Showing posts with label theme parks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label theme parks. Show all posts

2021 Dutch Wonderland Opening Details!

Duke's Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland - www.runningonpixiedust.com


Dutch Wonderland is getting ready to open for the summer season and I'm excited to once again be partnering with them as a Royal Ambassador this year!  We're planning a visit for the first weekend in June, but the Lancaster, Pennsylvania amusement park opens to guests May 15.  Dutch Wonderland has long been a family favorite with plenty of choices for the youngest guests.  I have many fond memories of visiting as a child and have cherished the memories I've made with my own kids in recent years.


Check out 5 tips for having a Dutch Wonder-ful Day from our 2019 visit!


Dutch Wonderland COVID Safety

Safety is first and foremost on the minds of many families planning summer travel.  There are a few things to note about planning your visit to Dutch Wonderland this summer which align with COVID safety practices common among most theme parks across the country right now.  First, guests will need to pre-purchase tickets and make a park reservation.  This will help control capacity and make social distancing easier to manage.  Even though you'll spend the majority of your day outside at Dutch Wonderland, guests are required to wear a face mask (ages 2 and over) and practice social distancing.  You'll also find park employees masked up for the season.  If you're heading over to the water area, Duke's Lagoon (one of our favorites!), masks are not required in the water areas.  

Hersheypark 2021 - The BEST Reasons to Visit This Year


Image from Hersheypark

Family theme parks have been some of our favorite destinations over the years and we missed visiting them last summer.  Now, we are ready to get back to the sun, fun, and, in the case of Hersheypark, the chocolate!  Last summer, Hersheypark unleashed a new rollercoaster, Candymonium, and a new entrance to the park.  This year, they will be releasing some new dining experiences and they sound fantastic!  There's a lot to love about a visit to Hersheypark and here are some of the things I'm looking forward to most this year!

New Dining Experiences at Hersheypark



Milton's Ice Cream Parlor - Image from Hersheypark


New is always exciting and Hersheypark has done a great job adding attractions, restaurants, and more over the past few years.  This season, guests can enjoy new dining experiences as part of Hershey's Chocolatetown.  This spring, Milton's Ice Cream Parlor and The Sweeterie Confectionary Kitchen will both open on April 2nd.  Milton's Ice Cream Parlor has both sweet and savory options covered with local custom and King Size Sundaes as well as options like grilled cheese, shareable buckets of fries, and Chicken N Waffles.  The Sweeterie Confectionary Kitchen is the ultimate candy kitchen with chocolate dipped treats and grab-and-go sweets to enjoy around the park.  You can find more details about menus for these new dining options here.

Walt Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration - New Details Released!

In this artist rendering, Cinderella Castle shines with new golden and EARidescent décor at Magic Kingdom Park as part of “The World’s Most Magical Celebration,” which begins Oct. 1, 2021, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)


The Walt Disney World Resort celebrates its 50th Anniversary on October 1, 2021 and Disney Parks has just announced new details about a celebration that one soon won't forget.  The party will last 18 months so guests will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the magical offerings!

Beacons of Magic at All 4 Walt Disney World Theme Parks




This birthday celebration won't be confined to just Magic Kingdom as all four parks get in on the party!  Cinderella Castle will continue its transformation with gold bunting added and a 50th anniversary crest.  The illumination after dark will give guests a pixie dusted experience.  EPCOT, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Disney's Hollywood Studios will also feature some of the EARidescent sparkle as you can see in the images above.  I don't know about you, but I love these colors and think this will look amazing after dark all around Walt Disney World!

The End of Extra Magic Hours: What it Means for Your Disney Parks Vacation

Mickey Mouse pauses on Main Street, U.S.A. just before sunrise prior to the phased reopening of Magic Kingdom Park, July 11, 2020, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)


Disney Parks shared several announcements this week that have big impacts on your future Disney vacations.  The end of Disney's Magical Express and Extra Magic Hours mean that some of those "free" perks of staying on site at a Walt Disney World hotel have ended.  But with Extra Magic Hours, has it really changed?  Or is this an evolution that may not be so bad?

What were Extra Magic Hours?

Extra Magic Hours have been in place at Walt Disney World Resort for years now and provided guests staying on site or at a "good neighbor" hotel the chance to enter a selected park one hour early and stay late at a selected park each day.  Early birds and night owls often made use of this advantage to squeeze in more fun without a little less crowding. 

Hersheypark Announces 2020 Seasonal Events

Hersheypark Seasonal Events - Image from Hersheypark


The "Sweetest Place on Earth" may have had an abbreviated summer season with COVID restrictions delaying the opening this year, but Hersheypark is making up for it with expanded seasonal events and all of sweet fun we know and love gearing up for the fall and winter seasons!  This year, Hersheypark debuted it's 15th coaster, Candymonium, and the new Chocolatetown entrance to the park which you can also see during seasonal events if you missed them this summer!

Learn more about Candymonium and Hersheypark's COVID safety measures here!


Hersheypark In The Dark


Hersheypark In The Dark Trick-Or-Treating - Image from Hersheypark


Halloween is synonymous with candy so what better place to spend this holiday than in Hershey, PA?  Hersheypark will be open weekends from October 2nd - November 1 for guests to enjoy the fall festivities.  Both kids and adults alike will delight in family-friendly rides, shows, games, and of course, the coasters!  Don't forget to dress in costume and get your kids 12 and under ready for chocolate overload when you walk through the trick-or-treat trail.  One of my favorite things to do during the fall is to also visit Zoo America where the animals get into the Halloween spirit as well - and admission is included with your Hersheypark In the Dark ticket!

Tickets for Hersheypark In The Dark are on sale for $44.95 (ages 9-61), $36.95 (3-8 and 62 and older), and free for 2 and younger.  Like in the summer, guests will need to reserve their entry date due to capacity restrictions in place with COVID protocols so don't delay in planning your day!  This is also a great time to think about purchasing season passes for 2021.  There are big savings on 2021 season passes now and you can add on unlimited visits for the 2020 seasonal events for only $65 more!  Learn more about season passes here.  

