Tag: fun

BREE'S FAMILY PASSPORT - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS OSAKA|||||

FUN FAMILY DAY OUT AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS OSAKA

Universal Studios theme park caters especially well for families (probably better than they do in Australia). They have parents’ rooms complete with a baby feeding and nappy changing area, plus hot water dispensers and microwaves for preparing baby formula or food. You can also hire a wheelchair or stroller if you need.

There are attractions a plenty with literally hundreds of things to do. My advice? Be strategic. Take a good look at the park map and circle all the things you want to see and do. For children under six, I would recommend Universal Wonderland, Hello Kitty and Sesame Street.

The rides

But, for my two boys, aged four and six, Snoopy’s Great Race Rollercoaster was a firm favourite. However, they also really loved the Spiderman and Jurassic Park boat ride where they got to see huge dinosaurs.

For older children (and husbands), Harry Potter is a very popular ride. Jaws was also a favourite, even though this ride was made even scarier by our Japanese hosts’ high-pitched commentary on what was happening.

Most ride waits are 60 minutes for the popular ones but single rider lines usually shorter if you don’t mind riding the attractions with strangers.

Another great option for rides is to “Child Switch,” which enables guests with children who do not meet an attractions height or other requirements to take turns and enjoy the attraction without having to line up again.

Tickets also include a “Timed Ride” where you can book a ride with long line-ups for a certain time and return to it later instead of waiting for two hours in line. You can also buy express passes which allow you to hop in an express line. Because a lot of people buy these, you still have to wait, but usually only for half the time.

Food and drink

The food and drinks are reasonably priced – not double the usual price like in Australia – and they can also offer allergen-free menus if you ask. There are plenty of dining options in the park with both Asian and American style foods. Just outside the park is Universal City which has an array of restaurants including Hard Rock Café if you are tired of Japanese food, or a Japanese Buffet for $25 for 90 minutes.

Allow all day to explore the park. Get there early (it opens between 9 and 9.30am) or stay late (it closes between 7.00-9.00pm dependent on the time of the year). And don’t miss the parade at the end of the night where all your children’s favourite characters – Minions, Shrek, Sesame Street – take to the streets.

Cost will vary slightly but children three and under are free.

Check out Universal Studios for more information on this fantastic day out with your family in Japan. And, if you and the little ones are venturing over to Japan for a holiday, make sure you have a read of our Hot Tips for Families travelling to Japan.

12 THINGS TO DO IN JAPAN THAT DON'T INVOLVE SNOW||||||

12 THINGS TO DO IN JAPAN THAT DON’T INVOLVE SNOW

“Oh, you’re going to Japan? Are you going skiing?”

This seems to be the first thing anyone asked when we told them we were heading to Japan for a family holiday. With two energetic boys, aged three and six, it is something that we would love to do one day, but not this time.

This time we were taking the boys to check out the sites of Japan.

Even if you are not a fan of skiing, there are plenty of snow-free activities to do with kids of all ages. Our holiday started and finished in Osaka and I couldn’t help but share our top 12 things to do:

1. Check out the Osaka Castle Museum

Time: Allow 2 -3 hours

Location: Osaka

More info: www.osakacastle.net/english/

We stayed at the Hotel Osaka Castle and thus the Osaka Castle was a leisurely 15 minute walk from our hotel. Walking into the gardens and then over the bridge to the base of the castle was breathtaking. This amazing castle has a rich ancient history and learning about the building’s past and seeing it firsthand had us filled with awe.

There was also a lovely pond filled with turtles but our boys couldn’t look past the martial arts building where we got to see, as our boys put it, “the ninja’s” performing martial arts.

2. Spot Deer at Nara Park

Time: A full day

Location: Nara

More info: www.visitnara.jp/destinations/area/nara-park/

Nara Park is a beautiful and idyllic park about 40 minutes outside of Osaka. Along the tracks to the temple you will see gorgeous deer that are more than comfortable with people and happy to feed from your hands.

3. Visit Universal Studios Osaka

Time: All day

Location: Osaka

More info: https://tinyurl.com/y4cxmtlh

Universal Studios Osaka is the official Hollywood theme park in Japan. There are attractions a plenty with literally hundreds of things to do. My advice – be strategic. Take a good look at the park map and circle all the things you want to see and do.

Snoopy’s Great Race Rollercoaster was a firm favourite and our boys also loved the Spiderman and Jurassic Park boat ride, as well as the Universal Wonderland, Hello Kitty and Sesame Street themed areas. At the end of the night there is a parade with all your favourite characters – Minions, Elmo, Shrek and many more.

