Your child's new BFF: Ugly Snuglies

Ugly Snuglies stuffed toys

You don't have to be perfect to be loved. It's what's inside that counts! That's the message behind UglySnuglies, a line of oversized, super soft, stuffed animals. If your child likes stuffies and likes to snuggle, UglySnuglies are the perfect present.

We received Porky Panda to review, and she was an instant hit with The Pea because of her ample behind (Porky's, that is!). Porky is soft and huggable, and comes with a blanket that's perfect for snuggling into when watching TV on the sofa. The blanket tucks into a zippered pocket located on Porky's derriere!
Ugly Snuglies stuffed toys

Frankly, I don't think these stuffies are ugly at all. No, they're not your picture-perfect stuffed animal, but you can't help smiling when you see them, and it's not hard to find a soft spot in your heart for them. They are what The Pea would lovingly call "derpy" -- kind of clueless, extremely earnest, and always happy.

One thing I like about this line of stuffies is that each UglySnuglie has its own unique gift that teaches kids a life lesson or helps them build a skill:

• Pouty Pig – includes a bank inside to help kids learn to save their money
• Krazy Kitty – includes a hidden light in his tail to help kids feel safe
• Bizarre Bear – includes 5 secret zipper pockets to help kids clean up after themselves
• Unusual Unicorn – includes an alarm clock to help kids learn the value of time
• Rowdy Rabbit – includes a radio inside to help kids learn to relax
• Porky Panda – includes a hidden blanket inside to keep kids warm
Let me know which UglySnuglies you are interested in!

Each one is different, so you'll want to collect them all.  Each UglySnuglies retails for $29.95 plus $9.69 shipping and handling. Use promo code SAVE to get 25% off the purchase price (you'll pay $22.50 instead of $29.95, plus shipping & handling).

Ugly Snuglies stuffed toys

Disclosure: I received a sample for review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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5 Reasons Renting Toys can make more sense than Buying New Toys

Pley toy rental service

One of the best things about the holidays is seeing my kids' faces light up with joy when they receive that toy they've been longing for as a present. One of the worst things about the holidays is realizing that I have to make room for a ton of new toys. Not only do we have 3 kids, but 2 of them have birthdays on December 30, so our house fills up with Christmas AND birthday presents!  And once the novelty wears off, half of the toys end up abandoned and forgotten.

The concept of renting versus buying has been around for a long time, but in the age of e-commerce, it has been showing up in many more industries besides homes, cars, and furniture. Consumers can now rent clothes, shoes, bags, even video games! So why not rent toys as well? That's the idea behind Pley, a toy rental service that lets members receive unlimited toys (one at a time) delivered directly to their door. Plans start as low as $19.99/month and all plans include free delivery and unlimited rentals.

Pley toy rental service

Renting toys can make so much more sense versus buying them. Here are five great reasons to rent toys instead of buy new toys:

1) Reduces cost
Buying new toys costs money. Renting them costs less.

2) Reduces clutter
When you own a lot of toys, you need space to store them all. With Pley, you send back toys once your child is done playing with them to make room for a new rental toy, so there are less toys to store.

3) Reduces waste
New toys always come with a lot of packaging. Also, there's bound to be a toy or two or ten that your child ends disliking, so it ends up gathering dust in the back of the closet.

4) Lets kids try a variety of toys
When you rent toys, your child can try any new toy he or she wants, without having to fork over the money for a new one. If your child doesn't like the toy, it's not a big deal, just return the toy!

5) Keeps kids interested
Done with that puzzle? Return it and get a new one!  Kids never have to get bored with their toys because they can always get a new one. They can look forward to a new toy whenever they're done with their current toy.

Check out Pley on the web and on Facebook. A Pley membership could be the best present your child receives this holiday season!

Pley toy rental service

Disclosure: This is a compensated post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Celebrate the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

The last time my family celebrated the holidays at the Disneyland Resort was quite a while ago, but it is one of those memories you cherish forever. Holidays at the Disneyland Resort are really special, because Disney really goes out of their way to create special holiday traditions and memories for all their park guests. From special decorations to special food to special entertainment and special attractions, Disney sprinkles everything with pixie dust and holiday magic!