Hersheypark Christmas Candylane


Hersheypark Christmas Candylane - Image from Hersheypark


Following the fall events, Hershey, PA quickly transitions into a winter wonderland!  On select dates from November 13 - January 3, guests to Hersheypark will be able to explore several fun themed events.  Christmas Candylane is a chance for guests to visit Hersheypark and enjoy rides, shows, and attractions - all with a seasonal twist.  Trust me when I tell you to check out the wide array of hot chocolates - they won't disappoint!!! Christmas Candylane tickets are on sale for an early discounted rate of $31.95 for guests 3 and older with children 2 and under having free entry.  

Looking for more winter fun with your family in Hershey?  You can add on a ticket to the drive-thru Hershey Sweet Lights exhibit.  With nearly 600 lighted displays, it will dazzle both young and old.  Tickets will be available for this late September.  

Check out my visit to Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane last year for tips to make the most of your visit!


This is also a great time of year to make it Hershey getaway by visiting the Official Resorts of Hersheypark.  You may not have realized it, but there are several options when visiting the area which offer great benefits to Hersheypark guests including guaranteed admission reservations and free parking at the park!  Learn more about planning your Hershey, PA visit here.

Will you be visiting the Sweetest Place on Earth this holiday season?  I can't wait to see the families getting their "Hersheypark Happy" on this year.  If you're still not feeling ready to visit a theme park yet, you can also check out these Hershey at Home activities I shared during the closure including virtual coaster rides, coloring pages, and even a recipe for Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Brownies!  



Walt Disney World Is Open For Business!

I miss Goofy hugs!

"There's a great big, beautiful tomorrow. . ."

And that day is here.  Following the closure of Walt Disney World Resort due to the coronavirus pandemic, the resort has been in the process of re-opening for weeks beginning with Disney Springs, followed by select resorts, and now the parks.  While things look different - masks, reservation systems, temperature checks, characters, dining - there can still be magic to be found.  While I haven't been to Florida and won't be going any time soon, several of my local friends have been out and about covering the re-opening.  Here's a quick round-up of their coverage!

Disney Springs Re-Opening


Disney Springs was the first destination on Walt Disney World Resort property to reopen.  My friend Meg from www.megforit.com was at Disney Springs on opening day.  Check out her report at what you can expect in this YouTube video.


Since opening day, more has reopened in Disney Springs like my favorite restaurant, Chef Art Smith's Homecomin'!  

Guests Return to Walt Disney World Resorts


Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Resort properties around Walt Disney World have been slowly reopening, beginning with some DVC fan favorites.  While not all resorts are opening at this time, you can find availability and even book new reservations for a 2020 stay.  My friend Brandon has his YouTube channel Expedition Neverland and shared this video of his stays at both Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian.  


Looking for reviews on some hotels around Walt Disney World, both on and off property?  Check out my list of resort reviews!


If you're interested in booking a Walt Disney World vacation package, visit my friends over at Get Away Today (Affiliate Link).  There really has never been a better time to use a travel agent with so much uncertainty in the air.  Take the guess work out of your vacation planning and leave it to the experts!

Walt Disney World Resort Park Previews


Disney's Hollywood Studios

Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom are scheduled to reopen to the general pubic on July 11 with EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios following on July 15, but both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have had some special cast member and Annual Passholder preview days ahead of time.  While there can be varying stories found on social media, the overall feedback seems to be pretty positive.  More details about how Disney is asking everyone to do their part for health and safety can be found here on the Disney Parks Blog.

In the meantime, check out my friend Tina from Footprints in Pixie Dust and her visit to Magic Kingdom Park during the Annual Passholder Preview! 

Update on the AP Preview! What did we ride? Where we eat? Whom did we see? What can you expect?

Posted by Footprints in Pixie Dust on Thursday, July 9, 2020


Not able to visit the Disney Parks?  Catch some fun movies on Disney+ to add some magic to your summer at home!



Walt Disney World will certainly be a different vacation destination for some time.  However, I was happy to see characters and fun interactions around the parks, even if they weren't the same as in the past.  If you're planning a trip soon, pay close attention to the latest phased re-opening news as announcements come frequently about updates to the systems in place!  See ya real soon pals!

Hersheypark Announces July 3 Opening!

Image Courtesy of Hersheypark

Fans around the Mid-Atlantic can start rejoicing as one of our favorites, Hersheypark, announced today their plans to reopen July 3rd!  Season Pass holders will have special days ahead of this opening on July 1st and 2nd.  We have been long time fans of Hershey, PA and there is even more SWEET fun to be excited about this year.  

Hersheypark Chocolatetown and Candymonium Opening


Hersheypark Candymonium
Image Courtesy of Hersheypark

With the opening of the park announced just in time for the 4th of July holiday, Hersheypark is excited to debut it's 15th roller coaster, Candymonium.  This ride is going to be epic at 210 feet tall, speeds of 76 MPH, and a length of 4,636 feet.  I can't wait!  Candymonium joins an already stellar cast of coasters of Hersheypark including my favorites - Storm Runner, Skyrush, and Farenheit!  

Along with Candymonium, Hersheypark will also be opening Chocolatetown which will feature a new restaruant, ice cream parlor, and shopping!  For more about these exciting additions, check out this video!


Looking for tips for visiting with your kids? Check this out!


