Event Review: Pretend City Noon Year’s Event

What It is:

A celebration of New Year’s at 4 different times throughout the day as the clock strikes midnight in other countries. Confetti and noise makers make this a party to ring in the new year!

What We Did:

I have a membership (C and my husband don’t) so we went to the member’s only time which was the first one of the day. The countdown was happening at 11 AM and they opened at 10. We got there a little bit after 10 and there weren’t too many people there yet, but numbers sure increased around 11! The toddler area was completely taken down so there would be more room for the confetti drop and there was a screen up for the countdown.

Cleared out area.

After checking in and paying, we were given some noise makers for the countdown and told about all the activities set up. There was a face painting station where you could draw on yourself (or your child.) It looked really fun and the kids really got into it! We were also told about the 2 different arts and crafts areas. One area was making 2018 crowns. From everyone else’s creations, it looked like there were markers, crayons, stickers, and glittery stickers. C would not have worn his so we went to the other area which was noise makers! They had pre-made noise makers (paper plates glued closed with something rattle-y inside.) Each kid could color and decorate with stickers as they pleased. C actually colored on his own for the first time!

A masterpiece!

That was about it for C’s attention span so he ran around for the next 30ish minutes. We played in the Trader’s Joes area where C tried to put back all of the other kids’ groceries. Then we looked at the chicks in the farm area. He actually got on the stage where other kids were playing with instruments. An older boy gave him an instrument and C was thrilled. It was really cute. And of course, C’s favorite – sitting in the various cars.

Peek-a-boo!

At about 10:45, we were called over to the countdown area. The staff was really good during this little show. They had kids teach them the countdown, talked about Bangladesh (which was the countdown we were doing), and did various other interesting things. During this time they were also handing out more noise makers.

Happy Noon Year!

Then it was time for the countdown and confetti! There were 2 different confetti shooters, one on each side of the plaza we were in. We weren’t in the area that it actually fell on, but it worked for us because C was a little unsure. They shot them off at least 3 times and the kids loved it!

We made our own confetti drop.

There was so much confetti that kids were playing and dancing in it even after it had all fallen. We let C walk around in it and did our own little confetti drop with him. He was unimpressed. But the other kids were having a blast and it was really cute to watch.

Good:

  • So many activities to do.
  • Arts and crafts!
  • Fantastic staff.
  • Lots of teaching content for kids that are a little bit older.

Not So Good:

  • It can get a bit crowded.
  • Depending on the age (and temperament) of the older kids there it can be hard for a really small one to have fun.

Cost:

$12.50 for anyone over 1.

Our Verdict:

We had a good time. C loves Pretend City anyway. Now that he is old enough to start enjoying the events we will be there a lot! He didn’t really understand lots of the content yet, but that just means that he will keep learning every year.

Event Review: Aquarium of the Pacific Aquarium Holidays

What It is:

Special decorations for the holidays around the aquarium. Both Christmas and Chanukah (even Kwanzaa) decorations are out. Plus gingerbread house displays, characters in holiday outfits, and a Santa diver.

**I know this isn’t in Orange County, but I thought it was really fun for kids so I figured I would write about it!

What We Did:

We went the 23rd, so we knew it was either going to be super packed or pretty empty. It really could have gone either way but we lucked out and it was pretty good. It wasn’t empty, but nothing was crazy packed. I think that other weekends were more hectic though.

Side note: we missed the Penguin Walk so I don’t really know what that was. I wanted to make it there in time for this, but it just didn’t work out.

Outside the aquarium they had a small snow area set up. You needed aquarium entry to be able to play there so they suggested that you go in and get your hand stamped to be able to access it. It looked like they kept the number of kids in it pretty low and there wasn’t really a line when we went by it both times, but we decided not to go in since we knew it would make C cold.

Santa in front of a large tank.

Once inside we noticed that Santa was doing pictures. We waited in line for less than 5 minutes and got a picture with Santa. They let us take our own pictures and did take professional pictures too. This worked out really well since in the same area there was supposed to be “snow fall.” So we kind of hung around until the time that was supposed to happen.

That went surprisingly well.

While we were waiting, the otter character came out to take pictures with everyone. We took our pictures and then they started the “snow” so everyone after us in line has pictures with the otter while the snow is falling on them. C was happy either way and we were in a great spot to let him see all the “snow.” (Which was a guy with the soap bubble machine spraying it off the second floor.)

