Tuesday, February 9, 2016

20% off Los Angeles Zoo Membership: Discount Coupon Promotion Code

The Los Angeles Zoo shared an exclusive code for Montebello Mom readers code with me that takes
 20% off any membership + a free plush animal!
Sign up for Family Membership or higher and take an additional $5 off
Sign on for Family Deluxe Membership or higher and you'll also receive a free tote bag!

Seven levels of membership are available with this discount, from Individual Membership to Conservation Associate. Here is a sample of L.A. Zoo benefits at the Family Level:

FAMILY MEMBERSHIP - $102,(regular price $134)
  • Free unlimited admission for two adults named on membership card
  • Free admission for your own children and/or grandchildren (ages 2 - 17) for one year
  • Two free Safari Shuttle tickets (up to $8 value)
  • Two free Conservation Carousel tickets ($6 value)
  • 10% discount in shops, restaurants, educational programs, & special events
  • Subscriptions to Zooscape and Zoo View publications
  • Invitation to exclusive member only events
  • Tax-deductible amount: $134
  • Zoo/Aquarium Reciprocal List. Visit 170 partner museums and zoos across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico on the reciprocal list and get free or discounted admission!

The discount code is 11602MMW. This code can only be used online and must be manually typed in, do not cut & paste. Thanks to the Los Angeles Zoo for the discount!

Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association
5333 Zoo Drive • Los Angeles, CA • 90027 • 323/644-4759

If you like what you've just read and are interested in free and low cost family friendly events in
Montebello and the surrounding area, please "Like" Montebello Mom on Facebook, or subscribe to the e-mail newsletter on the sidebar. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Free Museum Admission for B of A Customers

Bank of America account holders get free admission to over 150 museums nationwide the first full weekend of every month! Simply present your B of A card and a photo ID at the ticket booth.


There are participating museums in 33 states. If you are planning a vacation check the list of participating museums here.

Remember, each cardholder gets free admission so expect to pay admission for any children. Could be great for discounted day out with the kids or a day away from the kids, whichever you prefer.

Home Depot Free Kids Workshops: First Saturday of Every Month

Home Depot offers a free hands on building workshop for kids the first Saturday of every month from 9:00AM - Noon. Kids receive a kit to assemble at the store, a Home Depot apron, and a pin for participating. Registration is recommended, but not necessary.

Valentine's Mailbox
Saturday, January 6



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Simon Youth Foundation College Scholarship

Any student who will be graduating in the class of 2016 and lives within 50 miles of The Shops at Montebello is eligible. Recipients will receive up to $1,500 to enroll in an accredited college, university, vocational or technical school.

For more information and to apply visit


Monday, January 11, 2016

Journey to Space: Exhibition & 3D Film

Now- May 8, 2016
You must, must, must take your family to this exhibition.
I have a soft spot in my heart for NASA. Growing up my father took us kids to Edwards Air Force Base to watch the shuttle land, and we listened for sonic booms from the landings we couldn't see in person. When I was 10 years old our teacher wheeled in the television as another fifth grade class squeezed in their chairs so we could all see the Challenger take off and learn from the first teacher in space.
With all my love for NASA, I was surprised when tears started gathering in the corners of my eyes as the introductory video for Journey to Space started playing. It included television footage that detailed man's history with space exploration. I was overcome with emotion, in awe, and so proud of all that has been accomplished.

The space shuttle Endeavor. Ticket included with Journey to Space admission.

This is by far one of the best exhibits I have ever experienced, and I've seen a lot! This exhibit will get children and adults alike excited about space exploration. After touring the exhibit, seeing the Shuttle Endeavor, and watching the Journey to Space 3-D IMAX movie, I can hardly wait to see the first person on Mars.

Admission to the California Science Center is free.
Parking is $12, cash only.
Journey to Space Exhibit & Shuttle Endeavor 
Journey to Space Exhibit, Shuttle Endeavor, & 3-D IMAX movie $10.50-$16.75

Click here for more information.
If possible try to visit the exhibition at off-peak times. We visited on a Friday at 1:30pm just as the last of the school groups were leaving the museum. Journey to Space had about 50 people inside making it very easy to experiment at every lab station and to experience the rotating Destiny Lab twice. I would even go so far as to advocate for taking your kids out of school early to experience this exhibit.

Space helmet & Neil Armstrong's gloves.

My daughter was excited when she was this in the rotating Destiny Lab.
She remembered it in a Scholastic News article and pointed to it with a huge grin in all the photos.

Being goofy and pretending to "float" in space.

Throughout the exhibit the descriptions at each display were very easy to read and the science was explained in such terms that I was able to easily interrupt the concepts to the youngest of my children and she understood.

