Archive | Reviews

My Wolfpack’s Trip To Great Wolf Lodge

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

If you’re not familiar with Great Wolf Lodge, it’s a hotel and indoor waterpark with 15 locations in the United States. My family and I traveled to the Grapevine, TX locationin the Dallas/Fort Worth area, about three hours from our home.

Checking into Great Wolf Lodge

Waterpark Attractions and Crowds

My husband and son first visited Great Wolf Lodge last summer when my oldest son started school a couple days later than my youngest. Our nearby go-to waterpark was closed for maintenance, so they headed north to spend the night at Great Wolf Lodge. They raved about their experience, especially how empty it was since most kids were back in school. Shortly after their trip, we had an opportunity to book a second trip for a deep discount. We then booked the trip with the whole family to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday several months later.

We arrived at Great Wolf Lodge on a Saturday shortly after it was open to check in arrivals. I recommend getting there as early as possible because the waterpark is open to guests both on the day of check in and of check out. Luckily, our room was ready so we changed into swimsuits and headed to the waterpark. There are attractions for all ages, from the fast-moving slides to the wave pool and lazy river.

The next day we got to the water park right when it opened, which allowed us quick access to the slides we enjoyed the most. After a couple of hours we took a break for lunch and some down time then got back to the waterpark. The crowds were definitely down by Sunday afternoon, and my husband’s parents and sister came to meet us and stay at the resort as well.

Dining

Towels are provided and no outside food is allowed in the waterpark so you don’t really need to bring anything. You are issued a wristband upon arrival so if you do choose to purchase food or drinks from the concession stands in the park, you can charge them to your room. We saw many people bring their own insulated cups with drinks into the park, and I recommend drinking plenty of water as it is easy to become dehydrated.

Once we had our fill of the waterpark for that day, we went back to the room to shower and change for dinner. We ate dinner offsite, but there are options to dine in one of the restaurants at the hotel or bring in your own food. We brought our own drinks, snacks and breakfast foods and saw several other families with large coolers doing the same.

Decor

Happy Birthday from Great Wolf Lodge

The decor of the hotel and the rooms are themed like a cabin or campground. Some guest rooms even have smaller rooms inside decorated like log cabins that house bunk beds for the kids. We had an ordinary room, but it was quite spacious and there was plenty of room to spread out to eat and watch TV when we were not in the waterpark. We also appreciated the “Happy Birthday” sign the staff left on our door to celebrate my oldest son.

Magic Quest and Kids’ Activities

Playing Magic Quest and howling with the wolves

There are plenty of activities to enjoy in the hotel besides the water park, including a kid’s spa and an arcade. One of the most popular features is the Magic Quest game, which we started playing the second night. This involves purchasing a magic wand and going on “quests” in a scavenger hunt-like game throughout the hotel. If your children (or you) decide to participate in this game, I recommend purchasing it upon arrival rather than on the second day. It takes several hours to complete, but it’s fun for the kids because it’s interactive. They can wave their wands and make things talk or move to give them clues to get to the next level. It’s a nice relief from the waterpark, and it’s also good exercise as much of the game involves climbing up and down stairs to get clues in the stairwells. By the third day, my youngest son had enough of the waterpark and just wanted to play this game.

There are also several free organized activities like storytime and dance parties for the kids. My sons briefly joined in a dance party one night but left when my 10-year-old decided he was too cool for it. Adults can also enjoy an adults-only hot tub or spa onsite.

Recommendations

I would definitely recommend Great Wolf Lodge for a quick family getaway, especially if you can stay on a weekday when most kids are out of school. It’s also a fun way to celebrate your child’s birthday. In fact, my son said he would rather bring a couple of friends there than have an actual birthday party next year. Go early, stay late, bring your own food, and have a great time!

What’s your experience been like at Great Wolf Lodge or another waterpark? I’d love to hear more in the comments.

0

Disney’s The Little Mermaid comes to Austin

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Disney's Little Mermaid

We had the pleasure of seeing Disney’s The Little Mermaid last night at Bass Concert Hall. It is part of the Broadway in Austin series. You must buy tickets! Better yet take your friends too, especially if you loved the original story.

