If you have a hankering for a Dole Whip and you live in California, Hawaii, Texas, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, or Florida, run (don’t walk) to your nearest Yogurtland and pour yourself the Pineapple Tart nonfat frozen yogurt. You will swear you are at the Tiki Room listening to Jose, Fritz, Michael, and Pierre serenade you. It is refreshing, delicious, and a VERY close second to the Dole Whip. Click here to find the location near you!
If you are planning a trip to the Disneyland Resort and you are looking for an extra non-Disney activity to round out your vacation, the Discovery Science Center is the place. Located about five to ten minutes from the resort, the Discovery Science Center offers children and their parents the opportunity to enjoy science with countless hands-on experiences in a clean and engaging atmosphere. My family and I escaped the Southern California heat on the fourth of July and visited the Discovery Center. It was a fun and unique way to enjoy the day. My boys had so much fun and thought it was well worth the drive from the San Fernando Valley. Because the museum is sponsored by Taco Bell the only food concession inside is Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. By far, it was the cleanest of either establishments I had ever been to and because of the restaurant’s high visibility in the center, I swear that the food was better (perhaps fresher) than other Taco Bells.
As part of the museum’s regular offerings, guests can experience a wind tunnel, earthquake simulation, and more. Below are just two of the museums many permanent offerings.
The Science of Hockey
The Anaheim Ducks, the National Hockey League, and USA Hockey have joined together to showcase this fun exhibit. Visitors get to experience the colder side of science and explore physics, physiology and flying pucks. Kids and adults alike will love the Zamboni Machine, Penalty Box and Broadcast Booth,and more!
Located in the outdoor area of the Science Center, Dino Quest is a great interactive experience for kids of all ages. In fact, the exhibit boasts 62 interactives and for teachers like me, they will be excited to know that the exhibit has been developed to align with California Science Standards for grades K-6, thus reinforcing the types of science content kids are learning in school.
Visitors to the exhibit walk among prehistoric animals and learn about the body’s systems and how they relate to each other. They can also rent a uniquely-coded infrared transmitter to embark on missions and adventures throughout the exhibit. Guests become “research assistants” using the transmitter to communicate with a team of virtual paleontologists, scientists and technicians in field locations throughout the world as they search for clues about the prehistoric animals in the exhibit. The great thing about Dino Quest is that the fun doesn’t end at the museum, research assistants can continue their adventure online once they get home.
Throughout the year, the museum changes its touring exhibits in order to keep the science and fun fresh.
Now through October 4
Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl: Home Sweet Home
This exhibit encourages families to spend time together outdoors and inspires children to discover and care for the natural resources that sustain our world. Geared toward children ages 2 – 8, the exhibit provides visitors with open-ended play opportunities that help build fundamental academic and social skills. Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl guide visitors through urban, woodland and stream settings featuring a variety of educational activities presented in English and Spanish. Props, costumes and puppets underscore the importance of protecting ecosystems and highlight ways to reduce, reuse and recycle resources. I was a big fan of the composting information that shows how easy it is and it inspired me to start composting at our home!
Now through September 13
Robots and Us
For Disney fans interested in more than just Disneyland there is but ONE Disney attraction that is FREE. Yes, you read correctly. FREE. Located in Griffith Park near the Disney Studio, The Carolwood Foundation and Society* lovingly presents tours and a step back in time at Walt Disney’s Barn. Once the located in his backyard, the barn was the place where Walt tinkered with and made his trains for his backyard and cultivated his love for locomotives. In fact, the trains in his backyard served has inspiration for the Disneyland Railroad we all know and love. Inside the barn, visitors are treated to actual artifacts of Walts, as well as fantastic memorabilia and objects from early Disneyland. Outside, children can play at a train table and families can sit at shaded picnic tables or purchase reasonably priced Walt- and train-inspired merchandise.
Walt’s barn is open the third Sunday of each month and shares land with the L.A. Live Steamers. The L.A. Live Steamers is a non-profit that was founded in 1956 by train enthusiasts for the purpose of educating people in railroad history and lore and also to further the avocation of live steam, gas-mechanical and electronic railroad technology. Members of the group operate our 7½” gauge model trains for the general public to ride from 11 am – 3 pm every Sunday (weather permitting). except for the Sunday before Memorial Day and the first Sunday in October. The gate is open from 10:45 am to 3 pm. Train rides begin at 11 am. There is a suggested $3 donation per rider and there’s a train that even looks like Thomas. Combine Walt’s barn with a trip to the L.A. Live Steamers and the adjacent Travel Town (an indoor/outdoor museum featuring full size locomotives and train cars and its own train ride for kids) and a family could have a train-filled day appropriate for the adults and kids. Travel Town entry is free and there is a small fee for to ride the train. My biggest piece of advice is to visit the Griffith Park train complex in cooler months and not during the summer. You and your kids will melt!
