The I (heart) New York t-shirts are cute, but they’re so prolific you get a little sick of seeing them in all the tourist stores. So what kind of New York souvenirs do you bring when you visit friends and family elsewhere? Or where do you point your visitors to get something unique to take home? Here are some ideas:
The kids were not overly excited when I told them we were going on a speed boat ride – with a bunch of other people. What fun is it if you don’t get to drive the boat yourself? And my husband chalked this one up to another of my crazy ideas.
We really loved Animal Kingdom and wished we spent more than a few hours there (we split the day with Hollywood Studios). We got there before park opening, in enough time that we were actually first on a ride. That has NEVER happened for us at an amusement park! And to show how geeky we are, as we finished the ride, we asked the ride operators if we could stay on for a second spin, and they let us. I’m sure they could have gotten fired for that, but given that we were still the only people there…
I’m not a big Toys R Us fan in general, but I do like the one in Times Square (Broadway at 44th Street). Not that I actually shop there, but it’s a fun place to hang out. Here are five things not to miss when you go!
The Ferris Wheel – You can’t miss this four story Ferris wheel, which is the first thing you see when you walk in. While waiting in line (you buy timed tickets) you can try to figure out which car would be the best for you – the Cabbage Patch Kids? The Scooby Doo car? The Little Tykes car? The Monopoly car? My Little Pony? Mr. Potato Head? The M&M car? The Toy Story car? The Rug Rats? At $4.50 a person per ride, it’s not cheap, but the proceeds do benefit the company’s charity.
I have a confession. I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie. But I have read all the books. My kids haven’t seen the movies either – I won’t let them until they read the books (my daughter is partway through the third, and my son is listening to the first on tape).
With that in mind, I took them to the Harry Potter exhibit in Times Square, hoping it would inspire my kids to plow through (note to readers – my son is now on the 5th book and we’ve seen the accompanying movies – he now wants to go back to the exhibition AGAIN). And even though I haven’t seen the movies, the scenes are so vivid in my mind (and the movie actors so ingrained in our culture) that I was interested in seeing the recreation.
Did you know that Newark’s Branch Brook Park has thousands of cherry blossom trees, with more variety (and number) than those in Washington DC, which is so well known for their trees.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is coming up in April, and it’s popular, with 10,000 visitors a day at the peak.
Aside from just looking at the blossoms, come for some activities, including:
April 9 – bike race – the Cherry Blossom Challenge.
April 10 – 10K and one mile fun run
On April 17th, check out Bloomfest, with lots of events, including Japanese cultural demonstrations, live music, kids’ activities, crafter’s marketplace and food. Free admission, open from 11-5. Activities are mostly around the Essex County Cherry Blossom Welcome Center.
If you are able to get to the Park Avenue Armory by March 30, you must go. Here’s why:
I dragged the kids and husband – who did not understand my desire to see quilts hanging from the ceiling. I tried to explain – it would be 650 quilts – all in red and white. They still didn’t get it. But once they walked into the fabulous armory (which itself is an architectural masterpiece), they were also awestruck.
This is part of a series about Disney World with kids.
Since we initially weren’t going to buy park hopper passes, and only had three days, we were trying to decide between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Some said they spent two days in Hollywood Studios on each trip, and others said Animal Kingdom was their all-time favorite. We were stumped. In the end, we got the park hopper passes (long story) and didn’t have to decide. We split the day between the two parks.
The result? While we liked many individual things about Hollywood Studios, we did not love the park. We can sum it up with this: not enough rides, too many shows. After a few hours, the kids actually said “can we stop seeing shows? We want to go on rides.” But there weren’t more rides for them to go on. Next time: we’ll plan the whole day for Animal Kingdom and skip Hollywood Studios.
This is part of a series about taking the family to Disney World.
Following advice to get the Soarin’ Fastpass early (then hightail it to other rides), we waited with the crowd by the rope drop, to follow the cast members to the ride. This made us feel like cows being led to slaughter. Or as my husband put it, “this is what Black Friday must be like.” I left the family behind while I martyred myself in the name of a Fastpass.
However, while almost everyone got in line for Soarin’, I got in the much smaller line for Fastpasses (as recommended by the Unofficial Guide to Disney World) and we then went to Test Track. Which had NO line. And then to Mission Space. Which also had NO line. We snagged Fastpasses at Test Track for later. We went back to Soarin’ around 11:30 a.m. to get an additional Fastpass, but they were gone. By 11:30 a.m. on a non-peak day (it was Jersey Week, but…). For a primer on how to maximize your Fastpass use, click here.
We stayed at All Star Music – one of the three All Star Hotels (this is in the “value” category). Disney allows you to check in online before you arrive, which we did. Theoretically that means a very short wait at the registration desk, and they basically hand you a folder with keys and maps. Of course we got behind someone who had 20 minutes worth of questions, and it took awhile for another employee (er, cast member) to come to the desk to help us. Once she was there, she handed us our folder and we were done in a minute. Fortunately there was a television playing Disney movies in the lobby, with comfy seating. The kids didn’t care how long we waited in line. Continue reading “Disney World Tips with Kids – the Post Mortem”