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April 16, 2009

Florida's Top Ten Roller Coasters: Kids' Picks

By Guest Blogger

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Dueling Dragons at Adventure Island, Orlando (courtesy, Orlando Tourism)

As any parent knows, children can be the worst critics and the best judges.  So when it comes to judging roller coasters, my two boys, ages seven and ten, have become quite the experts.  With mom as a travel writer, my lucky kids have put some of Florida’s “biggest and baddest” coasters to the test.

Here’s a list of their Top Ten Florida coasters, in no particular order.  I’ve included height restrictions, which I suggest you check before getting in line.  Note that this simple task has been known to avert major tantrums thrown by younger (usually shorter) would-be roller coaster riders upon arrival at the gates.

So, read—and ride—at your own risk:

Continue reading "Florida's Top Ten Roller Coasters: Kids' Picks" »

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Florida Vacation · Theme Parks · Top 10 Lists

February 03, 2009

SeaWorld Orlando: Much More than Shamu

Walkabout Waters at Aquatica water park in Orlando (courtesy, SeaWorld Orlando)

Disney World and Universal might get much of the acclaim, but if you’re headed to Orlando this winter, you might want to check out what’s been happening lately at Sea World.  Last March, SeaWorld Orlando opened Aquatica, the first major water park in Orlando since Disney World’s Blizzard Beach in 1995. Bring the kids to take the Dolphin Plunge, and then go on a far mellower ride, like the Lazy River, to spot the real dolphins.  Or go for a spin down Tassie's Twisters or let the little ones climb around the multilevel water playground, Walkabout Waters.  This coming summer, SeaWorld will unveil a new roller coaster just inside the main entrance called the Manta.  Strapped face down in a horizontal position, you'll glide like a manta ray as you sweep above the park in this flying ride. Just make sure to check the website for vacation packages before you go so you can get a good deal on a place to get some rest after all the fun.

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Florida Vacation · Theme Parks

July 31, 2008

Hollywood in the Desert

By Guest Blogger

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LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL: Riding at Old Tucson Studios, Arizona (Beth Blair)

Driving the winding road up over Gates Pass and past thousands of Saguaro cacti is really an attraction in itself, but it's what lies on the other side of the Tucson Mountains that really excites our kids, not to mention the kid in both parents as well.

Since 1939, Old Tucson Studios has been bringing the Old West to the big screen. While it's unlikely our children recognize John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, and Kirk Douglas, they do know what a cowboy is—and that's enough to pique their interest.

The studios, about 12 miles from downtown Tucson, started out as the backdrop of several Western films until 1960, when it expanded into a family theme park. As local Tucsonians, my family and I have sauntered into Old Tucson Studios any number of times. My children are ages two and four, plus I have two teenage stepsons, so believe me when I say Old Tucson Studios is fun for all ages.

Continue reading "Hollywood in the Desert" »

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Theme Parks

May 06, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are

Nice Fishy: Blacktip reef shark (Photodisc)

My older daughter's first word wasn't Mama or Dada. It was Gus. Gus was our cat. Never mind my bruised feelings; there's a profound connection between kids and animals. I'm not just talking little kids; I'm talking teenagers, too. All three of my children put swimming with dolphins in their top ten favorite vacation experiences. They've also held alligators, parrots, and (really big) snakes (not in my top ten); they've met memorable goats, burros, potbelly pigs, and wolves. Kira, who visited Egypt with me when she was eight, still remembers Pepsi Cola the camel but shockingly few historical facts; in Baja, Molly, at six, got close enough to a 40-foot whale to recall vividly that whale breath is really bad, and to yearn to do it again ever since.

We share the planet with many creatures, some four-footed and furry, some finned, some winged. Some are beautiful, some not so much. Without getting preachy, I believe animals have the capacity to teach us something about the universe, about compassion, about ourselves. Even if I'm wrong, that doesn't change the fact that kids and animals are a natural combo, which is why there are so many cool places and programs that bring them together for a can't-miss vacation or activity. Need suggestions?

Continue reading "Where the Wild Things Are" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures · Theme Parks

January 17, 2008

Theme Park Survival Guide: Lost Kids

Confession: I once lost my best friend's nine-year-old at Universal Studios. He stopped at a kiosk with stuff designed to make kids stop. In seconds we were separated in a crowd of thousands. Fortunately, my best friend still talks to me because I'd given the kids instructions ahead of time—and quizzed them until they begged me to stop.

Continue reading "Theme Park Survival Guide: Lost Kids" »

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Theme Parks

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