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Posts tagged ‘theme park’

13 Surprising Things About Sanrio Puroland (Hello Kitty Land)

In case you didn’t know there is a magical place tucked in the little town of Tama – located within Tokyo, Japan.  It’s where a special lady lives with all of her best friends!  Her name?  Hello Kitty!  And yes she is a lady and not a cat.  Make sure you tell your friends that,  I get the feeling she doesn’t like being referred to as a cat.  😉  She lives in a castle called “Sanrio Puroland” although many people refer to it as “Hello Kitty Land”.

You might be familiar with Sanrio, they have locations all over the world and you can’t miss them – they are small, but colorful and bright stores. They sell lots of stationary, school supplies, and accessories as well as stuffed animals and apparel. We took our kids here during Thanksgiving week to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and I was pretty excited to go as well since I loved going to the Sanrio store when I was a kid.  So here are a few things I learned about our adventure!

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  • Take the train.  It’s a fairly easy train ride and the park is only a 5 minute walk from the Tama train station.  You even get to walk down Hello Kitty Street. 🙂

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  • Buy your tickets beforehand.  I got our tickets on GoVoyagin – it’s like the Groupon of Japan.  We ended up paying $19.50 for each adult and my daughter. Kids under 3 were free. You don’t even have to print anything, you can just show the barcodes right on your phone. If you plan to go frequently or want to purchase a Puropass (like a FastPass), then you may want to get your tickets from the park’s website.  Keep in mind, the price increases for weekend and holiday visits.

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  • It’s indoors.   One thing that might really surprise you is that the entire theme park is indoors!  I think this is pretty awesome since the weather conditions aren’t always great here in Japan.  You don’t have to worry about your kids being too hot or too cold and you can leave the ponchos at home. 🙂

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  • It’s kind of small.  Since the entire park is inside, you can imagine that this place isn’t all that big.  It’s four stories high but doesn’t really have a huge circumference and there’s an escalator and elevator.  But the steps are kind of built into the enchantment of the place so my kids loved going up and down the stairs.  They do have a large stroller parking area and locker rentals so you don’t have to lug around your bags and coats.
  • The details are amazing!  No Hello Kitty detail was left behind here.  You will see prints of Hello Kitty and her friends all over this place – down to the wallpaper and the vending machines!
  • Even the food is themed!  There are a few cafes/restaurants located throughout the park.  They serve all types of Japanese cuisine as well as French fries, pastries, and ice cream.  But you will see that Hello Kitty has made her mark on the food (and snacks), too!
  • There are rides.  Even though everything is indoors, there are a couple of rides within the park.  One is a boat ride that takes you through a land of mechanical characters and the other is a little car ride where you take photos in different themed rooms.  We had to wait about 25 minutes for each of these, but the PuroPass will get you in faster in case you’re in a time crunch.
  • There’s an arcade.  If you need a break from the rides or want to play some games, there’s a spot for that.  The park has an arcade area with a small carousel and little 100 yen arcade style rides.

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  • There are plenty of opportunities for character meet-and-greets.  If your little ones aren’t afraid of giant and crazy costumes, then they will love the characters at Hello Kitty Land!

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  • Catch the parade.  There are a few shows that happen throughout the day.  You’ll want to pick up a show guide at the front, but make sure to watch the parade!  They will start roping off areas (just like they do at Disney) long before the start of the parade, so make sure you grab your seat early.  They also sell light up wands for 1500 yen and your kids WILL want one so they can interact with the performance.  Since we were there the day after Thanksgiving, the show was Christmas themed and it was a mix of Japanese and English songs.
  • She’s worth the wait.  You will have the opportunity to meet Hello Kitty herself!  She has her own wing of the castle and it’s extra magical!  We waited about 30 minutes, but I did see the wait times increase at times.  You can also skip the line with the PuroPass.  Once it’s your turn, you are ushered into her special house.  There are lots of photo props and interactive areas – and it’s beautiful!  Then you wait in another short line to actually meet her.  You have the option to purchase a rose for 500 yen to give her during your meeting.  In exchange she will give you a gift as well.  We didn’t purchase this option so I’m not sure exactly what the gift was although it appeared to be a small notebook of some sort.  Also, this was the only spot where personal photography was not allowed.  We bought our Hello Kitty photo with the frame for 1600 yen.
  • There’s SWAG!  If you are celebrating a special occasion, head to the Information Desk when you first enter the park.  They will give you a card that you wear around your neck with your name and celebration date.  Then when you walk around, everyone will give you a sticker for your card and in our case, wish my daughter a Happy Birthday.  It really made her day extra special!  They even gave one to my son so he wouldn’t feel left out.  Instead of ‘Happy Birthday’, his occasion was ‘First Visit’.