He really wanted to touch it.

They were also doing holiday crafts and a holiday film (The Grinch That Stole Christmas) but we knew C wouldn’t be in to that stuff so we walked around for a bit and then grabbed lunch. Santa was on a break before his next activity and so he was walking around the little restaurant saying hi to the kids which was really nice.

Santa dive!

But then he had to get ready for his dive. That’s right, there was a Santa dive! He talked to everyone while he was doing his SCUBA inside one of the large tanks. There were also 2 elves and a “reindeer” helping him out. What we saw of the show was really cute. C lost interest so we walked around a bit more, but it was actually a really engaging show for older kids and adults. I was pretty impressed.

Good:

  • Fun little activities that don’t take a ton of time.
  • Big open spaces so crowds don’t feel like a huge issue.

Not So Good:

  • Parking. I hate that you have to pay to park there, but keep an eye on the price and make sure to validate at the aquarium only if you spent enough time there to make that price worth it!

Cost:

Adults: $29.95 and kids (3-11): $17.95.

Our Verdict:

C loves the aquarium so this was fun to him. I liked that it wasn’t crazy packed. The Santa diver show was well done. I think this was totally worth the drive. We will absolutely go again next year!

Event Review: Winterfest OC

What It is:

Winterfest aims to bring winter to Orange County. They have all sorts of winter activities including ice skating, tubing, snow, and nightly tree lighting and fireworks.

*Many of my pictures did not really turn out or had a large amount of kids in them, so I don’t have much!

What We Did:

I have to start off by saying that I was really excited for this. I have been wanting to go for years because it sounded fun and I love wintery stuff. I finally convinced my husband we should go this year.

We bought tickets online before the run of Winterfest started because they were a bit cheaper this way. We ended up picking the day after Christmas because it started December 21 and that just didn’t leave a ton of time before the holidays came about. After looking at their schedule, we planned to get there around 4:30ish so that we could be there for the parade, tree lighting, “snow fall,”and fireworks show at 5:30.

Since we already had our tickets we waited in line for check in. Despite the fact that they had about 8 people to check tickets, there was no way to get to the ones in the back since they were blocked by the people getting checked in at the front. Apparently it was taking so long since if you bought upgraded tickets you got a wristband. We had general tickets and there was no one that could just scan our tickets and let us in. A minor thing, but I think this could be done better.

After checking in there were a bunch of photographers with green screens set up. We took a picture, but my husband was wearing a green jacket and C was wearing a green onesie so they were both see through in the picture. It was amusing and I would have bought it if it didn’t cost $30! In case you go, don’t wear green if you want this picture!

Right after you walk in.

Once inside we wanted to get the lay of the land. We found where the tree lighting and “snow fall” area were so we knew where to go for that. On one side they had some rides and carnival games. Very similar to things you’d see at a fair. We stopped by the tubing hill was and talked about if we wanted to wait in line for one of us to do it. (Answer was no.) The tubing looked fun and people looked like the enjoyed it.

Tubing in a building!

We had some time before the parade so we went to check out the snow play area. They bring in fresh snow everyday since it melts so fast. We passed the petting zoo which had a HUGE line. I wanted to take C in, but it was so not worth the wait since there was no time limit once you were in there. There were some bounce houses and ropes course things for older kids and a stage where an unenthusiastic Rusty Rivets thing was happening. Whether he was unenthusiastic because of the small audience or if the small audience was because of the quality, I will never know.

Where all the snow is.

Then came the snow area. It is all under a tent. There are probably 3 different little snow sections and a snow hill for kids. It was advertised and labeled on the map that there was a specific toddler snow play area. We didn’t see anything labeled in the tent as to which area was which and there were no employees watching the play areas (they were only at the snow hill) so we had no idea. And neither did any kids. Older kids were in all of them. Having intense snowball fights. There was one section that adults with littler ones seemed to gravitate towards, so we went there. In order to get in you have to step up the 1 1/2 foot step into the snow area. It was a little rough, especially while holding a kid. C walked around a little bit, but moved on quickly. Getting out was even harder than getting in and we ended up having to get one of us out to take C so the other person could get out. It was super slippery and a big step.

Walking in the snow.

