Our family of minions menaced at Legoland’s Brick or Treat Halloween nights

Have you heard of Legoland’s Brick or Treat nights? They’ve only been doing it a few years now, so it’s a fun new find for families looking for some October thrills. This upcoming weekend is your last chance to get in on the Legoland’s Brick or Treat action.

We were just a bit excited to go, as my crew ran out for outfits before our big night out at the park. Our little guy is obsessed with minions, so we supported his path of mayhem.

From 5 to 9 p.m. during the event nights, the Park transforms into a not-too-spooky Halloween celebration. Brick-or-Treat Party Nights is a special event and admission can be purchased for as low as $30 if purchased online in advance. Special event ticket holders can enjoy costume contests, nighttime trick-or-treating for children 12 and under at 12 treat stations throughout LEGOLAND California Resort where kids can gather goodies, tasty treats and other surprises.

We hit the park for the full day and got our ride-fill before the night’s friendly frights.

Mid day we changed into our minion-wear, and the kids had fun running around Legoland in character.

A nice part of the night is that the event is evenly paced, not too crazy for the kids, there’s room to venture around the park and the candy is mostly nutritious treats.

Be sure to look out for include Hubble Bubble’s Ultimate Dance Party, mingling with the “Boo Crew” including Silly Scarecrow, tap dancing skeletons, Dr. Hyde’s percussion cart plus the interactive show, “Mail Order Monsters.”

Special event guests can also enjoy entertainment from the “Witchettes,” a splash artist creating Halloween-themed paintings to music and master ventriloquist Kevin Johnson returns to the stage at LEGOLAND.

For exclusive savings and more information on Brick-or Treat and Brick-or Treat Party Nights, visit www.BRICKORTREAT.com or call 760-918-5346.

Finally, don’t leave before the fireworks. The animated light show “Spirits of Halloween” makes a bang to cap off the night at 9 p.m.

A look at Disneyland’s special HalloweenTime fun for families

The spooky fun is in full swing for families at Disneyland through October 31st. It’s a great time of the year to visit the park with special treats and surprises during HalloweenTime.

We just visited and got our pumpkin-fill of fun from taking in the seasonal decor and riding the Halloween-themed attractions.

Just strolling down Main Street, U.S.A. is a treat, as it’s transformed into a Pumpkin Festival with literally hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins on display—and no two alike.

Jack’s back at the Haunted Mansion Holiday. Jack Skellington, from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and his resident pals of Halloween Town are a must-see during the season.

There are also the intense thrills of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, if you dare. Nothing like a good Halloween scream to get you seriously in the mood.

Throughout the park, you’ll see favorite Disney Characters outfitted in their Halloween costumes. My youngest got a kick out of meeting Minnie–so crazy cute (even gave her a kiss).

At the Halloween Carnival at Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland, you can meet some Disney villains as well. And don’t miss Halloween crafting and activities for kids also at Halloween Carnival at Big Thunder Ranch.

My girl and I braved Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, and at the last minute, my 9-year-old son, Ty, joined us as a Space Mountain newbie. He never opened his eyes, but I’m pretty sure he’ll tell all his friends that he saw everything;) This was big for Ty, as we’ve been trying to get him on the ride for years.

Looking for more Halloween park fun? Also check out these other happenings:

  • Dia de los Muertos with a traditional skeleton display in Frontierland.
  • The Mad T Party at Disney California Adventure Park is a very fun dance spot.
  • The Disney’s Happiest Haunts Tour takes you on adventures through both parks.

We couldn’t leave without some Cars Land fun at California Adventure–guys and cars, you know. My little guy loved all the picture opps and my big kids were all about Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure Park.

Have a great Halloween season and enjoy all the special seasonal activities going on throughout the end of the month! Click for tickets if you’re planning an October HalloweenTime adventure.

See FBT’s Alice in Wonderland ballet this weekend at the Irvine Barclay!

It’s sure to be a delightful ballet this Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The famed Festival Ballet Theatre takes stage with Alice in Wonderland & Mixed Repertoire at The Barclay in Irvine. Expect a heart-racing adventure as Lewis Carroll’s classic tale comes magically to life with beloved characters, including  the lovable White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and the infamous Queen of Hearts.