In Disneyland:

  • “A Christmas Fantasy” parade, a Disneyland holiday treasure, presents Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and an array of Disney characters celebrating the holiday season. The daytime parade features 100-plus performers including Santa Claus, who brings jolly holiday wishes from the North Pole.
Disneyland Christmas Fantasy Parade
  • After dark, the Diamond Celebration “Paint the Night” parade will bring its own brand of glittering magic to Disneyland, with dazzling special effects, unforgettable music, energetic performances, Disney characters and spectacular floats. The luminescent parade creates a river of color flowing down Main Street, U.S.A., with more than 1.5 million brilliant LED lights.
  • “Disneyland Forever,” the dazzling, new fireworks spectacular, is a street-to-sky, immersive experience like nothing seen before at the Disneyland Resort, with pyrotechnics, original music and viewing locations throughout Disneyland Park. Guests will be surrounded by the worlds of timeless Disney tales, from the tips of their toes to the sky high above, thanks to the largest installation of projection mapping technology in a Disney park and surprising special effects.
  • “it’s a small world” Holiday offers a worldwide celebration of the season, with more than 60,000 twinkling LED lights on the attraction’s façade. Inside, animated dolls representing children of many nations are dressed in holiday attire, singing holiday songs as well as the classic “It’s a Small World After All.”
It's a Small World
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday presents a spooky but lighthearted mashup of the Halloween and Christmas holidays as imagined by Jack Skellington from the Walt Disney Pictures animated classic Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Continuing an annual tradition, a new gingerbread house is created each year for the Mansion, adding a humorous touch to the ballroom scene. This year, the gingerbread house design features gingerbread zombies constructing a teetering “house of cards.”
Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • Jingle Cruise, an instantly popular addition in 2014, returns to take adventurous guests on a fun-filled expedition. They discover a cargo of holiday gifts and decorations that have been jettisoned over the jungles of the celebrated Jungle Cruise attraction in Adventureland. This year, a few new surprises have been dropped into the Cruise’s African veldt scene.
  • This year Santa Claus brings holiday cheer to Disneyland guests in a new location in Critter Country, specially designed for him by Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

In Disney California Adventure:

  • For the first time, two splendid versions of the “World of Color” spectacular will be presented nightly during the Holiday season on Paradise Bay. The holiday-themed show, “World of Color − Winter Dreams,” features host Olaf the snowman along with classic winter scenes from beloved Disney and Disney●Pixar films such as “Bambi,” “Toy Story” and “Frozen,” the blockbuster Disney film. For the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration, “World of Color – Celebrate” pays a fun, surprise-filled tribute to Walt Disney, whose imagination led to the creation of Disneyland and so many beloved characters. “World of Color – Winter Dreams” is the first show of the evening, followed by “World of Color – Celebrate!”
  • “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” is a daily celebration of Latino culture and holiday traditions with music, dancing, vibrant colors and delicious food. Disney characters join the fun in the lively “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party,” presented multiple times a day.
  • “Olaf’s Snow Fest” celebrates its return to Hollywood Land with Olaf, the comical snowman from “Frozen.” Stage 17 is transformed into a charming castle courtyard inspired by the “Frozen” kingdom of Arendelle. Kids of all ages have fun in a giant wintry play area with real snow where they are encouraged to build snow creations and zip down a snow slide. Guests who wish to observe the icy fun will have a nearby viewing area. Music and storytelling entertainment will be presented throughout the day
  • The residents of Radiator Springs will welcome guests with a “Snowcar” at the entrance of Cars Land, and each address along Route 66 – Flo’s V8 Café, Fillmore’s Taste-In, Cozy Cone Motel and more – will feature holiday decorations reflecting the personalities of the “Cars” character who lives there.
Cars Land Entrance Sign
  • Flik and his buddies decorate “a bug’s land” with giant Christmas lights and holiday ornaments, adding to the festive spirit.
A Bugs Life
  • Early in the new year, the Disneyland Resort celebrates Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes) in Paradise Garden. The event runs from Jan. 2 through 6, 2015, with fun activities that create a grand finale for “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!”

At Downtown Disney

  • In the Downtown Disney District, guests may take a break from holiday shopping and dining to go skating on “Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink.” 
  • The Downtown Disney Winter Village around the ice rink creates a festive mood and guests may purchase holiday gift items from the windows of the charming village chalets.

