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Let the Sparks Fly!

*Disclaimer: I was provided free and discounted wraps from Momentum Jewelry in exchange for social media posts.  All opinions are my own!

Earlier this year,  I was super stoked to be chosen as a brand ambassador for one of my favorite accessory brands – Momentum Jewelry!  I discovered their products a while back and have been hooked ever since!

IMG_8250Not only are all of their accessories super cute and colorful, they also deliver an important message – Encourage yourself AND others!

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Not every run is easy, not every workout is enjoyable…and sometimes, life is just plain hard.  That’s why I love these wraps. The motivational phrases come in handy if I am having a difficult run or tough day.  It reminds me to keep going and not give up on my goals.  I try not to leave home without one!  They are so soft and comfy you almost forget you are wearing it!

And what’s better than picking yourself up on a down day?  Motivating someone else!  My favorite thing about this company is that they encourage you to #ShareTheSpark! Basically – spread the love, y’all! ūüôā  These wraps and charms make great gifts and who doesn’t love to lift up their family and friends?  Or even better, wouldn’t it be great to lift up a complete stranger?  Or that lady you see killing it at the gym every week?  I loved receiving bracelets for myself, but I loved gifting them even more!  It was a pleasure to pass them out to ladies near and far, including to my own little one. ūüėČ

There are so many great phrases and colors, it’s hard to choose just one!  There is also the option to make a custom wrap or choose from shoe charms or other fun accessories! I had the honor to promote the two newest phrases: “Keep Reaching Higher” and “Find Your Courage”.

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Momentum wraps aren’t just for athletes, but something anyone can wear on any occasion!  They may prompt a conversation with a co-worker or someone from your mom’s group.  You never know who you may inspire!

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So if you are looking for gift ideas or a just a way to encourage a friend, or maybe you are in a rut yourself – Momentum jewelry has you covered.  Your small act of kindness may make that person’s whole day! ūüôā Let those sparks fly!

“She leaves a little bit of sparkle wherever she goes.” ~Kate Spade

What about you?  Do you have a #ShareTheSpark story?! I would love to hear about it!

~SM

 

 

 

 

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Why You Should Start Zwifting!

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift running pod to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Happy New Year!¬† Maybe you set some ambitious goals for 2019 or maybe your main goal is just to¬†survive the year.¬† Whatever your plans are, I hope you make some time for running! ūüėȬ† And now that the holidays are over, it might be time to slide into a new fitness routine.¬† With the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter, this may seem like a daunting task but that’s where Zwift¬†comes in!

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What exactly is Zwift?¬†Zwift has been available to indoor cyclists for¬†a while, but now it’s open to runners!¬†¬†Zwift is a platform that allows you to run in virtual locations, run virtually with others, and even complete running goals!¬† You just attach the runpod to your shoe, download the Zwift app (and Zwift companion app to join in virtual events around the world), hop on a treadmill and off you go!

Not sure where to begin?  Here are a few tips to get started!

  • Like I mentioned before, you’ll want to download both the Zwift app and the companion app.¬† The Zwift app is where you set up your account, avatar, settings, etc. and also where you do all of the actual running and goal-getting.¬† The companion app is where you will go to browse and sign-up for group runs and other events.
  • You can use your phone, but it’s better to use a tablet so you can see the info on the screen¬†clearly as you run.
  • Calibrate your pod so that your pace is accurately recorded.
  • Make sure your pod is securely attached to your shoe before running.¬† And put your pod away when not in use as the battery drains pretty quickly from any movement.

