How to do Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge with Kids under 38″ without spending $300

Star Wars Land

Ah.  Star Wars Land.  The magical majestical 9th wonder of the world that we’ve been spying on from Mickey and Friends Parking Structure (the 8th wonder is obvious the backside of water).  We’ve waited patiently, we prepared for the crowds, we furiously refreshed our computers to get reservations–and now our time has come!

Star Wars Land Blue Stripe Wall

In order to visit Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge (the formal name for this planet is “Batuu”), you need a reservation through June 23.  You can still get reservations by staying at a Disneyland Property hotel (Grand Californian, Paradise Pier, or Disneyland Hotel).  The reservation is set for a 4 hour block of time (8am-12pm, 11am-3pm, 2pm-6pm, 5pm-9pm, 8pm-12pm).  Notice that there is some overlap between reservations so there are times where Batuu is twice as crowded (the sweet spot is 3 hours into your reservation).

Star Wars Land Millenium Falcon

There are 4 major things that people want to accomplish during their 4 hour time slot:

  1. Oga’s Cantina (which is the first non-exclusive place to purchase alcohol inside Disneyland, all ages are welcome and non alcoholic food and beverages are also served)
  2. Build a $200 lightsaber
  3. Build a $100 droid
  4. Ride Smugger’s Run, aka “The Millenium Falcon Ride”, height limit 38″

But…what if I have kids who don’t drink alcohol, don’t have $300, and who are shorter than 38″?  Is there still enough to do in Galaxy’s Edge?

What can my short under 38″ do?

  • Play with characters!  Ask Rey to give you flying lessons, as Chewbacca if he’s given up eating porgs, help the rebel spy Vi Moradi hide from the stormtroopers.
  • Browse the marketplace— My favorite shop in the marketplace is the Creature Stall which is almost like a museum of space animals.  Here, you can adopt a porg or a variety of other exotic animals.  The girls loved playing with all the creatures even though we didn’t take one home that day.
  • Get some Batuuan Snacks–I definitely recommend the Blue and Green milk ($7.99) located near The First Order
  • Hit up the locals to teach you more about their planet.  Every resident of Batuu has a backstory!  Ask them what they think about the presence of the First Order Stormtroopers.
  • Simply sit back and people watch!  There are little secrets hidden all around Batuu–did you know there is a secret water fountain that reveals a space creature?

 

How to Interact with the Batuu Characters

Since Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is a completely immersive experience, the characters don’t have formal meet and greet lines.  They are continuously on the move but they will stop for a quick photo if you ask.  Unfortunately, none of the characters sign autographs, so stash those books away and seize the moment.  To get the most out of the experience, it’s best to play along, especially for kids!

Rey and Chewbacca Star Wars Land

Rey and Chewbacca are free to roam around the Rebel Base and they’re always looking for more people to join the Resistance.  If you’re not sure how to enter a conversation with Rey, you can ask if you can help with her mission or if she can tell you anything about the starships.  When we visited her, the girls asked if they could play hide and seek and they could have easily stayed with her the rest of our 4 hour reservation.  Chewie is a little harder to communicate with since he only speaks Wookie, but we found out that he likes to play with porgs!

Stormtroopers are all over–on rooftops, walking around, you are bound to run into them.  They might try to take you into custody, and you always say yes to a Stormtrooper.  Kylo Ren only comes out after the short stage show in the First Order area, but he does walk around and roam.  These show times are not published, so it might be hard to catch it.  I would recommend trying to find him during the second and third hour of your reservation so there are less people trying to surround him for a photo.

Star Wars Stormtroopers

Vi Moradi (pronounced like “eye” with a v) is another fun character to play with all throughout Batuu.  She is the Rebel Spy that everyone is looking for!  We’ve seen her in the Marketplace as far as the First Order area.  She’s always on the run looking over her shoulder for Stormtroopers.  You can ask if you can help her evade the Stormtroopers.  She taught us that when we see the Stormtroopers, we should blend in–stand tall, smile and wave!  The girls literally waved to every single Stormtrooper they saw for the rest of the day.  You might have also seen her at the opening ceremonies for Galaxy’s Edge where it was said in passing that the first person who turns in the wookie wins a prize–just letting you know, there is no prize!

Star Wars Land Vi Moradi

R2-D2 is a lifesize droid in the giftshop of Droid Depot!  He occasionally can be found running around beep beep booping, but he is often resting and recharging.  You can also take home your own real R2-D2 for a mere $25,000!  Don’t forget to recreate the iconic Leia picture!

