SoCal Guide – Legoland Brick or Treat Halloween Party

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

Looking for a unique Halloween event where kids can wear their costumes, trick-or-treat in a safe environment, enjoy rides, shows and attractions and be surrounded by their favorite toy? It’s got to be the Legoland Brick or Treat Halloween Party!

It has been several years since I last took my boys to this event. The Brick or Treat party it was brand new in the three years that we attended so Legoland was still working out the kinks, so to speak. At the time, only a small portion of the park remained open, it was incredibly crowded and frankly, dealing with the crowds was not very fun.

I am so happy to see that as this event has grown so has the entertainment. A considerable amount of the park is open for the party so the crowd can spread out. Previous years featured only one (very busy!) trick-or-treat trail but now the locations have been scattered throughout the park, including into the Sea Life Aquarium. The party also ends with a bang: Fireworks close out the night at 9 pm!

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

The Brick or Treat Halloween Party is a separate ticket event that includes live entertainment with dancing, costumed character meet-and-greets and special Lego Halloween models. There are themed costume contests for kids 12 and under (make sure to register when you arrive). Prizes include annual passes, Lego toys or a stay at the Legoland Hotel so it’s worth putting forth some effort into your costumes in the hopes of winning a great prize!

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

Children can walk down the not-so-spooky Brick-or-Treat Trail or the other stations scattered throughout the park to collect a mix of healthy snacks along with sweets. They also hand out Lego goodies including a collector’s item Lego Brick, Lego Club Magazine, Lego Legends of Chima poster and Lego toys.

Guests can choose to purchase a ticket that allows all-day entry to Legoland California and the Sea Life Aquarium, along with an entry to that evening’s Brick-or-Treat event. Or you can choose another option that allows entry to theBrick-or-Treat event between the hours of 5-9 pm (entry allowed starting at 4 pm). Legoland Pass Members can add on a Brick-or-Treat event ticket for $15 per person.

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

The West side closes at 5 pm but the rest of the park is open (only guests who have wristbands for the Brick or Treat event are permitted to remain in the park). Guests with event-only wristbands can enter the gates beginning at 4 pm.

Legoland California Brick or Treat Halloween Party

Check out the Event Guide for more details, as well as a map of the park. You’ll have a spooky good time!


Favorite Food Friday – Disneyland #Halloweentime Pumpkin Spice Cupcake

At the Disneyland Family Media Day reception, we were offered these lovely cupcakes. My sweet tooth has never been one to turn down a cupcake so I had to have one!

#Halloweentime Disneyland Pumpkin Spice Cupcake

The Pumpkin Spice Cupcake was decorated like a pumpkin with tendril vines, a chocolate stem and a magical sprinkling of edible sparkle. Topped with thin chocolate discs, the cupcake was magically Mickey (but I didn’t get to eat either of the “ears” as my toddler got to them first!)

It was a hearty cupcake with a moist dense cake and a light not-too-sweet whipped topping. The sparkles sent me over the edge; this was certainly a decadent and delightful dessert!

Click the photo to link up with your favorite food on Disney Day by Day!

SoCal Guide – Oma’s Pumpkin Patch in Lakeside, CA

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

If you are in the Southern California area and looking for an authentic down-home farm experience this Autumn, Oma’s Pumpkin Patch combines just the right amount of education and fun! We live just around the corner from Oma’s but it’s worth the trip if you are coming from farther reaches of San Diego county. Located in Lakeside California, the Van Ommering Dairy is a full-time working family farm.

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am to 7pm. For each paid child ($8.00), one adult gets in free. Each child receives a water bottle, access to all activities and they can choose a pumpkin from the “Jack Patch” when they leave. There are additional very large-sized pumpkins for sale as well as other fall-decor items like hay bales and Indian corn. Their gift shop also stocks crafts, souvenirs and honey.

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

Everyone can take the hay ride around the farm to get an up-close and personal look at the cows and dairy farm (Fair warning: this can be a stinky experience!)

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

My son and I have been twice for school field trips and many other times with family members. There is something for everyone at every age to do here!

