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Awesomeness at LEGOLAND – Part 2, LEGOLAND Theme Park & Water Park

December 30, 2014

After we did the slowly slowly thing on Day One of our getaway to LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort, and thoroughly just relaxed and enjoyed the hotel facilities and activities, you would think that we would start on our chiong-like-crazy (or dash like mad, for our non-Singlish folks) thing on Day Two since we were very kindly sponsored a Theme Park and Water Park One-Day Combo Pass.

It was really generous of LEGOLAND to give us a One-Day Combo Pass, but it did inevitably translate to some kind of rushing stress to make full use of every single hour of the parks’ opening, and cover everything we can to make the ticket worth it.

So again we had to consciously decide NOT to rush; to do the slowly slowly, and to even be prepared to buy tickets on the third day if we wanted to spend more leisurely time at the park.

We were sure hell-bent on doing the Slowly Slowly Movement for this trip.

So did we manage to enjoy two parks in one day? Yes, we did. And we didn’t rush like crazy and only because we did what we felt we want to do. This included returning to the hotel for a one-hour nap.

Here’s what we did, and how we did it:

1. We did make some effort to wake up earlier, instead of at anytime we wanted.

We woke up at 8.30 am, got dressed and prepped our day-pack with caps, raincoats and water. We slapped on sunblock and mozzie repellent, headed to the Bricks Family Restaurant (remember to factor in the wait to be seated!), ate our usual portion for breakfast (as opposed to going for many rounds even if it was a buffet!), did one toileting round at the hotel and headed to join the queue by 9.55 am.

2. We entered the Theme Park at 10 am sharp and turned right.

There was a human swell at about 9.50 am but the queues moved pretty fast the moment the gates opened. The moment we were inside, I rented a double stroller for RM22.50 (hotel guests get a discount, compared to the usual rental rate of RM45) and we turned right from The Beginning to head straight to Lego City. I’ve read on many blog reviews that the right side of the park was catered more for younger children, and since I have a 5, 4 and 2 year-old, it only made the most sense that we got them to enjoy what the park had to offer them. I’ve also briefly walked around the Theme Park when Ben and I were invited to preview the Star Wars Miniland Model Display earlier in September this year, so I was sort of familiar with the layout and map.

Picture Credit: LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort

Picture Credit: LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort

3. We only did things that we would all be happy doing together, including waiting for one another.

This meant queuing only if everyone agreed to join the queue (or wait for whoever who wanted to ride to queue and finish) and promising to wait patiently.

There was no queue for Junior Driving School (the first thing that greeted us at Lego City) and even then only Ben was game enough for it. The circuit was uncomplicated and the experience was completed in no time.

Ben at Junior Driving School

Ben at Junior Driving School

I say 5 is the golden age where a kid is game to try anything!

I say 5 is the golden age where a kid is game to try anything!

You can get a proper card license with your photo at RM20

You can get a proper card license with your photo at RM20

Say! Driver's license!

Say! Driver’s license!

We waited for his “driver licence” (which we paid a fee of RM20 for) longer than the drive and queue put together (had to fill in form for name, make payment, wait for print, etc), but it was a good warm-up for the kids to understand what it was like being in a theme park. Until now, the only theme park they have been to was Hongkong Disneyland, which I’m not sure whether they remember.

We queued at the Boating School for a bit, and steering the battery powered boat was one memorable experience.

Steering a powered boat for the first time

Steering a powered boat for the first time

It's nice to go boating

It’s nice to go boating

It was around then it started to get really scorching hot. The heat was beginning to get to us. And we were not even there for two hours yet. Although I’d rather the sun than rain, my family and I don’t really function very well under heat. If you follow this blog, you would recall how happy Ben and Becks were when it poured all through our 5-km walk for the Hello Kitty Run earlier in November.

So. Some people were gradually turning into grumpy pots by about 11 am actually.

Not so smiley anymore sitting on Santa's sleigh, as you can see

Not so smiley anymore sitting on Santa’s sleigh, as you can see

We then ventured into Rescue Academy to put out the fire and stop the robbers, and despite the fact that our family of 5 had to be broken up into two to take two fire engines, it was a really exciting activity for all of us. This, no queue at all.

There's a fire, and we headed for the rescue mission

There’s a fire, and we headed for the rescue mission; pity we didn’t manage to snap anything of ourselves moving the fire engine manually!

We then retreated into Lego City Stage for the show, When Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney, at 11.30 am; and I would be the first to admit that it didn’t really matter what I was watching. I was just so glad to have air-con.

So we learnt, that Santa got stuck in the chimney, and he's a real dude that comes every Christmas if you believe!

So we learnt, that Santa got stuck in the chimney, and he’s a real dude that comes every Christmas if you believe!

With the cast of the show

With the cast of the show

So we didn’t take the LEGOLAND Express (queue was too long), didn’t go for any other rides except Lost Kingdom and Beetle Bounce at the Land of Adventure, didn’t ride the roller coasters at Lego Kingdom and didn’t take the water plunge at Dino Island after the show. Many rides appeared too daunting for Nat and Becks, and it was always “No, don’t want”, when we asked if we should go for this and that. My little girl just sat on the stroller people-watching half the time, and Nat was pretty shaken after going on the Beetle Bounce. Ben was the only one game to try everything, but the heat by 12 noon got to us quite a bit, and we decided to play carnival games instead (which were all around in booths and very expensive!) and stop at Burger Junction for lunch.

Nat looking ghastly going for the Beetle Bounce drop

Nat looking ghastly going for the Beetle Bounce drop

After a nice lunch at Burger Junction, the kids were more game to take some pictures and were happy just to watch bigger kids play at the Build & Test site (it’s also air-conditioned), where they built cars and tested them in circuits and ramps. Ben and Fatherkao braved the heat to try out the Kids Power Tower which was really fun for all of us watching. We then played a few more carnival games and walked away with two stuffed tigers and a unicorn, and were happy to head back to the hotel for a nap.

Bigger boys playing at Build & Test

Bigger boys playing at Build & Test

Ben with Laval from Legends of Chima

Ben with Laval from Legends of Chima

Brontosaurus!

