Hot Wheels Ultimate Drive Thru Experience Comes to Ontario

Mark your calendars and start your engines, because the Mattel Hot Wheels Ultimate Drive Thru Experience is happening at the Ontario Toyata Arena through January 3! Thank you Mattel for inviting us to check out this event for free.

Journey into a one-of-a-kind, contactless experience where the world of Hot Wheels comes to life right outside your windows! Drive through this LARGER THAN LIFE showcase of everyone’s favorite Hot Wheels Monster Trucks, specialty Monster Trucks, Garage of Legends vehicles, robots and more! EVERY ticket purchase includes a Hot Wheels 3-Car Pack and one FREE digital photo memory of your experience!

Where: Toyota Arena 4000 ONTARIO CENTER, ONTARIO, CA 91764

When: December 3 – January 3

  • Monday – Thursday: 4pm – 9om
  • Friday: 12pm – 9pm
  • Saturday: 10am – 10pm
  • Sunday: 12pm – 8pm

Tickets: Start at $45 per car online ($55 at the gate), Friday – Sunday $50 online, $60 at the gate. Buy tickets online here.

  • Ticket price is PER CAR
  • Admission includes a 3 pack of Hot Wheels, Lanyard, and 2 downloadable no-contact photo ops
  • Add on additional merch toy packs for $29.99

Attractions

  • Hot Wheels Hall of Fame – Twin Mill®, Deora® II, Rip Rod®, Loop Coupe®, and the original Bone Shaker®
  • The Original Monster Truck, BIGFOOT®
  • BIGFOOT® #5, the World’s Tallest & Heaviest Monster Truck!
  • Hot Wheels Monster Trucks Live’s Tiger Shark™, Demo Derby & V8 Bomber™
  • 4- Story MEGASAURAS!
  • Spectacular Light Tunnels

Know Before You Go

  • Wear a mask. All staff are wearing masks.
  • It took us an hour to get through the entire 1 mile course.
  • You may not exit your vehicle at any time.
  • No restrooms or snacks are available on location.
  • There are 3 light tunnels that flash and strobe.
  • Dogs are allowed in cars!

Best Toys for Creative Kids

Since we spent more time at home in 2020, my kids have been doing more crafting during their play. We found out about all these amazing toys from The Toy Insider Holiday of Play Toy Conference and we were sent these toys for free to review. A comprehensive list can also be found on my Amazon Shopfront (affiliate links). Here are my kids’ picks for Best Toys for Creative Kids!

Punch Needle Embroidery Kit (MSRP $22.99)

  • Ages 8+
  • Perfect soothing brainless craft for kids and adults alike!

Latch Kit by Playmonster (MSRP $14.99)

  • Ages 8+
  • Create a mini rug out of pre-cut pieces of yarn
  • Includes everthing you need: color-coded canvas, latch hook tool, pre-cut yarn

Y’Art 3-in-1 kit by Playmonster (MRSP $29.99, single sets available for $14.99)

  • Ages 8+
  • Color a Masterpiece with Yarn
  • Yarn Clings to the Oops-Proof Grip-N-Stick Y’Artboard

Music Machine Kit from Elenco (MSRP $49.99)

  • Ages 8+
  • Build your toy step-by-step, No glue or tools required
  • Learn about gear mechanics, vibrations, musical notes

Crayola STEAM Paper Flower Science Kit (MSRP $19.99)

  • Ages 7+
  • Make 12 flowers
  • Color by using the wick, eyedropping color ink, or markers included
  • Learn about color mixing

Scribble Scrubbie Pet Grooming Truck (MSRP $19.99, smaller 2 pack available for $7.99)

  • Ages 3+
  • Fuzzy collectable animals that you can color with included markers
  • Rinse off in the Pet Grooming Truck to color again and again

Spinmaster Rainbow Jellies (MSRP $19.99)

  • Ages 6+
  • Create your own squishy characters with this surprise creation kit
  • Choose, add magic goo, let it set, and add a keychain!
  • Refills are also available

Crayola Glitter Dots (MSRP $9.99)

  • Ages 5+
  • 42 Glitter Dots
  • Create 3 Keychains

Educational Insights Color by Playfoam (MSRP $7.99)

  • Ages 5+
  • Create a Squishy Work of Art

Taste of Merry Farm at Knotts Berry Farm: Is it Safe?

The halls are decked and the Charlie Brown Christmas Trees have their single red ornament on top at Knotts Berry Farm this Holiday Season. Knott’s Berry Farm Taste of Merry Farm is the third “Taste of Knotts” outdoor food and retail event, but the first one that we have decided to go to. I am an official Knotts Ambassador, which means we got our tickets for free on behalf of Knotts Berry Farm. While the park itself technically remains closed (no rides are running), Taste of Merry Farms offers live entertainment, character interactions, a beautifully decorated park, and yummy food–all our favorite parts of Merry Farm!

Logistics: Tickets, Dates, and Hours

  • Select Dates November 20 – January 3 (generally Friday, Saturdays and Sundays with some select weekdays during peak Holiday weeks like Thanksgiving, Christmas through New Years, Closed Christmas Day)
  • Hours are typically 12pm – 9pm (some days close at 8pm). There are no timed entries or limited hours. You could spend the entire day there, like we did, from open to close
  • Tickets (Taste of Merry Farm Tasting Card): $40 for adults for 5 tastes, $20 for kids ages 3-11 for 3 tastes. Annual Passholders enjoy a 10% discount. Buy Tickets HERE.
  • Parking is complementary all day in the Marketplace parking lot
  • You MUST buy a Taste of Merry Farm Tasting Card to be admitted for entrance. If you run out of Tastes, you can purchase more inside the park.
  • Pro-Tip: If a date you’re looking for is sold out, you might still be able to book it if you book a Hotel Package (Starting at $60 per person per night).

What’s Included?

  • Over 60 Food and Drink (even alcoholic!) offerings
  • Over 23 local artisans in the annual Craft Fair
  • The entire park is decorated so you can leisurely walk around and take in the sights
  • Photo spots including the famous Calico Square Christmas Tree
  • Live Entertainment shows throughout the park
  • Characters including Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Franklin, Santa Snoopy, and even the real Santa Claus (masked!) and Mrs. Claus in the indoor Wilderness Dance Hall

Let’s Talk Santa Photos

There are two ways to experience Santa at the Taste of Merry Farm: the real Santa in the flesh in an indoor location (reservations required in advance) and Santa Snoopy in an outdoor location in Camp Snoopy (first come first serve, no reservations).

Santa Claus at Wilderness Dance Hall

Once you have your tickets bought, you can make a reservation online to purchase a photo package (you can also save $3 by purchasing in advance online). This ensures your time slot with Santa. If you don’t want to buy a photo package, you can make an in person reservation the day of your visit. Visit the reservation booth as soon as you get there which is located right outside the Wilderness Dance Hall (behind the School House in Ghost Town). Once you enter the park, head to your left into Ghost Town, follow either road straight back (do not turn left toward Ghostrider), and turn left once you hit the Saloon. You should see the big red school house and Town Hall. The Wilderness Dance Hall is located behind those buildings.

