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.

A Day Out With Thomas Is a Lovely Day, Indeed

thomas ticket

A few years ago I hauled the husband and kids up to the Fillmore and Western Railway for the first time. It was a special occasion, you see – Thomas the Tank Engine, live and in person, was making a stop at this local attraction. My boys were on the later edge of their Thomas fandom, so it was really just in the nick of time for our family to do this activity then.

Thomas is rolling into Fillmore again this spring for its 18th year, April 19-21 and April 26-28. I’m giving away a set of four tickets for a 25-minute ride on Thomas on April 19 at 2:40 pm. (Entry rules below.)

The event is worth the drive, which in itself is a lovely excursion, getting you off your beaten path and into some local scenery. There is plenty to do while you’re waiting for your train ride and after you’ve seen even more of the surrounding lands from your perch aboard the train.

Waiting For the Train

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The Train Ride

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The Activities

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The Giveaway

To enter to win the 4-pack of tickets, simply leave a comment here by 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 11. I will choose a random winner from qualified entries and notify you via email. Remember, these tickets are for Friday April 19 at 2:40 pm. If you can’t make that day and time but know someone who would love these tickets, please let them know about this giveaway!