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

Hands-on activities include a “cow” to practice milking on (with water) and pairs of horns for roping.

There are many pieces of old farming equipment around the patch for climbing and posing for pictures on. We love the flat-bed truck loaded up with Halloween pumpkins, it’s a great place to take a yearly picture! There are also several playground sets with bikes to ride and balls to play with in a grassy field.

Oma's Pumpkin Patch

My guys like the hay maze but it’s too hot for me in there! I love these fun photo op locations throughout the farm, we take pictures in them every year.

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

Kids love the petting area with the goats. There are often some mischievous baby goats who escape from the confines of the pen and run around the farm!

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

My boys have both loved the giant sand pile with all the toy trucks and tractors to drive around.

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

But best of all for everyone, the cottonseed mountain! There are various sledding discs provided. Kids (and some adults!) take a sled to the top of the mountain and slide their way down the mountain of fluffy cottonseed. Be sure to empty your pockets before you get in the car because we always find lots of cottonseed inside when we get home!

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

Make sure to allow yourself several hours to play. There have been many times we expected to only be there for a few hours and have stayed long after dark!

Eat at one of the shaded picnic tables or buy a snack (cash only) at their Cow Country Cafe. Please note that there are a lot of bees at the farm, especially around the picnic tables and trash cans.

Oma's Pumpkin Patch

In addition to the Pumpkin Patch, Oma’s also offers educational tours throughout the year including educational tours for classes/schools, a Spring Dairy tour and a Christmas Tree Patch. You can even host a birthday party on the farm!

I love that when we go to Oma’s we are supporting a small family-run business and can enjoy being on a working farm (and not in a shopping center parking lot!)

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch has become our yearly family tradition!

Oma's Pumpkin Patch - Lakeside CA

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Disneyland Family Media Day – #Halloweentime

Our family in Carthay Circle at Disney's California Adventure #Halloweentime

This past weekend my family and I were fortunate enough to spend the day at the Happiest Place on Earth: Disneyland! We were invited to be a part of the Family Media Day event which included Park Hopper tickets for the day as well as a private reception and some very special treats (and Halloweentime tricks!)

#Halloweentime at Disneyland

Adorable costumes in the World of Disney window and the Halloweentime Welcome sign at the Mickey and Friends Tram

We started off the day at Disney’s California Adventure. While the big kids and my husband were enjoying the Radiator Springs Racers, my little guy and I visited with Lightning McQueen and Mater in Carsland.

Carsland at Disney's California Adventure

There were plenty of Photo Pass photographers around all day to hand my camera to. They captured some wonderful shots of my family enjoying our special day!

Carsland at Disney's California Adventure #Halloweentime

My kids were able to get me on California Screamin’, even though fast coasters aren’t really my “thing”. This ride is so smooth that the motion doesn’t bother me at all. You can see though that I was nervously anticipating the take-off during the ride countdown!

California Screamin' at Disney's California Adventure


After a spin on King Triton’s Carousel and Toy Story Mania, we headed over to Stage 17 for the Family Media Day reception. Wow, this event completely blew me away! The colorful room was set up so dramatically with lighting, tables, balloons and huge floral arrangements.

Family Media Day #Halloweentime at Disneyland

Family Media Day #Halloweentime at Disneyland

There were silhouette artists, spray-tattoo art and a few games for the little ones. The Master of Ceremonies was playing dance music and also hosted a hula-hooping contest and name-that-tune game.

Jack & Sally at #Halloweentime at Disneyland

There were three meet-and-greet spots with rotating characters so we were able to take photos with Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve never seen Jack or Sally in the Parks before so getting a photo with them was fantastic! Dillon wasn’t so crazy about it, though…he was clinging to me for dear life! Sally set him at ease by saying, “It’s okay, Jack only scares on Saturdays” (Ahem…it was Saturday!)

#Halloweentime at Disneyland Family Media Day event

The snacks were plentiful and delicious including Mickey pretzels with various mustards, cheesy garlic twists, candy corn cotton candy, pumpkin twists, fresh apples with caramel, apple cider, Mickey pumpkin cupcakes and popcorn. My kids were in heaven because frankly, we never buy those things! It was a special treat, for sure!

