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Global Winter Wonderland Review – Holiday Show in San Diego

Have you heard of the Global Winter Wonderland? This limited-time holiday event is new to San Diego this year. The slick website shows all the activities that occur during a night at Global Winter Wonderland – Incredible, colorful and enormous lanterns representing landmarks from around the world. Performances by the talented Circus of Light. A full carnival with rides for a variety of ages. International cuisine. And don’t forget about visiting with Santa in his village! Just looking at the photographs of the event that has taken place in other cities is enough to give me goosebumps! Did the event live up to the hype? Find out in my honest review.

My family and I were hosted for a special media night event. No other compensation has been offered and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Lanterns Celebrating Holidays Around the World

Almost 100 artisans are in San Diego to design and sew by hand the lantern displays. This event features the largest display of traditional Chinese lanterns outside of China. And they are really quite beautiful. Many of the large lanterns have walkways to allow guests passage right through.

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

I have no idea when they started constructing the lanterns for this event but the process seems painstakingly slow. Everything from the handcrafted frames, application of the silk to the hand-painting is a long process. On the night of our visit (2 nights before the grand opening), they weren’t finished. About 60% of the displays were lit for media to see. Some lanterns were completed like the luminescent Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

The Eiffel Tower structure was built but didn’t have the fabric yet. And some of the displays were still laying on the ground, awaiting assembly. During the two hours of the event, workers stayed busy (even roto-hammering into the concrete just feet from us). I’m sure that with the opening on Nov 19th they were frantic to complete but it was still odd to have them seemingly so far from completion.

Circus of Light

Showing several times during each night, this group of talented performers includes acrobats, contortionists and fire dancers from Africa, China and Europe. The show is touted as hosting Cirque du Soleil-level performances. We were treated to a brief show on a smaller stage (the large scale stage that will host the show wasn’t completed yet). The acrobats were fun and enthusiastic and we enjoyed the part of the show that we saw. I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say Cirque du Soleil-level (at least on what we witnessed) but it was enjoyable.

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

International Foods

On the night of our visit we were able to sample a few of the foods that will be available during the event, including teriyaki chicken skewers, corn with all the fixings and cheeseburger sliders. There were also food trucks offering more well-rounded platters with veggies and sides. I wouldn’t necessarily call the foods “international cuisine”, but more like the usual fair food offerings. You’ll find the standards too (cotton candy, kettle corn, hot dogs). I’d suggest eating dinner ahead of time and then possibly indulge with dessert or a snack during the event.

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

Rides & Games

For most kids, the brightly lit carnival rides are the highlight of this event. These are the typical attractions you’d find at any fair or carnival (The Zipper, Ferris wheel, Super Slide, carousel). There are 35 carnival rides, ranging from 3-5 tickets. At $1.25 per ticket, this is guaranteed to be a spendy part of the visit. With thrill rides costing $6.25 per person to ride, this is certainly something to budget for when planning your evening.

Visiting Global Winter Wonderland

SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm)

Open select nights from November 19th, 2017 to January 7th, 2018

  • Admission $22
  • Children & Seniors $19
  • There is also a season pass available for Adults at $49 and children/seniors at $44
  • Carnival Ride tickets $1.25 (each ride takes 3-5 tickets)  The website mentions an unlimited ride wristband but there is no place to purchase on the site so I’m not sure of the cost.
  • Parking fee is $10 per car, cash only
  • Discount tickets can be purchase ahead of time at Walgreens & through Groupon
  • You may bring in a stroller (there are no stroller rentals)
  • No outside food

Global Winter Wonderland Review on this new Holiday Show in San Diego

Global Winter Wonderland Review

This event is guaranteed to draw lots of crowds. The event is bright and colorful and looks fantastic in photographs and on the website. For my family, we found the event to be a bit of a let-down. Perhaps it’s because we attended the media event and many of the attractions were not yet completed. The construction around us was definitely a distraction (my electrician husband was particularly upset at seeing open and unattended electrical panels where there were children walking around). I’m hoping that all those issues get squared away before the event opens to the general public.

Go in knowing that while the lanterns are unique and creative, the cost of admission alone for viewing the lanterns and the Circus of Light show is quite high. Everything else from food to rides will cost you a considerable amount on top of the admission.

Sounds Like Fun at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad

The Museum of Making Music is exactly what it sounds like! It’s a place to learn about instruments. To listen to music. It’s a place to learn about the history of music. And while learning about and hearing music is great, playing it yourself is even better! Fortunately everyone has a chance to get their hands on musical instruments inside the Museum of Making Music, as well.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Museum Galleries

Guests at the Museum of Making Music are encouraged to move at their own pace through the galleries. There are interactive buttons where you can hear music played. A good amount of history and background is included in each exhibit area. And of course lots of instruments to look at.