Please note that this is an indoor location and parties are allowed to take off their masks for the photo and interaction. Three families are let in at a time, but are spaced out 1) to meet Mrs. Claus first from the line, 2) the interaction with Santa, and 3) photo review and purchasing station. Once you meet Santa, parties are allowed to take off their masks for the photo and sit on boxes which are sanitized between each group. Santa does sit well over 6 feet away, but is definitely within chatting distance. Our family was not comfortable with people taking off masks indoors, so we personally skipped this experience.

Santa Snoopy

If you prefer an outdoor meeting location, Santa Snoopy is meeting guests in the heart of Camp Snoopy by the Charlie Brown Rock. His line tends to fill up fast so its best to be in the area at least 15 minutes before his set (a Knott’s Associate will be able to help you out with times for the day). The end of the line is near the Fruit Stand where there is also a beautifully decorated photo op (just props, no Knott’s Photographer). If you’re looking at the photo location, follow the gazebo around to your right until it wraps around by the Ferris Wheel. The line feels abnormally long and far away, but it’s because social distancing is strictly enforced. To find this location, turn right after you enter the main gates and head into Camp Snoopy. Go past the first few rides and Camp Snoopy Theater, and even past Grizzly Bear Restaurant. Keep walking straight and you will eventually run into it. For the best lighting, visit Santa Snoopy around 4:00 (you’re welcome).

Photo Ops Throughout the Park (FunPix represents a Knott’s Photographer)

It’s important to note that Knott’s Photographers will not take your phone to take photos. You can enjoy unlimited FunPix photos for $29.99 (purchase this at the entrance of Ghost Town as you enter the park). Pro Tip: If you’d like someone to take a photo for you, or vice versa, ask if you can use your own phone and airdrop it to them.

  • Main Gate Bear Display (FunPix)
  • Santa in Wilderness Dance Hall (FunPix, reservations required)
  • Calico Square Christmas Tree (FunPix)
  • Santa Snoopy in Camp Snoopy (FunPix)
  • Holiday Display by Santa Snoopy Line (no FunPix)
  • Holiday Sweater Cut out displays throughout the park (no FunPix)
  • Peanuts Characters in Camp Snoopy Theater (no FunPix)
  • Peanuts Characters on Charles M Schulz Theater Balcony (no FunPix)

Guide to Live Entertainment

Our favorite part about theme parks is the live entertainment! Characters who are on ground level are generally all wearing masks and are kept socially distanced from guests.

Calico Mine Stage (across the train tracks)

This will be your hub for mainstage Live Entertainment! There are also tables where you can enjoy your food and drink. You can also sit at these tables to watch the show, but keep your mask on if you are not actively eating or drinking.

  • Hayden’s Magic Show
  • Birdcage Theater Performers Trunk Show
  • Video of an all new previously recorded Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies Christmas Show
  • Video of a previous production of Snoopy on Ice in the evenings

Throughout Calico Ghost Town

  • Help the Ghosts of Christmas cheer up Scrooge before nightfall! Look on the balconies of the Saloon, Glass Blower, and Scrooge and Marley porch (formerly Calico Town Hall). Don’t forget to stop by the cemetery to see if Scrooge’s headstone is there!
  • Also on the Saloon balcony are the Calico Hand Bell Choir singing and ringing Christmas Carols
  • Sad Eyed Joe in between the Sheriff Office and Goldie’s Hotel (although he has changed his name to GLAD Eyed Joe!)
  • Train Conductor at the Train Station
  • Santa’s Stilts Toy Solders–catch them around the train station

Boardwalk Area

  • K-NOT Radio with Wayne Deer and Ginger Snaps dj-ing fun Holiday Music to dance along to. Located near Coasters Diner.
  • You might find an old tree salesman near Hangtime trying to sell you Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree

Peanuts Characters

  • Camp Snoopy Theater in Camp Snoopy
  • Charles M Schulz Theater Balcony (where the Ice Show usually is). Enter the ramp near the bumper cars turned eating area
  • Santa Snoopy by the Charlie Brown Rock in Camp Snoopy

The Food!

I literally felt like we ate all day! I was pleasantly surprised that the lines were not long at all and we had to wait maybe 2 people at the most. The longest line I saw was for Funnel Cake at the end of the evening, but the second funnel cake place mysteriously had no line. Even if lines looked long due to social distancing, they moved quickly. We had 15 Tastes between the three of us (they generously gave my children adult cards so we had 5 tastes each) and the portions were all full sized. I definitely brought my lightest tupperwear with me and a few ziplock bags and they did come in handy with bringing home leftovers! We are not alcohol drinkers, so our priorities were on Turkey themed foods and desserts! A full list of savory and sweet foods can be found at knotts.com. Here are our favorites:

  • Turkey Dinner Tater Tots and Green Bean Fries from Calico Tater Bites (by Wagon Wheel Stunt Show)
  • Turkey Dinner Big Bites and Pomegranate Molasses Brussel Sprouts from Spurs Booth (by Ghost Rider). The Turkey Dinner Big Bites come with Brussel Sprouts, so you don’t have to order a complete Brussel Sprout Entree like I did.
  • Festive Popcorn Chicken, Cheese and Fries bowl from La Papa Loca (in Fiesta Village)
  • Raspberry and White Chocolate Cookiewich with Strawberry Soft Serve and Elf Float (Lime and Sugar Plum ICEE with Vanilla Soft Serve). GET THE ELF FLOAT. It is amazing and it tastes like the classic holiday punch of sprite with rainbow sherbert. (Located at Chowhouse Ice Cream near the Saloon)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Slice with Vanilla Soft Serve from Hollywood Hits (located near Charles M Schulz Theater). There were also a lot of yummy looking alcoholic drinks served here like champagne and boysenberry ice cream float, Boysenberry Citrus Mule, Frozen Cherry Lime Margarita, Frosty Jack and Coke, and a Red, White and Boysenberry Mulled Wine. If I was a drinking gal, I’d save my Tastes for those!
  • Concha Stuffed Ice Cream from the Dippin Dots gazebo near the Screamin Ride
  • My favorite desserts: Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake bar, Red Raspberry Cheesecake, and Comet’s Cinnamon Bun with Maple Glaze and Candied Pecans. GET THE CINNAMON BUN. My children picked this over a funnel cake and I am forever grateful they did.
  • Things I wish I tried: Vixen’s Turkey Burger and Knott’s Holiday Bowl from Coaster’s Diner, and the Strawberry Funnel Cake with Vanilla Ice cream that my kids didn’t let me get.

