Universal Studios With The Family!

The AListSister went to Universal Studios Hollywood with her husband and four kids this week, and she is filling us in on her adventure! (Note: her kids are ages 11-18.)

What a great day!  We spent the day at Universal Studios in Hollywood. We got there right when they opened so we had the entire day to explore.  I was very impressed with the park from the very beginning, the staff was very friendly and helpful.  They have information booths set up around the park with staff to answer any questions you might have.

We were given three tips as we walked through the gate:
Tip # 1: Go to the backlot Studio tour first.

Tip #2 Go to the Lower Lot ride area early in the day before the lines get long.

Tip #3 See the Water World attraction early in the day.

We went to the Backlot Studio tour first, and it was a family favorite.  We then went to the lower lot to go on the four rides. Even though there were six in our party we found that going to the single rider line was the way to go to avoid standing in lines. You can also purchase a front of the line priority access card. My kids went on the Jurassic Park ride four times, on a hot day, you will get wet.

The park had two areas for younger children called “Dino Play” which is a dinosaur to climb on, and “Curious George”, a play area where it would be a good idea to have a swim suit.   There was also  a program called “Child Switch” in which one member of the party could wait with the child while the rest of the party rides, then switch places. There is a discount on ticket prices for children under 48 inches.

There were Characters throughout the park that you could meet: Transformers, Shrek, The Simpsons, SpongeBob, Scooby-Doo, Dora, and Curious George.

One nice touch was that throughout the park they had misters and fans with misters in areas they call “Cool Zones”. (Most of the shows were indoors, Water World was the only one that was not, but even then all the areas had a tarp covering where you had to wait to keep you out of the direct sun).

There are several shopping and dining options both inside the park and on the City Walk before the entrance to the park. What a FUN way to spend the day with the family!

10 Things We Love About The Kia Soul

We loved driving the the Kia Soul for a week in Orange County! It offers so much in a very affordable package. So, we came up with 10 things we loved about the Soul!

1. The way it looks! The Soul is gorgeous, well designed, hip, young, urban, and just so cool. We’re not sure what to call it. It’s not a car, or SUV, or crossover. It just looks unique and sporty and aggressively fun.

2. The practicality! Easy to park, easy to drive, small on the outside and big on the inside.

3. The sunroof! Next best thing to a convertible….try finding a convertible with 4 doors and great storage…you can’t do it!

4. Satellite radio! We loved listening to MargaritaVille on Sirius radio.

5. The back up camera! An outstanding safety feature and makes pulling out of parking spaces in tight parking lots so much easier. We loved the distance lines on the camera as you can see in the picture.

6. The fold down rear seats! With one seat down, we were able to get two very large suitcases, one medium suitcase, two stuffed backpacks, one camera case, and a bag of groceries all in the Soul with plenty of room for the three of us.

7. Satellite Navigation! The nav system is very easy to use, warned us of traffic, offered detours when available and had a great directory. We had no problem finding restaurants, shopping, and hotels.

8. The seating position! The driver has a commanding view of the road but you don’t feel like you’re on top of a unicycle either. Also, having the seats a bit higher makes it so much easier to get the car seat in.

9. The handling! Feels like a sports car but very comfortable to ride in.

10. Alien Green! This is just a gorgeous, eye catching color!

You can check us out on twitter too at @alistbabynet

Loving the Kia Soul in California

We just got back from Orange County California and Kia was kind enough to lend us a Kia Soul to drive. As our faithful readers know, we love Kias and try to drive them whenever we get the chance. Our Soul was an eye catching metallic green Kia calls “Alien”. The car itself was fully loaded with a lot of great features like a back up camera, leather seats, remote start, navigation, and satellite radio.

Driving the Soul is definitely a unique experience. It’s very peppy, gets great mileage, has incredibly maneuverability and has cool ambient lights that changes with the music. All these traits make the Soul very fun to drive. It’s kind of like a point-and-shoot car. It also handles incredibly well. It was very exciting on the twisty canyon roads of California. On the freeway, it has more than enough power to keep and get around traffic, especially with the optional 2 liter 4 cylinder engine. The seating position is really nice too. The seats are at hip level and make getting in and out of the car so easy. We also found that having a higher seating position makes it so much easier to load a baby seat into the back seat. Also, sitting up high gives you a bit more confidence on the road, you can just see farther!

My next post will talk about the 10 Things We Love About The Kia Soul. Also, follow us on twitter at @alistbabynet


Best Disneyland Activities for Baby

We had the most magical trip to Disneyland! It was one of the most memorable days of my life. When AListBaby girl is happy, we are happy. And let me tell you…she enjoyed every single second of Disneyland! While she is only seven months old, there are many activities for babies to enjoy. We took full advantage of Disneyland Park, and even spent some time at Disney California Adventure Park. Let me tell you about the top 10 activities during our best day ever!

