Escape the summer heat at Pretend City’s newest exhibit

Summer has definitely arrived in Orange County! And warmer temperatures have prompted my family and I to seek out fun ways to stay cool. One of these summertime solutions is also a favorite of ours year-round — Pretend City

The Irvine-based children’s museum is currently featuring an ocean-themed exhibit called “Adventure Under the Sea.”

During the exhibit, guests can explore super-fun themed days, such as Mermaid Mondays, Tide Pool Tuesdays, Water Safety Wednesdays, Think Tank Thursdays and Fish Fridays! Check them out here:

  • Mermaid Mondays – (11am-12:30pm) Story time, meet and greet and photos with mermaids. (No mermaids July 10 or 31)
  • Tide Pool Tuesdays – (10am-1pm) Featuring real and pretend mobile touch tanks for kids to explore.
  • Water Safety Wednesdays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Valuable summertime water safety tips from local water safety experts and swim schools.
  • Think Tank Thursdays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Explore science, technology, engineering and math skills while learning about our oceans, water cycles and more.
  • Fish Fridays – (12:30pm-1:30pm) Learn how to keep our oceans and beaches clean to protect our fishy friends. (No activity on July 14 or 21)

Once you enter the museum, you can find this exhibit in the back left corner. Once inside, you can’t miss the main attraction, the HUGE whale-shaped bounce house! Parents need to accompany little ones inside the bounce house, which proved tricky for me, since my daughter really wanted to go in and my son most definitely did NOT. My whole crew ultimately gave it a shot, but we only lasted a matter of seconds before they all wanted to get out. I think it was just a bit too loud/dark inside for my youngsters, but I think older children would get a kick out of it! 

My crew did, however, enjoy some of the other interactive parts of the exhibit, such as the photo booth dress-up area, and even a section where they could help build and decorate a ship.

Beat the heat and enjoy this splashy exhibit all summer long, through September 7!


The LEGOLAND Play Pass is back!

One of our favorite deals is back — the LEGOLAND Play Pass! It’s usually available sometime in June, and must be activated by July 31, 2017. So here’s the scoop — purchase it now for $97, and enjoy unlimited admission through December 31, 2017! Plus, as a bonus, you’ll receive a one-day LEGOLAND Water Part ticket, too! 

This is a great deal for families with school-age children who can take advantage of the pass all summer long. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to pay parking ($17) upon entering.

Get ready for some summer fun now with the Play Pass


Conquering fears at Pretend City’s Superhero Summer!


My family has always loved Irvine-based Pretend City, so when we heard about a new exhibit opening, we knew we had to check it out! The newest exhibit, “Super Powers,” from Omaha’s Children’s Museum debuted last month and will continue through September 18, 2016. According to the Pretend City website, the exhibit “introduces children to the mental and physical powers displayed by everyday superheroes and allows them to put these powers to the test through daily educational missions.”

My two toddlers put their powers to the test recently during an action-packed visit to the children’s museum. We began at the Super Powers Headquarters, where we had our choice of masks and capes to play the part. Unfortunately both my kiddos were reluctant to put any capes or masks on, but for any superhero-loving kids, this would be a huge hit.

My four-year-old son was immediately drawn to the Sky Slider zip line, though he was rather intimidated by it once we were in line to actually try it. He finally tried it, but was still unsure. After mini-freakouts and running back and forth around the exhibit, he finally worked up his courage to try it again. This time, he tried the shorter zip line, which helped him build up his confidence more. By the end of our visit, he was literally in tears because he didn’t want to stop! I love that he was able to conquer this fear with the help of the awesome Pretend City staff and volunteers!

Another exhibit fave was the Wind Tunnel, where gusts of wind will flutter your superhero cape as you stand in front of a TV screen and appear to be soaring through the air and saving the day! My two-year-old even got a kick out of this one.

The Super Cycle bikes were another fun challenge for my son, who pedaled as fast as he could to make more energy and charge up the fuel cell. Once again he was challenged by this, but he pushed through until he reached his goal.