Secret Eating Areas with Less People

As a reminder, you may only remove your mask if you are SITTING and actively eating or drinking. You may not walk around with your mask off and eat or sip on the go. There are ample tables all over the park, but I did find some areas that seemed to be on the less beaten path.

  • Tables by Pony Express along the pathway to Charles M Schulz Theater
  • Bumper Cars Turned eating area by Charles M Schulz Theater
  • Boardwalk tables along Hang Time
  • Pathway between Camp Snoopy and Fiesta Village

Most Crowded Eating Areas

Please be respectful and only sit with members of your own household.

  • Tables by Calico Mine Stage (lots of live entertainment happening simultaneously)
  • Tables surrounding the Calico Square Tree
  • Tables by Fireman’s BBQ in Calico
  • Tables in Fiesta Village (it might have been the time of day we were trying to find a spot, to be honest)

Even though these were the highest traffic area, we never had a problem finding a spot to sit before removing our masks to eat. As always, Knott’s Associates were quick to clean and sanitize tables before we sat down.

So…Is it Safe?

To be honest, I was very anxious about attending our first “Taste of Knotts” event. I had no doubt that Knott’s Associates were doing the best job with cleaning and sanitizing tables, but I was mainly worried about other guests not abiding by the rules. Going in, it was my understanding that masks are required and enforced unless actively sitting and eating or drinking. We arrived right at opening and stayed until it closed at 9pm. During the daylight hours, my kids noticed that pretty much everyone was walking around with their masks worn properly. We didn’t notice anyone trying to walk and eat at the same time. As the day rolled on and as night fell, we noticed more and more people getting lax about their mask wearing (noses out), or not being able to find a table so they decided to eat or drink on the go. Honestly, this was to be expected since we can’t expect 100% compliance.

If I were to rate this on a safety level compared to other things, I’d say that it’s about as safe as eating at an outdoor mall like the Irvine Spectrum, definitely safer than the beach, but not as safe as going to the grocery store (since it involves masks being taken off repeatedly to eat). Everyone’s safety levels are going to be slightly different. It’s important to remember that everything is a risk, and with every risk comes consequence or reward. The consequence here is that we’re potentially putting ourselves at risk for getting sick by having our masks off around people outside our household while eating (some might argue that this risk is very small), but the reward is priceless memories and the ability to carry out one of our Holiday traditions by celebrating at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Here are some ways that Knott’s Berry Farm has adapted to conform to Covid standards:

  • Temp Checks and symptoms questionnaire upon entry
  • Touchless checkouts for food and merchandise
  • Social Distancing markers to space out lines
  • Increased cleaning of tables and high touch surfaces (very well monitored)
  • Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations throughout the park
  • Sanitizing wipes available if associates are not around

Tips to Staying Safe While Visiting Merry Farm during Pandemic

  • WEAR YOUR MASK. And wear it properly which means covering your nose. Bring a spare just in case one gets wet or dirty.
  • Wash and Sanitize your hands frequently. I personally brought 3 bottles of hand sanitizer with us, but there are ample sanitizing stations, as well as hand washing stations, throughout the park.
  • ONLY VISIT WITH MEMBERS OF YOUR OWN HOUSEHOLD. If you happen to meet up or see people you know, do not share tables with them if you are all eating without your masks off. This defeats the purpose.
  • Do not take your masks off for pictures. While it seems that Knott’s Associates are allowing people to remove their masks for photos, as a wise man Johnathan Van Ness once said, “Just because you Ameri-can does not mean you Ameri-should.” Even if it appears “safe” because “no one is around” or characters might be 6 feet away, wearing a mask is a simple way to keep your particles to yourself. Think about it this way: if everyone takes off their mask around Santa, Santa is now exposed to everyone he’s seen throughout the day. Even if he is wearing a masks, and the guest’s mask is only taken of briefly for a photo, particles still can spread during those 10-15 seconds, and now Santa is at a heighted length of exposure over time. I’m still hoping Santa will be able to deliver presents on Christmas, and I wouldn’t want to risk him having to quarantine at the North Pole. To us, wearing a mask shows that we believe in science, empathy, and overall kindness for humankind. Personally, we would rather show other people that Knott’s is a place that abides by mask rules instead of potentially painting the picture that masks are optional.

For more about us, be sure to find us on instagram at www.instagram.com/LittleGrayThread.

Best Buddy the Elf Presents

“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?” The holidays are synonymous with the movie “Elf” and you’re going to need to find the perfect present for the people in your life that share your affinity for elf culture.

Fisher Price Little People Collector “Elf” set

Available at amazon.com

  • ​Special edition Little People Collector figure set for fans of the hit holiday film, Elf, ages 1-101 years
  • ​Includes a decorated Christmas tree plus Buddy the Elf and Buddy’s Bestest Friend, both styled to look like the characters from the film
  • Toddler-friendly figures sized just right for little hands
  • ​Look for more special edition Little People Collector figure sets to add to your collection! (Each set sold separately and subject to availability.)
  • ​Figure set comes in a gift-ready package featuring a pretend snow globe with confetti snow

Funko Games Elf–Journey from the North Pole

Available at target.com

Help Buddy the Elf find his dad by laying a loopy route from the North Pole to New York City. Play path cards to the board and move Buddy along its crazy curves. Lead him toward your secret goal landmarks along the way to score points. The player with the most points when Buddy the Elf finds his dad wins! Best for ages 8 and up, 2-4 players

Funko Games Elf Snowball Showdown Card Game

Available at walmart.com

Join Buddy the Elf in a surprise snowball fight! “Throw” a set of like­colored snowball cards at another player and they can return fire! When you’re the target, roll the jumbo snowball dice to dodge the icy barrage. When you get hit, take a snowball “splat” card-three hits and you’re out. In this frigid fight, the last elf standing wins!. For ages 6+, 3-6 players.

Plus Plus Elf Mini Maker Tube

Available at amazon.com

  • SIMPLE DESIGN – FUELS CREATIVITY: One shape, endless possibility! Every brick easily connects to the next. Create colorful flat mosaics or work in 3-D to make more intricate builds. Mix and match any Plus-Plus set to bring more ideas to life!
  • STEM | STEAM Toy: Plus-Plus empowers children with free explorative play as they encourage fine motor skills, logic, creativity and imagination all without the use of screens. Part engineering, part art, with a bit of math and a whole lot of FUN!
  • PERFECT FOR ON-THE-GO: Design and build your creations any way you want, wherever you want! Great for every adventure – car rides, restaurants, a friend’s house, or in your own living room. Stay entertained for hours!
  • BUILDING SET INCLUDES: This tube includes 70+ pieces and Instructions to build an Elf. The perfect holiday stocking stuffer for Christmas!
  • SUGGESTED FOR AGES 5-12: Each Plus-Plus piece measures 3/4″ x 1/2″. Appeals to a broad range of ages! Made from high quality BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic. Made in Denmark.