Brontosaurus!

And Nat's favourite - triceratops!

And Nat’s favourite – triceratops!

Video: Kids Power Tower

Ah, LEGOLAND. If only the trees around us were a little taller, wider and stronger. The heat made all of us more tired than we normally would be, and we had to go back to sleep a bit.

We were really glad to have the hotel room to escape from the heat.

4. We spent two hours at the Water Park.

When we woke up from our nap, it was about 4 pm. The next two hours spent at the Water Park was spent in a light drizzle (unpredictable weather, what’s new?).

But it meant the mood was cheerier because the air was lighter and the heat was gone. And I’d buy tickets to just enter this park instead in a heartbeat anytime.

Because?

Because even though these two couldn’t go on most of the slides, they were contented to sit for a long, long time by the wave pool. Chatting and laughing.

And it was such a joy to watch.

Just cautiously sitting together by the Wave Pool, Nat and Becks

Just cautiously sitting together by the Wave Pool, Nat and Becks

Talking and laughing...

Talking and laughing…

...And people-watching in silence

…And people-watching in silence

Although there were over 20 thrilling slides here at the Water Park, Becks and Nat were totally at home at the Duplo Splash Safari and the Wave Pool, while Fatherkao and Ben were happy to go again and again for Red Rush, Build-a-Raft River and Splash n Swirl.

Me? I was as pathetic as pathetic can be sitting around in the drizzle just watching everyone in action as I had to entertain a “visitor”. It was that time of the month. And alas, I looked around for tampons at the Medini Mall and found none.

LEGOLAND Water Park, I’ll come back for you.

On hindsight, we might have done better visiting the Water Park first with the combo pass, and head to the Theme Park later in the evening at 5 pm. But I’m not sure if that would have satisfied the Lego fans under my charge, because the Theme Park had a lot more Lego awesomeness than the Water Park. But, oh well.

5. Bathe at breakneck speed and go back to LEGOLAND Theme Park before it closes at 8 pm

Ok, this was the only thing we rushed our kids after the Water Park closed at 6 pm. We hurried them in the shower at the hotel, and almost ran back to the Theme Park (which extended opening hours to 8 pm in December). We managed to go on Project X, the 18-metre high roller coaster  – me, Ben and Fatherkao – twice in the cool of the evening, but that was it.

By the time we finished touring Star Wars Miniland, the rides at Lego Kingdom were closed (they shut down at 7 pm). We had hoped to go on the Dragon’s Apprentice and the Royal Joust when it was cooler in the evening, but didn’t know the rides shut at 7 pm. I don’t know why we thought it was 8 pm.

It's closed, the Dragon Apprentice, and we're really sad!

It’s closed, the Dragon Apprentice, and we’re really sad!

Nonetheless, we soaked in the sights of Christmas lights and the voices of Christmas carolling the last hour we were there at the Theme Park. After the drizzle that day, it was finally cool and the awesomeness of LEGO happened for us all once again.

Chrismas carolling

Chrismas carolling

The 9-metre high Christmas Lego Tree made of 427, 695 Lego Duplo bricks, decorated with hand-built ornaments: what a sight!

The 9-metre high Christmas Lego Tree made of 427, 695 Lego Duplo bricks, decorated with hand-built ornaments: what a sight!

***

Might I make a few suggestions, LEGOLAND?

  • If you had night tickets like that of Universal Studios Singapore during the Christmas season (where you can choose to buy tickets only for entry from 5-9pm), I would gladly buy them. The heat may be a little unbearable for younger children.

 

  • To solve the problem of unpredictable weather, perhaps more tents and canopies? We were ready with caps and sunscreen and brollies, but still. It would be great if the park was more covered so we can have temporary relief from heat, or rain, for that matter.

 

  • Could we please have water points? Most theme parks do! I brought my helper along, and I was glad to have lugged her for this trip because the sole purpose of her being there was to help us with the water for the three kids and to make sure all of us were hydrated. I read from reviews there were no water coolers available, so I came prepared. I can’t imagine those who didn’t, and like me, have 3 young kids in tow. Can’t possibly be going around hunting for stores and snack bars to buy water, right?
  • Would you consider offering an Express Queue system? In the heat, I might gladly pay. So I might be able to ride more rides with less stress. And the adrenaline, instead of the heat and queuing, might get all of us going.

Apologies if I sound like such a wuss. Just some suggestions.

***

Having said all these, I am extremely, extremely thankful for this wonderful opportunity to be found in LEGOLAND Resort. Like the hotel, we love the details. We were wowed, especially at Miniland, by every single Lego-constructed mini monument and landscape. We were impressed at the awesomeness of seeing almost life-sized dinos, animals, people and things, constructed all by Lego. The fans in the house were very gratified, because that – that is the awesomeness of falling in love with Lego over and over again.

Beyond the rides and queues and carnival games.

Beyond the thrill of splashing down a slide for the third time or going up a roller coaster.

To us, the beauty of Lego is the ability to imagine and build, and has always been the reason why we love Lego.

Thank you, LEGOLAND Malaysia, for being such a generous host!

This was us, doing the L-E-G-O!

This was us, doing the L-E-G-O!

Disclosure: This review is in no way representative of the views of LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort. We were kindly sponsored a family one-day combo pass and meal vouchers for the purpose of this post. All opinions here, including experiencing heat and waves of awesomeness, are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Going Out! Happy days Holidays! Reviews The Kao Kids

Awesomeness at LEGOLAND – Part 1, the Hotel

December 27, 2014
LEGOLAND Hotel Welcome

LEGOLAND Hotel Welcome

If Disneyland is the place where magic happens, then LEGOLAND is the place of awesomeness.

I must be one of the last few people from the island of Singapore to go to LEGOLAND at Iskandar Malaysia. Almost everyone I know can boast of a ‘been there, done that‘.

I’ve been biding my time, waiting for Nat to finally hit a height of at least 90 cm so he can be allowed to take some rides at the theme park and the time has finally come.

So to LEGOLAND we go! How can we not be found in a place of endless awesomeness of Lego, Lego and more Lego this holidays when I have ardent Lego fans in the house?