Family Media Day #Halloweentime treats at Disneyland

We received Fast Passes for specific times to ride Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as well as Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Disney also gifted us a souvenir popcorn bucket in a Haunted Mansion theme and four tombstone drink coasters. We were honored to be a part of this special event and had such a wonderful time enjoying the treats, games and offerings.

#Halloweentime at Disneyland

We reluctantly dragged ourselves from the air-conditioned comfort inside the reception area and out into the blazing sun for more rides and adventures!

Over at Disneyland, Main Street USA was beautifully decorated for fall with hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins, fall leaves and candy-corn striped banners on the buildings and lamp posts.

#Halloweentime at Disneyland

#Halloweentime at Disneyland

While the big kids took advantage of the thrill rides like Star Tours and Indiana Jones Adventure my little guy took a nap (on a pillow of cotton candy…only at Disneyland!) They said they didn’t care for the Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. They thought that the “ghost” was a bit too creepy and devilish rather than spooky and ghost-like.

Napping on a pillow of cotton candy...only at Disneyland!

Unfortunately Disneyland was teeming with guests in the late afternoon so we didn’t get to ride as many things I would have liked. Plus the little one was taking a long nap. We totally missed going into Frontierland for the Halloween Carnival event! The only rides we did in Fantasyland was The Matterhorn and Mad Tea Party.

Mad Tea Party at Disneyland

Once Dillon woke up we did enjoy The Finding Nemo Subs before the parade and dinner. We staked out a great spot on Main Street for Mickey’s Soundsational Parade and the Frozen pre-parade float. On our last visit Dillon had slept through the parade so I was happy he was able to watch the entire show this time; he loved it!

Frozen pre-parade at Disneyland Resort

Mickey's Soundsational Parade at Disneyland

Dinner at The Plaza Inn with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and biscuits hit the spot. We ordered 2 platters and shared between the five of us…plenty of food to go around!

Plaza Inn chicken dinner at Disneyland

Our magical day ended with a reserved fireworks spot in the center of Main Street USA, directly in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle! In all my years I’ve never witnessed a Disneyland fireworks show from such an amazing location and this didn’t disappoint. We were all goosebumpy and teary-eyed watching this incredible show.

It was the perfect end to a perfectly Disney day!


Thank you to Disney for the invitation to this Family Media Event. We were given free Park Hopper tickets for the day as well as an invitation to the private reception. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Click the link for more information about Disney’s Halloweentime events.

Eat at Home and Save – Disney Resort Banana Bread

Disney Banana Bread Recipe - this is absolute heaven!

Banana bread is simply magic: Take overripe and mushy brown bananas that nobody wants and voila, you have an amazing treat! Banana bread is a very price-savvy recipe and makes use out of produce that would otherwise go to waste.

I have been making banana bread since I was a kid and this is my new favorite recipe! There is so much yummy flavor here; it’s not overly sweet, not too oily and the bread is moist and delicious. You’ll get two loaves from this recipe so you can freeze one and save it for later.

Or do like we did and gobble up both loaves within three days! Look at that beautiful browned top…now I wished we’d frozen one loaf so I could be eating a slice of this right now!

Disney Banana Bread Recipe - this is absolute heaven!

This banana bread was lovely as a treat after dinner and I also served it alongside sausage, eggs and fruit for the kids at breakfast. The recipe is the one used at the Disney Resorts. Recreate the magic at home with this delicious and easy recipe (my favorite kind!)

I tweaked my recipe a bit to include ground flax seed. You can also substitute up to half of the butter with equal parts applesauce to cut the fat.

Disney Banana Bread Recipe - this is absolute heaven!

