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7 Things Loved By My Family at Moreys Piers

We took a lovely jaunt over Father's Day weekend to one of the very few shore towns that I have NOT stayed at yet!  I know. You have a hard time believing that, don't you? ha. But it's true. I'll be honest with you.  Real is why you come here and honestly, you've come to expect me to be REAL with you, right? 

Wildwood has never been one of my favorite places to visit.  We'd go there when we stayed in Cape May to have some fun on the boardwalk - but I would have NEVER in a million years have considered staying there.  I just didn't feel it was safe.  I thought there were some scary parts of town that I felt would not be smart to visit with small kids.  I thought the same about Atlantic City & I gave them a '2nd shot' with Boston 3 years ago.  I saw there that they were really trying to clean it up - but unfortunately, I haven't been back with kids yet.  So hopefully we'll have an awakening with AC like we did with Wildwood over Father's Day Weekend!

In case you didn't notice by the title....but we LOVED our visit there. 

And I'll tell you - it's one reason & ONE reason alone why - MOREY'S PIERS.

Yes. There are still parts of town that I felt uncomfortable in.  I won't lie.  But Morey's Piers is different. MUCH MUCH DIFFERENT. 

7 Things Loved By My Family At Morey's Piers

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1) THE MOREY FAMILY.  As you know in my love of travels and sharing here - I am a sucker for a real life story.  And the story behind the magic of Morey's Piers was so fun to see!  I missed a special cocktail event because well.... traveling with a toddler puts a vice grip on my plans. lol Truth be told.  But I did get a great break to really wander the hotel we were staying in and read the walls.  For. Like. HOURS. 

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2) THE PAN AMERICAN HOTEL.  What a CLASSY place!!  You know me - I'm a sucker for amenities so when I saw the Philosophy products in the gorgeous bathrooms?  I died and went to bath time heaven!!  I've stayed at thousands of places.  And if there is one consistent thing that tells me the character and class of the place - it's the toiletries!!  Everywhere you turn in this hotel you see a story.  You can get caught up in the walls of time beginning with the ride down the road with the big spinning Pan American sign in the back of an old pickup truck!  (And the chairs in the lobby are the coolest chairs I've ever seen!)

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3)  THE PIERS.  Notice I didn't say the Boardwalk.  Cause until they stop allowing people to smoke and flick their ashes on me and my kids - I'm not a fan of the boardwalk at all.  (And I'm not a smoke-snob.  Both of my parents smoke heavily their entire lives.  I just don't believe that it should be allowed in a public place like that.  It really bothers me when I walk up to a store and their workers are standing in their doorways trying to get me to come in there and their stink cigs behind their ears and in their hands.  GROSS!  There are way too many little kids running around on that boardwalk - there shouldn't be any smoking.  But if you are like me in that? GET ON THE PIERS!!  Cause the Morey family does it right.  NO SMOKING ALLOWED.

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3) THE FUN on THE PIERS.  Yeah.  You can find so much to do on those three piers that you never need to hit the boardwalk or the streets of Wildwood if you're a fuddy-dutty-like me.  And honestly, there are many out of towners that need that 'comfortable place'.  Morey's Piers have so many really fun things to do! I died after finding out there was THREE piers to PLAY!  The Ghost Ship & Kong were our favorite rides.  LOVED them.  

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4) THE FOOD.  When I think about beach & boardwalk food - I think cotton candy, pizza, 'snack bar' type food.  But not at MOREYS PIERS!!  When we arrived they gave us a ton of generous coupons to experience all the food at the piers & I am so glad they did!!  The last day, I ended up sharing some of them with a sweet woman we met at the waterparks who was there from Illinois (where I'm from). Cause honestly, I felt bad with all the talk I made about the 

5)  THE WATER PARKS.  Seriously one of the coolest thing ever is enjoying a WATER PARK while near the ocean!  The PIers really have a couple cool water parks that everyone has to take advantage of when in Wildwood.  Being a kid from the midwest and never even seeing the ocean till much later in my college years, the only water fun we got were water parks.   I grew up in a boat on a dirty lake in southern Illinois.  Our 'special treat' was hitting a water park.  So to be a kid and have the ocean at your fingertips?  I can't even IMAGINE what a cool opportunity that is. The #1 thing that I love most from my move to Philly is that we are within a couple hours drive of the shore.  From Cape May to LBI - I am forever in love with it.  Add a boardwalk AND a waterpark?  Totally died and gone to heaven reliving my childhood with my son at the 

6)  THE HISTORY.  More than one occasion my family had to distract me to STOP looking at all the images on the walls at the Pan American Hotel!!  I stopped every time so that I could read, snap and share the great history of Morey's Piers!  