Take a journey down the Rabbit Hole, into Wonderland Garden and through the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, all adorned with whimsical sets, wildly realistic masks and colorful costumes. Choreographed by Emmy Award-winning choreographer Robert Sund to Jean Sibelius’ lyrical melodies, Alice in Wonderland is an enchanting adventure that will delight children and adults alike.

The sumptuous program of dance also includes Balanchine’s Serenade (First Movement)and Valse-Fantaisie and a new work by choreographer Josie Walsh.

Click for tickets to FBT’s Alice in Wonderland show

 $42 Adult, $38 children 12 and under; $38 Seniors 55+

Saturday, October 4, 2014 @ 7:00 PM
Sunday, October 5, 2014 @ 2:00 PM

More about FBT

Under the direction of Salwa Rizkalla since its founding in 1988, Festival Ballet Theatre has become one of Southern California’s most vibrant and accomplished professional ballet companies. Celebrating 25 years of artistic service to Orange County, FBT is dedicated to presenting works that epitomize the artistry of professional-quality ballet, offering cultural awareness of dance through educational programs, and nurturing a creative environment for some of our county’s most talented dancers. Boasting a roster of impressive, up-and-coming talent, the company’s productions feature internationally acclaimed guest artists from prestigious companies, such as American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kirov Ballet, New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Scottish Ballet.

Seize the end of summer with a beach picnic basket from Sessions

As summer winds down, seize the dreamy beach weather and plan a beach picnic in Newport Beach with the gourmet grub of Sessions West Coast Deli, new to OC.

To celebrate the least week of summer, Sessions has assembled a promotion for its Newport Beach Peninsula customers and beyond for those aiming to soak up surf, sand and some charmed family time together. From Aug. 25 through Aug. 29, Sessions West Coast Deli will offer a “Last Week of Summer Sandwich Special” beach picnic basket for $35 (a retail value $75), to serve four people.

Surfers as well as grab-and-go sunbathers have made Session Sandwiches a locals’ favorite, with the restaurant’s unique combinations of flavors, highest quality foods, farm-fresh produce and preservative-free bread baked fresh and delivered daily.

The beach picnic basket will features fans’ favorites including:
  • Meddock Melee sandwich
  • Summer Zephyr sandwich
  • Greatfella sandwich
  • Pirate Coast sandwich
  • Cucumber Salad
  • Potato Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Shaka Spuds
  • Any four fountain drinks

Learn more about these menu items at http://sessionssandwiches.com/index.php/menu
Sessions is located at:
2823 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92663
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Indian food anyone? A vegetarian look at Tamarind of London.

Crystal Cove’s Tamarind of London is one of the most exquisite Indian cuisine kitchens in Southern California. The location’s Michelin Star Chef Alred Prasad offers an array of flavorful find for vegetarians. I’m not sure why, but I never thought to stop in this upscale eatery–perhaps I was intimidated by unfamiliar dishes or just hadn’t fallen in love with Indian before. I’m so glad my husband and I popped in for this divine Indian food experience.

Walking into the restaurant is inviting indeed. You’re met with cheerful, energetic and contemporary shades of red and burnt orange. It’s a lovely ambiance with indoor seating and alfresco dining. I started out the without-kids night out with a refreshing Tower of London cocktail–a light libation of cucumber, basil, gin and more.

From there, we began a sampling of much on the menu, including dishes of black and yellow lentils, okra tossed in a tangy tomato paste and Aldo Gobi, a potato and cauliflower cuisine with onion-tomato Masala and Cashews.

The dedicated, authentic culture of Indian traditions were a delight to experience and the flavors were rich with authenticity but not overbearing in any regard. Dishes were prepared table side with fun finishings.

And everything had a special sauce that made the dish. All of which made for a fresh new find, with an array of flavors and options for fellow Vegetarians.

Tamarind of London’s food is cooked in these unique tandoori ovens (large red ovens pictured below) in their open kitchen, for healthy food and hearty taste.

Our evening ended with a sweet sampling of desserts of rice puddings and more.

Tamarind of London is a refined night out for a gathering with girlfriends, a date night or even an outing with adventurous kids. You’ll see a few multi generations of Indian families who are seeking out the eatery for its traditional authenticity–a nice sight.

Why settle for the same ole-same ole all the time. Get out there and live a little.