I enjoyed the music store gallery. There were so many instruments I’d never seen before inside the Museum of Making Music, including a harmonica that had scrolls similar to a player piano.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Actress Joan Crawford promoted the “player harmonica” (which was a flop!)

Hands On Learning

My five year old was so excited to play the tester instruments that are located throughout the museum. He had the opportunity to play a mandolin, electric guitar, gong, slide guitar and a harp guitar. I’d never heard or even seen a harp guitar in my life, but there is an entire special exhibition at the Museum called, “Floating Strings”, dedicated to the harp guitar.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

A beautiful collection of harp guitars (you can play one too!)

Leave plenty of time at the end of your visit. There is a large area with dozens of available instruments for free play. You can see a few of the instruments my son was able to play on this video. My son REALLY wants his own drum set now!

Visiting the Museum of Making Music

The Museum of Making Music

5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA

Admission $10

Students $7

Under three are free

  • Located just a block away from the theme park LEGOLAND California, in Carlsbad (about 35 miles north of downtown San Diego).
  • Be aware the mid-day visits may include children from school field trips. Our tour guide recommended visiting the Museum in late August or September, when many schools do not visit.
  • There are concerts held at the Museum, check the event tab on their website.
  • The museum opens each day from 10 am to 5 pm (except Monday, when it’s closed).
  • Plan to spend at least one hour exploring this unique museum.
  • There is a gift shop to purchase your own music makers.
  • Strollers are allowed (thank goodness, because my baby napped through the entire visit!)
  • I’d recommend the Museum of Making Music for school-aged children and up.

Hands-on family learning at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, San Diego

Family Fun at SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular is making a splash this fall season. This fun daytime family event is included with park admission, and takes place every Saturday and Sunday from September 23 through October 29, 2017.

My family and I enjoyed SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular several times in the past but this was our first visit in several years. We packed up the kids and a few costumes and headed for SeaWorld San Diego this past weekend.

My family and I received complimentary admission to SeaWorld San Diego to enjoy the Halloween Spooktacular event. All thoughts and opinions are my own! Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Costumes Encouraged, But Not Necessary

We brought Halloween costumes for our two littles, just to help them get in the spirit of the event. You can totally collect treats without the costume but it is fun to wear one if you have it. We brought extra clothes for the kids to change into when they didn’t want to wear their costumes anymore.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Collecting treats at SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular

We even saw mermaid costumes at one of the shops, in case you wanted to purchase a costume while you’re in the Park!

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Costumes for sale inside SeaWorld

Treat-or-Treat Stations

Located all over the Park are designated trick-or-treat stations. Each station offers something different from SunRype fruit snacks, Sugar Babies, lollipops and gummies. Grown ups can participate too! We were encouraged to hop in line with the kids to receive treats. It was nice to be able to just jump into a trick-or-treat line while roaming the Park at our own pace. Perhaps it’s because this was the first weekend of the Halloween event, but the treat lines were never busy.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

One of the many treat stations located around SeaWorld San Diego

Dia de los Muertos

A special themed area (near the entrance to the Manta ride) celebrates Día de los Muertos. Colorful flags fly overhead and there are detailed displays to teach guests about this traditional Mexican holiday.

Bring Your Own Treat Bag

In a conservation effort, SeaWorld requests that trick-or-treaters bring in their own candy collection bag. Reusable bags are available in the gift shop for around a dollar, with 5% of each bag purchase going directly to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. We brought one trick-or-treat  collection bucket that the kindergartener carried and we all tossed our treats inside.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

One of the Halloween-themed activity stations

Dance Party Fun and More

With the addition of the newest area Ocean Explorer, the location of the dance party has moved since the last time we were there. Located just in front of the entrance to the Sky Tower, the Halloween Spooktacular dance party area is set with a stage, free play activities and carnival style games. The DJ was spinning family-friendly tunes and costumed characters like Tabitha Taffy and Timothy Toffee encouraged families to join the party.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

My little zebra was intrigued by the candy-encrusted shoes on one of the dancers but refused to bust a move on her own. The kindergartner loved that there were bubbles! My older kids also enjoyed running their hands through the bins of moon sand at various activity stations. I was thankful that the music wasn’t too loud and that there were places for parents to sit while the kids danced. However it’s quite hot under the sun and shade is very limited here.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Soaking in the SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular Dance party

Party at SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular for FREE?!

