Over The Top Mommy

Lifestyle

Discounts and Deals for the 2018 OC Fair

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

It’s that time of year again! It’s time for the 2018 OC Fair! This year’s festivities began on July 13 and will run through August 12 . Visiting the OC Fair is something our family looks forward to doing every summer, This year’s fair encourages you to “Free Your Inner Farmer” and offers 23 days and nights of entertainment, food, rides, shopping, exhibits and more.If you’re like me, you’re probably interested in knowing about all the ways to save every single day at the OC Fair. So grab your overalls and plan ahead to take advantage of all these great deals.New this year is Overalls Day. All fair-goers wearing overalls get free admission every Thursday from noon to 3 p.m.Also new for this year is a weekend carnival special. Grab $35 unlimited ride wristbands from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and use them until 4 p.m.

Returning favorite promotions include:

  • Free Till Three on Opening Day; that’s free Fair admission and parking from noon to 3 p.m. on July 13 only. And our weekend commuter specials, the OC Fair Express bus and offsite Experian parking, save time, money and traffic headaches.
  • 2018 SUPER PASS – Super Passes include admission to all 23 days of the OC Fair. Other perks include a carnival value book, 20 percent off OC Fair merchandise (one-time purchase), free admission to the Orange County Market Place for the calendar year, two-for-one tickets to select events at Pacific Amphitheatre, The Hangar and Action Sports Arena, and the ability to purchase up to 10 general admission Fair tickets for $10 each. Super Passes are $40 (general admission) and $33 (seniors and youth) through May 31, and available for purchase here.

Weekday Deals

  • WEDNESDAYS – We Care Wednesday (noon – 3 p.m.) Free admission and one carnival ride with a donation to that day’s charity. July 18, school supplies drive; July 25, food drive; Aug. 1, children’s book drive; Aug. 8, clothing drive.
  • THURSDAYSNew! Wear Overalls Day (noon-3 p.m.) Fairgoers who wear overalls get free admission. $3 Taste of Fair Food – From noon-4 p.m., you can sample a variety of food from different vendors for $3 each. Kids Day (all day) Children 12 and younger receive free admission.
  • FRIDAYS- Seniors Day (all day) Guests 60+ receive $5 admission and free Ferris wheel and merry-go-round-rides. $2 Rides & $2 Games (noon-4 p.m.) Try out all of the Carnival and Midway attractions for just $2 each.

Weekend Deals

  • SATURDAYS – Best Deal Ever! (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) Admission is half price ($7) for all guests, and rides are half the carnival tickets to ride.
  • SUNDAYS – New! Sunday Fun Day (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) Admission is half price ($7) for all guests. Rides are half the carnival tickets to ride, OR guests can purchase a $35 unlimited ride wristband (11 a.m. – 1 p.m., valid until 4 p.m.)

LIMITED-TIME DEALS

  • Free Till Three on Opening Day (Friday, July 13, noon-3 p.m.) Admission and parking are free at all gates on Opening Day of the 2018 OC Fair until 3 p.m.
  • First Responders and Law Enforcement Week (Aug. 8-12) With an issuing agency ID, active-duty and professional staff of the police, sheriff, fire and emergency services departments receive free admission.

DAILY DEALS

  • Salute to Heroes – Veterans and active-duty military receive free admission with a valid ID and are also able to purchase up to six general admission tickets for half off.
  • Fair It Forward – With the original ticket, guests who attended the San Diego County Fair, Ventura County Fair or OC Fair can receive free admission to both of the other two fairs.
  • Read & Ride – Bookworms ages 5-11 who read two books and complete the online book report form (available at bit.ly/readride2018) will receive three free carnival rides. This deal can be redeemed at the Information Booth in Centennial Farm during regular Fair hours.
  • Pacific Amphitheatre & Carnival Ticket Bounce-Back – Guests who attend a Pacific Amphitheatre concert receive one free ride on La Grande Wheel XL in the Main Midway with their valid ticket stub.
  • OC City Coupon – Orange County residents can pick up a coupon for $2 off full-price general admission from their local city halls or libraries. This coupon is valid for up to four people; must present original coupon.

COMMUTING DEALS

  • Free offsite parking (every Saturday and Sunday) Park at the Experian lot in Irvine for free, and take the courtesy shuttle straight to the OC Fair.
  • OC Fair Express (every Saturday and Sunday) Fairgoers traveling to the Fair on OCTA’S OC Fair Express bus receive a coupon for $4 Fair admission. The bus fare is $2 each way ($4 round trip; $1.50 for seniors). Buses run 10 a.m. to midnight and will pick up from nine different locations throughout Orange County. Visit ocfairexpress.com for more information.