Other fabulous features of the exhibit include the Comic Creation Station, Rope Maze, Storm Shooter and Decoding Station. But the fun isn’t just for the big kids — my daughter was thrilled to see Mini Hero Park, where the museum’s littlest guests could take off their shoes and play with blocks and balls and crawl through tunnels. My daughter stayed in here for at least a half hour — she loved it! My favorite part? Toddlers and babies are contained in the park by baby gates, which made it easier for me to watch both kids even though they were in different areas of the museum.

I would definitely recommend Pretend City’s Super Powers exhibit the next time you’re in Irvine. Not only is the exhibit worth the trip, but so are the other fun features of the museum — including the Cafe, the Beach, the Grocery Store, the Marina, the Farm, and so much more!

Click here to learn more about the exhibit and start planning your next visit!

P.S. Don’t forget to check the “Field trip report” on the Pretend City homepage to avoid large groups. (If you’re a mom or dad of toddlers and babies, you know how important crowd-size can be!)

Disclaimer: Pretend City provided me with complimentary attendance, though all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Photos courtesy Pretend City and Kristin Chessman


Summer fun deal at LEGOLAND California

Are your kids already bored and driving you crazy? I just found an awesome promotion in my email inbox that just may be the perfect cure for summer boredom! If your kids are anything like mine (a.k.a. obsessed with all things Lego) then this is the deal for you. It’s called the LEGOLAND Play Pass, and it costs $95 for kids ages 3 and up. Purchase it today and it’s good until the end of the year! Compare that to the regular one-day admission price of $87, or $93 for ages 13 and up, and you’ve got yourself an amazing deal. Just keep in mind this pass doesn’t include parking and must be redeemed by July 31, 2016.

Click here to check it out!


All aboard for Thomas Land!


If your little conductor is obsessed with Thomas & Friends, it’s time to plan a visit to Carver, MA, home to Edaville USA and the brand-new Thomas Land theme park.

Our family trip to Cape Cod, MA, just so happened to fall shortly after the grand opening of the new park in August. Thomas Land is located toward the back of the Edaville family fun park, which is worth a day-trip by itself. Edaville features carnival-style rides and attractions, in addition to a Dinoland section with 23 life-size animatronic dinosaurs.

One of our favorite parts of our day in Carver was the 20-minute scenic train ride aboard a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine. My son was so excited he wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself. A conductor even came through the train asking to punch our ticket, which I thought was an excellent touch.

Thomas the Tank EngineAfter our ride, we darted toward Thomas Land, where we strolled through Knapford Station, explored Tidmouth Sheds and rode many of the themed rides. We even had a chance to meet Sir Topham Hatt at Tidmouth Sheds! Some of our favorite rides were Bertie’s Bus Tours, Harold’s Lift-Off and Sodor’s Cranberry Carousel.

Unfortunately, Winston’s Skyline Express wasn’t open yet, but it looks like it will be an awesome attraction. We were disappointed in a few other parts of Thomas Land as well, mostly due to construction delays since the park had just opened several days before our arrival. For example, there wasn’t a restroom available in the Thomas Land section of the park at the time of our visit, which was difficult with a baby and toddler. There also weren’t any benches or places for anyone to sit between rides. The sun was sweltering on the day of our visit, so a bench in the shade would have been amazing!

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Overall, though, we had a wonderful day full of family fun, and we will definitely plan a return trip soon. Edaville will be expanding through 2017, so I can’t wait to see what the new additions bring to this already fabulous family destination.

Here are a few more images from our day:

Bertie's Bus ToursWinston's Skyline Express

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Show time!

Looking back at special summertime memories brings me back to this picture of the Red Car Trolley News Boys show at Disney California Adventure Park. It’s my son’s absolute favorite. Not only does he have the songs memorized, but he has most of the dance steps down, too. I love watching his face light up as the trolley makes its way down Buena Vista Street. And I get quite a laugh as he gets into character and dances right along with his news boys.

What’s your favorite show at the Disneyland Resort?