Disney Banana Bread

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups banana, mashed (about 3 medium-large bananas)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix melted butter and sugar in large bowl until very well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, then add bananas and vanilla.  Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda and fold into the banana mixture, making sure all flour is moistened but the mixture is not over-mixed (to prevent air bubbles).  Fold in walnuts, if you like.  The batter will be very thick.
Grease and flour two bread pans and divide batter equally between them.  Bake for 1 hour or until center of loaf is firm with a somewhat crunchy top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 1 minute before removing the bread from a pan and transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm or cold, it’s heavenly both ways!
Makes 2 loaves.
Disney Banana Bread Recipe - this is absolute heaven!

Kids are FREE in San Diego during the month of October!

Offering 100+ FREE things for kids in the San Diego area, Kidvasion in October has begun!!

Photo: San

October is a great time to visit San Diego. The summer crowds have gone, 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.

From free restaurant dining, free museum visits, free amusement park tickets to free transportation; We are talking big deal savings here, including free admission to the World Famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park , Sea World San Diego and Legoland California! See the Model Railroad Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Children’s Discovery museum. Take free rides on the Amtrack Pacific Surfliner and free cruises on the Hornblower. Visit the Birch Aquarium, U.S.S. Midway and Belmont Park…for free!

Check out this link to San and find out more about this promotion. It’s a great time to visit our great city!

Budgeting Steps to Savings -Buying the Best You Can Afford…Without Going Broke

Cheap stuff is cheap for a reason.

For me, I’d much rather buy a higher quality item than something made cheaply. I use the word “cheap” as something that is inexpensive and also of lesser quality. I know there are many out there who would prefer to buy the same cheap items each year so they can have something “new”. They buy a brand new coat each winter, new bedding for everyone in the family, and new backpacks for back-to-school. But I like to have the quality item up-front and not waste money, time and energy replacing it every year. Not to mention the waste of throwing out a broken item that can’t be repaired because it wasn’t made well in the first place.

How to buy the best that you can afford...without going broke!

In the long run, it’s more savvy (and more economical) to put your money into something that will last you longer than just the year and will need to be replaced. Yes, high-quality items usually do come with a higher price tag as well. Naturally when better materials are being used the price is going to be higher. But high-end items do go on sale. Pay attention to trends and know when to buy. Get on the mailing list of your favorite stores that sell high-quality products and shop smart – Take advantage of sales, use coupons and the store credit card if they offer one to get the best price.

Heed this…just because something is expensive does not mean that it’s high-quality! Do your research on what brands are actually high-quality. Read reviews online. Go to the store and physically examine them.  Is the plastic on that toy too flimsy to hold up to multiple play sessions? Are the seams on that sweater sewn sturdily and finished off or will they unravel upon the first wearing? Are the online reviews on that dishwasher bad enough to make you consider handwashing instead?

Know your product before plunking down your hard-earned money. This is all about buying the best of what you can afford. It is not about living outside your means or going into debt. If you can’t afford the item that you really want to get, consider waiting and saving up for it and not just settling for the cheap alternative. You can afford the best if you are willing to wait for it.

Divide to conquer

Divide the cost of the item by how many times you expect to use it. My littlest son alternates between two pairs of shoes. Rather than purchase him 10 pairs of cheap shoes that wear out quickly or are made so poorly that they hurt his feet, I choose to buy him only two pairs of high-quality shoes. Yes, these shoes (I buy Pedipeds) may cost $35-50 each but I know that I’m getting my money’s worth because he wears them every other day. After six months my son has probably outgrown his shoes but they are so nicely made that I’ve been able to hand them down to another child because they are still in great condition!

Pediped shoes


My friend and I were just discussing the paper-thin tees that are now sold in every store; The fabric is so bad these shirts develop holes after just a few wearings! Cheap construction also often means loose seams and poor shaping. These are clothes that are so cheaply made they are literally falling apart as you wear them!  Did you know that clothing is often starched to hold the shape on the store hangers? Once the piece is washed at home, the collars go wonky and the seams pucker.

Buy well-made and high-quality classics that will last more than just a year. Take a look at your closet and see what pieces you wear the most each season and replace the cheap items with a higher quality item one at a time as you can afford it. Think about classic pieces that don’t go out of style like black slacks, coat, boots, denim skirt, wrap dress in a solid color, cardigan sweaters, etc.