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Fashion Meets Philanthropy in the World Vision Gift Catalog (giveaway)

World Vision holiday gift catalog
As socially responsible giving grows in popularity, many readers find themselves wondering which products actually impact society or where they can find them. Look no further than the World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

The 2015 World Vision Gift Catalog contains more than 250 poverty-fighting gifts, ranging in price from $16 to $39,000, that improve the quality of life for struggling children and families in the U.S. and around the world. This holiday season, you can give help where it is most needed and receive beautiful handcrafted jewelry for themselves or their loved ones. There are gifts for all budgets. All of them are made by communities around the developing world and the artisanship is simply stunning!

Here are some of my favorites:

$25 and under

Guatemalan headband - As a memento of this gift, you'll receive this beautiful, 100% cotton headband woven by Mayan descendants in lake Atitlan, Guatemala
World Vision holiday gift catalog

Chiang Mai leather bands - Chiang Mai Leather Band. Men and women love these expandable wristbands made to support children of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
World Vision holiday gift catalog

$50 and under

Mango Wood Beaded Bracelet – Created by a community on the island of Java, these unique bracelets provide a sustainable income to help feed and care for their children – honor the special woman in your life with this gorgeous bracelet.
World Vision holiday gift catalog

Christmas Star Ornament - This ornament is made from castoff metals by artisans helping to support childrens' education in India.
World Vision holiday gift catalog

$100 and under

Drops of Turquoise Necklace - This 20" necklace was made by artisans in Delhi who are now able to support their family thanks to fair trade wages.
World Vision holiday gift catalog

Balinese Multi-Strand Necklace – This beautiful, draped beaded necklace is handmade by Balinese artisans in a project that helps children in Bali receive an education.
World Vision holiday gift catalog

The Balinese necklace happens to be a personal favorite of mine because World Vision sent me a sample necklace so I could check out the quality of the gift items.  I think this necklace is quite stunning! I took some photos so you can all get a closer look:

World Vision holiday gift catalog

World Vision holiday gift catalog

World Vision holiday gift catalog

World Vision holiday gift catalog

This necklace will leave you feeling pretty on the outside and feeling good on the inside, because the money raised from the purchase of these hand-crafted gifts goes to the Where Most Needed fund, which supports a variety of World Vision’s programs around the world.

Which World Vision Gift Catalog item is your favorite? Share your choice and you could win a Balinese strand necklace like mine!  Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below by 11/30/2015. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Star Wars Season of the Force opens at the Disneyland Resort

Star Wars Disneyland

The Star Wars world is coming to life at the Disneyland Resort! Star Wars Season of the Force is debuting TODAY at Disneyland Park, featuring all kinds of exhibits and experiences for Star Wars fans. In addition, Space Mountain is getting a Star Wars overlay ("Hyperspace Mountain") and Star Tours is getting an additional adventure inspired by the upcoming Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. What a great way to get park guests ready for the eventual opening of Star Wars land at Disneyland Park!

Here is the Disneyland Resort's press release:

Traveling to a galaxy far, far away is easier than ever for guests visiting the Disneyland Resort. Beginning Nov. 16, 2015, Star Wars Season of the Force will debut in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park, giving guests daily opportunities to explore, interact and have fun with the power of the Force.

Star Wars Launch Bay

Star Wars Disneyland

Located on the lower level of the Tomorrowland Expo Center, Star Wars Launch Bay is the central space for fans to celebrate all things Star Wars.

First Order stormtroopers patrolling the area outside Launch Bay are on a mission to find members of the Resistance. Inside, guests may encounter iconic characters Darth Vader, Chewbacca or even Boba Fett.

Inspired by the iconic opening crawl in every Star Wars film, a welcoming text scroll on the carpet will greet guests as they enter the experience.

The Cantina is a unique experience inspired by the “hive of scum and villainy” guests will recognize from the Star Wars films. From bounty hunters and smugglers to aliens, guests never know who they may meet here.

The Cantina becomes the gathering place to take memorable photos with a holochess or sabacc table. (Sabacc is a popular card game played throughout the galaxy, often with high stakes. Holochess is a chess-like game that utilizes holographic representations of the playing pieces.)

