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Archive for September, 2008

Swept Away by Wild Rivers

September 29th, 2008 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in theme parks

Only in Southern California can you celebrate the last days of summer in late September!  This Saturday we used our free Legoland pass to visit the Wild Rivers Water Park in Irvine California.  It was closing weekend for the park.  The weather was perfect…warm without being too hot.  The crowds were very manageable. Everyone else was busy with soccer practice I suppose.  I am so glad we set aside time for this final summer fling!

Wild Rivers is a really fun park.  The Explorer’s Island has a lazy river and smale scale water slides that were just like the “big kid” water slides.  Tucked in the back of this area close to the Chaos water slide was a fun sprinkler area where the kids control the amount of squirt using levers.  It was great for little and big kids who love to get wet.  My best memory of the entire day will be Destiny, age 4 swimming around the lazy river twice wearing her life jacket!

Wild Rivers Mountain is the big kid’s slide area.  They have a great assortment of exciting water slides.  My favorite was the “old school” water ride entitled the Cobra.  Justin, age 9 and my husband Ken also had a blast trying out the slides.

Another great area for the whole family was Thunder Cove.  Justin loved intertubing in the wave pool at Monsoon Lagoon.  Jared, age 3 and Destiny, age 4 body surfed and played on the Dinosaur Slide.

The coolest feature of the park were these special bracelets you could put on the kids that allowed you to locate them if they got separated from you.  We got one for Destiny and Jared, but in the future I would get one for Justin and Ken as well.  It would make reuniting after a ride much easier.  You could even leave your party mail!  The bracelet doubled as your credit card while in the park, and anything you spent was deducted from the total.  A great system.  We took advantage of both features.

This summer Legoland Passmembers got one free admission to Wild Rivers.  The staff didn’t scan our card or take down any info, so you may be able to visit more than once.  Let me know if anyone pulled that off.

The Wild Rivers admission certainly adds value to the Legoland Membership.  Make sure you take advantage of it!

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Brick or Treat Party Nights Are Here!

September 25th, 2008 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Legoland
Kitty Cat Destiny enjoys a Halloween Trip to Legoland, Ca

Kitty Cat Destiny enjoys a Halloween Trip to Legoland, Ca

 

I got my member newsletter in the mail from Legoland last week.  Those are the best because they always contain bring a friend coupons and other great discounts.  This year, we receive free admission for the Brick or Treat Party Nights since we are pass members and could bring a friend for an additional $25 which would include an all day Legoland admission.  (Make friends with a Legoland pass holder today!)

Last year we tried the Brick or Treat Trail.  It was really fun.  I liked that they included lego bricks and organic apples with their Wonka Candy.  The contribution to the annual sugar rush was limited.  This year I think we will use our free coupon and attend the night time brick or treat celebration next weekend.  We need to get there before our passes run out.  You might want to think about having the kids come in costume.  I read on line today about someone who actually won the costume contest and got free tickets to return to Legoland.  I’ll try and post after our adventure and let you know if the night time activities are really worth it.  I love Legoland at night, so I think at least I’ll have fun.

Don’t  throw away that member newsletter.  It also includes 4 bring a friend free coupons good from November 1st-December 25th.  I plan to use these to take the kids on some special mommy dates come Christmas time.  If you will be purchasing Legos this Christmas it also has a 20% off coupon good for purchases made at Legoland in early December.

Well, better figure out what we’re wearing next weekend.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Camera Disasters

September 23rd, 2008 by bsmith | No Comments | Filed in Smith Family Misadventures
Photo by Jared, 3 Year Old Stealth Photographer

Photo by Jared, 3 Year Old Stealth Photographer

After looking at the comments responding to the “Don’t Forget Your Shoes” post and talking with a friend over the weekend, I realized that most of us have probably had a camera mishap that has put a kink in our family adventures.

For my friend Inga, her adventure started with a fun visit to the local Japanese Tea Garden.  She has a new baby and a preschooler, so any outing is sure to be an adventure.  Still, the garden was a favorite, and Daddy was along…what could go wrong?  Well… Inga was nursing, her husband was videotaping her cute preschooler when suddenly said preschooler made a run for the water with still camera in hand.  He threw it into the nearest Koi pond and before Dad had time to fish out the camera , took off running in the opposite direction.

I was not terrible surprised to hear Inga’s tale of woe.  That sort of thing happens to our family all the time.  We are on our third still camera in nine years.  Camera number one was crushed when my husband Ken and our son Justin crashed a sled into a tree.  Camera number two was dropped in the middle of our Christmas festivities last year.  