Star Wars Land R2D2

With interactions like these, you’re bound to get a ton of great candid photos and videos which is way more priceless than a posed photograph.  Our favorite character experiences have been when the kids are able to play freely with the characters and let their imaginations come alive.  Some people say that magic doesn’t exist, but in these moments its clear that magic is real.

Star Wars Land Rey

The “Lands” within Star Wars Land

  • Resistance Base (by Critter Country Entrance) where you can meet Rey and Chewbacca and check out a ton of cool starships
  • The Marketplace (shops and Docking Bay 7, the main quick service restaurant)
  • The Droid Depot–located below the main marketplace where you can build your own Droid.  This is also a gift shop.  (located nearest to the Big Thunder Entrance)
  • The First Order aka “bad guys” Storm Troopers, Kylo Ren, and his ship (located nearest to the Fantasyland Entrance.  Also the closest entrance to get to Oga’s Cantina)
  • The Millennium Falcon, the only ride attraction called “Smugglers Run”

 

 

Both times I’ve entered Galaxy’s Edge, I’ve used the Critter Country Entrance which leads directly into the Resistance Base.  If you keep walking straight, you will hit the Marketplace with the majority of the shops.  If you make a right around the Marketplace, this is a shortcut to get to the First Order, Oga’s Cantina, and the Millennium Falcon.  If you have a stroller, take this path.   The Marketplace is a little higher than the rest of the land and requires stairs to get to all the other parts of Galaxy’s Edge (there are ramps available but if you need to make a quick bee line, take the shortcut path).

If you enter via the Big Thunder or Fantasyland entrance, it might be hard to find the Resistance Camp since it feels like you’re leaving the land.  To get there, go through the Marketplace all the way to the end, keep on going down the path until you see merchandise kiosks, and then you’ll find the huge starships.  This is also where the second ride attraction “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance” will be (it is set to open later this year).

Places to Rest, Chill, and People Watch

Star Wars Land friends

With younglings, sometimes you just need a wide open space to roam!  One of my favorite things to do in Batuu is sit, people watch, and take in all the amazing sights and sounds.  Here are some of my favorite open areas:

  • Resistance Base–by Critter Country entry.  There are a ton of starships to look at and plenty of sitting areas.  Added bonus is that this is also where Rey and Chewbacca hang out.
  • Docking Bay 7–two words:  AIR CONDITIONING.  If you need to escape the heat, there is ample seating in this quick service restaurant.  Grab a cup of water and chill.
  • Outside Droid Depot–by Frontierland entry.  There is ample seating near the foliage in this area.  You might be able to catch stormtroopers walking by with a First Order Officer (this is also a hint when the First Order Stage show is about to start).
  • Millennium Falcon–I think this is technically a stroller parking area, but there are so many places to spread out and relax!  You’ll also find some shade close to the Cantina.  I heard that this is the best place to view fireworks if you are in Batuu at night.

When is the best time to go?

Come June 24, a same day reservation system similar to FastPass will be available to Disneyland Park Guests.  As of now can meet all the characters from 8am opening to 12am closing, but that can change at any point.  For lightning, the best time has been around 5:00pm.  The opening group does have its advantages since there is no other group that is already in Batuu.  Fireworks are supposed to be gorgeous from inside Galaxy’s Edge.  It is rumored that once reservation spots are lifted to the general public, there will be no forced exit time, meaning you can spend as long as you want in Batuu.

Batuu is a beautiful planet that will literally make you feel that you’ve blasted away from the rest of Disneyland Park.  So many adventures and memories await!  Til the Spire!

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How to Enjoy Knott’s Soak City Water Park if you Don’t Want to Wait in Lines

Soak City Sunset Lazy River

Summer is finally here along with the high temperatures!  When the Fahrenheit starts to rise, everyone’s first thought is to flock to the local water park Knott’s Berry Farm Soak City.  We happened to go on the first sunny weekend of the season and BOY was it packed!  It was our first trip to @knottsberryfarm Soak City Water Park of the season and our first time in a Cabana (thanks Snoopy and the #berrybloggers!)  Our family was invited to check out the Cabanas at Knott’s Soak City for free.  This is also our first year having Soak City on our passes.

Knotts Soak City Map

When the crowds are high, line wait times are usually astronomical.  Since the kids are still young, waiting in lines can be hard.  We decided to focus our time on free play areas where wait times were minimal to none.  Here are our top 4 water play areas that don’t have lines.

Gremmie’s Lagoon

Soak City Gremmie Lagoon

Gremmie Lagoon is located across the main bridge to the right hand side.  It is typically known as the “little kid area” since the maximum height is 54″.  The water is at most 1 foot deep which makes it easy to navigate for most kids.  There are 3 slides in this area:  the boat slide, octopus slide, and submarine slide.  The boat and octopus are monitored by Knott’s Soak City lifeguards, but the submarine is a free play zone.  The longest we waited was about 10 minutes for the higher octopus slide.

