How to Celebrate Your Birthday at Knott’s Berry Farm

this year i had a special request from my middle son. he wanted to celebrate his 12th birthday at Knott’s Berry Farm with six of his friends. of course the answer was yes, as Knott’s Berry Farm is one of our family’s favorite places to be, and since we have annual passes, we wouldn’t have to buy tickets for ourselves, just our friends. i was so excited to celebrate my little guy at Knott’s and we ended up having the perfect party with his friends.

here are some insider tips on How to Celebrate Your Birthday at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Get a Happy Birthday Button

did you know that Knott’s Berry Farm gives free birthday buttons to those celebrating their birthday at Knott’s? well, they do! just head over to Guest Services, located in Ghost Town near the lockers, and tell them you are celebrating your birthday. they will customize a birthday button with your name on it for you to wear around the park and keep as a keepsake. this way, everyone will know it’s your birthday. and many of the employees in the park will stop you and wish your a Happy Birthday.

Wear Some Happy Birthday Snoopy Ears

now that you have your birthday button, i also suggest getting the Happy Birthday Snoopy Ears. you can purchase them in the Snoopy’s Headquarters right outside the park, at the General Store in Ghost Town or Snoopy’s Camp Store in Camp Snoopy. they are reasonably priced and make extra special photos for your birthday.

Get Fast Lane Passes for Your Party

now it’s time for some rides. the rides are some of the best things at Knott’s, but you’d probably rather skip the lines for your special day. i suggest if you can, splurge on Fast Lane Passes to let you skip some of the lines….especially the big roller coasters. this way you are your friends will get to go on the most rides possible!

  

Get a Birthday Cake at Knott’s

did you know that Knott’s Berry Farm sells birthday cakes! they actually sell all kinds of cakes…that are pretty tasty if i do say so myself. i would say this is Knott’s best kept secret. their bakery has so many great cakes and cupcakes of all flavors, that you can even have customize with a “Happy Birthday” message. the prices are pretty great too. during my son’s party at Knott’s, i stopped into the Farm bakery, and they customized a cake for me on the spot. it was really cute too…with a Snoopy’s face and colorful confetti. just perfect for his party.

you can pick up Knott’s Berry Farm cakes at the Mrs. Knott’s Bakery Express outside of Knott’s in the California Marketplace, or at the Ghost Town Bakery near Guest Services. you can call ahead to get a specific cake, or take your chances and get what they have. either way, i am sure you will be happy with your cake.

i am so happy Kyle decided to celebrate his birthday at Knott’s. it ended up being a very special day with his friends and family. and the little added birthday touches from Knott’s made are time celebrating extra special.

5 Ways to Stay Cool at Universal Studios Hollywood This Summer

we just LOVE Universal Studios Hollywood! we’ve been looking forward to a summer trip there for a while, and we finally made it this month. if you haven’t been to Universal Studios Hollywood for a while, it’s time to go. there is so much to do, there are some new attractions, and it’s pretty easy to keep cool while having fun there. here are 5 Ways to Stay Cool at Universal Studios This Summer.

Kung Fu Panda Adventure

first of all, you can visit the new DreamWorks Theatre featuring Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest. it’s a multi-sensory attraction that uses state-of-the-art visual effects – including the first-ever interior projection mapping, 360 surround sound audio and even physical effects! it brings you into the a world of adventure of Kung Fu Panda.

the theater is air conditioned and nice a cool. you might even get a little wet. it’s there perfect way to cool down when you need a break from the summer sun. my kids loved the show, and i even took little Dani. we sat on the non-moving seats.

then after seeing Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor’s Quest, you can head over to the Meet and Greet with Po and Tigress from Kung Fu Panda at the park’s Universal Plaza. they are so much fun and even showed us some Kung Fu moves.

after you meet Po and Tigress, you probably will have worked up an appetite from doing all those Kung Fu moves. so stop by Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop to enjoy his authentic Asian fare and a selection of hot and cold Asian beverages. YUM!!!!

Last Chance to Experience Jurassic Park—The Ride

it’s true, Jurassic Park—The Ride goes extinct on September 3, 2018. so you gotta ride it one last time. i know it’s sad that this ride is going away, but don’t worry…the new “Jurassic World Ride” is coming in 2019!  Jurassic Park—The Ride is the perfect way to cool down during summer. they have all the water features on, and getting splashed on the ride was the best. we just LOVE this ride.

look! we got drenched….and we loved it.

bye bye Jurassic Park–the Ride….we will miss you! can wait to ride Jurassic World.

and after you ride Jurassic Park, you visit the Raptor Encounter. here, Owen will confront Blue, one of the most popular velociraptor from the blockbuster Jurassic World. you can even get your photo taken with Blue.