Enhanced Safety Measures and Reopening Protocols for Hersheypark


Hersheypark Reopening
Image Courtesy of Hersheypark

Like other theme parks around the country, Hersheypark has established a new way of doing things this summer.  Here are a few of the highlights:
  • Increased cleaning and sanitation around the park 
  • Guest Reservation System - Find out more about making a reservation here!
  • Social distancing signage and reminders throughout the park
  • All guests over 2 must wear a face mask while enjoying the park 
  • Visitors can expect temperature screenings
  • Ride protocols will be determined on a ride-by-ride basis in relation to social distancing and sanitation
  • Additional training for Hershey employees on new protocols

Can't wait for Hersheypark to reopen?  Check out these ways to have some SWEET fun at home!


Around Hersheypark


Image Courtesy of Hersheypark

While Hersheypark is the premiere attraction for many visitors to Hershey, PA, there is plenty more to see and do which is also reopening at this time.  Hershey Gardens announced a reopening date of 6/20 and ZooAmerica will follow closely behind with an opening date of 6/22.  Hershey's Chocolate World already has opened it's doors as of June 5th and Hershey resorts including The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, and Hersheypark Camping Resort are open too!  Please websites for each of these locations before visiting for the latest in reservations and safety protocols.  You may even find SWEET deals to make you vacation even more affordable - like these

Want to plan ahead? Don't forget about Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane!


I know I can't wait to get back to Hershey!  Who is with me??


SeaWorld Orlando - The Best Roller Coaster

SeaWorld Orlando - Entrance to Manta

When vacationers think of Orlando theme parks, SeaWorld usually comes to mind, but might not be at the top of lists.  While it's true that there is a lot for young kids to love here (sea animals, Sesame Street Land, cute shows, and much more!), there is plenty of adventure for adults as well.  While I had done my research and heard that there were some stellar coasters at SeaWorld Orlando, I wasn't quite prepared for how amazing some of the rides would be.  With three big coasters - Kraken, Manta, and Mako - roller coaster fans will find plenty to enjoy. Let's break down each ride and I'll share which one was my favorite.

SeaWorld Orlando - Roller Coasters and Quick Queue Pass


Before we start, I should mention that my family and I had purchased Quick Queue passes for the day we were at the park.  Unlike FastPass+ at Walt Disney World, there are no "freebies" that come with your admission ticket.  We found Quick Queue Unlimited passes on a Black Friday sale so we figured it was worth it to give it a go.  This got us unlimited access to most of the popular rides including Mako, Manta, Infinity Falls, Wild Arctic, Antartica: Empire of the Penguin, Journey to Atlantis, and Kraken.  It was a good value to not have to wait in lines with little kids and also allowed us to revisit our favorite attractions again and again.

Traveling with little ones to SeaWorld? Visit my guide to Sesame Street Land!

SeaWorld Orlando - Mako

SeaWorld Orlando Roller Coasters - Mako


Let's first talk about Mako.  Mako is currently Orlando's tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster.  At speeds in excess of 73 MPH and at a height of more than 200 feet, you certainly feel that distinction as a thrill seekers dream.  Mako does not go upside down so riders are restrained with a lap bar in open car seating which makes the coaster feel even more exciting.  I love that sensation of your butt lifting off a seat while you ride a coaster and you will certainly have that feeling time and time again here!! 

SeaWorld Orlando Roller Coasters - Manta


Talk about a roller coaster that is unique!  Manta was my first experience riding a roller coaster from the "flying" position.  That's right!  Inspired by the beautiful and majestic Manta Rays, this coaster takes guests from a seated loading position to flying before you leave the station.  It felt a little awkward as your body is strapped in so tightly.  I enjoyed the unique ride experience, but felt that between the restraint and being in the middle row, I didn't really "see" anything while riding.  I'd love the chance to go back again and ride from the front row.  One of the coolest sensations on the ride was skimming the water - just like a sting ray! 

SeaWorld Orlando Roller Coasters - Kraken


The most traditional of the roller coasters at SeaWorld in my opinion is Kraken, but even this ride has a non-traditional twist as Orlando's only floorless coaster.  Guests sit up right and wear over-the-should harnesses to prepare for twists, turns, loops, and heights of over 150 feet.  It's fast and full of adventure, just like the mythical Kraken it's named after!  While I enjoyed this ride, I did feel like it was something I had "done" before.  
SeaWorld Orlando - Manta


SeaWorld Orlando Roller Coasters - What's My Favorite?


Time for the big reveal!  (Although the excitement of which I wrote about them may have given something away.)  While I love trying new things and Manta was certainly unlike anything else I have ever experienced, nothing quite excites me like the pure speed and height of Mako.  Wowsa!  That roller coaster will leave you catching your breath and begging for more.  I had so much fun riding it and look forward to riding again!

Have you been to SeaWorld Orlando before?  Which coaster is your favorite??

Find out more about the reopening of SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World Resort following the COVID closures here!


Walt Disney World Resort Re-Opening: What We Know!!!

Slinky Dog Dash at Disney's Hollywood Studios

It's coronation day!

Well, not quite. . .but for Walt Disney World fans it's kind of the same thing.  For the first time in forever, Walt Disney World Resort is preparing to open the gates again!! On May 27th, Walt Disney World presented to the Orange County Task Force about their plans.  While I'm sure more will be shared in the days and weeks ahead, this is what we know so far.

Walt Disney World Re-Opening


As always, for the latest information, visit the Walt Disney World website and the Disney Parks Blog.

With announcements from Universal Studios Orlando and Legoland Orlando, Disney fans have been patiently waiting their turn.  Here's what Disney shared:
  • Reopening of the parks begins on July 11th with Magic Kingdom Park and Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Both EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios will follow suit on July 15th.
  • No parades or fireworks for now.  Disney is limiting these in park events that draw large crowds and said they plan to have them return "at a later date."
  • No character meet and greets, no makeovers, no playgrounds - for the time being.  They do mention that characters will be around the parks though.
  • Limited capacity means you'll need an advanced reservation to enter the park.
  • Currently new tickets and new hotel reservations are not being accepted.  Disney is working with guests who have existing reservations first before allowing new reservations to be accepted.
  • Masks are a must for everyone 3 and over.
  • Temperature checks will also be required prior to park entry.
  • Of course, increased cleaning and disinfection will be a priority around the park.
  • DVC resorts at Walt Disney World will begin reopening for members and guests on June 22 along with Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  Hilton Head and Vero Bech Resorts will begin reopening June 15.