If slides aren’t your thing, you can relax in the water, climb on the animal fountains, or check out the sprinkler area.  We were comfortable with the girls navigating the boat slide by themselves as long as they were in eye shot.  I would definitely recommend grabbing a chair in this area since it’s where your little ones will be spending most of their time.

Beach House “Bucket” Area

Soak City Beach House

There are two slides in the Beach House area that have a 42″ height requirement.  LittleGray waited only about 15 minutes for this slide (adults can go down, too!).  There are several stairs that you can climb to get to water guns that hit targets in the center of the area.  Be careful because there are also 3 huge buckets of water that dump intermittently to unsuspecting people below!

Soak City Buckets

Sunset “Lazy” River

Our family’s favorite is the Sunset River!  This lazy river snakes all throughout Soak City and you can easily spend hours floating around.  All children 48″ and under must wear lifejackets which are provided at each entrance of Sunset River.  You can choose to wait for a tube, or bypass the line and free swim in the river.

Tidal Wave Bay Wave Pool

Soak City Tidal Wave Bay

Another huge open play area is the wave pool called Tidal Wave Bay.  Waves as big as 4 feet will periodically go off around 10 minutes to create an ocean like effect.  Smaller guests might be more comfortable in a tube or in their parent’s arms.  LittleSage was a little scared and preferred to play in the soft lapping waves at the water’s entrance.

Save Time by Renting a Tube

Soak City Tubes

For Sunset River and Tidal Wave Bay, tubes can enhance the fun, but you can also find yourself waiting a long time for someone to give up their tube.  There are a limited number of tube rentals available daily for $10 each.  Tubes are good for both Sunset River and Tidal Wave Bay.  You do need to tote your tube around with you and store it at our spot when not in use.  To rent a tube, head towards the kiosk near the bathrooms by Tidal Wave Bay.  They do sell occasionally sell out, so be sure to head over there early in the day!

Splurge on a Cabana

Soak City Cabanas

Even on one of the busiest days of the year, we were able to have our own private retreat in our private Cabana.  We had a Malibu/Shore Break Cabana and it was so peaceful and relaxing! It was off from the main paths so it was the perfect hideaway from the sun and crowds. The Cabana also came with our personal safe, 4 tube rentals ($40 value) and our own cabana person who helped us order our meal plan food (get the fish and chips 😋). It was steps away from the Sunset River entrance which is where we spent most of our time!

Cabanas range from $170-$265 with prices varying by peak season and location.  The higher priced cabanas are located overlooking the Tidal Wave Bay, and the slightly cheaper Malibu/Shore Break Cabanas are closer to Longboards Grill Restaurant.  I preferred the location of the Malibu/Shore Break Cabanas because there was way less foot traffic, and it was really close to the drink Refresh station and restrooms.  Each cabana can accommodate 8 people, but extra guests can be added on for $15 each.

What If I Don’t Want to Spend Extra Money?

Knotts Berry Farm Soak City

Totally relatable and valid!  The cabana was such a luxury but I don’t think we would get one every time we visited.  There are ample chairs available with limited shaded awnings.  Your best bet is to get there right at opening, or take advantage of Season Passholder Early entry days.  There are parts of the park on the lawn areas which are shaded by trees, but you would have to bring towels or chairs to sit.  Longboards quick service restaurant has a huge outdoor seating area which is shaded for meals.

Know Before You Go

Soak City Lake

  • Soak City parking is in the East Parking Lot which is the main lot that takes you under the bridge once you enter the driveway.  Even if it is coned off, you can tell the worker that you are going to Soak City and they will let you through.  Once you pay the $20 for parking, head straight all the way down and turn right until you see the Soak City Main Entrance.  If you park closer to the red barn, you can take the scenic walkway by turning left before you go under the bridge.
  • Tickets can be bought at the entrance of Soak City
  • Small food items are permitted, but no large meals or large portions of snacks.  Cans are not allowed unless they are Coke brand.  Small coolers are also permitted
  • You can also bring in wagons, umbrellas, and lawn chairs.
  • Season Pass Meal Plans and refillable drink cups are valid at Soak City!
  • There are two main places to eat:  Longboards for chicken fingers, burgers, fish and chips, salads and wraps, and Pizza which is located at the front of the park

Best Value for Tickets

Soak City Tubes Cabanas

If you haven’t been to Soak City, I HIGHLY recommend getting the gold pass that includes both Knott’s Berry Farm and Soak City Water Park. One day admission is around $45-$55, but the Gold Pass is $145 and includes unblocked days to both Soak City and Knott’s Berry Farm through the rest of the year. You’ll be able to enjoy all summer at Soak City, Ghost Town Alive and Summer Nights at @knottsberryfarm, AND experience Halloween and Christmas season at Knott’s. Definitely worth it!