We checked out the LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort’s hotel, theme park and water park earlier this December, and here are the highlights (as well as the not-so-high ones, as you will read) of our short getaway by car, with three children aged 5, 4 and 2 in tow.

Presenting, Motherkao’s very own review on LEGOLAND Hotel, using the acrostics (what else?) L-E-G-O-L-A-N-D…

*drumroll, please*

Leaving Singapore for the LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort

The LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort is definitely nearer than we thought it was. It was a relatively smooth ten-minute drive the moment we set off after custom clearance at Tuas Second Link. It was easy to drive there (Tuas Checkpoint SGD3.20 using the cashcard and only one toll to pass in Malaysia at RM15, so prep your Touch ‘n’ Go card), and much more direct than we had expected. Basically, just drive till you see Nusajaya Exit 312 and follow the huge brown ‘LEGOLAND’ signs that point you to the direction of LEGOLAND.

It was that easy – drive straight all the way, exit at 312 Nusajaya, look for the brown. Totally idiot-proof.

Map from LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort Website. More directions here.

Map from LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort Website. More directions here.

We were going to be checking in to the hotel, so we parked at the hotel carpark. It’s free-of-charge for guests and RM30 if you’re not an inhouse guest. Parking is sheltered and the carpark has ample spaces for parking (two basements), with many cars parked backside in (so I assumed it’s pretty safe, considering we were advised to park head in in Malaysia).

Exchange and Fair Trade

The Wall of Minifigs at the LEGOLAND Hotel Malaysia

The Wall of Minifigs at the LEGOLAND Hotel Malaysia

Prior to making this trip, I learned about the practise of swapping LEGO minifigures (also affectionately known as minifigs, in Lego-speak) from Wacky Duo’s post. Apparently, it’s a tradition which began in LEGOLAND Florida in which a complete minifig can be exchanged or traded with any staff in the resort who has a nametag that reads’ TRADE WITH ME’ as frequent and as often as possible.

If you’ve read Wacky Duo’s experience trying to do the minifig exchange (that was in October this year), you’d have learned that it wasn’t as pleasant as they had hoped it would be. Nonetheless, I placed my confidence, albeit a little too early,  on this piece of press release by LEGOLAND and told Ben (the biggest Lego fan in the house and the owner of I-don’t-know-how-many minifigs) to prepare some for making exchanges. You know how those Lego blind packs work, right? How you can end up with the same figure five times after opening five packs.

So yea, I told him to fix up all his extras, pack them in his luggage and do his swaps should he find someone he wants to trade with.

At the hotel, we waited and looked around while playing at the lobby for exchanges to take place which we could witness. Nothing. No one did any. No trading was taking place. Curious, I asked the staff at the reception if the practice of swapping minifigs was scrapped. He smiled and said it still very much was ongoing, and asked if we wanted to exchange with him.

And then the LEGO-AWESOMENESS happened. My son, at 5 years of age, mustered his courage to exchange his first minifig, and there was no turning back.

Ben exchanged his minifig for a race car dude

Ben exchanged his minifig for a race car dude

Unlike what Wacky Duo experienced (the staff rejecting exchanges because minfigs were glued to their tags), everyone whom we subsequently asked, spoke with or even leaned close to just to examine their minifigs shared in the excitement of the minifigs trade. A very huge improvement since October 2014.

Ben then went on to exchange his second and third, and even gave his sister the courage to exchange hers.

She likes the funky girl on this lady's nametag - and mustered courage to ask her to trade

She likes the funky girl on this lady’s nametag – and mustered courage to ask her to trade

Sure, the lady said, and the exchange happened

Sure, the lady said, and the exchange happened!

Happy to have completed the trade successfully!

Happy to have completed the trade successfully!

And I had to join in the fun to exchange one, too. I was in LEGOLAND, for crying out loud, and I must do my part to keep this tradition alive, yes?

I liked his disco ball dude, so I exchanged my grunge guitarist; we kept the accessories cos' the 'Model Citizens' (the staff at LEGOLAND Hotel) do not have accessories to their minifigs

I liked his disco ball dude, so I exchanged my grunge guitarist; we kept the accessories cos’ the ‘Model Citizens’ (the staff at LEGOLAND Hotel) do not have accessories for their minifigs

Now, that’s some awesomeness there. We were happy owners of new minifigs, completely mixed and matched in randomness, and totally loving them.

Remember to keep the tradition alive and bring some minifigs for swapping the next time you come!

Goosebumped by some unpleasant birds at Bricks Family Restaurant

Gourmet Bricks Family Restaurant

Bricks Family Restaurant

The Bricks Family Restaurant is the place where buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The LEGOLAND hotel has 249 rooms in total, so you can imagine what a feat it would be feeding all the hotel guests at breakfast.

Because breakfast time for most normal, functioning human families starts from 9am to 10am, the human traffic swells to an all-time high at this place at this peak hour. A wait of 10 minutes or more is usually expected before you get a table, which was fine by us, since the feeling of hunger can be easily forgotten by the distractions all around the entrance of the Bricks Family Restaurant, namely the soft Lego play pits and Xbox corner.

Clowning around the huge Lego sundae

Clowning around the huge Lego sundae

Stepping on soft Lego blocks

Stepping on soft Lego blocks

I’m ok with waiting (but not for too long) during my holidays, really. We didn’t really wait very long anyway. 15 minutes thereabouts to me is acceptable.

But I am not ok fending off crows.

The first time we had breakfast there at this restaurant, we were seated outside.

I know crows are nobody’s fault, but it was harrowing to be eating with crows watching us, ready to attack our food the moment we were gone. And since it’s a buffet, how many times would we be gone? And the thing with crows is that they are oblivious to young children. Smaller children are hardly humans they should be fearful of, and I constantly feared for our lives having that meal. I know I’m exaggerating a bit here but you get the drift.

I get goosebumps having a crow or two watch me eat. I am terrified of crows. And my children too.

Outdoor dining

I don’t have any pictures of crows to show you, but please tell the Bricks Family Restaurant folks you want to sit inside rather than out if you don’t like crows too. This is where we dined when we were watched by hawk-like crows.