Maybe one day there will be colonies just like this on Mars!

The best space doll house yet.
A model of the International Space Station (ISS) for kids to explore.
Each module has openings for kids to pretend play.

Bring your own dolls! My kids found three astronaut dolls to play with in the ISS model, but there were other kids who wanted to play too. Save your sanity and bring a doll or action figure, I'm sure Spiderman and Barbie could run the experiments for a while.

I usually say no to these kinds of things,
but $2 is a bargain for a rare experience such as the high wire bicycle.

Tiny House on display outside of the California Science Center entrance.

I could live here! It was fun exploring all the hidden storage compartments and imagining this was our home. The tiny house has enough space to sleep four people!

Now-May 8
California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Disneyland on the Cheap

Jedi Training Academy

I've been asked a few times how to get Disneyland tickets for cheap. The answer: It's darn near impossible.

Nonetheless, here is what I've learned about buying tickets & saving at the Disneyland Resort and any special ticket offers currently available.


SoCal Resident Flex Ticket Offer
2 day ticket $149
3 day ticket $179 (includes Magic Morning)
Tickets are valid through May 26, 2016.
Guests may visit one park per day.
Blockout dates are March 20 - April 2.

What I Have Learned about buying Disneyland Tickets

1. If you can't find a discount price, buy Disney gift cards covering the cost of admission at Ralphs or Vons. At the very least you will get points to use to save on gasoline at Shell or Chevron stations. When you get to Disneyland exchange the Disney gift cards for tickets or annual passes at the ticket booth.

I also heard that gift cards bought using a Red Card at Target are discounted 5%. Check it out for yourself and save $5 for every $100 worth of Disney gift cards.

Even if you plan to purchase an annual pass with the monthly payment option, you will still have to make a down payment of $96 per person, buy enough gift cards to cover the down payment.

2. If you find the ultra-rare deal for a half-day ticket, such as $54 admission after 4pm, find out how many hours Disneyland is open on that day and find the hourly price. If the park is open 'til midnight you'll have 8 hours at the park, costing you $6.75 per hour. If you were to pay full price for the same day, and it's open for 16 hours, it will cost you $6.00 per hour. You have to decide which is better for you, be sure to take into account cost of meals and parking. Find Disneyland Resort hours here.

2013 Disneyland Resort Annual Passes at Ralphs.
3. If you time it right you might be able to get last year's annual passes, but use them this year. Nearly every spring, in early June, the Disneyland Resort increases ticket prices. If you plan to visit Disneyland later this year, and have the money available, you can buy the tickets or passes at the grocery store at the old prices even though the ticket prices have increased at the ticket booth. The old price ticket cards may be available in the grocery store for a few weeks before they are swapped out for cards with the updated price and can redeemed anytime until the expiration on the card, generally the end of the calendar year. Read how I did just that in 2013. 

4. Some agencies offer discounted tickets. AAA members and L.A. County employees have access to slightly discounted tickets, but they must be purchased through the agency offering them. Selected multi-day passes purchased through AAA include free parking.

L.A. County Employee Discount Program

5. Before you buy annual passes take into account the amount of gas it takes to get to Disneyland from your home. My car gets about 18 miles per gallon. Disneyland is 20 miles from Montebello. For me that's over 2 gallons round trip. At today's prices, that equals about $6 in gas per Disney visit.

6. Calling Disneyland ticket information and begging doesn't help. I've tried. The only offer available was for Annual Pass holders to save $20 if they renew before the expiration of their old ticket.


How to Save Money at Disneyland Resort
1. Take your own food & water. Meals cost $10 per person anywhere at Disneyland or California Adventure; Downtown Disney meal prices are even higher. I have each family member carry their own snack bag filled with fruit, veggies, water bottle, sandwich, and other small snacks. We usually nibble away while waiting in longer lines. Water bottles can be refilled, look for water bottle filling areas, or ask a Cast Member at any counter restaurant for water, it's free!

Step 1: Fill bottle. Step 2: Question cloudiness. Step 3: Wait for water to clear & drink!
Free ice cold water from Cast Members at counter restaurants!

If you forget to pack food and live near the 5 Freeway, stop by Costco in Commerce off the Washington exit. Load up on food on your way to or from the park. Costco's awesome churros are $1.10 compared to Disney's $4! Hot dog & soda combos are only $1.50. The food court is open until 6pm. Closed Sundays. Costco membership is not necessary, the food court is accessible from outside of the building.

Make a pit stop at Costco to fill up before or after a trip to Disney.