More information about Knott’s Berry Farm Soak City can be found on their website.

The Fun Starts when the Sun Sets at “Summer Nights” at Knott’s Berry Farm

Knotts Summer Nights

A brand new nighttime only experience #KnottsSummerNights is here at @knottsberryfarm! The fun starts when the sun starts to set every day at 6pm. Guests can enjoy food tasting booths, free lawn games (see below to see the girls’ reaction when LittleSage almost broke the game 😬), live entertainment, and brand new characters!

Here’s what you need to know: #KnottsSummerNights is included with park admission. You can buy food a la carte from the booths, but it is WAY cheaper if you get the Tasting Card (8 tabs for $35). Live band entertainment will change weekly (check the Knott’s website for the schedule). This happens every night through August 11 from 6pm to closing.

$35 Food Tasting Card

The main event:  the food!  This is very similar to Boysenberry Festival.  There are 9 unique booths that are only open after 6pm.  The booths are all located around the train tracks by the Calico Stage and the big Charleston Circle Fountain outside of Johnny Rockets.  There are a few booths on the other side of the train tracks on the Ghost Town side.  All food and drink items can be purchased a la carte, but I found that it’s a much better deal to get the $35 Tasting Card.  Most items are around $9 a la carte (beer pours are $11!), but each tab averages down to only  $4.37 each.

As always, some items are a better pick than others.  Our favorites were the shrimp and sausage skewer and Chili in a cornbread bowl.  Some of the portions are smaller than others (I noticed that the Corn Cup and Salad Bowl were pretty small), so look around before you make your food tab decisions.  There are two locations for beer:  Judge Roy Beans near the Stagecoach ride and Booth “H” right on the other side of the tracks.  Fresh squeezed lemonades are only sold on the side of the ice cream stand by the Calico Saloon.  My favorite picks for desserts are the Ice Cream Cookie-which (choice of Boysenberry, vanilla, or butter pecan ice cream with chocolate chip, lemon, or caramel cookies), or the customizable caramel dipped apple.

Live Entertainment

What’s Summer Nights without live bands?  There are 3 locations for live entertainment:  Calico Mine Stage (huge stage near the fountain), Calico Park Stage (right outside of the Saloon), and the DJ on top of the Surf Shop by the Hang Time gift shop exit.  Different bands will be performing throughout the summer.  You can check out the band schedule here.

Krazy Kirk at Knotts

Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies are also playing sets in the Wagon Wheel amphitheater where the stunt show takes place during the day.  These guys are a theme park staple and I 100% recommend catching a show!

New Characters and Lawn Games

A whole slew of new characters called the “Party Planning crew” come out around 6:30 with fun games and activities.  Each character have names with a twist like “Justin Credible” and “Anna Break”.  The girls loved dancing with Helena Highwater!  There are free play games like corn hole, hole in one golf, and beach ball pong.  Our favorite was Tiki Toss where you have to get a tiny ring on a stretchy string on a hook on the board.  It’s super addictive!  Luckily there are a lot of Tiki Toss boards through the Summer Nights area!

What you Need to know about Summer Nights

  • Included with park admission
  • Happens every day starting at 6pm
  • Food booths open at 6pm
  • 3 venues for live entertainment starting at 7pm
  • new characters and free games and activities
  • Food Tasting Card–$35 for 8 tabs, valid through August 11

Knotts Summer Nights Sunset

More information about Knott’s Berry Farm Summer Nights can be found on their website, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Disney’s Aladdin: A Review of the Live Action Movie

Aladdin El Capitan Theater

I grew up in the era of the Princess Movies of the 90s.  I was eight years old when the original animated Aladdin movie premiered in 1992, just one year older than LittleGray is now.  I literally still use my Aladdin beach towel that was a permanent fixture in my childhood home.  The girls grew up seeing Aladdin in the Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure, and we recently got to see Aladdin on Broadway for the second year in a row.

Shop Disney Subscription Box

ShopDisney Princess Subscription box

In preparation for the film, the girls were sent their first Princess Subscription box from Shop Disney.  We received the Deluxe Disney Princess Enchanted Collection Subscription Box for free from Disney to try out.  The entire box was Princess Jasmine themed and included a costume, magical lamp, Rajah plushie, and book.  The box itself transformed into a cardboard cutout of the Magic Carpet!

