Tag Archives: Travel

LEGOLAND Florida Resort – Where Everything is Awesome

legoland-Fl-gatesFor the better part of least the last 35 years my family has been venturing to the theme parks of Central Florida. As the father of two Lego-obsessed boys ages 3 and soon to be 7 who loved the Yonkers New York LEGOLAND Discovery Center we were excited to check out LEGOLAND Florida Resort for the first time for Dada Rocks.

lego-hotel-buildSandwiched between trips to Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios Florida we packed up the grandparents and our kids into our rental minivan and headed Southwest from Orlando to Winter Haven, Florida home to LEGOLAND Florida Resort, which was built beside the old Cypress Gardens Botanical Gardens site. After meeting friends with a 10 month-old daughter and super hero and Lego loving 4-year boy old we ventured into the park past the soon to open LEGOLAND Hotel Opening Summer 2015.

SAM_0378When you enter the park you are soon met with some cool Lego retail spaces one aptly named the BIG Store, a theater and some go to eating spots the highlighted by the cafeteria style Market Restaurant. From the park’s entrance you enter Fun Town which is highlighted by a double decker carousel fun for younger kids called The Grand Carousel. Once past the Grand Carousel you enter the newly opened Duplo Valley. The four year olds in our group particularly loved the DUPLO Tractor ride, the DUPLO Train and the DUPLO Tot Spot. This area of the park seemed especially fun if it was a warmer day. The day we visited was overcast and in the 70s with monsoon like rains forecasted for the afternoon, but we’ll get to that later.

SAM_0501From Duplo Valley we headed into the World of Chima. Amidst the World of Chima you’ll find an absolute can’t miss water ride called the Quest for CHI that allows you to fire water cannons from a moving boat and at sometimes unsuspecting patrons walking by the ride. This ride is especially a blast for Parents and kids looking for an excuse to shoot their kids or parents with a water cannon. My Friend Mark and I both in our latter 30s particularly had a blast spraying water at my almost 70 year old dad and kids with Mark’s four year old son Alex. Had it been a warmer day I personally could have spent hours on this ride. For parents this is also a great source of fun payback should your kids misbehave on the ride down to Orlando.

SAM_0502From this “area of parental awesome” you enter a medieval section of the park called Lego Kingdoms that features some very fun rides for kids including the Royal Joust ride that simulates riding a horse in a joust. The cute factor on this ride is out of control and a must photograph moment. Lego Kingdoms also features the first of four roller coasters called the Dragon ideal for older kids and adults.

From Lego Kingdoms you enter the Land of Adventure where you encounter a very, very cool looking dinosaur themed wooden roller coaster called Coastersaurus. However just as we were pondering a ride on The Dragon or Coastersaurus the heavens opened up and we chose lunch instead.

For lunch we doubled back to the cafeteria-like Marketplace Restaurant. We found the food in the park to be relatively healthy and reasonably priced, featuring some different food options like Asian stir fry, roasted chicken and build your own milkshake bar. Marketplace was also a great place to ride out the rain because it featured a play area where the kids played Legos as the adults enjoyed dessert and a coffee.

SAM_0556Freshly refreshed and caffeinated we ventured out into the monsoon like conditions into Miniland, which is the absolute can’t miss part of the park. In Miniland you and your family you can check out Lego Star Wars worlds and figures, and an interactive Kennedy Space Center, Daytona Speedway, the Las Vegas Strip, Manhattan skyline, Washington DC, South Beach, San Francisco Bay Area, Hollywood and more, all made out of Legos. The artistry and imagination in this part of the park is on par or better than with just about anything else you’ll see in a theme park in Central Florida.

SAM_0545From Miniland you enter our favorite part of the park: Lego City. In Lego City you can take in theme park shows like the NFPA Big Test live show, the very cool Boating School boat ride, and the junior and regular Ford Driving School which allows younger kids the experience of driving a small car and allows older kids to get a kids drivers license equipped with a photo. The Ford Driving School turned out to be my 7 year old son’s favorite part of our 10 day Florida vacation.

Also in Lego City you can check out a very cool family friendly NFPA Rescue Academy fire truck ride where two family members pump a lever first to move the fire truck and then to pump water while the kids get to work a hose and put a fire out. This ride gives even the most physically fit parents a work out and it is highly competitive even in a driving rainstorm.