What have I learned from my misfortune?  What words of wisdom did I pass on to Inga?  Buy a cheaper camera!  Our latest camera,  the Nikon Coolpix, cost about $100 on sale at Best Buy.  It takes pictures that are as good as or better than our first super premium Olympus camera.  It is not as small as the pricey Pentax that served as camera number two, but it still fits easily in my pocket or purse.  The best part is, when this camera inevitably gets smooshed, drowned, or dropped by my preschoolers I won’t be furious about having to replace it.  The photos taken with the Nikon have been used in $100 worth of newspaper articles and family calendars.  My conclusion after a long history of camera misadventures…keep it small, keep it cheap, enough said!

What’s your most tragic camera misadventure?

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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A Shout Out to Carlsbad My “New” Home Town

September 22nd, 2008 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in San Diego Day Trips, Uncategorized
The Smith Kids Clean Up Carlsbad at a Ponto Beach Cleanup

The Smith Kids Clean Up Carlsbad at a Ponto Beach Cleanup

 

I want to take a minute to pay homage to my new home town Carlsbad, California.  I have lived here for less than three years, but already I can’t imagine raising my family anywhere else.  It is at once a wonderful, kid friendly community and a premier family travel destination.

Most of my friends who are newly relocated to Carlsbad, came here as tourists and decided to stay.  My friends who relocated from Orange County said that they came because here people say hi to you in the grocery store.  It’s a medium sized city with a small town feel. All the elementary schools get out early so they can participate in the Carlsbad High Homecoming Parade.  Where ever you go: the library, down town, the hiking path by your house you are bound to run into someone you know.   The seasons are marked by city events: Artsplash and Oktoberfest in the fall,  The Carlsbad Marathon in the winter,  The Carlsbad Village Street Faire and the Pointsettia Park Eggstravaganza in the spring, and Jazz in the Park all summer long.

The ocean provides a back drop to living in Carlsbad.  My neighbors jog down to the beach.  I drive along the water as I head to my son’s baseball game.  Carlsbad High offers surf P.E.  My kids love to walk the dog and watch the water birds at a local lagoon.

Visiting on vacation?  Legoland is Carlsbad’s main tourist attraction.  Kids love to see the elaborate Mini-land filled with models of most major US cities.  There is interactive fun for all ages throughout the park.  Don’t come to Legoland expecting to be passively entertained.  Plan to pump hard to win a fire truck race, build  race cars out of Lego bricks and race them down a track, and even participate on stage during a musical production about an Indiana Jones type adventure.  The new Sea Life Aquarium is pretty small in scale, but if you have little ones, they will enjoy the specially designed tanks that let them pop up in the middle of the fish!   Check out my Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook for more information about this outstanding theme park. 

If you come in the spring make sure you also take some time to visit the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch.  They are stunning to behold, and also offer a Santa’s Village for the kids to explore as well as an extensive collection of rare poinsettias.

So go ahead, pay Carlsbad a visit.  Perhaps it will become your new home town.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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The Force Was With Them…

September 16th, 2008 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Legoland
Jared, Justin, and Justin's favorite clone trooper Commander Cody at Legoland 2008

Jared, Justin, and Commander Cody

Lego Starwars Day is something that every 5-12 year old boy should have the chance to experience at least once.  Think “kid-friendly version of Comi-Com”.  Justin loves all the elaborate Star Wars Costumes and amazing Lego models built by adult fans.  This year they had a several fun activities including one where everytime the kids were approached by storm troopers they had to respond “We are not the ones you are seeking.”  There are also costume contests and building events.  If you missed Lego Starwars Day, make sure that you keep an eye out for it in Fall 2009.  Be warned though, the park is very busy that day and there will be long lines for many of the rides.
Happy Trails,
Bridget
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Don’t Forget Your Shoes!

September 13th, 2008 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Travel Tips

 

The Unauthorized Guide to Legoland California
The Unauthorized Guide to Legoland California
Look closely at the gorgeous picture of my family with the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean in the background.  Did you notice something unusual?  Yes, sheepishly I admit that my husband Ken showed up to take this very important picture without his shoes!   In our haste to rendezvous with our photographer Brian Stringfellow and take a great picture before the sun set, Ken had hustled the kids in the car and driven half way across town before noticing that he had forgotten his shoes.

Call our family products of this laid back Southern California lifestyle, but this is not the first time this has happened.  Once we made it all the way to the San Diego Wild Animal Park before discovering that we had only packed one shoe for our toddler, Jared!   Luckily we found an extra pair of big sister’s sandals in the car that somehow fit Jared’s chubby feet. Thank goodness two year old boys think that wearing someone else’s pink flower sandals is cool.

The point of this little story, is that one of the keys to family travel is being prepared.  If you are kind enough to purchase my newly released publication The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook, be sure to check out the What to Bring section.  This will save you from purchasing $14 beach towels and $3 bottles of water!  Next time I stop by Legoland, I’ll have to see whether the Big Shop sells shoes.  I’ll let you know what I find out.

What’s the funniest thing that you have ever forgotten to bring on vacation?

Happy Trails,

 

Bridget 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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