It's never too early to plan your next WDW vacation! Find all the details on Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and celebrating the holiday season at Walt Disney World here!


SeaWorld Announces Re-Opening Plans Too!


Not to be outdone by Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld Orlando also announced their plans to reopen at the same Orange County Task Force meeting:
  • June 11th reopening for SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove.
  • Masks required for guests 2 years and older.
  • Temperature checks prior to park entry.
  • Limited capacity in pools and rivers.
  • Hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit of each ride.
  • Character interactions and parades may be modified to promote social distancing.
  • Increased cleaning procedures and practices to promote social distancing. 

For the latest information on SeaWorld, visit the official SeaWorld website.

Planning a visit to SeaWorld, check out my guide to Sesame Street Land!


So what do you think?  We all know that visiting theme parks this summer will be unlike anything we've ever experienced before.  Will you be joining those braving the parks, or watching and waiting to see how things go?  

Have a SWEET Quarantine - Hershey Fun to Have at Home!


I don't know about you, but I've been missing a lot of my favorite places during this time while we're at home with the safety measures in place from the coronavirus pandemic.  Like many of you, I've had travel plans upended - including a birthday weekend visit to one of my favorite local destinations, Hershey, Pennsylvania.  We like to visit Hershey several times a year for trips to Hershey's Chocolate World, Hersheypark, and more.  So while we can't go experience the fun of Hershey in person, we brought the fun of Hershey to our house with these fun activities!

Hershey At Home Activities


Hersheypark Coloring Pages - Thanks to the wonderful folks at Hersheypark, here are some free printable coloring pages.  We love planning our visits to see our favorite characters and ride the exciting roller coasters.  These coloring pages keep the excitement alive until we can visit again!

Planning a visit to Hersheypark?  Check out my guide for visiting with kids!


Ride the Roller Coasters - I know what you're thinking. . .ride the roller coasters?  But the park is closed?!?  No worries, Hersheypark has released POV videos on their YouTube channel of their roller coasters so you can feel like you're a part of the SWEET excitement.  Check it out!!!

Make Some Hershey Sweets - We all know one of the best things about visiting Hershey, PA is the chocolate!  I mean, what other theme park is entirely inspired by and centered around chocolate? So when you can't visit Hersheypark and Hershey's Chocolate World right now, you can still make some yummy Hershey chocolate treats.  Some of our favorites:

  • S'mores - You know the drill.  Grab some graham crackers, marshmallows, and a Hershey's chocolate bar!  No fire, no problem! You can preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the bottom part of the s'more and the marshmallow in the oven for 3-5 minutes until just softened.  Then top with your favorite chocolate and the second half of your graham cracker.  
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Brownies - OK, these may be a new addiction in my house.  I made these from scratch, but you can easily use a base brownie box mix instead.  I found the base brownie mix on Pinterest which linked to this site.  After making the mix, I added crunched up Reese's cups to the batter then poured in the pan.  I cut up two more Reese's cups to top the batter and then baked following the directions on the website.  They turned out delicious!
I can't wait to be back in Hershey soon!  Until then, I'll be making my own SWEET moments at home.  Enjoy!

Family Guide to Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando

Bert and Ernie
SeaWorld Orlando has been a popular family destination in Central Florida for many years now, but the recent addition of Sesame Street Land gives young families even more to love.  This new land opened in Summer 2019 and adds so much fun for little ones when visiting SeaWorld.  Before our visit, I had a lot of questions and I want to share answers to some of those questions that may be on your mind too as you plan your visit!

What is in Sesame Street Land?


A lot!! In this relatively small corner of the park, you'll find 6 rides - all perfectly sized for pint sized visitors, a playground area, a splash pad, shopping, interactive displays, food trucks, character greetings, and a parade.  See. . .it's a lot!  At the time of our visit, my boys were 4 and 7 which was perfect for visiting.  Throughout most of the rest of SeaWorld, my youngest was too little for almost all of the rides, but here he could do everything.  His favorite was the Cookie Drop.  My oldest is still a little shy when it comes to roller coasters, but the Grover themed roller coaster here had him all smiles - he rode it 3 times in a row!  The interactive displays are all very well done too.  You can actually walk along Sesame Street ringing doorbells, knocking on Oscar's trashcan, racing bicycles, and building monsters.

5 Tips to Maximize Your Visit To Christmas Candylane at Hersheypark

Hersheypark has been a favorite of mine going all the way back to my childhood.  I remember visiting with my parents as a child, hanging out there as a college student at nearby Elizabethtown College, and am now making even more memories visiting regularly with my own children.  Over all of the years though that I've been going to Hersheypark, I have never been to the annual Christmas Candylane.  I was excited this year to partner with Hersheypark to attend this holiday tradition with my family.  We had a great afternoon and evening, while also learning a lot about maximizing your time at Christmas Candylane.  Here are my 5 tips (in no particular order!) to make the most of your visit.

My family and I received complimentary admission to Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane and Hershey's Sweet Lights so we can share our experiences with you!


1. Arrive Early


On weekends, the park is open beginning at noon.  Some of you may be asking why you would visit a holiday lights event that early in the day, but the answer is simple - there's so much more to see and do besides the lights!  There are 47 rides and attractions open during Christmas Candylane.  While many of these are kiddie rides, you'll also find several roller coasters including sooperdooperLooper, Sidewinder, Wildcat, and Laff Trakk.  When you arrive early, I would recommend heading straight for the most popular attractions - and right now that means Reese's Cupfusion which just opened this year.  As the afternoon goes on and night begins to fall, the park becomes more crowded and lines can grow.  Those early hours are perfect for kiddie rides, roller coasters, and some of your fan favorites.  Remember to download the Hersheypark app prior to arriving so you can have a map, park details, and current ride wait times at your fingertips!  Just save some rides for after night falls, which leads me to tip #2. . .
Bring back the Crystal Cup on
Reese's Cupfusion!