Regular pricing: General admission is $12 Wednesday-Friday and $14 Saturday-Sunday. Seniors (60+) and youth (6-12) admission is $7. Parking is $10.

The 2018 OC Fair is July 13-Aug. 12, open Wednesday-Friday from noon to midnight and Saturday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

The OC Fair is located off the 405 and 55 freeways at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. You can Free Your Inner Farmer till the cows come home at the OC Fair through August 12!  For more information about these deals and this year’s OC Fair, please visit here.

Some images and logos are property of OC Fair. 

LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride Now Open at LEGOLAND® California Resort

I was invited to a media preview in order to facilitate this post. All opinions are 100% my own. 

July 2, 2018 was an extra exciting morning at LEGOLAND® California Resort. After festive grand opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting, the all-new LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride at took its official maiden voyage. Among those in attendance were Mr. , the creator and also several Ronald McDonald House guests, who had been chosen to be among the first to ride. The interactive ride features more than 2,000 sea animals including several species of sharks, rays and other tropical fish amid new LEGO® modes, all themed around a ship’s sunken treasure! Five species of sharks and several species of rays including a southern stingray with a five-foot wing span, are among the sea animals guests will discover.Guests actually board a real submarine and go underwater to discover a truly amazing world filled with real sea animals. Through the use of interactive touchscreens at each porthole inside the sub, guests can help the LEGO® minifigure dive team identify LEGO® gems, pearls, gold coins and more throughout the more than four minute journey. During each “voyage” guests can achieve one of three levels: Junior, Senior and Master Explorer.The interactive touch pads aren’t the only feature that utilizes technology within Deep Sea Adventure. Before guests board the 22,000 pound submarines, they are given a briefing on the mission that awaits them by a 3-foot-tall LEGO diver whose face, with the help of a projector screen, is animated as he gives instructions to the explorers
Here’s a short video showing our day:

Another fun interactive area is located at the exit of the ride, when you enter the souvenir shop. Guests of all ages can use the interactive screen to build their own fish and then “play” with it on the digital screen . Speaking of the souvenir shop, there are a ton of adorable LEGO souvenirs in the shop adjacent to the exit including t-shirts, themed plush and LEGO sets.

The LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride is now open daily during regular park hours and included among the park’s attractions. For more information, including park hours and ticket information, please go here. 

 

Naturally White OC Now Open in Corona Del Mar

I received services in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. I can’t imagine my morning without it but we all know that coffee is one of the things that can stain and yellow your teeth. Lately, I wasn’t loving what I saw when I’d look in the mirror at my teeth, so when I received an invitation to try out the all-new Naturally White OC, I jumped at the chance to try it out. Have you had your teeth whitened before, aside from an at-home treatment? I’d never had it done but now that I have, I feel like an in-office treatment is the best route to take.  It was so convenient and simple to have done and it only took about an hour out of my day.The products used on your teeth at Naturally White OC are made with a plant and mineral based formula. The active ingredient in the whitening gel is a food-grade hydrogen peroxide that contains three key minerals to stabilize and strengthen the enamel. All of the products used at Naturally White OC are made in the U.S. so they’re compliant with FDA regulations. They make sure that every ingredient that goes into their products is safe for all clients to use, including children (13 and older). The results are guaranteed to lighten your teeth 3-12 shades lighter from just one visit! (One visit is broken into three 20-minute sessions.)What’s A Visit to Naturally White OC Like?
When you first arrive at Naturally White OC, you are greeted by someone from their friendly staff, which actually seems more like one big family. There’s some initial “paperwork” to fill out, similar to what you do at a doctor’s office, except this is all done on an iPad. How fun and modern is that?