There are two levels of subscription boxes:  Standard box ($47.99) and Deluxe Box ($74.99).  You can pick a princess of your choice, schedule a subscription box to arrive in a specific month, and sign up for different plans including the choice of 12 or 4 boxes a year.  Other Princess choices for the Month of May and June included Ariel and Moana!  The girls loved receiving a package addressed to them, and the element of surprise was a fun twist!  This would be a great birthday or holiday gift for any princess fan.

Aladdin Opening Night Fan Event at El Capitan Theater

You’ve heard me rave about the Disney owned El Capitan Theater before.  We’ve seen the majority of our movies at this theater.  There’s something truly special about traveling to Hollywood to see these films.  A couple days before, the world premier happened in that exact theater.  The first showing of a new film is usually a special ticketed event called “Opening Night Fan Event”.  For $30, you get reserved seating, popcorn and a drink, exclusive movie poster, popcorn bucket, digital movie soundtrack, and a souvenir magical lamp keychain.  Not only do you get to see the movie a day before the official release, but you get to see it amongst fellow super fans.  You could feel the energy in the room as we all laughed together, cried together, and applauded as the final curtain fell.

El Capitan Cave of Wonders

In true El Capitan fashion, there are several exclusive opportunities.  For Disney’s Aladdin, be sure to arrive an hour before show time to take a picture against the Cave of Wonder’s backdrop on the stage.  This photo backdrop is larger than life and you don’t want to miss it!  It is only available before the movie, so head into the lobby and towards the left side of the theater to get in line.  There is also an interactive magical lap photo opportunity in the lobby, but it is available after the movie as well.  On the lower level of the theater is the display of movie props and costumes.

Movie Review

I attended the Fan Event screening with my parents, LittleGray (7) and LittleSage (4).  They do have booster seats available for the kids so they had no problem seeing the screen in the sold out theater.  I like to go into movies with as clean of a slate as possible, but I do know how live action remakes can be a hit or a miss.  I have to say, I absolutely LOVED Guy Ritchie’s take on this classic story.  I love how the characters had an added layer of complexity to them, and the slight changes to the end which made me proud to be a woman of color.  I didn’t know how the CGI would affect the animal sidekicks, but they turned out to be the girls’ favorite part!   LittleSage loved every scene with Rajah and Iago was funny without being over the top.  The movie was so aesthetically beautiful and I loved how Guy Ritchie played around with time effects to tell the story.

LittleGray tends to be more scared of things in movies, and there were only a couple of times where she grabbed my hand.  It was mainly scenes with Jafar when you could tell something bad was about to happen.  In terms of bathroom breaks, it’s hard to find a good place to quickly run out without missing too much.  If I had to choose, I would try to wait until after the “I can show you the world” magic carpet scene because you definitely don’t want to miss that!

Aladdin Movie Poster

Huge thank you to Disney for inviting us to El Capitan Theatre for the Opening Night Fan Event and sending us the Princess Subscription box!  More information about the Live Action Disney’s Aladdin can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Celebrating a Birthday at Irvine Spectrum Center and Storymakery

Irvine Spectrum Kids Birthday Club

Did you know the Irvine Spectrum Center has a Birthday Club for kids?  There are so many great places to celebrate a birthday there!  Last week, we kicked off LittleGray’s birthday week by having Afternoon Tea at the Hello Kitty Cafe Bow Room.  She wanted a low key celebration on her actual birthday, do something creative, and “make something”.  We had walked by Storymakery several times (especially since it’s conveniently located by Target), but we had never actually been inside.  Since this is a place where kids can create, write, and publish their own book, I thought this would be the perfect birthday surprise for our little storyteller.  The Irvine Spectrum Center assisted in helping us plan our birthday day by giving us ride tickets for our family, and Storymakery provided our experience for free for this article.

Irvine Spectrum Birthday Club

Irvine Spectrum Birthday Club

 

On any day of the month of your child’s birthday, you can pick up a Birthday Button at the kiosk by the Grand Wheel (located outside of Nordstrom).  You can register online (they will email you to remind you to redeem your Birthday Club package) or walk up in person to sign up for the program.

What do you get?  With the birthday button, the birthday kid receives unlimited rides on the Grand Wheel and Carousel.  Unfortunately, the other members of the party will still need tickets to get on the rides.  If the child is a under a certain height, a supervising adult may ride for free.  Along with the birthday button, you receive coupons from a few places in the Spectrum.  We redeemed the coupon for a free dessert pizza at Pieology and it was so delicious!  You’ll even get a $10 coupon for Storymakery in the pack!

While you’re at the Irvine Spectrum, be sure to check out the kids playground located right outside of Target.  Nearby are the best bathrooms in the family lounge.  The entrance to the Family Lounge is near the play structure across from the entrance of The Afters Ice Cream shop.