SAM_0564From Lego City the natural progression of the park takes you to either two more roller coasters: Project X and Flying School, two cool looking water rides, the old Cypress Gardens Botanical Gardens or a Pirate Cove themed water skiing show that looks straight out of Jaws 3. However due to the monsoon like conditions we chose about an hour’s worth of indoor Imagination Zone time where we created and raced our own Lego race car and built an earthquake proof Lego building. In particular the Imagination Zone employees were especially happy and helpful and the Imagination Zone is very similar to some of the experiences our kids loved about the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Yonkers, New York.

SAM_0499Some other tips and highlights for parents:

  • Our friend was nursing and she noted that the nursing facilities were on par or better than some of the larger parks.
  • Parking is plentiful and easily accessible without a tram, boat ride or navigating a parking garage.
  • For the trip from Orlando to Winter Haven we’d recommend playing the Lego Movie for your kids. The trip from Orlando typically allows for you to watch half the movie going to the park and half the ride going home.
  • While I’d say LEGOLAND is a can’t miss for families with kids from 4 to 12, I was surprised at all the park had to offer for teenagers and adults.
  • Since LEGOLAND isn’t in Orlando the crowds tended to be smaller and the wait times less. This was a welcomed departure from Magic Kingdom and Universal where I spent most of the day monitoring our fast pass, checking wait times and looking at apps versus spending time with the family.

SAM_0356In conclusion, “Everything is Awesome” about LEGOLAND Resort Florida except the monsoon like rain we encountered and my family and I would strongly recommend making the trip down to Winter Haven, especially on a day where you could check out the Water Park or the new hotel. I would also go as far as to say it’s an absolute can’t miss if you have a Lego obsessed child under the age of 12. For my 4 and almost seven-year old boys it had more to offer than Universal and was on the same excitement as Magic Kingdom.

Two Major Announcements From LEGOLAND Florida!

2014-01-15-LEGOLANDFLORIDARESORT-HOTEL-08LEGOLAND® Hotel at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is officially opening May 15, 2015! The announcement came today from General Manager of LEGOLAND Hotel, Kevin Carr, during a press event at the Hotel site, located just steps away from the theme park entrance.  LEGOLAND Florida Resort General Manager Adrian Jones also announced Heartlake City, the newest land based on the popular LEGO® Friends line of toys, is opening this summer.

Both additions are expected to boost the local economy. Carr expects to hire 150 Model Citizens (employees) to support the Hotel. “LEGOLAND Hotel offers a unique experience unlike any other in Florida,” said Carr. “Imagine how excited children will be to wake up in a giant toy box full of LEGO bricks and to be the first to enter the theme park each day.” Jones also announced a Master Model Builder Workshop being offered exclusively to Hotel guests. “LEGOLAND Hotel is an extension of the theme park experience and the stars of our Park are our Master Model Builders,” said Jones. “We’re moving the Model Shop into our Hotel and guests will be able to learn and build with our Model Builders daily in the Master Model Builder Workshop.”

Today’s event at the Resort included a hard hat tour with a behind-the-scenes look at the Hotel. Media and VIP guests were taken to one of the fifth floor suites to experience the spectacular views of Lake Eloise, the theme park with its 50 rides, shows and attractions, and the site of the future expansion, Heartlake City.

“When it opens in summer of 2015, Heartlake City will be a colorful and vibrant new land offering adventures for all ages,” said Jones. “The centerpieces will include a fantastic horse-themed disc coaster called Mia’s Riding Adventure and an interactive show, ‘Friends to the Rescue’ as well as new shops inside Heartlake Mall. Between our constant expansion, the new LEGOLAND Hotel opening in May and the Water Park re-opening in March, LEGOLAND Florida Resort is definitely a multi-day attraction.”

TeleNav takes me to Sesame Place – Family 4 Pack of Tickets Giveaway

Knowing is half the battle and knowing where you’re going is well much more… my family really loves heading to Sesame Place and we’ve done the print out directions route before and this trip I wanted to put the TeleNav AT&T navigator to the test.

The app got us there in a little under an hour and forty minutes, it automatically re-routed around some delays in New Jersey, which actually helped get us there before the rain came.

I spoke the command Sesame Place within seconds up popped the address, created directions and we were on our way.  The day was a blast – it was part of their Christmas in July event – which is why you’ll see some Santa hats on the characters.  You’ll also clearly see how much of a fool I’ll make of myself in front of hundreds of strangers and a few other bloggers… so I thought why not share this totally embarrassing video of me trying to bring a smile to my kids face while daddy dances by the stage.

