Friday, December 15, 2017

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Bless his little heart. At least he's honest.

Dear Santa,

This year I have been:

୦ Very Good
🗹 A Little Bit Good
୦ I Tried My Best

Your friend,


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Break

I don't know about you guys, but we're limping across the finish line toward the much anticipated Christmas Break. Two blissful weeks free of homework and school drama. {Insert heavenly choir of angels here.}

As is usually the case, Blinky is having a great year. Remember the Pixar film Inside Out? Blinky is literally the character Joy. She is surrounded by a wonderful group of friends and excellent teachers. You just can't put a price on knowing that outside of your care, your child is in the best possible hands.

Stinky however, who has normally worked out all the school kinks by this time, is struggling. For this first time since his best friend moved away, he has developed solid friendships...with kids we actually approve of. Hallelujah!! However his relationship with his teacher is tumultuous at best. They are just not connecting and it is having serious ramifications with Stinky who is overly sensitive and occasionally unsure of himself. Let me tell you, there have been a lot of tears and a lot of prayers, and a few school meetings sprinkled in between.

I'm hoping that over Christmas Break, away from the stressful environment, surrounded by those who love him most,  Stinky's heart and mind will find peace.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Busch Gardens Thanksgiving - Day 3

Real talk...on the morning of Day 3, we were dragging a little bit. But a bit of good news was the adrenaline rush we needed. Remember when we checked into the hotel on Day 1 and they did not have a second stuff giraffe for Stinky? Well I emailed (and called) Guest Relations on Day 2 and they were nice enough to call back and let me know that one would be waiting for us at the park upon arrival. And for the inconvenience, they gave us 8 Quick Que tickets. I must say Busch Gardens' customer service is superb! That little gesture meant so much to Stinky, who was happy to have a little stuffed giraffe of his own.

And those Quick Que tickets came in handy. On Friday, the crowds were massive! In some areas, we were walking elbow to elbow and wait times were as much as 65 minutes. Ultimately, we let Stinky and Blinky choose their 4 top rides, divvied up the Quick Que tickets, and let them have at it.

After a late lunch, I had my heart set on riding the SkyRide again as well as the Serengeti Express Train. The preservation area was immaculate and animals roamed freely, some even coming very close to the train. We saw wildebeests, a mama and baby hippo, zebras, antelope, ostriches, elephants, and giraffes. The train conductor kindly told us about each animal and area as we rode through. It was very enjoyable.


The train ride was about 25 minutes long and ventured into each section of the park. I highly recommend it if you're traveling with children.

Along the way, we met Princess Poinsettia. Blinky saw her the day before but was too focused on the next ride to be interested. Not so on Day 3. Even Stinky wanted in this go round.

We explored the three-story playground area, Treetop Trails, which was not a priority previously. Stinky and Blinky even stumbled upon a few cool rides like Jungle Flyers (soar 50 feet above Jungala’s® village), and The Wild Surge (launch out of a 35-foot mountain crater up above a towering waterfall for a thrilling view of Jungala’s® village below). This area is a hidden gem. Kids frolicked carefree while weary parents sat on the ground grateful for the break. 

By 6pm, the four of us were pretty exhausted, yet satisfied that we had fully enjoyed everything Busch Gardens had to offer. We decided to leave then, grab a quick bite to eat outside the park, then head back to the hotel for the first good night's sleep in days.

Ours was not a traditional Thanksgiving, but its certainly one we'll remember for years to come. The entire experience was wonderful and certainly one we'll do again!

As an independent travel consultant, I can book your next family adventure to Busch Gardens or anywhere else you may be interested in. I would love to help your family make lifetime memories.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Busch Gardens Thanksgiving - Day 2

On Day 2 (Thanksgiving Day), we were ready to go! The forecast predicted an 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms the entire day, but we lucked out with just a few scattered showers. We also lucked out with a thin crowd, and again enjoyed walking on the popular rides.

The park is equally as beautiful in the daytime. Though overcast, I was still able to snap some great photos.

Stinky and Blinky were all about the rides, while the DH and I were more interested in seeing a few of the shows. Top of my list were Christmas Celebrations, Opening Night Critters, and Christmas On Ice.With a little bribery some convincing, we were able to see all three.

Christmas Celebration is performed in the food court. Dragon Fire Grill comes alive when singers, dancers and Santa himself fill the stage with Holiday cheer during Christmas Celebration, a traditional Christmas extravaganza. It's a cute little show featuring traditional favorites like Dreaming of a White Christmas and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.


We literally had to drag the kids off the rides to make Opening Night Critters. We saw a similar show last year at Sea World and I knew they would enjoy it. See what happens when two ambitious stage hands find themselves sharing the spotlight with more than 100 furry and feathered co-stars.  Featuring rescued animals, Opening Night Critters is an over-the-top tale of what can happen when humans and animals come together in kindness, compassion and cooperation. Afterward, we had the opportunity to meet a few of the human and furry stars.



While we enjoyed all of the shows, Christmas On Ice was easily our favorite! Christmas on Ice captures the holiday spirit as world-class skaters celebrate the many wonders of Christmas in our family-favorite show. Stunning skating, breath taking moments and Yuletide memories all come together in a holiday spectacular for the entire family. This show is very elegant and romantic. Blinky especially enjoyed the extravagant costumes and acrobatics.


Needing to get to the other side of the park, we opted to utilize the SkyRide, which afforded a stunning bird's eye view of the park and its inhabitants.


After more rides to appease the kids, we sought out character meet and greets. Santa's Place (very clearly sponsored by Coca Cola) was super sweet! You ring a door bell and are invited in by a cheerful elf. She leads you into the living room where Mrs. Claus shows you around. Another elf leads you down a hallway, through a magic door, where you finally meet Santa Claus.


The following exchange was priceless:

Quote of the Week:

Santa: "What's you name?"
Stinky: "Stinky"
Santa: "And what would you like for Christmas Stinky?"
Stinky: "That depends...what's your budget?"

The DH and I could not stop laughing at Santa's expression!! Clearly he was not expecting that!

Rudolph's Winter Wonderland was equally exciting. We met the Abominable Snowman, Yukon Cornelius, Sam the Snowman, and Rudolph and Clarice. The photographers were so accommodating and we did not feel rushed to move on at all.


We had a nice dinner in the Nairobi section of the park, took the kids on a few more rides, and left minutes before closing.  Check back for my Day 3 post about our African Plains adventure.

As an independent travel consultant, I can book your next family adventure to Busch Gardens or anywhere else you may be interested in. I would love to help your family make lifetime memories.