Have you seen the PNE lately?

The PNE is an annual tradition in our family. Every year we pick a date in the last two weeks of summer and make the trek to Renfrew and Hastings for our big day. We do it all… rides, barns, shows, corn dogs, cotton candy, and superdogs too. We’ve kinda been on autopilot the last few years, knowing exactly what we want to do and where we’ll go.

Change has been happening every year at the PNE, but this time it really stood out.


Walking in the main gates, we found the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit. With three little hockey players in tow (including two girls), this was our first stop. Even with the excitement of the rides to come, the kids loved it. We saw Wayne Gretzky’s first pair of skates, Hayley Wickenheiser’s uniform, photos of days and games gone by, and lots of trophies and cups too. IMG_1882

As we strolled past the amazing food trucks, we came across a stand that clearly stated “BEER WINE”. Out in the open, without fenced in areas where kids aren’t allowed! I had to stop and clarify that this was actually true. Well, YES it was. You can now purchase a beer or wine to walk around the PNE as you please (exceptions: Marketplace, Coliseum, and Playland ride area). What a fantastic addition for adults visiting!

IMG_1900Before we get too far in, a priority for us is the Guest Services kiosk near the main gate (there’s another at the Playland entrance) where you can register your kids for their “If I am Lost” sticker. Slap it on their back and if they do get lost, they just show it to a PNE employee and they have all your contact information on hand for reuniting. IMG_1891

The barns are the next stop. We can always count on the baby animals for a good hour of entertainment… piglets, chicks just hatching, calfs, bunnies and more. This year there was the local products store, the beehive, and the country farm kids activites. This area never gets old.

The kids were so excited for the rides, so off we went. The Corkscrew, Atmosfear (I can’t watch), 1000 Nachts (one of our favourites), and the new family-friendly rides like Dizzy Drop and FlutterBye.  Saving the rides for later in the day helps in three ways: first, the lineups are IMG_1951significantly shorter after dinner, especially for the kids’ rides. Second, you IMG_1971don’t have the intense heat of summer making you sweat. Third, the rides light up at night with colours and neon, and it’s a whole new experience. Save the daytime for the shows and exhibits where you are in shaded comfort!

Don’t forget to bring your own refillable water bottles. You can stop at any of the food kiosks and they’ll gladly refill for you. We refilled three times, saving us a lot of money and wasted plastic bottles.

The food is exciting at the PNE! There’s the old stand-by’s like cotton candy, corn dogs, and perogies. But some of the newer additions included ANYthing deep-fried, like chicken feet, coffee, cheesecake just to name a few. We love the sweet corn dipped in butter, and the award-winning barbecue trailers in Celebration Plaza, which has become a great gathering spot for music and food lovers.

After the rides, you can take in one of the Summer Night Concerts. This year it was acts like Doobie Brothers, ZZ Top, B-52’s, and Rick Springfield that stole the stage. They’ve made this IMG_2002super easy too: If you haven’t already bought a reserved ticket online, grab a wristband in Playland starting at 2pm, at the red tent near the Revelation ride. The wristband gives you an entry time – they start allowing entry at 6:30pm and times are staggered every half hour. If you still miss out on the wristbands, there are two giant screens to watch: in Celebration Plaza, and at Festival Park near the main entrance.

Tired kids in tow, we finally headed out of the park at 10pm. Exhausted, but with so many stories of laughter, fear, and fun. That is, after all, what the PNE is all about.

Will we see you there next time?!

Theatre Under the Stars – back for the summer!

Theatre Under the Stars presents High-Flying Hilarity with Mary Poppins & The Drowsy Chaperone

For more than 75 years, Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) has brought soaring works of musical theatre to the crown jewel of Vancouver – Stanley Park. So much more than just a night at the theatre, TUTS interweaves a kaleidoscope of elements – setting, scenery, concessions, and quality art – into a fun, encompassing experience that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

This month, TUTS injects a delightful dose of magical entertainment into summer with Mary Poppins and The Drowsy Chaperone, running July 7 to August 19, 2017 at Stanley Park’s picturesque Malkin Bowl. On alternating evenings, audiences can indulge in high-flying adventures with a supercalifragilistic classic and an uproarious ode to golden age glam.

Mary Poppins1.MaryPoppins_photobyTimMatheson_web

One of the most popular Disney movies of all time captures hearts in a whole new way! The irresistible story and unforgettable songs are back, as everyone’s favourite nanny swoops in to teach the Banks family a lesson or two about love & imagination.

Practically perfect classics like ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’, ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’, and ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ come to life in the beloved musical – complete with brand-new dance numbers and spectacular stage-craft.

6.TheDrowsyChaperone_photobyTimMatheson_webThe Drowsy Chaperone

Bursting with show-stopping song and dance – this Canadian musical parody & five-time Tony Award winner whisks audiences away on a Jazz Age journey of love, laughter, and libation.