Did you know that kids admission is FREE to SeaWorld San Diego in the month of October? For every adult ticket purchased, you’ll be able to bring in a child for free. Purchase your adult SeaWorld San Diego tickets ahead of time at my affiliate Get Away Today and you’ll be able to receive the free child’s ticket.

Halloween Shows and Attractions

The comical California sea lion duo team up again for Clyde and Seamore’s Big Halloween Bash. The younger kids will love Who Said Boo?! that features Sesame Street characters in a live Halloween-themed show. Manta has been made-over for Halloween into Manta Madness with spooky special effects. My kindergartner was just a half-inch shy of the 48″ height requirement and was so disappointed not to be able to ride!

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Enjoy the Rest of the Park!

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular takes place during the day time hours at SeaWorld. Everything in the Park remains open for enjoyment including the various aquariums, rides, and shows.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Tentacle Twirl at SeaWorld San Diego

What sounds like the most fun at SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular?

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

Free Things for Families in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Free Things for Families in San Diego's Balboa Park

Free things for families to do together is always great, right? And in a location with a 100+ year history that’s full of outdoor hiking trails, culture, playgrounds, museums, art, music and dancing? It’s the perfect place for learning and exploring…or even just a simple picnic and a nap on the grass!

Check out my top 21 things to do in San Diego’s Balboa Park that are completely free. Please stop over at TravelingMom to find out more!

I’m an Official LEGOLAND Blogger!

My family and I have been visiting the LEGOLAND California Resort since shortly after it opened in 1999. I’ve written about it here on my own blog as well as on the Traveling Mom website. We were annual pass holders for several years. My kids love to visit, whether it’s for the rides, attractions, water park, shows or simply to wander through Miniland and recreate the scenes at one of the many building stations.

Legoland Blogger

I’m proud to say that I’ve just been given the title of Official LEGOLAND Blogger! So, what does that mean? As a LEGOLAND Insider, that means I’ll be able to share with you some of the cool new rides and attractions that will be coming to the LEGOLAND California Resort, including the highly anticipated Ninjago The Ride. The ride vehicles were just delivered to the Park last week and are getting ready for the grand opening this spring.

Lego-ninjago1

According to the LEGOLAND Calfornia Resort, “NINJAGO World features LEGO® building stations, a game to test reflexes, spinners to test balance, Asian cuisine and a new shopping venue.” Sounds like another winning addition to this already action-packed resort!

I’m looking forward to this new opportunity and to bring you more news of this fun resort in the San Diego area.

Have you ever visited the LEGOLAND California Resort? What’s your favorite part?


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SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration

My family and I were recently able to visit SeaWorld San Diego during its annual Christmas Celebration. The park is beautifully decorated all over for the holidays with lights, trees and a fun Christmas party atmosphere. Read more about it on my post at Traveling Mom.

SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration

 

Kids FREE in San Diego for October!

Head West for the autumn and take advantage of all that’s available for kids, free in San Diego for October! Take advantage of 100+ free activities and deals for kids in the month of October throughout San Diego county! October is a great time to visit San Diego. The summer crowds have thinned, the weather is still quite warm and of course, all the fun, free things for kids that are being offered in the San Diego area for the entire month.

Find out What's New at LEGOLAND California, including the innovative NINJAGO World

Legoland CA (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Legoland California)

Kids Free in San Diego

From free restaurant dining, free museum visits, free amusement park tickets, free whale watching to free transportation, there’s enough here for a month of fun!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!


BUY ADULT TICKET AND THE KIDS TICKETS ARE FREE!

Book your San Diego vacation directly through my affiliate Get Away Today and save even more!! You can even purchase your adult tickets on the site and the kid’s tickets are free.


What’s FREE for Kids in San Diego?

We are talking big deal savings here (click the links to read one of my personal posts with tips about each attraction)

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

SeaWorld San Diego (including their Halloween Spooktacular event

LEGOland California

Birch Aquarium

New Children’s Museum

Cabrillo National Monument (see this post about Point Loma that also includes a review of restaurant Officine Buona Forcetta, offering kids free ice cream in October)

Balboa Park attractions and Museums, including the Japanese Friendship Garden, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and Model Railroad Museum.

Downtown San Diego itinerary attractions, including the U.S.S. Midway.

Seaport Village restaurant kid meal at Buster’s Beachhouse

Fishing at H&M Landing

Free Play & Rides at Belmont Park

Old Town attractions, including free Old Town Trolley Tours and kid’s meal at Casa Guadalajara.

100+ free kids attractions, theme parks and dining in San Diego for the month of October.