As you can read in my past Sesame Place posts – its a great amusement park for families with young children to tweens.  I think the teenagers would get bored.  There are enough rides that any child from 3-11 will easily have fun much beyond that age the rides might get a little “young” for them.

Half the park is water rides which I would say is great for the 5-11 and most of the dry rides are great for that general 3-9 range.  The admission prices arent terrible as there is usually a deal to be found at McDonald’s and they’re currently running the special of buying a 2012 season pass get the rest of 2011 for free.

Plenty of great times coming up with visits from Max and Ruby, The Dirty Sock Funtime band, and the holidays of celebrations like The Counts Halloween Spooktacular and a very furry Christmas.

Everyone a blast at sesame street – I have some really fun pictures of us on the rollercoaster but I’m barred from showing them online for pain of death from my sister and wife (yup it was a family outing).  As I said we got there before the rain (thankfully) and really enjoyed the park.  We made it around the corner to a stop at Chick-fil-a (one of our favorites that isnt in New York) and we used TeleNav’s AT&T Navigator app to get us home.

How to win it… Contest ends 11:59pm EST. September 7, 2011.

You must comment telling us your favorite Sesame Street Character, please include some method for us to contact you in the comment (twitter or email)

You get 1 extra entry for following us on twitter – twitter.com/dadarocks

You get 1 extra entry for following Sesame Place on twitter – twitter.com/SesamePlace

You get 1 extra entry for tweeting about this contest (you can do this daily). Must contain the following information:
@SesamePlace @dadarocks – http://dad.tc/puLtYO  and you must also comment with the link to your twitter message.

Example: I want to win @SesamePlace tickets from @dadarocks – http://dad.tc/puLtYO

You get 1 extra entry for becoming a FAN on facebook –facebook.com/DaDaRocks you must comment that you’re a fan

You get 1 extra entry for becoming a Fan on facebook of Sesame Place – facebook.com/SesamePlace you must comment that you’re a fan

You get 1 extra entry for subscribing to our Feedburner digest mailing (right side subscribe by email) – you must also comment that you’ve subscribed

You will have 24 hours to reply before we pick another winner!

Disclaimer: Sesame Place is providing these tickets for the raffle.

Family travel tips from the expert Amy Tara Koch

I had the great pleasure of doing a quick interview with Amy Tara Koch, the author of Bump It Up, trend reporter to NBC, contributer to SELF, New York Times, People’s Mom and Baby, Travel & Leisure, and many others – yah she’s totally an expert on all things style and travel.

Admittedly the first line about I’m following you is awkward but its about Twitter – lol…

We went over some basics of traveling with expecting a baby, traveling with kids of all ages, and tips for what to bring on the plane.

Of course the age old question how do you defuse the angry mob on the plane when your baby/kid just wont stop crying.

Well I could write out all the questions and answers but that would take all the fun out of watching the video.

Sesame Place what a great place for kids of all ages! Ticket Giveaway

This past weekend we took Marc to Sesame Place this was our first trip with him.  It was well under a two hour drive from New York City out to Langhorne, PA home of sesame place.  The ride was mainly uneventful other then a pit stop at a roadside Starbucks (truly the only drug of choice of my family). We arrived at the Courtyard Marriott Langhorne (the hotel and sesame place tickets were my birthday gift from my sister and father) checked in received our tickets to sesame place and waited all of 10 minutes for the next free shuttle bus to sesame place. Marc couldnt stop saying ELMO it was every 3 word out of his mouth it didnt help that the hotel lobby had a elmo cardboard cut out; that you could tell had been battered by the many kids that just came running up to it trying to give him a hug (yes, Marc was completely in that group too).

Within a 3 minutes we were being dropped off at the park. It was like pretty amazing getting to the park and seeing everyone wearing elmo and cookie monster shirts.  We got into the park in a matter of a minute there was next to no lines and even on a saturday the park wasnt too crowded.

We grabbed a map and off to the rides… its important to note that half of sesame place is a dry park and the other half (ok maybe a little more then half) is a water park.  Our first stop was the carousel. Marc loves carousels but he was really thrilled to be on this one… after that we did a bunch of other rides and character meet and greets. It was awesome to watch my son’s face glow – I’m sure the same way my parent’s face glowed when they had taken me all those years ago (and my wife grew up with one in the Dallas area, its now closed).  Yup, Marc is a second generation Sesame Place kid (and to me thats very cool!).