Around that time we headed back for the parade and all that. We got a nice spot right around the tree and discussed food options since we had about 10 minutes before everything was supposed to stop. At this point we knew we weren’t going to stay too long so even though there were really good food options, we decided against it. 5:30 (the parade start time) came and went. And nothing. No announcement, no parade. Around 5:45 they made an announcement that things would start soon. Now as you can imagine kids were MELTING down. They’d all been sitting there for at least 20 minutes and many longer than that. It was not good. 5:50 is when things finally started. There wasn’t a parade like they make it seem. It was more an announcer and a few people dressed up walking into the tree lighting area. Disappointed.

The tree and the host of the ceremony.

The host guy pulled a few kids in to help get the tree lit. It probably took about 5 minutes. He then said to make sure to say hi to all the characters and I thought it would be fun to get pictures with them after, but I have no idea where they disappeared to. They seem to have left VERY quickly. There was a short fireworks show loosely set to music that was over the building the tubing was in. That was kind of fun to watch. It wasn’t anything spectacular but it was good. The fake snow fall was limited to a few areas but it seemed to fly around nicely. If you want to be near the snow fall though, pick a spot close the the edges of the ice skating rink. Then it was over. We waited 40 minutes for that. More disappointment.

The start of Festival of Lights.

Then came the best part. We bought a hot cocoa. It was $3 and a nice size for the price. It tasted really good. I got to drink it on our walk through the Festival of Lights. I love Christmas lights and decorations so I was kind of looking forward to it. It was okay. There were quite a few lights that were out so the decorations weren’t complete, but it was cute.

Festival of Lights

On the way out we stopped at the World’s Largest Ornament. You can walk through it and take pictures. It was a quick stop and we got our picture taken by a nice family. We did have to wait a few minutes to get in because there was a large group blocking each entrance taking pictures, but that isn’t surprising.

Inside the ornament.

And that was it. We spent about 2 hours there and most of it was waiting to the parade/tree lighting/fireworks/”snow fall.” Other than the tubing, we did everything that we could do without buying more experience tickets. I felt bad that I dragged us to this. There are so many other holiday activities out there that we could have gone to!

Good:

  • The hot chocolate was good and a really good size.

Not So Good:

  • There wasn’t the parade that they show online.
  • The tree lighting and firework show didn’t start anywhere near on time.
  • The supposed toddler snow area was not patrolled so there was no actual toddler area.
  • You get nearly nothing with just the cost of admission.
    • They advertise that a lot of things are included, but those things aren’t really anything at all.

Cost:

General admission for kids: $12-17 (depending on if you buy online or there) and for adults: $17-$22 (depending on if you buy online or there.)

Ice skating, rides, games, and many of the attractions all cost extra.

Parking is an additional $8.

Our Verdict:

So obviously I was not impressed. This was not what I wanted it to be and I felt that we paid for way more than we got. Because we bought early we paid $15 for each adult. Including parking we spent $38 (hot cocoa not included!) for less than 2 hours. Sure we got some cute pictures by the giant ornament and it was a way to get out of the house, but we thought it was a massive disappointment. We will probably never go again unless I hear that it has changed quite a bit and only when C is old enough to be able to do ANYTHING. If you have older kids that can play carnival games and rides, then this would be a lot more fun.

 

Event Review: Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train

What It is:

A ride on the Irvine Park Railroad to see Santa Claus. There are also a bunch of decorations, games, activities, and a bounce house.

What We Did:

Our train tickets were from 7-8 PM so we figured we would get there a little early and walk around the village and activities they had set up. The parking lot has no lights so it is REALLY dark. Make sure you have some sort of light you can use!

Welcome!

There were a bunch of photo areas set up in the village and none had any lines. People were really nice abut helping to take family pictures too! Lots of lights and fun things to look at which I really liked. There was even an area with Christmas trees set up that you could take pictures around.

Tons of lights!

When we were there none of the games or activities had any lines. They looked pretty fun, but there was nothing for C to do so we just enjoyed the lights and let him run around for a bit. They had cookie decorating, an ice fishing game, little car rides, a bounce house, and a few other carnival type games.