What I LOVED about the Zwift platform:

  1. The calendar. When you select an event to join, it will automatically be added to your device’s¬†calendar.¬† (I’m a planner and like to be organized so I got pretty excited about this feature.)
  2. You can run with friends from around the world.  Since I live in a different country than most of my running friends as well as my Bibrave crew, I miss out on meetups and group runs.  But Zwift allows me to feel connected to my running friends from around the world.
  3. Unlocking achievements!  The more you run and surpass goals, the more achievements you can earn.  These come in the form of virtual badges or gaining new apparel and accessories for your avatar.  Running on the treadmill can get boring, so any incentive is nice!
  4. New scenery.¬† The main virtual location on the platform is “Watopia”, but the beach view, volcanic activity, and Santa sightings make this a pretty dope place to run.¬† When you join in on other virtual runs (through the Companion app) you can run in various real-world locations.
  5. Competition. If you’ve ever participated in a race then you know the increased adrenaline you feel on race day.¬† Running virtually gave me a similar experience and made me want to push harder so I could receive my “prize” (i.e. a new achievement, passing others in the race, or just knowing that my stats were on display¬†wanting to do my best.)¬† I’m sure there’s some type of psychology behind all this – which also got me excited because I was a Psych major. ūüėČ

With that said, there were also a few things that I didn’t like:

  1. The battery on the pod drained pretty quickly so you can’t really just leave it on your shoe, you have to take it off each time and put it away.¬† It would be better if there was some type of on/off switch for the pod OR if you could just bypass the pod altogether and sync your watch with the platform.
  2. You have to download two apps.  I would prefer if the platform was streamlined a bit so that everything was in one place rather than having to open two separate apps.
  3. I had to calibrate my pod a few times.¬† It takes a couple of minutes to go through the calibration process so it’s a bit frustrating when you just want to start running.
  4. It’s not for walkers.¬†¬† My avatar would only recognize motion if I was running at least a 10:45 min/mile.¬† Those who are new to running would most likely not benefit from this app.

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Since the running aspect of the platform is fairly new, I do think these are kinks that can be worked out in the near future as the app develops.  Overall, I really like the concept of Zwift and plan to use it when I need some motivation on the treadmill!

Ready to try it out?!¬† You can download the app for free on your IOS or Android device.¬† You can also use code “BibRave15” to save 15% on your RunPod (regular price – $29.99)¬†at Zwift.com. (Hurry, this code is only good for 1000 pods!)

Lastly, join me on #BibChat on Twitter on January 8th at 6pm PST where you can ask any Zwift questions and connect with other runners! You will also have the chance to win a RunPod!

Already a Zwifter?  Find me on the app under Amanda TheSwagMama!

I’m off to review another product!¬† Let’s crush some goals in 2019! ūüôā

~SM

Light it Up!

***Disclaimer: I received a Spibeams LED hat to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

The air is getting crisper, the smell of pumpkin spice is in the air, and it’s getting darker earlier.¬† My favorite time of year is here – AUTUMN!¬† However, this also means that I have less opportunities to run in the daylight. (Booooo).¬† But I was happy to discover that SPIbelt¬†came out with a SPIbeams LED hat! Keep reading¬†and you might even¬†find a¬†promo code! ūüėČ

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I was even more excited about the brightness of this little hat!¬† Typically, if I run in the dark I run with the flashlight of my phone.¬† This is not the most convenient option, in fact it’s pretty annoying and I don’t recommend it.¬† The SPIbeams¬†hat made my running life so much easier!¬† When you first receive your hat, you just pull the tab to activate the battery and you’re good to go!¬† Turn on the front lights with a quick click on the bill of the hat¬†and it’s time to run!¬† That easy!

And there’s more!¬† The back of the hat displays red lights that can either stay on continuously or they can blink.¬† Either way, it’s also activated with a simple¬†click of a button located on the Velcro portion.

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How does it hold up during runs though?¬† Well, it’s very lightweight and flexible (i.e. great for traveling). And while I used it in cooler weather, I think it would be great for summer evening or early morning runs since it’s made from a cool/moisture-wicking material.¬†And since I¬†usually run with trucker hats, I did have to run with it a couple of times to figure out the most comfortable position on my head.

Overall, I think this would be a great addition to any athlete’s accessory stash (hint, hint: stocking stuffers for your running friends).¬† I used it for running, but it would also be great for hiking, bike riding, or really while engaging in any outdoor evening activity.¬† I will definitely be using this on future evening runs and saving the flashlight (and battery) on my phone. I do¬†think it would be great if there were¬†kid versions of the hats so the whole family could be safe!

