center art museum in Los Angeles is worth visiting to see it’s incredible architecture and gardens as well as their art collection.

To reach the Getty Center, park or take a cab/bus to the visitors’ parking garage at the bottom of the hill and take the funicular up to the top.

Getty Center LA, USA

The Getty Center houses the Getty Museum’s collection of pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American, Asian, and European photographs. Keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful Vincent Van Gogh painting Irises.

Getty Center LA, USA

We loved the Central Garden with its fountain flowing over rocks into a pool at the bottom, surrounded by a maze of azaleas and trees, and the outdoor sculptures on display throughout the terraces and gardens.

Getty Center LA, USA

Visit the Family Room with kids to explore art with hands-on activities such as mask-making, playing with camera lenses, creating a tube sculpture and decorating a giant illuminated manuscript.  .

Getty Center LA, USA

Or, use the Art Detective Cards to engage kids in art around the galleries and garden. There is even a free multimedia GettyGuide® Family Tour with stories, music, and sounds inspired by art available at the GettyGuide Desk in the Museum Entrance Hall. Get more info on the Getty Center programs for families here.

Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA

Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles
getty.edu

Entry into the Getty Center is free!

 

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!

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!