Everything You Need to Know about Knott’s Berry Farm 2020 Season Passes (and how you can get in for FREE in 2019)

Knotts100

Knott’s Berry Farm 2020 season is going to be the BEST YET because they are celebrating the 100th Anniversary of California’s First Theme Park!  2020 Season Passes have just be released for sale on the Knott’s Berry Farm Website.  Did you know that passes are only valid per calendar year, and they get MORE EXPENSIVE as the year goes on?  But did you also know that if you buy a 2020 pass, you can still get in to Knott’s Berry Farm in 2019 for CHEAPER than if you were to buy a pass for this year?  Since I am an official Knott’s Berry Farm Berry Blogger, my family received complementary passes for the 2019 season.  Here’s everything you need to know:  

Knott’s Berry Farm 2020 Season Pass Information for NEW Passholders

This information is if you currently DO NOT have a 2019 Knott’s Berry Farm Pass

  • Passes are valid January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020.  If you buy a pass in April, it still will expire December 31 of 2020.
  • When you buy a NEW 2020 Season Pass, you get one free entry in 2019
    • If you buy a Gold Pass (which includes Soak City), you can use your free 2019 for Soak City for this year!
  • If you’d like to visit additional times in 2019, you can buy UNLIMITED additional entries for yourself for $14.99.   (Knott’s Scary Farm is not included)
    • This means you can come back for Knott’s Spooky Farm (family friendly Halloween celebration weekends during the day) and Knott’s Merry Farm as many times as you want for just $14.99 a visit.

Renewal Information for Existing Knott’s Berry Farm Passholders

If you currently have a 2019 pass and are interesting in renewing for 2020, this information is for you.

  • You can renew your pass online at knotts.com and enjoy a $10 discount 
  • You get a free Bring-A-Friend ticket valid any fall daytime from September 7, 2019-December 13, 2019.
    • This means your friends can enjoy Knott’s Spooky Farm or Knott’s Merry Farm.  Tickets are redeemable at the ticket booths.
  • Payment plans are available for as low as $7 a month ($12 down for a purple pass)

What are the Different Types of Passes?

There are three levels of passes:  Regular (purple), Gold (gold, obviously), and Platinum (gray).

Regular Purple Pass:  $99 ($89 for renewals)

Knotts purple Pass

  • Unlimited visits to Knott’s Berry Farm with no black out dates
  • Admission to Peanuts Celebration, Boysenberry Festival, Knott’s Spooky Farm, Knott’s Merry Farm, and the 100th Anniversary celebration
  • Early Entry and Bring-a-friend Discount Days
  • 10% Discounts on select food and merchandise
  • Parking is not included but can be added for $75

Gold Pass (includes Soak City):  $120 ($110 for renewals)

Knotts Gold Pass

  • All the benefits of the Regular Purple pass, but includes unlimited admission to the 2020 Soak City Season
  • 10% Discounts on select food and merchandise in both Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City
  • Early Entry to both Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City on select days (this is very valuable especial for Soak City days–this will allow you the best opportunity to secure a lounge chair spot in the shade)
  • Parking is not included but can be added for $75

Platinum Pass (includes all Ceder Fair Parks and parking):  $197 ($191 for renewals)

Knotts Platinum Pass

  • Unlimited visits to Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City 2020 Season
  • Includes unlimited admission to all Ceder Fair Parks across the country (there is Great America in Northern California)
  • 20% Discounts on select food and merchandise
  • Parking is INCLUDED! ($75 value)
  • Important note:  the optional dining plan is $15 more with this option ($130 vs $115 for Regular and Gold).