Alone in his modest, one-bedroom apartment, a musical theatre fan puts on his favourite cast recording. As the record spins, the colourful & chaotic characters of a fictitious 1928 musical spring to life – filling his living room with all manner of movie stars, gangsters, divas, and more.


Tickets from $30 to $49 at tuts.ca or 1.877.840.0457.


Lions and Tigers and Bears…. oh my!

So I’ve heard about the Build-A-Bear Workshop for years as kids have spoken of them on the playground and in the classrooms, but we’ve never had one locally and it’s never really been something we’ve sought out. When the new Tsawwassen Mills mall opened up nearby recently, my daughter saw the sign for their new store and asked to go in. I didn’t see the attraction img_7347of stuffing a bear to bring home and add to the collection of other stuffies, but of course we took a stroll through and gazed at all the colours, the accessories, the costumes. Only to walk out again a few minutes later saying “wasn’t that cute?!”, but no real desire to go back.

By complete coincidence, someone from Build-A-Bear Workshop contacted me shortly after.  Good timing? Perhaps! They asked if we’d like to come down to the store for a Build-A-Bear experience. As much as I was cringing at the thought of adding more stuffies to our house, I thought I’d indulge my daughter and take her for a little surprise. img_7352

After school one Wednesday in November, we headed down to the store and was greeted by Jennifer, who couldn’t have been a more enthusiastic host. She had so much patience as Olivia carefully selected her “bear” to build… a black dog, just like the one she’d like to get in real life.

Olivia’s eyes lit up as the stuffing was added, along with a red satin heart kissed by Mama, of course. We opted for some special add-ins too: a scent, sound effects (barking by Olivia!), and a img_7372heartbeat. Then it was over to the accessories, which are endless.  And this is where things can get pretty special. Have a firefighter in your life? or a police man/woman? They’ve got you covered. Someone in a wheelchair, with a broken arm, or on crutches? Yup, they’ve got that too.  A toddler who likes pink and frilly, or one who likes hockey and football? It’s there! I had always thought of Build-A-Bear as girls looking for a cute bear to snuggle, but I realized it can go much further than that with all the options and accessories available.

img_7366Once you’re done building and accessorizing, the experience continues! You can name and register your new friend, print their birth certificate, take a special photo, and THEN you’re done. Almost.  Jennifer gave us a complimentary dog crate for “Midnight” to go home in and snuggle at night, and offered us half-price gift cards to come back anytime for more accessories.  I was thinking “Christmas” and added a couple to my tab.

Now Build-A-Bear Workshop isn’t always an inexpensive endeavour. By the time all was said and done, our total was just over $65, but we had added on some extras that we could have easily done without. A basic “bear” starts at just $29 and includes stuffing, satin heart, naming and registering, birth certificate and box.

They have birthday parties too, so your little one can bring a few friends down and enjoy watching their faces light up. It makes for great photo opps, and big smiles. Bring them back to your place or out for a nice lunch, with their new friends.

If you’re interested in learning more, go to www.buildabear.ca


A Day in Anaheim

Ever woke up one rainy morning on the west coast and just thought it would be nice to spend the day somewhere warm? anaheim4Somewhere you could connect with the family and enjoy time with your toes in the sand, without bundling up or shaking off umbrellas?

Well last weekend we did just that! VisitAnaheim.org invited us to come and see what it would be like to spend just a day in Anaheim, inside the warm and sandy 6-Pack Indoor Beach in Richmond. T-shirts and barefeet, and we jumped right in for two glorious hours – building sandcastles, face painting, balloon twisting, eating treats, playing and jumping.

anaheim6The party was complete with everything we needed… and you know what we loved the most? Just time together, building in the sand. And that’s what family vacations are really all about, right? Spending time together without the daily distractions of work, phones, programs, and commitments.

We found some interesting information on Anaheim too, and it’s got us tempted into a Spring trip down south.

Check out the Anaheim experts at Travel Best Bets – they can put together a package, no matter if your budget is high or anaheimsandcastlelow. Flights, hotels, cars, tickets… they can do it all to make you look good!  Right now, Sunquest has a special offer: book an Anaheim Vacation by February 28, 2017 and travel by December 31, 2017 and you get 25% off Disneyland Theme Park tickets. For Canadian residents only.

Not sure how to get to Anaheim? Westjet offers daily non-stop flights from Vancouver, and you can choose from more than 30 resorts for the whole family to stay. Air and hotel packages, plus car rentals too.

Prefer to cook for your family instead of eating out, but still want hotel comforts? Check out Residence Inn Marriott for suites with full kitchens and a complimentary daily breakfast. Or the Best Western Plus, with two options within short walking distance of the parks so even the little ones can do it. They’ve got pools and free Wifi too, for relaxing at the end of an adventure-filled day. The Springhill Suites Anaheim Maingate has Kids Suites with bunk beds, a free breakfast buffet that’s perfect for the kids, and even pet-friendly rooms too if you have to bring Fido along. A great solution for families who like road trips with all family members.