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  • Everyone is super friendly!  Okay, maybe this isn’t surprising since it is Japan and all.  But everyone was very friendly – not just the employees, but the people in the park too.  It’s a pretty crowded and busy place, but anytime my son had a meltdown or fell (he falls a lot) – someone would stop and check on him.  Also, everyone that worked there spoke enough English to communicate basic instructions which made things a lot easier.

Overall, we really enjoyed our day at Hello Kitty Land!  If you plan to go, check the park schedule because it does close fairly early so you’ll want to give yourself enough time to explore everything.  And if you don’t have kids, don’t let that stop you from visiting this little gem.  We saw a lot of couples there without children and they looked even more excited than the kids we encountered.  🙂

Have you been to Sanrio Puroland?  What did you think?  Would you go if you had the chance?

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I’m off to review the next event!

~SM

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8 Awesome Things About the LEGOLAND Hotel!

It’s summertime!  Which means it’s time for some family vacations and staycations.  Last summer we stayed at the LEGOLAND hotel in California and it was the most unique hotel I’ve ever experienced!  Combined with the awesomeness of LEGOLAND itself, this is one summer vacation you’ll never forget!  Here are some AWESOME things you should expect during your LEGOLAND hotel adventure!

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Legos!  – Well there’s the obvious…not only does LEGOLAND have lots of Lego building opportunities, so does the hotel!  There’s a pool of Legos when you first walk in the door and lots of Lego displays all throughout the hotel.  There’s even more Lego opportunities in the playhouse that’s also in the lobby!  And stick around because there will be fun performances and even a Lego building contest.  And parents, all of this is conveniently located within a few feet of the hotel bar – which also offers a happy hour. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Dancing! – Next, you’ll find that the LEGOLAND hotel really appreciates dancing!  They offer nightly dancing events just for kiddos (or kids at heart).  It will feel just like a nightclub with a real DJ, strobe lights, and family friendly dancing music!  Your kids can let loose on the dance floor while you sit back with a nice beverage, or of course you could show off your moves, too. 😉   Then hop in the elevator up to your room for another fun disco-dancing experience!

Themed Rooms! – After all that dancing, you’ll want to check out your room.  After all, this is basically the biggest perk of reserving a room here.  When booking your stay, you can choose from a Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure, Ninjago, or Lego Friends themed room.  We chose the Pirate themed room and it did not disappoint!  It included a separate area for the kids with a bunk-bed, TV, and lots of space to play.  And there’s also a queen-sized bed for adults with another TV!  No detail was missed!

Even the fitness center is Lego themed!

Early Entry and Special Parking! – When you check- in you are given a nifty little wristband which grants you entry into the park an hour early.

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You also have access to a special parking lot which is super close to the park entrance and, or course the hotel.  Gaining entry to the park early allows you to beat some of the crowds and get going on the fun!  Here are a few things you can experience while you are at the park…

Duplo Playtown is a great spot for tiny tots and there are lots of rides for younger kids all throughout the park.  Make sure to stop by Miniland to check out the awesome city displays including replicas of the World’s Tallest buildings.  The replica of Manhattan’s One World Trade Center is absolutely amazing so make some time in your trip for a little visit! 😉

You’ll probably get hungry during the day, so there are lots of healthy restaurants throughout the park as well as specials for kids.  I highly recommend picking up a souvenir cup and refilling it during your stay – it will save money in the long run.  You also gotta try the apple fries!  Apples, cinnamon, and whipped cream make for a delicious treat!

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Once you’ve fueled up you can sit and relax during a 4D movie, LEGO friends show, or pose with a LEGO character!

After the shows you could hang out and ride some more rides, or you could head back to your hotel room.  Which brings me to my next point…

The Pool! – The LEGOLAND hotel has an awesome pool so you’ll want to make some time to relax and enjoy it a bit.  They also provide life vests for the kids and towels for all.  Lifeguards are on duty and they do a good job of keeping everyone safe.  On some evenings, they play a movie that you can enjoy while hanging in the shallow end or lying in a chair.  We went in August and the pool was FREEZING in the evening!  The kids didn’t seem to mind, but I didn’t last very long!  We also had a nice view of the pool from our hotel room!

You’ll most likely be wiped out from the day and you’ll probably hit up your pirate bed pretty early.  But you’ll want to wake up early to get started on the next day’s adventures!