I say that sesame place is great for kids of all ages because there are rides clearly suited for the 2-3 year olds which Marc loved, some rides really designed for 4-9 year olds and another whole set thats really designed for the 7-13 years olds.  I noticed that on my second day there that the ages of the kids jumped to the teens, I’m sure that was based on the idea that it was about 10 degrees hotter which might be why the lines for the water park made it a little tough to go on any of the water rides.

I highly recommend going to sesame place, if its your first time it would be tough to due it all in one day but that might be why they sell so many season passes and they’re such a good deal… Sesame Place is currently offering one of our best deals of the year—purchase a 2011 Season Pass and enjoy unlimited admission the rest of this season and all of 2011! Families who purchase season passes enjoy unlimited admission to Sesame Place, a 30% discount on all food and merchandise in the park, entrance into exclusive Season Pass Member events and kids eat free at Dine With Me! with the purchase of an adult dinner.

Sesame Place’s 2011 season passes are available in three levels. Sesame Passes, $92.00 per person, gives guests unlimited admission into the park, exclusive access to member events, plus a 30% discount on food and merchandise. Big Bird Passes, $122.00 per person, allow guests additional benefits including complimentary general parking, complimentary meet-and-greets with characters, and 50% off single day admission to SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Busch Gardens. Super Grover Passports, $189.00 per person, offer the most benefits to guests.  In addition to everything mentioned above, guests receive unlimited admissions to SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens, complimentary preferred parking, and ride again privileges.

I’m a huge fan of the meet and greet which allows your some quality time with the characters before the parade, but it really gets amazing when you have the super grover pass to stay on some of the dry rides again or even better the  Abby’s Magic Queue (line cutting) ticket which lets you cut the line on a bunch of dry rides and sit upfront in Elmo’s World show (and arrive late). The abby bracelet is an add on but not waiting on lines sooo worth it and they limit how many they sell!

My cousins have season passes and are on they’re 4th or 5th trip this season so clearly they’re getting their money worth. My step-sister recommends going mid week to really cut down on the crowds but for those not looking to take vacation days the abby pass will save the day on a weekend visit.

I’m hoping for another visit to check out the count’s spooktacular!

Well my friends at Sesame Place are kind enough to offer one lucky family a family 4 pack of 1 day tickets to be used some point this season.

How to win it… Contest ends 11:59pm EST. September 11, 2010.

You must comment telling us your favorite Sesame Street Character, please include some method for us to contact you in the comment (twitter or email)

You get 1 extra entry for following us on twitter – twitter.com/dadarocks

You get 1 extra entry for following Sesame Place on twitter – twitter.com/SesamePlace

You get 1 extra entry for tweeting about this contest (you can do this daily). Must contain the following information:
@SesamePlace @dadarocks – http://bit.ly/deS7GH  and you must also comment with the link to your twitter message.

Example: I want to win @SesamePlace tickets from @dadarocks – http://bit.ly/deS7GH

You get 1 extra entry for becoming a FAN on facebook –facebook.com/DaDaRocks you must comment that you’re a fan

You get 1 extra entry for becoming a Fan on facebook of Sesame Place – facebook.com/SesamePlace you must comment that you’re a fan

You get 1 extra entry for subscribing to our Feedburner digest mailing (right side subscribe by email) – you must also comment that you’ve subscribed

You will have 24 hours to reply before we pick another winner!

Disclaimer: Sesame Place is providing these tickets for the raffle.

Sesame Place what great memories – Family 4 Pack of tickets giveaway

I have very fond memories of going to Sesame Place as a kid – its right there with Disney world but we went to Sesame Place more times growing up.  There were a couple of reasons my sister and I loved it as kids.  My mom and dad’s very good college friends lived en-route to the park and their kids were the same age so we had insta-buddies to play with while at Sesame Place.

To the right is a photo from the 80’s I want to say I’m 4 or 5 in this picture… but I’ll have to double check with the folks on that one.  We’re totally planning on taking Marc this summer because he’s fallen in love for Elmo (Marc calls him Mo – its very cute). Making a photo like this of Marc will be priceless.