2. Rides to Ride After Dark


Hersheypark is truly beautiful with all of the lights at night.  A well laid out and picturesque park in the daytime lends itself well to be gorgeous at night.  There are a few slow moving rides that will offer you breathtaking views of the lights as you travel around the park after dark.  Make sure you save Skyview, Capital BlueCross Monorail, Kissing Tower, Ferris Wheel and Dry Gulch Railroad for nighttime to see dazzling light displays.  The Sunoco Speedway and Classic Cars are also fun as night falls with their own "Sweet Lights" display on the driving tracks for families to enjoy.  Bring your cameras with you on these rides to grab some great photos of the festive Christmas lights!

3. Enjoy the Shows Mid-Day


The Littlest Tree at
Chevrolet Music Box Theater
Each season at Hershey always brings it's own fun when it comes to special entertainment and Christmas Candylane is no different.  Over in Pioneer Frontier, you'll be able to find Santa's Reindeer and an ice skating rink (extra fee for skate rental - $3).  The Chevrolet Music Box Theater is home to a Christmas musical show, The Littlest Tree.  It is full of fun, familiar music the whole family will enjoy, and a cute story about the littlest tree at Santa's Tree Farm.  Speaking of Santa, you can meet the man himself in Kissing Tower Hill right near the arcade games building.  There's also a special Hershey's character meet and greet in Kissing Tower Hill as well.  So my advice is to ride your must-do rides when you first arrive, then hit up some shows and character greetings before dark when you'll want to be out and about enjoying all of the holiday glow!  The NOEL light show begins nightly at 5PM and can be viewed best on the bridge near sooperdooperLooper.  This show features lights set to popular holiday music and the beauty is amplified with reflections on the water that runs through this part of the park.

4.  Bring Your Sweet Tooth


Reese's Extreme
Hot Chocolate
Of course you can't visit Hersheypark without enjoying some chocolate, right??  In fact, Hershey loves chocolate so much, you can even purchase a souvenir mug and drink hot chocloate all day for $12 or all season for just $17.  There were too many sweets around the park that we didn't have a chance to sample it all.  My personal recommendation on something you don't want to miss is the Hot Chocolate Bar located in Founder's Way across from the entrance to Reese's Cupfusion.  While you can get a traditional hot chocolate here, that would be a boring option.  This location takes hot chocolate to the next level featuring punches of Hershey's goodness literally sprinkled on top in a variety of ways.  I opted for the Reese's Extreme because, those of you who know me, know my deep love of all things Reese's.  My son opted for the Caramel choice and my husband went with the Toasted Marshmallow.  These drinks will cost you a few more dollars than your typical hot chocolate (and they aren't included with the souvenir mug deal), but trust me when I tell you it's money well spent!

5. Add on a ticket to Hershey's Sweet Lights


Located across from Hersheypark and tucked in the woods behind The Hotel Hershey, you'll find one more tremendous light display - Hershey's Sweet Lights.  This drive through experience does come with an extra price tag.  If you're visiting Hersheypark, make sure you purchase your event ticket for the discounted price of $18.15 per car (plus tax) before you leave the park or you'll find higher prices at the entrance for this attraction.  It took us about 30 minutes to complete the drive through light show which features over 600 animated light displays.  You even get special viewing glasses that make bright lights look like snowflakes - my boys were fascinated by these!  Our favorite lighted displays were those which showcased some of our favorite rides from Hersheypark, but we enjoyed each different section which included an enchanted forest, the "12 Days of Christmas," a victorian village, and an area devoted to our favorite fairytales.  This was the perfect way to end our evening!

Hershey Sweet Lights
Remember that while Hersheypark's Christmas Candylane can certainly fill a whole day on it's own, there are plenty of other attractions to enjoy around Hershey while visiting.  You can access ZooAmerica for free with your admission to Hersheypark from within the park back by Kissing Tower Hill.  Hershey's Chocolate World is a must-do for us on every visit to Hershey, PA.  This is so much more than the ultimate chocolate gift shop!  It includes a FREE ride that teaches you how Hersey's chocolate is made as well as paid experiences like Make-Your-Own Candy Bars, a 4-D movie, and a chocolate tasting experience.

A visit to Hershey, PA will definitely make your holiday even sweeter!  Hope you have a wonderful holiday season at the Sweetest Place on Earth!


Family Guide to Winter Wonderland at Dutch Wonderland

Our family had the pleasure of being invited by Dutch Wonderland to enjoy opening day of Winter Wonderland during the holiday season.  Even though Dutch Wonderland is not a new destination for our family (check out my coverage of past visits here!), this was our first time enjoying the park during the holidays.  Staying true to it's slogan as a "Kingdom for Kids," there is plenty for families to enjoy together.  We were delighted with so much during our visit and I can't wait to share some of my tips to make the most of your day at Winter Wonderland as well.

We arrived just a few minutes before park opening and were among the first to enter.  I wasn't sure what to expect crowd wise for the day - it was opening day of the season but there was also a chance of rain throughout the evening - so we tried to think of a plan that would maximize our time in the park.  Upon entering, we headed straight to Merlin's Restaurant where we had the chance to meet the big guy himself - SANTA!  In fact, we had the distinction of being the very first guests of the season to meet Santa.  It was a fabulous visit.  Not rushed at all and several photos taken throughout the time with him.  When it comes to purchasing photos, you have a few options to consider.  If you purchase a day long photo pass for the price of $25, your Santa photos are not included, but digital downloads can be added at just $5 each.  If you don't want to purchase all of your photos from around the park for the day, you can purchase your Santa photo for a $15 digital download price.  I thought this was a great bargain compared to the pricing in malls around us!  Before we leave the topic of visiting Santa, I will say that we were in Merlin's Restaurant later on in the evening too and, again, never saw a line of more than a 2-3 families waiting to meet him.  Maybe we just had a light crowd day, but I was impressed with how easy it was to say hi.  In fact, my boys went back a second time in the evening to talk to Santa and they bought him a hot chocolate because they said "he's been working hard all night!"
First ones of the season to meet Santa!

