LEGO® Friends Heartlake City

I get so many wonderful invitations to do so many fun things, that I really have to pick and choose where I can best apportion my time.

So when I received an invitation from my friends at LEGOLAND® California to visit their newest addition, LEGO® Friends Heartlake City, I was super excited, because...LEGO!

But the opening was happening on May 21st, which just happened to be my 60th birthday (but that's not important right now).  I couldn't go because my family had made other (fabulous) plans for me. 

Enter my friend, Marie Day, who lives in Carlsbad and with whom I've had the "We love LEGO®" conversation many times.

"Do you think you and the kids could cover this event for me?" I'm happy to report that the Day Family stepped up. Here's their story...


The Days at Heartlake City

The opening of LEGOLAND® California's newest addition, LEGO® Friends Heartlake City has been highly anticipated in my home. You see we first began visiting the theme park when my daughter was only 2 years old. Our first visits were on Thursdays with the Model Mom Club and that is when our love for all things LEGO® began.  

I remember in our early days visiting the park, we were amazed to find a rainbow of colored bricks for sale in the LEGO® Club House Shop. So when our niece's birthday rolled around, we scooped up a bag of pink and purple bricks and shipped them off to Texas for the birthday girl. Fast forward to 2015 and our daughter, who is almost 10 still can’t get enough of all things LEGO®


Heartlake City is based on the popular LEGO® toy line: LEGO® Friends, which focuses on the adventures and lives of five super awesome (of course!) girls: Andrea, Emma, Mia, Olivia and Stephanie. Although Heartlake City is aimed toward young female visitors, there are also plenty of things for boys to enjoy.


Our adventure in Heartlake City began with a meet and great with Master Builder Robbie who told us that the pink and purple bricks actually debuted about 10 years ago.  10 years! It’s now been 2-3 years since Lego Friends came out with the more exclusive colors we see today.

Robbie told us that there had been a few past LEGO® collections that also used similar colors but were not nearly as extensive as the LEGO® Friends line is with the tv show, set line, and of course, now Heartlake City.


 Armed with these fun facts we headed straight for some building fun inside Heartlake Stables.  


My son really loved the "shaking table." How it works is that you build your LEGO® horse, set it down, push a button and it appears that the Lego horse you built is now walking around. Genius.


Next we got to explore Mia’s Riding Camp.  


We rode the beautiful 60-horse carousel 4 times, much to the delight of my children. 


 Yes. 4 times.


At the Friends Forever Stage, we sang and danced and got our photo-op with the LEGO® Friends.


And finally, we satisfied our sweet tooth at the new City Park Creperie with our favorite Nutella treat!


It was so delicious and we were so happy that we can now have freshly made crepes in the park. I predict this is going to be a regular stop for us on our visits to LEGOLAND®.

The day of our visit was a little cool and cloudy but that didn’t stop a few brave guests from splashing about in the Heartlake Fountain. We know that’s going to be a big hit this summer and it’s a great upgrade from the smaller splash pad that previously occupied that spot in the park.


We ended our day by looking for an employee to trade a mini figure with.

In case you don’t already know this insider tip: You can ask anyone who works in the park who has a mini figure on their name badge to trade with you. Plus some of the restaurants have a box of mini figures at the cash register that you can trade. One of the many reasons we love LEGOLAND®.

And, of course, we shopped.


Thanks for the invitation, LEGOLAND® California. The opinions all belong to my friend, Marie.

It's very obvious that everything was awesome.

"That's No Moon."

The New LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Death Star Model Display

You know that I'm a self-professed über-nerd about all things Star Wars. Need I remind you about my recent visit to Skywalker Ranch? (<--there she goes again.)

Imagine my surprise and delight when I received an invitation from LEGOLAND® California to witness the unveiling of the LEGO® Star WarsTM Miniland Death Star Model Display. 

Yes, please! 

I brought my Lego-loving husband, Eric along for the fun, which really didn't take much arm-twisting.

"Legoland? DEATH STAR? I'm in!"


The LEGO® Star WarsTM Miniland Death Star Model was quite an impressive thing. 

At 8-feet wide, 13-feet high, weighing more than 1900 pounds and made out of more than 500,000 LEGO bricks, the LEGO Death Star model is the largest addition to LEGO® Star Wars™ Miniland.



The new model display features iconic film scenes made of LEGO® bricks that were filmed inside the Galactic Empire’s space station including the famous trench run scene where Luke Skywalker maneuvered his X-wing fighter through the combat zone to destroy the Death Star.  

Look at the detail in this model! 