 

King Triton

I was curious how they would portray so much of the musical under water. The sets never disappoint with the Broadway in Austin series. You really did feel like you were under the water! Blues and greens were used heavily as you might expect. And instead of making the water move, the cast moved in a way to make you feel like you were floating. The costumes though took the prize. The pageantry of colors felt like you really were seeing under the sea with the bright colors of all the fish. Having seen various versions of The Little Mermaid, I expected more puppetry but to my pleasant surprise there was very little. The one thing that really was surprising though with the costumes was the use of skateboards! Flounder and the evil eels Flotsum and Jetsam all three incorporated skateboards into their costumes and movement. Brilliant!

Ursula and the Eels

Prince Eric and Ariel

 

Anyone reading this blog knows the story of The Little Mermaid. One of the parts that I really thought the actors nailed was the chemistry between Ariel and Prince Eric. It definitely grew as time passed. Don’t worry it was all G rated though for those little ones who are in the audience.

 

 

 

Sebastian and Ariel

My favorites of the musical were Ariel and Sebastian. Both were as true to the original story as you could have hoped for. They had great personality on stage. Ariel’s voice was expected to be beautiful but it was strong and captivating as well. Sebastian’s facial expressions made his part. I also enjoyed Ursula. She was hysterical and really captured the humor of the sea witch along with the meanness.

 

 

 

Flounder

The crowd favorites were Flounder and Chef Louis. Flounder, the dear soul, really did an incredible job. He constantly moved just like the Flounder in the movie! So much so, it made this motion sick person a little quesy watching him. In this version, Flounder also had a crush on Ariel. I don’t recall that part in the story or movie or any other version I’ve seen so I am not sure if that was subtle and I didn’t catch it or if this was just a tweak for this production. It felt a little wrong to me though! Not creepy wrong just off. Chef Louis was a riot! I laughed so hard I had tears in the scene with Sebastian and Chef Louis in the dining room. That was serious talent to pull off those shenanigans!

Chef Louis

And a musical wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most important part of the production, the Orchestra. People were moving in their seats. Some(unfortunately) even tried to sing along. Please don’t do that for the sake of all around you! The orchestra though was just beautiful.

We saw this production as a date night. This would make a great date night this weekend but also a wonderful girl’s night out. It is kid friendly but there were a few parts that would be scary for the 6 and under range, especially Ursula! Tickets are still available. Don’t wait though because I expect it will sell out. Last night was a packed house!

 

The Little Mermaid Program

BASS CONCERT HALL ENGAGEMENT RUNS

September 29 – October 4, 2015

 

 

WHO:           Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts

 

WHAT:         Premiere of The Little Mermaid

 

WHEN:         September 29 – October 4, 2015

Tuesday – Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m & 8 p.m.; Sunday at

1 p.m. & 7 p.m.

 

WHERE:       Bass Concert Hall / 2350 Robert Dedman Drive / Austin, TX

 

TICKETS:    Start at $35. Tickets are available at BroadwayinAustin.com, the Bass Concert Hall box office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060. For groups of 10 or more, call (877) 275-3804 or email Austin.groups@broadwayacrossamerica.com.

*All Photos other than the program photo are courtesy of Broadway in Austin and subject to copyright laws.

 

0

Annie at Bass Concert Hall

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

 

Annie openingOnce again, Broadway Across America brings an incredible performance to Austin with Annie at Bass Concert Hall. If you haven’t purchased your tickets to see Annie this week, stop reading and go buy them now. The show runs April 21-26th, 2015. I would definitely say it is appropriate for all ages but the evening performances are a bit late for the under 7 crowd. I had the pleasure of going with a friend on opening night last night. Obviously any little girl in the 80s knows the songs and the story line. And likely any little girl in present day does as well thanks to the remakes of the movies.

orphans

A few things really stood out to me. All of the child actresses were unbelievably talented. When you think about how young they really are, it blows your mind. They attend class, rehearse, and perform almost every night of the week. These kids are on the road traveling for weeks at a time. They all brought a level of energy and talent to the performance that really made the performance.

Lilly Mae

 

I know I am supposed to say my favorite was Issie Swickle who played Annie. Don’t   get me wrong she did a fabulous job at her role. But she was upstaged a bit by the adorableness of Lilly Mae Stewart who played Molly. Molly was the cute little curly haired girl in the performance.  She was so charismatic and every time she was on stage the audience was in love with her. If you are curious to read more about her, here  is a great article. Annie was her national debut. I have no doubt that she is going to do  incredible things in her career.

 

I don’t want to diminish Issie Swickle’s performance by any means. I do think her acting was far superior to her singing abilities but I am not an expert when it comes to music. Here is a clip for you to hear yourself that was shared by Bass today.