Breakfast! – One of my fave things about this hotel is the breakfast!  Hotel guests can enjoy a free breakfast buffet and it doesn’t disappoint! A hostess will ask your name to make sure you are a legit guest and then seat you at a table.  You are free to indulge on all of the breakfast goodies while a server ensures you have all the utensils and drinks that you need.  Again, the breakfast is free but you’ll want to leave a tip for your server/busser.

The Aquarium! –  So technically, this isn’t associated with the hotel but I thought it was something I should mention.  Last time we visited LEGOLAND we hit up the water park, but because we spent time at the pool we decided to check out the aquarium.  It’s not very big, but it was kind of nice that it wasn’t super overwhelming and it was the perfect size for my littles.  And they had Legos all throughout the aquarium!

There’s also some extra fun for the kiddos!  They can pick up a Log Book and pencil and document their discoveries at different stations throughout the aquarium.

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After you spend some time under the sea, you can head back to the park to enjoy some more fun or back to your hotel for dancing and swimming.

And don’t forget to bring your minifigures along for the vacation!  You can trade them at various spots all throughout the park.  You can even build your own!

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And we can’t forget about the…

SWAG!! 🙂

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The hotel toiletries are Coconut-Lime Verbena scented and they smell delicious!  The room is also full of snacks, drinks, hot chocolate, and coffee. Score!  And the hotel will give you a badge to celebrate your special occasion.  You can also collect Pop Badges for completing different challenges.  These are different than the occasion badges and you can learn more about those here.

There’s also secret swag hidden in your hotel room.  At check-in you are given a scavenger hunt sheet and your room contains a safe that requires a special code.  Complete your scavenger hunt to find the code and unlock your safe!  I won’t ruin the surprise for some of you…but if you are curious as to what’s inside the box, shoot me an email and I’ll send you a pic. 😉  Plus you may get a coupon for a free picture book from Shutterfly!  I took advantage and received my free book!  So it’s legit you just pay a few dollars for shipping!

Pricing: Since it was the summer, we paid around $250 for a one-night stay.  The rates are little bit lower during the off-months.  They also offer a military discount, but we found that booking online was cheaper.  Keep in mind, this is not a normal hotel stay so the pricing isn’t all that crazy.  The hotel itself is a unique experience and you will spend a lot of your time enjoying the amenities.  The price also included an internet and parking fee.  Be sure to check the website for vacation package deals and learn how to save if you bundle with admission tickets.

So bring the fam, sunscreen, and plenty of water and come enjoy the place where EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

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I’m off to review the next adventure! 🙂

~SM

Have you stayed at the LEGOLAND hotel?  What did you think?!

Legoland California

“Everything is awesome…everything is cool when you’re part of the team!”  If you love hearing this song on repeat, then you will LOVE Legoland! 😉  So I had the pleasure of visiting Legoland California (there is another one in Florida for those who don’t know) and I wanted to share a few of my experiences in this “awesome” themepark! 😉 See what I did there?

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Tickets: We purchased our tickets at the ticket office on the military base, which gave us about a $30 discount per ticket.  I also had a coupon for a buy one adult ticket, get one child ticket free…so we purchased that ticket at full price – which was about $117.  This was a hopper ticket where you can choose between the water park and the aquarium.  We chose the water park since it was a hot day and my tiny humans love splashing in the water.  The tickets we purchased on base also included a free second day to be used before the end of the year.

Parking: Parking is $15 for regular parking and $25 for preferred (upfront) parking.  The preferred parking was sold out this day so we parked in the general parking.  It wasn’t a long walk so it wasn’t too bad, although I was surprised there wasn’t a golf cart or shuttle service for those who may have a harder time walking long distances.

Season/Hours: We went on a Thursday and got there around 1pm.  P.S. it’s July…in California soooo I was melting by the time we got to the gate.  The park hours are 10am-8pm so keep that in mind when planning your trip.  They stay open until 9pm on weekends, but it’s still an early closure time compared to other theme parks.  Even though it’s prime tourist season, the parking and park itself wasn’t too crowded.  We got in pretty quick and moved easily around the park.  Also, unlike many theme parks, they don’t do fireworks here unless it’s during Fourth of July.

First Impressions: Everyone was very friendly and cheery and eager to help.  I would almost venture to say they were friendlier than the Disney staff (maybe everything really IS awesome in Legoland).  We headed to the information booth to get maps and our “First Time Visit” pins so we could plan out our day.  The attendants were super helpful and explained which rides the kids could ride as well as how to decipher the map.  You can also download the app to help navigate the park and view the wait times at each attraction.

