Tips for Visiting Disneyland with Twin Toddlers

We recently had the chance to visit Disneyland in Anaheim, California as invited audience members for the 2018 Disney Parks Holiday Special tapings. I wanted to share my thoughts on things we did to make our visit to Disneyland with twin toddlers enjoyable. While we spent the majority of our time waiting for and attending the taping, I still think many of our experiences could be helpful for a variety of situations.

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Visiting with Mickey Mouse
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Cameraman set up for filming on Main Street

Tip 1: Stay overnight

Since we live an hour-plus away from Anaheim and we were visiting on a weekday, we decided to stay overnight in Anaheim the night before our visit to Disneyland. The great thing about Disneyland, compared to Walt Disney World, is that there are a ton of hotels that you can stay at that are within walking distance to the park entrance. This time we stayed at the Fairfield Inn Anaheim Resort, which is a 6-minute walk from Disneyland (no joke)! Another great thing about staying off property was that we were able to leave our car there even after check-out time, we just had to pay the parking fee for an additional day, which was less expensive than Disney parking.

Tip 2: Get to the park early

Disneyland has added additional security measures in recent years, which makes getting into the park a little more time consuming. My recommendation is to get there early. If your toddlers are like mine, they are up and ready to go around 7 AM! You never know how long getting through security and the gate will take, so get there early and start your day of magic!

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Checking in for Disneyland

Tip 3: Take advantage of the Baby Care Center

The Baby Care Center is located on Main Street and has so many amenities for parents with infants to toddlers, including high chairs, toddler potties, changing tables and nursing rooms.

Tip 4: Get Fastpasses

Unfortunately, Disney does not offer Fastpasses for the majority of the little kid-friendly rides in Fantasyland. Making our kiddos wait in lines for at least 45-minutes sounded like torture for all of us, so we took advantage of one of the rides that did offer Fastpasses. We got Fastpasses for “it’s a small world” Holiday, and it was so worth it!

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“it’s a small world” Holiday

I love “it’s a small world,” but it is honestly one of my favorites during the holidays.

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For a current list of rides offering Fastpasses, check here.

Tip 5: Pack you own food

We didn’t have the chance to plan or meal prep for this visit to Disneyland, but hopefully, we can next time. While there are some good food options at Disneyland, when you are desperate to find food for your hangry toddlers, you might find yourself in long lines for mediocre and extremly pricey food!

Tip 6: Keep the kiddos occupied

Mickey’s Toontown is a no-brainer for letting your high-energy toddlers run around and have fun! There are lots of places where they can explore hands-on.

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Mickey’s ToonTown

My sons loved Goofy’s Playhouse. Goofy’s backyard has a toddler play area with a slide and play structures, including a giant watermelon and pumpkin! Goofy even came by to visit with guests while we were there!

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Goofy’s House

Tip 7: Make memories

I discovered that the memories you make are not necessarily the ones that you expect. My husband was very adamant about having our sons participate in character greetings, while I was thinking, they will never remember this! Little did I know, that meeting Mickey and Goofy were their favorite events of the day! Plus, we will forever have these photos of them!

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Hanging out with Goofy

Waiting for the parade was rough because we had over an hour before the thing actually started. There was a lot of juggling kids, getting up and walking around, and generally trying to get through it! Once the parade finally started, they loved it for the first 30 minutes or so, but little brother wound up falling asleep in my arms!

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Waiting for the parade
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Disneyland Christmas Parade

The parade was probably a little bit of sensory overload for them, but it is certainly something hubby and I will remember!

Tip 8: Keep your expectations reasonable and be flexible

We kept our expectations low for our trip to Disneyland. We just wanted to see the parade and go on maybe one or two rides, and make it home at a reasonable time. This was very doable for us and we did not feel the need to “do everything.”

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Main Street Christmas Tree

I hope these tips help you if you plan on making a trip to Disneyland! The Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade will be airing on Christmas Day: Tuesday, December 25, 2018 (10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. EST, 9:00-11:00 a.m. CST/MST/PST). We will be watching to see if we see ourselves!