Around 6:45 we figured we should out where to line up for our 7 PM train. That is when we found out that people were already lining up. We were not even close to the front of the line. No big deal. I’d rather not spend all night waiting in line. They checked tickets and I really liked that they required your entire party to be there when you checked in since you were getting in line for the train. We didn’t make the first train which wasn’t an issue with us. Until one of the employees loading the train found a lost kid. They couldn’t let the first train go until the little girl was reunited with her family (totally understandable!) But it look 15 minutes because her family didn’t know she was missing. We were in line for probably about 30-40 minutes, after checking in which means you can’t get out of line, before we got on the train. So bring snacks and/or something to amuse the kids in case this happens to you!

The set up for Santa.

The train stops halfway through the normal route to see Santa. They have a huge area set up where Santa is and everything is decorated amazingly. What we didn’t know is that people run off the train to get in line for Santa. It honestly didn’t take that long in line though so I don’t know why people ran. Maybe other times were longer wait times. They also have a small snack booth set up. The great part about Santa pictures is that they take some, but they also allow you to take some with your camera and will take group ones with your camera too!

Nice Santa area!

Then the train ride back to the starting area! The tunnel they go through is lined with lights and looks really cool. The older kids on the train really loved it. It was really well done!

Good:

  • Very nice set up. They know how to keep things moving!
  • The decorations. There are so many lights and it looks really good!
  • Lots of activities before or after the train ride. (Or even if you don’t have train tickets!)

 

Not So Good:

  • Long lines which can mean long wait times.
  • Lines were way more competitive than I thought!
  • Not a ton for those that can’t play carnival games.

 

Cost:

$15 per person over age 2 for the train. Activity tickets cost $5 each. And parking costs $3 on weekdays and $5 on weekends, but after 5 PM is free.

Our Verdict:

This was fun. I knew that we wouldn’t be able to do much with C so we mostly paid for the train ride. And that is exactly what we did. I think that this is a fun family activity and we were surrounded by people that did this every year. It seems like something great to do with kids that are a little older. It is pretty hard to get tickets to the time you want so you have to be ready to buy and fairly open with your schedule! If we can get tickets again, we will go!

Event Review: Snoopy House

What It is:

Snoopy House is a tradition in Costa Mesa. It used to be held at a residential house (starting in 1966) and they set up holiday decorations featuring the Peanuts characters. Once they were unable to keep it at their home, the city stepped in and started hosting it at city hall.

**I have pictures from both this year (2017) and last year (2016.) I try not to include pictures of other people’s kids so I included some (okay, a lot) pictures of last year since it was a lot less crowded and you can see some of the decorations.

What We Did:

We went totally spur of the moment and found a great parking spot so we were feeling pretty good! I have gone to the Snoopy House for many years so it is a tradition for me and I’m glad that we can take C.

They had a snow area set up with real snow and it was super packed. Kids were getting a little wild and crazily throwing snowballs. A friend of mine went a different night and her 1 year old got pelted in the face. So we let C touch the snow and then got out of there pretty quickly. It was so crazy that I wasn’t able to get any pictures in that area..

“Snow!”

They also have a “snow” fall that happens every so often. We were there for it twice this year and C though it was really fun. They have it come down in 2 different spots and once it starts everyone kind of runs to that area. We tried to time it, but it didn’t follow any pattern that we noticed.

It is really just soap bubbles

They have a small train ride that is free as well. The line is normally pretty short and goes fairly quickly. I really wanted C to try it but I didn’t trust him alone on it since there aren’t really seat belts and it is kids only. I think next year will be perfect! There was some live entertainment going on around this time which was a local band playing Christmas carols. I’m sure the quality of entertainment varies as the different acts switch out. Local groups also sell various items as a fundraiser. A local high school was selling hot cocoa the night we went, but this varies as well.

Some of the lights and displays The outhouse behind me is a decoration and you can go inside!

The main attraction is all the decorations. There are some really cool decorations set up around the area. There are a bunch of different scenes set up featuring the Peanuts characters. Some of theme move and some of them are store fronts. There is even one that is a small building that you can go inside and write letters to Santa in.

Some of the decoration set up from 2016.

This year I noticed that they had a Snoopy dog house set up that was super popular to take pictures in front of. We tried to wait in line for it, but it wasn’t going to happen. Kids were going inside of it and hanging out in it. It was really cute. There was also Lucy’s psychiatric booth to take pictures in. C loved this. I don’t know why, but works for me!

“Can I help you?”