2. Buy your souvenirs before you go. Most large mass retailors have Disney themed merchandise, or prices at the Disney Store are less expensive than prices in the park. Pick up matching Disney themed shirts from a local store, or secretly buy Disney themed toys, autograph books, or stuffed animals before visiting the Resort and pull them out as a surprise for your children when they get there.
2. The first day of any annual pass you buy, even if it's a block-out day, you are allowed admission to the Disneyland Resort. For example, If you are buying the Southern California Select which only allows weekday visits, your first day, even if it's Christmas day, or a Saturday, you are allowed admission to the parks.
3. When you visit Disneyland Resort for the first time, if buying the Premium Annual Pass, take your parking receipt with you to the ticket booth; the parking fee will either be refunded or credited to your balance.
Annual parking passes are no longer available for purchase Deluxe or Southern California passes. Annual passholders can save on parking by upgrading one member of your group's pass to a Premium-level pass to take advantage of the free parking. Your group would have to visit at least 14 times to break even over the difference in price from Deluxe to Premium, or 29 times to make up the difference in price from Southern California to Premium. I know of families who go to Disneyland every Friday, upgrading one family member's pass in that case would make sense to them. 

How to Save Time at Disneyland Resort
1. When in line for a ride and the line splits, which side do you go on? The right or the left? Save a few minutes in line by following Disneyland Inside Out's tips here.
2. Arrive at the gates with ticket in hand 40 minutes before the park opens. Disneyland and California Adventure allow guests into the park 30 minutes before the opening. You'll get a head start and be closer to the rides when the park does open. My family once enjoyed 9 rides in the first hour and half of the park opening!
Warning: Both Disneyland & California Adventure have "Extra Magic Hour & Magical Mornings" a few times a week where Guests with multiple day passes are allowed admission to the park one hour early. On those days it won't matter how early you get to the resort, there will already be lines. Check here for early admission days and avoid them if you plan to arrive early.


My last tip: If a trip to Disneyland is a financial stretch for your family consider starting a "Disney Fund." Have a piggy bank especially to save for Disney. Kids can contribute coins found on the floor and birthday money. Every night put all your spare change, rebate checks, money saved with coupons, and money found in the washer; it all goes to the Disney Fund! My family spent the better part of 2 years saving. With all of us contributing, even the baby, we saved enough for annual passes.
Okay, one more tip: If all else fails, apply for a job at the Disneyland Resort. After a grace period employees can bring in three guests for free several times a year. Click here for more information.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Aquarium of the Pacific: Shark Lagoon Free Admission Friday Nights!

Aquarium of the Pacific
Most Every Friday
6:00 - 9:00pm

Jan. 8 -- Jan. 15. -- Jan. 22 -- Jan. 29
February 5 -- February 19 -- February 26
March 4 --  March 25
April 1 -- April 8 -- April 22 -- April 29
May 6 -- May 13 -- May 20-- May 27
June 3 -- June 10

From 6:00 - 9:00 pm most Friday nights the Shark Lagoon is open to the public for free! The Shark Lagoon is the outside area in the rear of the aquarium. There are large touch tanks and a children's play area. The event may be cancelled due to inclement weather. Parking can be up to $8, click here for parking details.

Shark Lagoon Play Area

Pet Adoption Event: SEAACA, Downey

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Experience Disney Magic Every Day: Open the Disney Store!!!

Experience a little bit of Disney Magic every morning at the Disney Store. It's a little known secret...the first Guest at a Disney Store is given the special honor of opening the store.

Before the store opens, stanchions are set up across the entrance and in the center is a large lock.

A Cast Member brings out a giant key that is stored in a cabinet behind the registers.

The digital marquee counts down the last minute before the store opens and reveals favorite Disney characters.

At the appointed time, the Guest turns the key, the ropes are released, and the store is officially open!

The lucky Guest receives a replica key as a souvenir.

All three of my children have enjoyed the experience of opening the Disney Store. They love the attention and cherish the key they were given as a memento.

I suggest arriving at the Disney Store a minimum of 15 minutes prior to the scheduled opening to secure the coveted first Guest spot.

Montebello is remodeled Disney Store with a "Magical New Store Design." If your Disney Store is not a remodeled store I suggest you call to ask if that location participates in the store opening event.

Friday, January 1, 2016

IKEA Covina: Free family fun for all!

If you and the kids are at home with no plans for the day and everyone is itching to do something, anything, a trip to IKEA is the answer! It is by far the most mom friendly place I have ever been.

I started frequenting IKEA when I was home on maternity leave. As any mom will tell you, a day filled with taking care of toddlers, changing diapers, and nursing occasionally gets dull and sometimes you need to go out to a place where you can take care of the babies and amuse yourself at the same time. IKEA fit the bill perfectly.