Drive Thru Christmas Events in Los Angeles and Orange County

With Covid still very much a threat, it’s important to consider safe, masked, and socially distanced Holiday activities this season. Just because we can’t celebrate the Holidays like we have in years past does not mean that Christmas is cancelled! We have enjoyed drive thru events from the safety of our car and we are excited to check out these Holiday events!

Elf on the Shelf: Magical Elf Journey

Get ready for an all-new, one-of-a-kind immersive experience with The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey, all from the safety of your own car!

This year Christmas Spirit is running low, so during test flights Santa’s sleigh had to make an emergency landing at Fairplex in Pomona. Now the Scout Elves have assembled there, and they need your help! Join them on a drive-thru quest to build more Christmas Spirit, as you and your elf-loving crew magically shrink down to elf size and embark on a fun expedition to help repair Santa’s sleigh. Enjoy a dazzling light spectacle with toy-repair workshops, gingerbread villages, and all the sights and sounds of the holidays, blended with a touch of high-spirited fun that only Santa’s favorite Scout Elves can deliver. Assemble your family and friends and help save Christmas at The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey!

Where: The Fairplex LA County Fairgrounds 1101 W. McKinley Ave. Pomona, CA 91768

When: November 6 – January 3

Masks: All staff and characters (including Santa!) are wearing masks. Guests are also required to wear masks if you want to roll down your windows.

Tickets: Adults starting at $24.95, Kids (3-12) starting at $19.95 (price depends on date)

Website: https://elfontheshelfjourney.com/

WonderLAand (from the makers of Hauntoween LA)

A frosted, all-ages welcome adventure emerges in Woodland Hills! Celebrate the holiday season with millions of lights and themed decor during a festive WonderLAnd drive-thru show. Experience the magic of our inclusive showcase during the most WONDERFUL time of the year from the safety & comfort of your car.

  • NEW Semi-Enclosed & NEW Open Air Tunnel Installations
  • Synchronized Holiday Music Lights
  • Elaborate Sets & Immersive Stories 
  • Massive Holiday Tree & WonderLAnd Forest Attraction
  • Countless Lights, Candy Canes & Cheer
  • Hologram Installations
  • One-Of-A-Kind Photo & Video Worthy Moments
  • Holidays Around The World Display
  • And yes … Santa, Mrs. Claus & The Elves 
  • Stuffed Holiday Stocking! (Included in ticket price)

Where: SilverLakes Athletic Complex , Norco

When: November 30 – December 23, December 26-30

Masks: All staff and characters are wearing masks. Guests are required to wear masks if you want your windows down.

Tickets: $70 per car

Website: https://www.socalwonderland.com/

Tanaka Farms: Hikari Festival of Lights

Join us for a celebration filled with joy and light! Literally translated, Hikari means shine in Japanese, and this holiday season we have really made Tanaka Farms shine with over a mile of twinkling lights! As you drive through our 30-acre farm, you will be dazzled by farm-themed lighting from trees, to scarecrows, tractors…even our sugarcane got the holiday light treatment! Plus, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we have a very special visit from Santa, himself!

Where: Tanaka Farms, 5380 3/4 University Dr, Irvine

When: November 29 – January 10

Masks: Staff are wearing masks. Santa is NOT wearing a mask (I wish he was). Guests are required to wear masks if windows are rolled down.

Tickets: Monday – Thursday: $49 per vehicle, Friday – Sunday (with Santa!): $59 per vehicle. Daytime U-Pick Wagon Tours: $20 a person ages 3 and up. Tickets include wagon ride through the light path, get out and pick 3 crops, and photo op with Santa. Again, Santa does not wear a mask and guests are able to take off their mask for the photo (I do not recommend this. Please keep your mask on or skip the photo op altogether).

Other Ways to Support Tanaka Farms:

  • Holiday Market Stand Christmas Tree Lot open from 9am-9pm daily (no additional admission required)
  • Drive Thru Produce stand open from 9am-5pm daily

Website: https://www.tanakafarms.com/hikari

Winterfest OC Presents: Nights of Lights at the OC Fairgrounds

“Night of Lights OC is a must-see holiday experience with a Christmas tree lighting spectacular, including a mile-long drive-thru complete with dazzling and animated lights, plus themed experiences with characters and special effects such as snow fall and bubbles,” continued Carlson. “Guests will be transported to a winter wonderland through a Snow Globe, Icicle Playground, Luminary Village, Inside an Ornament and more. Whether it’s a family outing, date night, or girls night, Night of Lights OC is sure to bring holiday cheer to all ages.”

Pre Order In-Car Holiday Food Treats

Holiday favorite treats are available before you enter the Night of Lights OC experience through a pre-order when purchasing your tickets. Seasonal favorites include hot cocoa, cinnamon sugar donuts, as well as Mom’s Bake Shoppe cookie buckets and brownies, tamales, Holiday ‘Family 4 Pack’ meals, and much more. Food is available to order online by 10am on the date of admission and will be available to pick-up prior to entering the drive-thru experience.

Where: OC Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa

When: December 10 – January 10 (except Christmas Eve)

Tickets: prices start at $49.99 per car

Entry to the event is through online ticket purchases only at NightOfLightsOC.com. Limited reservations are available per time session and guests are encouraged to buy in advance to reserve their date and time session before they sell out. 

Early Bird general admission starts at $49.99 per vehicle (up to five people) on select nights. Larger vehicle tickets (six to nine people) start at $69.99 on select nights. Vehicle height is limited to 8 feet or less, due to the light tunnels. Pricing will increase after Early Bird tickets are sold out.

Community Heroes Discounts 

Every Monday, Night of Lights OC will honor local community heroes with a special $5 off coupon for teachers, military personnel, law enforcement, medical workers and firefighters.

Website: winterfestoc.com

Tanaka Farms 2020 Pumpkin Farm Tours in Covid Times

Halloween does not have to be cancelled and family traditions can live on in 2020! Tanaka Farms has TWO new Pumpkin Farm Tours that have been updated to Covid-19 standards. Tanaka Farms invited our family to check out the new tours for free, but all thoughts and opinions are mine.

There are two different Pumpkin Farm Tours: The Drive-Thru Pumpkin Farm Experience runs every Saturday and Sunday from September 19th through October 31st and the U-Pick Pumpkin with Wagon Ride runs Monday through Friday from September 21st through October 30th. You must make reservations in advance to enjoy either option. Reservations can be made at TanakaFarms.com. Our family chose the Weekday U-Pick Pumpkin Wagon Ride option.

Weekdays U-Pick Pumpkin with Wagon Ride

Take a wagon ride led by one of our friendly tour guides around our beautiful 30 acre farm! Includes watching us launch the pumpkin cannon, a ride through the barnyard educational exhibit with farm animals, lots of fun stuff to look at, a scarecrow contest, sunflowers (currently growing, should be in peak bloom in late October), U-Pick veggies, and a pumpkin you pick yourself! Please note you will not exit the wagon until it is time to pick your vegetables and pumpkin. This activity lasts about one hour.