Issie Swickle as Annie in the #BroadwayinAustin production of Annie Bass Concert Hall through Sunday. http://austin.broadway.com/buzz/180481/a-new-deal-for-austin-national-tour-of-annie-begins-performances/

Posted by Mix 94.7 on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 

Annie the Musical

 

 

I didn’t realize Sandy would actually be a key role as well. There were two dogs that played Sandy and I am not quite sure which one we saw or if both were on stage. It is official though, our Daisy Belle dog doesn’t have what it takes to be a doggie star. If awards are given, these dogs deserve all the doggie treats!

Miss. Hannigan was played by Lynn Andrews. She was made for that part. I wanted to keep picturing Carol Burnett but couldn’t because Lynn was so convincing!

 

The last part of the production that I feel was one of the best of the season was the set production. Not a single detail was spared. There were a lot of set changes and they were completely seamless. The New York City backdrops were actually flat but you would have never known because they created the illusion of dimension. As you all know by now I compare a lot of things to Disney and the set design was one that I thought was on par with the imagination you would find at a Disney performance.

Any little girl, grown or just one at heart,  would love this performance. I think it would make a great mother/daughter outing and of course a girl’s night out! Go see for yourself. You will leave smiling and quite possibly singing!

Annie the Musical

*This review was of my own opinion. I did receive complimentary tickets to provide an honest review for the show.

0

Disney In Concert at the Long Center

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

large

I had the pleasure of taking my family to see Disney In Concert at the Long Center here in Austin. We had the best time! This was the first indoor event at the Long Center we had taken them to.  During the summers, there is an event called Concerts in the Park that we have taken them to which is outdoors but other than that, this was our first experience with kids to the Long Center. The simplest of terms comes to mind and that is it was easy! They had age appropriate snacks for the intermission, the booster seats were just like at the movies, plenty of bathrooms for those bathroom breaks that come with preschoolers, and such a friendly staff. We had staff actually speak to our children numerous times and ask them about the time they were having, etc. The Long Center gets a huge thumbs up in my book for making it easy to go with children. Even the parking was easy! We were running late so we valet parked and that couldn’t have gone smoother. You almost felt like you were at Disney with the level of service you received.

The kiddos before the show. We ran into a good friend also.

The kiddos before the show. We ran into a good friend also.

Now, on to the show! I didn’t know what to expect as we had not seen Disney In Concert before. It was a perfect mix of music, singing,  performing, and visual enhancements. There were children near us that were likely in the 2 and under range. I think it was a little long for them and probably during nap time. But for the three and up crowd, it was just the perfect combination to keep them interested and entertained at the same time. It made for the perfect first symphony experience for preschoolers. Now there were some big kids near us too and I would say every adult aka ‘Big kids’ near us was fully engaged and entertained too!

10906277_616265608479452_161637096469634582_n

The orchestra warming up prior to the show.

 

One of the wonderful things about Disney, whether talking about the parks or the movies, is the music. It always captures your heart and the Disney In Concert performance did the same. The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Lion King were all represented. And of course Frozen made a surprise appearance too.

Aaron Phillips

Aaron Phillips

Lisa Livesay

Lisa Livesay

 

Lisa Livesay and Aaron Phillips stole the show from a performance standpoint. When I read about them after the fact, I was honestly surprised only Lisa had a history with Disney. Lisa, besides having an incredible voice, really became the character on stage. Aaron did the same and at times you felt like he must have surely been in the original films because he was one with the music through his        expressions and actions. They made you feellike the parts were written for them. The others were fabulous too, but these two captured the parts and took them to the Disney level!

 

 

 

The orchestra and the conductor were equally wonderful. They seemed to enjoy performing and overall it was a lively performance. The conductor made it a very personable experience.

While I enjoyed the accompanying videos that they showed, I also enjoyed the parts that didn’t have a clip to watch with it. When I asked my children which part was their favorite, they both said Pirates of the Caribbean which was one the conductor asked the audience to just imagine what is taking place. The kids have been on the ride but never seen the movie so it was especially interesting to me that they chose that selection as their favorite. Little known fact about me, I am not a huge fan of the It’s a Small World ride but I loved how the segment for It’s a Small World was presented. I felt like it was so true of what Walt would have wanted captured.