Storymakery

Storymakery is the first self-publishing experience for families and kids.  The only location is at the Irvine Spectrum center so this is truly a unique experience.  At Storymakery, kids work with a Host to write a story from start to finish.  We got to do the “Storytale Express” package which is geared for younger kids who don’t have a ton of experience writing long stories.

The Storytale Express begins with creating a main character and customizing it on their touch screen computers.  There are a variety of different themes to fit every child’s interest.  After the character is complete, the host works closely with the kids to write their story.  They ask questions bout the characters, what should happen next, and how to add supporting descriptive details.  Since the host takes the kids’ ideas and types up the entire story, it takes about a day for the books to be printed and bound.  You can pick up the books in store, or they can be shipped for a small fee.  You don’t leave the shop emptyhanded on the first day–your main character is printed on a keepsake poster which you can take home on the day you create your story.

Whats Included in the Different Packages?

Storymakery prices

Storytale Express

  • $45 for softcover, $50 hardcover
  • Approximately 30-40 minutes
  • Recommended for preschool age or for those who are low on time
  • One on One time with the host to assist plot development
  • Custom Character poster
  • Unlimited Character Creation

Storytale Workshop

  • $75, includes hardcover book
  • Approximately 2 hours
  • Recommended ages 5 and up
  • one and one time with host to assist with story creation
  • more in depth lesson on how to write a compelling story
  • plush toy
  • custom character poster
  • unlimited character creation

Imagination Kid Workshop

  • $97.50, includes hardcover book
  • Approximately 2 hours
  • Recommended ages 5 and up
  • Includes everything in the Storytale Workshop PLUS a printed shirt with the child’s main character

Something to note:  parents can drop off their kids for any of these programs at no additional cost!  Enjoy kid-free time at the Irvine Spectrum Center!  Also, don’t forget about the $10 coupon that is included as part of the Irvine Spectrum Center Birthday Club!

Additional Storymakery Programs

Storymakery Writers Workshop

Birthday Party Packages start at just $200 for a group of 6 guests.  Parties are customizable with optional add ons like food and party favors.  More information about birthday parties can be found at storymakery.com.  They will also be hosting a series of drop off Summer Camps that vary from all day or half day.  Kids will learn about writing composition and take home a few books throughout the week.  More information about Summer Camps can be found here.

Is it Worth It?

Storymakery Irvine Spectrum

At first glance, it might seem like a lot to pay $45 for a paperback book.  But when you factor in the entire experience, character creation, the hour long session with the host, and the pride that your child gets when that book is placed in their hands, that experience is priceless.  LittleGray is at the age where she wants to write stories all day long, and it is really special to see her name as the published author of this book (yes, its officially published!).  It gave her a sense of power and control to create all the characters to her exact specifications and it was so neat to see them come to life on the pages.  I feel like the price is on par with similar “creation activities” like Build a Bear, Color Me Mine, etc.  The $10 off birthday coupon makes this an exceptionally good value as well.  We ended up inviting her best friend to come with us and bought a package for her which was something fun for the girls to do together.  They also offer gift cards in case aunties or grandparents would like to chip in for a bigger package.

More information about Storymakery can be found on their website.  A full video of the entire Storymakery process can be found hereHuge thank you to Storymakery and Irvine Spectrum Center for sponsoring our day!

 

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Broadway Tour has Arrived in Orange County

charlie and the chocolate factory touring cast

I’ve got the golden ticket!  Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Broadway Tour is coming to Segerstrom Center of the Arts in Costa Mesa from May 28-June 9.  My family was given tickets for free in exchange for an honest review.  In preparation for the show, we had been listening to the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory soundtrack on repeat and picked out what characters we wanted to dress up as.

Charlie Musical Photo Spot

 

LittleGray chose Veruca Salt since her costume is ballet pink and LittleSage chose the Queen of Pop Violet.  Most of the items for their costumes were from their closet, but I did use items from http://www.primary.com like the cardigan and the purple sweat pants.  I wanted to dress up as Mike Teavee because if there’s any excuse to wear my camouflage pants, I will take it.  I created my black shirt 5 minutes before we ran out the door using regular vinyl and my silhouette cutting machine.  I chose not to use heat transfer vinyl so I could easily remove the skull and lightning bolt after I was done with them.  The costumes were a huge hit and a great conversation starter!

Kids Night on Broadway

Segerstrom Center Charlie Musical

Segerstrom Center kicked off opening night with “Kids Night on Broadway” where a you could get a free child ticket per full price adult ticket.  Free family activities were available in the lobby for the hour before showtime.  Upon entry, the girls were given a complementary Segerstrom Arts button where they wrote their first and favorite Broadway show–this was LittleGray’s 6th Broadway show and LittleSage’s 5th Broadway show!