The Barn is located at approximately 5202 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027.
Heading NORTH on
Interstate 5 freeway toward Glendale/Burbank
Take highway 134 WEST
EXIT Forest Lawn Dr., through stop sign.
Turn LEFT at the first signal – Zoo Dr.
Turn LEFT at the stop sign.
Follow road around to the right for about 1/2 mile.
Walt’s Barn in on the RIGHT.
Heading SOUTH on
Interstate 5 freeway toward Glendale/Burbank
Take the Western Street exit
Go west to Victory Blvd. and turn LEFT
Turn RIGHT at Zoo Dr. (about 1 mile)
Follow road for about 1/4 mile.
Parking for Walt’s Barn is the first parking lot on the LEFT.
* The Carolwood Foundation and Society will be attending the D23 Expo in the Collectors’ Forum and will present information on Walt Disney’s history.
Train whistles for the kids are only $5
Lots for sale for adults too.
Walt’s barn is located in a beautiful setting in Griffith Park.
Walt Disney was an avid lover of railroads. In fact, he had a miniature railroad called the Carolwood Pacific that ran through his Holmby Hills backyard. Amidst his backyard wonderland, Walt built a barn where he could monitor and control the operation of his railroad. Walt’s Barn also served as a workshop and a place for Walt to relax. The barn was moved from his backyard to Griffith Park (near Burbank) ten years ago and showcases great memorabilia.
Walt’s Barn is open the third Sunday of every month, from 11a.m. to 3p.m., to the public. This is a must-see for Disney fans. If you are from out of town or plan on visiting Disneyland in the future, making a trip out to Walt’s barn is a great way to expand upon your Disney experience. According to the Carolwood Foundation, the Carolwood Pacific provided the launching point for Walt’s vision of a family-oriented themed amusement park, Disneyland. Why not spend a couple of hours where it all started? Parking and admission are free.
Griffith Park – Walt’s Barn
5202 Zoo Dr.
Los Angeles, CA
Recently, my family and I had the opportunity to visit Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, California. Universal Studios is the busiest studio backlot in California and has been seen in countless movies, television shows, and commercials. Universal Studios has offered tours since it opened. Studio co-owner, Carl Laemmle loved the idea of fans being able to watch silent movies being filmed.
- After the show, we grabbed lunch at the Flintstone’s-themed bar-b-que. The portions were big enough to share. My husband and I shared our $14 dollar lunch that included a half chicken, cole slaw, cornbread muffin, corn on the cob, and diet coke. We were beyond impressed by the automated ordering system. It was super fast and really easy to use. The line moved along VERY quickly. We were able to easily find a table to eat and had the sun been shining, we would have been in the shade. When my husband has done some shooting inside the theme park in the past, he has always been a fan of the Italian restaurant. He says that the pizza is excellent.
- After lunch, we were off to the Shrek 4D show. It was super cute and my four year old liked it. The baby was scared of the dark waiting area and my husband had to go outside with him. One of us would have had to sit with him in the last row had they stayed in, as there is absolutely no lap sitting allowed in the rest of the theater due to the fact that the seats move.
- Went to the Curious George play area. Unfortunately, it was too cold to play in the water, so we went to the ball room. I barely know how to describe the pandamonium that was taking place. It’s a giant room with cannons and other apparatus spitting out foam balls–everywhere. It’s really loud because of the vacuum action of the cannons. My kids loved it. Any attraction that makes a kid interested in vacuuming is alright by me. (See my pic below.)
- We finally made our way to the tram tour. The tram tour was a lot of fun. The baby slept through most of it and my four year old didn’t really “get it” but I enjoyed it. There are a couple of things I think are important to note if you are going to take your child on the tour. First, I think it is important to let him/her know that it is not real. The flood and earthquake are so lifelike, that it could be REALLY scary for a small child. I’m typically not one of those who goes around wanting to ruin the magic for others, but in this case I think it’s justified. Second, I recommend covering your child’s eyes (and closing your own) when you go into what the guide says will be props from “The Mummy.” There is a spinning effect that would freak any kid out and makes the strongest of stomachs queezy. Last, if you are going to visit Universal Studios Hollywood the summer of 2010 or later, I must warn you that the King Kong attraction will be back. This would have been way too scary for my kids and I would not have taken them on the tram attraction had it been there. I think it would be nice for the folks at Universal to run a couple of kid-friendly trams each day so that families with young kids can enjoy it without having to worry what’s around the corner.
- After the tram tour, we rode the world’s longest escalator down to the lower area of the park, home of the Jurassic Park ride, Mummy ride, and Backdraft experience. None of these are clearly appropriate for little guys, so we turned around and went back up the escalator. We then walked around the park more and checked out some of the characters and stores.