Disneyland Resort is the ultimate destination for many families, but what do you do for the younger set. The little ones that need to run around, touch and feel things. The kids who don’t meet many of the height requirements and don’t have the attention span to stand in an hour line for Peter Pans Flight, when the ride only lasts 3 minutes?
The Discovery Cube Science Center is a quick 8 minute drive south on I-5 from Disneyland. Pricing is $17.95 per adult and $12.95 per childrend ages 3-14. Children 2 and under are free. If you belong to another Childrens or Science museum more than 90 miles away in the ASTC network you may be able to use your museum card to get in for free! Make sure you call before you do this as there may be restrictions on the date you choose to go.
The Discovery Cube Science Center recently had a large expansion nearly doubling the size of the museum. Our 4 year old can easily spend a few hours here exploring and playing in the exhibits. Some of our favorite are as follows:
Helicopter Tour: This looks like a ride but is really a small theater with a very wide screen that makes it appear as if you are in a helicopter taking a tour of the biodiversity of Irvine Ranch. There are no need for seat belts as the attraction does not move and if your child wants to leave at any time you can just get up and walk out. The attractions lasts approx 7 minutes and kids love it.
Race to Recycle: This attraction gives kids the chance to pick up and match recyclables (they are rubbery toys that have bar codes on them), scan them and put them back on a conveyer belt. They go through a few types of recyclables that your kids need to match and whomever matches the most the fastest wins. A great way to teach your children about recycling different materials.
Discovery Market: Grab your cart, aim your scanner and zoom through the aisles in this exciting grocery store game. Learn the importance of making earth-friendly choices when you shop.
Inspector Training Course: Inspector Training Course, presented by the Orange County Vector Control District, has guests go on an adventure in their own backyard to find and eliminate invading vectors (mosquitoes, rodents, flies and ants) and vector-borne diseases! YUCK! Using a touch-screen tablet, guests make their way through the Inspector Training Course to learn how to coexist with and keep their home free from vectors in this competitive scavenger-hunt styled game. Protect the home to earn a badge!
There are a lot of food conscious parents out there and also a lot of kids with food allergies. Bean Sprouts, located inside, comes to the rescue as it provides an amazing menu of organic, all natural ingredients that can meet most dietary needs and allergies. But to top it off, the food is fun and tastes great! We ordered the Crocamole, an avocado hummus dip with veggies, that comes in the shape of a happy crocodile. The only thing that hesitates you to eat it is the fact that you know someone worked hard to make a cool art piece only for you to eat it up. But this is the FUN part of their menu. The pizza is great and tastes very fresh (not frozen). They also have an organic coffee stand attached to it for us adults looking for a pick me up to handle the day.
Also, they just started showing feature films in their new Colossus Giant Screen! Here is a PRO TIP: the prices for non members are about $1 less then the conventional movie theater. But if you are a member with the Science Center, a matinee is $5 and a regular show is $9. Thats a great price. The theater is awesome, with a 4k projection system and a 7.1 surround sound system (if you have little ones sensitive to loud sounds, take the proper precautions as it is quite a good surround sound system. Science Center don’t mess around when it comes to their theater). We saw Finding Dory there and it was great and not crowded at all. The bonus of being a member there is that you can watch a movie and let your kids get their wiggles out before or after the movie. You can bring your own snacks in but they do have a small concession stand there.
PRO TIP #2: Depending on what time of day and year you go it can be crowded just like the theme parks. But if you go on an “off season” day, I have learned to go around noon, give or take, as the BIG school groups on field trips start to leave. Then it becomes calm again and easier to do everything.
Their main exhibits change throughout the year and last for about a month or two. They are really cool and usually take a brand name like Hot Wheels, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer, and Harley Davidson to name a few, and make cool learning activities and hands on experiences with them. As of this writing they have a huge dinosaur exhibit with awesome animatronic dinos. Their most popular one is Bubblefest in mid-spring with fun bubble activities.
These are just a few of our favorite things to do here. This is perfect for a “down” day while you are on vacation. Kids up to the ages of about 12 are perfectly entertained while they have a chance to explore and learn. 4 -5 hours is about the perfect amount of time for kids to see and do almost everything on an average day in the middle of the week. Holidays and weekends can get very busy due to the amount of locals that visit. All exhibits with the exception of the dinosaur and rocket exhibit is in doors which makes it perfect for those extra hot summer days when you want to hide in the pool or air conditioning.
Discovery Cube Orange County
2500 N. Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Parking: $5/Car CASH ONLY ( If you forgot your cash you can park at the Main Place Mall but it is a about a 10 minute walk from the parking lot to the front doors of the science center. If you have little ones make sure you bring a stroller
Food: You can bring your own food but there are no microwaves to warm anything up so be prepared with picnic style food. The restaurant Bean Sprouts is an all organic healthy restaurant that averages about $10 a meal. Its a bit on the expensive side equivalent to Disneyland but the food is prepared fresh and is much healthier than theme park food.
Good for ages of about 1-12. After the age of 12 kids a lot of kids tend to get bored so consider this before you purchase tickets for them ( they might be better back at the hotel with a responsible adult spending time at the pool)
If you are local or visit Southern California more than once a year with your kids consider buying a family membership for $99. An annual parking pass costs about $15