On our second day we were assigned indoor seats, thankfully. And that was when I could taste my food a whole lot better, even though I was also constantly worrying for the children who were outside. Anyway, since I could taste my food a little better than the day before, I am so not glad to be saying that the food didn’t taste fantastic. It was mass cooked, for sure; and I wouldn’t blame the folks either because serving up breakfast to so many people everyday during crowded school holidays season sure isn’t an easy thing (the restaurant can seat up to 465 guests). Nonetheless, it was disappointing to not get good food in Malaysia.

Because Malaysia to me has always been about good food.

Other Hotel Facilities and the Slowly Slowly Movement

LEGOLAND Hotel itself deserves one full day of your time to explore and to immerse yourself in.

Legoland Hotel entrance, with a fiery dragon to welcome us!

Legoland Hotel entrance, with a fiery dragon to welcome us!

I will state from the onset that their check-in and check-out times will make a fool out of you if you’re a true LEGO fan – who would love any moment of admiring the details in Lego construction and pieces – and if you intend for your stay at the hotel to be only one night and not more.

Check-in is at 4pm and check-out is at 11am. Tell me, how to stay only for one night?

Most people that have done the hotel stay and park visits will tell you that the best way to experience the entire resort is to stay for at least two nights. I’m glad we did. We were very kindly hosted by LEGOLAND for our first night, and offered corporate rates for our second, complete with a  complimentary one-day Theme Park and Water Park combo pass for the entire family.

The kiasu mother in me had grand plans to make the best of our stay. The grand plan, like what most people’s itinerary (or so I heard and read), was to hit the road by 8am, reach the hotel to leave our luggage by 9.30am and then start our theme park fun the moment the park opens its doors at 10am. When it gets too hot and we need to cool down from the heat, we’ll adjourn to the Water Park just next to the Theme Park after lunch and spend the later part of the afternoon there. When the Water Park closes at 6pm, we’ll head back to the Theme Park for the Christmas programme and lights since it closes at 8pm.

Sounds perfect? Apparently NOT.

The husband learned of this plan and gave me two very specific instructions on what NOT to do for this getaway: rush everyone around like a mad mother hen; spoil the holiday by yelling at the kids.

And then he said, judging from the flow of my very packed itinerary, I was definitely going to do both. He requested for this holiday to be as relaxing and as fun as possible, and that there be no to-do-list to check.

So out of respect for the man who’s worked so hard the whole year long, we did the “slowly slowly”. Slowly slowly get ready and wake up anytime we wanted, slowly slowly drive to Malaysia (we avoided the AYE traffic by setting off at 10am), slowly slowly leave the luggage in the concierge, and then slowly slowly head to Medini Mall (next to Theme Park) for lunch. After lunch, slowly slowly explore the shops for old school snacks and take kiddy rides for RM1.

Then slowly slowly walk back to the hotel and explore the play pits at the lobby, building, stacking, building, stacking. Slowly slowly walk around to look for minifigs to exchange, and then try our luck for an earlier than 4pm check in, which we got, at 2.30pm.

Steering the pirate ship

Steering the pirate ship

Pretending to be imprisoned in the dungeon

Pretending to be imprisoned in the dungeon

Squatting next to a skeleton!

Squatting next to a Lego constructed skeleton!

Busy at the playpit

Busy at the playpit

Becks at Play

Becks at play

Big Boy at play

Big Boy at play

Weapon complete!

Weapon complete!

Weapon complete!

Weapon complete!

Ben at Play_Weapon Complete

Super weapon complete!

And then slowly slowly walk to the themed hotel room, admiring the details on walls, carpets, furnishing, decor and elevators along our way. This slowly slowly gig turned out to be extremely relaxing, and FUN!

Slowly slowly exploring the lobby and the intricate details in every Lego piece

Slowly slowly exploring the lobby and the intricate details in every Lego piece

Cannot miss the chance to do the elevator dance in all the themed elevators with disco music and disco lights! Awesome!

Cannot miss the chance to do the elevator dance in all the themed elevators with disco music and disco lights! This one can’t be slowly slowly, cos’ the music playing was YMCA! Awesome!

After we thoroughly checked out our hotel room (next point), we headed to the hotel pool for a leisurely swim.

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Malaysia

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Malaysia

The pool occupies a decent, peaceful space comprising an infinity pool (1.2m) overlooking the two parks and a children’s wading pool (0.6m). The kids had a good time slowly slowly splashing water and doing their dipping rounds, and it was all together completely relaxing once again.

It's nice to be on top of the world! Well, sort of.

It’s nice to be on top of the world! Well, sort of.

Before dinner, we walked around the hotel lobby again and realised that there were many daily activities taking place. There was a Build-a-Lego themed challenge daily, and for the month of December everyday, the best construction of something Christmassy wins a prize. All you needed to do was to use the bricks in the playpits and make something to the theme of Christmas and leave it at the reception counter. At the end of the day, all entries would be judged and a winner chosen.

That night we were there, there was also a ‘Guess the Number of Bricks’ contest in which we were invited to estimate the number of Lego bricks in a jar. Ben won that, that night, and earned himself a certificate and Lego brick keychain.

137 bricks was his guess, and of course, his father helped him estimate a bit

137 bricks was his guess, and of course, his father helped him estimate a bit

In addition to these things happening, we also slowly slowly checked out other play areas…

Kids spacing out

Kids spacing out

The lounging corner (where we watched a cartoon of the history of LEGO)…

TV Time!

TV Time!

And were treated to a good time of carolling by the LEGOLAND folks…

Christmas carolling at the lobby

Christmas carolling at the lobby

So much to slowly slowly do in one day!

LEGOLAND Hotel Room – We’re in a Kingdom!

Our hotel room. Ah, our hotel room! The highlight of our trip. Such details. Such awesomeness. How impressive!

Guess which theme we chose?

Guess which theme we chose?

We're in a Kingdom!

We stayed in a Kingdom Premium Themed Room!