Also, the batteries are replaceable and the battery pack comes out so you can hand wash the hat and let it air dry.  The hat comes in 3 colors: Lime, Hot Pink, and Black and runs for $29.99 on spibelt.com.  Plus free shipping on all U.S. orders!

And guess what?¬† There’s a promo code!¬† Woo hoo!¬† Use code “BIBRAVE” to save 20% on any SPIbelt item.¬†

Also, join me on #Bibchat on Twitter on Tuesday, November 6th at 6pm PST for your chance to win your own SPIbeams hat.

Be safe! Be seen! Stay safe!¬† Light it up! Happy Fall, Yall! ūüôā

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~SM

3 Reasons to Get Low in OOfos!

“Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOfos OOmg Fibre Low Shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

Something that I’ve realized¬†during my running experience¬†is that you must take care of your feet!¬† Foot issues can lead to knee issues which can¬†lead to hip issues which can lead to back issues. So when new runners ask me where to start, I usually recommend to go to a running specialty store and get fitted for a proper shoe.¬† And now that I’ve increased my running distance over the years,¬†I’ve found that proper recovery is also an important aspect of exercise.¬† And one of my favorite recovery tools are OOfos¬†recovery shoes!

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I’ve been using my OOfos sandals for a couple of years now, so I was excited when a new women’s OOmg Fibre Low Shoe¬†was released!¬† Here are my top 3 reasons why you should get low ūüėČ in the new OOmg Fibre shoes!

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  • OOfoam –¬†OOfoam is this magical foam technology that “absorbs 37% more impact than other footwear foams.¬† OOfoam impact absorbing recovery technology has been scientifically proven to reduce stress on your body while walking, allowing you to recover faster after a workout and feel better all day.” (from oofos.com)

I know this might sound too good to be true, but these little foam shoes really felt like walking on clouds!  I spent a whole day standing at a Japanese festival and my feet were dead by the time I got home.  So the first thing I did the next day was slip into my OOfos and my feet felt instant relief. I have arch issues so the cradle design was much appreciated!

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  • Socks or no socks – Another great thing about the OOfos OOmg Fibre Low shoes is that that they are versatile which means you can choose to wear them with or without socks.¬† I tried them both ways and overall I preferred them without socks just because I felt like it allowed the shoe to better conform to my feet.¬† But I did like throwing them on right after a run and relaxing in my socks sometimes, too!¬† They are also pretty lightweight and super flexible which makes them nice for travel purposes.

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  • Project Pink – Just to add to the amazingness of these shoes is that 3% of all sales from OOfos.com¬†go to breast cancer research through the cause called Project Pink.¬† And for every pair of shoes sold from the Project Pink collection, OOfos will donate $10 to Project Pink.¬† So not only are you gaining an awesome pair of recovery footwear, you are making a difference at the same time!

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Overall, I was really pleased with these shoes.  Any foot soreness instantly diminished as soon as I slipped these on!  I just wished they came in more colors!

Price: $139.95 – this may seem a little pricey, but I do think it is important to invest in your feet especially if you are an athlete or just on your feet a lot (i.e. nurses, teachers, etc.)

So grab a pair of OOfos OOmg Fibre Low shoes and treat your feet! ūüôā

Have you tried OOfos recovery shoes?  What did you think?

~SM

Bright Future, Brighter Shades

Disclaimer: I received two pairs of Knockaround Premium Polarized Sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Winter is finally fading away, Spring is ramping up, and Summer is right around the corner.¬† What does that mean?? It means the SUN is coming out and shining brighter than ever (for real, the sun shines bright at 5:30 am here in Japan). So it’s perfect timing to test out some new shades! I chose the Rubber Mint/Aqua Preumium Polarized¬†Knockaround¬†sunglasses to try, but I also received a bonus pair!¬† Yay for SWAG! ūüôā

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I’m all about wearing sunglasses and I feel like you can never have too many pairs!¬† Another fun fact about Japan – people here don’t wear sunglasses! That’s right, even on a bright day you’ll see most people wearing hats or holding umbrellas to block the sun.¬† If you catch anyone in shades, chances are they are a tourist, an expat,¬†or Yakuza (Japanese mafia).¬† It’s also Wisteria season here and these flowers create very whimsical scenery!