  • Monday through Friday by reservation only
  • Tickets: $25 per person, ages 2 and under are FREE, Active and Retired Military FREE
  • Guided wagon tour (wagons are limited to 20 people max, 10 per car)
  • Pumpkin Cannon Launch
  • Pumpkin Display, Scarecrow Contest, Wall of Pumpkins, Sugar Spider Cane
  • Animal exhibit with farm animals (we saw goats, alpacas, and pigs!)
  • U-Pick produce where you pick 3 veggies
  • Walk the pumpkin patch and find your perfect pumpkin!

Weekend Drive-Thru Pumpkin Farm Experience

A leisurely 1.5 mile drive around our beautiful 30-acre farm! Includes a pumpkin, samples, a barnyard educational exhibit with farm animals, lots of fun stuff to look at, a scarecrow contest, sunflowers (they are growing right now, should be in peak bloom late October), and more! This option is an in-vehicle only option. You will not be exiting your vehicle, except for one optional stop where you will pull off the path so you can pick your own pumpkin in the fields.Thank you for understanding. (Please note that there is a 9 1/2 foot vehicle height clearance.)

  • Weekends only, reservations must be made in advance
  • Tickets: $20 a person, ages 2 and under are FREE, Active and Retired Military are FREE
  • Enjoy the farm from the comfort of your own car (masks are still required)
  • Drive through the same path as the wagon tour and enjoy the decorated pumpkin display, scarecrow contest, Wall of Pumpkins and Sugar Spider Cane.
  • Does NOT include Pumpkin Cannon or U-Pick veggies stop
  • EXCLUSIVE scavenger hunt, pre-bagged samples of pumpkin seeds and candy corn, and Pumpkin Wall Selfie opportunity.
  • At the end of the tour, park your car and walk the pumpkin fields to pick your perfect pumpkin.

Which Tour Should You Pick?

In terms of safety and risk, the weekend Drive-Thru tour will limit your exposure to other people outside of your household since you are in the safety of your own personal car during the hour tour. The only interaction you would have with staff is when they check you in, hand you samples (you can sanitize them as soon as they’re in your car), and if you choose to hand your phone to the worker to have your picture taken at the Wall of Pumpkins.

In terms of photo ops, I thought I would get “better” photos from the wagon, but the wagon actually moved pretty briskly and did not stop in front of the Wall of Pumpkins for a photo. I did manage to snap quick photos from inside the wagon. For the Drive-Thru Weekend tour, you can go at your own pace AND stop at the designated Wall of Pumpkins for a “selfie”. Both experiences allow you to get out of the wagon or car so you can snap photos in the pumpkin patch.

Each experience follows strict Covid guidelines, and I felt safe during the U-Pick Wagon tour. Since we are a family of four, we shared a wagon with 2 other families (each family had 2 adults and a toddler). Our family sat in the center of one side of the wagon, and the other 2 families were spread out in the far corners so we were appropriately socially distanced. Masks are strictly enforced for everyone over the age of 3, employees included.

Pumpkin Patch Rules

With either option, you’ll be able to pick your own pumpkin in the pumpkin patch. You must be able to carry your pumpkin out by yourself. This means adults can not help kids carry larger pumpkins, and you are limited to what you can physically carry (I really pushed my limits here, but I was able to get the largest pumpkin of my dreams!). They do provide wheelbarrows for you to roll to your car, but you have to get it to the wheelbarrow first! Tanaka Farms offers a variety of pumpkins including pumpkins still growing on the vine, unique fantasy pumpkins like Cinderella Pumpkins, yellow, white, and green pumpkins, and smaller sugar pie pumpkins which are great for little hands. You can also purchase extra pumpkins on your way out, but your ticket entitles you to one pumpkin.

Is it Worth It?

With tickets being $20-$25 each, the price definitely adds up especially if you have multiple kids. But remember that the price also includes the cost of a pumpkin AND the Tanaka Farms experience. I checked prices of pumpkins at our local grocery stores and they run about $10 for the fancy pumpkins. Even at 99 cents a pound, my larger than life 50+ pound pumpkin could have easily cost me over $50. For the additional price, you also get the full Farm tour AND the opportunity to pick your own pumpkin straight from the vine. Also, every dollar you spend goes to supporting an Asian owned small business!

Know Before You Go

  • Remember that this is a working farm with uneven dirt ground! We were comfortable in flip flops, but close toed shoes are recommended. You will probably leave dirty and dusty, so bring hand wipes or a change of shoes.
  • Parking is included with price of tour
  • Pick an early tour time for the best selection of pumpkins.
  • Portapotties and handwashing stations are available.
  • Light snacks and drinks are available for purchase in the outdoor giftshop
  • Strollers are welcomed, but it may be hard to push on the dirt terrain.
  • Masks are required for everyone age 3 and up
  • As mentioned on their website, please do not check in with people outside of your household. No groups of any size are allowed to gather outside of your quarantine pod. Further Covid-19 information can be found at TanakaFarms.com.

For more family adventures in Orange County, find us on Instagram @LittleGrayThread

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🎃 Pumpkin Patch Season is upon us at @tanakafarms 🎃 ad . . I honestly didn’t think that we would be able to partake in our annual family tradition at @tanakafarms, but they have TWO brand new covid-friendly Pumpkin Patch experiences. The only reason why I even considered this event because I know how stringent @tanakafarms has been with Covid guidelines and they specifically say in on their website that masks are required and to only check in with members of your immediate household. . . 🎃 Monday-Friday Wagon Tours: $25 a person. . 🌻 Wagon U-pick tours are functioning at 25% capacity, 20 people max per 2 car wagon to ensure social distancing. . 🌻 About an hour tour (including picking time) through Tanaka farms, Scarecrows, Spidery Sugar Cane, Jack o Lanterns, and pumpkin displays . 🌻 Make a stop to visit the animals and learn a little more about that! We saw pigs, alpacas, and goats. . 🌻 Pumpkin Canon Launch! . 🌻 At the end of the tour, pick 3 crops (we got carrots, cilantro and radish). Social distancing is controlled through limiting the number of groups at a time. . 🌻 Pick your pumpkin! Every ticket includes a pumpkin. The only rules are that you have to be able to carry it out yourself! . . 🎃 Weekend Drive thru tours: $20 a person 🎃 . 🌻 Follow a similar route as you drive through Tanaka Farms in the safety of your own car. . 🌻 Drive past the pumpkin and scarecrow displays and through the Spider Sugar Cane. There is no pumpkin canon on the weekends. . 🌻 Make a stop at the animals and snap some photos! . 🌻 No produce picking for drive thru tours, but you can park and get out and pick your pumpkin! . . Thanks @tanakafarms for adhering to Covid guidelines and giving us a safe way to celebrate Halloween! Please support this Asian owned small business 🥰 . . #tanakafarms #covidhalloween #pumpkinpatch #ocblogger #ochalloween #ocpumpkinpatch #halloween #halloweentraditions #representASIAN #supportsmallbusiness #orangecounty

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Barbie Career of the Year 2020: the Campaign Team

Barbie 2020 Campaign Team Career of the Year

2020 is a year that will go down in history.  Coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, an Election Year.  Every year, Barbie picks a career that is underrepresented by women to introduce girls to a role that they might not be familiar with.  It makes complete sense that the 2020 Barbie Career of the Year goes to the Campaign Team! 

Barbie 2020 Career of the Year 4 pack

Barbie and Mattel sent the Campaign Team set to me for free to review.  When I opened the package, I cried.  Especially since I have two mixed-race, half-Asian daughters, I have become increasingly aware of the importance of teaching them to be world changers.  My platform is dedicated to teaching diversity, inclusion, and how to raise better kids.  It warmed my heart that Mattel has noticed that this is something that is important to me and included me on this initial launch.

Barbie Campaign Team

There are four dolls in the the Campaign Team which makes this the biggest career set yet!

  • Campaign Fundraiser:  works to raise the money needed to run a campaign
  • Campaign Manager:  works in partnership with the candidate while overseeing the day-to-day operations of the campaign
  • Candidate:  an individual who decides to run for an elected office
  • Voter:  will vote for a candidate running for office

Below are the descriptions of each role that is written on the back of the box:

Candidate

They give speeches to communicate their ideas and show how their leadership skills make them the best person to represent their community.  They participate in campaign events and fundraiser to raise money for their campaign.  Candidates take time to speak with voters to learn what issues are important to each person.  Do you like to take the lead and drive change?  You Can Be a Candidate!

Campaign Manager

They write and manage the campaign plan and set goals toward winning an election.  they book the candidate for events, run voter outreach and keep the campaign organized and running smoothly.  Campaign Managers work well with all members of the campaign team to keep the candidate focused as they make their way to election day!  Do you like to set goals and motivate?  You Can Be a Campaign Manager!

Campaign Fundraiser

They research fundraising opportunities and create strategies to ehlp the candidate raise money for their campiagn.  They roganize and train volunteers who participate in fundraising events for teh candidate.  It is important that they work with the campiagn team and the candidate to meet financial goals that keep the campaign running on budget.  Do you like working toward a fundraising goal and volunteering?  You Can Be a Campaign Fundraiser!

Voter

Voters register to vote and cast their ballot by mail or at their local polling place.  They inform their choice by doing research or using voter guides to learn more about each candidate’s position on certain issues.  Voters are important to a campaign as they use their vote to pick the best person for office.  Do you like making your voice heard?  You Can Be a Voter!

What We Do at She Should Run

The 2020 Barbie Career of the Year Campaign Team is being released in partnership with a nonpartisan nonprofit organization called She Should Run.  Even though women represent 51% of the U.S. population, they only represent less than a third of the nation’s selected leaders.  By the age of five, studies show that girls stop believing that their gender can be anything.  This is called the “Dream Gap” and Barbie is on a mission to close it.

In efforts to help adults spark a conversation about leadership with girls, She Should Run offers a free “Help Her Lead” curriculum available on their website.  Topics include:

  • She Looks like a Leader
  • Help Her Change the World
  • Build Her Confidence
  • Combat Racial Discrimination With Her

Each topic contains eight to ten subtopics which can be anything from an informational video, related articles or discussion questions.  This is something that can be done casually with your own kids or even on a more organized level in a small group setting.  I am definitely inspired to dive into this curriculum with my own family and I’m hoping to start up a group with a close circle of friends!

Barbie Campaign Team Dolls

Voting day is coming up on November 3, but don’t forget to get your mail in ballots mailed by October 20!  Even though my kids are years away from legally casting their first vote, I’m starting the conversation about voting NOW.  We talk about the importance of having a voice and how it took a long time for women to even have a vote.  They see injustice in the world and we talk about how other people make decisions and laws for us.  They see the importance of choosing those people and how we need to do all we can do educate ourselves to make the right choices that align with our values.  Thank you, Barbie, for inspiring the our next generation of leaders.  To learn more visit: Barbie.com/CampaignTeam.

Barbie Dream Gap

Find us on Instagram @littlegraythread for more resources on diversity, anti-racist parenting, and toy reviews!

Everything You Need to Know about Knott’s Chicken To Go, Curbside Pickup, and Social Distancing for Walk In Orders

knotts chicken bucket

Themepark lovers rejoice!  Knott’s Berry Farm California Marketplace is NOW OPEN!  Before you head over with your refillable drink cups and Charlie Brown tee shirts, here’s what you need to know.

  • The only places open are the Berry Marketplace, Bakery, and Knott’s Chicken To Go (not to be confused with Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant).
  • Masks are required to be worn to enter buildings, and social distancing is encouraged.
  • Season Passholder discounts apply at all three locations in person, but refillable drink cups are not valid.
  • You can order curbside pickup for Berry Marketplace and Knott’s Chicken To Go, but no Season Passholder Discounts apply.
  • Most of the property is still blocked off, so you can’t wander aimlessly around the grounds.
  • Parking is complementary with no time limit (go past the main entrance, turn right on Crescent Road, and turn right into the Marketplace Parking lot).
  • There are NO RESTROOMS OPEN.
  • Hours of Operation are 10am-6pm for the Berry Marketplace and 10am-7pm for the Bakery and Chicken To Go.  They are open every day.
  • If you don’t want to wait in lines, you can still get chocolate covered delicacies and pre packaged boysenberry cookies and toffee in the Berry Market.  The Knott’s Berry Farm Cookbook is also sold at the Berry Marketplace.  Lines can be long for the Bakery and Chicken To Go, but there was no wait to shop in the Berry Marketplace.

What Can you Buy at Knott’s California Marketplace?

The Berry Marketplace features Knott’s boysenberry themed jams, jellies and sauces.  You can also find coffee, packaged cookies, and boysenberry treats.  There is also a chocolate counter where you can purchase chocolate covered delicacies like chocolate covered smores, marshmallows, and truffles.  The new Knott’s Berry Farm Cookbook is also sold here (MSRP $20).  To eliminate cross exposure, you scan your items yourself, pay, and bag your items without having a Team Member handle your items.  You can also shop online and arrange a curbside pickup (or ship to your home) at www.marketplace.knotts.com The Berry Marketplace is open 10am-6pm daily.

knotts boysenberry preserves

The Bakery has everything from Boysenberry pies to full sized decorated cakes.  My kids especially love the huge cookies and individual cupcakes.  When we visited, I took home a personal cheesecake but I also love the individual lemon and fruit tarts.  These items are not available online.  The Bakery is open 10am-7pm daily.

knotts bakery

Knott’s Chicken To Go is the same chicken that is served at the sit down restaurant Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner, but in convenient to-go packages and portions.  You can order online at knotts.com, order by phone at (714) 220-5083, or walk in for take out.  Hours of operation are 10am-7pm daily.

knotts chicken meal

  • If you pre-order online or by phone, it will be curbside pickupNo Season Passholder Discount applies to pre-orders online or by phone.  When you order, you pick a date and pickup time (10am-7pm at the top of every hour).  You will be given a barcode which a Team Member will scan upon your arrival.  To pick up, enter the parking lot off Crescent and a Team Member will direct you to the pick up location gazebo.  All Chicken To Go orders will be sitting on a table at the beginning of your pick up time window.  I recommend arriving as close to your pick up time as possible to ensure hot and fresh food.  A Team Member will scan your barcode and hand you your food in your car.  You do not have to get out of your car.  If you arrive early, they will direct you to a parking spot to wait for your selected time slot.