After stopping by to see Santa first, we headed towards to the back of the park.  This is one of the my common strategies when visiting theme parks - start from the back and work your way forward.  Honestly, there was never a crowd to speak of all night (I think the threat of rain was holding some people off), but we definitely were one of only a few that headed to Exploration Island and were able to walk right on several rides.  Those that we did have to wait for were never more than a 5 minute wait.    You obviously won't find water rides open, but besides those and the larger roller coasters, Merlin's Mayhem and Kingdom Coaster, most everything else was open to ride.  We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time and worked up an appetite by the time we hit almost every ride and made our way back to the front of the park.  Want a quick way to see what the whole park has to offer?  Don't miss the Wonderland Special train ride or the Sky Ride - they are especially beautiful with the lights!

The lights were beautiful!
This was the perfect time to stop back into Merlin's Restaurant for a treat.  When we were here earlier visiting Santa, the cookie decorating station caught my eye and we decided to give that a try along with having cups of hot chocolate to warm up on the chilly November night.  Cookie decorating is $3.99 per person.  You get a very large cookie and then can head to the "buffet" of icing and sprinkles to create your own masterpiece.  My boys had a lot of fun making their cookies and even more fun eating them!  Fun bonus - you even get a cute apron to wear during the experience!

Once we were done, we ventured back outside to find the rain had started up.  We took a quick stroll through the park again to get a final look at the Christmas lights in all of their nighttime glory.  The Christmas light show with dancing lights to music was a lot of fun, but my favorite lights were found on the trees.  There is one tree with gorgeous blue lights and lighted icicles on it as well.  Don't forget to venture back to Exploration Island and walk through the dinosaurs at night too!

We spent 3 hours in the park before the rain really started to dampen the evening, but we pretty much got to see and do everything except the two stage shows that are offered.  This is a great way to celebrate the holidays and have a fun-filled family evening.  Remember, Dutch Wonderland is truly a Kingdom for Kids so most of the rides and attractions here have your youngest family members in mind.  At 4 years old, Caleb couldn't have been happier all night long! Ready to check it out? Season pass holders for Dutch Wonderland have access to Winter Wonderland included.  If you need to purchase tickets for this event, check out my blog reader discount here (Promo Code: DWWBlog19) to save $3 off of the gate price - only $12.99 per person!!  Enjoy and happy holidays!



Website - www.dutchwonderland.com

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My family received complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland's Winter Wonderland so we could share our fun adventures with you! As always, thoughts and opinions are my own!

My Kid Threw Up on a Walt Disney World Bus

So, this one time, in Disney World, my kid threw up on the bus to Hollywood Studios. (You're supposed to see Alyson Hannigan there. . .did you??)


via GIPHY

Yeah, you read that right.  Here's a little context.  My first child (actually, my only at the time of this incident) was just 17 months old and wrapping up a whirlwind 10 day vacation where we sailed for a week on the Disney Fantasy and then spent three days in Walt Disney World.  It was supposed to be a magical time, and, for the most part, was that ideal first visit.  But on the last night of the trip, my son was particularly fussy overnight.  I thought the July heat and long vacation may have just been getting to him and knew we were heading home the next day so he'd be getting back to his normal routine in no time.  The next morning, we left our room at the Contemporary Resort and had breakfast inside the hotel at Chef Mickey's.  I expected this to be an incredible time for my little guy, but he seemed disconnected and refused to eat almost anything.  C'est la vie, right?  Well, we had a few hours to go explore Disney's Hollywood Studios before heading to the airport.  We took advantage of Disney's Airline Check-In service and sent our bags over to MCO from the hotel leaving just our carry on at the hotel and heading to the park with our stroller and diaper bag.  I had my son on my lap on the bus to the park, and about halfway through the journey, he began vomitting. Let me tell you - this is not a fun experience.

He's covered. I'm covered. My diaper bag is covered.  It smells.  Everyone is watching.

My husband is in the seat across the aisle and staring in a paralyzed horror.  After what seems like an eternity, but was probably more like 15 seconds, he sprang into action and alerted the bus driver who handled the whole experience like the calmest person on the planet.  Does this happen often on Disney transportation?  I don't know, but he certainly wasn't fazed. We cleaned up what we could with paper towels as the bus continued towards it's destination.

When we arrived at Hollywood Studios, we quickly exited and took the clothes off of my son and threw them in the nearest trashcan.  Fortunately, the diaper bag was zipped during this ordeal so the spare change of clothes I had in the bag were safe and I was able to throw him in a onesie.  What I didn't pack was extra socks and shoes - and those items were clearly destroyed.  You want to know how much a pair of baby socks costs inside a Disney park?  Well, I can't remember exactly but it was a lot more than at Wal-Mart.  And we just decided to bypass shoes the rest of the day. . .I mean he's only 1 1/2 right? Fortunately, he didn't get sick any more that day, but he did scream like a madman during the plane right on our descent into Baltimore.  What caused all of this?  Well, we found out the next day when we went to the doctor that he had a pretty bad double ear infection.

Why am I sharing this with you?