Santa comes every night at 7 and does free pictures in a cute little set up. We missed him last year and this year there was already a line starting before 7 so we figured it wasn’t worth it. If you want pictures, I suggest having someone hold a place in line while the kids have fun!

Area where Santa pictures happen.

Good:

  • It is a free event. Even photos with Santa!
  • It is generally pretty laid back.
  • The snow, “snow fall”, and train rides are really fun for the kids.

Not So Good:

  • Parking is fairly limited right at city hall. You can park in the area though and spots turn over pretty quickly.
  • There isn’t a ton to do so it is a pretty quick event.
  • It can get crowded!
  • They line the ground with hay so if you have a hay allergy (like my husband) make sure to take an allergy pill before you go!

Cost:

Free

Our Verdict:

Since this is really local to us, we will keep going. It is a tradition for me and since it is free I don’t have to worry if we leave pretty quickly. I think it is amazing that this all used to be at someone’s house. I actually found an old picture I took from 2004 when it was still at the family’s house! Plus you can see a little more of the type of decoration that is up!

From 2004

Event Review: Tanaka Farms Santa Tour and Sanrio Village

What It is:

This year Tanaka Farms started a brand new event for the holidays. It is a wagon tour around the farm combined with a stop at Sanrio Village and a visit with Santa!

Tanaka Farms is a working farm that grows various different types of produce. They do several different types of tours throughout the year. And sell a ton of great produce!

**So if you frequent my reviews and have a keen eye, you will notice that my husband is wearing the same outfit as our Pumpkin Patch visit. And I am wearing the same shirt. Not sure how we managed to pull this off, but I promise we own more than one outfit!

What We Did:

We decided on Saturday night to sign up for a time slot for Sunday. It was obviously a last minute thing, but there were open spots and it sounded like fun. You must preregister on their website for the tour so make sure to do that if you want to go!

We got to Tanaka Farms with plenty of time to check in since they request you are there early and I had no idea how many people were signed up. So we wandered around the Holiday Market Stand to see the Christmas trees and all the things that they had for sale.

Huge trees!

Our time slot was oddly empty. There were maybe like 7 families. It was pretty nice actually! There was as tent set up to wait in before your tour which I thought was nice so no one needed to worry about where to be. The tractor pulling the wagons rolled up right on time and we all hopped on. The kids were so excited to see the tractor pull up. Even C was really interested.

The ride

We stopped 3 times on the ride up to Santa and Sanrio Village. We got to try broccoli, lettuce, cilantro, and carrots. Everything was something that was grown on the farm and was super fresh. C was not really into the veggies, but he tried them. The adults really enjoyed everything though!

“Ha! No lettuce for me!”

We got to the top of the hill and it was time to see Santa! Santa talked to every kid about what they wanted for Christmas and what the elves look like. He was really friendly and just as Santa should be.

At least he didn’t cry!

There were also a bunch of nice little photo areas set up near Santa. It was a really good set up. Off the top of my head I can think of 6 photo prop set ups in that area. I thought that it was a really nice touch that there were staff around the area (and with Santa) offering to take pictures so the entire family could be in shots. That really impressed me.

Fun set up!

Then came a great surprise! Santa was super hands on! After everyone had taken pictures with him, he got up and walked around talking to each group. He orchestrated really fun pictures with everyone. I was really impressed. He was really awesome! I’m not sure if he always does this or was able to because we were such a small group, but it was so fun.

Santa wanted to walk with C, but C was nervous and I had to go too.

We had almost 30 minutes to take pictures and hang out before it was time to get back on the wagon. We had a few more samples on the way back down. We got to try persimmon which I had never had before and tangerines that were the best tangerines I had ever eaten.

At the end of the ride, we were dropped off at the Holiday Market Stand and there were a few more photo spots as well as the tractor that all the kids love to sit on.

Cute photo area!

As a bonus, every paying customer got a Sanrio pin and paper crown. You also got $2 off any market stand purchase if you had over $10 in items. There was a discount on Christmas trees too if you took the tour.

Pin and crown

Good:

  • Our tour guide was really good and had some interesting tidbits to share about the farm!
  • The staff that was there to help take family pictures was a really nice touch.
  • Santa was so good!
  • Yummy samples along the way.

 

Not So Good:

  • I have nothing bad to say about this event!

 

Cost:

$18 per person. Kids 2 and under are free.