  • If you’d like to do a walk in order for take out, enter the parking lot off Crescent Ave the same way, and tell the Team Member that you’d like to park for a walk in order.  They will direct you to park in the Marketplace Parking lot near Ghostrider (look for Rufus the Rooster!).  Walk toward the entrance of the park under Ghostrider and across the street.  There will be 2 lines:  Bakery to your right and Chicken To Go on the left.  Stand on the circles provided to ensure proper social distancing.  There are more menu options if you walk in to order AND Season Passholder Discounts apply!  You can also order fountain drinks including our beloved Boysenberry Punch.

knotts rufus

What’s Better?  Curbside Pickup or Walk In?

There are definitely pros and cons to each option.

  • Curbside Pickup: 
    • Pros–super convenient, you don’t have to leave your car, minimal lines, waiting, and exposure to people.
    • Cons–you don’t get your Season Passholder Discount and you’d still have to walk in if you want any Bakery items.
  • Walk In: 
    • Pros–Season Passholder Discount applies, you don’t have to plan ahead with your time frame, expanded menu and beverages, Bakery and Berry Market are right there for additional impulse purchases.
    • Cons–wait times can be long and you will be exposed to more people.

Knott’s Chicken To Go Menu

The options for curbside pickup can be found at knotts.com, but I’ve outlined them below:

Online Combo Menu

9-Piece Mixed Chicken Meal Bucket – $29*

Includes:

  • 2 sides of mashed potatoes
  • 1 side of gravy
  • 1 side of whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 dozen biscuits with Boysenberry jam

14-Piece Mixed Chicken Meal Bucket – $37*

Includes:

  • 2 sides of mashed potatoes
  • 1 side of gravy
  • 1 side of whole kernel corn
  • 1 dozen biscuits with Boysenberry jam

Breast & Wing Chicken Snack Box A – $11*

Includes:

  • 1 side of mashed potatoes and gravy
  • 1 side of whole kernel corn
  • 2 biscuits with Boysenberry jam

Thigh & Leg Chicken Snack Box B  – $11*

Includes:

  • 1 side of mashed potatoes and gravy
  • 1 side of whole kernel corn
  • 2 biscuits with Boysenberry jam

Sides

  • Corn – $5*
  • Potato Salad – $5*
  • Baked Beans – $5*
  • Mac & Cheese – $5*

Desserts

  • Chocolate Bundt Cake – $5* (this is cheaper online!  It is $8 walk in)
  • Boysenberry Pie:
    • One Pie – $13*
    • Two Pies – $25*
    • Four Pies – $40*

*Plus tax

Additional Menu Items for Walk in:

  • 3 piece chicken box – $12.50
  • Dozen biscuits – $6, half dozen biscuits – $4
  • Grand Ave Bucket – $51.50
    • 22 pieces of chicken
    • 1 side of masked potatoes and 1 gravy
    • 2 sides of your choice
    • 1 dozen biscuits with preserves

Tips for Social Distancing for Walk In Orders

knotts social distancing

  • Don’t forget your mask!  In accordance with Ordinance No. 1681, a face covering is required for entrance into the facilities.
  • Leave the family at home or in the car.  Having one person standing in line and ordering food will reduce the crowds in the Marketplace and will reduce your family’s risk of exposure.
  • Look for the blue circles for where to stand to maintain a 6 feet distance.
  • Hand Sanitizer is readily available by every door.
  • Take your chicken TO GO.  Bring it home or eat in the car!  There are no tables or picnic areas open on Knott’s property.  We wanted to enjoy our chicken hot, so we ate our meal in the car.  Trash cans are available in the parking lot.  Remember to ask for plates and utensils when you pick up your food.
  • Be mindful of other people.  This should go without saying, but be respectful of other people’s space and encourage your family to stay near if you are waiting all together.

I am an official Knott’s Berry Farm Ambassador, but all thoughts and opinions are my own and do not reflect that of Knott’s Berry Farm.  You can find out more about me on Instagram @LittleGrayThread.

How to Make a DIY Mask with a Pocket for Filters

pocket masks

Since resources are running low, it has become popular to make home made masks out of fabric.  The CDC recommends the use of at home face masks (like bandanas or scarves) used in combination with a face shield as a very last resort.  While these are in no way the same as N95 or PPD masks to protect against coronavirus, some health care workers have been requesting them to be used as a last resort.  Here are some links that have been shared with me about the effectiveness of home made masks:

  • This was one of the first articles to go viral asking at home sewers to make the Deaconess Mask.
  • My sister (a doctor) sent me this article that has a disclaimer that fabric face could actually be more harmful, but could also be a visual sign of our sacrifice during this time.
  • My best friend Jo sent me this article which is a study that was done to show what home made items are the best for filtering (spoiler alert, 2 layers of 100% cotton was the winner).
  • A Taiwanese doctor recommended a pocket version of a mask that can accommodate a non-woven filter like a vaccuum bag.  This is how I’m modeling these DIY masks.

As always, please educate yourselves and make your own informed decisions about masks.  I tried a few different mask designs before settling on this version that is the easiest to make with the least amount of materials.  This style features:

  • Easy, straight stitches for beginners
  • Straps that tie around the head for a custom fit
  • Pocket to fit a filter
  • Wire insertion for comfort over the nose

Materials Needed

Pocket Mask Materials

  • 10″ of fabric cut by the bolt (14″ to make 2 masks)
  • wire (twist ties or pipe cleaners work well)
  • Sewing machine and scissors

1)  Cut your fabric

1 cut fabric pieces

  • To make the mask, you will need 2 rectangles, 9″ wide and 6″ tall.
  • Cut two 2″ straps the full length of the bolt, so 44″ all spread out, or 22″ folded in half.  You can also use ribbon for this.

2)  Finish the ends of the bottom of both rectangles by folding under twice and sewing

3)  Put right sides together and sew the top of the mask.

4 sew top seam

 

4)  (optional) Add a wire by placing it in the middle of the top seam in between the layers.