The absolute highlight from the Kids Night on Broadway was meeting Brynn Williams who plays Violet!  As soon as LittleSage saw her, she ran into her open arms.  We were lucky to spend some time with her before the show and she signed everything my daughters gave her.  Segerstrom also had coloring tables set out courtesy on behalf of Art Thearapy.  LittleSage drew Brynn a picture which she later gave her at the Stage Door.

Is the Show good for Kids?

I mean, they don’t call it Kids Night on Broadway for nothing!  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a great first musical for kids since Charlie is played by a boy (in our performance it was Henry).  The music is super catchy and the story is a childhood staple.  The Broadway version is an updated from Roald Dahl’s classic in that the characters have been upgraded to present day versions of themselves.  Veruca Salt (played by Jessica Cohen) is a gorgeous–yet still spoiled–ballerina so it’s no wonder that she is a favorite among the kids.  Violet (played by Brynn Williams) has been updated to a social media child mogul “Queen of Pop” with millions of followers on twitter and Instagram.  Mike Teavee (played by Danny Quadrino) is no longer a cowboy, but a kid obsessed with screens, videogames, and smart enough to hack into Willy Wonka’s computers.  His gravity defying leaps and comical physical performance will make your kids fall in love with him.

Charlie Factory

I did feel that the Broadway version of the story is a little bit darker than the original story (let’s just say the kids don’t come back at the end).  The story is presented in a very comedic manner, even when the characters are meeting the end of their story.  LittleGray did get a little scared during Veruca Salt’s scene (it’s very similar to the mouse scene in the Nutcracker in my opinion), but surprisingly (or not surprisingly) this was LittleSage’s favorite part and she thought it was hilarious.  The show runs about 3 hours with a brief intermission right before all the kids enter the factory.

Stage Door

Charlie Segerstrom Stage Door

Our first experience at the Stage Door was when we saw CATs at Segerstrom.  The Stage Door is the cast entrance and exit, and you are welcome to wait by the door after the show to meet the performers.  Detailed instructions on how to find the Stage Door can be found here.  Our favorite souvenir is the $20 programs which we bring to the Stage Door for the performers to sign.  After the performance, we got to meet all the principal performers and several swings, understudies, and oompa loompas!  I can’t stress enough what an invaluable experience this is for kids to actually meet the people in the show.  This further solidifies the appreciation for theater and live entertainment.  The girls loved meeting everyone and asked them questions about the performance and life on tour.

 

 

Ticket Information

Single tickets to Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY start at $29 and are on sale now at SCFTA.org, by calling (714) 556-2787 and at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa. For inquiries about group ticket savings for 10 or more, please call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. The 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, June 8 will include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation. The Center offers many services for patrons with disabilities including removable wheelchair locations, binoculars and assistive listening devices. To learn more visit SCFTA.org/accessibilityinformation.

May 28 – June 9, 2019
Tuesdays – Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 1:00 & 6:30 p.m.
Kids Night: Tuesday, May 28 at 7:30 p.m.
The 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday, June 8, 2019 will include audio description, open captioning and sign-language interpretation.
Tickets – Start at $29
In person – The Box Office
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily

Online – SCFTA.org
Phone – (714) 556-2787

Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily

Group Sales – (714) 755-0236

Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily

All images and information are courtesy of Segerstrom Center of the Arts and is used by permission.

The Bow Room Birthday Celebration at Hello Kitty Grand Cafe at Irvine Spectrum Center

Birthdays at Hello Kitty Cafe

Pink, sweets, and HELLO KITTY–all things that my daughters dream of!  We are lucky to be local to the Irvine Spectrum Center which is conveniently located where the 5 and 405 meet in Orange County.  We visited the Hello Kitty Truck when it was just a temporary fixture and have been to the new permanent Hello Kitty Grand Cafe located by the Grand Wheel for pastries and drinks.  But did you know there is an entire exclusive tea party room behind that elusive white Bow Door?  We are so grateful to Hello Kitty Cafe and Irvine Spectrum Center for providing these services for free for our family so we could celebrate LittleGray’s birthday!

Hello Kitty Grand Cafe

I was researching unique birthday celebration ideas in Orange County and Afternoon Tea at the Bow Room felt like the perfect special occasion spot.  The girls felt so special as they were escorted past the Bow Door into a pink room decorated with the finest Hello Kitty decor.  The table was set with Hello Kitty dishes and everything was so Kawaii!  We had a reservation for 5 people and our group had the entire room to ourselves.  It was the perfect environment to catch up and have a private birthday party just for LittleGray.