Our Verdict:

This was a fantastic event! It was well run, the photo props were really good, and Santa was AMAZING! I am so happy that we ended up doing this tour and I will go again every year they have it.

I’d suggest that you make time in your schedule and sign up!

http://www.tanakafarms.com/holiday-tour-sanrio-village/

 

Event Review: Mom Made Market

What It is:

The Mom Made Market was held November 18 and 19 at the Orange County Fairgrounds. It is a market that supports mom made businesses.

*I took no pictures at this event because it was just a little market and it would have been weird to take pictures of other people shopping.

What We Did:

I wasn’t planning on going because we had just gone to a craft market last weekend, but I heard from a friend that it was cute and worth it. So my mom and I took C since I didn’t think my husband would be into shopping with a bunch of women. Parking was $8 at the fairgrounds so we parked somewhere else and walked over. This is my big tip if you are going to any event at the Fairgrounds. Parking is just too expensive!

There were probably 4 or 5 aisles of booths. There were quite a few selling leggings. (You know the popular one that has lots of prints.) According to the website there were 7 of them. It felt a little odd that they allowed so many of the same vendor, but we just skipped those. There were also a ton of jewelry sellers. Lots of it was really pretty. I even commented that I wish I was more of a jewelry person, but C is still grabby and I always forget to put it on for date night. So we skipped all those. Next up were several lotions and potions type of booths. I always forget to put this stuff on too, so another skip for us.

I was a little bummed that we skipped so much. But there were a few bright spots. My mom picked up books from both Barefoot Books and Usborne Books. I picked up a few Baprons from BapronBaby. (https://bapronbaby.com/) I will probably do a whole review of these because they are pretty cool. I picked up a few cute shirts for C from Bear and Little Bird. (https://www.facebook.com/BearAndLittleBird/) I also got a holiday shirt for me and a matching one for C from Nicky and Stella. (http://nickyandstella.com/) The last thing that I was super interested in was the signs from Second Impression Designs. He custom makes signs. They are really nice looking. One I wanted to get as a gift for my mom, but since she was there I couldn’t. But I am getting that and a cute stocking holder from him this week. Seriously, check out his stuff! (Facebook or at @secondimpressiondesigns on Instagram.)

At one point we noticed a line and weren’t sure why people were lining up. Later I snuck a peek into that room and saw it was Santa. I totally forgot that Santa was going to be there for free photos for an hour. He looked like a pretty good Santa too! There was also a food truck outside of the building but C was done so we just took him home and fed him.

Good:

  • I got some cute stuff for me and C.
  • C got some new books which he loves.
  • It was something to do with my mom.
  • I found a great gift for my mom.

Not So Good:

  • Parking was expensive!
  • Not a wide variety for boys.
  • Lots of vendors with the same thing! (I’m looking at you leggings!)

Cost:

Entry was $5 per person (12 and under were free.)

Our Verdict:

It was okay. I don’t know if I would go again. Did I get some cute shirts? Yes. Did I get some cool Baprons? Yes. Most of the stuff there wasn’t stuff that is my style. Jewelry and fun scented stuff just isn’t my style right now. And the majority of kid vendors had lots of girl stuff. Dresses, skirts, bows – you name it. I realize that boy stuff isn’t super exciting, but I was bummed about that. The vendors that did have gender neutral shirts got my business. And the Baprons had a bunch of different patterns which was great. I would have loved to see more handmade items and things that I couldn’t get elsewhere. Which is exactly what my mom said too.

Maybe Saturday had more stuff that would have been good for C and me. Because I was honestly ready to buy some super cute “mom” shirts or fun-saying shirts. So maybe I would go again. If I wanted to get out of the house and I didn’t have to take C.

Event Review: Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch

What It is:

Every year from the end of September through October, Tanaka Farms in Irvine has a Pumpkin Patch. Tanaka Farms is a working farm that grows various different types of produce. Every year they set up a big pumpkin patch event.

What We Did:

Ready for the patch!

We went to Tanaka Farms first thing in the morning. Since they had a partnership with Sanrio this year, I had been hearing that it was crazy packed later in the day on the weekends.

The sticker for C!

After parking and paying, we headed in. We took a few pictures first. Luckily since it is a family event, there were plenty of people willing to take photos if you returned the favor. There were lots of cute photo setups all around.

My little candy corn!

