Month: August 2015

Road Trippin’. Destination: Sesame Place!

This summer, for a vacation, K and I decided to do something different. Or, different for us, anyway. We loaded up the car, buckled in the kids, and went on a road trip!

Our destination was also pretty unique, too. From talking to people in the Greater Toronto Area over the years,  I’ve come to realize that the more popular family road trips were to places like Disney World, New York City, or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  K did some research, however, and discovered Sesame Place, in Langhorne,  Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia.  In all honesty, I had never heard of it before.  As well, for some reason, I thought Philly was a lot farther from Hamilton than it actually is. Turns out that it is only about an 8 hour drive away. Anyway, after talking it over, we figured it would make for a sweet adventure. With that, our trip was set.  We’d stay in Philly, and check out Sesame Place!

Here are some RANDOM STYLE Sesame Place Tips!

Random Thoughts and Stuff

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B and J posing for the camera……. by not posing for the camera.

♦Basically, it is a Sesame Street-themed amusement park. It is part dry activities and part wet activities.  The dry stuff includes a bunch of rides (including Vapor Trail,  a thrilling, kid friendly roller coaster), a huge net climb area called Monster’s Clubhouse, and a full sized replica of Sesame Street itself.  There were even some characters wandering around on it, for photo ops.

♦In terms of wet stuff, there are water slides, a lazy river, splash pads, and our personal favorite, The Count’s Splash Castle. This area had a giant 8′ high tipping bucket, multiple  slides and tons of things to play with, like levers, wheels, sprinklers and blasters.

♦The big selling point of Sesame Place to us was that it is geared towards small children. B and J  are average-heighted five and three year old kids. They were able to go on all of the rides and water slides, either alone, or with a parent.

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Taking a selfie on a ride is hard. The worst part? The ride hadn’t even started yet.

♦Our tickets were complimentary for the day (thanks for the hookup, Sesame Place)! Day tickets for anyone 2 years and older are $65 at the gate, and $55 online. So if you’re a family of four, it’s not exactly the cheapest day out. For what you experience there, though,  I do think that it is fair value. Now if you are going to make a road trip out of it, and this is especially for my fellow Canucks (the exchange rate ain’t no joke!), plan on checking out the park for two days, to really get your money’s worth. See, if you purchase a day ticket online, you can also get a ticket for a second day free!

♦Side note for my peeps in Southern Ontario – the drive wasn’t too bad. The route we took was very scenic. Obviously, when travelling with children, making lots of stops is a must. Luckily, there’s some cool stuff along the way, to keep the interest levels piqued. We ended up in Williamsport, PA for a long time, checking out the World of Little League Museum. We also made our way to Hershey and toured the chocolate factory (side side note: don’t watch Charlie & Chocolate Factory with your kids three days before going to Hershey, unless you want to have to constantly explain to them why Willy Wonka isn’t there).

♦While the park is full of attractions, it really isn’t that large. That’s all good, in my books. Navigating around it wasn’t difficult, and you can go from one end to the other in decent time.

♦ Because it was a hot day, we wanted to do all of the dry attractions first, to beat the crowds, and then get changed into our bathing suits afterwards, to try the watery ones. This gameplan wasn’t really necessary. My suggestion would be to just treat the visit like you’re going to waterpark.  Like I said, the park isn’t that big, and the attractions are pretty close to each other. A lot of people would just dry themselves and their children off  before hitting up the dry rides, so you really don’t need to worry about the hassle of extra outfits.

♦With that said, if you do intend to hit up both worlds, bring water shoes. I stupidly brought sandals. I realized this was a bad idea as soon as  the fam decided that they wanted to go on the water slides. Standing in line, barefoot, on hot cement? I’m kinda over it.

♦Speaking of lines – oh Mylanta, Sesame Place was packed when we were there! Unless you buy an upgraded Abby’s Magic Queue, to get special treatment, be prepared to wait in long lines for rides and food. As the old saying goes, patience is a dish best served cold.

Uh, no one has ever said that before, Mike. You made that saying up.

Really? My bad. Anyway, have some ways to kill time in mind, to help alleviate the inevitable restlessness your kiddos will have, while waiting in line.

♦Because of the limited space, there was a lot of “stroller’s row”. That is, people would park their strollers jammed with their stuff along a fence or something, and leave them there while they experienced the park. If that idea makes you uncomfortable, cabanas are available to rent, as well as lockers.

♦Lemme circle back to the food. Sesame Place has five different restaurants on site, each with their own unique offerings. There is something for everyone, for real. Compared to other theme parks and whatnot, the food was reasonably priced, too. Once again, it pays to go online prior to attending, as  there are ‘meal deals’ available for purchase, which will save you a few bucks. One cool-looking option (we didn’t try it)  was ‘Dine With Sesame Street Friends’. This gives you and your kids the opportunity to eat, dance, sing and take pictures with some of the characters.