The only negatives we experienced were other people not being respectful of the rules. Please if you go to a live performance, honor the requests of the venue. Once the show begins, stop recording and taking photos. It isn’t safe for the cast members and it is certainly rude to those surrounding you. Likewise, please honor the no food in the theatre rule. I kid you not, we had a mother and son behind us eating their Chex Mix as loudly as you might imagine. I understand some medical conditions require food but please step outside to partake if that is your situation. It was very distracting and yes, other children do recognize when rules are being broken. And finally, remove your hat. You may not realize how distracting the bill of a baseball hat might be to those seated behind you but it really is. The staff was so polite in handling situations like recording even when they had to keep reminding one person over and over. There is no better time to teach your children etiquette when it comes to outings. Lead by example and you will never regret good manners. And to be honest, there is something about disconnecting from the outside world and enjoying the moment with your family.

Kiddos enjoying the intermission and a snack.

Kiddos enjoying the intermission and a snack.

 

Overall Disney In Concert brought together an incredible symphony of music and brought it to life for the audience. I have never been to a symphony performance that engaged the audience to that level and it was perfect for little kids and us big kids alike. If you are able to see Disney In Concert in your city, take the chance to do so. And for those of you in Austin, go see a show at the Long Center. Here is a link for upcoming family shows. I’ve always enjoyed the venue for adult outings and now see how wonderful they are for the family events as well. I can not say enough good things about the experience we had with our children. You can count on us to be back!

 

*This review was of my own opinion. I did receive complimentary tickets to provide an honest review for the show.

 

 

 

 

3

Disney On Ice – Rockin Ever After May 21-25, 2014

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Have you taken your kids to a Disney on Ice performance? We went for the first time to one last night and it exceeded every expectation I had! We’ve seen Disney Live performances and obviously have been to many shows in the Disney Parks. I definitely expected a certain level of Disney excellence, but this show really went above and beyond! Feld Entertainment did an outstanding job!

We live about 45 minutes from Cedar Park Center where the show was held so we made a family date night out of the evening. You can download directions at that link. We left early to try to avoid the traffic. We failed at that part but it wasn’t too bad. We then took the kids to a nice dinner. They behaved better than I expected so the night was off to a great start! They had no idea what
we were doing after dinner so the anticipation was building. After ruling out that we weren’t going on a Disney Cruise (that was their last #DisneySurprise), they had no idea what they were going to see. We waited to tell them once we were inside the arena and they were so happy! I wish I would have had the camera ready for our two year old’s response. He covered his mouth in surprise!
Here he is in awe of the rink

Getting in and out of the parking area is really a breeze. The parking attendants are organized and the price was really reasonable, $10 for self parking and $15 for valet. We self parked. Gathered up our belongings and headed inside to the security line. It moved very quickly, but uh-oh, we got sent back because we had our camera that had a detachable lens and surprisingly we didn’t have our point and shoot in the camera bag as a back up. Read that again so you don’t make our mistake-NO REMOVABLE LENS CAMERAS ALLOWED. That being said, I apologize now for my quality of photos. I am not as skilled with the iPhone camera.

Once inside we checked out the snack offerings and merchandise tables along with the photo opportunities. The photo opportunities were disappointing. They don’t compare to the Disney Live photos and for anyone who has spent time in the parks, they really were a bit of a let down. You can take your picture with a cardboard cut out of Belle for $15. Or you can spend $20-$24 for a green screen option that shows you standing in front of a variety of backgrounds like a castle, etc. We skipped all of the above. I did get to snap a picture of the backdrop but you are not allowed to take a picture of your own with the kids in it without paying the fee. 

The merchandise tables were focused mainly on “girl” toys as my boys would say. A ton of princess options but they did have a couple of swords here and there. Overall, if I were you, I would save my money and buy something from The Disney Store. They did have cute coloring books for only $5 if your child is one that must have a souvenir. 

Snowcones were very popular

The regular concession lines are open and plenty of people were having dinner there. Then there were the DISNEY concession lines. Of course that is where our family ended up. I had unknowingly promised them the most expensive cotton candy and popcorn in the world before we had entered the arena. $12 for each in the picture.

The smile was worth the $12!

They were very fresh though so it was all good. The hat comes with the cotton candy. You can also get a crown with Mickey Ears on it too.