Guests may join the Resistance or come to the dark side, choosing a path that takes them into one of two character greeting experiences.

When it’s time to meet the character, portal doors open to welcome guests into a fully immersive 360-degree space, inspired by a Rebel base or Star Destroyer.

Throughout the space, guests will find Aurebesh writings in the environment. Aurebesh is a writing system used to transcribe Basic, the most used language in the Star Wars galaxy.

Guests may play current and upcoming Star Wars video games at the Game Center, including new and exclusive Disney Infinity 3.0 content created exclusively for this experience.

Exploring the Light Side Gallery, guests will find replicas of iconic helmets and lightsabers once wielded by Jedi heroes, including Luke Skywalker. And in the Dark Side Gallery, they’ll discover replicas of helmets and lightsabers used by the Sith, mortal enemies of the Jedi.

Large-scale replicas of film props, costumes, ship models, droids, artwork and other notable items are on display for Star Wars fans to enjoy.

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Star Wars Disneyland

A new adventure awaits guests as they climb aboard a Starspeeder 1000 and blast off on a thrilling tour of the Star Wars galaxy. The new adventure includes scenes and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Hyperspace Mountain

Star Wars Disneyland
The popular Space Mountain attraction is reimagined as Hyperspace Mountain, thrusting guests into an X-wing Starfighter battle as they race through the darkness. The guest experience is enhanced by a new soundtrack, inspired by the films’ musical themes and re-orchestrated to match every move in the attraction. The soundtrack was recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple

This reimagined battle experience takes younglings to the secret site of an ancient Jedi temple, where they discover if they have the makings of a true Jedi. It debuts Dec. 8.

Villains such as Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister Inquisitor from the popular Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels join the adventure.

Star Wars: Path of the Jedi

Guests can relive stories from the Star Wars saga – or discover them for the first time – through this short, film compilation at Tomorrowland Theater. It includes moments from the new film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

This cinematic short connects iconic scenes from the films in fun new ways, following the journey of Luke Skywalker.

Galactic Grill and Star Wars-Inspired Menus

Star Wars Disneyland

The Force takes over the Tomorrowland Terrace to offer dark side and light side menu items.

For breakfast, guests may enjoy a blue corn Darth Tamale, with scrambled eggs and chorizo, red chili sauce and tomatillo. For lunch and dinner, the First Order Specialty Burger is tempting with a patty of angus beef and chorizo, topped with fried cherry peppers and spicy-lime aioli on a dark bun.

Fun collectible items to take home include the BB-8 sipper cup and TIE Fighter premium popcorn bucket.

Pizza Port in Tomorrowland also will offer new Star Wars-inspired menu items.

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post. he views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Paul Mitchell and #GivingIsMyStyle: giving with style for the holidays

Paul Mitchell holiday 2015

The holidays are upon us! Soon we'll be dressed to the nines and celebrating Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas (and don't forget Festivus for those among us who prefer non-traditional holidays!). I was delighted to discover that Paul Mitchell's holiday gift sets featuring their most popular products -- all the better to get ready for all those parties! I love their salon quality products -- they are great at taming my frizzy mane, and they smell amazing :)
Paul Mitchell holiday 2015
Of course, dressing up and partying is always fun, but it's important to remember the reason for the season, so Paul Mitchell is celebrating their commitment to live beautifully by doing good for people, animals, and the planet.  Their holiday giving campaign, #GivingIsMyStyle, pledges to donate $1 to one of six charities for every social post with the hashtag #GivingIsMyStyle. What a stylish way to do good!

The participating charities are:

Bright Pink: Bright Pink is the only nationalnon-profit organization that focuses on the prevention and early detection ofbreast and ovarian cancer in young women. We are proud to support their missionto educate, equip and empower women of all ages to be proactive with theirhealth. @BeBrightPink

WaterkeeperFoundation: For morethan 10 years, Paul Mitchell has supported Waterkeeper Alliance in theirmission to protect rivers, streams, coastlines and other major waterways aroundthe world.@Waterkeeper

Morris AnimalFoundation: MorrisAnimal Foundation is a global leader in supporting scientific research thatadvances veterinary medicine. We're proud to support the organization'scommitment to improving the health and quality of life for dogs, cats, horsesand wildlife around the world.@Morris_Animal

