15 Things I Learned at Disneyworld

1. Disneyworld’s Speedway is much more exciting if you let go of the wheel and don’t steer. But you may need an Advil after.

 

 

2. The Disney Magical Express bus from the airport is neither magical, nor express. But it is free.

3. There’s a reason there’s no line for Splash Mountain when it’s 10 a.m. and 60 degrees.

4. If you tell your husband to pack the ponchos for Splash Mountain, make sure he actually does it.

Continue reading “15 Things I Learned at Disneyworld”

Preparing for Disneyworld – with Kids

While I consider myself a Disneyland expert, I’ve never been to Disneyworld. Preparing for our upcoming trip has been an education to say the least. I’ve read book upon book, talked up frequent visitors, queried travel agents, and read, read, read. Given the amount of time I’ve spent researching, I thought I’d share some tips on how to plan the trip. I’ll fill you all in on the results when we get back – telling you what worked, and what didn’t.

WHAT TO READ – WHERE TO START
Allears.net – This site features detailed hotel info (including reader reviews), Disney restaurant menus, tips, guidelines, info on all things Disney (including Broadway shows). They offer a free email  newsletter with tips and discounts.

Mousesavers.com – This site also features tips, discounts, insider info for all things Disney. Read through the all applicable parts of the website before booking anything. They also have a free monthly emails with articles and discounts – don’t miss this because some of the discounts are really helpful.

Disboards – To me it sounds more like they’re “dissing” Disneyworld, but that’s not what’s meant by their url. The site came highly recommended to me by a friend writing a book on Disneyworld. Lots of info and reader forums. Plus restaurant menus.

DISNEY DISCOUNTS
Sign up early for Disney emails on their official site and look for pin codes and discounts in the emails. Consider signing up with several email addresses to extend your chances of getting those discounts/codes. After we booked and paid for our trip, I got an email from Disney offering 25% savings off the standard rates (we had already paid in full). While the promotion was listed on the official website, I wouldn’t have known to look for it. That new rate saved us $75 on the hotel we initially booked, and $125 off at a sister hotel in the same value category (we switched to the cheaper hotel). There was a $50 change fee. Continue reading “Preparing for Disneyworld – with Kids”

New Jersey Corn Mazes and Pumpkin Patches

I did a corn maze for the first time last year, and am making it a yearly tradition. The kids are now old enough to last in there for more than 10 minutes. We wandered around for probably two hours (maybe an hour longer than was really fun for the kids).  Interestingly, I was dizzy when we got out.  So many twists and turns.  I let them take turns picking the direction.  If it weren’t for the staff positioned at one spot in the maze, we never would have made it out.  Even after getting directions out (it was something like – turn right at every turn until after the bridge, then turn left at every turn), it still took us 15 minutes to exit! I look forward to the day when my husband and I go together, and we compete, Survivor style, to see who can make it out first.

Let me share some corn maze tips with you, before giving you a list of New Jersey corn mazes to consider!

Alstede’s 2009 maze

CORN MAZE TIPS WITH KIDS

–Before you go in, use the bathroom. This cannot be stated enough.

–Bring food and water. Your kids will need some nourishment during their breaks. Bring your own, or buy something on site. Most farms sell food too.

–Wear comfortable shoes – that can get muddy.you can't see over it!

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Apple Picking in New Jersey

Pick me! Pick me!

Fall air brings apple picking. Did you know:

– it takes 36 apples to make a gallon of cider
– it takes 8-10 years for an apple tree to begin producing fruit
– the science of apple growing is called pomology
– a bushel of apples weighs 42 pounds
Thank you Hillview Farms for the apple facts.

Too many apples? Learn how to make caramel apples here.

Here’s a list of some great apple picking farms and orchards in New Jersey.

Peaceful Valley Orchards in Pittstown
In addition to apples you’ll find fall decorations, baked goods, and an observation bee hive.

150 Pittstown Road, Pittstown, NJ
(908) 730-7748 Continue reading “Apple Picking in New Jersey”

Miller-Cory House Museum – and kid-friendly downtown Westfield

If you’re looking for some New Jersey history, and a chance to see what things were like in the 1700-1800s, head over to the Miller-Cory House in Westfield, NJ. (And read on to see what to do in downtown Westfield when you’re done).

The house was built in 1740 – on 100 acres of land. You wouldn’t believe it now, since it’s in the middle of a residential neighborhood where most lots probably don’t exceed .3 acres on average. Inside you’ll find the house with typical period furniture, and kids can see what a kitchen with no electric dishwasher looks like! Pots and pans hang from the walls, the floor is uneven and the walls wood-paneled.