So you can learn like I did from my travel experiences.  As a relatively new mom on our first major vacation with a little one, I had some important takeaway moments from this that changed how I traveled with kids in the future.  First things first, always have a change of clothes with you.  I don't care if they are 5 months old or 6 years old - accidents happen and a spare change of clothes can go a long way in a crisis situation while also saving you money on buying expensive items in a theme park.  Next thing was always traveling with a few key medicines for the kids - Advil, Tylenol, and Benadryl - as well as a thermometer and band-aids. In this case, I could tell my son wasn't feeling well, but didn't have anything readily available to help him out.  Maybe a dose of Advil would have helped the fever he had (which I didn't really realize he had until much later) and made him more comfortable during the flight home.  Kids medicine isn't as readily available as it may seem too sometimes when you're on vacation so this can be really helpful!  Looking for help with a little one in the park?  Check out my Guide to Baby Care Centers located inside each Walt Disney World theme park where you can find medicine, quiet respite, changing areas, feeding areas, and much more!

The final reason I'm sharing this with you is so that you know you're not alone.  As parents, we can easily become overwhelmed and stressed and feel very alone when things go wrong - especially in public places.  So next time your child gets sick on a theme park bus, or screams on an airplane ride, or throws a tantrum in the grocery store - know that you are not alone.  We've been there too.  It's not always easy, but this journey of parenthood is the best adventure out there!

5 Tips to Have a Dutch Wonder-ful Day!

Since Dutch Wonderland opened it's gates in 1963, they have been known to delight families visiting Lancaster County.  While many new rides have been added and the park has undergone numerous expansions, the family fun atmosphere has only grown too.  I remember visiting Dutch Wonderland as a child myself and enjoy being able to bring my kids there to make new memories with them.  There's a lot to love about this Kingdom for Kids and I have a few tips to make to your day truly Dutch Wonder-ful!

As a Royal Ambassador, my family and I received complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland in exchange for sharing our experiences with you.  As always, thoughts and opinions are true to our experiences!

Arrive at Park Opening - We pulled into the parking lot at 9:40 for a 10:00 opening.  By the time the park officially opened we had cleared security, entered the gates, and my family was in in line for our first ride - the Wonderland Special - a train ride around the park.  Coming early to Dutch Wonderland offers a few great perks.  First, we were there to open the park with a special announcement from Princess Brooke as we joined her countdown to begin the day.  Second, we beat the crowds to some of the most popular rides.  While lines weren't a big issue throughout the day, we certainly experienced faster lines and lower crowds within the first 2 hours.  For example, we rode Merlin's Mayhem 3 times in a row - walking right back on each time!  And rode the Kingdom Coaster twice with the same experience.  Lastly, it allows you to beat the heat.  We took a park strategy of riding rides until about 1, then breaking for lunch and a visit to Duke's Lagoon in the heat of the day.  We left Duke's Lagoon around 3:30 and went back to the rides for a few hours before departing.  As the summer weather only gets warmer, this will certainly make your day more enjoyable.

Take Time to Visit Duke's Lagoon - While this wasn't my visit to Dutch Wonderland, this was my first visit to Duke's Lagoon and all I have to say is WOW!  Dutch Wonderland took their concept of creating a Kingdom for Kids and expanded it beautifully to this water play area.  Without an actual pool, Duke's Lagoon is a really a giant splash pad with play features, water slides, geysers, fountains, and, yes, dumping buckets.  The beauty of this play area is that it is entirely safe for little ones!  The concrete becomes a soft pad where the water features are located so little feet don't get burned.  And here's the great part grown-ups - you can totally decide whether or not you want to get wet.  I spent about the first hour in my street clothes and was totally able to keep track of my 4 year old and 7 year old and their friend without getting anything wet but my feet.  Now, because I'm a big kid at heart, I couldn't sit on the sidelines long and I joined in the fun in my bathing suit as well.  We took our 7 year old on Pipleline Plunge as well, which is a large water slide.  Even on this though you don't get soaked.  The water slide is in a raft and you don't end in a large pool, but rather in a chute with just a little water when you come out - again making this not scary and totally safe for little riders - despite the fact that it is a SERIOUS slide from the size perspective.  There are lockers and changing areas in Duke's Lagoon.  It's important to note that lockers are cash only - no cards accepted - especially because I'm usually a cashless person.  My husband actually commented too on how much he appreciated the changing rooms having individual changing stalls for an element of privacy instead of a "locker room" feel.  You can find lunch and snacks over here too.  We easily could have spent way more time than the 2 1/2 hours we already did at Duke's Lagoon and my littlest said it was his favorite part of the whole day!

Don't Miss the Shows - While it's easy to get caught up in so many other fun things around the park, you definitely want to make time to enjoy some of the shows during your day at Dutch Wonderland.  From comedy, to dance, to a little bit of magic - there's a lot to see.  Each show is timed perfectly for little attention spans too with typical run times of 15 minutes or so.  Our favorite show of the day was at the Aqua Theater where they had a diving story presentation.  Yeah - you  read the right.  We heard The Adventures of the Frog Prince, but instead of it just being acted out, it was presented complete with entertaining (and funny!) diving frogs.  The kids and adults both LOVED it and we laughed the entire time.  Be warned though that those red "splash zone" rows are serious splash zones.  If the divers don't get you with their dives, they will come over and give you a few splashes just for fun!  Shows also offer the perfect opportunity to rest your feet during a busy day and most feature some shade from the summer sun.  This is also a perfect time to reapply that sunscreen right before the show begins and let it soak in good during the show before going back out to the heat!  A few of the show locations also offer character meets throughout the day.  We met up with Merlin and Duke the Dragon at one of the stages.  But these locations aren't your only chance to meet characters as they roam throughout the park and are happy to stop for a quick conversation and a photo opportunity! 