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Food: We got some food at the Pizza buffet and again, the staff was super friendly with helping us find the right spot.  We also discovered that several of the restaurants offered free meals for kids (with the purchase of an adult meal) after 5pm.  We were a little early to take advantage of this deal, but I was surprised that many of the eateries offered so many healthy options and salad bars.  It was great to have choices other than fried foods and greasy pizza.  I ended up purchasing one of the collector cups for $9.95.  Sometimes I think these are a scam, but since it was an excruciating hot day I knew we would be drinking lots of fluids.  The cup included $1 refills at any restaurant, but next time I will know to bring lots of water and drinks for the kids.  And if you download the app, you may receive 10% off your refillable collector cup purchase.

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Water Park: The water park is much smaller than typical water theme parks, but it’s great for smaller kids.  There are also a couple of splash pads placed throughout the main park which is a great way for everyone to cool off when it’s super hot.  The tiny kids loved the water park and the bigger kids (my husband and bro-in-law) liked the water “thrill” ride.  They also have a lazy river type ride but the line was too long so we didn’t check it out.  They have plenty of beach chairs and benches for you to rest as well as lockers/showers, concessions and towels for purchase.  They also offers cabanas for $250 a day.  They include a private area with chairs and a mini fridge.  This is a great option if you plan to spend the whole day at the water park with family or if you wanted to split the cost with friends.

Legos, Legos, Legos: So the park is literally made of Legos.  Like everything!  I really enjoyed seeing all of the Lego sculptures.  There is a work of art everywhere you look!  My favorite exhibit was Miniland – tiny cities made up of…you guessed it – Legos!  Take special note of the One World Trade Center Lego building in the New York City sculpture – it’s the tallest Lego tower in the country (26 feet)!

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And this is where the magic happens!

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I can’t even imagine the time and effort it takes to strategically place each one of these Lego pieces!

Rides/Shows/Play areas: There were several rides for smaller kids and a couple of thrill type rides.  I will say most rides are geared for ages 12 and under so don’t expect any crazy adrenaline-pumping rides when planning your visit.  There is also a 4d Lego show, but we didn’t get a chance to attend this day.  They have a few outdoor play areas for smaller kids as well as indoor play spaces filled with Legos.  You can literally bathe in Legos if that’s your jam.  I took the opportunity to make my own creation….a Lego apple martini!

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Ninjago:  This is the new area for 2016 so it’s pretty hyped up (it’s mentioned in every Legoland commercial here).  It’s actually a fairly small area, but there is a rock climbing wall, some sculptures and the Ninjago ride.  The ride is an indoor virtual reality experience where you are given 3d glasses and then you use your hands to fight ninjas that pop up on the screen throughout ride.  You score points for each ninja you take down and the goal is to get the highest score in your four-person car.  This really was an arm workout more than anything, but I’m sure that a ninja aficionado or a six-year-old would find this to be a more exciting experience.

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Souvenir Shops/Extras: I will say that there are lots of things to see at this theme park!  So much that we didn’t have a chance to see everything!  There are plenty of souvenir shops so that you can remember your day at the park and you will see Lego characters periodically walking around although we didn’t have time to get photos with them.  There is also a face painting station and lots of gaming areas.  We stopped by the ticket table on the way out where we received a free extra day!  It can only be used between September-November, but it’s still a nice incentive!

Hotel: I will also note that there is a hotel on site – within feet from the entrance of the park.  This is something that we may invest in on the next visit so that we can get the full experience.

SWAG:  There wasn’t really any obvious swag besides the 1st Visit pin…but we did get an extra free day as well as the souvenir cup.  My brother-in-law also played one of the basketball games.  It was $20 for 9 balls and he’s a pretty amazeballs basketball player.  He ended up making two goals so he received two stuffed animals…and like a good uncle, he generously gave them to each of my kiddos.  I was surprised at the awesome quality of these toys!  They were huge, full-sized stuffed animals made of a soft, plush material – not like the cheap, carnival stuffed animals you typically win at a county fair.  This was a nice surprise and again, the young man running the game was super friendly!

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And we received a coupon from Shutterfly for a free photo book! Can’t wait to cash this in!


Overall, it was a great day!  I can’t wait to go back and see all of the exhibits and rides that we missed on the first day.   Stay tuned for part two the Legoland California experience!  I’d also love to hear about your Legoland adventures!  Please comment below!

“…Everything is awesome when you’re living out a dream!”

~SM

 

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