The LEGOLAND Hotel has 249 themed guestrooms, following the three popular Lego lines – Pirate (think skulls and bones), Adventure (think Revenge of the Mummy) and Kingdom (think knights and armours). Each room can sleep up to 5 guests, with a king-size bed for adults, and a separate sleeping area for up to 3 kids, complete with a bunk bed, a pull-out trundle, their very own TV and a box of Duplo bricks for the young ones. The bathroom also comes equipped with a washbasin for children. What awesomeness!

Amused by Lego-inspired soap

Amused by Lego-inspired soap

But the best part – the best thing for me was the details in the room and that we had a room with a view. Everything was made to fit the theme, from the beds and the carpet to the wallpaper and even the Lego decor in the room!

Check this out, Ladies and Gents. This. This was the view from Room 323.

Check this out, Ladies and Gents. This.
This was the view from Room 323.

Nat Kao and the Frog

Nat Kao and the Frog

The details in the Children's Sleeping Area

The details in the children’s sleeping area

The entrance to the room

The entrance to the room

A Treasure Hunt and 4 Mystery Numbers

The highlight of our hotel stay, for my eldest son, the hugest Lego fan in the house, was the thrill that there’s a mystery box to unlock in the hotel room.

So we were told that there was a special sheet of paper to search for to get the questions for clues to unlock the mystery treasure chest. Ben jumped to work immediately, and wasted no time locating and counting the items that’s requested of him for his task.

I cheated by calling the reception for the code while he was busy at work so that I knew the code to unlock the chest before he did. Hurhurhur.

Understanding the task first

Understanding the task first

Solving the mystery of the hidden number and finding the clues

Solving the mystery of the hidden number and finding the clues

Nonetheless, the boy solved the mystery on his own, and was extremely elated to have found treasure inside the treasure chest!

Unlocking the chest

Unlocking the chest

Treasure!

Treasure!

It was his reward indeed, but one he gladly shared with his siblings because he is such a sweetheart – a Lego Spiderman magnet, a Lego Ninjago keychain and a Lego brick keychain!

Sharing is loving!

Sharing is loving!

Night time at LEGOLAND Hotel – A Beautiful Sight

I don’t know if you’ve done it. But we did. Take a slowly slowly walk in the still of the night and just soaking in the Christmas atmosphere and the idea that we’re in LEGOLAND.

The Theme Park at night

The Theme Park at night

The other entrance

The other entrance

Giant LEGO figs!

Giant LEGO figs!

The hotel lobby at night

The hotel lobby at night

The Castle at night

The Castle at night

Awesomeness.

Di Mattoni Restaurant

We were very glad to have found decent Italian fare at this restaurant in LEGOLAND Hotel, and that very much made up for the harrowing breakfast experience with the crows. The food here at Di Mattoni was extremely delightful, and we were really happy dining here. This restaurant deserves a mention especially, because despite being a place for fine dining and all, they catered completely for the kids – word search puzzles, colouring and Lego bricks to keep them occupied, you name it – while we waited for our food. Service was excellent as were the cocktails and dishes.

The entrance of Di Mattoni Restaurant

The entrance of Di Mattoni Restaurant

Glorious Italian fare

Glorious Italian fare and deliciousness

***

There you have it, a L-E-G-O-L-A-N-D review of the LEGOLAND Hotel, with more awesomeness than we imagined. So glad we initiated our Slowly Slowly Movement the first day we were there to thoroughly enjoy food, company, and LEGO!

LEGOLAND Hotel, we’ll be back!

***

Coming up: A review of the LEGOLAND Theme Park and Water Park

Disclosure: We were hosted by the good folks at LEGOLAND Malaysia for the purpose of this review for one night at their Kingdom Premium Themed Room, and offered a corporate rate for our second night. No monetary compensation was received for this post, and all opinions here, including being deluged by waves of awesomeness, are our own. 

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Getting all sentimental now Happy days Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids

Capturing a moment in time this Christmas with Orange Studios

November 28, 2014

Christmas is, without a doubt, our favourite time of the year.

It’s a time for reflecting, sharing, giving and loving.

It’s a time to take stock and to give thanks.

And it’s a time to look back at how much my children have grown.

2011: Christmas with family

2011: Christmas with family

2011: My little Santarina Becks

2011: My little Santarina Becks

2012: Keeping our tradition of getting a real fir tree!

2012: Keeping our tradition of getting a real fir tree!

 

2013: Look at the presents, and how much the kids have grown!

2013: Look at the presents, and how much the kids have grown!

This year, Orange Studios invited us to capture 2014’s Christmas through pictures we would want to keep for a lifetime.

Pictures like these, to remind us that time is but fleeting and every year is a year of change that must frozen in time by photography to be kept alive in our hearts:

Orange Studios Christmas_2

Orange Studios Christmas_1

Orange Studios Christmas_6

Orange Studios Christmas_3

Orange Studios Christmas_5

Orange Studios Christmas_7

Orange Studios Christmas_4

Oh, how quick my babies have grown!

Another year, another Christmas. Here’s to more happy times and jolly cheers!

xoxo

Just for Motherkao readers:

Orange Studios is offering a mini Christmas Photo Shoot so you will never forget this Christmas!

The following are the dates for the sessions:

Nov: 24 – 27, 30 (limited slots remaining for 30 Nov)
Dec: 2 – 4, 9 – 14

Quote [Motherkao] and for SGD180 (U.P $200) you will enjoy the following:

– a 30-minute studio Christmas photoshoot session
– all soft copy photos (8R resolution) returned with light edits

Terms and conditions:
– The above rate is for up to 4 pax. Top-up $15/pax for additional participants.
– Maximum 2 outfits.
– $30 surcharge for weekend sessions.
– Soft copy photos will be provided in a DVD, by self-collection. Top-up $4 for postage (i.e. normal mail).

Contact them at 8606 6950 or contact@orangestudios.sg for enquiries or bookings. Connect with them via Facebook for more updates!

Disclosure: We love Orange Studios, and were super stoked to be invited by them to share this offer. No monetary compensation was received for this post, and all opinions here are our own.

Christmas happiness Enrichment Going Out! Learning fun! Motherkao loves...

