Discover the Discovery Cube

discovery center pardon my dustWe have passed the giant cube at the Discovery Science Foundation in Santa Ana (aka Discovery Cube) on our way to other locations. I never thought it was worth the drive to visit a children’s museum when we have Kidspace in Pasadena, the Natural History Museum and the Science Center in Los Angeles, and even Noah’s Ark at the Skirball.

explosive exhibition sign

But when the Mythbusters exhibit came to town – and I noticed that it was ending in September – I thought differently. My 9-year-old’s favorite TV show is Mythbusters. He is fascinated by the goofball science featured in each episode, and he’s probably seen them all by now. Even though he hates long drives, too, he was excited to check it out. And what do you know, we discovered the rest of the Discovery Cube, too!

Admission to Discovery Cube is $16.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids 3-14. Sometimes there is an additional charge for special exhibits, and you can add a ticket to a 4D movie for $3.00. Food on site is just Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, so if you have dietary issues, this is not the place for lunch, although the costs are reasonable. And the gift shop is adequate but it’s not the retail trap that other museums snag parents with at the end of the visit. Parking is a little tricky right now because the center is undergoing an expansion (set to open in April) but staff is friendly and happy to guide you to the right place.

mythbusters mannequins

I’m glad Mythbusters lured us down there. That exhibit only took us an hour to explore, even with a cool demonstration in which a volunteer tried to dodge a paintball gun and the audience chimed in, voting on whether or not she could do it. The whole demo was handled safely and it was modeled after a Mythbusters test from the show.

My son enjoyed seeing actual items from Mythbusters on display like a duct tape canoe and plane, and a steel ball meant to paint a whole room using TNT. Although it was billed “The Explosive Exhibit,” there was nothing truly explosive to be found, but the illusion was there, and that was enough for him.

science in progress

Once we finished with Mythbusters we took the rest of our visit to explore the center. It was fun to see the inside of the Cube that we drive by all the time. The giant shape holds a rocket simulator and some panels that educate about how NASA rockets work.

Our favorite part of the center was the Eco-Challenge. Although the Race to Recycle was down on the day we visited, I enjoyed watching my son take the interactive grocery shopping test, and quizzing myself on what household wastes are recyclable or hazardous using the cool scanner.

It was a great way to spend a day and I am glad I only had one kid with me, but it would have been fine with both. If you just resign yourself to hitting traffic on the way back – or maybe stopping for a meal first – you’ll have a great time.

Thomas Exhibit

Now there is a new exhibit for the littles – Thomas and Friends have stopped at Discovery Cube and they will be there until January – activities include:

Climb inside Thomas’ cab to explore the engine’s inner workings
Remove and replace parts to fix Percy’s wobbly wheel
Load Percy’s coal box and water so he can deliver the mail
Suit up as the conductor and sell tickets to ride the train
Load and sort luggage and freight into train cars
Explore the history of Thomas & Friends through books, TV show clips and toys
Plan and build navigation routes to favorite destinations on the gigantic Island of Sodor train table

Sounds like a great excursion for visiting relatives over the holidays, hmm? And actually, there is a new location opening next month in the Hansen Dam Recreational area in the Valley – so you might not even have to go very far!

Discovery Cube OC
2500 N. Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92705

I received complimentary admission for 2 to facilitate this feature.

Listen To Your Mother. No, Really. April 27 in Orange County [Ticket Giveaway!]

Next Sunday, the national show Listen To Your Mother will happen in Orange County (Santa Ana). It is worth a day trip for this, my friends, I promise you. In addition to talent from OC and San Diego, the cast features several Los Angeles area moms including Agoura Hills’ own Julie Gardner!

“The mission of each LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER production is to take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor.

LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER aims to support motherhood creatively through artistic expression, and also financially–through contributions to non-profit organizations supporting families in need.”

Watching and listening to women standing in front of an audience, reading their original, curated work regarding motherhood, is a moving and powerful experience. I’ve seen several such performances, I can guarantee you that you will have a wonderful time.

Listen To Your Mother
April 27, 4:00 PM
The Ebell Club
625 French Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 547-6331

Ten percent of ticket sales go to benefit WisePlace, a women’s shelter in Santa Ana. Buy tickets here: OR, enter to win one of 10 pairs of tickets that LTYM is giving away, below!