One of the things included with entry is the corn maze. I’m pretty sure it is different every year. It was at least different from the last time that I went. C was amazed by the corn and we were in the maze forever because of it, but exploring is good!

Which way?

We bought one entry into the petting zoo since C was free and we felt that we both didn’t need to go in. Of course C loved this part. He is all about petting animals these days. There were 3 different petting zoo sections. They seemed to all have similar animals. I think I noticed that one had an alpaca while the others didn’t but other than that they all seemed pretty similar. Goats, sheep, the usual. You could purchase food to hand out if you wanted to. After exiting there were a large number of hand sanitizing stations.

What is this?

We chose not to do the wagon ride since C wouldn’t sit still for it and we did not want to have him melt down at that point. So we watched the Pumpkin Cannon launch pumpkins at a hillside. We also stopped and got some fresh strawberry lemonade from one of their food stands. The food smelled amazing and if we didn’t already have lunch plans that day I would have been all about it.

He claimed it as his and didn’t want to share

Of course we walked around the actual pumpkin patch. There are so many pumpkins of different sizes and colors. It was amazing. I love pumpkins so this was a ton of fun for me. C liked to touch them and try to pick them up. We did buy him a little pumpkin since he loved it so much and he carried it around the house for days.

Pumpkins!

We also bought a bunch of stuff from the produce stand before leaving. Their bread is really good as is their salsa. We also love to pick up some fresh veggies to cook for the week too!

C’s pumpkin

Good:

  • Super cute.
  • They put a lot of effort into making it fun.
  • Fairly inexpensive for quite a bit of activities.

Not So Good:

  • Leaving the parking lot was a mess.
    • I will credit Tanaka Farms here. There was an accident in the parking lot right before we left that brought in fire trucks and police. It held up the parking lot for some time. They did come out and hand out water and try to keep everyone informed.
  • It was a little crowded so different picture spots had a small line.

Cost:

Entry was $3 per person (2 and under were free.)

Other activities:

  • Wagon Ride: $6 per person (2 and under were free)
  • Pretting Zoo: $3 per person (2 and under were free)
  • U-Pick Vegetable Patch: $2.99 a pound
  • Game Tickets: $1 each or $20 for 22

Our Verdict:

We love Tanaka Farms. They are actively working on making the parking and entry for events run smoother. Follow their social media for info about parking and if it is full. The weekend after we went they changed how parking is done and you have to preregister for a parking pass. It seems as though they will do this again next year!

I think that overall they do a great job with running the events. Does parking pose challenges? Yes. But they are a working farm that has recently gotten super popular (we went a few years ago and there was like 1/4 the number of people there) and they are working on making it better.

We will absolutely be back and we LOVE their produce stand too! And hopefully C will have the patience for the wagon ride next year. I can’t wait!

Event Review: Babies R Us Baby’s First Christmas

What It is:

Every year Babies R Us holds a Baby’s First Christmas event. Some stores hold multiple ones throughout the month of November and each one is geared towards different birthdays so you can meet other parents with children around the same age.

*I have 0 pictures from this event. This is a review of the 2016 event and C was only 2 months old so I was not always good about taking pictures when we were out. You remember that overwhelmed feeling for the first couple outings?

What We Did:

The event is obviously to help Babies R Us sell toys and first Christmas gear. So they do a small talk about different products and have different toys out that you can register for (hint, hint.) After that though it is a pretty easy going event.

They had out plain white onesies in various sizes with fabric markers so that you could create “ugly sweater onesies.” There were different stencils out and they had a few different ideas. We had a lot of fun with this. Some people took the ugly sweater theme to heart while others made cute ones. A few people even made their own “Baby’s First Christmas” onesie so they didn’t have to buy one!

There was a little photo spot set up to take pictures. We didn’t do it since C was only 2 months old and if I remember correctly he was not really having being out and about that day. The store employees were helping take pictures so that you could get a picture of the whole family if you wanted to.

Then there was storytime. It was a very quick Christmas themed story so the older kids were really into it. We used it as a nice break and we didn’t have to be the ones reading the book!

Near the end, everyone was given a bag of samples and coupons. We got a small MAM bottle and some toddler snacks. We absolutely used the bottle and the snacks had expiration dates far enough in the future that we eventually used those too!