Oh December, you were too short

December 29, 2013

December has got to be the shortest month in the year. Time always flies whenever we’re having fun.

This December, we made some really beautiful memories together. Memories of the wet, dramatic and crafty kind.

In the first week of December, Ben and Becks were invited by Little Harvard International Preschool to join their ‘Christmas Crackers’ Speech and Drama Holiday Programme. We were told that the programme would be conducted by Daniel Jenkins, one of the executive directors of The Little Company and associate assistant directors at the SRT. I’ve heard of the name Daniel Jenkins in the theatre circles for a long time, and know that he’s a legend in his own right. I couldn’t wait for Ben and Becks to meet him and learn from him, and so to Little Harvard International Preschool at Jalan Gelenggang we went for the Speech and Drama Holiday Programme every morning for four days.

And I have to say, this was the best holiday programme we’ve ever attended. Ben and Becks loved it so much, they were ready and raring to go every morning. They absolutely loved Daniel Jenkins, or ‘Teacher Dan’ as the kids address him (or the uncle with the grey hair, as Becks endearingly call him). He makes them laugh, he plays fun games with them, they do craft together and get to pretend to be elves and reindeer. And he does that every day to the point they lament the fun at class is too short and wish they could go back for speech and drama “every day forever”, or so Ben says.

They were no tears, no need for long and sad goodbyes every morning when they were dropped off for the programme. And it was so wonderful I got two-half hours of me time for a few days!

For four days, they learned songs, did craft and practised for a mini concert on the last day. Every child got to play elf, reindeer, fairy or snowman, and all of them helped Santa spread the Christmas cheer!

So, I was really glad it was a drop off programme!

So, I was really glad it was a drop off programme!

It was indeed amazing to see Ben stand confidently, deliver lines and get into his role as an elf. And even more amazing to see Becks do the same. You’re talking about Becks, who’s almost always too shy to greet a person with confidence. She was one happy bouncy reindeer at the performance!

Introducing Ben the Elf, with his two other elf friends

Introducing Ben the Elf, with his two other elf friends

And Reindeer Becks who would be helping Santa with his sleigh

And Reindeer Becks who would be helping Santa with his sleigh

LittleHarvard_Christmas Crackers Performance 1

The children sing, “Here comes Christmas our favourite time of the year!”

LittleHarvard_Christmas Crackers Performance 2

And do a “Ho Ho Ho!” with a huge leap in the air!

And best of all, it got the kids excited about Christmas, this being the first week of December. With their craft work, we got decorations up and an elf and reindeer in the house all ready to spread the Christmas cheer. What an awesome job Daniel Jenkins did, and I must say, he’s really a legend indeed!

Everyone, meet the legendary Daniel Jenkins

Everyone, meet the legendary Daniel Jenkins

On the second week, the kids were also invited to Artz Graine, a leading arts studio, for their Art Eureka Holiday Programme. In the hour they were there, they made Christmas stockings to put up so that Santa can leave some presents in them.

Of course, these kids are too smart to know that Santa doesn’t exist and their stockings are too small for any presents.

Artz Graine Christmas Stockings

But all in the name of good fun and just cos’ it’s Christmas!

Our family also headed to Festive Hotel for a staycation on the third week of December. I’ve heard so much about the hotel’s deluxe family suite and when I chanced upon a 50% offer on the room rates, I had the suite – complete with a pull-out sofa bed for two, a loft bed and a king-sized bed – booked immediately. My favourite parts of the staycation had to be eating at Chili’s and spending the morning exploring the Hard Rock Hotel’s poolside that had water play features, a child-friendly slide, a jacuzzi and an entire area filled with the finest Australian beach sand.

There's nothing not to love at the Hard Rock Hotel's Poolside!

There’s nothing not to love at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Poolside!

The kids are into getting wet now and not as fearful of spraying water features and wading pools as they were before, so it was all very fun, fun, fun!

Two days of swimming at the Festive Hotel Pool and the ones at Hard Rock Hotel

Two days of swimming at the Festive Hotel Pool and the ones at Hard Rock Hotel

And just when we thought we’ve gotten enough of getting wet, Port of Lost Wonder at Sentosa sent us an invitation for a day of getting wet and to join them in their Christmas Joy activities.

Our tickets to fun at Port of Lost Wonder

Our tickets to fun at Port of Lost Wonder

Oh how we missed you, POLW!

Oh how we missed you, POLW!

We had ourselves another crazily fun, wet day at POLW, running around and in and out of the huge pirate ship, making Christmas candles and gingerbread cookies when we wanted a break from the spewing waters, and running around and in and out of the huge pirate ship again when we were done exploring the various activity stations.

Making Christmas candles

Making Christmas candles

We made some gingerbread cookies for our snack!

We made some gingerbread cookies for our snack!

We all got a couple of sun kisses that day, but hey, we ain’t complaining cos’ God gave such beautiful weather to play!

Lovely weather to play all day

Lovely weather to play all day

And to end the month on a sweet note, we had the most awesome Christmas party with the awesomest of company. They came, we ate (or rather, pigged out) and carolled. So spontaneously and melodiously.

P/S to my friends: So I wasn't allowed to put on youtube to make you all overnight singing sensations but you guys didn't say anything about being on my blog. Haha. Everyone's sketched so you shouldn't be too recognizable, yes?

P/S to our friends: So I wasn’t allowed to put you all on youtube to make you  overnight singing sensations but you guys didn’t say anything about being on my blog. Haha. Here’s the only picture I have of everyone singing.

And so ever happily. We are truly grateful for such wonderful friends and family in our lives.

December was NO WORK, ALL PLAY. One can never get enough of December!

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Food, glorious food! Motherkao loves... Product Reviews

Eating up a Winter Wonderland

December 13, 2013

You know Christmas is here when the kids got to experience a winter wonderland in a totally new way.

Last week, the kids gathered around the Winter Wonderland Cake that the good folks at PrimaDéli sent over, and squealed with delight as they drooled over a fresh cream-covered blackforest sponge adorned with strawberry snowmen, chocolate mushrooms, white chocolate snowflakes and sugared Christmas trees!

