All aboard Thomas the Tank Engine! The beloved train rolls in this weekend to the delight of little engineers. Not to get off “track,” but there’s plenty more fun to be had. Dress like Belle and join a Beauty & the Beast celebration, head to a quaint mining town for Julian’s Gold Rush Days, or watch a spectacular film that takes you on a 3D journey across “Wild Africa!” Read on for the details.

Photo: Orange Empire Railway Museum

Solana Beach

The Wizard of Oz
The Theatre School at North Coast Rep Presents: The Wizard of Oz. This magical production, based on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s celebration of the 1939 MGM movie, will delight fans old and new. Featuring classic songs “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and “If I Only Had A Brain,” along with the beloved characters, this performance of The Wizard of Oz will make for a memorable family experience. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Balboa Park

Wild Africa in 3D
Wild Africa
takes audiences on a spectacular 3D journey across, over and through the magical realms of the wildest continent on earth. Audiences will be plunged into fantastic places and meet amazing creatures, discovering the fascinating secrets of this incredible world. Run time is 25 minutes. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Chula Vista

Go Back to Nature at The Living Coast Discovery Center
Forget your worries, escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and reconnect with your wild roots. Back to Nature is an interactive exhibit featuring animals such as parrots, mice, iguanas, falcons, frogs, and more! Be among the first to walk through the new Native Pollinator Garden, attracting butterflies, hummingbirds and bees while learning about the role of native pollinators in our everyday lives. Back to Nature also celebrates the 30 year anniversary of The Living Coast Discovery Center by looking at the history of Sweetwater Marsh. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Perris

A Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends
All aboard! Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends are chugging into the Orange Empire Railway Museum for five days in April. Book your trip early because train departure times fill up fast. Day Out With Thomas offers aspiring engineers and their families the opportunity to take a 25-minute ride with the famous engine and a 15-minute ride with his railway friend, Percy. Kids can also meet Sir Topham Hatt, the Superintendent of the Railroad from the Island of Sodor and enjoy a wide range of Thomas-related activities. Note: tickets are required for kids age 2 and up. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Orange County

Bubble Fest: Good Clean Fun that Doesn’t Blow
Don’t miss the return of So Cal’s most astounding spring break bubble spectacular. Bubblefest features good, clean fun for the entire family! Watch the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show and witness art in motion as bubble scientist Deni Yang performs tricks and stunts with smoking bubbles, spinning bubbles, bouncing bubbles and a laser light show. Then, learn the science behind the Mega Bubblefest Laser Show with hands-on activities like blowing giant bubbles, playing in water spheres, and more! Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Julian

Julian Gold Rush Days
Step back in time for Julian Gold Rush Days. Bring the family out to enjoy this mining town of yesteryear and to celebrate the discovery of gold in this mountain community. Learn more about the town’s history with a weekend of entertainment including: gold panning, tomahawk throwing, candle dipping, re-enactments, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, pony rides, children’s pioneer games, face painting and food and drink. Note: There’s plenty of free parking. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Mira Mesa

Beauty & the Beast Celebration
Fans of Belle and the Beast will definitely want to be a guest at this fun party which celebrates the release of the new film. Festivities include storytime and a singalong to favorite songs from the movie soundtrack as well as other thematic activities. Attendees will receive a mini-poster and bookmark while supplies last. Sat. Event details.

Cardiff-by-the-Sea

Family Fun Days at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center
Explore the lives of birds, with new topics discussed the first Sunday of every month, including feathers and flight, migration and lagoon babies. Discover the ways birds move and change with the air, lands and waters they live in, and look for animal babies and learn about nature cycles in springtime events. Includes interactive tours and arts/crafts. Sun. Event details.

Irvine

Kidchella: Family-Friendly Music & Art Festival
Embrace your inner festival-goer at Kidchella held at Pretend City Children’s Museum! There will be live musical guests throughout the week and kids will be able to explore different musical stylings, instruments and sounds. Sun. Event details.

What are your fun weekend plans? Share in the comments.

–– Beth Shea