How to Get Your Tickets

You can purchase adult tickets for the following attractions at Get Away Today and one child’s ticket per paying adult will be included for free!

LEGOLAND California

SeaWorld San Diego

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Safari Park

U.S.S. Midway

Old Town Trolley Tours

Kids free in San Diego?! 100+ free kids attractions, theme parks and dining in San Diego for the month of October.

 

Magical Blogorail Best Aquariums – Sea World San Diego

Hands on fun & learning in the touch pools at Sea World San Diego

Welcome to the next stop on Magical Blogorail Peach. Today we are discussing aquariums that your family needs to visit.

For my kids, the best part about visiting aquariums is getting hands-on with the creatures. The touch pools at Sea World San Diego are a place for interaction and learning.

Hands on fun & learning in the touch pools at Sea World San Diego

Explorer’s Reef – This is a new exhibit, right up at the front entrance. Explorer’s Reef features four touch-pools including bamboo sharks, horseshoe crabs and cleaner fish that tickle your fingers.

Hands on fun & learning in the touch pools at Sea World San Diego

This area has plenty of shade and my kids spent lots of time here touching the fish (we had to encourage them to wash up so we could move further into the park!)

Hands on fun & learning in the touch pools at Sea World San Diego

Hands on fun & learning in the touch pools at Sea World San Diego

California Tide Pool – Hold a sea star or a spiky sea urchin under the water. Kids are fascinated to feel the sea star curve its arms to fit in the palm of their hand. This has been a favorite area for us at Sea World San Diego for many years. Handlers will remind guests not to lift the creatures out of the water but you can hold them just under the surface.

Hands on fun & learning in the touch pools at Sea World San Diego

Bat Rays – “Pet” the bat rays as they slide across the water but watch out for errant fins, you could really get soaked! All of these rays have had their stingers removed so they are completely safe to touch.

Hands on fun & learning in the touch pools at Sea World San Diego

One thing you’ll notice about all my Sea World San Diego touch pool images is that my son always has his hands in the water. He’s definitely my adventure seeker! I’m not fond of putting my hand in the cold water or touching the fish myself but I can still learn without touching.

  • Ask the handlers any question and they are always more than generous with their responses.
  • There is also always a good amount of info posted around the park about each creature that lives there.
  • Brush up online before your visit so you’ll know what to expect about each creature.

 

Here is the map of our Blogorail Peach | Family Adventure : Aquariums


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SoCal Guide – Stack Up the Fun at LEGOland California!

Stack Up the Fun at Legoland California! -What to ride, see & eat at LEGOland Ca.

LEGOland is a wonderful park for a wide variety of ages. There are play areas for toddlers, rides that will please older kids and LEGO displays that will put any adult in awe. Here’s what you can expect of a day at LEGOland, California.

It had been at least 5 years since I last visited LEGOland California. My two older boys and I were annual passholders for several years and LEGOland was one of our favorite weekend spots. We loved the LEGOland Brick or Treat Halloween Party, sharing a tub of Granny’s Apple Fries or simply building creations inside the Imagination Zone. On each visit we enjoyed a stroll through Miniland USA, the heartbeat of the Park.

With a drive of 30 minutes from our house, my kids and I were happy to escape our Saturday chores last weekend and visit LEGOland California for the day!

What to do at Legoland California

Since it had been so long since my last visit, I was looking forward to seeing the changes that Park had made over the last few years. You can’t miss the largest addition, the LEGOland Hotel located at the front entrance of the Park. My kids stayed their last summer with their grandmother and said it was so much fun. LEGOland is known for their unique, tongue-in-cheek humor so it was no surprise to me that the hotel features a disco ball in the elevator and a treasure hunt inside the rooms!

What to do at Legoland California

I noticed right off the bat that there were more large LEGO figures. A lifesize Darth Vader greeted guests. There were more animals on the Safari Trek and more figures on the Fairy Tale Brook. The addition of LEGO Star Wars to Miniland was a highlight.

What to do at Legoland California

What to do at Legoland California

My stepdaughter has Autism so I inquired with Guest Services at the start of our visit. She supplied me with a simple “Assisted Access Pass”. This business card had the date, number of people in our party and my daughter’s name. Instructions on the card let us know that we were permitted to enter rides through the exit and wait there so we didn’t have to stand in a crowded queue. This definitely helped alleviate any stress (helpful for me since I was the only adult on this adventure!)

What to do at Legoland California

This day marked the first time that my preschooler had been to LEGOland. I familiarized him with a few of the rides on the LEGOland website beforehand so he was excited to try them out! He has just reached 40″ tall (yes, at only 3 years and 2 months old!) so he was tall enough to ride several of the coasters. He braved the Coastersaurus first thing and after a few “Oh, my tummy!” moments on the ride, he was craving more!