PrimaDeli Winter Wonderland Cake

The Winter Wonderland cake from PrimaDéli’s Christmas Collection this year was such a treat for the eyes and oh so pretty! Just hovering around the cake for three minutes got Ben, Becks and Nat very, very, thrilled. They couldn’t wait to eat what they were seeing.

And chomped down those sugary treats they did. They were on an all-time sugar high after savouring all the things that made up the winter wonderland.

PrimaDeli Kao Kids

And so was I. There was also a little hut made of yummy dark chocolate which I made the kids stay away from – cos’ it was mine to indulge in. Hurhurhur. That, plus the awesomely light and decadent blackforest cake wrapped in fresh white cream. Mmm…mmm.

We cleaned up the wonderland in a matter of minutes and had ourselves a truly merry time picking (from the cake), licking (the sweet treats) and laughing (at our cream covered faces).

Oh what a night! Is Christmas here already? Merry Christmas, everyone!

PrimaDeli Christmas is here

Thank you, PrimaDéli, for letting us experience winter wonderland with our senses this Christmas!

Christmas makes a great reason to feast, have a party and be merry! Excite the kids with a colourful array of PrimaDéli’s sweet treats this holiday and get everyone in the festive mood for the coming Yuletide.

PrimaDeli Christmas (Group shot)-1

The cheery Winter Wonderland cake (approx 760g)  is available at PrimaDeli at $45.90. Other treats suitable for children also include The Gingerbread boy and girl sold individually and priced at $2.50 each; Christmas Cupcakes (in a set of nine, of any one flavour which includes Chocolate Divine and Vanilla Cinnamon amongst others) priced at $27; Merry Cookies (a selection of Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Tarts or Deluxe Almond Cookies) at $14.80 a tin; and Chef’s Supreme Pie (16cm diameter) priced at $11.90.

The PrimaDéli Christmas Collection 2013 is available from 21 November to 25 December 2013. The closing date for all Christmas orders is 20 December 2013. Check out more on PrimaDéli’s Christmas Collection here.

Disclosure: We received the Winter Wonderland cake with compliments from PrimaDéli. No monetary compensation was received for this post and all opinions here are our own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Happy days Nat Kao Product Reviews

Getting BIG HUGS this Christmas (featuring Sesame Street’s Elmo!)

December 10, 2013

It’s Christmas time!

Nat goes to the stores. Nat sees Elmo at a toy fair.

Nat sits down to watch promo clip. Nat is fascinated.

Watching Elmo

Nat wants a picture with Elmo. No, make that a picture with many Elmos.

Toy fair

Nat goes home. Mama’s not buying any.

Hasbro Singapore sends the Kao kids an early Christmas gift!

Card from Hasbro

 And…

Kao kids with Elmo

The kids are thrilled. Nat is MOST thrilled.

Nat and the BHE box

 Elmo asks for a hug and Nat gives it.

Hugging Elmo

Elmo asks Nat to hold him tighter. Nat obliges.

Hugging Elmo tighter

They have a conversation. They laugh. Elmo sings. Nat giggles.

Talking to Elmo

Best Christmas present so far!

Loving Elmo

Big Hugs Elmo is an interactive and educational plush toy that invites preschoolers to cuddle, pretend, sing, dance, and explore while learning the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colours and more. Your child can give and receive hugs from the Hasbro Playskool Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo who would move his arms to return a hug, plays songs, dances with your child and engages him or her with four fun imaginative activities, including playing astronauts and playing rabbits.

Disclosure: Christmas came early for the Kao kids when Hasbro Singapore sent over Big Hugs Elmo on behalf of Santa. We received the latest offering from Hasbro for the purpose of this review. Motherkao received no monetary compensation for this post and all opinions here are my own.

P/S: Pardon the poor picture quality from my S3. We were all so entertained by the giggling pair (Elmo and Nat!) that we couldn’t stop shaking while snapping pictures of them!

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Going Out! The Kao Kids

Riding into Christmas with Thomas & Friends at City Square Mall

December 1, 2013

Christmas came early for us with Thomas the Number One Tank Engine, and his hilarious, fun-loving friends!

We were invited by City Square Mall to celebrate Christmas with Thomas and his friends, Sir Topham Hatt, Dusty and Rusty – the boisterously merry station duo – and a mischievously funny orange cat at their live show, which ran its first performance yesterday. I hear that this musical production of song, story and dance is a never-before-seen worldwide Christmas performance brought specially to town by City Square Mall just for this festive season!

Thomas the train 1

This was the first mall show that I felt was really worth the jostling in the crowd and waiting on a weekend. We waited close to 40 minutes along Kitchener Road in the carpark queue and it was a crazy long wait in the heavy rain and sheer torture being in a car with restless, noisy children who couldn’t wait to meet Thomas the Train.

The production was really solid nonetheless; it wasn’t just a la la la song and dance thingamajig – it was a good half an hour of excellent story telling with a timeless life lesson of learning to make one’s mistake right, exemplified by Thomas the Train. In addition, the characters also shared some eco-tips, teaching the audience how to segregate waste for recycling.

Thomas the train collage

At the end of the show, there were shrieks of laughter and excitement all around as the Christmas journey ended with “snow”!

The Kao kids had lots of fun. There were *finally* no people in costumes to be afraid of and no shaking hands with huge cartoon characters that’s come alive during the meet-and-greet. Even the littlest one loved the show, which makes all the torturous waiting for the carpark queue worth it.

Thomas the train 3

Thank you, City Square Mall, for inviting us to yet another great mall show and Meet & Greet Session once again!

More details:

Christmas with Thomas & Friends Live Show and Meet & Greet Session is happening from 30 November to 15 December daily except Mondays at Level 1 Atrium of City Square Mall!

  • Time: Tues to Fri 2pm & 7pm |  Sat & Sun 1pm, 4pm & 7pm
  • Shoppers can redeem an exclusive pass for the Meet & Greet session with a minimum spending of $50 (50 passes will be given out 45 minutes prior to each show). 