Super Silly Fun Land Water Play

did you know there is a water play zone in Super Silly Fun Land – adjacent to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. yep, it’s Super Silly Fun Land. it’s a colorfully themed, interactive Minion-inspired outdoor venue that depicts the seaside carnival from “Despicable Me!” it has more than 80 different water-play features and is a great way to cool off. make sure to wear shoes and maybe even bring a bathing suit or change of clothes.

 

Butterbeer Ice Cream at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

guess what has just came to Hogwarts?! Butterbeer Ice Cream…brand new at Hogwarts and it’s super yummy! everyone in the family gobbled it up, and it was just the thing to cool us down. you can find your own at either Three Broomsticks or at the ice cream cart near the Butterbeer cart.

if ice cream is not your thing, a Frozen Butterbeer might hit the spot. it happens to be my FAVORITE thing in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. you can also get some food if you’re hungry – try the new lunchtime menu items at Three Broomsticks, including Ploughman’s Lunch, Cheese Toastie with Chicken and Sunday Roast Sandwich.

of course we couldn’t visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter without using our wand magic on the streets. there are some exciting new additions – two new wand magic features…the Incendio fire-making spell and the Alohomora unlocking spell. and channel your inner wizard at Gladrags Wizardwear with new high-end costume replicas of Professor Severus Snape’s robe and Hermione’s Yule Ball dress, available in adult and kid sizes.

Hogwarts at Night

finally, make sure to stay until dark when the air cools down. you can grab a spot on the streets of Hogwarts and view “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle” as it returns nightly until August 19th, and then September 1st–3rd. the show is magical and i highly recommend staying until the show. don’t miss it!

Universal Studios Hollywood is so much fun. great for families and anyone who loves the excitement of the movies and Hollywood. i also want to mention that you need to ride the Tram while you are there. it too is nice a shaded and worth the trip to Universal alone. plus, during summer, they have water misters set-up along the walkways and there are plenty of stores with air condition and shade seats. it was really enjoyable even though it was a hot day. we gotta go back soon!

{Disclosure: We were invited guests of Universal Studios Hollywood. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. We loved it!}

School of Rock the Musical at the Segerstrom

last night was a rare event…i got to enjoy a night out with my husband! we decided to spend our rare alone time seeing the smash hit Broadway musical School of Rock – Musical at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. School of Rock – Musical is based on the 2003 smash hit film of the same name, and features music from the movie as well as an original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber. the show was FANTASTIC and will be at the Segerstrom  July 24th – August 5th, 2018.

School of Rock – the Musical makes for a fabulous date night, and is also perfect to bring the kids to. a great first show to introduce the kids to Broadway. as you can imagine, with an original score written by Andrew Lloyd, the music is awesome. there are 14 new songs! it makes you want to jump of your seat and start dancing. the kids are just as awesome…and they are actually playing their instruments, that makes them not only great little actors and singers, but talented musicians as well. we were so impressed.

this hilarious musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into grade-A rockers. if you have seen the movie, you know the ending. but this play is equally if not better than the movie.

and to get in the spirit of School of Rock, head over to Chunk-N-Chip in the 4th Street Market in downtown Santa Ana. its the home of the oven-warm, ooey-gooey cookies and farm-fresh ice cream sammich. to celebrate the arrival of summer and the hit Broadway show  School of Rock – The Musical, Chunk-N-Chip has created a new mouth-watering treat – School of Rocky Road which features rich chocolate flavored ice cream densely populated with yummy milk chocolate and chopped almonds with creamy mallow swirls between oven-warm chocolate chip cookies. this yummy sammich will be available starting July 4 through September 2 at the Chunk-N-Chip….you gotta go!

you could go an grab dinner and a Sammich at Chunk-N-Chip, then head over to the Segerstrom for a night full of fantastic music and rockin’ dancing and singing. the perfect feel-good musical. be sure to arrive early so you can share some rock moves with your friends and get your picture taken with the School of Rock backdrops.

wanna go?
hurry and get your tickets. this show only plays at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts until August 5th.