5 insert wire

5)  Close up the mask and top stitch the top seam.  Top stitch means to sew a line right on top.

6 top stitch seam

6)  Pleat the right side of the mask by folding and sewing right on top.  You should have about 3 pleats per mask and the side should end up to be about 3″.  It doesn’t have to be precise.

7 pleat mask

7)  Pleat the other side of the mask by starting at the bottom, matching the folds of the mask on the opposite side, folding upwards, and sewing over.

8)  Now we’re going to create the strap, also called bias tape!  Taking one of your 2″ strips, fold under the very end of the strap (red line).  Fold the strap lengthwise to find the midline (blue line), and fold both edges inward to meet the middle (green line).

8 fold bias

Then fold the entire strap in half again so you essentially have the 2″ strap folded in fourths.  Top stitch the strap along the edge so it stays together.

9)  Once you get near the middle, sandwich the side of the mask in between the bias tape and sew in place.

10)  Continue on to finish sewing the edge of the strap.  When you get to the end, fold under the edge, and sew the edges together.

11)  Repeat the process for the opposite side with the second strap.

15 finished mask

That’s it!  You’ve made a mask in just 11 easy steps using only straight lines.  Told you it was easy!  If you have headband elastic, you can also use that in place of the bias straps with about 30″ lengths.  Here’s also a photo of the pocket where you can insert your filter.

If you have any questions, you can find me on instagram @littlegraythread where I have a step-by-step tutorial saved in my highlights.

Star Wars Mask on a Loth Cat

Loth Cats (or aniamls) don’t need masks, but they sure make cute models!

Disneyland is Closing because of Coronavirus and This is Why I’m Happy About It

Little Gray Thread

Disneyland has announced that they will be temporarily closed from Saturday March 14 through the end of the month.  I applaud Disney for taking recommended precautions about the spreading of COVID-19 and here is why:

Global Safety Comes First

 

Even though I am not in the “at-risk” demographic for coronavirus, my kids and I can still act as carriers to those who are at risk.  The Govenor of Anaheim, Gavin Newsom, stated that he is supporting the State of California’s guidelines to modify or postpone non-essential gatherings of 250 or more people through March 31.  I am glad that these precautions are taken seriously to ensure our continued safety.

We Can’t Trust Sick People to “Just Stay at Home”

I get it.  You’ve planned for this vacation for months.  It’s the day before and your kid is running a slight temp that “might be from teething” or you start to have a scratchy throat.  I 100% understand the temptation to pop some ibuprofen and “suck it up”.  By closing Disneyland, this makes the decision easy for people who are sick who might be on the fence about cancelling their trip.  And this way you’ll get your trip refunded, too.

Cast Members Don’t Have to Make the Decision to Risk Exposure or Risk Not Paying Rent

My first thoughts were with the Cast Members who put themselves at risk for being around a mass number of people.  If Disneyland remained open, they would have to make the decision to take the risk be being exposed to mass crowds of people, or give away their shifts which would ultimately mean a smaller paycheck.  From what I read on the Disneyland press release, cast members are to be paid during this time.  With that being said, if you are Cast Member, please let us know how we can support you.  Since this is a developing matter, things can change rapidly and if you are in a position where you need extra assistance, I want to be able to help you.

its a small world

How to Talk to Your Kids about Coronavirus

Kids are very perceptive.  They can pick up on the heightened energy that is surrounding this virus and it can be very scary.  For my kids, we are ensuring proper handwashing  techniques by teaching them songs that are 20 seconds and it’s a rule to wash hands first thing when coming home.  They also have hand sanitizers they use every time they come into the car.  We have been extra mindful about touching things (having them keep their hands in their pockets is a great way to avoid this!) and I’ve been trying to retrain us all to keep our hands away from our face.  Since their minds can’t comprehend the severity of Coronavirus (I don’t think most of us can, to be honest), I’ve been telling them that a lot of people are getting really sick more so than usual, so this is why we have to do all these extra things.

The World Health Organization has these suggestions for helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak (taken from www.who.int):

  • Children may respond to stress in different ways such as being more clingy, anxious, withdrawing, angry, or agitated, bedwedding, etc.  Respond to your child’s reactions in a supportive way, listen to their concerns and give them extra love and attention.
  • Children need adults’ love and attention during difficult times.  Give them extra time and attention.  Remember to listen to your children, speak kindly and reassure them.  If possible, make opportunities for the child to play and relax.
  • Try and keep children close to their parents and family and avoid separating children and their caregivers to the extent possible.  If separation occurs (e.g. hospitalization) ensure regular contact (e.g. via phone) and reassurance.
  • Keep to regular routines and schedules as much as possible, or help create new ones in a new environment, including school/learning as well as time for safely playing and relaxing.
  • Provide facts about what has happened, explain what is going on now and give them clear information about how to reduce their risk of being infected by the disease in words they can understand depending on their age.  This also includes providing information about what could happen in a reassuring way (e.g. a family member and/or the child may start not feeling well and may have to go to the hospital for some time so doctors can help them feel better)

WHO tips on how to talk to children

What to Do If You’re Feeling Anxious

First and foremost, it is OKAY and NORMAL to feel anxious.  Your feelings are 100% valid.  You are not alone in these feelings.

If your kids (or you!) are feeling anxious, stick to the facts from reputable sources.  I’ve been waiting for official press releases (like from Disneyland, Broadway in Hollywood, Segerstrom, etc) before allowing myself to jump to conclusions.  I don’t spread news unless it comes from the CDC or the WHO.  Take comfort in knowing that these closures are meant to be preventative and are for our safety.

The World Health Organization has these suggestions for Coping with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak (taken from www.who.int):

  • It is normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry during a crisis.  Talking to people you trust can help.  Contact your friends and family.
  • If you must stay at home, maintain a healthy lifestyle including proper diet, sleep, exercise and social contacts with loved ones at home and be email and phone with other family and friends.
  • Don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions.  If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a health worker or counselor.  Have a plan, where to go to and how to seek help for physical and mental health needs if required.
  • Get the facts.  Gather information that will help you accurately determine your risk so that you can take reasonable precautions.  Find a credible source you can trust such as WHO website or a local or state public health agency.
  • Limit worry and agitation by lessening the time you and your family spend watching or listening to media coverage that you perceive as upsetting.
  • Draw on skills you have used in the past that have helped you to manage previous life’s adversities and use those skills to help you manage your emotions during the challenging time of this outbreak.

WHO tips on how to control stress

Disneyland is Not Going Anywhere

While it may feel sad or frustrating that Disneyland is closing, the fact of the matter is that Disneyland is not going anywhere.  If you had a vacation planned during this closure time, I would recommend rescheduling for later in the year.  Avenger’s Campus is planned to open on July 18 so that might be a great time to come back!  Bottom line, health and safety comes first, and magic will continue to live on!