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Visiting Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in Escondido

Last week, the boys and I went on another one of our weekly adventures. Queen Califia’s Magical Circle had been on our radar for a while now. In March, we saw an exhibit on Niki de Saint Phalle‘s work at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido.  That was when I first learned about Queen Califia’s Magical Circle and decided that I had to take the boys to see it when they were older.

Model of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle from the Niki de Saint Phalle: Mythical California exhibit

Incidentally, I had previously been exposed to another one of Niki de Saint Phalle’s works when I last went to Paris in 2011 and stopped by the Stravinsky Fountain.

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Stravinsky Fountain in Paris, France

About Queen Califia’s Magical Circle

Opened to the public in 2003, Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is a sculpture garden located in Kit Carson Park in Escondido, California. It was one of the last works of Niki de Saint Phalle, a Franco-American sculptor and artist, whose later years were spent living in La Jolla.

The garden is named after Califia, a mythical warrior queen from the Island of California and inspired by California’s history and culture.

The Magical Circle includes a circular outer wall and maze entry, ten large sculptures and is surrounded by plants and trees.

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Entering into Queen Califia’s Magical Circle
Once your enter the Magical Circle, you make your way through a wall maze until your reach a courtyard, which features 10 large sculptures.
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The central piece is a sculpture of Queen Califia standing on top of an eagle and holding a bird above her head.

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Visitors are able to walk underneath the sculpture to view a golden egg.

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The remaining sculptures were designed as totems that were influenced by Native American and Mexican traditions.

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How to Get There

As this was my first time visiting Kit Carson Park, I had a difficult time locating Queen Califia’s Magical Circle and had to ask someone for directions. I entered Kit Carson Park from Bear Valley Parkway and turning left onto Entrance Drive. Follow the road and if you see the snake sculpture, you are getting close.

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Drive past the snake sculpture on your left and then turn left after the Maintenance Building. Once you reach the next parking lot, park and then walk straight into the park. You will see a sign for Queen Califia and then it is just a short walk to the Magical Circle. The path changes from paved to dirt, so if you are pushing a stroller, keep this in mind. I used my BOB stroller with all-terrain wheels and had no problems. I am glad I brought it with me instead of our Maclaren umbrella stroller, which would have made it difficult to make it along the dirt path.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is completely surrounded by a security gate and there is one entrance into the garden that will give you access.

I was allowed to push my stroller through the maze and parked in by the wall inside the courtyard. This was a life saver for me since I have twins and it would be near impossible for me to walk through the garden without the aid of a stroller.

How to Prepare

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle has very limited hours of operation and they can change at any time. Currently the hours of operation are as follows:

Tuesday, 9 am to noon
Thursday, 9 am to noon
2nd and 4th Saturday of each month, 9 am to 2 pm

The garden is closed for rain or when there is puddling from rain within the last 24-48 hours.

Docents are available during all open hours to answer questions.

Be sure to wear sun protection when you visit as the only shade that is available is underneath the central sculpture by the golden egg. All other areas of the courtyard are exposed to the sun.

We arrived around 10 am and there was only one other group of people there. I recommend arriving early if you want to get photos without a lot of strangers in them or want to enjoy the garden alone.

Kid-Friendly

The garden was a hit with the boys. They especially loved running around the open courtyard and exploring underneath the Queen Califia sculpture. We will definitely be back later this fall!

Kid-Friendly Fun at the Museum of Ice Cream

We all scream for ice cream! Los Angeles has been having a moment when it comes to pop-up experiences. Of all of them, I, for sure, wanted to check out the Museum of Ice Cream. I was able to snag a pair of tickets for an out of town friend and I and planned to bring the twins in tow. After further research, it didn’t seem like a good idea to bring babies, so grandma ended up watching them for a half day. If you do have older young ones though, the Museum of Ice Cream is definitely fun for the whole family!

Here is a room by room look at our Museum of Ice Cream experience.

My friend and I arrived a little after our ticketed entry time and wound up having to wait for about 20 minutes before we could enter. For the people who arrived early, there is a small waiting area with corn hole games and hula hoops to keep you busy.