Last but not least was the raffle. They were giving away several packs of diapers, a few packs of wipes, a First Remedies Cold Kit, and a few Christmas items. We won a Countdown to Christmas chalkboard block sign. It is super cute and I’ve wanted one for awhile but never really felt like I should buy one. Now I don’t have to!

Good:

  • It is short so it is the perfect event to get out of the house!
  • It is pretty cute.
  • Raffles and free stuff are always nice.
    • My store had pretty good raffle prizes, but I think this varies by store.

Not So Good:

  • Depending on the amount of people that show up, it can get a little crazy and hectic.

Cost:

Free. There is a preregistration online so your spot is reserved. Some stores are way more strict about this than others, so I would make sure you do it. Doesn’t hurt! (https://reserve.babiesrus.com/index.html)

Our Verdict:

If we had another kid, we would go to this again. It was a fun little event that really didn’t require much effort on our part. Perfect for a little one! I briefly thought about going again this year since C was so little last year. But I figured it was best to let the new parents have an event without my crazy one year old running around!

Event Review: Flowerchild Festival

What It is:

Flowerchild Festival was an event held on September 17, 2016. It was a music and arts festival held at the at the Orange County Great Park.

What We Did:

We had bought tickets online head of time and knew that there was a swag bag giveaway for the first 100 families to check in. We saw the sneak peak of the bag and while it looked amazing, we decided that we didn’t need to get there that early to get one. But we knew that the first 500 people to check in got raffle tickets. We were interested in that. Well apparently I completely misjudged the time it would take us to get there because we were like the 25th family in line… Oh well, awesome swag bag for us!

Swag bag contents!

After waiting in line to get in and get our swag bag, we headed into the vendor area. We had C in the jogging stroller and about halfway through my husband took C and the stroller outside while I kept walking around. It was pretty crowded in there and because almost everyone had a wagon or a stroller there wasn’t much room to get around to all the tables. This was when I noticed the raffle ticket table. You were to turn in your ticket to see if you won a prize. Uh, we never got our tickets. I spoke to the woman at the table and just asked how we were supposed to get our tickets. She very kindly understood what happened (they missed the first 50, or so, families in line) and gave us a chance to win. Spoiler alert: we didn’t win. There were some really good prizes though.

There were lots of different types of vendors and I really appreciated the variety. Toys and clothes, different schools, dentists, treats for both adults and kids, and a parent pampering area. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I never did visit the pampering area. 🙁 I know they were doing mini massages and fingernail painting.

Some of the stuff we got from the vendor area

Once I finished inside, we headed out to the Activity Village that was sponsored by Munchkin. Between the vendor building at the Activity Village was a food truck. There was also the park’s carousel which it seemed like a ton of kids were loving.

Trying to get a picture before heading into the outdoor activity village

Inside the Activity Village were a few photographer booths. We waited in a very short line and got a cute picture of C. We only did one booth because I didn’t think that C would really want to pose with a mermaid even if it was super cute.

We took a break by the stage area to feed C and we listened to some great singers performing Disney songs.

Part of the area near the stage.

There were lots of outdoor activities to do including face painting, arts and crafts, and a kids yoga area. We visited the MyGym area which had a few little obstacles set up, Pretend City’s area that had art and some building things, and the KinderCare area. KinderCare set up a few different things for different ages. They had a bunch of beans in an activity table and C was really into it.

Playing with an activity table set up by KinderCare

Since it was a nice day and we didn’t need to head home right away we found a nice big grassy area for C to practice his walking. We found out later that us doing that made it into the Flowerchild Festival video!

Awwww!

Good:

  • Ticket cost goes to a great cause! (Moms Orange County)
  • Lots of fantastic vendors.
  • Tons of information about different activities in the area.
  • All staff that we encountered were extremely helpful.
  • Lots of parking!

Not So Good:

  • A little disorganized at the beginning of check in, but it did get better.
  • No/few activities for kids C’s age. (He was 11 months.)
  • Vendor area got packed! It was very crowded.

Cost:

The tickets were $10 and it was heavily recommended that you get tickets ahead of time!

Our Verdict:

If this event is held again we will absolutely go. We had a great time even though the activities were all geared towards slightly older than C. It would be a ton of fun when he is able to do arts and crafts and has the attention span to sit still for story time and music (ha!) Plus the ticket fee went to a fantastic cause.

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