When I first saw the black frames, I kind of thought they had a masculine appearance…but I actually liked how they looked with the green lenses! I always like to have a black pair of shades in my stash because black goes with almost anything!

After “knocking around” in my black frames, I took the¬†Rubber Mint/Aqua shades for a spin! I took them around Japan and despite the light-colored lenses, these did a really great job of blocking out the sun! And¬†even though¬†the word “rubber” is¬†in the description, they are really smooth and don’t pull your hair or anything.

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Then I had to put them to the true test РHow would they do on a RUN? 

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These sunglasses are super lightweight, so I was surprised that they didn’t budge during my run – and they even held up in the wind! I also didn’t have any issues with the lenses fogging up which is something that can be super annoying.

And the best part about Knockaround sunglasses?¬† They are SUPER affordable!¬†The¬† Polarized Premiums are¬†only $20! ¬†I’ve lost expensive sunglasses in the past plus I have small children who have complete disregard for my accessories, so I don’t have to stress too much if I lose these guys (although I would still be sad).

Here are some other things I love about these Polarized Premium Knockarounds:

  • Bigger frames – I like larger lenses so it blocks out more of the sun!
  • Reflective lenses – My kids really enjoy making faces at themselves. ūüėČ
  • Polarized lenses and UV400 protection
  • Fun Colors – They come in lots of fun and bright color combos!
  • Includes pouch – This was a really nice touch – most sunglasses at this price point don’t come with any type of extras
  • Born in San Diego – The company is headquartered in San Diego and this beautiful city will always have a special place in my heart!
  • Snoop Dogg – Even¬†celebrities¬†are rockin’ the Knockarounds!

Overall, I really like these sunglasses and plan to wear them frequently!¬† The only negative I found was that the lenses weren’t the easiest to clean, but¬†I may try a different cloth and see if that works.

And just to make things sweeter, you can save 20% on your own pair with code “BIBRAVEKNOCKS”!¬† Plus free shipping on orders over $50!

And join me on #Bibchat on Twitter on 5/8/18 at 6PM PST for your chance to win a pair! ūüôā

So are you ready to “knock around” in a new pair of shades?? This guy is…

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~SM

Get Started with Athlinks in 5 Easy Steps

Disclaimer: I am promoting Athlinks as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review or find race reviews.

If you’ve ever participated in a running event, then you know the pain of searching for your results¬†after the race.¬† Sometimes the results are posted on the event’s actual website, sometimes there’s a link to the timing company’s website, or sometimes you may even have to look on the race event’s Facebook page. This¬†can sometimes be a¬†tedious and frustrating process, but that’s where Athlinks¬†comes in!¬† It’s a super handy tool that has all of your race results in one convenient location! Here’s how to get started:

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  • Create your account – You will first need to set up your Athlinks¬†account. It’s super easy and it’s FREE!¬† You can do this via desktop or even better, you can download the APP! You will just need to enter a few personal details and a profile pic and off you go!

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  • Claim your results – Here’s the fun part!¬† Enter your name in the search bar and watch all of your past race results pop up!¬† If you have a common name, you can filter by location but it’s still an easy process.¬† Simply find your races and click on the blue “Claim” button.¬† Note: The claiming process isn’t always instant.¬† Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks for the results to show up on your profile, but you will receive an email once it’s added.

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  • Follow your friends – Start following all of your running friends so you can follow their races and results.¬† You can also search for “Rivals”.¬† These are people who have run the same race as you.¬† You basically have a friendly competition with them since it will show which one of you finished the race first.¬† I think this is a cool aspect to ignite motivation between runners, although I’m not a huge fan of the word “Rivals” for some reason.