Rafflecopter giveaway

Knott’s Berry Farm Has More Than Rides

brady knotts game win

A day at Knott’s Berry Farm is one of those things you build into your summer to break up the long stretch of free time. At least that’s how my family looks at it. When life gets too “boring” for the kids, plan and execute Operation Theme Park, right? And that’s how I see it – a mission that requires skill and organization. With a destination as easy or hard to get to depending on traffic as Buena Park, CA, it’s a long drive and a long day, so we want to maximize our fun.

What I did not expect at a recent visit to Knott’s was the helpful way the daily entertainment broke up our day. My younger son and I spent a day there to check out the new rides at scenery at the recently opened Boardwalk, and also to ride the reopened Timber Mountain Log Ride. The Coast Rider roller coaster was a huge hit with my 6-year-old. Since we were at the park before the official opening time, we were able to ride it 3 times in a row without standing in a long line. We rode it twice more during our visit! The only reason that happened was that the new ride is a fun and fast roller coaster but it’s smooth, unlike its veteran mentor The Ghost Rider, which, in its old-school coaster way, smashes and jerks your body back and forth, to and fro, with headache-inducing force. The Ghost Rider has the better vertical drops, though, so it’s worth standing in line for that one if defying gravity is really your thing.

knott's berry farm boardwalk coast rider and surfside gliders

My son and I truly enjoyed the rides, and we went on a lot of them that day, because he is finally tall enough! He even went on the Surfside Glider all by himself, with me standing proudly at the ride’s perimeter snapping pictures, hoping to catch the self-satisfied grin on his little face.

knott's berry farm surfside gliders

But what made the whole day extra fun was the shows.

When visitors enter the gates of Knott’s Berry Farm, they are handed a park map and a schedule of the day’s entertainment. My son saw this and constantly asked me “What time is the next show?” I decided to indulge him, if only to give myself a break from standing in line and being whipped up and down and around again on the rides, and we wound up spending the whole day going from one show to the next, working in rides if there was time in between them.

We saw the Calico Saloon Show, a true vaudeville dancing and singing performance behind the bar that actually serves drinks. We saw most of the latest Peanuts character show at Camp Snoopy before my companion had to go to the bathroom. We stood in Main Street in Ghost Town and watched the Cowboy Antics, a slapstick street performance/duel.We saw the Wild West Stunt Show at the Wagon Camp in Ghost Town, where the same cowboys make the audience laugh with their goofy play fights. We sat through the weird vanishing storyteller show in the Mystery Lodge – a nice indoor, air-conditioned break for me, during which I answered a lot of “Is he really magic?” and “Did that guy really disappear?” type questions. We caught some of the Native American Dancer’s performance at the Indian Trails stage, but left during the performer’s end-of-show political diatribe against the White Man. Later in the day, we sang along during the Marshall Purdy Show, an audience participation banjo act, and we caught the incredible Cirque-du-Soleil-meets-the-Old-West show on the main stage in Calico Square called Boom Town.

knott's berry farm shows snoopy cowboys calico saloon marshall purdy

Our favorite, though, was the new “Snoopy…Unleashed” Ice Show at the Charles M. Schulz Theatre near the bumper cars. This was an honest and for true ice show with amazing professional ice skaters including one who humbly dons the Snoopy costume and marches around and skates on a tiny little stage at the front of the theatre. There was a marching band, a ribbon gymnast skater who could have been in the Cirque show herself, and about 25 minutes of skillful and entertaining synchronized ice dancing and acrobatics set to great music. I was so delightfully surprised that I forgot I had a whole day of slogging through an amusement park in front of me, and my son was simply delighted.

Most of the shows take place more than once a day, and it seems possible to catch them all, but we did in fact stand in some long lines to go on rides, and we had to break for snacks and meals.

knott's berry farm view from sky cabin.jpg

Views from Sky Cabin, “basically an elevator that rotates,” said the attendant.

If you dismiss Knott’s Berry Farm because you’ve been there done that, I suggest you consider going back, both for the new rides, and the family pleasing entertainment. That’s a lot of family fun for the price of a ticket which is more modest that some other area theme parks, and you can even get discounted tickets with local offers and coupons.


Oh look! Mom was there, too!