7) OH-MY-THE-ORANGEAIDES.  Seriously.  I should be embarrassed with how many orangeaides I had on those piers!!!  My mouth is watering now for one dangit.    

Now check out their fun History YouTube video:


Top 5 Faves of the 2015 Chevy Tahoe #TravelTuesday

Top 5 Faves of the 2015 Chevy Tahoe #TravelTuesday

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Back in 2006 I had the hottest convertible Mitsubishi Spyder that rocked my hot chic world.  

I got engaged in 2006 and 3 months later I was at a live broadcast with the station I was on at a car dealership.  And.... long story short-I traded in my convertible that day and bawled the whole way home because I traded in my hot-chic-in-her-20s-car for a "MOM MOBILE".  Bawled.The.Whole.Way. lol

Here I am, almost 10 years later and it's time to trade that little mommy in for a Mom-Monster.  Destination Mobile.  Travel Companion. Soccer Chauffer.  You know... 'BIG KID STUFF'. 

My 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor has so many pretty bumps and scratches, I hate to see it even getting bought...but those beauty marks are what makes it special.  One of them, made by my husband when he hit a tree stump at my parents house.  Ahem.  Another one?  MADE BY MY HUSBAND. Yeah.  He's not a good driver...but I digress. 

So this year, I've partnered with Chevy and between now and January I'm going to test drive their SUVs to see where I 'fit' in.  Of course Chevy has many different parts to the GM family including Buick, Cadillac, Chevy & GMC.  I of course know what I need - but I don't know what I want.  And since I'm going to be driving this beast for another decade - I want to get down and dirty (including the left over cheeze nips) with their automobiles and put them all to the test. 

Here, I'm going to give you my Top 5 Faves of each vehicle.  I sure hope you help me figure it out!!  Cause man alive.  This is a major decision.  Kind of like deciding to get married, have kids, buy a house, moving to Philly..... 

First off... I'm not a 'car person'.  I don't believe in driving a crazy expensive car and live in an apartment or a town home.  I believe in what will get me from point A to point B.  (Of course, who DOESN'T like to look good while doing it!)  So, I'm not going for the 'shiny object'.  I'm HONESTLY going to PAY for my choice so why not go on this journey together!

I know what I can afford.  I know I do NOT want a minivan.  (GAG.)  I know that I need something with a HUGE trunk space.  I also want USB ports cause my car charger stinks and DUH it is 2014!!!  So with that being said... everything else is gravy. 

Top 5 Faves of the 2015 Chevy Tahoe

1)  The SENSORS.  Whoaaaa - the sensors! My husband wasn't a fan of his butt vibrating when he got too close to the side or another car - but I like it! ha.  Check out the video on what he said about that. 

2)  Automated 3rd Row Seating - THIS IS HUGE.  Probably the biggest thing my oldest loved.  The buckets in the 2nd row was great to get around to get to the 3rd row.  And the fact its a tiny button that gets pushed?  SWEET!

3) SIDE BLIND ZONE ALERT WITH LANE DEPARTURE - Yeah, so this goes along with #1.  There are SOOO many flashing lights, vibration, beeps... you are sure to not fall asleep at the wheel!  It's a great thing.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've ALMOST hit a car because I didn't see them in my blind spot.  This Tahoe?  You will KNOW if there is one in your blind spot!

4)  RAIN SENSING WINDSHIELD WIPERS - And might I add - wipers that don't scream at me cause I need new ones!!  (Here it scratching when it moves. UGH = MY CURRENT CAR.)  Seriously though... this Tahoe pretty much drives itself!

5) THE DASHBOARD AND A 110 VOLT FREAKING AC POWER OUTLET!! - Can you believe that?  I can actually PLUG my PLUG into A 3-PRONG-OUTLET!  Modern tech.  Motherly heaven for sure!!  Not to mention - I counted at LEAST 5 freaking USB ports!!  This is seriously the mac-mommy of automobiles. 