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  • Add your upcoming races – With Athlinks, you can search upcoming races in your area and add them to your profile.¬† This way, all your friends can see your race calendar and who knows…you may inspire someone to run a race with you!

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  • Check¬†out your stats!¬†– Once you’re all set up, you can look at all of your stats and see how you compare to others.¬† You’ll also have all of your PR’s in one convenient location!

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Athlinks is a great tool to streamline all of your race results and keep track of your running stats.  What do you think? Are you one of the 1 Million users of Athlinks?!

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Happy claiming!

~SM

Building Bricks in Tokyo

There seems to be plenty of options for kid-friendly entertainment throughout Japan – including museums, huge playgrounds, and themed restaurants. If you are looking for something fun to do with the kiddos while visiting Tokyo, then I suggest making a visit to the https://tokyo.legolanddiscoverycenter.jp/en/!

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Just to be clear, this is a LEGOLAND Discovery Center and not an actual outdoor¬†LEGOLAND Theme park.¬† They do have one of those a few hours south of Tokyo, but a Discovery Center is a little different.¬† It’s more like a snapshot of what a LEGOLAND theme park is all about – it’s completely indoors, much smaller, and a great way to spend the day with the family!¬† This one is inside of the Odaiba Mall so you could spend part of the day at the Discovery Center and the rest of the day exploring and shopping.

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So what should you expect from a visit to a LEGOLAND Discovery Center?

Well, when you first arrive you can a pay little extra and receive a lanyard with scavenger hunt stamp cards.  You look for stamp stations throughout the center and stamp your card at each station.  They are easy to find and the kids will enjoy stamping their little cards.

We spent the first part of our visit learning about different weights and the kids seemed to be really intrigued by this station.

After that, we moved on to the Kingdom Quest ride.  It was a laser car ride where you had to shoot your laser gun at projection screens and everyone in the car racks up points each time they hit targets.  Then we checked out the 4D show.  Even though it was in Japanese, because it was a 4D Show (i.e. you wear 3D glasses and get sprayed with water and such), my kids were still entertained.

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Next, we hit up another ride called, “Merlin’s Apprentice”.¬† You get in a car shaped liked a magician’s hat and then go around in a circle and up/down simultaneously.¬† You could probably get the same effect by spinning around in a computer chair, but my kids really liked this ride and wanted to ride it multiple times.¬† There was also a third ride at the park, but it was closed for renovations.

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After all that, we decided to stop at the caf√© for a snack and a drink.¬† There really weren’t a lot of options, just a few basic snacks, juice, water, coffee, popcorn, and vending machines. They also had some Lego Brick lunchboxes you could purchase, but my kids weren’t interested.¬† Fun fact about Japan: Fountain sodas aren’t really a thing so vending machines are typically a cheaper option for beverages.

We opted for the popcorn so could keep the bucket (SWAG) and get discounted refills.

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My favorite thing about the caf√© was the location.¬† It’s situated between the Lego Ninjago play¬†castle and the Duplo play area (which is for kids under 5).¬† There were lots of tables/chairs and it was a nice place to take a break.¬† This is a great spot for kids to run around and burn off all that energy.¬† There were a couple of employees walking around the¬†climbing area to make sure everyone is safe, but it’s required to sit inside and supervise¬†if you have littles.¬† My kids spent a TON of time at this station, so plan accordingly if you have some active children in your party.

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The employees were pretty friendly and even helped my son put his shoes back on! ūüôā

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The other cool thing about this particular area was the bathrooms!¬† Once you have kids you become more appreciative of bathroom layouts and cleanliness.¬† I love that most bathrooms in Japan have an area that’s kid-sized.¬† There are also directions on how to use the toilet. ūüėČ

And just like any LEGOLAND theme park location, there is a MiniLand! This is my favorite part of any LEGOLAND.¬† I think it’s fascinating that people have patience to build entire cities out of Legos with such detail and precision.