After you’ve completed your paperwork, you’re led to the whitening area and seated in a comfy chair, like one of the ones you sit and relax in at the dentist. Before beginning any of the whitening treatments, your technician will uses a set of artificial teeth to compare your initial color to, to find out what shade your teeth started out at, to have something to compare it to when you’re all done. Next, your technician will start to prep you for the first 20-minute whitening session. They”ll put an aparatus in your mouth to hold it open (Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt at all.) and then apply the special whitening gel onto your teeth. Once your teeth are ready, you lay back and a special FDA approved LED light  at your teeth to get the process going. This UV light is the most advanced and effective LED technology that is designed to accelerate the whitening process. To protect your eyes, you’ll be wearing goggles during these sessions. After my final session of the 3 was done, I rinsed my teeth and compared my teeth once more to find that they’d lightened by 4 shades. I was so excited about this! They recommended I not eat or drink anything dark (that could re-stain my teeth) until the following day. At-home treatments available for purchase at Naturally White OC
I loved that Naturally White OC also had several options available for purchase to do at-home whitening treatments and also to maintain your teeth after an in-office visit. Here are some of the products you can purchase from them:

  • Naturally White Pro-Home Kit
  • Naturally White Teeth Whitening Pen
  • Naturally White’s signature Boost Remineralizing gel

Naturally White OC is located at
2711 East Coast Hwy Unit C.
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

I loved my in-office treatment at Naturally White OC and love the way my teeth look now. I feel more confident about my smile after my treatment. Book your own appointment today, either online or by calling 949.287.6988.Connect with Naturally White OC on Facebook and Instagram.

My 5 Toy Story Land Must-Dos + $250 Disney Gift Card Giveaway

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

Let’s talk about my 3 most favorite words of the summer: Toy. Story. LAND! Have you been to experience it all yet? I haven’t, but I’ve definitely enjoyed all of the coverage online.

On June 30th, opening day of Toy Story Land, Disney’s Hollywood Studios actually reached capacity and closed. I don’t think Hollywood Studios had seen that much traffic in a very long time and although I’m not a fan of big crowds, I had total F.O.M.O…you know, Fear of Missing Out. My upcoming visit to Walt Disney World Resort can’t come soon enough! Here are my 5 Toy Story Land Must-Dos for my trip: 

  1. Ride Slinky Dog Dash
  2. Ride Alien Swirling Saucers
  3. Find Woody, Jessie, and Buzz and hug them!
  4. Eat one of everything at Woody’s Lunch Box.
  5. Take photos at the Toy Story Land Block Wall and the Popsicle Stick Wall

In honor of those of us that haven’t gotten to Toy Story Land, but are planning to get there soon, I’ve got a great giveaway! I mean, even if you have already been there, you can enter too! Who couldn’t use a little extra Disney money for your visit to Andy’s backyard? To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter below. But first, take a look over the giveaway rules. 

The Rules:

  • One winner will be awarded a $250 Disney Gift Card (e-gift card to be delivered via email)
  • Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen
  • All winning entries will be verified
  • Must be 18 years of age or older to participate
  • Open to residents of the United States and Canada
  • Giveaway starts on July 5 and ends at midnight on July 21

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Over the Top Mommy has teamed up with 9 other Disney-loving bloggers to bring you this magical giveaway:

  1. Post 50 RX
  2. The Creative Stay at Home Mom
  3. Redhead Baby Mama
  4. Motherhood & Beyond
  5. Oh Sweet Disney
  6. The Farm Girl Gabs
  7. Adventures in Familyhood
  8. An Open Suitcase
  9. A New Dawnn

Good Luck, Everyone! Thanks again for reading! 

The Back to School Collection from Disney Store and shopDisney

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.. 

Raise your hand if you’re already getting ready for back-to-school! I know I am! It seems like the school year starts earlier and earlier each year and practically feels like it’s barely summer when you start your shopping. Luckily you can always count on Disney Store to have the cutest items that make going back a stylish life event. I mean, what better way to send your kid back to school than with their favorite Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel characters?shopDisney and Disney store have everything you’ll need to send your kid(s) off to school in style with a little help from their favorite superhero, princess, and more. From apparel, to backpacks, to lunch totes, to school supplies, to must have accessories, there is something for every super fan:
Here are just a few of my favorite items for back to school:

  • Minnie Mouse Denim Hooded Jacket for Girls ($34.95) – Show your Minnie Mouse fashion sense in this fun, colorful denim jacket with sweatshirt-style sleeves and hood. The hood even features Minnie ears and a pink bow so you’ll look the part of everyone’s favorite sweetheart. 
  • Star Wars Backpack for Kids – Personalizable ($24.95) – Fleets of spacecraft from the Star Wars universe battle it out on this backpack inspired by one of the original video games. ”May the Force be with you,” as you head back to school with this bag that can hold as much as a black hole.
  • Spider-Man Stationery Kit ($16.95) – Unmask their creative talents with this Spider-Man Stationery Kit. The PVC cover features Spidey’s iconic mask with his eyes providing a window to the inside where they’ll find over 30 pieces including colored markers, pencils, and a notebook.