GrowAppalachia: In 2010,Paul Mitchell co-founder John Paul DeJoria teamed up with Berea College toestablish Grow Appalachia, a non-profit initiative that helps Appalachianfamilies plant a healthy future. Over the last few years, the organization hasproduced more than 1.1 million pounds of healthy, organic food for thousands ofpeople in five states. @GrowAppalachia

Boys &Girls Club: PaulMitchell co-founder John Paul DeJoria grew up in an underserved Los Angelescommunity. During his youth, the local Boys & Girls Club provided a safeplace for him to socialize, learn and grow. Today, our company is proud to giveback to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and their efforts to create greatfutures for young people.@BGCA_Clubs

Reforest'Action:Paul Mitchell Tea Treeproudly supports Reforest'Action, an environmental organization that plantstrees worldwide, in the areas where they're needed most. Join The GreenTakeover and help us plant 500,000 trees by 2016.

How to Join

1) Share why or how you give back on Instagram or Twitter. Whether it’sbuying a cup of coffee for your co-worker or planting a tree at your localpark, Paul Mitchell wants YOU to share your story to help create a better world.

2) Tag your post with #GivingIsMyStyle.

3) For every social post that includesthe hashtag #GivingIsMyStyle, Paul Mitchell will donate $1 to one of the six charities listed above, up to $200,000.

Disclosure: This is a compensated post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Concrete ways to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer

This week I found out that a friend of mine was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Oh, the irony.

Breast cancer is a personal issue for me because my family has a strong history of breast cancer. My grandmother had breast cancer. So did her sisters (my great-aunts). So did her daughter (my aunt). Sometimes it's disheartening and I think it's just a matter of time before I get it too.

For years I worked hard to bring awareness of breast cancer through my blogs. I wore pink every day and blogged about it every day in October, along with pleas to donate to breast cancer research and get regular mammograms (or encourage the women in your life to get mammograms).  Gradually I began to see that awareness is no longer the issue. Wearing pink and posting your bra color on Facebook are cute memes that are designed to raise awareness, but everyone is already AWARE. The time for AWARENESS is done, and it's time for ACTION.

So this October, I pledge not to wear pink every day, but to talk to people about concrete steps they can take to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer:

Know your family history

Do you have a family history of breast cancer? Would it make sense to get tested for the breast cancer gene? Knowledge is power! Note that the new guidelines for breast cancer screening put forward by the American Cancer Society do not apply to those with a family history of breast cancer!  My parents were always open about my strong genetic link to breast cancer and the need to stay vigilant through self-care and regular check-ups.

Live a healthy lifestyle

I try to be positive and do everything I can to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer in other ways. I try to eat healthy foods and avoid foods containing known carcinogens. I try to get regular exercise. I have never smoked and I have never done drugs. I don't drink regularly.  I think everyone, not just people with a family history of breast cancer, should do the same.

Be a friend

If you have a friend with breast cancer, don't be a stranger. Instead of words of sympathy, offer to take over part of her carpool duties. Invite her kids over to your house after school on the days she gets chemo treatments. Cook dinner for her family.

Donate to breast cancer research or care programs

The marketplace is flooded with pink products, which in my opinion isn't a bad thing. I don't have a big problem with pink products, even though I've already said enough with the awareness. I would buy pink products more to show support rather than to spread awareness. Also, be aware that not all of the money you spend on pink products will go towards research.

For the biggest impact, donate directly to a nonprofit organization that funds research or programs that help people with breast cancer. Do your research to make sure that a big chunk of your donation doesn't end up being spent on marketing and fundraising. Check out Charity Navigator or check out this post for a summary of reputable organizations.

Get screened

Early detection is key! Even as the second most common cancer among women in the United States, millions of women are surviving breast cancer thanks in part to early detection and improvements in treatment. Follow the American Cancer Society's recommendations for breast exams, including regular mammograms and breast self exams.

Get insured

Consider insurance policies that can help ease worries about the financial cost of breast cancer if it were to occur. Fighting breast cancer can be expensive, even with health insurance. In addition to treatment costs, extra costs include child care, transportation to the hospital, grocery delivery, and more. Aflac has a cancer insurance policy that can help cover those out-of-pocket costs. Plus, with Aflac’s recently introduced One Day PaySM initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in just a day, you can have the cash you need in hand faster than ever before.