Bring Your Appetite - Like most theme parks, there are a lot of great food options here.  While many of the restaurants feature your theme park standard chicken tenders, burgers, corn dogs, french fries, etc., you can also find locations featuring healthier choices like at Bean Sprouts located in the Mill Stream Eatery.  There are also several familiar favorites around the park.  Our boys are addicted to Auntie Anne's pretzels and were delighted to see not one, but two, different locations to get their favorite snack in the park.  We also found a Rita's for a familiar cool, sweet treat later on in the day.  Dutch Wonderland also offers a character breakfast on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer from 9:00AM - 10:00AM.  At only $15.99 per person this is an affordable option to get your day started right!  There's also refillable drink cup options in both adult and toddler size to save you money on drinks throughout the day and season pass holders may be interested in looking at an All Season Dining Pass which offers 2 combo meals each day they are in the park.  

Enjoy Being a Kid Again - Everything at this park is geared with little ones in mind.  I would say Dutch Wonderland is the perfect theme park for elementary school and younger.  My 7 year old was big enough to do any ride he wanted to and my 4 year old was big enough for most rides throughout the park.  This isn't the park to take thrill seeking teenagers as Kingdom Coaster and Merlin's Mayhem are probably the only two rides that would excite them, but those two coasters are perfect introductions into the "adult" roller coaster world that upper elementary school kids will be wanting to start to explore.  Whether it's driving a car, walking a dinosaur trail, laughing on the frog hopper, or getting a little wet on the log flume, the rides are designed to have fun as a family - something really important to us and to many of you!  We visited on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and lines were very manageable throughout the day with our longest waits being about 30 minutes and most wait times being between 5-10 minutes.  With wait times like those, it's easy to let kids enjoy their favorites over and over again.  I sometimes feel very rushed at theme parks trying to get from ride to ride and keeping an itinerary, where here we were able to slow down, let the kids take the lead, and really had an enjoyable time meandering through the park to experience it all.  

So are you ready to have a Dutch Wonder-ful day with your family?  I have a great deal exclusive to blog readers to save money for your whole family to enjoy making memories together.  Don't forget to use promo code summerblog19 to get the best deal. As you're capturing your fun that day, don't forget to share on social media with #DutchWonderland so everyone can see the royally good time you are having!  For the latest information, park hours, and magical details, check out Dutch Wonderland's website and social media channels.  




Great Deals for Star Wars Fans at Disneyland Resort

The whole Star Wars fan universe has been waiting (with every ounce of patience we have!) for the exciting opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts this year.  While those of us on the East Coast still have a few more months to wait before experiencing the out-of-this-world excitement at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Southern California gets to enjoy what Black Spire Outpost has to offer beginning May 31.  Here's what you need to know in order to travel to a galaxy far, far away! Fuel up your Millennium Falcon, grab a Wookie, and let's go!

This post contains affiliate links. You save money and I earn a small commission - everyone wins!

From May 31 to June 23, guests wishing to enjoy Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at the Disneyland Resort will need a reservation at one of Disney's hotels to gain access.  My travel partner, Get Away Today, has a few reservations they can hook you up with if you're looking for a last minute opportunity to travel for the opening weeks:
If you can hold on to your lightsabers until June 24, more opportunities will open for locals and guests both on and off Disneyland Resort property to enter Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.  Disney is trying something out that is a great timesaver for guests, by allowing visitors to log into a virtual "queue" to wait to gain entrance for this popular land.  Once you enter Disneyland Park, you will be able to "get in line" while still enjoying all of the other great attractions at the park.  Get Away Today also has great deals going on throughout the summer months which you can learn more about by following the links below:
The Force is so strong with these deals, even the Dark Side can't resist joining in the fun! So what are you most excited about in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge?  Whether it's the rides, the food, the theming, or the character interactions, there will certainly be a lot to love!  I love the way that Disney immerses you in a story the moment you set foot in their parks and I'm sure Galaxy's Edge will not disappoint.  Don't miss out on your chance to experience it all!! Don't forget to use promo code PIXIEDUST when you visit Get Away Today to save even more money on your vacation package!


Royally Excited about Dutch Wonderland!

I'm excited to share with you that I've been selected as a Royal Ambassador for Dutch Wonderland this summer!  What does that mean? Well, Dutch Wonderland will be hosting my family for a day of fun and entertainment so I can share all the excitement with you!  I also get to pass on extra savings to my readers and followers so that you too can enjoy all that Dutch Wonderland has to offer this summer.  Dutch Wonderland opens for weekends starting April 27th and will open 7 days a week starting Memorial Day.  Before the summer season kicks into full swing, let's take a quick look at the basics about this "Kingdom for Kids!"

Dutch Wonderland is located in Lancaster, PA - just about 90 minutes from our house in Maryland.  Generations of families have now been enjoying the rides and entertainment at this family amusement park since 1963. In fact, I remember visiting as a kid and now love that I'm getting to create new memories with my own children.  Like many other amusement parks these days, Dutch Wonderland has expanded beyond just rides and shows to bring guests a water play area - Duke's Lagoon which opened in 2003 and has continued to grow over the years.  This continued expansion without losing sight of the core of being a "A Kingdom for Kids" is part of the reason Dutch Wonderland has been voted "One of the Top Five Best Kids' Parks in the World" by Amusement Today in 2008 and 2009.

Caleb and I visited Dutch Wonderland as guests of the park in October for a day of Happy Hauntings and you can relive our experience here!  We loved the fact that all of the rides were perfectly sized for him to enjoy and the entertainment was fun throughout the park. With 35 rides on 43 acres, I'm sure the whole family will enjoy our time there this summer!

If you are planning to visit Dutch Wonderland, check out a great deal for my readers and followers by visiting http://www.dutchwonderland.com/blogreader and use code "summerblog19" for exclusive savings. I can't wait to share my experience at Dutch Wonderland with you and follow your adventures as well! In the meantime, enjoy this look at our Happy Hauntings video from our October visit to give you a taste of the fun that awaits this summer!



As a Royal Ambassador, my family and I will receive complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland for a day during the 2019 Summer Season in exchange for my reviews and posts. Reviews and posts are always honest and my own!