One quick aside about the prices of the merch and snacks-I heard more than one person in line say this must be what it is like at the parks. It absolutely is not like that at the Disney Parks. Yes things are a little more there, but overall the merch prices were 30-50% more for similar park items. The snacks were double the price as the parks even when factoring in the cute presentation. So if you have not been to the Disney Parks, please don’t be discouraged by these price points.

Now, on to the show! The Cedar Park Center is a perfect set up. There isn’t a bad seat in the arena so no matter where you purchase tickets, your little ones will enjoy the show. The event staff seemed to have been trained by Disney themselves. Feld Entertainment did an incredible job with the staff. They were helpful, courteous, and had the Disney magic all about them! 

A group of Rockin Ice Dancers starts the show off and then Mickey and Minnie Mouse are introduced! Donald and Goofy join them but no Daisy for some reason. Mickey and Goofy were really impressive skaters. Our kids were in awe of them of course.

There was a lot of 80s music represented to get the parents moving and alive. The show had different fairy tales represented and you got a taste of the overall story but not the complete story line. Anastasia and Drizzella were first and they were hysterical. My youngest was a bit concerned for their safety but I told them they were just being silly. Then Pinocchio made an appearance.

Then one of our family favorites came on, The Little Mermaid! Sebastian was one of the most animated characters of them all in the whole show. He gets a standing ovation from me. Ariel and Prince Eric of course have their moment in the spotlight too. Ursula was quite impressive being able to skate at all
given she is a huge sea witch. Ariel did more acrobatic moves than I expected at this show.

Here’s a short clip where you can see Ariel, Prince Eric, and Sebastian. I was not trying to capture every movement just a little peak for you.

After The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel came out. I don’t want to give it all away but you will see a lot of frying pans in this segment but most impressive of this act was Maximus the horse skating on all four legs! The Lanterns were especially beautiful. At about 55 minutes from the start, it was then intermission time. Important to note for potty breaks. The bathroom lines were quick moving. We still had plenty of snacks left so we didn’t even take a look at the snack lines or merchandise lines. The intermission was about 15 minutes long.

Mickey and Minnie came back to introduce the next act. Merida and the cast from Brave were there! Our kids have not seen this movie yet but both were mesmerized. I thought the little brothers were a little creepy but my four year old adored them and waved every time they came skating by. This segment demonstrated a few theatrical “tricks” that left our boys in awe. You will have to see for yourself!  

Now, the show stopper-Beauty and the Beast. This was our entire family’s favorite part. I am biased but the rest of them aren’t. This is my favorite Disney movie and fairy tale. The French village was exquisitely recreated. Belle was by far the most talented ice skater of them all. She was elegant and graceful and did more moves than any of the others. Gaston had a few of his own to show off too.

The costumes in this segment were incredible, especially the knives and forks. I was worried about our kids lasting the entire show since it was way past their bedtime but both were not going to move until Belle was finished.

Not letting Pascal go!
Spotlights and my iPhone don’t go well together

There was a finale by the all of the skaters and that is where you realized just how many performers were actually there. The entire cast deserved a standing ovation in my opinion. All of the special effects and lighting enhanced their performance. The set designs were more than I would have expected and perfectly done.

Overall, our entire family gives the show two thumbs up! We are ready to see Frozen next! Are you going to see Disney on Ice in your city? Austinites, do you already have your tickets? If not, don’t worry, there are still some seats left but buy them quickly! They are selling fast. It made for a perfect family date. Your little princesses and princes will love it and you will too! Buy tickets here through Ticketmaster or at the Box Office. Please note the Friday evening performance was cancelled due to a hockey playoff game.
The following show times are available:
Thursday May 22 7:30 PM
Saturday May 24 11:30 AM, 3:30 PM, 7:30PM
Sunday May 25 1:30 PM and 5:30 PM
Couple of tips for your outing: 
  • Bring a point and shoot camera or hope you are more skilled at iPhone photography than I am
  • Bring a sweater for the kids or a light jacket
  • Wear pants, put tights on the little girls-it is cold in the arena for the ice
  • For an evening show, pack PJs for after the show to change into so when they fall asleep you can easily place them in the bed
  • Bring cash for parking
  • NO outside food or drinks are allowed. We brought in an empty sippy cup and filled it up for our little one

And here on the way home you can see how happy and tired they are!
I hope your family has just as much fun as we did making those magical Disney memories! 
Ask if you have any questions.

*This review was of my own opinion. I did receive complimentary tickets to provide an honest review for the show. 

0

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes