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!

OC Fair 2014 is on! Are you in? Eat, play, ride, make memories.

The 2014 OC Fair (on through August 10) is in its second full week of summer fun with deep-fried munchies, Texas-sized donuts, daily exhibits, rides and games, games and more games. We went opening night, and all I can say is nothing says summer like the Fair.

We went on a Friday night, which is my favorite time to go; you get a little day time fun (and cooler temps) and the night’s bright lights.

In the spirit of the O.C. Brew Hee Haw, my husband and I sampled the world varieties. I opted for a frozen-topped Kiran (why not try what’s different, that’s what the Fair is about, right). It was like a Beer Slushie–refreshing, really.

This year, we indulged the kids with lots of games (which we don’t always do). We figured, what the heck, plus our 2-year-old was working us hard to win a Minion.

We ate our Fair-share of Fair food, starting with grilled corn on the cobb, varieties of ice cream and cupcakes, some popcorn, baked potatoes, fries and wrapped the night with Funnel Cake–of course!

Fox got his first ride on a pony (classic Fair good times), and he screamed like crazy after begging to get on. It’s those memories that make the Fair such good ole fun.

After that, we hit the more tame merry-go-round, and the big kids and I got giddy on some spinning rides (that went a lot faster than they looked!).

We played, ate and rode like 5 kids being kids at a summer Fair.

What more could you ask for really?

Visit for a full listing of each day’s offerings.

Experience the food, rides, exhibits, animals, music, action sports and fun, as well as the Super Pass, Toyota Summer Concert Series at the Pacific Amphitheatre and events in The Hangar and Action Sports Arena. The Fair is open Wednesday-Sunday.

Pricing info:

Children 5 and younger are free every day.

Super Pass - Get the exclusive Super Pass and enjoy admission to the 2014 OC Fair for all 23 days. The Super Pass may be purchased at the OC Fair and includes 23-day admission, express entry at all gates, 2-For-1 tickets for select events in the Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar and Action Sports Arena and a carnival savings book for the pass holder.

Kids Days – Every Thursday, children 12 and under receive free admission all day.

Kid’s Pirate Coast Paddle Camp now open through August 18

The Kid’s Pirate Paddle Camp is a 5-day camp packed full of fun. Kids learn the basics of stand up paddle boarding, and have a really great time. My kids went last year and were stoked SUP’ers at pick up time (click to read our experience).


Each day is focused on teaching a new skill and new water activity. Instructors will teach balance, control, steering and paddle etiquette, marine education and water safety. Campers will participate in paddle races, beach challenges, water games, relays, swimming, treasure hunts and much much more. Students will also be taught new skills and moves/tricks each day. The daily agenda will be subject to daily weather and ocean conditions. At the end of the camp, kids will be an equipped paddler with the skills and confidence needed to continue paddling all summer long.


$275 per week, with 10% off for siblings

Monday-Friday from 9:00am to 12:30pm (Ages 7-12 years old)
(10% discount for siblings) *promo code: “HAPPYSIBLING”

Campers should bring swimsuit, sunscreen, towel, water, snack, and lunch daily to class. Minimum of 4 participants per camp in order for program to be offered, with a max capacity of 20 participants per camp.

*2014 Summer Schedule

Session 1 June 30th through July 3rd (No camp July 4th) – $220.00
Session 2 July 7th through July 11th – $275.00
Session 3 July 14th through July 18th – $275.00
Session 4 July 21st through July 25th – $275.00
Session 5 July 28th through August 1st – $275.00
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

Register Now
Questions? Email or call 714-600-8454


Fun new splash: get wet and wild at the Legoland Chima Water Park

My family and I got to check out the newly opened LEGO Legends of CHIMA Water Park at Legoland, and I’m happy to tell you that there’s much to love!

The Chima Water Park is presented by Cartoon Network so kids will instantly identify with some of their animated friends. The Lion Temple Wave Pool (pictured above) is the centerpiece of our new Water Park, where you enter though a LEGO archway (seen below) and into the pool area.


The whole water park is refreshingly clean, and the wave pool has an almost Vegas sense of splendor and beauty about it, which makes for an easy place to hang without worries of being knocked into anyone, as the waves are very gentle.


My husband and I remarked to each other how  it was so nice to hang out, while the kids played about.


You’ll find many different areas at the Water Park to entertain a family for hours–from the Cragger’s Swamp, a hands-on water play area that invites you to ride water slides, blast water cannons and jets and slide through the head of a massive crocodile, to the Eglor’s Build-A-Boat to more than 50 interactive water play features.

After you get your fill of water play, it’s fun to hit the rest of the park and ride awhile. i had a blast with my little guy on the many rides just his size.


I’d say definitely make Legoland a summer jaunt for the family. And so close to OC, it makes for a fun escape to play (or also stay at Legoland Hotel).

For online ticket prices click here, and check out the season pass which may be your best value. (Also fyi, admission to the new LEGO CHIMA Water Park is included with the Resort Hopper ticket and the Water Park Hopper ticket. You can upgrade a LEGOLAND only ticket or SEA LIFE Hopper ticket to include admission to the Water Park at Guest Services or at the Water Park entrance.)

LEGOLAND California
(760) 918-5346
Carlsbad, CA 92008

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

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

SBA registration available, why ballet is so important, and keeping kids interested

Southland Ballet Academy registration for the 2014-2015 year is now available online for both Irvine and Fountain Valley studios (check under classes and select your location). I’m a big fan of SBA for so many reasons–top opportunities tops the list.


My daughter Zoe, 10, has been with SBA for almost five years, and since that time I’ve seen my fellow future ballerinas at other schools lose their love for ballet and drift off into other hobbies and sports. Let’s face it, ballet requires a disciplined focus, so young ones can be easily distracted or grown tired and feel bored. Which leads me to SBA’s opportunities.

Zoe in SBA’s spring recital of Aerial.

Southland Ballet Academy is the official school of Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT).  Their students have the opportunity to audition to dance in children’s roles in FBT’s productions. Those include the annual Nutcracker Ballet held at the Barclay for two weeks each year. It’s the largest and most popular Nutcracker in OC and seen by so many each season. Other full-length story ballets, such as Sleeping BeautyDon Quixote, and Swan Lake are other lovely performances for the girls. Additionally, SBA dancers work with cutting-edge contemporary choreographers and learn to stretch their artistic boundaries.

As other moms ask me if Zoe is still in ballet and then shrug their shoulders longingly as they say their daughters (at other schools) lost interest, I wish they knew of SBA. Of course the SBA dancers also are challenged with continuing year after year, but the grand spectacle and excitement of being on stage in the Nutcracker for two weeks each year often carries them through. And then comes pointe, as the girls become 10. Zoe has been so excited to start pointe, it’s beyond anything I would have imagined with her.

If your daughter struggles with ballet focus and continuation, also consider insight shared recently by Dance Informa Digital Dance Magazine entitled, “Why do I have to take ballet?”

In the article, it shares ”Becoming a professional dancer is like building a house from the ground up. You can’t start by adding the roof and interior decorations; rather, you must start by creating a solid foundation to support the structure and make it last.”


The article adds, “Some students complain that ballet is boring or that learning the basics of technique is slow. To change a dancer’s approach from ballet as boring to ballet as interesting or enjoyable, it is suggested to take a look at that dancer’s passion. Perhaps he/she is more focused on jazz. Then how can ballet support that passion, and what does ballet have in common with that passion?”

The source also shares the strengths developed from ballet. “You can use ballet to refine yourself. It creates a dancer or performer who is centered, balanced, lengthened and physically graceful. Just standing up is an art form, and it is a big part of your first impression. Ballet contributes more to a dancer than just refined technique, too. It also imparts skills like attention to detail, mastery, form, harmony, precision, discipline, social grace and awareness of the group – all skills that help young people succeed in the adult world.”

With that, as well as the loving guidance of SBA’s teachers under the vision of Artistic Director Salwa Rizkalla, I share SBA’s registration for the 2014/2015 year, as roles are being assigned for December’s Nutcracker. Show your young dancer the beauty of ballet and rewards that go with it. Click here for 2014-2015 registration, then simply check under classes, and select your location; Fountain Valley or Irvine.

Additionally, please free free to contact me about SBA and chat about Zoe’s challenges through the years in staying focused. I can relate and share how she’s turned into a most graceful, excited dancer (here she is at home getting ready before the spring show).

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As parents, my husband and I are so proud of her, and amazed with each performance at how far she’s come and the blossoming ballerina we see.


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

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

Knott’s Staycation Experience – Ride, Stay, Play, Slide

We checked in to Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, rode the rides at Knott’s Berry Farm, stayed the night, then woke up and hit the watersides during our 2-day staycation at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. I told you about our chance to experience the fun and beauty of a staycation a few weeks ago here on OC Family, and promised to report back. So here’s the staycay skinny.


Who doesn’t love the idea of hitting a park and not having to drive home with spent kids in the car/sleepwalking into their beds. Hence, the beauty of a Knott’s staycation. After my older kids rode Silver Bullet, my little guy and I hit Camp Snoopy.

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Then we all met up and strolled back to the hotel for a night swim, and it was time for the kids’ Snoopy Tuck In. This was such an adorable angle of the night–I know the memories will stay with the kids.


The next morning after an am bite (Amber Waves Restaurant at the hotel is ideal for a quick omlette, oatmeal, pancakes and more), we hit Knott’s Soak City that just opened.

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It was a perfect summery day with a fully packed waterpark crowd. photo copy 17

Below are the kids running to be the first ones into the park.


Fox had a blast all day and never slowed down.


A nice respite during the days are offered by the pool Cabanas available for day rental.


All, in all, it was a delightful time, and it really did feel like a staycation, as we were rested and didn’t have to drive back and forth, plus the kids had back-to-back park fun.

For more on a Knott’s staycation ,visit Knotts online for all the details.

Also, Season pass info here. 


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

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

Disclosure: The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them.  I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.

Escape to Dolphin Bay for summer or on your way to San Francisco

Dolphin Bay is a delight as a destination vacation or a midway stop along the way to San Francisco. Our family had the pleasure of experiencing the beautiful resort recently and found it a most relaxing escape.

Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is located in Pismo Beach and set along the rugged California Coast, just south of San Luis Obispo and midway between San Francisco and L.A.
You can stay anywhere from two nights to months at a time. Dophin Bay has 60 wildly spacious 1 and 2 bedroom suites with everything from a gourmet kitchen and dining area to washer and dryer and private terrace—really, everything is there much like condos or timeshares.
If your kids are little fish like mine, you’ll appreciate the resort pool scene. It’s lovely, overlooking the ocean, the ambiance is friendly (my kids made fast friends each day), and parents can hang poolside enjoying dining and drinks.

Leisure beach walks are a must during your stay. The coastline is stunning. Steps from the resort, a path to the beach invites you around the bend, over a bridge and onto the sand, where you can sun, kids can skimboard and everyone can explore the tide pools.


It’s worth noting, dogs are also welcome at Dolphin Bay! (Our Pom, Kodi, loved the beach, walking paths and alfresco dining.)

One of our favorite things to do was walk the bluff path each morning and head to breakfast at neighboring restaurants. For lunch and dinner, LIDO AT DOLPHIN BAY is perfect for cocktails on the patio–Lido offers diners in a comfortable yet elegant setting.
Dolphin Bay really is ideal for its spacious stay, gorgeous views, poolside fun, beach access and family-friendly nature. And halfway to San Fran makes its a great few-days-stop on a long road trip.
Don’t miss Dolphin Bay’s Chardonnay Symposium too May 16-18, 2014. Events include a Grand Chardonnay Tasting, focused educational seminar with representatives from top Chardonnay wineries, and a sumptuous multi-course Chardonnay dinner. In conjunction with The Symposium, many Central Coast wineries will offer special promotions and events to complete the experience.

Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
2727 Shell Beach Road
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Click here for directions


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

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


Considered a Knotts Soak City Staycation and Gold Season Pass?

Summer’s just around the corner and the kids are almost out of school. Ready to keep them busy, having fun and staying and cool?