How cute are all of those items? You can check out the rest of the Back to School collection at your local Disney Store and online at shopDisney!

Images are property of shopDisney and Disney Store and used with permission.

GOLDEN WEST College Summer 2018 College For Kids and Teens Now Enrolling

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Golden West College’s Community Education Department is, once again, offering its annual summer 2018 College for Kids & Teens workshops with innovative programs including GWC’s Science Summer Camp, a brand new Junior Police Academy (hosted at the new Regional Criminal Justice Training Center), Star Wars: LEGO Galaxy stop motion animation and fundamental skill building reading, grammar and math workshops.

goldenwest-collegeHere’s a complete list of College for Kids & Teens 2018 summer workshops:

GWC’s Science Summer Camp is a fun and exciting experience offered to students entering 4th – 8th grades. This week-long camp will include workshops designed with hands-on experiments and activities catered to each age group. Taught by GWC instructors, topics will include biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy and geology. This camp is sure to engage young minds and enhance understanding of many scientific topics.

  • For students entering 4th – 5th Grades, there will be 5 meetings, Monday – Friday, August 13 – 17 / 9:00 am – 12:00 pm (Check-in at 8:45 am) The course fee is $250.
  • For students entering 6th – 8th Grades, there will be 5 meetings, Monday – Friday, August 13 – 17 / 1:00 – 4:00 pm (Check-in at 12:45 am). The course fee is $250.

The Golden West Junior Police Academy is a new summer program designed to introduce students in grades 6th through 8th to the exciting world of the American Police Service. Students will be mentored by active duty police, including Lieutenant Willie Triplett II of the Anaheim Police Dept., and criminal justice system professionals while receiving classroom instruction in physical fitness, crime scene investigation, gangs, narcotics, K-9 and more. Participants will run agility courses, search for suspects in our state-of-the-art scenario village and more! Graduates will leave with a new appreciation for serving others and a renewed sense of personal discipline.

  • For students entering 6th – 8th Grades, there will be 5 meetings, Monday – Friday, July 30 – August 3 / 8:00 – 11:00 am (Check-in at 7:45 am). The course fee is $250.

Star Wars: LEGO Galaxy Stop Motion Animation (NEW) – Take your imagination to a galaxy far, far away and make a movie in this exciting LEGO workshop. We’ll supply the LEGOs, or you can bring in your own Star Wars LEGO mini figures to cast in your very own movie! The ideas will be yours, the sets will be built by you, and you will operate the provided iPods to bring your masterpiece to the screen. This workshop, taught by Movies by Kids, is the ultimate chance to bring your creations to life using the art of stop motion animation! This course is for students ages 7 – 13 and will have 5 meetings, Monday – Friday, July 16 – 20 / 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. The course fee is $215. (There will be a $25 material fee, payable to the presenter at the first meeting.)

Basic Makeup Concepts – Learn “hands-on” essential principles of makeup application and an overview of skin care. Explore different foundations and proper techniques for your own skin type. Learn eye, cheek, and lip techniques along with proper placement. This course is taught by licensed cosmetologist, Evangelina Rosales. This course is for students ages 13 – 17. There will be 2 meetings, Mondays, July 9 and 16 / 4:30 – 7:30 pm. The course fee is $49. Please bring a new eyeliner and new mascara to the first meeting. 

Hawaiian Hula Into Self Defense – Awareness for Women & Teens – Participants will dance converting the Hawaiian Hula into self-defense techniques, developing confidence through increased awareness, preparedness, courage and value for self. Learn skills for real-life application against a push, choke, hair pull, shirt and wrist grab, rape prevention, and more. Mother and daughter teams welcomed – no experience necessary. This course is taught by Michelle Manu, a senior black belt in martial arts with over 30 years of training. This course is for both Teen Girls & Adult Women. There will be 1 meeting, held
Saturday, July 14 / 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. The course fee is $65 and $49 for each additional participant registering at the same time.

Balloon Twisting 101 – Learn the basic skills of balloon art in this interactive hands-on balloon twisting workshop. Balloon twisting skills will open the door to exciting event entertainment opportunities, including family birthday parties, social events, and fun at home. This course is taught by balloon artist Malinda Newman. This course is for students ages 10 – 14.  There are 2 classes offered with 2 meetings each.