How Aflac is supporting the cause this Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Aflac will be partnering with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) again for its second annual “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign.

Aflac is selling a variety of campaign-related merchandise including the plush duck, hats and a breast cancer ribbon pin, with all the net proceeds going to the AACR for the specific purpose of funding research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer.

Aflac supports the groundbreaking work of the AACR – the first and largest cancer research organization in the world with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer. The AACR backs every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research.

You can donate and shop for merchandise here.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Label Daddy: Label the things you love

Are you forever losing things?  No doubt someone has run into them, but unless your stuff is labeled, they have no way of knowing it belongs to you, or how to contact you. Pretty much everything in our house is labeled. Not only does it help our stuff get back to us, it also helps my kids distinguish between their stuff when they own identical stuff.

Label Daddy is one of the first online label companies, and I been a fan of Label Daddy since 2009. Kids love their adorable designs (they even have Disney and Marvel characters, MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos!), and parents love the durability. They're washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant!

I was thrilled when Label Daddy invited me to review a pack of labels. I chose the small all-purpose labels, which come in an 80-count pack for just $20. The smaller size is great for adults because you can tastefully label just about anything -- sunglass/eyeglass cases, phones, cameras, sports equipment, tablest, e-readers, lunch cases, to name a few things. Label Daddy also makes larger sized labels which are great for preschoolers and elementary kids.

You can customize your labels with different text styles, colors, and icons.  We have used these to label our kids' sports equipment, water bottles, pencil cases, backpacks, sleeping bag cases, hair brushes, toothbrushes, and so much more. If it can get lost or left behind, you should label it!

For extra extra durability, you can get your labels laminated for an extra $4.95. Laminated labels will resist fading even after prolonged exposure to sunscreen, chlorine, and other chemicals.

Save on Label Daddy

Save 20% on your entire Label Daddy order - this is the best discount available anywhere. Use code USFAMILY20 at checkout.

Disclosure: I received a set of labels for review purposes. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Everything you need to know about Halloween Haunt at California's Great America

Great America Halloween Haunt

Halloween is my favorite time of the year! Every year, I like to take my kids to fun places and events to enjoy the spookiest fun of the season.  Now that my youngest are in middle school, they're old enough to enjoy the scarier side of Halloween, namely all the haunted houses and mazes!  This year we visited Halloween Haunt at California's Great America for the first time ever, and we had an amazing time.

We had no idea what to expect, because strangely enough, I couldn't find too many guides or articles about Halloween Haunt. So I decided to write my own guide, for families who think they might want to attend, but aren't sure because they don't know what to expect.  Keep reading below for everything you need to know about the Halloween Haunt at Great America!

What is Haunted Halloween?

Every year, zombies and skeletons and ghosts descend upon California's Great America, transforming the park into a monster wonderland on weekend nights in October. The park features special Halloween attractions, including haunted mazes, scare zones, and live shows.

Haunted Mazes

This is what everyone comes to Halloween Haunt for!  Great America has nine spooky themed mazes, all decorated down to the last horrifying detail, including strobe lights, black lights, fog, and creepy music to set the mood.  As if that weren't enough, costumed actors are lurking through the maze at every corner, ready to jump out at you without warning and have you jump out of your skin!

The Haunted Mazes at Halloween Haunt for 2015 are:

  • Insanitarium -- No one gets better at this medical facility.
  • Dia De Los Muertos -- Black light illuminates the legends and mysteries of the Day of the Dead. Probably the least scary and the most visually appealing maze. 
  • ZombieHigh -- A high school reunion to die for.
  • Wax Museum Chamber of Horrors -- A haunted wax museum where you can't tell which displays are wax and which ones are alive. Our favorite maze!
  • Roadkill Road House -- Zombies with meat cleavers invade a barbecue restaurant, spattering guts and gore everywhere.
  • CornStalkers -- Scarecrows live up to their name as you make your way through hay bales and corn stalks.
  • MadameMarie’s Massacre Manor -- A haunted southern mansion filled with voodoo and ghosts.
  • Mirror Mirror -- The classic fun house mirror maze is anything but fun.
  • Toy Factory -- Creepy toys comes to life. 
Great America Halloween Haunt (3)