Of course, no trip to Anaheim is complete without a day (or two? or three?) at Disneyland and California Adventure Parks. Think it’s too busy or overwhelming? Not with the super efficient FastPass system and the Disneyland App where you can see wait times, entertainment schedules, and more.anaheim7

Is your family more of the Harry Potter types than Mickey Mouse? The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is now open at Universal Studios Hollywood with rides, experiences, attractions, shopping, and more.

Looking for something really different? Experience the excitement at the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in Buena Park where you’ll feast and watch the games of combat.

anaheim5If you need a break from the rides, Anaheim Resort Transportation has local partners that will take you to the beach in just over an hour. No need to rent a car or study the maps – just grab your sunscreen, a towel, and hit the sand and the waves for the whole day. While you’re in town, they’ve got transportation mapped out for you to all the major attractions.

Whew… Did you keep up? There’s a lot going on in Anaheim! (Did we mention hockey games too?!)

As the rain pours down outside, our day in the sand sure got us thinking about our plans for some sunny skies. Will we see you there in 2017?


Vancouver Baby & Family Fair opens TOMORROW!

The Vancouver Baby & Family Fair opens tomorrow for a weekend of fun at the Vancouver Convention Centre, and WestCoast Families will be there too!

The Vancouver Baby & Family Fair is a two-day consumer event for the whole family on October 29 & 30, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. There will be a wide variety of family related exhibitors selling products, supplies and accessories. In addition, there will also be live entertainment and hands-on attractions for the whole family!

Whether you have a toddler, a baby or a bump, our family event will provide you with an opportunity to shop specifically for products for your entire family under one roof. You will also have an opportunity to talk with professionals who can help to answer your questions.

“We open our doors tomorrow and could not be more excited to have families from all over Vancouver attend! You are guaranteed to learn a lot from our amazing speakers, including best-selling author and tech expert Amber Mac, while your kids have fun with their favourite TV characters” says Fair Producer Virginia Ritchie.

Vancouver Baby & Family Fair
When: Saturday October 29 and Sunday October 30
Where: Vancouver Convention Centre East Facility Hall A
Tickets: Only available at door & cash only: Day Pass: Adult $12;
Senior/Student Day Pass: $10. Children under 12: FREE

For more information about the upcoming fair and Amber’s seminars visit: http://www.baby-fair.com/amber-mac

Vancouver Baby & Family Fair 2 for 1 Coupon!

Just for WestCoast Families readers!  We’ll see you at the show this weekend for all the great information, local resources, shopping, and FUN for everyone in the family.


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Mums Tums and Babies… oh my!

mums-tums-poster-8x10Looking for the best in the latest products and services for you and your baby or little ones? If you live in British Columbia, or better yet the Fraser Valley, you are in for a treat at the premiere event for hopeful, expectant and new parents and families – the Mums, Tums & Babies Show!

Pregnant couples, new parents, and those who are needing a little extra for the kids who are growing up – there are stresses, needs for new products that are safe and friendly, services and goods, including some advice – this event has everything for you! Explore the world of baby and toddler – from food to gear, like top trending brands that have some awesome deals and discounts for you. Come down to this low-pressure, family-friendly event: you won’t regret it.

There is lots to see and do for your little ones in the Family Fun Zone with My Gym Langley and their bouncy castle and tumbling station. Twist Parties with balloon twisting and have your photo taken with the princesses. There are Sportball and other sport instruction for kids and will test their skills and have fun.

Don’t worry, for those expecting, or wanting to grow their family there will be a ton of presentations from tips on how to get your baby sleeping well to help with birthing! Tony from The Average Father will do a special presentation just for dads!

Canada’s country music sweetheart, Jessie Farrell will entertain your kids with her catchy whimsical songs featured on the Kids’ CBC television series, Scout & The Gumboot Kids.

Enter to win the major grand prize – a nursery from Ikea Coquitlam. Over $10,000 in prizes provided by our exhibitors. The first 100 mommies each day will receive a Lucky Mummy Bag! (Be sure to take a look inside as their are a ton of vouchers and even some goodies from the local vendors).

Visit www.mumstumsbabies.ca to purchase your tickets!
$10.00 online
$12.00 at Door (Cash Only)
$15.00 weekend pass
Children under 12 *FREE*

Date: October 1 & 2, 2016
Time: 10:00am to 5:00pm – Saturday, 11:00am to 4:00pm – Sunday
Location: Tradex – Trade & Exhibition Centre, 1190 Cornell St., Abbotsford
Contact: Debbie Fenrick or Judi Rosebrugh: (844) 933-1366 or 604-200-0905