Overall - I loved the smooth ride, the Power Sunroof with bug catcher, the rear seat entertainment, the xm radio with WIFI, the backup sensor on screen, the fact that the mirrors move when you back up, the steering column and the adaptive cruise control that breaks you automatically when you get too close to another car!!

It's the bomb.  In every way.  

The only thing about this SUV that will keep me from buying it?

The size.  IT'S A FREAKING BEAST.  The back is longer than I think I want to handle.  

And the price.  Whoa.   I'm being honest here.  

The 2015 Tahoe that I test drove has a sticker price: $69,630.  

Yeah. $70K is a LOT of money for an automobile.  The base price without all the bells & whistles is around $45K.  That's still a lot and definitely out of our range.  BUT, if we LIVED in it?  I'd make it work.  Cause it's AWESOME!

NEXT UP:  THE CHEVY TRAVERSE.


 

** Please note:  I REALLY am going to buy a new car.  And I REALLY am giving you my honest reviews.  I was teased with driving their automobiles - but in the end - I'm picking AND paying.

Travel Heaven with AT&T GoPhone

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I travel. 

A LOT. 

And it's not always to the grocery store, ya know. 

As a mom on the go, I use my phone & internet almost as much as I travel. 

A LOT. 

At Blogger Bash this past July, I happened to meet the team behind the AT&T mobile hotspots.  As an AT&T customer personally for the past 7 years - I had no idea that they had such a thing.  I mean, I knew they had some sort of tethering opportunity for cell phones, but I was grandfathered in by their 'unlimited talk & text' programming.  And a mobile hotspot addition would have made my good deal - gone.  So when I heard about the AT&T Unite Pro Mobile Hotspot it totally peaked my attention.  

Isn't technology just awesome these days?  I mean seriously.  My mom had a BAG PHONE!  Remember those?  Now we are connected from all angles.  Sometimes I think of the world connected along with myself all the time as a blessing or a curse.  But then I realize, it's just like sitting down to a cake.  MODERATION!  Know when to turn it off, MOMS!  lol (Work in progress in our house!)

Back to my amount of traveling.  Yeah... I've been on about 25 different trips this year.  And that's NOT including the train rides to NYC (which I'm doing right now by the way...)  I've been to NYC probably about 20 other times as well & no offense Amtrak - but the internet is BRUTALLY slow on the train.  

That's why when AT&T offered to send me the GoPhone by NETGEAR to review - I was all over it.  I wanted something that I could 'pay as I go' plan.  Not something that I have to pay a big chunk and then if I don't use it - it's gone.  And that's what is great about the GoPhone!

With this small device you can add money to the usage or put it in the closet until your next trip comes around!  What I love about it is that no matter what you're doing or where you are - from soccer to camping - being connected in essential!  I know we need to 'turn it off' sometimes - but we also need to be sure we have connection in case of emergency, for sure.  The AT&T Unite for GoPhone by NETGEAR gives families secure Internet access to be connected on the go.  I love that you can connect up to 10 devices at once!     Plus, it's secure internet access via AT&T's 4G LTE network, 10 hours of battery life, touchscreen, and the price rocks!  For just shy of $100 you get no annual contract, no credit check, no monthly commitment and no hassle!  

Grab yours at Amazon, Wal-Mart & Best Buy!

 

Hershey: The Sweetest Place on Earth

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Chocolate.

Just say the word, and I am there.

One of the things I absolutely love about living in Philadelphia is my proximity to Hershey, PA. That's right, Chocolate Town!  I have had the pleasure of visiting many times over the past several years, and I'm heading there again this week as I am what every chocolate lover dreams of.. A HERSHEY AMBASSADOR!  Rough job, I know.  But SOMEBODY has to do it. 

I always look forward to my Hershey visits. No, not just because I can stock up on the best chocolate on the planet!  But I love that Hershey is a family-friendly destination. For locals who can't quite swing a big vacation, Hershey is the perfect "staycation." There is so much to do, including Hersheypark (Boston LOVES the chocolate characters!!  The pic to the left is from our 1st ever visit to Hershey.)

Thrill lovers: did you know Hersheypark has 12 rollercoasters? Epic! They also offer live entertainment as well as kid-focused rides for even the smallest chocolate lovers.