Scare Zones

In additional to the Haunted Mazes, Halloween Haunt features three Scare Zones, which are outdoor areas that all visitors pass through as they make their way around the park. Each Scare Zone is decorated in a specific theme, and costumed actors roam the area scaring guests out of their wits interacting with guests. Each Scare Zone has lots of fog and spooky lights, so if you're too scared to enter a Haunted Maze but still want some of the spooky atmosphere, walk through a Scare Zone! The monsters and zombies in the Scare Zones are a bit friendlier than the ones in the mazes; often they'll say more to you than just "Boo",  and they are happy to pose for photos.

The Scare Zones at Halloween Haunt are:
  • Killer Clown Town, featuring zombie clowns with hammers and chainsaws
  • Lockdown, featuring zombies coming out of giant shipping containers
  • Evacuate, featuring zombies crawling out of abandoned vehicles
Great America Halloween Haunt (42a)

Live Shows

Live, Halloween-themed performances happen throughout the park. We watched a group of amazing percussionists combing drumming, neon lights, and sparks into one entertaining show at Planet Snoopy.
Great America Halloween Haunt (43)

Regular Attractions

Many of the park's regular attractions are open, so you get the thrill of riding your favorite rollercoasters like Flight Deck, Gold Striker, The Grizzly, and The Demon in the dark.
Great America Halloween Haunt (24)

Dates and times

Halloween haunt is open at California's Great America on weekends in October:

Friday and Saturday nights through October 11: 7pm-midnight
Friday and Saturday nights, October 16-31: 7pm-1am
Sunday nights: 7pm-midnight (opens 7:30pm on October 4 and 18)

Note: tickets to Halloween Haunt do not grant park admission during the day, and there is no readmission to the park.
Great America Halloween Haunt (19)


Halloween Haunt tickets start at $36. Many discounts are available, including volume discounts, discounts for 2015 and 2016 regular season pass holders, student discounts, AAA discounts and more. Admission is free for 2015 and 2016 Gold Pass holders.

Extras: Fright Lane passes cost an additional $50 (combo discounts with Haunt tickets are available). and the Haunt Boo-fet (all-you-can-eat dinner, 5:00-7:00 on selected days) costs $13.95 per person.
Great America Halloween Haunt (38)


  • The event is recommended for ages 13 and up.  They don't enforce the age restriction, though, so parents will have to decide. My boys are 11, and my 14 year-old daughter was way more terrified than they were! If you do want to celebrate Halloween at Great America with younger kids, buy a day time ticket and enjoy The Great Pumpkin Fest with Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang. They have trick-or-treating, pumpkin decorating, and a hay maze until November 1.
  • Grab a map after you pass through the ticket stiles so you can find all the Haunted Mazes, Scare Zones, and shows.
  • Visitors are not allowed to come in costume. 
  • Actors are not allowed to touch you (and vice versa!).
  • Flash photography is not allowed (but you can take photos/videos without a flash).
  • You can purchase a "No Boo" glowing necklace so you can pass through the Scare Zones without any of the actors approaching or scaring you. Note, the No Boo necklace doesn't guarantee a no-scare experience because the actors may not see the necklace until it is too late. Also, No Boo necklaces aren't allowed in the mazes.
  • The lines for the mazes were as long as 30-40 minutes. One of the people I spoke to said the line for the Roadkill maze reached 2 hours long the night before! If you want to make sure you see all the mazes, purchase a Fright Lane pass. Note however, that the Fright Lane pass does not work for any of the regular park rides, only the 9 Haunted Mazes
  • If you want to visit the Mirror Mirror maze, go there first (it's near the Flying Eagles and Firefall attractions). Space is limited, so they will assign you a return time (kind of like Disney's Fast Pass) on a first-come, first-served basis until the attraction is full for the night.

Halloween Haunt is a great way for older kids and adults to celebrate Halloween! I would definitely recommend it to families with middle-school kids and up to go to California's Great America for some spooky fun..... if you dare.......
Great America Halloween Haunt (62)

Disclosure: I received complimentary media passes to Halloween Haunt to facilitate my review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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