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!}

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. }

On the Red Carpet with Juicy Juice at the Finding Dory World Premiere

The Finding Dory World PremiereLast week I had one of the most exciting times on the BLUE carpet at the Disney • Pixar Finding Dory World Premiere in Hollywood! Juicy Juice invited me to attend the world premiere at the El Capitan theater and watch Finding Dory with Ellen herself and the rest of the cast and crew. It was an evening full of excitement and celebrities…a very special night that I will always remember.

Here i am right before i drove to the premiere with Dory! it was fun to get dressed up..in blue of course, ready for a night of fun.Driving to the Finding Dory PremiereI arrived at the red carpet…which was actually BLUE in honor of the ocean, just in time to see the celebrities arrive to the premiere and walk the blue carpet.

The Blue Carpet at the Finding Dory PremiereDisney's Finding Dory Premiere at the El CapitanHere is the beginning of the blue carpet where the celebrities walk down getting their photos from the paparazzi and doing interviews with new outlets. it was most exciting to see Ellen arrive with Portia, since I have never seen her in person…and because she is the star of Finding Dory. Ihe crowd of course went wild, screaming and calling out to her.
The Finding Dory Red CarpetEllen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi at the Finding Dory PremiereDisney Stars at Finding Dory PremiereEllen Degeneres on the Red Carpet at Finding Dory Premierebefore entering the El Capitan to watch Finding Dory, i took a few photos on the blue carpet. and right before we headed in, i was able to capture a photo of the entire cast of Finding Dory in front of the El Capitan. what a fun treat.then it was time to go inside and watch the movie. watching movies at the El Capitan is a unique experience. the theater is vintage and full of nostalgia. we weren’t allowed to take cameras inside, so i don’t have any photos to share from this part of the night.

Disney Finding Dory Red CarpetThe Finding Dory Cast Photo at PremiereDisney • Pixar Finding Dory was AWESOME!!!! one of my favorites animated movies for sure. just as good as Finding Nemo…or BETTER! i loved it and couldn’t wait to take my boys to see it in the theaters. good thing i didn’t have to wait very long, i took them on opening day. of course, they also loved it! on the way out of the theater, everyone was raving about the movie. i also bumped into Ellen!!!!!! i got to walk out of the theater with her. unfortunately…i was too shy to talk to her even though she was inches away. AND, i didn’t have my camera with me. but once i got my camera back, i was able to get one last photo of her.

Ellen at the Finding Dory Premiere

After the movie, the after party started! there was live music, food, activities and lots of people having a great time. It was pretty exciting to recognize the celebrities from our favorite movies and television shows walking around at the party.

Finding Dory Sand SculptureJuicy Juice Face Painting at Finding Dory PartyDecorations at Finding Dory PremiereFinding Dory CoralFinding Dory Party GamesLive Band at Finding Dory PremiereBeautiful Coral at Finding Dory PremiereAnd I couldn’t leave the party without enjoying a box of Juicy Juice. right now the Juicy Juice packaging is Finding Dory themed! something my kids would love. and since Juicy Juice is 100% real fruit juice, I love that they love it too.Finding Dory Juicy JuiceFinding Dory Juice Boxes by Juicy Juicei had such an incredible experience and the Disney • Pixar Finding Dory Premiere. it was a night to remember. thank you so much Juicy Juice for inviting me. and don’t forget to see Finding Dory in the theaters. the movie opens June 17th, just in time for summer. i know you are going to love it just as much as i did. make sure you stay and watch the movie all the way to the end of the credits! there’s a fun scene that is only shown after the credits have rolled and you won’t want to miss it. now go see it….and bring some Finding Dory themed Juicy Juice with you too. have fun!!!!
On the Blue Carpet at Finding Dory Premiere

{This is not a sponsored post. I was an invited guest of Juicy Juice. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. }

Nature Connects Lego Exhibit at South Coast Botanic Garden

Lego Hummingbirdlast weekend the boys and i headed out to Palos Verdes to check out the Nature Connects – Art with LEGO Bricks Exhibit at the South Coast Botanic Garden. it’s been forever since i have been outside Orange County and thought it was time to get some exploring in with my boys. it was my first time visiting the South Coast Botanic Garden, which is a gorgeous arboretum that has lots of trails and gardens to explore. right now they are currently hosting the Nature Connects exhibit which is an award winning, record-breaking exhibition that is touring North America. it is created entirely with LEGO brick pieces, and features larger-than-life sculptures built with LEGO bricks by New York artist Sean Kenney.

South Coast Botanic Garden Entranceif you and your kids like to hike or explore nature and the outdoors, this is the perfect family outing. you can walk through a beautiful garden where around the corner, you may come face-to-face with a LEGO bison….constructed from 45,143 LEGO® bricks!  Lego BuffaloLego Buffalo display

as you walk through the gardens, there are 27 nature-themed Lego sculptures in the Garden. a total of 15 exhibits because they count each piece as a sculpture, and some have multiple pieces. at each of the LEGO sculptures there is an information card that tell you all about the sculpture, how many Lego pieces, and facts about it. the boys really enjoyed reading about each exhibit.