Also look for a new array of wine offerings on the horizon. Simplified vino choices that perfectly complement the restaurant’s menu.

More on Tamarind of London’s Chef Prasad:

Chef Prasad is the youngest Indian chef to receive a Michelin Star (retained for the 11th year). He holds the the title of Executive Chef of the Tamarind Collection, which has four locations in London and one in Newport Beach. Celebrating the immense diversity of India through his cooking, Chef Prasad has shared his sensory dishes with celebrities and public figures including the royal family, Tom Cruise, and Rihanna, to name a few. Some other notable accolades included being named one of Restaurant Magazine’s top twenty ‘Movers and Shakers’,  ’Rising Star’ in Delicious Magazine, and voted ‘Chef of the year’ at the English Curry Awards.

Tamarind of London
7862 E Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, California 92657
(949) 715-8338
Mon – Sat: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sun: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Pacific Symphony outdoor concerts, Fantasia to Labor Day’s Tchaikovsky

Disney “Fantasia” Live in Concert show last weekend was such a perfectly engaging evening under the stars. And good news, another show hits Labor Day weekend!

With the almost-Supermoon shining during a classic repertoire from the original 1940 version and “Fantasia 2000” being performed live, heart-warming Disney footage appeared bigger than life on the big screen.

Fantasia music included “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” Suite—we particularly loved the Nutcracker pieces since my daughter dances to it each December with FBT.

The place was packed at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Several times throughout the night, I looked around and tried to appreciate the moment: my kids immersed in classical brilliance, the perfect summer SoCal temps, grown adults laughing to silly and beautiful animated imagery–all amongst a full-house crowd who there all in appreciation of the arts. It was perfect, really.

(An example of the fun on-screen footage during the Fantasia concert.)

If you get a chance, definitely consider going to the final concert of the season (complete with real cannons and fireworks!) It’s August 30 (details below). If you plan to go, plan on a picnic. We started our Fantasia night with a picnic on the lawn (picked up from Veggie Grill). The kids love eating and running about the lawn (it also helps them get the wiggles out before a show).

So you might wonder how kids do at a symphony? Well, I can tell you my little guy, Fox, is 2 years old and he’s been to four shows already since born. Fox was wildly engaged by the on-screen Disney antics and had a blast. My older children, Zoe and Ty, could appreciate the talents and notes, as they take piano lessons and definitely had their eye on the conductor as he led the orchestra to sync PSO’s sounds to the visuals on the conductor’s laptop before him. Everything working together was true magic.

In addition to a picnic dinner, parents can of course bring some vino. I picked OC’s own Red Siren from the Purple Corduroy folks. It was a fitting choice of classical sound waves and the waves of the Pacific Ocean. (The Purple Corduroy guys are a trio of epic surfer dudes; fyi, you can now buy Purple Corduroy at SoCo’s new LCA store.)

More details here on the upcoming show you won’t want to miss …

Tchaikovsky Spectacular

with fireworks & cannons

August 30, 8:00 p.m.Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

The traditional end to Pacific Symphony’s Summer Festival, includes the thrilling climax of thundering cannons and spectacular fireworks in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. Led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, the concert opens with some of Tchaikovsky’s incomparable dance music, the Waltz and Polonaise from “Eugene Onegin.” The evening concludes in grand tradition with the dramatic finale of fireworks and 16 cannon shots in Tchaikovsky’s victorious “1812” Overture, featuring the Huntington Beach Concert Band, which also provides pre-concert entertainment. This aural and visual spectacle takes place Saturday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Click to buy tickets. 

Here we are (above) at July 4th Big Bad Voodoo Daddy PSO summer concert this year that we enjoyed with lawn seats, and you can bet we’ll be at the Tchaikovsky Spectacular too! We’re huge fans of PSO!

Have a last summer hurrah at Harrah’s Laughlin!

It’s a sublime time to hit the lake with cooler desert temps and less intense crowds. Harrah’s Laughlin lets you enjoy one of the top stays in the area—with your family and even your pup!

We’re a boating family but haven’t hit Laughlin in a few years since our youngest was born. It was fun to be back, and to experience the rewards of Harrah’s. If you’re not familiar with the area, Laughlin is located just 90 miles south of Las Vegas. It’s a relaxed, friendly atmosphere that welcomes millions of visitors annually. The town along the Colorado River has grown to include nine casino resorts–Harrah’s is the nicest.