Christmas carnival

There’s also a Christmas Carnival at the Level 1 City Green Outdoor Park with a beautiful carousel and many other rides, as well as exciting game booths with exciting prizes. You can redeem a Thomas & Friends mini cushion and Christmas Carnival coupon for a ride/game when you spend $200 at the mall. Check out more details of the Christmas celebrations at City Square Mall here.

Disclosure: We were invited to join the Christmas festivities at City Square Mall. No monetary compensation was received for this post and opinions are all Motherkao’s own.

All this blog's PR Stuff Christmas happiness Going Out! Motherkao loves... The Kao Kids

A SpongeBob SquarePants kind of Christmas at Changi Airport

November 19, 2013

We’re going to be seeing a lot of yellow this Christmas! As part of Changi Airport‘s Christmas festivities this year, the folks at Bikini Bottom are surfacing from under the sea to spread some Christmas cheer.

Before Bikini Bottom was inflated... there were three kiddos waiting!

Before Bikini Bottom was inflated… there were three kiddos waiting!

We were invited to preview what Changi Airport has in store this Christmas last Saturday, and like what SpongeBob would say, “We’re ready, we’re ready, we’re ready!”

And so we checked out the world’s tallest Pineapple House, standing at 11 metres tall at Terminal 3…

Fun at SpongeBob's Pineapple House!

Fun at SpongeBob’s Pineapple House!

…Entered the transit lounge at each airport terminal to see the massive topiaries of famous landmarks – the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum and the fabled Trojan Horse in Turkey. We also met SpongeBob, Mr Krabs, Patrick, Squidward and Plankton there, all having lots of dress-up fun!

Inside the transit lounge in T1, T2 and T3 to preview the "places of interest"

Inside the transit lounge in T1, T2 and T3 to preview the “places of interest”

And at Terminal 3’s Departure Hall (Row 11), we saw a ginormous Bikini Bottom – a bouncy inflatable playground standing at 9 metres, complete with a ball pit, a maze and a slide.

Bikini Bottom now inflated!

Bikini Bottom now inflated!

The kids haven’t actually watched an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants but they absolutely love the plush toys they were given in their goodie bags and all the photo opportunities while we were inside the various transit lounge. I used to watch SpongeBob A LOT when it was launched in 1999 (I was in JC then!), so guess who was the one most familiar with the characters! It was a fun morning out for me as much as it was for them, being able to relive some teen-hood memories of my couch potato days.

Thanks for the invite and the goodie bags, CAG and Nickelodeon!

Thanks for the invite and the goodie bags, CAG and Nickelodeon!

There’s gonna be a galore of fun-filled activities this Christmas season at Changi Airport this year, so do make the airport one of your ‘to-go’ places this festive holiday! As SpongeBob would say, “This is gonna be the coolest party eva!”

Chillax' with SpongeBob and Patrick!

Chillax’ with SpongeBob and Patrick at Changi Airport this Christmas!

Christmas happiness Going Out! The Kao Kids

What fun it is to laugh and sing

December 26, 2012

We took a road trip up north this long weekend.

Days before leaving for Desaru, the kids were like, “Are we going? Are we going yet? Are we?”; on the two hour car trip there, they were quizzing every waking minute, “Are we there yet? Are we at Desaru already? Are we?”; and when we got there, they were going, “What shall we do next? What can we do now? Can we…?”.

I felt like I was living life out of a Baby Blues comic strip.

So while the kids jumped around like monkeys, shot water from their Super Soaker Nerf guns (at their mother, baby brother, grandpa and aunt), played with light sticks, screamed Jingle Bells all the way through Christmas Eve and watched the fireworks display leading to Christmas Day, the adults were totally tired out and couldn’t wait to get home to laze in bed to enjoy the nice, cool, rainy weather.

Super Soaker ready

We don’t get no silent nights no more since the kids came along. But hey, we ain’t complaining.

Merry Christmas from the Kao pirates!

Hope you had a great Christmas too.

Christmas happiness The Kao Kids

An enchanted early Christmas

December 20, 2012

When the kids were younger, they clung on to me like koala babies whenever we’re at parties. They were shy, extremely wary of people who said hi to them and terrified of those in funny costumes twisting and shaping balloons. Now that they are a little older, they’re beginning to really enjoy being at one. So now, every time I announce, “We’re going to a party!”, Ben and Becks go “Yay! Party!” and don’t stop jumping around the house like kangaroos for the next thirty seconds.

Last Sunday, we received a very kind invitation from the Forest Friends to attend their exclusive pop-up party at the White Studio at Fort Canning Centre to celebrate Christmas, and I must say, it was an enjoyable, enchanted evening indeed.

The Enchanted Christmas Party

The party was a cosy affair and planned meticulously for younger kids. There were festive fun stations all around the studio and friendly “Christmas buddies” to assist the little ones at each station. After grabbing some yummy mini cupcakes and cookies from the buffet table filled with little treats, Ben and Becks had a great time decorating their Christmas trees and colouring Christmas bookmarks and pictures of Santa. They also loved Captain Dazzle’s magic show and were very tickled by his juggling, teasing and the missing Santa trick.

Ben decorating his tree

Kids colouring

Becks colouring

Best of all, they sunk their first bite into Christmasy goodies and candies, just cos’ it’s Christmas.

Ben and his Christmas candy

Becks and her Christmas candy

The kids were also sketched by a really talented artist at the party at one of the stations. These caricatures of them were the highlight of my day. In those few minutes they tried to sit still, the artist was able to give attention to the details (like Becks’ rabbit-head shoes!) and capture their personality in his sketches. Way too cool!

Caricatures

The weather was also lovely for lots of outdoor play in snow suds. It may not be real and a tad soapy for their shoes and clothes but the little ones had fun running around the “snow machine” and looking like every moment’s a picture perfect moment. This was as close to snow we could get, for now.

Ben in Christmas snow

Snow fun

Mama & Becks

The kids enjoyed themselves tremendously and had an exhilarating time. So much so they wanted to blow soap suds in the bathroom for the next few days just so they could recreate being in “snow”.  A trip to see the real stuff is in order, I know; but till then, thank you for inviting us, Forest Friends!