Afterwards we checked out the Lego Friends area, but it really wasn’t anything special.¬† Just some benches and a microphone for the kids to talk and sing.¬† I imagine they use this area for performances or shows, but there weren’t any going on that day so we didn’t spend much time there.¬† Then we moved on to the Racing & Building Station.¬† You could build a little car out of Legos and then race it on a couple of courses.¬† I think older kids¬†would really enjoy this area – my kids kept getting¬†frustrating that their cars kept crashing.¬† There was also a nice employee that helped my daughter build her car which was very much appreciated.

Then we headed over to the Creative¬†Workshop area.¬† You will need to check the schedule as there are projects all throughout the day.¬† The teacher seemed concerned that we didn’t speak Japanese, but there are plenty of instructional photos and thankfully “Lego-Building” is a universal language.¬† My daughter was able to build her pirate ship with no problem.¬† And you don’t actually get to keep your creation, but there is a spot in the classroom where you put it¬†in action.¬† In our case, the pirate ship set sail in some Lego water.

It was getting close to closing time so we made our way to the exit and discovered another fun area – Train World! This included a couple of giant tables where you could build your trains and planes and then test it out on the tracks.¬† I think my kids would have spent a lot more time here, but we ran out of time.¬† It’s also located right near the exit, so once you leave there’s no turning back since they don’t allow re-entry.

After all of the interactive fun, we showed the stamp cards to the gift shop cashier so we could collect our prizes!

And besides that sweet SWAG, you also get this amazing view of Tokyo when you leave the Discovery Center!

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Overall, my kids had an AWESOME ūüėČ time and we plan to take them back in the future.¬†*Also when we¬†went earlier this year the Dino Explorer Exhibit¬†wasn’t opened yet, so we definitely plan to go back for that! ¬†Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Book your tickets online. Price tickets range between 1950-3200 yen, but purchase your tickets at least 24 hours before your visit to save some dough.¬† They also have a Parent/Toddler, Toddler Time, and Combo option.¬† The Combo option saves you money on admission to both the LEGOLAND Discovery Center and the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum which is also located on the same floor of the Odaiba Mall.¬† We had already visited Madame Tussauds in Hollywood so we decided to skip this experience.¬† And Bonus!¬† If you don’t have kids but still want to check out all the fun, they offer an¬†Adult Night¬†a couple evenings a month.
  • Drive or Train?¬† This is really up to you.¬† Most people prefer taking the train and the Discovery Center is close to a train station.¬† We opted to drive and parked in the Odaiba Mall parking garage.¬† We also had our parking ticket validated at LEGOLAND which saved a lot of money.¬† However, I’m not sure if you could have your parking ticket validated if you purchase your park tickets online.
  • Pay attention to the hours.¬† The park stays open until 8:00 PM during the week, but the rides and shows will close down earlier.¬† There is also a spot where you can purchase your photos.¬† This will also close early and cannot be re-opened.¬†¬†And they¬†will not email your photos to you either (we learned this the hard way).
  • Try to go during the week.¬† We visited the park on a weekday afternoon in January and there really weren’t much people there.¬† No lines, no crowds – it was like having the place to ourselves!¬† I would imagine they would be much busier during the weekends or summer break so keep that in mind when planning your trip!
  • Not a lot of food options.¬† Like I mentioned earlier, there wasn’t a large food selection in the caf√©.¬† The good news is that the Odaiba Mall is pretty large and has multiple restaurants and a food court!
  • English.¬† Most of the employees we interacted with spoke enough English to have a conversation so don’t be afraid to ask questions!¬† Again, everyone who works there is really nice, energetic, and eager to help!
  • Have fun!¬† Most importantly, have fun!¬† There are lots of opportunities for kids to express their creativity and engage in STEM activities – you should join them and build your own creation! Because at LEGOLAND everything is…AWESOME! ūüôā

And if you’re at the Tokyo location, head outside to enjoy the view!

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Have you visited a LEGOLAND Discovery Center?  What did you think?

~SM

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