IKEA is an easy 20 minute drive from Montebello. It's big blue and yellow building can easily be spotted off the 10 Freeway at Barranca Avenue in Covina. The huge Disney-esque parking structure has extra large spots reserved for families with young kids near the entrance on first floor. The second floor of the structure is open to the air and provides a beautiful view of the Covina hills and the open sky.

One inside I make a beeline for the Smaland play area. Smaland is a supervised play area where kids from 37-54 inches tall can play for up to an hour while parents shop. If you join the IKEA Family program kids can play for an extra 30 minutes on most weekdays.

The newly remodeled play area has kid sized bathrooms, interactive video game floors, an auditorium style TV viewing area, and lots to engage a child's imagination.

If by chance you get to Smaland and it's at full capacity check in with the attendant and sit in the waiting area. There are benches for waiting and there is usually a Disney movie showing. You can spend some time looking through the windows into the play area and point out to your child all the fun things to do and ask what they are going to try first.

Once you get called, you sign your kids in, the kids put their shoes in a bin, everyone gets stamped with a number, the kids get stickers for their backs, the parents get a pager and you're free to do as you please, except you can't leave the building. But not to worry, IKEA has a lot to offer.

If you have a child over 54 inches the Smaland sign says they have hand held games to lend. Children under 37 inches can enjoy a play area just for them upstairs in children's furniture.

Upstairs IKEA has all the larger furniture pieces set up in the showroom for kids to try. There is usually a tent, tunnel, tables, chairs, benches, stools, and rockers all for playing!

There are also sample kids bedrooms and playrooms set up throughout the area. Children and parents are encouraged to try out the displays at IKEA so kids are allowed to climb on the beds, open the drawers, and pretend!

This is a display of a kid sized kitchen the IKEA has for sale, complete with kitchen pots, pans, and other elements. One mom had to drag her daughter away from this set.

There are also real kid sized bowls, plates, cups, and utensils for kids. IKEA is one of the few places where real metal kid sized utensils are sold. The Disney Store also sells metal utensils, but we all need a break from the Princesses every now and then.

This next area is great for nursing moms or parents with young kids. It's a family bathroom located upstairs just a few steps away from the children's furniture area. The door locks and there are couches just outside.

The bathroom is big enough to roll a stroller in and is complete with comfy chair, table, toys, step stools, and an emergency help button near the toilet, "just in case".

A cabinet in the family restroom is stocked with diapers near the changing table in the event that you find the diaper bag empty.

IKEA Covina is complete with a cafeteria style restaurant. It's conveniently located near the bathrooms, elevator, and children's furniture section. It's similar to a school cafeteria, you grab a tray and make your way through the line adding what you want to the tray and placing your order with the servers.

Tuesdays at IKEA kids eat for free. No adult purchase is necessary, the kids simply need to be present at the restaurant cashier and there will be no charge for the kid meals. There are four kid-friendly meals on the menu which includes chicken nuggets/fries, pasta, and two kinds of meatballs/mashed potatoes, all come with a choice of a jug of milk, jug of chocolate milk, juice box, or soda. 

The last time I checked they also sold jars of baby food. There is a family needs section in the dining area that has a bottle warmer, microwave, and kid utensils.

If you have your hands full with a stroller or have children with you, utilize this handy tray cart. Three trays can fit on the cart at once. If you can't find a cart near the line entrance check the dining area, you can usually find a few there.

The dining area is very large, bright, and open. One wall is comprised of windows and this is the view. Beautiful at any time of day. Feel free to bring your laptop or iPad, IKEA has WiFi in the restaurant!

Before you leave be sure to take a look at the AS-IS section of the store. There IKEA has all the returned or slightly damaged display merchandise for sale. I once found a large plush carpet for the kid's room for $75, marked down from $200. It just needed a good vacuum and when the carpet cleaners came to the house I had them spiff it up. It looked brand new.

After you've picked up the kids from Smaland be sure to take them over to the Bistro near the check out registers. At the IKEA Bistro you can pizza, soda, cinnamon rolls, hot dogs, packaged Swedish food, and frozen fat free yogurt! I tell the kids it's ice cream, all they care about is that it's white and it's on a cone.

The ice cream costs exactly $1 so I use the Bistro as the kid's first try at placing an order and paying a cashier. I hand them each a dollar, stand to the side, and have them wait their turn in line. They love the independence and I don't have to worry about them handling coins from change.

IKEA Covina/Inland Empire
848 South Barranca Avenue
Covina, CA 91791
(626) 732 4532
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-8pm
Restaurant Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30am-8:00pm, Sun 9:30am-7:00pm