The Bow Room Afternoon Tea Experience

Hello Kitty Cafe Treat tier

When we were seated, our host asked us if we were celebrating anything and if we had any food allergies.  She also went over the tea selection and let the girls know they could also get lemonade or strawberry lemonade instead of tea.  We chose lychee peach, pomegranate green, and the birthday tea which was a blend of raspberries and hibiscus.  I definitely recommending each person picking a different flavor tea since they come in big Hello Kitty pots meant for sharing.  The tea was served with the cutest Hello Kitty shaped pink sugar!

The first course was fresh strawberries in chocolate whipped cream.  LittleGray got a special birthday edition with a birthday cake design on top while the rest of us got the classic Hello Kitty design.  They were huge and the girls had a hard time finishing!

Next up was the main event:  the Hello Kitty tier of treats!  I wasn’t aware of this going in, but the tea sets are only served in multiples of two.  Even though we had five people, we only got 4 of each pastry.  Since the girls shared some of the items, we didn’t have a shortage of food and even had some to take home.  They do have options for dietary restrictions if you notify them in advance.  A couple of the items had tree nuts (almonds) but we were able to eat around them.  Here’s a quick rundown of the treats that were offered:

  • cucumber sandwich with dill cream cheese on a Hello Kitty milk bread
  • creamy egg salad in a miniature cone
  • pesto tart with mozzarella and tomato
  • buttermilk scone served with jam and Hello Kitty butter
  • Hello Kitty raspberry and almond mini cake
  • raspberry macaron
  • lemon tart with Hello Kitty white chocolate
  • miniature chocolate cake with Hello Kitty Chocolate

Our Afternoon tea ended with a palate cleansing lemon flavored Hello Kitty gummy.  We made sure to box up all our leftovers so we could enjoy Hello Kitty at home!

Hello Kitty Grand Cafe

If you don’t want to reserve the full Bow Room Afternoon Tea experience, you can also visit the front part of the Hello Kitty Grand Cafe for free without reservations.  There, you can purchase a variety of sweets and drinks to-go.  They are best known for their hot mini donuts made fresh in store!  For birthdays past, we’ve gotten the signature square cake that is covered with sprinkles.  The walls are beautifully decorated for the perfect instagram pic and there’s even a Hello Kitty statue to pose with as well!

Bow Room Cocktail Service

Hello Kitty Cafe Floor

On select evenings, the Bow Room gets transformed into a 21+ cocktail lounge.  This is a separate experience from the Bow Room Afternoon Tea, so unfortunately you can not order signature cocktails during the Afternoon Tea (other alcoholic beverages like mimosas and champagne are available during Afternoon Tea for an additional fee).  I’m hoping to return to the Bow Room for the Cocktail service for an adults only night out!

Know Before You Go

Hello Kitty Cafe HELLO

  • It’s best to make reservations in advance for the Afternoon Tea in the Bow Room so you can ensure service at your preferred time.  Some walk ins may be accommodated on a first come first serve basis.
  • The Afternoon Tea experience is $55 a person (no discounts for children).  Children 3 and younger are complimentary, but they will not get a dedicated seat or serving.  Most places had booth seating on at least one side of the table so it would be very easy to fit in a toddler.
  • The tiered tea treat service is only served in multiples of two.  This means if you have an odd number of people, they will round down to the next multiple of two.  For example, even though we had 5 people, we only got 4 of each treat.
  • The entire experience is about 45 minutes to an hour long.  The Bow Room does close around 4:00 so they can transform the space for Cocktail Service.
  • Food allergies (gluten, nuts, etc.) can be accommodated, but be sure to let them know when you check in.
  • Some alcoholic beverages like mimosas and champagne are available during the Afternoon Tea for an additional fee.  Tea or lemonades are included in the price.
  • The Bow Room is located in the secret back portion of the Hello Kitty Grand Cafe.  The closest parking lot at the Irvine Spectrum is by Nordstrom.  When you arrive, walk straight through Nordstrom until you get to the huge white Great ferris Wheel.  The Hello Kitty Grand Cafe is to the right of the wheel if your back is to Nordstrom.
  • There is one restroom located inside the Bow Room.  Be sure to visit it because it is super cute!
  • Exclusive merchandise is available at the Hello Kitty Grand Cafe.  You do not need a reservation to shop or get pastries and drinks to-go.

Hello Kitty Cafe LittleGrayThread

This was the perfect way to kick off LittleGray’s birthday week!  Huge thank you to Hello Kitty Cafe and Irvine Spectrum for hosting us.  More information about the Hello Kitty Grand Cafe can be found at sanrio.com.