Category: Travel

Avalanche Bay Indoor Family-Friendly Waterpark Hotel

Posted on Sep 10, 2015 by No Comments

If you’re looking for a fun destination for the whole family, Avalanche Bay’s 88,000 square feet combined with huge amounts of water equals endless hours of fun.

This indoor water park hotel is located in Michigan at the heart of the luxurious Boyne Mountain Resort, and whether you visit in the summer, winter, or some other time of year, you can count on the water park to be a consistent 84 degrees.

Avalanche Bay Attractions

The balmy temperatures offer the perfect backdrop for this kid-friendly water park with exciting attractions including the Splasherhorn with its steep 10 degree drop, or the Downhill Mat Racer — the perfect way for siblings and friends to race each other, or their latest addition designed to thrill riders 48″ or taller, the Big Coulior.

For this one, riders start in the launch capsule angled 10 degrees from vertical (steepest drop in the industry). When the trap door lets loose, riders drop into a narrow tunnel and in a blink accelerate to 38 feet per second!

The G-force keeps riders glued to the wall the entire way around a 360 degree Super LOOP! And at the other end of the spectrum, little ones will enjoy the zero-depth Kitz Pool. Other rides include the Rip Zone Surf Simulator, the Vertigo Cannonbowl Slide, and more.

Avalanche Bay
Avalanche Bay Splash Package

The Avalanche Bay Splash Package includes endless water park access, along with your lodging, making the experience fun, convenient, and an affordable choice for a family get away.

This package offers added value with kids 8 and younger sleeping and eating for free when accompanied by a paying adult. Kids ages 9-15 also sleep for free (with paying adult), and children 2 and younger get to splash for free at the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark.

Aside from the water park, the resort also features paved bike trails and mountain biking trails, golf (with discounts for juniors when accompanied by a paying adult), and unlimited access to outdoor pools, fitness rooms, tennis, disc golf, paintball and more.

This is one vacation you won’t have to worry about the kids getting bored.

Photo credits: ashleew7787

Disney Upgrading Least Popular Park with Star Wars and More

Posted on Aug 20, 2015 by No Comments

When I heard Disney would be upgrading its least visited park, I wondered which park that would be. I played the guessing game before looking, and I guessed wrong.

I’ve only visited Disney World in Florida, and enjoyed time in all the parks, so I was surprised to find what was the location of Disney’s least visited park – MGM Studios.

Plans are in place to gut the least visited park’s Hollywood Studios and fill the void with attractions like Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land.

Once I thought about it, I can see why this part of the park was not well-visited. The backstage tour was okay to go on one time, but not something I’d revisit, and that’s what makes a park successful. The attractions need to be good enough that visitors want to see them again…and again.

The long overdue upgrades were announced at the D23 expo with speculation that the upgrades could even change the name of the park. Star Wars land is planned to be the main game changer for the park, and Toy Story Land will be a draw for younger visitors and their families.

While this is good news, the bad news is that no real timeline was offered for either of the expansion projects. For example, four years ago it announced the Avatar expansion at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, and it is still under construction and won’t be open until 2017.

Maybe they could take a lesson from Universal Studio’s approach that’s made the Harry Potter attractions such a hit. They started construction of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter just seven months after the official announcement, and it opened in 2010. In 2014, they opened Diagon Alley, the second phase to the already popular attraction.

I like this breadcrumb approach. It gives us something fun to do now and something to look forward to in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Disney Fan through and through and I’m looking forward to Star Wars Land with all it high-tech glory. I just wish they could give us something to look forward to sooner than later. The unofficial opening date is predicted for 2018.

Photo credits: io9

Ready to Step on the Baggage Scale with Your Luggage?

Posted on Aug 19, 2015 by No Comments

The first time I flew to Florida, back in 1989, when we deplaned they rolled up a set of stairs to the plane and we disembarked outside in the sunshine. Believe it or not, that was in Sarasota, Florida. We walked to a pole building to pick up our luggage.

Boy how things have changed since then. Everything has become more complicated for a variety of reasons. Some of the changes are safety related and many others are attempts to get more of our hard earned cash.

Today, they not only weigh our luggage, they charge us for carrying it on the plane. Budget-minded travelers learned that to travel light enough, they had to pack only what they needed in a carry-on to avoid the extra fee, but now some airlines have even started charging for carry-ons, too.

Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, Uzbekistan Airways has announced they will begin pre-flight by weighing passengers on upcoming trips.

According to a statement they released, “Uzbekistan Airways airline carries out the procedure of preflight weighing for determination of the average weight of passenger with hand baggage.” They go on to say it is a safety procedure.

At first I was picturing a big scale with a dial everyone in the area can read, but for those of us who don’t really want to broadcast what we weigh, the airline has assured us that the information will remain confidential.

This isn’t the first airline to do this. In 2013, Samoa Air started charging people different fares based on their weight with their baggage. Passengers pay a fixed price per kilogram for their seat.

And believe it or not, this is all in accordance with regulations that require airlines to carry out regular preflight procedures to calculate passenger and carry-on weight.