 Harrah’s Laughlin is quite large with 1,500 rooms and 170 suites in three towers, four restaurants, Kids arcade, a fast food court, two specialty bars, a Starbucks, two pools (one adults only), a boutique, convenience store, health club and day spa. To be able to take your dog too—what a treat (their new ”PetStay” dog-friendly program is relatively new)! Harrah’s is a welcome spot to return to after a day on the lake.

The resort’s sandy, ocean-style beach along the Colorado River is the only one of its kind of the hotels in Laughlin. It’s a handy spot to hang out after boating and a great spot to rent a jet ski with your kids.

Perks of a Harrah’s stay included the hotel’s Baja Blue Restaurant & Cantina with south-of-the-border favorites. It’s nice to have an on-trend spot to dine at, without walking elsewhere. And families will definitely appreciate the grab-and-go food court with ice cream, burgers and more.

The rooms are quite spacious. We stayed six days, so we were settled in for awhile and it was so nice not to be cramped and have gracious housekeeping services.

 Just a short walk out the back of the hotel, it’s fun to grab a water taxi and adventure down the river. Be sure to go at night when the town’s lights are a beautiful sight.

On top of all the water fun, the kids got to see a Vegas-like show.


Dirk, whose been seen on NBC’s World’s Greatest Magic, David Lettermen, and his own documentary “Big Cat Magic” on Animal Planet, had the kids mesmerized. It’s a fast-paced show with big-cat magic, comedy, beautiful dancers and large scale illusions including an appearing helicopter. You can catch the show through September 28, 2014.

Now, of course you have to also talk gambling when you talk Laughlin. I played a few slots, but my husband got his gamble-fix with a few hours at the tables (like he did before we had kids). Laughlin also makes for a close getaway for the guys. Hard-working Dads do deserve some time too. I’m told the fall season is a great time to go with the appeal of a long boat ride on the river with the guys, chased by some gambling at night (fyi, fall rates are seriously affordable too).

So whether a last summer hurrah at Harrah’s or a guys fall getaway, Harrah’s Laughlin is a fun stay with an array of offerings.

Also, speaking of guys, look out for Guy Fieri and Caesars Entertainment. They’re creating several new restaurants including one at Harrah’s Laughlin.

Harrah’s Laughlin

2900 South Casino Drive

Laughlin, NV 89029

Tel: (702) 298-4600

More ahead from me here, or keep up with me at DebbieintheOC.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

Also look for my stories each month in the OC Register Family Magazine.


Tried the Fresh Diet? Gourmet, fresh food delivered.

As busy moms, we often put “everyone else first.” It’s almost a cliche, as it’s heard so often, and seen repeatedly when it comes to our health and wellness.

With that said, this busy mom of three set out to try the Fresh Diet–gourmet, fresh food delivered to your door. All without having to worry about weighing, counting calories or cleaning up.

The gourmet delivery service, created by a Le Cordon Bleu Institute trained Chef, offers a Premium Plan, Chef’s Choice and Fresh Classic plan with seven days of the fresh food, prepared and delivered in Fresh Diet cooler bags that are thermally insulated to ensure the food is fresh, never frozen.

As a vegetarian, I found much to choose from, below is a look at a lunch salad I had of tofu, greens and veggies. Choosing the Premium Plan lets you dictate which foods you’d like to opt for. The serving sizes are generous and the food is quite delicious.

More than anything, the Fresh Diet gave me the insight into what I should be eating as a lifestyle, not a trendy diet.

Daily meals include a breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, appetizer, dinner and dessert (very gourmet sweet options will satisfy your sweet tooth). All the food is made without preservatives, so it really delivers for those interested in clean eating. Here is a sample menu of a day in the diet to give you an example.

So the big question: did I lose weight? I did lose a few pounds after being on it several weeks, but I cheated here and there (as summer vacations hit and traveling interfered). More than anything else though as mentioned, I was remarkably enlightened about what kind of foods I should be eating and learning the portion sizes. I saved all the daily menus to help me learn what to make in the future—even sweets can be a part of my reality now. 