The house is open on Sundays in fall through spring, or for prearranged group programs on weekdays. It’s staffed by volunteers – including a lot of elementary school teachers. They dress up and lead kids in crafts, read stories and talk with kids about the theme of the week. There’s also open-hearth cooking demonstrations in the building next door. Continue reading “Miller-Cory House Museum – and kid-friendly downtown Westfield”

Discount Massages in New York and New Jersey

Getting a massage in New York or New Jersey shouldn’t be a pain in the neck or cost an arm and a leg. Okay, bad puns I know, but life’s little indulgences can add up quickly.

Today I’m over at Suddenly Frugal talking about how to score great deals on massages. Check out the link.

And know that the East Coast Spa Week is coming up October 11-17 – get a massage, facial or other body treatment for just $50. In Manhattan alone, 102 spas are participating, offering massages, facials and more. Included are Red Door Spas, Perricone MD Flagship Facial Salon, Clarins Skin Spa, Jurlique, the Spa at Trump, and more.

In New Jersey, you can book $50 treatments at 45 spas. In the Suddenly Frugal post, I mention using group buying websites to get great deals on massages, facials and the like. In fact, I got a fabulous  massage at the Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Care Spa for $59 thanks to Groupon (versus the standard price of $130).

KGB Deals is offering several great packages right now – look for the deals listed on the right side of the web page.

–$12 entrance to Turkish and Russian Baths ($30 value), plus 20% off all services while you’re there (including the platza oak leaf scrub, Dead Sea Salt scrub, Dead Sea mud rub, and Swedish or Russian massages). Get the deal here.

–$29 for a spa manicure and pedicure plus hand or foot reflexology at Tribeca Spa of Tranquility ($70 value). Get the deal here.

–$49 for deep pore cleansing facial at Albina’s Spa ($120 value). Get the deal here

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Review: Six Flags Great Adventure – Plus Discount Codes

“He said he was in Paris. He said it was urgent I come.”

“To Paris?” I asked.

“No, to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey…”

Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Six Flags Great Adventure

This Jackson, NJ location is the is the largest Six Flags in the country. Woo hoo! Having been to several in California, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It was clean, the employees were helpful (except one) and the other visitors weren’t quite as skanky as at other Six Flags parks. Continue reading “Review: Six Flags Great Adventure – Plus Discount Codes”

Review: Six Flags Wild Safari in New Jersey

Jersey Kids review of Six Flags new Wild Safari Park is here – 2013 review)

This New Jersey park claims to be the largest drive-through safari outside Africa. It’s 350 acres, and it does take awhile to drive through. You’ll see something different each time you go through, but at least early in the day, it’s cooler for the animals and you may see more of the 1,100 that live there.

(Of note: on August 30, 2012 Six Flags announced that Wild Safari would close to individual cars starting in the 2013 season. Instead, the park will become a regular Six Flags theme park attraction – Camp Aventura – where guests will ride in open air vehicles driven by park employees. Guests may be able to hand-feed or pet some of the animals. For an extra fee, guests can zip line over the camp. Read the review of the newly opened attraction here.)

You won’t find these rides in the background in Africa!

Admittedly it was a bit odd in the beginning and end, because you can see Great Adventure rides in the background. It’s hard to picture these animals in the wild, with the Kingda Ka coaster doing its thing. But once you journey a little further inside, you forget about the amusement park (you can’t see it anymore) and just focus on the animals.

It’s a nice park – with signs in each area telling you what animals you’re seeing. They apparently have a CD/DVD you can buy (CD to listen to in the car, DVD to watch at home) – but I didn’t see anything about this on the website. Continue reading “Review: Six Flags Wild Safari in New Jersey”

Review – ImaginOcean

When my 9 year old daughter and I planned a girls’ day in New York City, we wanted to see a show. We’ve already seen Mary Poppins (we loved it), and do want to see Lion King and Wicked (still too expensive). I looked off-Broadway and found ImaginOcean, which just celebrated its 100th show.

ImaginOcean is created by John Tartaglia, best known as the creator (and Tony nominee) of Rod and Princeton in Avenue Q. I love, love, love that show (and the music), but it is NOT appropriate for kids. Like Avenue Q, ImaginOcean also uses puppets and is a musical (though you can’t actually see the puppeteers during the show). ImaginOcean started as a cruise ship show, and was expanded to the current off-Broadway production.

The show revolves around three fish friends, Tank, Dorsal and Bubbles (with an octopus, seahorse, and jellyfish thrown in as well). With the help of a treasure map, they’re trying to work together to find a treasure (spoiler: they’re rubber bracelets that you can buy in the gift shop after the show) and realize the value of friendship. Dorsal is a neurotic, fearful and annoying fish who is probably channeling children’s fear of failure and the unknown. The plot was a bit boring for adults, but the kids loved the whole thing.

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