Friday, January 25, 2013

LegoLand Review

The southern most place we visited on our road trip was LegoLand California, which is less than an hour north of the Mexican border. This was the first time to LegoLand for all of us. I thought it was so-so. It wasn't terrible, but there were a few things that could be improved upon.



:: WHAT I LIKED ::

MiniLand
I loved, loved MiniLand. If it wasn't for this area I would almost call LegoLand a flop. I posted at Halloween time about the lego trick or treaters that I adored. There was also much more to MiniLand than just Halloween characters.
Farm scene in legos.
Race Track
Vegas
NYC
Washington DC

There was a whole section based on Star Wars which was a huge hit with my kids. There were cute displays like these...
... and an ugly Darth Maul.


 Landscaping
The landscaping was tropical and colorful with many flowers in bloom.








 Pirate Reef
We didn't ride all the rides, but of the ones we did ride this was my favorite. It's not a long, fancy ride (nothing at LegoLand is), but we got wet, real wet. Be forewarned if you go on this ride you will get wet. It's not like some water rides where only a couple people get wet. Everyone gets wet. And by wet I mean soaked.



 LunchWe ate near here at Knights Table BBQ. It was a bit spendy, but the food was good.



Lego Sculptures
I enjoyed seeing all the creative things made from legos.




Photo Op
We took pics with a life-size minifig named Buddy.


Shopping
Over the summer the kids earned money to spend on souvenirs. They spent most of that money at LegoLand. Of course there was nearly any lego set you could think of to purchase in one of their many stores. The prices were very similar to what you would see in any retail store. Unfortunately, though, they didn't have many specialty legos such as technics. I'm not a huge fan of shopping, but even I had fun looking at all the lego stuff.

In one store you could build 3 of your own minis for around $10.

The kids loved creating their own minifigs!

They also had pick a brick. Capt. N collected a bag full of misc. pieces.



:: WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE :: 

The Rides
For the most part, the rides were not great. Like I said before, we didn't ride all the rides so maybe we missed a real gem. But, the few rides we did go on just didn't make us want to try out all the rides. The lines were short, but took for-e-ver. Maybe I was spoiled by spending three days at Disneyland right before going to LegoLand. But, at Disneyland if you wait in a long time in line, it's worth the wait. Here, no ride was worth the ridiculous wait.
This roller coaster, The Dragon, was alright but not worth the 45 minute wait.

We had just started the ride, Treasure Falls, in this pic. I was expecting it to be good. This was the single worst ride I have ever been on. Yes, really! Mr. T & I waited in line for also 45 long, long minutes - and not many people were in the line. The line just moved extremely slow. Log rides are supposed to be fun. This ride went so turtle slow that at a couple points in the ride I literally thought I was going to have to give us a push.


Spiderwebs
Lots & lots of spiderwebs. Will you find a spiderweb in my house. Quite possibly. But, you're not paying a couple hundred dollars to visit my house. If it's going to cost me that much to get in, I want it clean. There were cobwebs everywhere: while we were waiting in line I noticed cobwebs in all the corners, on top of the door & window frames, around legos, between signs & in plants. To me, that's just not acceptable.




The things I liked far outweigh the things I didn't like. But, still, my overall feel about the park was just so-so. That being said, if you have kids around my kids' ages (4-9) & they like legos it is worth the trip. My kids loved it, maybe even more than Disneyland. But, the reason they liked it was because of all the lego things to look at and buy, not because of the rides or attractions.

If you've been to LegoLand I'm curious What did you think?

I'm sharing this post with the Hearts for Home Blog Hop.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Draw-Sculpt-Build Printable Game

It has become tradition that we host Christmas Eve at our house. We keep things simple & casual, usually serving finger foods. I also like to play some sort of game. Every year we've done something different. One year we played Bingo. Last year we played our version of Minute to Win It. This year I was stumped & ended up creating my own game.


I tried coming up with an uber-clever name - which didn't work. So, let me teach you how to play Draw • Sculpt • Build. It's similar to Pictionary, except you also have the options of sculpting with play-doh or building with Legos.

1. Divide your group into two teams.
After picking teams, decide which team will go first. We'll call the first team, Team A.


2. Pick a Card
Place all your cards in one pile. Then one person from Team A picks a card. She looks at the card, but doesn't show it to anybody else. This is what she will be drawing, sculpting or building.


3. Spin
Next she spins the spinner to determine whether she will draw, sculpt or build.


4. Draw, Sculpt or Build
Next draw (or sculpt or build) the item from your card. Team A has one minute to guess what she is drawing. If they guess correctly, Team A gets a point and she gets to pick another card & draw again. The goal is to get your team to guess as many items as they can in one minute. If Team A doesn't guess it correctly, Team B gets one try at guessing it. After Team A's minute is up, it's Team B's turn. Then back to Team A. And, so on.


5. Prizes
We played with prizes, but, of course you don't have to. Every time a team got 10 points the entire team got to pick a prize.
We had hot chocolate & fruit ropes for the kids.

Wine & chocolate liquors for the adults.

And, pistachios & dried fruit mix for everyone.




Friday, January 11, 2013

California Academy of Sciences

When I was planning our road trip & realized we'd be going through San Francisco, there was one place I wanted to take my kids - the California Academy of Sciences. The main reason I wanted to visit this museum was to see the 4 story rainforest built inside. I knew my kids would love it. And yes, they did enjoy it. But, to be honest, I think I loved it even more than them. I could have stayed and watched the bird & butterfly action all day.

The museum is located in Golden Gate Park.


:: The Rainforest ::
Rainforest Dome

Inside the dome
The main attractions are the many butterflies & birds flying freely around.

We were told the butterflies live only about a month. The museum orders butterfly pupae directly from Costa Rica.
Doris longwing
Malachite butterfly
Hecale longwing
Banded orange heliconian
Violaceous euphonia
Blue necked tanager

Beneath the birds & butterflies are fish from the Amazon Flooded Forest.

Standing in the rainforest dome looking down at the fish.
Looking up while standing in a clear tunnel on the lowest level of the rainforest.

As you spiral towards the canopy of the rainforest there are caged creatures from various rainforests throughout the world. The kids loved this. There were all sorts of unusual frogs, snakes & lizards.







:: More than a Rainforest ::
We spent most of our allotted time in the rainforest exhibit. We quickly did see a few other things at the museum, though.



Claude, an albino alligator

Baby Ostriches
They were cute & ugly at the same time. To see an Academy video of the ostriches click here.

This is the roof of the museum! It's an awesome living roof.

We only had a few hours to spend at the museum. There's much more to see, but I loved what we did see. If we find ourselves in San Francisco again, I would definitely go back. It was exactly the type of place my kids enjoy - full of animals & science.

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