Staying on the program “forever” isn’t a reality for anyone, as it is a premium service and wouldn’t probably be affordable to most. But taking the wealth of knowledge is a beautiful thing. I’ve since been so inspired by the program that I’ve picked up a clean eating cookbook and began cooking myself (for the first time in my life!). I’m cooking meals for my whole family now and learning to incorporate health into a time-crunched schedules.

I’d definitely recommend the Diet to those interested in a lifestyle and long-term wellness success. It’s a great jump-starter when time is tight and you really don’t know where in the world to start a clean-eating philosophy.

To try the Fresh Diet yourself, call 866.FRESH.50 (373-7450) or visit thefreshdiet.com

VIDEO: OC kids love Pirate Coast SUP camp

In the world of Mom Ambassadors, this Mom is a big ambassador of Pirate Coast, as are many moms on the OC Family team. It’s a company with heart, love for the kids and passion for fun in the sun and all things OC. Their Kids SUP camp rocks and there’s still four more weeks left with Pirate Coast Paddle Company.

Here’s a video look I put together at some of the fun a week holds at the 5-day camp packed full of awesome when my kids were campers last week.


The SUP counselors are great fun with the kids (several are even teachers in the Irvine school district). In addition to learning water safety, balance and mastering SUP, campers do paddle races, beach challenges, water games, relays, SUP tricks, swimming, treasure hunts and enjoy ice cream hikes, a BBQ and much more.

Remaining sessions include:

Session 6 August 4th through August 8th – $275.00
Session 7 August 11th through August 15th – $275.00
Session 8 August 18th through August 22nd – $275.00
Session 9 August 24th through August 28th – $275.00

Plus, kids can often do drop in classes for the day; just call ahead to be sure-714-600-8454;  or email piratecoastpc@gmail.com.

Pirate Coast Paddle Company

1131 Back Bay Dr. Newport Beach, CA 92660

Get Directions | 949-278-0011 | piratecoastpc@gmail.com

It’s a Minion Invasion at Universal Studios Hollywood

It was all minions, all day for us at Universal Studios Hollywood. The all-new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride is a giggly, mischievous, fun-hearted, little-yellow-people frenzy.

As soon as we arrived at the park, it was minions everywhere we looked, and our minion-obsessed two-year-old was in heaven. My kids had been seeing the park commercial on TV and couldn’t wait to see what it was all about. We were even that family who dressed in all minion wear for our little guy, Fox.

The fun factor started before we even got on  the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, as there were oversized minions outside the ride entrance, who were causing mayhem for photo opps. They are wildly misbehaved and will make you laugh.

The Minion Mayhem ride itself was really a riot. We rode it several times throughout the day.

And to our welcomed surprise, Fox got to ride his own “minion ride” (2-year olds are too small–must be 40″–to ride the real ride). Universal Studios set up a great thrill for littles, as their spinning version lets young children pilot their own “car” by moving a lever up and down. It doesn’t disappoint. The ride is in a recreation area of the first film’s memorable seaside carnival, Super Silly Fun Land; it’s an all-new, over-the-top outdoor family play zone.

(FYI, it’s very easy for parents to switch off riding; big kids can ride the real ride with one parent, who then gets a switch ticket that allows the other parent to come back and ride too–all while littles play in the Fun Land.)

Also fun is a host of minion games set up outside the minion ride area, allowing kids to win a minion of their own. We got lucky and Fox got his wish with a win by my husband.

As always, the best part of a day at Universal Studios Hollywood is Front of the Line pass. You save time by skipping lines–on everything, all day. It’s like magic, really. Enjoy one-time priority access at each ride and attraction*, including Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. (Gets you reserved seating at each show. Includes 1-day Park admission. Fyi, Front of Line Passes often sell out at the front gate ticket booths. However, when you buy online these sellouts will not affect you.)

After much minion fun, we hit many of our favorite other rides at the park, including The Simpsons Ride™ (crazy clever and will have you cackling). Plus we loved the classic Studio Tour (with all the Hollywood movie secrets revealed). Jurassic Park® is wet and wild good times. King Kong 360 3-D is a quick thrill. Shrek 4-D™ is relaxing movie entertainment. And there is much more fun based on your kid’s interests.
Fox also got to meet Curious George. It was like Christmas in July for him really.

The new minion ride is a perfect addition to Universal Studios Hollywood. If you’re planning to visit soon, here is some pricing information below. Have fun and make the most of summer before it’s over!