  • Tuesdays and Thursday, June 26 and 28 / 1:30 – 3:30 pm
  • Tuesdays and Thursday, August 7 and 9 / 1:30 – 3:30 pm

The course fee is $59.  (A $10 material fee is payable to the presenter on the first meeting)

Reading Skills Programs

Help your child (4 yrs – entering 11th graders) develop the reading skills needed to succeed in school and build confidence! Your child will master basic phonics skills, develop fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, study skills and reading speed. This program is taught by the Institute of Reading Development whose professional instructors have taught classes to over 40,000 students per year for over 40 years. Note there will be a material fee of approximately $34. For more info call (800) 964-8888.

  • For students who are 4 years olds & Entering Kindergarten, there will be 5 meetings.
    Saturdays, June 16 – July 14 / 9:00 – 10:00 am. The course fee is $269. Please note: An adult must attend with the child for the 4-yr olds and kindergarten age children.
  • For students entering 1st Grade, there will be 5 meetings, Saturdays, June 16 – July 14 / 10:30 am – 12:15 pm. The course fee is $329.
  • For students entering 2nd Grade, there will be 5 meetings, Saturdays, July 21 – Aug 18 / 9:00 – 10:45 am. The course fee is $329.
  • For students entering 3rd Grade, there will be 5 meetings, Saturdays, June 16 – July 14 / 1:15 – 3:00 pm. The course fee is $329.
  • For students entering 4th Grade, there will be 5 meetings, Saturdays, July 21 – Aug 18 / 11:15 am – 1:15 pm. The course fee is $329.
  • For students entering 5th Grade, there will be 5 meetings, Saturdays, July 21 – Aug 18 / 11:15 am – 1:15 pm. The course fee is $329.
  • For students entering 6th, 7th & 8th Grades, there will be 5 meetings, Saturdays, July 21 – Aug 18 / 2:15 – 4:15 pm. The course fee is $329.
  • For students entering 9th, 10th & 11th Grades, there will be 5 meetings, Saturdays, July 17 – Aug 14 / 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. The course fee is $329.

Grammar Whiz– Enhance your child’s grammar skills in this exciting, “hands-on” workshop, covering the basic structural elements and methodologies of English grammar usage and writing. Class activities will include working on an interactive notebook as well as short videos, grammar jingles, games, and lecture.

  • For students grades 6 – 8, there will be 6 meetings, Tuesday and Thursday, June 26 – July 17 / 9:30 – 11:00 am (Does not meet on 7/5). The course fee is $95. This workshop is Common Core Aligned

Math Whiz– Designed for students in 6th to 8th grade, this math skills workshop will enhance your child’s skills by reviewing key concepts and reinforcing pre-algebra content. In a challenging, yet fun environment, students will engage in games, activities, and contests to reinforce concepts including: integer operations, fraction operations, exponents, and order of operations.

  • For students grades 6 – 8, there will be 6 meetings, Tuesday and Thursday, June 26 – July 17 / 11:15am – 12.:45pm. (Does not meet on 7/5). The course fee is $95. This workshop is Common Core Aligned

Kids & Money – This workshop will help your children learn important skills to be financially successful in life. They will gain knowledge of the basic history of money, fundamental skills of budgeting, saving and investing, balancing a checkbook, credit card debt, interest rates and much more! Give your child the gift of financial power to handle their money responsibly. This course is taught by financial industry veteran Barbie Stowell.

  • For students ages 12 – 16, there will be 2 meetings, Tuesday & Wednesday June 26 & 27 / 10am – 12pm. The course fee is $49.

For more information about any of these programs, please call the GWC Community Education office at 714-895-0800 (M-F, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm) or visit http://bit.ly/GWC2018CollegeforKidsTeens.goldenwest-college-2

ABOUT GWC Community Education
Golden West College Community Education actively seeks opportunities to serve as an educational center for the local community. These services, which are self-supporting and fee-based, include educational, health and wellness, recreational, professional, personal enrichment, vocational and certificate programs. GWC Community Education programs are offered in a variety of instructional formats for a wide range of learning styles and skill levels, and are available during flexible hours to meet the needs of our community. The office is located on the southwest corner of the campus next to Public Safety (15744 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach, CA 92647) and is open from Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information, call 714-895-8944, or visit the website at http://gwccommunityservices.com/.

Photos are property of Golden West College and used with permission. 