The whole idea behind this is to make sure the plane isn’t overweight. I’m not sure what they’d do if they found out it was.

Photo credits: Katherine Sharpe

What Would You Like to See Banned from Theme Parks

Posted on Jul 13, 2015 by No Comments

I know theme parks aren’t for everyone, but I confess I’m a theme park enthusiast. They offer a fun distraction from everyday life, but what one person considers fun another might not.

For instance, a friend of mine likes to go to theme parks for the shows, and while I enjoy a few shows, I’m more into attractions. But even these worlds of make-believe aren’t perfect with long lines and crowds and the results when the two meet.

With the recent ban on selfie sticks at Disney, the Orlando Sentinel asked followers on their Facebook page what else they’d like to see banned.

The answers ranged from funny to bizarre, but some of them touched on practical things like limiting picture taking to the use of phones and cameras and to ban bigger tablets that block the view of those behind.

Other posts talked about banning line cutting, but in my way of thinking that’s already supposed to be banned so what we really need to ban are the knuckleheads who think the rules don’t apply to them. Like if they are caught, they are kicked out of the park for the rest of the day.

Stroller at theme park
Others wanted to see double strollers banned and talked about the importance of people being more aware of their surroundings, to avoid accidents involving strollers.

I think a contributing factor in this case is that while theme parks cater to children, for young children it can turn into a very long day. It’s not uncommon to see frustrated, sweaty parents pushing fussy toddlers (and even kids who are a little older) through the crowds, and all I think is, “And they’re paying for this.”

While I can say I’d like to see fussy children banned, I know the parents wish their kids weren’t being fussy, too. I wonder if parents didn’t feel like they had to put in a full day in to get their money’s worth, if stroller etiquette would improve. Maybe what could help would be half-day tickets available for families with kids 5 and younger.

And speaking of etiquette, I’d love to see parents correct their children’s behavior when needed. The last time I was at Disney, I was in a 20 minute quick-pass line waiting to get on Soarin’ and for at least half that I was listening to about 12 kids singing “Let It Go” at the top of their lungs, sort of competing against each other, while swinging on the stanchions.

What would you like to see banned?

Photo credits: Aditya

Selfie Sticks Not Allowed on Rides at Disney

Posted on Jun 4, 2015 by No Comments

The popularity of selfie sticks has exploded. They make taking vacation pictures possible without finding someone to actually take the photo for you.

But some people have thrown common sense out the window and have used selfie sticks to get photos while on theme park rides and attractions. For this reason Disney has recently cracked down on the use of selfie stick on their theme park rides and have even added signs in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney Workd in Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim.

Disney Selfie
This isn’t really a new restriction. If you’ve ever visited these parks you’ve experienced the announcement dealing with stowing personal items safely while on a ride. This includes everything from cameras to canes and really the selfie stick falls into this same category.

Social media is full of pictures from people using selfie sticks and along with that are a slew of complaints from fellow riders. But the real reason Disney is cracking down on the use of selfie sticks is that they are a safety issue as riders stick them outside the rides.

Greeters in front of attractions now instruct guest with a visible selfie stick to stow them while on the ride or attraction and if the stick is seen being used while onboard the ride, the guest will be asked to stow the selfie stick over the PA system. If they don’t comply, according to park policy the ride will be stopped.

Disney cast members have been trained for how to handle selfie sticks in order to stay in compliance with policy. Selfie sticks are not banned at Disney, they just aren’t allowed while on a ride or attraction due to safety concerns.

However visitors to Disney theme parks are free to use their selfie sticks as much as they’d like outside of rides and attractions. For now, signs have been posted outside some of the parks popular attractions including Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain at Disneyland.

It turns out that Disney isn’t the only park dealing with the selfie stick safety issue. Universal Studios Orlando has actually installed metal detectors at three of their thrill rides to be sure there are not lose objects including selfie sticks. Some museums have even banned the selfie stick all together.

Photo credits: TTCdirector

12 People Stuck on Disney’s Kali River Rapids Ride

Posted on May 29, 2015 by 1 Comment

I enjoy trips to Disney World and consider it one of the best run theme parks. They do a great job with crowd management, and get me underroof and in to air conditioned space even to stand in most lines.

I’ve been to the park enough times to experience brief glitches in a few rides, like stopping inside the iconic Spaceship Earth, or on the Small World ride but they got things moving quickly.

However, for that initial moment when the ride stops my brain thought about being stuck. I wondered where the exits were. And truly I was more worried about having to listen to the “It’s a Small World” song over and over than anything else. To this day I scold anyone who even hums that song around me.

Twelve recent Disney World guests were not quite as fortunate the day they climbed aboard the Kali River Rapids attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Turns out the ride stopped and the 12 were stuck waiting for someone to come and help them.

Firefighters from the Reedy Creek Emergency Services were called into action at 1:21 in the afternoon and arrived at the Disney park at 2 p.m. According to the assistant fire chief for Reedy Creek, “No one was in jeopardy or in a dangerous situation.”