♦ Soft-sided coolers are allowed in the park. You can pack some drinks and small snacks like chips, pretzels, cookies, whole fruit, and pre-made sandwiches, if you want to really save money on eats.

♦For $11.99, you can get a collectible, reusable bottle which you can refill unlimitedly on the day that you got it. This was probably our best investment at Sesame Place. I lost track of the number of refills we made.

♦There were several stores on site, to purchase souvenirs, as well as other odds and sods which you may have forgot to pack,  like sunscreen or towels. One popular item  was a Sesame inscribed waterproof case with a lanyard. Tons of people were rockin’ those bad boys around their necks.  Neat souvenir, while also keeping valuables close to heart.

♦Be sure to make time for a parade! It is quite the energetic spectacle. It got me hyped up. I’m pretty sure I saw one mom doing the Nae Nae dance, too, which was probably a first on Sesame Street.

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Picture from the parade. Big Bird got jiggy wit’ it.

♦We arrived at Sesame Place at about 11:00 AM, and left at 7:00PM. While exhausted, we all had a blast. We even missed out on a ton of stuff. There were musical shows throughout the day, that looked like they would have been fun to check out, for example.

There really is just so much to see and do, to keep you and your fam entertained.  I definitely recommend visiting it sometime, if you have younger children.

Sesame Place

100 Sesame Rd

Langhorne, PA 19047, United States

1 866-464-3566

http://www.sesameplace.com/

 

 

The Best Day EVER!

 

Small children are prone to hyperbole.  The tiniest things become the biggest deals in their minds.  Sometimes, though, it’s hard not to take their exaggerations seriously.

A couple of weeks ago, for example, I got my Ferris Bueller on, and took a day off, to chill with J.  My basic gameplan was to just go with the flow. So that’s what we did. On  the way home from our hanging out, she told me the following:

“This is the best day ever, Daddy!”

I can’t front. I smiled huge at that comment.  But what did we do, you ask? What was so special about that day, which caused such a bold proclamation to come out of her three year old mouth? Lemme give you da rundown:

♦ First, my car needed an oil change, but before hitting the shop up, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s, to grab drinks.  We sat outside and drank them, while we waited for my car to be ready.  J spilled hers. Instead of being upset, she was pumped, because she made puddles. She spent the rest of the time singing and jumping over the puddles.

♦Back home, to grab J’s bathing suit, and to pack a lunch. J wanted to go to a splash pad and have a picnic. Easy peasy.  Splash pads are all around Hamilton. Later, while driving to the nearest one, J changed her mind and said that she wanted to go to a pad “by water”. Well, that narrowed my options, but it wasn’t a huge deal. Off to Pier 4 Park we go!

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Unnecessarily panoramic picture of Pier 4 Park.

♦Once we got to the park, we set up shop at a picnic table. J wanted to eat first, before playing, so we dug into our lunches. She spotted the sour cream and onion chips that I had brought for myself.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of letting her eat chips, but I figured today was a bit of a ‘cheat day’, so I said that she could have some. She happily took the bag and crunched away. Slowly.

♦A flock of seagulls began to circle our table. No, they didn’t start singing I Ran (So Far Away).  Time to move!  I suggested that J go play in the splash pad.  While I packed the picnic bag up, she ran to the splash pad, ran under a sprinkler, ran back over to me and said that she was still hungry.  The six seconds she went in the splash pad were the only time which she spent in it all day.

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♦Instead of eating, the park had a big tugboat playhouse thing, so I suggested that we go explore it. The boat had a picnic table inside of it.

J : I have a good idea, daddy! Let’s eat in the boat!

♦We ate in the boat.

♦ We explored the boat some more, by walking all around and through it. Afterwards:

J: I know! Let’s eat in the boat!

♦We ate in the boat again.

♦ Realizing that her stomach was apparently a bottomless pit, I suggested that we had ate enough food, and she should go play in the park. She climbed and slid for a while, then wanted to go on the swings. You know how some kids are cool swinging for a few minutes, and then they want off? Yeah, J’s not one of those kids.

♦ After what felt like 3 hours of of me pushing her, she had enough, and wanted off.

♦ Being near the waterfront meant that we were able to play one of our favorite games – Throw Rocks in Water. It is just as it sounds. We walk around, pick up stones, and throw them in water.  B and J love doing this, for some reason. I don’t mind it, either, because it’s an easy way to kill time. If you’re ever in Hamilton, and you see a homey and two small kids chucking pebbles in a pond, feel free to say hi to me.

♦We walked up and down the pier, to throw rocks off different points of it. While I was searching for some stones, J plopped down and started playing in dirt.