There are some really great things about the park that is not only a park that has rides and parades but one that also has a water park section.  Sesame Place also features concerts this summer they will have Choo-Choo Soul, The Fresh Beats Band, Dan Zane and many others.

You could easily make this a day trip since its about an hour and half each way from the city. Then again you could make a weekend out of it and go to another near by attraction.

Sesame Place
100 Sesame Place
Langhorne, PA 19047
(215) 752-7070

Check out the Park’s Map [Link to PDF]

A couple of photos from Sesame Place (provided by the park)





How to win it… Contest ends 11:59pm EST. April 26, 2010.

You must comment telling us your favorite Sesame Street Character, please include some method for us to contact you in the comment (twitter or email)

You get 1 extra entry for following us on twitter – twitter.com/dada_rocks

You get 1 extra entry for following Sesame Place on twitter – twitter.com/SesamePlace

You get 1 extra entry for tweeting about this contest (you can do this daily). Must contain the following information:
@SesamePlace @dada_rocks – http://bit.ly/b4RY4o  and you must also comment with the link to your twitter message.

Example: I want to win @SesamePlace tickets from @dada_rocks – http://bit.ly/b4RY4o

You get 1 extra entry for becoming a FAN on facebook –facebook.com/DaDaRocks you must comment that you’re a fan

You get 1 extra entry for becoming a Fan on facebook of Sesame Place – facebook.com/SesamePlace you must comment that you’re a fan

You get 1 extra entry for subscribing to our Feedburner digest mailing (right side subscribe by email) – you must also comment that you’ve subscribed

You will have 24 hours to reply before we pick another winner!

Disclaimer: Sesame Place is providing these tickets for the raffle.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom – Our first time as a family

We did it! We survived it! It was totally worth it!

Disney world’s Magic Kingdom is an awesome place it for me brings memories of my childhood as I imagine many of you.  Yet, 20 years later its still amazing and awe-inspiring.

We stayed at the DoubleTree which was on Disney World property which included bus service to and from the park.  If I had to do it again I would have driven to the park. The bus service came once an hour some where between 30-45 after the hour, it would stop at 5 other hotels before our and then head right to the park. Going to the park via the bus was OK, but it was getting home at night that was terrible! First they take you from magic kingdom to another property (say Epcot) then to the first 5 hotels about an hour later you get back to the hotel (uggg). Lesson learned pay the $15 and park using the shuttle bus service (which is SUPER SUPER FAST!).

When you arrive at the park you’re in the middle of nowhere – its just the entrance to the monorails and to where you purchase tickets. Once you figure out the most effective tickets, pre-plan your trip if you’re jumping from Magic Kingdom to Epcot or just staying at one park (there is a price difference) you’ll move to the monorails.  The monorails in my mind used to be cooler but I guess when I was a kid I wasn’t jaded by a subway system that moves 8 million people a day.  Marc still loved it!

Getting to the park you’re asked to use a finger print scanner (don’t remember that being there when I was a kid) but once you’re past security. It’s go time! You’re on Main Street – something that’s straight out of a small town in the 1800’s maybe early 1900’s I’m not even sure but you’ll still find the Dapper Dan’s Barbershop Quartet performing. Once you walk down main street you see the castle.  Its pretty amazing and looks bigger then I remember.

We picked a direction after a few oops and wrong ways, we finally head towards the rides. I’m pretty sure the first was It’s a Small World, which Marc loved!  We did the Cinderella’s Golden Carousel which was great both Marc and Suzanne loved being on the ride. We were able to take him on Peter Pan’s Flight, Buzz Lightyear’s – Spin, Carousel of Progress (which really didn’t work out well nor is it updated to be current anymore), Mad Tea Party, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mickey’s Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Tomorrowland Speedway.

We did go to the park with extended family my sister, step father and mother were there too. Which made going on adult rides while Marc napped a piece of cake.  We got to do Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain.

In our time there we had two sit down lunches at Liberty Tree Tavern and The Plaza Pavilion.  Both were enjoyable but took time away from waiting on lines or seeing a parade/show.

We did as much a family could in the two days we spent at Magic Kingdom and my great fear of Marc being scared of the characters was totally put to rest early on. He was slapping high fives with Chip and Dale right from the get go.

Overall its still a vacation that requires a family to save more then just a few dollars but its well worth it! The memories we created will last a lifetime and I’m very happy to have gotten the chance to do the kids sections with Marc and the adult rides with my wife (and sister and stepfather when they joined us).


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