Guide to the LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel at LEGOLAND® California Resort

Our family was invited to stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel in order to share about our experience. All opinions are 100% my own. 

The LEGOLAND®Castle Hotel recently opened at LEGOLAND® California Resort and we were lucky enough to get to stay there for a night! It’s North America’s only hotel and is located right at the entrance to LEGOLAND California.legoland-castle-hotel-exterior-1This hotel completely immerses guests into a castle experience from the moment they walk in.  A royal LEGO statue marks the entrance and is just one of more than 2,100 LEGO models created out of more than three million bricks. As guests enter the Grand Hall, they are greeted by a towering LEGO wizard conjuring up spells to protect the Castle from the bad knights and dragons.legoland-castle-hotel-signlegoland-castle-hotel-wizardWe had the opportunity to stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel right when it opened and I want to share all about it with you!us-at-legoland-castle-hotel-grand-openingThe rooms
The hotel features 250 premium LEGO Castle themed rooms, with 20 suites. Whether you’re a knight or a princess, you’ll love staying in any of the 3 different themed rooms they offer. You can book a Royal Princess, Knights and Dragons, or a Magic Wizards room. Each one is beyond adorable with its details.

‘Not only does every room tell a story, every wall, floor, LEGO® model is designed to make guests feel like they’re in an actual castle.” – General Manager Frank Idris

You’re going to be enamored by the decor and features in your room. In the Royal Princess rooms, the princess is joining forces with her jester friend to sneak into the grand tournament and compete with the knights. In the Knights and Dragons rooms, the knights are on a mission to defend the king’s castle and protect his treasure. In the Magic Wizard rooms, the wizards are concocting potions and fireworks for the grand tournament.

Every room at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel includes:

  • A children’s sleeping area with bunk beds, a trundle bed, their own television, LEGO building station and shooting stars illuminating on the ceiling.
  • An adult sleeping area with an ornate head board with LED lights which could resemble a stained glass window, a canopy sparking with twinkling lights or shelves filled with potions and a magical bubbling illuminated cauldron.
  • A bathroom with quality toiletries, a blow dryer and plenty of space to get ready.
  • An in-room treasure hunt with prizes for the children
  • Complimentary WiFi

Here’s a short video giving a tour of the room we stayed in:

The lobby
As you enter the LEGOLAND®Castle Hotel, you’re not only greeted by a giant wizard, but your kids will most likely run straight to the LEGO building area and become immediately occupied with some serious LEGO building. Other unique, features in the hotel lobby include a fun little slide for guests of all ages and a knock knock door created to entertain guests.There’s also a hands-on LEGO building area. The Royal Courtyard
One of the kids’ favorite parts about the hotel was the Royal Courtyard area. Located in between the buildings, down the center of the hotel, this area boasts a giant play area with a huge play structure for “big” kids, as well as a smaller DUPLO play area for smaller children. There’s also a giant movie screen for nighttime outdoor movies and tons of seating around the entire area for adults to relax and watch their children play. The Royal Courtyard also has a stage area for live plays and shows. It’s truly unique for a hotel to have such an amazing area for kids to just be kids and I found that our kids never wanted to leave.The swimming pool area
The pool area features fountains and other interactive water features and a gradual incline pool and hot tub. With such great weather year-round, guests can always enjoy a swim in the heated pool or a soak in the hot tub, during the day or at night. (hours vary) There’s plenty of seating around the pool, cabanas are available for use, and towel service is available. Kids will love to play with the giant, floating LEGO bricks that are inside the pool. The pool bar and grill offers smoothies, sandwiches and salads prepared fresh to order.Dragon’s Den Restaurant & Bar
This amazing sit-down royal restaurant features an extensive, delicious menu featuring locally-sourced food. The restaurant has an open kitchen for guests to watch chefs preparing their food, Adjacent to the sit-down portion of the restaurant is also a bar area, as well as a patio. LEGO models and entertainers make this a unique dining experience, offering something for guests of all ages.legoland-castle-hotel-dragons-den-entrancelegoland-castle-hotel-lego-artGuests staying at the hotel are also treated to a free breakfast buffet each morning at Dragon’s Den restaurant. Feast on a variety of breakfast items from the buffet, as well as made-to-order items, all included in the price of your stay. It’s a great way to start your day before heading to the park.Early entry to LEGOLAND California
For guests who have park tickets or a season pass, you can gain early entry to LEGOLAND California by staying at the hotel. It’s a great way to get on a couple of attractions before the park is fully open to the public.legoland-castle-hotel-horse-statueHave you stayed at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel yet? If not, you’re going to love it when you do. For more information, including access to booking your own stay, please go here.