School of Rock – Musical
July 24th – August 5th, 2018
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts

online – SCFTA.org  •  phone (714) 556-2787

{disclosure: i received complimentary media tickets to reveiw the show. all thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

Visiting Candytopia in Santa Monica with Kids

if you haven’t been to Candytopia in Santa Monica, California, you don’t want to miss your chance. it’s a candy dreamland with each room having a different theme with creations made of colorful candy. it’s a picture perfect place to get cool photos and experience awesome artwork made of nothing more than candy…of course. Candytopia runs through July 22nd at Santa Monica Place. after you visit, there are plenty of places to have lunch or dinner at, so it makes the perfect outing for kids and grown-ups alike.

i had the chance to visit Candytopia with the kids and we had the perfect time. all of them had there favorite rooms, and there was a lot of interactive exhibits to explore. we also received candy in a lot of the rooms, so they all got their sugar rush before the adventure was over. and Candytopia is all about taking photos, so you will want to bring your phone or camera and get all the awesome shots in each room.

there first room you enter, has a steam punk vibe and the staff of Candytopia are in full costume and character. they explain the rules, get everyone excited and send you off to explore the world of candy in Candytopia.  you are allowed to stay in each room as long as you would like, but once you leave and move forward to the next, you are not allowed to go back. so make sure you get all the pictures you need in each room before leaving.

then we entered the Candytopia art gallery where we got to see lots of famous paintings and sculptures made out of candy. there were also glass chandeliers hanging all over the room. we got our first candy treat and plenty of time to view each artwork and take lots of photos.

the next room was an under the sea adventure and you felt like you were under water in a candy ocean. there were fish sea creatures, and divers made of gummy bears and jelly beans, and there were even sharks to take your photo with.

other rooms included a giant wall of clouds, giant beach balls and optical illusions. we had so much fun taking photos that made us look like we were falling down a hole, and walking a candy tiger.

if you ever wondered what it feels like to surf with a shark or swing from the vines of a jungle, you can try that too at Candytopia.

little miss Dani Kat had the most fun in the Trolli Confetti room where she could throw confetti to her hearts content. there was a spinning platform, confetti flying everywhere, and even flying pig the had “confetti toots” to put it nicely.

the finale at Candytopia is a giant pool of marshmallows where you can jump in and be a part of a marshmallow Tsunami. you can bury yourself in marshmallows, jump into them, throw them, and make them pour from the ceiling. of course, don’t forget to get your picture in them. they are so much fun!

Candytopia was fun and a great way to spend a long summer day. you only need about an hour and a half to experience it. don’t forget to bring your camera, and leave valuables at home. if you can do away with a purse, i highly suggest only bringing the necessities so you can do the photo opps without having to worry about bringing stuff. also, there is no bathroom inside, so don’t forget about that. once you leave, they don’t let you back in.

if you ever dreamed of nibbling your way through Candyland or scoring a Golden Ticket, then Candytopia is the right place to go. treat yourself to Candytopia, and let your tastebuds and your imagination soar!

{Disclosure: We were invited guests of Candytopia. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

Get the Most Out of the OC Fair on a Budget with Kids

the OC Fair opens today, and if yours kids are anything like mine, they are already begging to go. the OC Fair is an icon of summer here in Orange County, and every year there is a month long celebration of fair favorites. i love almost everything about the fair except for the prices. not everything is expensive, but with four kids, everything can add up. so i am sharing a list of ways on how you can Get the Most Out of the OC Fair on a Budget with Kids.

for our family, we usually go to the Fair 2-3 times each year. we usually go once, and splurge a little bit one food, rides and activities, but the rest of those day are most definitely budget days. a typical budget day will include: going on Opening Day for free or a Kids Free Day. the kids will get three free rides doing the Read & Ride program (more info below), sharing a treat, visiting Centennial Farm, checking out the exhibits, playing in the Explorium, and watching the free shows happening around the fairgrounds.

sometimes i give each kid $10 to spend how they like. if they know ahead of time, that it’s the only extra money we will be spending, i curb any begging for extra items at the Fair. plus, they get to learn about budgeting and really getting what they want.

OC Fair Ticket Deals

visit the OC for free or almost free. the OC Fair has free days, free kids days and discounts on admission prices. first things first, on Friday, July 13th, Opening Day, everyone is Free ‘Til Three (12-3 p.m.). and did i mention FREE PARKING.

• We Care Wednesdays run from noon to 3:00 p.m. just donate the specified items to each Wednesday Non-profit partner and get a FREE admission to the OC Fair and one carnival ride per person.

July 18th – School Supply Drive
(bring new school supplies valued at $5 or more, such as pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks (items must be sealed; no coloring books or workbooks)

July 25th – Share Our Selves Canned Food Drive, benefitting Second Harvest and OC Food Bank
(bring 5 canned food items)

August 1st – Children’s Book Drive, benefitting THINK Together
(3 new or gently used children’s books

August 8th – Clothing Drive, benefitting Goodwill OC
(bring 5 gently used clothing items)

Thursdays Wear Overalls Day
Guests in overalls will receive FREE admission. Valid noon to 3 p.m.