They were allowing around 10 people to enter at a time, which was nice because the museum was not crowded at all and it was very easy to take whatever photographs we wanted without having to wait a long time or having a bunch of strangers in our photos. The exception being the sprinkle pool.

After a run down of the rules of the land, we were on our way inside. I should emphasize that although it is called a museum. It is not a museum at all. You aren’t going to learn anything about ice cream here, but you will get lots of amazing photos and yummy treats.

Room 1

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Dessert wall plus we got our first treat: an individually wrapped piece of chocolate. Mine went in my purse, since I had a feeling we would be getting lots more treats.

Room 2

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Mirror room, perfect for your first selfie of the day

Room 3

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This room had two cool backdrops for photos and you get a scoop of ice cream. Our flavor was called pinata.

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Room 4

This room has a pair of swings with walls covered in banana wallpaper. Followed by a room full of yellow and pink bananas!

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Room 5

Mint room. Everything in this room is mint colored, and there is a mint herb garden.

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We also got a mint chocolate chip mochi ice cream!
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Room 6

Rainbow room

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Room 7 and 8

Wall of pink phones

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All white room. On one of the walls was a computer where you could take a video and email it to yourself

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Room 9

Giant popsicle room. The popsicles were roped off so you can’t get too close. There was an employee there to take whatever photos you wanted though, which was super helpful!

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Room 10

Gummy bear room! In this room, you can take pictures with giant gummy bears and are treated to a handful of gummy bears to eat.

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Room 11

All black room.

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Besides the cool melted ice cream cone display, we were given a handful of candy upon entering this room and told to eat it all in a single bite. Honestly, I can’t remember what the candies were or what it was supposed to taste like.

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Room 12

Pool of sprinkles! One group of people are allowed at a time in the sprinkle pool for 2 minutes. The small pool is filled with plastic sprinkles. This was the only place where it was hard to get good photos without someone else’s butt in the way.

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It was still fun though! You will find sprinkles in weird places. I still have plastic sprinkles leftover on the floor of my car. Hah!

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Room 13

The final room was more of a lounge area with seating, ping pong tables and the neon “Museum of Ice Cream” sign. In addition, we got our final sample of ice cream. It was a pink-hued vanilla ice cream cone.

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There was also a small gift shop at the exit, where you could purchase Museum of Ice Cream souvenirs.

All in all, the Museum of Ice Cream was worth a visit. It was a fun, childlike experience filled with cool photo opps and tasty treats. One of the best things about my visit to the Museum of Ice Cream was the staff. They were all high energy, fun and made us feel welcome. It took us about 45 minutes to go through the museum, but that was mostly due to being able to get all of the photos we wanted with relative ease.

Museum of Ice Cream Los Angeles tickets are sold out, but private tours are still available this week. Next week, the Museum of Ice Cream opens in Miami.

For more information, visit Museum of Ice Cream.

Torrance Memorial Holiday Festival 2017

The kiddos and I are temporarily in Torrance with my parents until our new place is ready, so that means lots of quality time with grandma and grandpa. We attended the 34th annual Torrance Memorial Holiday Festival this week on one of their “Senior Days.” During those times, seniors get free admission, and since the babies were also free, we only had to pay $5 for admission for me.

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The Holiday Festival is a signature fundraising event for Torrance Memorial Medical Center, and this year’s event will directly benefit the renovation of the North Patient Tower which will house the postpartum mother/baby, neonatal intensive care and pediatric units. Having recently been a NICU mom, this is especially close to my heart.

The Festival features a number of special events including the Festival Fashion Show, Festival Gala and Lunch with Santa. However, we attended the main event which is the:

Exhibit of Trees

The exhibit displays over thirty custom decorated themed trees, sponsored by the community and businesses in the South Bay and lovingly decorated by volunteers. The trees are available for purchase, with some being part of the Opportunity Drawing.

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The trees range from elegant to whimsical to kid-friendly. Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s festival.
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In addition to marveling at the beautiful trees, attendees are able to take complimentary photos with Santa Claus, decorate cookies from Torrance Bakery, enjoy live entertainment, get your face painted,  and shop for Christmas decorations and gifts. Food and beverages are available at the Festival Food Court.