"It's not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters." ~Luke Skywalker


Adjacent to the planet-shaped LEGO model, guests are invited to use their imaginations to construct their own LEGO starships at building stations. In other words, it's a Lego Star Wars über-nerd's dream come true. *sigh*

Stormtroopers and Lord Vader himself were on hand during the opening ceremony. Of course, the Force was as strong as ever, but that's not important right now.


The LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Death Star is designed from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. It includes six animated Turbo Laser Turrets and LEGO starship models built out of more than 20,000 LEGO bricks.

“Since opening in 2011 and making the first major addition in 2012, LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland has become one of the most popular areas for children and their parents, because....Star Wars, people!

Every beloved scene recreated in Lego brick perfection.



For those of us who are lovers of all-things-LEGO-and-Star-Wars, this spot in Miniland is where dreams come true. I'm sure you'll recognize some old friends.


And possibly make some new ones.


May the force be with you. 

The unveiling of the new LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Death Star Model Display kicks-off the fan favorite, LEGO Star Wars™ Days event on March 7 and 8, where guests can spend the day participating in Star Wars™ related activities.

The LEGO Movie Experience at Legoland. Yes, we did.

My son, Jonathan is 18 years old. He's not your typical high school senior in that he's been homeschooled since the first grade. He's got a ton of friends and pretty much does your typical teen guy stuff.

It was my delight to take Jon with me when I was invited to Legoland® for the day to preview The LEGO® Movie Experience. I was doing the Media Thing. How accidentally cool is this?

Marta darby-legoland-media

What this meant was that Jon and I got to spend a day together at Legoland®. This is something we haven't done since he was pretty young. But, as you know, we are all Unabashed Lovers of All Things Lego. See here, here, here, and here.

Marta darby legoland

The new Legoland attraction, the LEGO Movie Experience was a visit to the set of Finn's Basement. The place where the live action portion of The LEGO Movie was filmed.

Finn's basement-legoland

Picture a city and attending sets built with over 3 million LEGO bricks. I know. Mind blown.


If you look hard enough, you can actually find Emmet and his friends in vignettes from the movie. We may or may not have spent hours doing exactly this.

Emmet and friends Legoland

Also, it became a personal scavenger hunt to find Batman. Of course, there was only one Batman, because, well, there's really only one Batman. (Duh.)

Lego movie event Batman

Everywhere we turned there were more scenes from the movie. If you're a BrickLover (and we totally are), you would seriously appreciate.

WyldSide and Emmet

We so loved the movie and we so love the bricks and now here's yet another reason to love them both.

TLME Legoland

Both my husband and son have always loved building with LEGO bricks. I'm pretty sure Legoland was designed for the 12-and-under crowd and I absolutely remember the appeal for that age group, but there's something so iconic and delightful about LEGOS.

Maybe it's just nostalgia, or maybe it's something more. Could it be that the Love of All Things LEGO is transcendent?

Or maybe we're just the type of über-geeks who are imaginative enough to picture ourselves in the beautiful world of bricks where Everything is Awesome.

Let's play find the Cuban Lego Mama...

Marta darby-legoland

I wrote some more about this fabulous day over at The OC Latina Moms Blog.

Everything is Awesome - The LEGO® Movie

A few months ago when we first became aware that Warner Bros was going to be releasing The Lego® Movie, we sat up and took notice.

My husband, Eric, who is now 48 played with LEGO® bricks as a kid. As a matter of fact, he would tell you that they were his very favorite toy. He would spend hours, he says, lost in the world of bricks and his imagination.

Well, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Jonathan quickly, happily, and easily became addicted to the bricks. See here and here.

Last week we were delighted to have been invited to a preview of The LEGO® Movie.
The story is about an ordinary LEGO® minifigure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary Master Builder, and is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO® tyrant from gluing the universe together.

Lego Movie 2

We were captivated from the start. The story, the characters, the execution - all brilliant. I don’t say that lightly. Chris Pratt is the voice of Emmet, the average, rule-following everyman.

Elizabeth Banks is Wyldstyle "Are you a DJ?," the daring and independent female lead who believes Emmet is the "Special." Her real name, by the way, is Lucy. (Yay!)

Lego Lucy

Will Ferrell starts as the voice of President Business, an uptight CEO who has a hard time balancing World Domination with micro-managing his own life (see what I mean? Already the premise is hilarious.), while Liam Neeson voices the president' powerful henchman, known as Bad Cop/Good Cop. (<--You can totally predict how this is going to happen, right Lego® Lovers?) Nick Offerman lends his voice to a craggy, swaggering pirate obsessed with revenge. And Alison Brie plays a sweet, lovable member of this unlikely dream team with a powerful secret. (What's there not to love already?)

Our favorite was Will Arnett as Batman. He delivered Batman’s lines in that choppy, deep, let’s-mock-all-the-Batman-movies-you've-ever-seen voice. Every time he spoke, we held our sides from laughing so hard.