1.) Our first stop after wandering down Main Street in Disneyland Park was Fantasyland! We started the day by visiting the princesses in Fantasy Faire. Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty were there. They are in private areas in The Royal Hall, so you are able to meet one at a time, and get photos of your little one with each of them. Mr. AList snapped photos, but the professional photographers at Disney snapped photos, as well. (Note: Disney photographers will snap photos of you throughout the park if you ask them to. After your first Disney photo, you are handed a Disney Photo Pass card, and throughout the day you hand the photographers that same card before or after they take your photo. They will scan it, so when you get home you can access all of your images, and decide which ones to buy, or purchase a CD of all of your images. All of the photos shown on this blog were taken with our own camera.) AListBaby got a kick out of all of the princesses! Sleeping Beauty was especially sweet, and played peek-a-boo with her, making her laugh.

2.) AListBaby’s first ride ever was King Arthur Carrousel! I placed her on a white pony for a quick photo, but the three of us found a great seat on a bench for the ride. She is a little too young to sit on a pony for the whole ride, even with assistance. AListBaby loved the music and the breeze on her cheeks as we rode the ride. We have video of her laughing and smiling. A great first ride experience!

3.) Dumbo the Flying Elephant is such an adorable ride! This was one of our longer waits of the day. We probably waited 25 minutes, but it was worth it. However, AListBaby feel asleep in the line! She slept blissfully throughout the ride, and Mr. AList and I enjoyed bringing Dumbo up and down, as well as the  birds-eye view of Fantasyland. This ride is a terrific choice for babies. We will bring her back the next time we go to Disneyland, so she can enjoy it while awake!

4.) It’s a Small World is a Disneyland icon, and it was a cool, relaxing choice for us during the warmest part of the day. AListBaby loved the sweet music, and looking at all of the moving dolls from across the world. Her eyes were big throughout the entire ride. She kept moving her head from side to side so she could see all of the attraction! This is a very calm, sweet ride that any baby would enjoy.

5.) The parade was absolutely incredible. About 45 minutes before the Mickey’s Soundsational Parade started, we found a front-row spot outside of It’s A Small world. We covered our stroller handle with a blanket, which was a good shade ‘tent’ for me to huddle under with AListBaby. She was content to people watch. When the first float appeared, and I saw her truly clap for the first time! She must have seen people around us clapping, because I looked down, and there she was, clapping away, her little hands not quite connecting all the way. The music, dancing, and floats were outstanding. This is a great chance for little ones to see all of the characters. I noticed some of the princesses waved specifically at AListBaby. I was glad we had a front-row spot. She was enthralled for the entire parade, bouncing her legs up and down, clapping, and looking at me to make sure I was seeing how fabulous this all was.

6.) We went to Mickey’s House at met Mickey in Mickey’s Toontown! While I held AListBaby the entire time, toddlers would enjoy walking around and hopping on Mickey’s “furniture”. The house is cool, completely covered, and the line fairly short. You are escorted to see Mickey one group at a time, so you have a private moment with him. AListBaby took one look at him, smiled, and grabbed his nose! Then she giggled. She loved him! Mr. AList took photos, but again, the Disney photographers are there, too.

7.) We needed to make a wardrobe change after lunch, but luckily there are plenty of shops for adorable baby clothes at Disney! We purchased a Minnie Mouse dress at Chester Drawers on Main Street. AListBaby had a fun time at this shop, trying on Minnie ears, and checking out all of the plush toys. (Where else but at Disney will you see rows and rows of fabulous plush toys?) We eventually decided on a big Dumbo at the end of the day, but checking out the Disney shops was definitely a fun activity for baby.

8.) We went to Disney California Adventure Park for the evening, and our first stop was Mickey’s Fun Wheel.  I thought this would be a relaxing ride for baby. Whew! We were in for a surprise—but we all LOVED it. It turns out when you enter the ferris wheel there are two options. One for a “traditional” gondola, and the second for a “sliding” car. We chose a “moving” car by taking a right at the entrance of the ride. We did not know we were in for a THRILL ride. It is part ferris wheel and part roller coaster. The first time our car flew down the tracks my heart skipped a beat. But then I heard AListBaby belly laugh! She loved it! I will never forget her laughs and smiles on this ride. I guess we have an adventurous baby! But I think the “sliding” car could be scary for some babies. So I would stick with the “traditional” gondola to be safe if you bring baby on this one.

9.) We heard “a bug’s land” was a fun place for babies, so that was our next stop! We chose Heimlich’s Chew Chew train. While AListBaby fell asleep in line, we had fun on this very baby-friendly ride. The train weaves through foods, and Heimlich talks throughout the ride. It is a fun, relaxing choice for little ones. The caterpillar train is awfully cute!

10.) It was fun walking through the Disney California Adventure Park in the evening. Hollywood Land was lit up to look like a glamorous street from the 1920′s. Cars Land was an absolutely fascinating area for anyone who has seen the movie–it looks just like it! And the rock structure seen throughout the park is absolutely incredible. Especially the golden glow at sunset–it looks like a rock structure found in nature. We ended our day with the spectacular World of Color show over the water of Paradise Pier. It is water, lights, fire, and animation. And just when you think it will not get any more fabulous…it does! I highly recommend the show. AListBaby was drowsy (the show starts at 9 p.m.), but still captivated. It was an outstanding way to end the day.

We highly recommend bringing your baby to Disney. While baby may not remember the visit–you will cherish those sweet “first Disney” memories for life.