Take care

If you owned a high-quality handbag, would you even think of setting it down on the floor in a public place or would you make sure it was kept clean and off the ground? What about a brand new BMW? You probably wouldn’t be eating drive-through fast food tacos inside your fancy car! Make a point of taking proper care of what you have and eliminate the necessity of having to replace it. If you buy something high-quality, even if it gets dirty or needs fixing, the parts and fabric are going to be able to hold up to repair and cleaning so much better than inferior items.

Clean items regularly and do proper maintenance. Resole boots instead of purchasing new. Have winter items dry cleaned before storing away for the next season. Keep your jewelry and watches in the original boxes or in a divided jewelry organizer so they don’t get tangled or broken. Take care of your stuff and it will be there for you when you need it.

Armitron watch

Buy Less often

Assess your need before you buy. Having new things is fun but not always necessary. I’ve addressed this before in my post Learning to Live Without.  If you don’t need anything specific then simply avoid the stores (and ultimately, any binge buying). If you have two pairs of winter pajamas and rotate them when you launder, why would you need to buy another pair? And who really needs 30 pairs of white socks when you can probably get away with less than ten pairs if you do your laundry at least once a week. Keep it simple, pare things down and only buy when the need is great.

Spend more for every day use items

I knew someone who used to redecorate her bathroom twice a year: a new shower curtain, new rug, new towels, etc. Was it because she just wanted to freshen things up? No, it was because the items that she’d purchased six months earlier were already falling apart! The cheap plastic shower curtain was torn from the hooks, the edge of the rug lost its seam after one wash and the thin towels were faded and developing holes. If the cost of that “cheap” bathroom redo is $75 every year and the cost of higher quality bathroom accessories would be around $150, wouldn’t it make sense in the long run to buy higher quality items that will last at least 5 years instead of only six months? Look for items that will hold up to frequent cleaning (like a fabric shower curtain instead of plastic) or glass pieces instead of plastic.

Organized bathroom

It’s a guarantee

I’ve mentioned this before in my post Tips for Making Returns but it’s always better to purchase a higher priced item if you know it has a full replacement guarantee. Also check the warranty before you buy and this may sway you to a particular item knowing that it could be replaced if it breaks within a certain time frame.

Keep it around for a while

Think about the items that you plan to have for the next 10-20 years (your car, furniture, bedding, mattress and some large appliances). These should be considered investment items.

In the case of appliances, this is one area that I find that buying a high-quality item is going to pay off for you in the long-run. We burned out the motors of three cheap blenders in three years. We finally wised-up, did our research and bought a Ninja. Yes, it was $150 but we use it nearly every day and have never had an issue. Same goes for the vacuum. I bought my Kirby 15 years ago and have never even had to get it serviced while other family members have gone through several cheap vacuums along the same timeline.

For furniture, try to shop vintage or antique. These items were made to a higher quality standard back-in-the-day and feature real wood instead of laminate and dovetailed drawers instead of staples. Ask what the return policies are before you purchase large ticket items in case it doesn’t work out as you’d intended.

Handcrafted patio furniture

To last a lifetime

There are items that are intended to last a lifetime and you’ll probably only have to buy it one time ever. Would you replace your wedding ring after a year of wearing it because you simply wanted something new? No, because it’s a classic piece, something you bought intending to keep forever and not something to get bored with and replace on a whim. Same should go for many of your daily use kitchen items, including your silverware, dishes, stemware, knives and cookware. Apply this to your occasional use items like luggage as well.

Choose classic designs that won’t look dated in a few years. Look for brand names with high quality and don’t be afraid to spend more in this area since you’ll hopefully own them forever. It’s not boring to keep the same items especially if you purchase classic pieces in the first place. I don’t think I could ever tire of my beautiful Lenox Chirp design dinnerware! These items will become sentimental to you so choose something you really love and enjoy using every day.

Summer Pasta Salad recipe {www.savingupfordisney}

Do you have an example of something that you will only buy high-quality? Please share in the comments below!

Please read my other Steps to Savings articles to get your budget on the right track!