Most ride waits are 60 minutes for the popular ones. But there are ticket options available such as a “child switch” and “timed ride” ticket where you can book a ride with long line ups for a certain time and return to it later instead of waiting. You can also buy express passes which allow you to hop in an express line. As a lot of people buy these, you still have to wait, but only half the time.

4. Ride the World’s Fastest Train

Time: Approximately 3 hours from Tokyo to Osaka but can vary

Location: Across Japan

More info: www.acprail.com/rail-passes/japan-rail/bullet-train

Prepare for a heart-pounding journey with the “Shinkansen” or Bullet Train. The train is very luxurious and spacious and a great way to travel and still see the sights such as Mount Fuji. You can’t buy hot food on the train but they do sell ice-creams, drinks, chips and other items.

5. Do a Family Karaoke Session in Tokyo

Time: 2 hours

Location: Tokyo

You can’t go to Tokyo and not try out a karaoke booth! You pay by the hour, and if you are going early (around 6.00pm) some of them are more than happy to let you take your kids in. It is a private booth where you can order food and drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and sing your heart out in you private sound proofed room.

6. Uncover the Incredible Awesomeness of Legoland on Odaiba Island

Time: Allow 2-3 hours

Location: Odaiba Island, Tokyo

More info: https://tinyurl.com/y5emzvkr

Odaiba Island is a monorail ride from Tokyo. There is lots to do here but the Legoland Discovery Centre was our favourite. There are over 3 million Lego bricks inside, plus a Master Builders workshop area, indoor play centre, Mini Land where you can see a Lego version of the city of Japan (amazing!), and lots more.

7. Explore the Sony Explora Science Museum on Odaiba Island

Time: Allow 1-2 hours

Location: Odaiba Island, Tokyo

More info: www.sonyexplorascience.jp/english/sony e

The Sony Explora Science Museum focuses on teaching children about light and sound. See how your voice works as a visual, try the motion-censored puppet where a character on screen will do the same moves and facial expressions as you, and even have a “smile fight” with Mum or Dad to see who has the best smile.

8. Meet Ri Ri and Shin Shin, the Panda Pair at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo

Time: Allow 4 – 5 hours

Location: Tokyo

More Info: http://www.tokyo-zoo.net/english/ueno/

As Japan’s oldest zoo, Ueno Zoo is a must-see for families. There are plenty of animals from penguins to tigers, but the highlight had to be the pandas. It is pram friendly and I would suggest taking some snacks.

9. Take in the Tokyo Toy Museum

Time: Allow 3-4 hours

Location: Tokyo

More info http://goodtoy.org/ttm/

The Tokyo Toy Museum was amazing. Our kids LOVED all the traditional Japanese wooden toys. There are three levels, and each will encourage your children to play, create, and learn.

There is a Toy Factory where we paid a little extra ($10) to participate in a workshop and paint a Babushka doll. There is also a wooden baby room especially designed for kids under two, a games salon with amazing analogue games that will make your children think, and the Toy Red Square where the boys loved playing make believe with the Japanese wooden kitchen. Our boys didn’t want to leave, but they were getting hungry!

10. Visit Tokyo DisneySea

Time: All day

Location: Tokyo

More info: https://tinyurl.com/yyx4rt57

DisneySea is one part of Disneyland and has a more rustic and Mediterranean feel to it. The best area for youngsters was the Mermaid Lagoon. This amazing replication of Under the Sea is amazing, and the kids loved hanging out here for some downtime. These rides suit children of all ages and there is a great roller-coaster for kids 90cm and over.

There are plenty of places to rest, relax and change bub, with fantastic parenting, stroller and various ride passes to cut down on the waiting times.

11. Take in Tokyo Disneyland

Time: All day

Location: Tokyo

More info: https://tinyurl.com/yyx4rt57

Disneyland is everything Disney you can imagine, but in Japanese of course. We loved every moment here and 90% of the rides were suitable for our kids. We decided to have a buffet for our dinner and then watched the Grand Parade with all the Disney characters. It was as magical as you would expect and our children had stars in their eyes for days after.

12. Visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Time: Allow 2-3 hours

Location: Tokyo

Stop at a bakery and grab some yummy food and head to the gardens to have a picnic. This park has the biggest gardens in Tokyo and they were beautiful. We saw a traditional Japanese garden and if you are there in early spring you will see the 65 varieties of Cherry Blossom bloom.

BREE'S FAMILY PASSPORT - TOKYO DISNEYLAND AND DISNEYSEA||||||||

EXPLORING TOKYO DISNEYLAND AND DISNEYSEA

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea is everything Disney you can imagine, but in Japanese, of course! If you can’t make the trip to America, then Japanese Disneyland is an excellent alternative for a magical day out with your little ones.