Thursdays Kids Day
Children 12 & under receive FREE Fair admission all day.

 

OC Fair Discount Tickets

• on Fridays, it’s Seniors Day (60+). Seniors get in for $5 plus FREE Ferris wheel and merry-go-round rides all day.

• First Responders and Law Enforcement get free admission the Week of August 8th through 12th. this includes active-duty and professional staff of the police, sheriff, fire and emergency services departments.

• on Saturdays, the OC Fair offers the “Best Deal Ever” from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. general admission is half price AND carnival rides are half off ticket redemption – that’s half the number of tickets, same amount of fun!

Sunday Fun Day is 11 a.m.-1 p.m. general admission is half price AND carnival rides are half off ticket redemption – that’s half the number of tickets, same amount of fun! or get a $35 unlimited ride wristband.

How to Save Money on OC Fair Rides

the rides are so much fun and they are one of the things that the kids beg for the most. but tickets can really add up, and each ride can cost anywhere from 3-10 tickets! yikes. here are some ways that you can get some free or discounted tickets.

did you know that your kids can get 3 free rides just for reading?!!! it’s a great deal and worth as much at 20 tickets. the OC Fair Read & Ride program allows kid ages 5-11 can read two books to earn three free carnival rides by writing a short book report on this form. and just so you know, i don’t think they are strict on ages, because i made all my kids read and write the reports last year and they all got free rides. such a great deal. completed book report forms can be redeemed for ride tickets at the Centennial Farm Information Booth during Fair hours.

• Wednesdays $35 Unlimited Carnival Ride Wristband
Enjoy all the rides you can handle for one price. (Sold until 5 p.m. Valid until 8 p.m. Wristbands must be purchased onsite. Required Fair admission sold separately.)

• on Fridays, get $2 Rides and $2 Games noon to 4:00 p.m. in the Main Carnival and Kiddie Carnival.

• Saturday Carnival Special is half off ticket redemption – that’s half the number of tickets, same amount of fun! Valid 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Sunday Carnival Special is half off ticket redemption – that’s half the number of tickets, same amount of fun! Or, get a $35 unlimited ride wristband. Valid 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free Things to Do at the OC Fair

there are lots of free things to do at the Fair, you don’t even really need to buy anything to enjoy it. our favorite things are Centennial Farm, the Explorium (Kid Zone), acrobatic & hypnotists shows, arts exhibits, Culinary Exhibits, Reptile House, Pet Center, 4H exhibits, water area, garden and farm area, free rides for kids with the Read & Ride program, and browsing vendor booths.

seeing the baby animals is the most favorite activity on our list, followed by the Explorium Kid Zone shows.

How to Save Money on Food at the OC Fair

out of all the attractions and amusements at the OC Fair, the food is what can cost the most. it really adds up if everyone wants a meal, and a drink, and a treat, and another treat.

if you are on a budget and want to spend as little as possible on food, i suggest eating first and then visiting the Fair. a fair isn’t a fair without food, so plan on at least getting a treat to share. some suggestions of my favorite sharable Fair treats are – Funnel Cake (with ice cream topping), Caramel Crack Fries, Berry Treat Bowl from Sherri’s Berries, Giant Donuts (look for the Unicorn Cotton Candy Donut), Giant Foot-long Corn Dogs, Loaded Curly Fries, Fried Zucchini and the Big Skillet Cookie.

plus, on Thursdays, you can get $3 Taste of Fair Food from noon t0 4:00 p.m. its a great way to get to enjoy a variety of select fun-sized Fair treats for a value price. samples include funnel cake, tri-tip, lemonade, cinnamon rolls, tacos, gelato, cotton candy and more.

How to Save Money on OC Fair Parking

general parking is $10 everyday. you can always park for free offsite at some of the free parking lots and walk to the Fair. or you can get FREE Off-Site Parking on Saturday & Sunday and Free shuttle service from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. at the Experian parking structure located off the Bristol Street exit of the 405 Freeway. follow the signs to “Experian.”

the OC Fair Express costs $2 each way, or 75¢ for seniors 60+ and persons with disabilities. when you ride the OC Fair Express, you will receive a coupon for $4 OC Fair admission, that’s a $10 savings! OC Fair Express buses depart from nine locations on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the duration of the Fair. if riding Metrolink, you can connect to the OC Fair Express at the Anaheim Canyon, Santa Ana, Irvine or Anaheim-ARTIC Metrolink stations. show your valid Metrolink ticket and ride the bus for free.

Now it’s time to enjoy the OC Fair!

the OC Fair runs for a whole month, this year it runs from July 13th through August 12th. hopefully with these tips and tricks, you can visit multiple times and not break the bank.