The Holiday Festival is being held in the big white tent in the parking lot at Medical Center Drive and Skypark Drive in Torrance and ends on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

Celebrate the Holidays at Terranea Resort

If you’re thinking about taking a short trip during this holiday season, Terranea Resort has a calendar full of holiday events for the whole family. Located in beautiful Rancho Palos Verdes, Terranea feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of busy Los Angeles and the chaos of the holiday season.

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Celebration of the Season – Christmas Tree Lighting

Sunday, December 3, 2017 | 5 pm | Catalina Terrace
Complimentary with toy donation
Celebrate the start of the holiday season with Terranea’s annual Christmas tree lighting. There will be live music and entertainment and holiday crafts. Donations of unwrapped gifts for Toys for Tots will be accepted during the event.

Kickoff to Christmas with Mrs. Claus

Sunday, December 3, 2017 | 6 pm to 8 pm | Sea Beans
Complimentary; donations welcome
After the tree lighting ceremony, Mrs. Claus will be on hand to collect letters to share with Santa Claus. Stop by for popcorn and holiday cookie decorating as well.

Breakfast with Santa

Saturday, December 9, 2017 | Seatings: 9 am, 9:30 am, 10 am | Grand Ballroom
Adults $59, Children 2-10 $27, Children under 2 free
Join Santa for a memorable breakfast and photo opportunities. Breakfast includes bakery and waffle stations, beverage and hot food stations, as well as an egg station, kids buffet, festive crafts, and pictures with Santa.

Kids Club Holiday Gift Workshop

Daily in December | 2 pm to 4 pm | Grand Ballroom
Child $80 (ages 4 -12) – Advance reservations required
In this workshop, kids can make a gingerbread house, a cuddly creation, holiday crafts and decorations to give as gifts to family members and friends.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Sunday, December 24, 2017 | 5 pm | Lobby Living Room
All ages | Complimentary for resort guests
Gather by the fire in Terranea’s Lobby Living Room for a special rendition of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas.

Postcards to the North Pole

December 1 to 24, 2017 | During Hours of Operation | Tide Pool Kids Club
Guests of all ages can fill out a personalized postcard to send off to Jolly Ole Saint Nick himself. You might even get a response back from Santa!

Elf Tuck-Ins

Nightly in December | 6 pm to 10 pm
Child $35 – Advance reservations required
Let one of Santa’s helpers send your sweet one off to bed. A special stocking is also included in the elves’ visit.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Feasts

Sunday, December 24 and Monday, December 25
See restaurants for details
Terranea Resort’s restaurants will feature a variety of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feasts.
Christmas Eve Brunch Buffet at Catalina Kitchen – holiday favorites, carving station featuring turducken, local seafood, raw bar, chef’s specials, salad bar, charcuterie, cheese and desserts. 9 am to 2 pm; Adults $75, Children (ages 5-10) $35, Children under 5 free
Christmas Eve Dinner at Mar’sel – traditional three-course meal of holiday classics, a la carte menu also available. 5 pm to 10 pm; Adults $135, Children (ages 5-12) $30
Christmas Eve Dinner Buffet at Catalina Kitchen – holiday favorites, carving station, local seafood, chef’s specials, steakhouse accompaniments, raw bar, salad bar, charcuterie, cheese and desserts with live entertainment. 6 am to 9 pm; Adults $95, Children (ages 5-10) $35, Children under 5 free
Feliz Navidad at Nelson’s – enjoy the Mexican tradition of tamales three ways: green chile chicken tamale, beef tamale, and pumpkin tamale served with rice and beans with tres leches cake for dessert. Sunday, December 24, 2017 to Monday, December 25, 2017 11 am to 9 pm; $27
Christmas Dinner at Mar’sel – five-course meal of holiday classics, wine pairing and a la carte menu also available. 5 pm to 10 pm; Adults $155, Children (ages 5-12) $45
Other meals, in-room dining and meals-to-go also available – see resort for details