All that to say this: The LEGO® Movie is a must see.

On the day we saw it, the theater was filled with mostly families with young children. Jon and his best friend, Nathan - the two lone 18 year olds - were the oldest. Their take was that the little kids will find it funny, but the adults will totally appreciate the sublime humor.

There are lots of fantastic voice cameos, like Channing Tatum as Superman, Jonah Hill as the Green Lantern, and Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman. You really need to be paying attention to catch some of the nuances of the jokes.

This film was very obviously made by people who love LEGO® as much as we do. There was old-school Spaceman Benny (voiced by Charlie Day), with the space ship that so easily fell apart. Eric totally identified with that. It was clear that the film makers were all true LEGO fans. You could feel the love in every frame.

Eric and Emmett

There was a nod to all the varied and extensive collectors sets. Hello, Shaquille O’Neil and the 2003 LA Lakers! Do you remember that? My guys did.

I loved that they even made a point to highlight the odds and ends that randomly find their way into the LEGO bin. I won’t spoil that, but be on the look out for the "Relics." The best homage to childhood ever.

The bottom line is that we laughed. Long and hard and out loud throughout the entire film. The first thing we said as we left the theater was “We need to see that AGAIN."

The film has very broad family appeal, not just because it has a PG rating. My family appreciated that they didn’t didn’t dumb anything down for a particular age group and totally respected how beloved the bricks are to so many generations of Would-be Master Builders. It could have easily devolved into a long commercial for the popular toy brand, but much to their credit, instead the story had us laughing out loud and rooting for the unlikely hero. The film is a total win.

The only character missing was this Coffee-drinking, Red-lipstick wearing, Curly-haired, Cuban LEGO Mama. See what I did there? (I totally crack myself up.)

Marta as lego

Make your own LEGO® Sigfig here.

Also, as soon as we got home we downloaded the very catchy theme song by Tegan and Sara. I'm convinced that after you see this movie, you too will agree that “Everything is Awesome.”

With Emmet

Well played, Warner Bros. and LEGO®. Very well-played.

In theaters everywhere on February 7th, 2014.

My (Super) Hero

A few months ago, my son, Jonathan (16) breathlessly runs in.

"Mom, you've got to see this!" He then proceeds to show me the following movie trailer:

Explosions! People in peril! ! MARVEL SUPERHEROES ! ! (Win.Win.WIN!)

He knows (because I've told him repeatedly, as I have all four of my kids) that I was a nerdy comic-book-loving kid. That's right. Little known fun fact.

{WARNING: Over-sharing-Uber-nerd Alert!}

My dad used to take me to the local drugstore on weekends and let me pick out 3 or 4 comic books every week. It's how I learned to read in English. This probably flies in the face of all kinds of English as a second language research, but, whatever....

I would very carefully choose a variety of comic books, from the Harvey classics, like Richie Rich to the "teen" comedy, Archie (for the record, I was always very pro-Betty, but that's not important right now). I also really loved the action/adventure Marvel comics.

Thor was my favorite of the Avengers. Mostly because he said cool things like:  


Avengers-never be beaten

(By the way, the only time you should EVER use the Comic Sans font is in a comic book. There. I said it.)

Back to the Avengers. And specifically to Thor. The Mighty Thor. I loved Thor. He had the hammer. The cool Viking vibe. When I was in high school we were The Mighty Vikings. It like one big cosmic Thor Love-fest.

In fact, when Adam was three, I dressed him as Thor for Halloween. I did. I swear. (Excuse me while I go dig up some proof.....)


Adam as thor

Hey! Superheroes come in all sizes (and my son has since forgiven me). But that's not important right now.

As I got older, my comic book consumption diminished, but my love of all things Marvel did not. In the late 70's, I religiously watched Bill Bixby/Dr. Bruce Banner turn into Lou Ferrigno/The Incredible Hulk . (Who didn't?)

So back to Jonathan and The Avengers Movie Trailer....

  1. I am thrilled that my 16 year old and I have such awesome common ground.
  2. We are out-of-our-skin excited to see the film. In theaters everywhere on May 4th.


Were doubly excited that the makers of LEGO are also aboard the Avengers-train. Embrace the awesomeness:

AVS_LEGO Theatrical_A1

And so is Target. This is seriously the cutest ad ever. Watch. And love.

We are definitely going to be following the Awesomeness that is The Avengers on Facebook. And counting down to May 4th. (Thanks, Disney Pictures!)

I don't know about you, but in our family, nerdiness does not skip a generation.

Jonathan Captain America

So, any other uber-nerds out there? I know there are. Come on. Talk to me.