What to do at Legoland California

Duplo Village was a hit, as I expected it to be! There are quaint little houses set up like a town including a firestation with a pole and tons of stairs and slides. A tiny train, the LEGOland Express, rides around here as well. Plan for plenty of time in this area if you have a preschooler, they absolutely love this place!

What to do at Legoland California

What to do at Legoland California

Fun Town really is…fun! Skipper School and Driving School with their trackless vehicles are can’t miss attractions. There is even a Junior Driving School for little ones aged 3-5. My preschooler got about a quarter of the way around the track before crashing, it was adorable to watch the little ones in their cars! The Adventure’s Club walk-through is a favorite for my older ones though my preschooler was too nervous of the dark areas.

What to do at Legoland California

What to do at Legoland California

The new LEGO Star Wars area in Miniland USA did not disappoint. There are some amazingly detailed scenes from the movies featured here! This area was incredible and a must see for any Star Wars fan.

Star Wars Miniland at Legoland California

What to do at Legoland California

We ate lunch at Burger Stop which had hearty sized Angus beef burgers. There are many unusual and healthy dining choices throughout the Park, including salad bar, panini sandwiches, stir fry or homemade soups.

What to do at Legoland California

After lunch we made our way over to the Land of Adventure, where my kids slid down the Dune Raiders slide several times, I rode the Cargo Ace with my little one and we shot laser guns in the Lost Kingdom Adventure ride.

 

What to do at Legoland California

My little one was ready to conquer the Dragon coaster in Castle Hill, in which more “Oh, my tummy!” moments occurred! LEGOland is full of sweet areas that highlight their master builder’s works including the Enchanted Walk which features woodland animals. The big kids braved the Knights’ Tournament and the LEGO Technic Coaster.

What to do at Legoland California

We ended the day on the Coast Cruise, where more of that silly LEGO humor is on display. Poor George, he’s getting his ears cleaned out!

What to do at Legoland California

What to do at Legoland California

An enjoyable day was had by all! Next time we’ll plan our visit when we can don our bathing suits and get splashed at one of the LEGOland water parks (additional admission fee required). They are closed in the off season but reopen in the spring. If you have extra time, plan a visit to see the SeaLife Aquarium  (separate admission required).

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SoCal Guide – Legoland Holiday Snow Days + Winter Nights

Celebrate a rare snow day in San Diego at the LEGOLAND California Resort! For those of us in San Diego, snow is a novelty…a special treat to be sure! And it’s especially fun to frolic in the frost at such a whimsical place as the Legoland California Resort.

Image from Mobile Legoland.com

Legoland Holiday Snow Days + Winter Nights event is going on now (November 22nd to January 4th). Their special gift to guests attending this event? Receive a FREE return ticket to be used early in the new year! Present any paid admission ticket at the Our Gift To You kiosk inside the Park, and receive a ticket to return to Legoland California and SEA LIFE Aquarium between January 5 – March 1, 2015 (You must request your free return ticket on the day of your paid visit. Free tickets valid only between January 5 – March 1, 2015. Additional restrictions may apply).

With the admission ticket guests will enjoy hillside snow tubing, snowball toss games and can build a snowman with LEGO accessories.

Follow the adventures on the Event Guide and handy map.

Image from Visit Carlsbad.com

When night falls, Winter Nights at Legoland kicks off. There’s even a food truck with yummy treats served by Santa’s Elves!

Stay for the nightly fireworks over Miniland USA (December 26 – 30). Witness the lighting of the 30-foot tall LEGO Christmas Tree and enjoy live entertainment with LEGO Friends Live. Stand by the life-sized LEGO Brick Santa and Reindeer for the perfect family photo opportunity.

Image from California Legoland

Review the event calendar to see what is happening and when:

  • Winter Nights festivities at 5-7pm on November 28, 29 and December 6, 13, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.
  • Official Tree Lighting on December 1, nightly Tree Lighting at 5pm, December 4-25th.
  • Holiday Fireworks at 7pm on December 26-30th.
  • Kids’ New Year’s Eve celebration from 3 – 6pm with fireworks and a “Brick Drop” at 6pm on December 31st. (capacity limited)

New this year for guests 3+ is Ice Skating (separate pricing for admission and skate rental).

Image from California.Legoland.com


Have you enjoyed Legoland Holiday Snow Days + Winter Night event before? What is your favorite part of the event? Share below in the comments and please sign up for my newsletter to receive notification of future posts.

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