Hacks for Universal Studios Hollywood

Guest post by Dori Kaplan

This spring break, our family headed to Universal Studios Hollywood for our first time, and I can comfortably say it will be our last. While we enjoyed ourselves, we found the lines to be too long, and there wasn’t that much to do. The few rides they had were mostly simulators (note: anyone who gets motion sick easily should probably not go. My mom and aunt get nauseous on spinning rides and boats, so they were done with most of the rides pretty quickly. Even the Studio Tour included several 3D simulators that shook us around). Here are some nuggets of wisdom we can pass on after visiting the park.

Harry Potter World – copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

1. Buy your tickets online  Continue reading “Hacks for Universal Studios Hollywood”

Disneyland Tips: How to Make the Most out of Your Day at Disney with the Family

This is a guest post by Dori Kaplan.

My family is not one to dilly dally when it comes to Disney. Our motto is: structured, organized fun. In our most recent visit, we managed to go on all of the best rides within three hours of arriving at the park. Not only that, but we did not wait in a single line longer than half an hour. Those of you familiar with Disney lines will understand how big of an accomplishment this is, especially for a beautiful day during spring break. To help out other families who are hoping the maximize their day at Disney, here are some tips from my family.

**Note: usually we go to California Adventure and Disneyland – each for one day – but this year we just went to Disneyland. These tips apply for both parks.

Fantasyland – copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

1. Get there when it opens. RIGHT when it opens. Continue reading “Disneyland Tips: How to Make the Most out of Your Day at Disney with the Family”

iD Tech Discount Code for Summer 2017: Why Should Your Child Attend iD Tech?

This post offers an iD Tech discount code for summer 2017 at the bottom. Read why you should consider iD Tech this summer.

Minecraft is only one of the coding classes they teach – get an iD Tech discount code at the bottom!

Last year we signed my son up for a computer game programming day camp at a community college. It’s an understatement to say that he was bored and frustrated by the inferior level of education and experience in general. A friend of mine told me about her son’s positive experience at iD Tech camp, one of the few camps her son really liked and was excited to return to. He’s a really smart kid and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Her recommendation counted for a lot, so when my son was looking into week-long summer camp options, iD Tech came to mind. Continue reading “iD Tech Discount Code for Summer 2017: Why Should Your Child Attend iD Tech?”

Chicago Weekend with Kids: Food, Architecture, Basketball…but Mostly Food

Portillo's hot dog

This is Mark, Debbie’s husband, with a special guest post about a quick Chicago weekend with kids. This was with our son, Zack. First let me say that it amazes me (as a native Chicagoan) how many people have not visited, or only barely visited, one of our country’s (actually world’s) great cities, when it’s just a two hour flight away. Okay, five hours if your flight is delayed like ours.

Chicago Hotels with Kids

Chicago certainly does not lack for hotel options. We’ve been often, and have stayed at the Chicago Embassy Suites: a good value with clean, spacious rooms, plus breakfast and free happy hour included. FYI – the downtown State Street one is more convenient than the Navy Pier Embassy Suites. Continue reading “Chicago Weekend with Kids: Food, Architecture, Basketball…but Mostly Food”

Touring the Manischewitz Factory Part 2

This is part two in our post about the Manischewitz factory tour. Part one is a tour of the Manischewitz matzah production.

Manischewitz factory matzah line
The beginning of the matzah journey at the Manischewitz factory. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

**UPDATE – it appears this Manischewitz Newark factory is closing. We’ll update the post if we get additional tour information.**

The Manischewitz factory has four main production lines: Continue reading “Touring the Manischewitz Factory Part 2”

Touring the Manischewitz Factory – Part 1

If you grew up in the New Jersey area, you may have taken an Manischewitz factory tour through religious school, in Jersey City. That factory closed, and the new global headquarters and manufacturing plant is now in Newark. It opened in the fall 2016, and you can book group tours there. I love factory tours, and even more so when it’s the actual factory, and not a fake one (I’m talking to you, Hershey’s).

**UPDATE – it appears this Manischewitz Newark factory is closing. We’ll update the post if we get additional tour information.**

The Manischewitz lobby has memorabilia and oversized posters of their labels. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

In this tour, you walk through a lot of the 186,000 square feet of the factory. What you’ll see being produced depends on the day, as they make more than 400 products. Continue reading “Touring the Manischewitz Factory – Part 1”

Review: Is In Transit Appropriate for Kids?

My daughter and I loved Pitch Perfect, so when I heard about In Transit, Broadway’s first a capella musical, I wanted to go. And naturally, I took her with me. The crew bringing you In Transit has some serious cred. The four writers in different combinations brought us Pitch Perfect and Frozen, and have a lot of a capella experience in other venues.

The Plot

The ensemble production of 11 New Yorkers includes several interconnected storylines: Continue reading “Review: Is In Transit Appropriate for Kids?”

What You Will Learn on a Maple Sugar Tour

Every winter we see listings for maple sugaring tours, and every year we seem to be busy or forget to go. This year we finally went. What will you learn on a maple sugaring tour? A lot!

We went to the Great Swamp in New Jersey for our education. They were offering two sessions on a weekend afternoon – for $3/person (though no one asked for or collected money – and we checked in at the outdoor education center desk).

Follow the maple sugar leaf signs to the sugar shack at the Great Swamp. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

While there’s no way to know for sure who discovered maple sugar, Continue reading “What You Will Learn on a Maple Sugar Tour”

Review: School of Rock on Broadway

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly Broadway show, School of Rock should be on your list.

School of Rock Broadway show curtain. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

The plot: Failing rock guitar player and overall sloth needs money to pay the rent, so he poses as his teacher roommate when offered a substitute teaching job at an elite school. He can’t teach, of course, so he starts a class band to compete in the rock competition and hopefully win enough money so he can pay his rent. The kids get into it and chaos ensues.

The pros: The kids are adorable and talented. Lots of kids (I think 13), so this is a great show for kids! The kids play their own music and of course sing as well. The cast is diverse (different ethnicities, gay couple etc.). The show is lively and the music good. The set is great too.

The cons: You’re going to have to suspend your disbelief a lot in this show. First, the main character Dewey moves very quickly to start the rock band in the classroom. Probably the first day or two. Most of the characters are charicatures and stereotypes. Against all odds, the kids are able to sneak out of the classroom to get to the competition and even though they don’t win (spoiler alert!) the crowd goes so crazy the judges change their mind. Parents discover new things to love about their kids, everyone (except the losing rock band) is happy. Continue reading “Review: School of Rock on Broadway”