Disneyland is a theme park on its own, but within the park is DisneySea. I would recommend spending at least a day at each of these parks. You can buy discounted tickets that allow you to visit both or you can opt to stick to only one.

The rides

We loved every moment at Disneyland and 90% of the rides were suitable for the kids as they were taller than 102cm. For younger children, you cannot look past Toontown. Here you can get your photo taken professionally with Mickey Mouse at his very cute house. There is a great rollercoaster for the littlies – my boys loved it so much they went on it five times in a row.

This led to our boys wanting to try out the bigger rides and attractions. I would say the highlight of the park for the entire family was Space Mountain rollercoaster, which takes you through plenty of ups and down but in pitch black.

The fun doesn’t stop

We decided to have a buffet for our dinner and then watched the Grand Parade with all the Disney characters. It was amazing to say the least. The boys were so thrilled to have their favourite characters wave at them and we had the opportunity to get photos with a lot of them. We had so much fun and we were the last family to leave!

DisneySea is the more rustic, Mediterranean Disneyland with plenty of great areas for children and fantastic attractions.  As soon as you hop off the train it is time to board The Disney Resort line monorail, or “Mickeys Monorail” as my kids called it. It costs an extra 260 yen ($2.50) but the extra cost is certainly worth it.

One of the highlights is the smell of popcorn that fills the air as soon as you arrive. There are ten different types of try on the menu – caramel, black pepper, jalapeno and cheese, milk tea, white chocolate, salt, curry, and cappuccino.

The best area for youngsters would have to be the Mermaid Lagoon. This amazing replication of Under the Sea is amazing, and the kids loved hanging out here for some downtime. These rides suit children of all ages and there is a great roller-coaster for kids 90cm and over. The Arabian Coast and American Waterfront were the other areas that rated highest with our kids.

In terms of the other rides at DisneySea, most of them were suitable for children of all ages but there was a few that have a height requirement of 117 cm. Our six year old’s favourite was the Volcano and the Indiana Jones Raging Spirits which was a roller-coaster with a 360 degree loop.

What makes them so great for families

Both Disneyland and DisneySea cater well for families with fantastic parenting facilities. They have a full baby centre where you can buy items you may need, like formula or an extra outfit.

They have the Fastpass (express line-up pass) single riders, and the alternate ride system, or the “child switch” which enables guests with children who do not meet an attractions height or other requirements to take turns and enjoy the attraction without having to line up again.

There is plenty of shopping, of course, and lots of great souvenirs that are not as expensive as we thought. $20 will get you a Disney shirt of your favourite character (be prepared for most visitors to be dressed up). There is also a fantastic show at the end of the night in the Mediterranean Harbour complete with all characters in boats with a lightshow, music, singing and fireworks!

Check out Tokyo Disney Resort for more information on park opening times and costs.

Check out Bree’s Family Passport for additional things to do, try and eat in Japan. 

10 THINGS ALL FAMILIES SHOULD DO IN BALI|||||

10 THINGS ALL FAMILIES SHOULD DO IN BALI

Bali is a holiday destination where you have the ability to ‘live it up’ and enjoy an affordable holiday all at once. The atmosphere is warm, the locals are welcoming and the scenery is gorgeous.

As soon as you hop off the plane and get through Customs, the tone of the holiday begins.

With direct flights from Australia that only take about five to seven hours in most cases, Bali would have to be one of the closest, most affordable destinations outside of Australia.

In addition to lounging on the beach, cocktail in hand, what else does Bali offer for families?

Visit Waterbom Park (or another water park)

8 hectares of pristine gardens with hours (a full day) of entertainment for the whole family. World class slides and rides which are maintained at international safety standards. There are about 14 slides and it’s easy to see why it was voted the number one water park in Asia.

Take a daytrip to Ubud

See the monkeys at the monkey forest, dine with views of the volcano or rice fields, and visit the markets for gorgeous wooden crafts, clothing and art.

Go to the Bali Zoo

See over 450 rare and exotic animals in a gorgeous tropical environment. You can feed a Bengal Tiger, ride an elephant, have your photo taken with an array of animals, hang out in the petting zoo, take a pony ride and lots more. They even have a new Jungle water park. Ticket prices vary for what you want included in your pass.

Enjoy sunset drinks on the beach

This is a very affordable fun way to end the day. Pick any restaurant on the beach that takes your fancy (my favourite is the Seminyak beach stretch or Jimbaran Bay), listen to live music, order a Bintang, sit on bean bags, order a meal if you wish, watch the kids play and watch the sun go down.

Indulge in the Seafood Feast at Jimbaran Bay

Even if you don’t eat seafood (there are heaps of other food choices), the sunsets at Jimbaran are stunning and you should certainly spend one night (or a whole day) relaxing in armchairs here if you can.

Beat the rain at the Canggu Club

Perfect for a rainy day and located 15 minutes from Seminyak, the Canggu Club includes an indoor trampoline park Bounce Bali, Splash Water Park, Strike bowling alley and an indoor tennis centre.

Take a Balinese cooking class

Discover the spiced flavours of Bali’s virtually unknown cuisine. Classes offer a fascinating introduction to the exotic ingredients and unique culinary heritage of Bali. They provide a valuable insight into the various techniques of food preparation and the cooking style used in their island homes. A lot of the resorts and hotels have their own cooking classes where they will even take you to the markets to buy the produce first.

Visit Uluwatu and Dreamland Beach

Surround yourself with beautiful crystal clear water and reef. The beaches here can be dangerous, but sitting in the cliffs watching the water is a very relaxing experience if your kids sit still. It’s quite a hike going up and down the hill, but a great day out.

Shop at the markets

Here you will find sarongs, dresses, pants, shorts, shirts, hats, sunglasses, DVD’s, and pretty much anything you could imagine! Some items are genuine Balinese items, or imports from China; others are not genuine and are sold on the black market like fake Billabong clothing, DVD’s and other designer brands.

A lot of the shops are the same and each location has its own market. Kuta and Sukawati Markets are by far the cheapest that I have found and sometimes the hawkers on the beach are cheaper too. The general rule is to divide by three from whatever they first offer and don’t go any higher than half, or ask for Bali pricing (which they won’t give you really but it will give you an idea of their cheapest rate to tourists).

Get pampered at a beauty salon

Get a massage, a pedicure, manicure, salt scrub, facial, hair wash, and more. The prices are ridiculously cheap at the smaller spas ($7.50 an hour) or you can go to more upmarket ones that will cost you about the same as in Australia.

Stay tuned for our next Bree’s Family Passport for our top tips when travelling to Bali.  And make sure you check out Bree’s Family Passport’s 10 things all Australians must try when in Bali.

PLASTIC EGG PALS CRAFT

These plastic egg pals are the perfect craft for a rainy day, school holiday or Easter basket. 

You need:

– An assortment of plastic Easter eggs
– Pipe cleaners
– Mini pom poms
– Felt or colourful card
– Fine tipped pen
– Craft glue
– Scissors

How to do it:

1. Cut out the tails, ears and other body parts you will need, either from the felt or coloured card, and glue to the egg
2. Glue pom poms to the bottom of the eggs as the animal feet.
3. Add a pipe cleaner to the back of the egg for a curly tail.
4. Using a fine tipped pen, draw the details of your critter such as the eyes, the whiskers and the mouth.

BREE'S FAMILY PASSPORT - TOKYO TOY MUSEUM||||

TOKYO TOY MUSEUM – A MUST-VISIT FOR FAMILIES

Kids and their toys – is there a stronger bond out there? If your kids are like my two boys, then they will absolutely adore a trip to the Tokyo Toy Museum. This is an affordable way to spend the day with your family and learn something new in the process.

What is there to see?

To put it bluntly, this place was amazing! There are three levels, and each will encourage your children to play, create, and learn. We were the only non-Japanese family here on the day, and the staff speak very little English but this was no barrier. The atmosphere is clean, vibrant and well ventilated and the entire family felt relaxed and at ease.

Our children simply loved playing with all the traditional Japanese wooden toys and we loved watching them.

There is also the Wood Toy Forest where you can relax in the aroma of cypress. The floors are cypress and there is a wooden ball pit filled with 20,000 wooden balls – the boys loved laying in here.

The workshops

I would highly recommend a visit to the Toy Factory where we paid an extra $10 to participate in a workshop. We made a Panda family Babushka doll and it now sits proudly in our living room as a keepsake.  There are several different classes throughout the day so you can choose something the whole family will enjoy.

There is also a wooden toy room for children under two years of age, a games salon with amazing analogue games that are educational and fun, and Toy Red Square where the boys loved playing make believe with the Japanese wooden kitchen.

Our boys didn’t want to leave, but they were getting hungry!

I would suggest allowing at least three hours to explore the museum. The museum is open 10.00am to 4.00pm every day except Thursday and costs about 700 yen ($7) for adults. Children two and under are free.  Find out more at Good Toy.