Me: What are you doing?

J: Building sandcastles!

Me: Uh, do you want to go to an actual beach with sand to do that?

J: Yeah!

Off to the Hamilton Beach we go!

♦ J fell asleep in her car seat, on the drive over.  That gave me time to park at the beach, and take care of an important piece of business that I had been slacking on – get caught up on Drake and Meek Mill’s beef. #BACKTOBACK

♦About an hour later, J woke up. It being a warm day, and us being near the best ice cream place in my opinion in the city, Hutch’s, I asked if she wanted some ice cream. Of course she said yes! We went in, and ordered a couple of cones. Cotton Candy for her, Strawberry for me.  J took one lick. Then:

J: Daddy, I’m thirsty. Can I have some milk, please? I don’t want ice cream.

You know what’s a hopeless situation? Trying to make a kid eat an ice cream cone who doesn’t want to. As you explain the importance of not being wasteful, the ice cream melts away, creating a gooey, unedible mess. If they don’t eat it, they can’t eat it, anyway. Awesome.

♦J understood what I was saying. She eventually said sorry. Not wanting to press the issue anymore, I tossed her melted cone in the garbage, went back to Hutch’s, and got her a cup of milk. They had milk on tap. Neat!

♦ From there, we strolled over to the beach.  After a quick game of Throw Rocks In Water, J happily played in the sand, on her own.

♦ As she played,  geese floated by, in the lake.

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Awwwww! Cute!

♦ Some dude and a couple of boys started throwing pieces of Wonder Bread around. This caused a flock of seagulls to scare away the geese, to try to get to the bread chunks. Still no I Ran (So Far Away), however.

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AHHHHHHH! Scary!

♦The seagulls were looking mighty hungry, so I figured that was the perfect time for us to bounce. Homeward bound we went.

And that was that.

Looking back, there really wasn’t much to it. Shoot, it wasn’t even the best day which I spent with her that week. The fam went to a Toronto Blue Jays game on the Saturday, and B and J got to run the bases when it was over. Way cool, right?

But in J’s mind?

Going on a picnic and hanging out by some water with her pops was the best day EVER! She still tells people about it, randomly.

It’s funny how kids can take the simplest things and make them a big deal, yet then also treat big deals like the simplest things.

It’s all good, though.

For real, sometimes the best and simplest thing to do with children…..is just keep it simple.

Review – Marvel Universe LIVE! (Hamilton, Ontario)

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So I checked out Marvel Universe LIVE! last night, at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton. I can honestly say that it was unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before!

B had been pretty pumped for the show, for weeks. However, despite being corrected repeatedly, he insisted on calling it “Marvel on Ice”. When we arrived, any disappointment that he had about the lack of ice was immediately replaced with awe, as he was amazed with the elaborate stage set up.

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I was impressed with the variety of people in the crowd. While it was mainly composed of families with small children, many of whom were dressed up as their favourite Marvel characters, there was also a fair number of older teenagers/adults without any kids. The appeal of Marvel really does span all ages.

That multi-generational appeal applied to the show, as well. Without giving away too many details, the best way that I can describe it is that is like one of the recent Marvel movies come to life. Basically, Loki was being a really evil power-hungry prick, and needed to be stopped by a bunch of superheroes. In terms of the dialogue, action sequences and special effects, all were top notch. B was a bit too young (5 years old) to really understand the plot, so I had to explain the story to him as it unfolded. I even chuckled a few times at some of the jokes (that went over his head, of course). I don’t think that he cared about the plot, though. He was really into the show, regardless. Between the pyro, lasers, and motorcycles, it really did get your adrenaline flowing. The fight sequences and stunts were very well choreographed, too (Black Widow busted out a sick Frankensteiner, for any wrestling fans out there).

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There was also a mean armbar sighting, too!

You know that old commercial tagline, about paying for the whole seat, but only needing the edge? The only time B sat was to stuff his face with food. He was standing or jumping up excitedly the rest of the time. It was cool, seeing him get caught up in cheering for the good guys as they kicked the bad guys’ butts. I should note that the fights weren’t too violent or gruesome/bloody  (that was a slight concern that I had, going in).

Another cool part was the sheer number of characters. There were 25, encompassing many parts of the Marvel Universe. Pretty much everyone that you’d expect made an appearance.

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The biggest crowd-pleaser (and B’s favourite) was the Hulk. He was huge, yo!

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With intermission, the show wrapped up in about two hours, which was the perfect amount of time.
Marvel Universe Live!  greatly exceeded my expectations. I would say that if you’ve enjoyed the Marvel films from the last few years, you’ll really like this show. Even if you’re not, there’s so much going on, that you’ll still be engaged. Marvel fans and non-fans – don’t be afraid to assemble, if this show comes to a city near you!

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