Additional Pass Add-ons

  • Parking:  $75 add on to Regular Purple and Gold passes
  • 2020 All Season Dining:  $115 for Regular Purple and Gold or $130 for Platinum
    • Enjoy 2 meals (spaced 4 hours apart) every single day, all season long
  • 2020 All Season Drink Refills:  $31.99
    • Unlimited Drink Refills all season long! (15 minute cool down time between refills)
    • Choose between the reusable Souvenir Bottle or the paper cup plan
  • 2020 All Season Unlimited Digital Photos:  $49.99
    • Add FunPix to your pass to get unlimited digital photos from select rides, Peanuts Meet and Greets, or anytime a Knott’s Photographer snaps your photo
  • 2020 Season Pass Locker Rentals:  $150
    • Don’t like to hold stuff and don’t like paying $15 each time?  Get a year long pass for $150 (also valid at Soak City)

So What Pass Should I Get?

I definitely recommend getting at least the Gold Pass because by the time summer comes next year, you’re going to want to go to Soak City at least once (and by then, the Gold Pass will be $150 so might as well just buy it now for $21 more).  The price difference between a Gold Pass plus Parking ($120 + $75) and the Platinum Pass ($197) is literally just TWO DOLLARS.  The only downside is that the Meal Plan is $15 more, but with the higher discount on food and merchandise, I bet you could make that up throughout the year.  I HIGHLY recommend getting the Meal Plan at least for some of your family passes.  It pays for itself in less than 4 visits and it’s so nice not having to worry about buying food in the park.

In a nutshell, I would have one person in your family get the Platinum Pass, which includes parking.  You can opt to add the meal plan on to your Gold Passes at a smaller rate.  Here’s what I would do to buy season tickets for my two daughters and myself.  I would get the Platinum pass for me (in case I have a random no-kid Knott’s Day, the parking would be on my pass), I would get the Gold Pass for my daughters and add the Meal Plan on to their Gold passes (since it is $15 cheaper).  We are usually good with 2 souvenir drink refill bottles since the kids don’t drink as much as I do.

As always, season pass prices don’t go anywhere but UP, so run and secure this introductory pricing while you can!  Take advantage of the 2019 entry offers and save yourself some money!  2020 is going to be the best year, especially with the 100th Anniversary Celebration.  Keep your eyes out for all new entertainment and offerings!  Follow along using the hashtags #Knotts100 and #AKnottsFamilyReunion.

For more of our Knott’s Berry Farm adventures, follow us on instagram @littlegraythread.

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All Day Dining Deal at Seaworld San Diego: Is it Worth It?

Seaworld Sting Ray

Four words if you are planning a trip to Seaworld San Diego:  All Day Dining Deal!  Imagine being able to eat a meal complete with drink and dessert EVERY HOUR.  Seaworld provided my family with free tickets to enter the park, but I purchased the All Day Dining Plan for the sake of research.  Here’s what you need to know.

All Day Dining Deal Details

  • $39.99 per adult, $19.99 per child (plus tax)
  • You can enjoy 1 main, 1 side or dessert, and 1 drink every 60+ minutes
  • Purchase the wristband at any participating restaurant or at the Cove Cafe in the front of the park (I suggest you buy it at your first meal upon check out)
  • You do not need to redeem every item at every scan.  For example, if you’d just like a drink or a dessert every hour, you do not have to grab a main as well.

Participating Restaurants

There are 7 participating locations where you can redeem the All Day Dining Deal.  Here are our favorite picks from each place.

Shipwreck Reef Cafe:  Rotisserie Chicken, Cheeseburgers, Salmon, Pasta, Salad.  Pictured below:  Miso Salmon, jello, and apple juice

 

Mama Stella’s Pizza Kitchen:  Pizza, Pasta, Salad, Fruit.  Pictured below:  BBQ Chicken Pizza, Chocolate Cake, and Diet Coke

 

Calypso Bay Smokehouse:  Smoked Brisket, Chicken, Ribs, Salad, Bacon Mac and Cheese.  Pictured:  Bacon mac n cheese, strawberries, lemonade

 

Fry Cones:  Chicken tenders, Pulled Pork, or Jalapeno cheese served over fries (no fruit or dessert is served at this location).  Pictured below:  pulled pork Fry Cone, bag of chips, and fruit punch

 

Pineapple Pete’s Island Eats:  Chicken tenders, Fried Shrimp, Hot Sandwiches, Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  This was my favorite of all the locations so we went twice!  Pictured below:  Shrimp, pineapple upside cake, chocolate milk, spam sandwich, chocolate brownie

 

Explorer’s Cafe:  Rotisserie Chicken, Chicken Tenders with Mac n Cheese, Cheeseburgers, Salads.  This is the only place with inside seating.  Pictured below:  Chicken Tenders served with Mac n Cheese, Brownie, Diet Coke

 

Pretzel Shop:  Hot Dogs, Chips, Freestyle Coke self serve soda machine.  This stand is located at the front of the park.  This area also turns into a laser dance party in the evenings during Electric Ocean summer nights.

 

All Day Dining Tips

  • If you are in a rush to catch a show, you can bring your food with you to eat while you wait.  Grab a bottle of water as your beverage if you are short on time.
  • The majority of the participating restaurants are located around the Sky Tower ride.  If you get lost, look to the Sky Tower to orient yourself.
  • Self serve Coca Cola Freestyle Machines are available at the Pretzel stand in the front of the park if you need a quick drink.
  • Head to Explorer’s Cafe if you’d like to eat inside in Air Conditioning
  • The quickest place to grab food is at Fry Cones.

Is it Worth it?

100% YES!  A single meal can cost anywhere between $10-$16 not including sides, drinks, or desserts.  If you’re planning on staying all day, lunch and dinner alone will be close to the price of the All Day Dining Deal.  It was an added bonus to be able to get drinks and desserts every hour.  During our visit, I redeemed 8 meals!  It was a great way to try all of the amazing food that Seaworld has to offer.

 

Seaworld is more than just the marine animals.  Sesame Street Bay of Play has always been a favorite since the girls were young.  It’s a great place for kids to run free, enjoy a few Sesame Street rides, and even cool off in the splash pad.  We enjoyed a full day of learning about animals, meeting characters, live entertainment shows, and of course eating!  Thank you, Seaworld, for this perfect day.

More information about the All Day Dining Plan can be found on the Seaworld Website.

Crayola Experience Hands-On Kids Museum Now Open near Phoenix, Arizona

Crayola Experience Chandler Arizona

If there’s one thing everyone knows about Arizona, it’s that Arizona is HOT.  Half of our family lives in the Scottsdale area so I’m always on the hunt for kid friendly indoor activities for when we visit.  I came across the newly opened Crayola Experience located in the Chandler Fashion Center, mere miles away from Phoenix, Arizona.  The entire Chandler Crayola Experience team was so sweet and sent me complimentary media tickets for my entire family to visit.  All opinions are my own.

Crayola Experiencde Coloring

Crayola Experience is where the magic of Crayola comes to life! With 20,000 square feet of attractions, Crayola Experience is Arizona’s most colorful family destination for interactive, creative play!  Since the girls’ love language is coloring, I knew this would be the perfect outing for them.

Explore 19 Unique Hands-On Attractions

There are more than 19 different Crayola themed attraction stations in over 20,000 square feet.  I love how this experience mixed traditional visual arts with multimedia high-tech applications.  There were several interactive attractions where you take a picture of yourself to be put in the art piece.  In other stations, your art is scanned and is made to live on the screen which you can email to yourself.  These were just some of the popular attractions:

  • Be a Star: Star in your own coloring page by taking a picture in a photobooth

Crayola Experience Be a Star

  • Silly Selfies:  Choose a silly digital mask and send your selfie to be displayed on the wall
  • Drip Art:  Create a spin art using melted crayons
  • Rockin’ Paper:  Create a 3-D frog and watch it dance to the music
  • Meltdown:  Make a masterpiece using melted crayons
  • Rainbow Rain:  Watch as your image catches virtual melted rainbow wax that is controlled by your movement

Crayola Experience Rainbow Room

  • Color Magic:  Color a picture and watch it come to life on the screen

Crayola Experience Color Magic

  • Melt and Mold:  Create a Crayola Keepsake car or ring by melting a crayon into a mold
  • Scribble Square:  Draw on the walls with chalk to your heart’s content in this mini neighborhood

Crayola Experience Scribble Square

  • You Design:  Design an outfit for a fashion show or a car for the big race.  Send your creations to the projected screen

Crayola Experience Fashion Show

Take Home Activities

Included with your admission are several take home souvenirs.  When you enter, each person is given two tokens.  One token is to create a custom crayon wrapper in the Wrap it Up station.  Choose between a variety of different crayon colors, pick a symbol, and come up with a unique name (we personalized them with our names).  The other token can be used to buy a pack of Model Magic clay in the Modeling Madness Area.  If you’d like more colors, you can also purchase additional tokens for 50 cents.

Retail Store

You don’t need a ticket to shop at the connected retail store.  There, I found the most beautiful wall in my life:  The Wall of Crayons.  There were crayons of every color of the rainbow!  You could buy a tin and fill it with as many crayons or markers that you could fit.  There was also every Crayola product you could think of from crayons, markers, coloring activity sets, apparel and gifts.

Crayola Experience Retail Store

Know Before You Go

Crayola Experience LittleGrayThread

  • Crayola Experience is located inside the Chandler Fashion Center which is a lovely mall with several stores and eating areas.  It is located near Nordstrom.
  • Restrooms and Food for purchase are available inside Crayola Experience
  • Allow about 4 hours to fully experience everything
  • Since this is such a popular location, there are lines for the popular more time consuming attractions (Make a Mold, Drip art, and Meltdown).  I recommend having the kids color at the tables while someone from your group waits in line.
  • There are also a few activities that require an additional fee
    • Skee Ball and other arcade games for prizes
    • Mining for Rocks and Minerals
    • Cast your hand in wax

Tickets and Annual Passes

Day tickets are $14.99 (kids 2 and under are free), and Seniors 65+ and Military have a discounted rate of $12.99.  However, I have an exclusive link where you can get discounted tickets for $12.50!  Disclosure:  this is an affiliate link and I get 50 cents per ticket purchased through this link, but I just want to make sure that you get a discount!  Annual passes are available for $29.99 individual or $99 for a family of 4.  Annual passholders also get 20% off all food and merchandise.  Birthday Parties can be organized by emailing chandlerexperience@crayolaexperience.com.

Crayola Experience Arizona

Purchase discounted tickets for $12.50 here (affiliate link).

More information about Crayola Experience Chandler can be found on their website or on instagram @visitcechandler.  

CHOC Walk 2019 Registration Information and Incentives

67.CHOCWalk.2018

The 2019 CHOC Walk is happening on Sunday, August 11!  For those who are unfamiliar with CHOC Walk, this is the annual benefit walk for the Children’s Hospital of Orange County in partnership with the Disneyland Resort.  “As a non-profit hospital, CHOC relies on community support to provide leading-edge care for infants, children and adolescents
close to home. All funds raised in the CHOC Walk go directly toward new programs and services in the hospital to continue conquering our mission to protect the kids in Southern California.”  This is what our fundraising efforts went towards last year:

  • Opened the Mental Health Inpatient Center & ASPIRE Intensive Outpatient Program and broke ground on the Thompson Autism Center
    conquering our mission to protect the kids in Southern California.
  • Provided $52.1 million in uncompensated care for Southern California kids, regardless of their ability to pay.
  • Funded a Calming Sensory Room that will offer a sensory sanctuary for patients to calm, re-group and maximize treatment.

What Happens at CHOC Walk?

CHOC Walk Rare Characters

CHOC Walk the ONLY run/walk event that happens on Disneyland Resort property.  Free parking is provided at the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure starting at 4:00 AM.  The walk is a leisurely 5K walk through both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park with rare character meet and greet opportunities along the way.

  • Sunday, August 11, 2019
  • Main Street opens – 5:30 AM
  • Opening ceremony Main Street U.S.A. – 6:00 AM
  • Entrance cutoff time: 7:15 AM
  • 5K walk through Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park.
  • Early Bird Registration $85 per person (3 and older)
  • Late Registration $95 after July 29, 2019.
  •  Walkers ages 2 and under FREE
  • CHOC Walk information booth will be available morning of for questions.

Specially priced Disneyland® Resort tickets and Disneyland Resort Park Hopper® tickets!

CHOC Walk participants who have reached their $85 fundraising minimum will also have an opportunity to purchase specially priced Disneyland® Resort Park Tickets on the day of the CHOC Walk – Sunday, August 11.

Pricing for this year’s CHOC Walkers is as follows:

$67 – 1-Day, 1-Park ticket (valid at either Disneyland® Park OR Disney California Adventure® Park)
$93 – Disneyland® Resort 1-Day Park Hopper® ticket for BOTH Parks

Tickets are valid August 11, 2019 through September 10, 2019 with the following blockout dates:
8/31/19 – 9/03/19

*Limit 1 ticket per wristband. 

**You must wear your CHOC Walk wristband and purchase the Disneyland® Resort tickets on the day of CHOC Walk: August 11, 2019. To purchase, simply visit any ticket booth or additional ticket carts in the Disney® Esplanade and show your CHOC Walk wristband at any time on August 11.

 

 

How to Register

  • You can register at www.chocwalk.com (click the REGISTER button)
  • Early Bird Registration $85 per person (3 and older)
  • Late Registration $95 after July 29, 2019.
  • You can FUNDRAISE the $85 registration fee!
    • Email your personalized fundraising link to friends and family
    • Set up a Facebook Fundraiser

Fundraising Incentives

CHOC Walk incentives

  • $85:  CHOC Walk T-shirt and free Chick-Fil-A Sandwich (redeemable through August 30)
  • $225:  CHOC Walk pin, T-shirt and Chick-Fil-A Sandwich
  • $350:  CHOC Walk Medallion, Pin, T-Shirt and Chick-Fil-A Sandwich AND Breakfast Item
  • $7001 Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Ticket, CHOC Walk Medallion, Pin, T-Shirt and Chick-Fil-A Sandwich AND Breakfast Item, and Rubios Taco
  • $12002 Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Tickets, CHOC Walk Medallion, Pin, T-Shirt and Chick-Fil-A Sandwich AND Breakfast Item, and THREE Rubios Tacos
  • $25003 Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Tickets, CHOC Walk Medallion, Pin, T-Shirt and Chick-Fil-A Sandwich AND Breakfast Item, free Rubios entree, and $25 Dave And Busters Power card
  • $50004 Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Tickets, 1 Disneyland Resort Hotel Stay for 8/10/19, CHOC Walk Medallion, Pin, T-Shirt and Chick-Fil-A Sandwich AND Breakfast Item, 2 Rubios entrees, and $25 Dave And Busters Power card
  • $10,000:  4 Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Tickets, 1 Disneyland Resort Hotel Suite for 8/10/19, CHOC Walk Medallion, Pin, T-Shirt and Chick-Fil-A Sandwich AND Breakfast Item, Rubios $50 Catering certificate, and $50 Dave And Busters Power card

Join a Team!

The CHOC Walk is more fun with friends!  We are personally walking for Team Angelina in honor of my best friend Jo’s daughter.  She was born with a very rare brain disorder called Polymicrogeria (PMG) that affects the folds of her brain.  Angelina was diagnosed with PMG at CHOC Children’s a few days after she was born.  Even though Angelina is now a year and a half and thriving, Jo still visits CHOC Children’s multiple times a week for Angelina’s appointments and therapies.

Disneyland Annual Passholders Team

CHOC Walk Disneyland Annual Passholders

If you are a Disneyland Annual Passholder, you can also join the Disneyland Annual Passholders Team.  When you register for the CHOC Walk, search for Disneyland Annual Passholders in the “team” box.  This team has an additional set of exclusive prizes if you fundraise a certain amount:

  • 2019 Annual Passholder Star Wars Pin:  Raise $150 or more
  • 2019 Annual Passholder cinch bag:  first 250 team members to raise $225 or more
  • 2019 Star Wars Water Bottl:  first 150 team members to raise at least $400

CHOC Walk 2018

If you are not local and would still like to support CHOC Walk, please consider donating to one of our fundraising goals!  LittleGray’s Goal is $85 (her fundraising page here), and LittleSage’s Goal is also $85 (her fundraising page here).

How to Experience Ghost Town Alive If you Don’t Have All Day

 

GTA ponies.jpg

Ghost Town is ALIVE this summer and there are so many FREE things to do throughout the day!  Along with jumping into the storyline to see what unfolds for the day (Bank robberies!  Trails!  Someone gets thrown in jail!), you can also participate in scheduled quick activities.  

If this is your first time visiting Calico and you don’t know the difference between a Citizen and a Mayfield (and who are these new Calvary people anyway?), I encourage you to read my article on the Knott’s Berry Farm Blog:  Who’s Who of Ghost Town AliveIf you don’t have all day to play in Calico, here are some of my favorite quick activities for kids.  

Scavenger Hunts in Calico

Explores Potts and Coulter have brought a plethora of strange new critters to town.  Stop by the Calico Gazette or Town Hall to pick up your Wilderness Guide to identify some of these animals.  Match the symbols on the map to different small signs in town to guess what animal they might be.  Be sure to check out the Gimmelblam bird in Town Hall!

It wouldn’t be called “Ghost Town” without ghosts!  Doc Carter is the resident paranormal specialist (you can find him in the Barber Shop).  Pick up a list of popular paranormal activity spots from the Calico Gazette and see for yourself!

Founder’s Day Activities and Mayfield Games

Ghost Town Alive Founders Day Games

There are a series of Founder’s Day Activities and Mayfield games that happen throughout the day.  Everyone is welcome to play and the winners get a ribbon and bragging rights.  The girls’ favorites were the shooting tournament and pony races!

Daily Classes at the School House

New this year is daily scheduled classes at the School House!  The girls particularly liked the music lesson (they have a performance, too!), and collaborative art.  At the end of the class, you can ask for a report card to take home.  Come back at 5:00 for the graduation where you can make your own graduation hat!

Play Cards in the Sheriff’s Office

Did you know the Sheriff is great at cards?  Head to the Sheriff’s office to see if he’s up for a little gambling and you might come out a winner!  Most of the time, you’ll leave with a wooden Calico Coin, but sometimes you might win the Deed to one of the buildings in Calico!

Make a Bow or Design a Dress in the Dress Shop

The Dress Shop is one of our favorite places in Calico!  Not only does it have the best ice cube (read: air conditioning), but it houses a ton of historic crafting items like looms.  Miss Ashley or Miss Flora can also help you make a bow that you can take home.  They also have vintage plates where you can design your own outfit.

Get your Name in the Paper

Did you know there are 5 editions of the Newspaper, the Calico Gazette, printed daily?  Since Miss Audrey, the town reporter, is always on the case, she’s always looking for the latest scoop.  You can find her at the Calico Gazette and ask if shes working on a story or if she needs a quote for an article.  You might find your name in the paper!

Mini Games and Puzzles around Town

Did you know there are mini games and brainteasers in almost every building at Calico?  We love to help Miss Lucy with her hotel reservations in the hotel and learn about plants and minerals at the Assay office.  You might even be able to help Doc Carter with a science experiment in the Barber Shop!

Hoe Down

Did you even go to Ghost Town Alive if you didn’t dance at the Hoe Down?  I guarantee you at least 3 people will invite you to the nightly Hoe Down at 5:30.  This is when the entire town of Calico congregates in Calico Square (right outside the Saloon) for the nightly festivities.  Learn a few new dances with your newfound friends and say goodbye for the evening…until it all starts over again the next morning!

For more of our adventures at Knott’s Berry Farm, you can follow us over at @littlegraythread on Instagram!

Do You Need a $100 Droid from Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Building a Droid

Of all the merch pouring out of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland, the “Build Your Own Droid” experience seems to be at the top of everybody’s list.  Why is everyone so quick to shell out $100 (plus tax!  No discounts!) for a space toy?  Well, compared to the $200 lightsaber, the droid seems like a steal.

rey with droidsThe droids are popular with both adults and kids alike since they are basically remote controlled toys.  There is definitely some cool factor since they talk to each other and interact with Batuu surroundings.  This means that droids are better with friends (yay droid playdate!) and you just might end up coming home with two.  You can also buy an option $13 personality chip to make your droid part of the Resistance or the First Order.  If you take a Resistance Droid to the First Order part of Star Wars Land, it will make sounds like it’s nervous.

 

The Basics

  • Droids are $100 before tax, no AP Discounts apply
  • You can chose a BB (spherical) unit or an R2 (think R2D2) unit.  There are a few different head shapes for both BB and R2 models.
  • The pieces come in a variety of colors, and you can mix and match them.  You can ask before paying if the depot is out of a certain color.
  • You assemble them yourself with the help of a cast member.  Most adults can build them themselves, but kids will definitely need some assistance.  The experience takes about 20-30 minutes.
  • After they’re built, you can carry them around Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, but they can’t roam around on the ground (something about them being a tripping hazard).
  • The droids are controlled by remote control.  Both the droid and the remote control run on AA batteries.

Which Model should I choose?

Originally we were drawn to the BB unit because the spherical shape looked so cool, but we heard from multiple people that the BB units are very fragile.  On the other hand, if you have a lot of carpet at home, the R2 unit will be more sluggish than the BB unit.  Each option has its pros and cons:

  • BB Unit
    • Pros:  great on carpet, looks super cool
    • Cons:  you need to take it apart to turn it on and off, head detaches easily, but is also easy to place back on
  • R2 Unit
    • Pros:  easy to turn off an on, very durable, easier to control
    • Cons:  gets stuck easily on uneven surfaces

Since there were so many pros and cons to both models, we ended up getting one of each (for the sake of research!).  After playing with them for awhile, the girls gravitate to the R2 unit more since they get frustrated when they have to put the BB head back on.  I’m happy to report that the BB unit is not as fragile as I thought.  As long as you line up the arrows correctly, the sphere stays together nicely–almost too nicely.  It’s sometimes hard to open to turn on and off.  A child would definitely need adult assistance with opening the BB droid whereas the R2 unit switch is easy to access on the bottom of the droid.

Is it Worth It?

Sure, $100 sounds like a lot of money for a plastic toy, but if you think about it like an experience, the price is worth every penny.  The process is similar to Build-a-Bear where you can easily spend the same amount on a stuffed animal.  With the droids, adults and kids will have a great time bonding over the STEM process of building a robot.  The cast members talked to the girls a lot about being “Droid Mommies” which made them connect to these toys on a very personal level.  At home, they care for them as if they were their babies and I often catch them kissing them goodnight and talking to them like a real person.

We usually don’t drop $100 on a single toy, so this was also a great lesson on saving money and delayed gratification.  The girls were interested in buying droids after their best friend got one with her birthday money, so they spent the next few weeks cleaning their room and selling some of their pre loved toys to earn money to buy their own droid.  They learned to prioritize their purchases and understand where they wanted to put their money.  Since they worked so hard to pay for their droids with their own money, they were more deeply connected to their droids.

droids at the park

For us, the experience was definitely worth it.  We’re a Star Wars family so this was something all of us could enjoy.  I’d much rather them spend $100 on something with a small footprint that they’ll actually use than on random stuffed animals that will wear down over time.  If I were to just pick one, I’d go with the R2 unit, but I’m also glad BB is in our family!