He explained that the guests were stuck on the ride following “some sort of malfunction” but was not clear about exactly what caused the malfunction. Once the guests were safely assisted off the ride, the ride was temporarily closed.

Disney describes the Kali River Rapids as a “rip-roaring, river raft ride that takes you on a tour through a lush jungle landscape.” It’s one of those rides I like to enjoy on a hot afternoon in hopes of getting a little wet to cool off. Disney told the local news that they would be draining the river and the ride would reopen later.

As I thought about this experience, I wondered about how many people get stuck on some ride when they visit a theme park. And what do people do if they are stuck on a ride like this with young kids.

This was a pretty quick rescue, but even 40 minutes stranded on a ride going nowhere can be an eternity if your kids get antsy. Have you ever been stuck on a theme park ride? And do you have a plan for keeping your kids happy if this happens to you? I’d love to hear about it.

Photo credits: MrDizneyKing

What Happens to that Half-Used Hotel Shampoo?

Posted on May 26, 2015 by No Comments

Hotels offer complimentary shampoos, conditioners, soup, and lotions which come in handy when traveling. Depending on how thick your hair is and how many people are sharing the room, it is usually enough for at least a couple of trips in the shower.

Then when it’s time to pack up, I’ve often packed up the unused portions because I figured they’d just get thrown away. It turns out all that changed about six years ago for many hotels.

A sales executive by the name of Shawn Seipler who stayed in about 150 hotels a year thought about all the half-used hotel shampoo bottles he left behind. He decided to ask one of the hotels what happened to the soap he used once and the shampoo that was still half full and he was told that all leftover shampoo bottles and opened bars of soaps were thrown out.

This gave Seipler and idea. Instead of just throwing all that soap and shampoo away, why not find a way to make it accessible to the 2.7 billion people around the world who don’t have access to basic sanitation? And so he launched “Clean the World” in 2009.

Clean the World works with hotels across the world to collect soap and other bottled amenities, recycles them, and then sends them to children in need.

While not every hotel has joined this mission, Clean the World has formed partnerships with Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, IHG, Best Western, Hyatt, Walt Disney World, Las Vegas Sands, and Caesars Entertainment.

Clean the World has three big recycling centers where they process the donated products. Soap goes through a disinfecting process and is melted and repackaged as fresh new soap bars.

Since its inception in 2009, Clean the World has donated 25 million bars of soap to more than 99 countries. Not only that, but according to Seipler this recycling effort has diverted 7 million pounds of waste from North American and Asian landfills!

Photo credits: Daniel Morrison

5 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe on Vacation

Posted on Apr 20, 2015 by 1 Comment

We are often reminded of the small things we can do to keep our homes safe while we are off on vacation. Taking steps like stopping mail and newspaper delivery and using timers to turn lights on and off make it less obvious that no one is home.

But along with taking such precautions to keep your home safe while on vacation, it’s important to take steps to guard an even more important part of our lives – our children.

Just like taking steps to keep our homes safe, it is best to plan ahead when it comes to children’s vacation safety. The process requires practice and training before you leave.

Most of these 5 ways to keep your kids safe while on vacation are practical reminders to keep your children in sight at all times.

Buddy System: Before you leave on vacation take the time to initiate the practice of the buddy system with your kids. Train them to stay with you or an older sibling at all times, or at least in your line of sight.

Practice the buddy system while shopping at your local department store before you leave. This helps make your expectations clear before you actually head out on that trip. And with older children, set a designated time and place to meet.

Always Accompany In Public: When it’s time to go to the bathroom or the arcade or any other public facility, always accompany and supervise your children.

Designate a Meeting Place: Always designate a meeting place just in case you and your children do get separated. Remind your children to stay in the area where they become separated.

Look for Help: Teach your kids to look for those who can help, such as a uniformed security officer, police, or an employee of the establishment.

Dress in Bright Colors: Pack bright colored clothing for your kids so they can be easily spotted in a crowd, just in case you do get separated.

And it doesn’t hurt for you to wear something bright, too. Even a brightly colored hat can help your kids find you if they get separated from you in a crowd.

These steps will make it clear when/if someone is missing, and offers both children and parents clarity of where to meet or who to turn to for help if that happens.

If everyone works together to practice these steps, the whole family can relax and enjoy their vacation safely.

Photo credits: Consumerist Dot Com

Link Round-up: A Guide to Brooklyn, St. Patrick’s Day Recipes, a Gardening Craft, and More

Posted on Mar 17, 2015 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has a guide to Brooklyn, home remedies for stomachaches, a craft project, and more.

Chocolate Covered Katie shared 13 St. Patrick’s Day recipes with under 200 calories.

A Beautiful Mess shared a guide to Brooklyn.

Create Craft Love showed us how to transfer print to wood.

link ru irish proverb

Confessions of an Overworked Mom showed us how to make a cute framed Irish proverb.

Mommypotamus shared home remedies for stomachaches.

Pink Heels Pink Truck showed us a cute spring garden craft.

Makeup and Beauty Blog took a look at the Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Shimmering Nudes collection.

Photo credit: Chocolate Covered Katie and Confessions of an Overworked Mom