Moth Orchid Lego

i wasn’t sure what to expect, and i didn’t want to recommend this exhibit until i checked it out for myself. we ended up having a fantastic time, so i would definitely recommend.

Lego Fox and RabbitFamily Fun in Palos VerdesLego Fox

there are lots of trails to walk and different garden to explore. rose gardens, cactus gardens, a childrens’ discovery garden and more. plus, the addition of the LEGO sculptures  made the experience really exciting for the boys who excitedly looked around each area to find another one.

Walking in South Coast Botanic GardenSouth Coast Botanic Garden in Palos VerdesLego Gardener

the boys loved exploring the children’s Discovery Garden. there were lots of cute statues and quirky things to see.

Discovery Garden at South Coast Botanic GardenSouth Coast Botanic Garden Childrens GardenSouth Coast Botanic Garden AlphabetSouth Coast Botanic Garden Discovery GardenChildrens Garden in South Coast Botanic GardenChildrens Garden in SC Botanic Garden

one of my favorite areas of the garden was this beautiful blossoming tree and gazebo. there we also found a giant rose…made of Legos of course.

South Coast Botanic Garden TreeSouth Coast Botanic Garden GazeboLego RosePalos Verdes Arboredum

here are a few pictures from our adventure.

South Coast Botanic Garden CactusSouth Coast Botanic Garden BridgeLego Lawn MowerLego Butterfly South Coast Botanic Garden California PoppySouth Coast Botanic Garden Lego DisplaySouth Coast Botanic Garden Lego funin addition to the beautiful gardens, during this exhibit there is an area for kids to play with legos, create and even race them on a special racetrack. and even though my boys have tons of Legos at home, i could barely get them away from the Lego tables when it was time to leave.Lego Fun in Los AngelesPlaying Legos at the South Coast Botanic GardenBunch of Legos Lego Racing Track i am so glad we decided to check out the Natures Connect exhibit at the South Coast Botanic Garden. it wasn’t a bad drive from Orange County…only about 40 minutes. and we left in the morning when there wasn’t any traffic. after you visit, there are lots of great food places in Palos Verdes to grab a nice lunch. it could make the perfect family day. the admission price is pretty reasonable. $9 for adults, $4 for ages 5-12. there is also a family year membership for $65 that can be used at multiple arboretums in Southern California. it is harder these days to find low cost activities for families, so this is a great idea. where else can you see BEE-utiful Lego sculptures like these….

Lego Bumble Bee

Nature Connects® at the South Coast Botanic Garden runs from February 19th – May 8th, 2016. this is the only garden in Southern California that it will be displayed at. once it’s gone, you can still enjoy visiting the Garden. there are often events happening and i also heard that there will be new areas of the Garden opening for visitors to enjoy, including and expanded children’s garden. we can’t wait to see what is in store.
Fun things to do in Palos Verdes

Us Weekly’s Family Movie Night with Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn

This post is sponsored by Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn.
Silly Popcorn Kidsthis past weekend the boys and i headed over to a fun movie night at The Grove in L.A.!!!! i recently posted about this fun family event. Us Weekly’s Family Movie Nights are being hosted by Orville Redenbacher’s Movies in the Park, and are happening all over the United States. be on the lookout for one happening near you this coming fall.

Outdoor Family Movie at the Grove

our family LOVES movies, and being able to watch a movie outdoors is the icing on the cake. the stars, the cool night air, the lights. we love everything about watching the big screen outdoors.

Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn Movie Night

everyone at the Us Weekly’s Family Movie Nights were treated to tubs of Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Buttered Popcorn. YUM! you can’t watch a movie without the popcorn, and Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Buttered Popcorn is our family’s go-to brand. it pops up in minutes, giving you a delicious, light and fluffy snack that’s perfect anytime. plus it tastes just like movie popcorn.

Orville Redenbacher's Movie Night

before the movie started and the sun went down, Us Weekly’s Family Movie Night hosted fun activities such a caricature drawings and red carpet activities for everyone in attendance.

Us Weekly Movie Night
as the sun went down, the excitement in the air grew. everyone sat down on their blankets and got ready to watch the movie.

Outdoor Movie Screen

with popcorn in hand, the boys, the hubby and myself enjoyed a fantastic family-friendly movie. it’s always great to have some family time, and it was nice to relax and spend some time with each other.

Outdoor Family Movie ideas

so, pack those bags, pop some popcorn and head over to one of Us Weekly’s Family Movie Nights! you and your family are in for a treat!!!  it’s open to the public, so everyone is invited!

Family Movie Night at the Grove


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