CHOC Walk in the Park at Disneyland Resort on 8/26 + Meet the CHOC Walk Ambassador

I was invited to a media event in order to share this exciting news about this year’s CHOC Walk in the Park. All opinions are my own. 

This year’s CHOC Walk in the Park is, once again, presented by Disneyland® Resort and will take place on Sunday, August 26,  2018. I really hope you’re going to be able to join in! choc-walk-in-the-park-logoIf you’ve never participated in this annual event, I highly recommend you sign up to join the fun and experience Disneyland® Park, Disney California Adventure® Park, and Downtown Disney® District as never before. This is the one and only walk to take place at the Disneyland® Resort with all proceeds benefiting the health and well-being of Southern California’s kids.choc-walk-in-the-park-starting-lineWe’ve had the pleasure of participating in this beautiful event for a few years now and to see something that is such a huge production being put together, all in the name of the kids, is an incredible thing.choc-walk-finish-lineI recently attended a special CHOC Walk media event held at Disneyland Hotel, to learn about this year’s special programming and some of the FUNdraising events that’ll lead up to the big August event. I think you’re going to want to participate in all of these fun offerings so keep reading for more information.choc-walk-in-the-park-justins-helpers-1

For me, the most special part about attending the CHOC Walk media event was getting to know this year’s CHOC Walk Ambassador, Justin Helpers”. I got to chat with his entire family including his parents, Colby and Tricia, and his big sister and little brother.choc-walk-in-the-park-justins-helpers-3Justin is an 11 year old boy with a very rare neurological condition called lissencephaly, which causes his brain’s surface to be smooth and leads to significant developmental delays. Justin is severely neurologically impaired and has several seizures a day and is fed through a feeding tube. From early on in his life, Justin has spent extensive amounts of time being treated at CHOC Children’s and he’s really defied the odds of his condition. They have a giant CHOC Walk team named Justin’s Helpers that they’ve walked with over the past few years. They are an amazing family and I’m so excited that he was selected to be this year’s CHOC Walk Ambassador.

Some of the highlights of the CHOC Walk in the Park media event included getting a peek at the new artwork for this year’s medal and pin, which was recreated by Disney’s culinary team in the form of cupcakes, as well as getting a very special visit from our favorite gal pal, Minnie!choc-walk-in-the-park-cupcakeNew for this year is the CHOC Walk FUNdraiser Mobile App which will make it easy and FUN to exceed your CHOC Walk fundraising goals. This app is power-packed with extra tools for team captains! CHOC-Walk-mobile-appTo read more about the CHOC Walk FUNdraiser Mobile App, please go here. You can download it from the App Store and on Google Play.choc-walk-in-the-park-minnieIf you haven’t registered as an individual or as part of a team for this year’s CHOC Walk in the Park, what are you waiting for? For more information about CHOC Walk in the Park or to register or donate, please go here.

Some images and logo are property of CHOC Walk and used with permission.

 

The Value of Play

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own.

When’s the last time you stopped what you were doing, unplugged from your phone or devices, and just played outside with your child(ren)? Technology has found its way into all our lives and has become both an important tool and a distraction. I will be the first to admit that technology can sometimes be a distraction in my own life. Ok, often times, actually. Part of my challenge is that I work to maintain my blog, which requires me to be online. It can be a struggle to find that balance between being a good mom and unplugging in order to give my daughter my undivided attention.rancho-mission-viejo-happy-camperI think all parents want the same thing: happy, well-rounded children. Right? So, let’s make the time to join their world of make believe. As a mother and a first-grade teacher, I know the importance of outdoor play. There are so many benefits for a child who has time to play freely including physical and emotional development, as well as development of social and cognitive skills. Research also shows that playtime with adults helps build self-esteem in kids. Whether it be one-on-one playtime with a child or playtime together as a family, there is no time like the present to build the bond you have with a child and your family.the-ranch-photo-shootExplore, Create, Roam, Wander – Play!
Our family lives in the hilltop village of Esencia in the heart of Rancho Mission Viejo, aka The Ranch. After moving to The Ranch a couple of years ago, I was so excited to explore all the places to play. It’s such a beautiful community and the amenities just can’t be beat. If you haven’t visited yet, you’re missing out! There are places to exercise, retreats to relax, parks to play in, trails to wander, pools to swim in, and much more. The newest place to play is “The Backyard,” a 5.5-acre linear park within Esencia’s NorthWalk Neighborhoods.the-backyard-the-ranch-rocksOur family has been spending a lot of time there since its opening about a month ago, so I’ve put together this list of 10 Ways to Play in “The Backyard.” It’s a great place to hang out with your family or even to invite friends to. It’s also the perfect setting to connect with other families like yours, which is one of the things I love about living in Rancho Mission Viejo. Residents here are so friendly and tend to bond with each other and become friends. hanging-out-in-rancho-mission-viejoCheck out our favorite “Backyard” activities:

  1. Be adventurous and ride on the “zip-rail” –This little area is within The Backyard and has drawn visitors of all ages. The “zip-rail” I speak of is actually a swing that can carry either a child or an adult from one side to the other. Sometimes we head over to just take a couple passes back and forth. It’ll leave you feeling giddy after you’ve ridden it!the-backyard-zip-rail
  2. Play “House” – Also within The Backyard are two of the most adorable playhouses, created especially for the community. Whether your little one chooses to “play house” in the white picket fence playhouse or hang out in the mini boathouse, they’re sure to get their imagination working. Playing house is creative play at its best!
    the-backyard-playhouses
  3. Challenge someone to a couple games of Hopscotch – Adjacent to the playhouses is also a Hopscotch to play on. Did you know that hopscotch can help children to manage body rhythm and the hopping movements involved with the game help build body strength, balance, and eye/hand coordination? If you didn’t bring a “marker” just look around for a small rock or something to use at the nearby park.
    the-ranch-play-hopscotch
  4. Have a picnic – Whether you pack a lunch or dinner or grab some tea and teddy bears, there are several lawn areas, perfect for having an afternoon picnic.the-backyard-climbing-structures-2
  5. Bring out your competitive side with a game of Tetherball – The Garage, one of the event spaces in The Backyard, includes a DIY workshop, a lounge area and bar, ping pong table, large event lawn, children’s playhouses and Tetherball! If you’re an adult, it’ll bring back fond elementary school memories. I know it did for me. It’s also great to teach kids to play, as not all elementary schools have Tetherball nowadays. (The Garage is also home to the Esencia Visitor’s Center. the-backyard-the-garage
  6. Gather your friends for a get together at “The Hangout” – This is one of our favorite new places on The Ranch. The Hangout is an outdoor, social gathering place at The Backyard complete with BBQs, picnic tables and unique chandelier trees designed by LA artist Adam Tenenbaum. (The Capo Dispatch even did a feature on it!) One-of-a-kind water features add to the ambiance, making The Hangout perfect for a relaxing night on The Ranch with friends, family and neighbors.the-backyard-the-hangout
  7. Play Hide and Seek – There are a ton of great places to play Hide and Seek in The Backyard. Whether you hide amongst the trees and greenery or climb up into one of the play structures to hide, you could spend countless hours playing the game that’s a favorite of so many.the-backyard-climbing-structures-1
  8. Break out the sidewalk chalk – Stoke your child’s (and your!) creative side and let the sidewalk be your canvas. The Backyard is also home to a giant, community blackboard that welcomes chalk sketching from artists of all ages.the-backyard-sidewalk-chalkthe-backyard-sitting-area
  9. Get your “climb on” – The playground in The Backyard is especially unique. Imported from Germany, this tot lot is not your everyday structure. In fact, it’s the only one of its kind in Orange County! Complete with rope walls to scale, ladders to climb and platforms to balance on, kids will test their limits and be proud of how high they can go! Just be sure to bring your loudest cheering voice.the-backyard-climbing-structures-2
  10. Go on a nature walk – Within the villages on The Ranch are a network of multi-use trails that connect residents to not only The Backyard, but additional parks, playgrounds and community farms.

Feeling more adventurous? The Oak Canyon Preserve in Esencia has more rigorous hiking trails, and exclusive programs and events, like Ridge to Ridge Hikes, butterfly walks, astronomy nights, and docent-led adventures are available to Ranch residents at The Reserve at Rancho Mission ViejoplayingCan you see why we love living in Rancho Mission Viejo so much? There’s just always something to do here, but more importantly, there are tons of places for our family to play. Check out @RanchoMissionViejo on Facebook or Instagram and see for yourself why #TheRanchRocks!