Trader Joe’s moves in to Pretend City!


My kids and I recently visited Pretend City to celebrate “Noon-Year’s Eve,” a family-friendly New Year’s Eve event offering countdowns and plenty of confetti. As soon as we walked inside the City, my son immediately noticed that the grocery store was closed for renovation. He was disappointed since this is his favorite part of the Pretend City experience.

So, you can imagine my excitement when we were invited to preview the new-and-improved grocery store experience at Pretend City, courtesy of Trader Joe’s! My kids were ecstatic as they raced inside to check it out. They’re already huge fans of Trader Joe’s, so combining TJ’s with one of their favorite kid’s museums is just icing on the cake.

I was amazed at the transformation of the generic grocery store into a mini Trader Joe’s — complete with pint-size carts and baskets, fruits and veggies, bouquets of flowers and even cash registers complete with the infamous Trader Joe’s bells. You’ll also find a “demo” area, Trader Joe’s Crew Member Hawaiian shirts and TJ’s branded products.

My kids both give the renovation two enthusiastic thumbs up! Their favorite part? The interactive cash registers! They loved ringing the bell and checking out “customers” as they came through their aisle. Even re-stocking the items afterward became a fun game.

The small baby-friendly corner that was previously included in the store has been removed to create more space for the produce section of the new Trader Joe’s.

Don’t miss the Grand Opening celebration on Monday, January 16 at 10:15 a.m. The celebration will include a lei-cutting ceremony, free giveaways and more! Plus, kids can observe live demos all day, just like the ones we see at our own neighborhood stores.

For more information about the grocery store and Pretend City, click here.

Address: 29 Hubble, Irvine, California, 92618
Cost: Children over 12 months and adults — $12.50 each





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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