Zoe & I cutting loose at Knott’s last year. Here’s to 2014!

Knott’s Berry Farm has just the summer fix with their Knott’s Soak City Staycation & Gold Season Pass. We’re excited to try out the Staycation experience this month, and I’ll be sure to report back with inside scoop.

With a Knott’s season pass, you can go for an hour or stay for the day at Knotts Berry Farm. The choice is yours. Pick the Gold Season Pass for 2 PARKS IN 1 and also enjoy unlimited admission into Soak City Orange County Waterpark. Payments start at six payments for $17. Soak City is the 13-acre water park adjacent to Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park, complete with a wave pool, lazy river, tubes, and body slides, plus the wild Pacific Spin that drops riders into a 75 foot, six story funnel.

You can also play and stay with a fun summer staycation at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. The 320-room deluxe property features a SNOOPY-themed wing, fitness center, pool with children’s activity area, lighted sports courts and more. Dining options including Amber Waves, specializing in All-American fare and hotel room service.

Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel Easy Pay

  • Spread cost over 4 easy payments
  • Lock in current rates
  • Get first choice of availability
  • Best deals on our packages with Knott’s tickets

There’s definitely much summer fun to be had at Knott’s Berry Farm Gold Season Pass, Knott’s Soak City Park and a stay at Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. (Stay tuned for my summer staycation post mid-May and I’ve Istagram’ing at #SoakCityOC.) 

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

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

Disclosure: The opinions in this article are my own. I do not work for, or with, any brand mentioned in this article, nor do I have any official relationship with them.  I have a relationship with GigaSavvy, for whom I create original editorial content.

Great seats still available for FBT’s Giselle this weekend!

Festival Ballet presents Giselle this weekend, March 22nd & 23rd, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. FBT originally presented Giselle in 1993 to rave reviews, and it promises to be acclaimed again this season. The beautiful ballet is an artful OC outing of culture for adults and children. Young ballerinas will particularly be struck by the spectacle and allure.

Giselle is a ballet and story of mystery, majesty and magic. The ballet was originally presented in 1842 in Paris. The original cast included ballet legends Carlotta Grisi as Giselle and Lucien Petipa as Albrecht.

The role of Giselle is one of the most sought-after in ballet, and corps scenes portraying the Willis are both exquisite and haunting. Appearing in the lead roles with Festival Ballet are Gillian Murphy and Cory Stearns, principals with American Ballet Theatre, along with FBT’s highly accomplished company dancers.

The classic is a tale of a young peasant girl who dies of a broken heart. Giselle, engaged to Loys, is celebrating a plentiful grape harvest with her village when her jealous admirer, Hilarion, reveals that Loys is actually Duke Albrecht and that he is already betrothed to Batilde, a princess.  Maddened with sorrow, Giselle dances a crazed dance that eventually turns fatal.  In the end, Giselle’s loyalty shows that love can transcend death.

Here is a look at the dancers preparing for the big weekend ahead (photos courtesy of the talented Dave Friedman)!

Tickets: $40 adult, $37 senior, $35 child
Saturday, March 22, 2014 @ 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 23, 2014 @ 2:00 PM

The Science of Gingerbread thru Jan. 5 at Discovery Science Center

It’s a deliciously sweet time at Discovery Science Center with The Science of Gingerbread on through Jan. 5th.

Inside the kitchen, you’ll find much more is going on than pouring and mixing – it’s “science at work. ” We recently visited for holiday fun, and the kids had a imaginative time running about and exploring all to see and do. The award-winning Gingerbread Competition entries are displayed throughout the Center and are something to behold.

Holiday fun includes:

  • DSC’s Holiday Colors & Lights stage show
  • Meet Santa and take your photo with him
  • Build and race your own candy car in the Gingerbread Derby
  • Decorate holiday cookies and eat them too

During the 8th Annual Science of Gingerbread Competition, enjoy the creativity of local companies, schools, families and organizations that have submitted their gingerbread creations. Between the sweet sights, Santa stop and curious science (of laser harps and much more), DSC makes for a great winter break outing.

Discovery Science Center  |  2500 N Main St. Santa Ana, CA 92705