Phantom of the Opera Now Playing at Segerstrom Center in Orange County July 10-21

Phantom of the Opera Segerstrom

Angel of Music!  After finishing a month long residency at the Hollywood Pantages Theater, the North American Tour of Phantom of the Opera will be at Segerstrom Center of the Arts in Costa Mesa from July 10 through July 21!  Segerstrom Center of the Arts provided me with three tickets to see this show in exchange for a honest review.  I took my sister, who introduced me to everything Broadway, and my 4 year old daughter LittleSage.

01-THE-PHANTOM-OF-THE-OPERA-Derrick-Davis-and-Eva-Tavares-photo-Matthew-Murphy

Phantom of the Opera has always been one of my favorite musicals!  My sisters and I used to sing all the songs when we were little (my favorite is the frog croaking scene).  It was one of the first Broadway musicals I saw at the Orpheum in San Francisco.  One of my favorite ways to prepare to see a show is to find out a little more about the touring cast on their social media channels.  The official Instagram account for the North American Tour is @phantomtour.  Here, you’ll find the latest information about the show and cast.  I love when the cast does Instagram Story Takeovers because it gives you a unique behind the scenes look at what goes on to make a Broadway Show.

Did I Really take my 4 year old to see Phantom of the Opera?

Yes I did!  Out of my two daughters, LittleSage is “less scared” than LittleGray and she tends to gravitate to the uncommon.  I decided not to take LittleGray because knowing her personality, I thought that she would be scared of the Phantom.  You definitely know your own children the best and it is up to you if you decide to bring them.  Luckily, Segerstrom Center of the Arts does not have an age policy and I didn’t have to worry about them turning her away at the door.  They welcomed her with open arms and everyone complimented her on her masquerade dress and Phantom mask.

How Did She Do?

Segerstrom Mirrors

She absolutely loved the show!  Granted, LittleSage is no stranger to the theater (this is her 6th Broadway show!), and she is able to sit through performances with no problem.  We used the tips that I wrote about here about how to introduce your kids to Broadway like playing the soundtrack in the car and purchasing the souvenir program.  As soon as she flipped through and saw a photo of the Phantom in his Masquerade Mask, she was in love!  The “New” version of the Phantom of the Opera has gorgeous moving set pieces, amazing shadow special effects, and even pyrotechnics.  All of these things added immensely to the show and she didn’t find them to be scary.  If you’re not familiar with Phantom of the Opera, there are a few murders by hanging that are depicted, but it didn’t phase her.

The Stage Door Experience

Even though it was late when the show ended, I asked LittleSage if she wanted to meet the cast at the Stage Door (if you’ve never had a Stage Door experience, I wrote all about it in this article).  She eagerly nodded yes so we got out of the theater as quickly as we could and headed to the door.  We arrived just in time to meet Jordan Craig (Raoul), Eva Tavares (Christine), SarahGrace Mariani (Meg), and Derrick Davis (The Phantom).  She told them all that her favorite scene was the Graveyard Scene (go figure) and had them sign by their pictures.  I highly recommend having a Stage Door experience because it really does make it personal for the kids as they can put a face to a name.

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During a recent Instagram Story Takeover from the resident Christine, Eva Tavares, I learned that there are three people who rotate to play the role of Christine.  Ever since Phantom has been in existence, the main Christine only performs 6 shows a week.  The alternate Christine performs the other 2, and the standby Christine is on hand in the case of illness.  Eva Tavares will have her LAST run as Christine at Segerstrom where she will take her final bow with the North American tour.  Starting August 7 (in Hawaii!), Emma Grimsley (who is the current alternate Christine) will be taking over as the main Christine.

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Tickets to Phantom of the Opera start at just $35.75.  The 2:00 performance on July 20 will include audio description, open captioning, and sign language interpretation.  Tickets can be bought at SCFTA.org, calling (714) 556-2787, or in person at the box office.