Hershey, PA offers more than just the theme park, though. Visitors can head to ZooAmerica, with over 200 animals on 11 acres. There is also a large educational component. Keep the learning going through the summer! Kids can learn about the history of Hershey at The Hershey Story and get the whole scoop on how chocolate is made at Hershey's Chocolate World (and pssst: you didn't hear it from me, but after the informational tour they may or may not give out chocolate samples. SCORE!).

Accomodations are not lacking in Hershey, and I can attest that the Hershey Lodge is fantastic for families. If you want to take it to the next level, check out The Hotel Hershey!  We are MEGA excited about staying at Hotel Hershey as we've only stayed at the Hershey Lodge in the past. Check out their awesome packages, as well. There are great seasonal and year-round offerings that make a stay at Hershey all the more sweet.

Also? I may be a little obsessed with the fact that Kate Gosselin lives nearby. Because. KATE GOSSELIN.


I digress.

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So whether you are near or far, take the scenic ride through the rolling countryside of Pennsylvania and make your destination the Sweetest Place on Earth!

Check our twitter, Instagram and Facebook stream for our overflowing amount of images from our experiences.  I promise to share unique shots at our favorite sweet spots!

What is YOUR favorite Hershey memory?

****Yes, as an ambassador I get some SWEET deals! Some of the activities are comped in result of my ambassadorship with Hershey, PA.  But of course - the REAL mom is always going to be real.  Now, back to my chocolate dream.

 

Toddler Travel Tips to Orlando

Toddler Travel Tips to Orlando

I never really thought about it - but it really is such a brilliant idea!

Traveling with toddlers to Orlando in May!!

Why such a great idea, you ask?

Because think about it.  Spring break, the holidays mean insanity in Orlando with all the families piling into the city to take in a vacation.   But in May - it's not too hot yet.  Plus the big kids are still in school.  Meaning any parent who has kids that are in pre-K and younger should TOTALLY be taking their vacations to Orlando then!

Here are 5 Great Toddler Travel spots in Orlando:

*LEGOLAND . This was by FAR the best place we visited while there this past trip!  What's great about LegoLand is not only the fact that it's not as insane as some of the other major locations in Orlando but they are opening a fabulous new toddler attraction in May!  Duplo Valley is set to open in May with some awesome new attractions for the toddlers!  We unfortunately didn't get to enjoy the new visitor spot when we were at LegoLand because it was all caught up in construction. But the barn was there - and I was DYING to get a sneak peak!  So, when you go in May - be sure to tweet me with your shots!! 

*NICKELODEON HOTEL - Seriously.  This was a shocking addition to our stay!  Everyone knows my family love of Disney.  We LOVE LOVE LOVE Disney (so much so, we're hitting up DisneyLand next week! lol)  But when I had the opportunity to 'visit Orlando' this time I wanted to try out something totally different.  This hotel was perfect for us!  They had so many great things that were not only awesome for kids - but parents too!  (Remember the show back in the day hosted by Mark Summers called Double Dare?  They have actual shows IN THE HOTEL!)

 

**TRAVEL FYI FOR TODDLERS**

AIRPORT BABY DRAMA -- Heaven forbid you get stuck with weather or mechanical delays or maybe even the airline lost your baggage - good news; baggage claim offices at airports will have emergency supplies of baby products, diapers, formula, baby snacks, blankets - AWESOME, RIGHT?

EAR POPPIN' PLAN -- Speaking of airports - if you have a child under 1 - be sure to bring a binky, bottle or something for your baby to suck on to avoid the ear pressure pain.  That is the WORST.  (Have gum on hand for older kids too...you'll be glad you did.)

SKIP THE LINES FOR YOUR SANITY -- Do you despise long lines and crowded theme parks?  TOTALLY need to take your toddlers to Orlando in MAY!  The weather is great.  It's past spring break so the lines are SHORTER & kids' are STILL in school!  BRILLIANT time to go if you don't have school age kids.

BEST TIME TO PLAY IS IN MAY -- May is also a great time because many of the theme parks in Orlando have HUGE discounts!  Buy an adult ticket, get a kids ticket free type deals.   Sea World, LEGOLAND, Universal & more!  Check out www.VisitOrlando.com/May for the great deals!

If you could go to Orlando - what would be the first place you'd head?

 

Disney Art of Animation Resort

Disney Art of Animation Resort

 

This past month my family and I were invited to take part in the mega grand opening of the new Fantasyland at Disney World!  We had the best time ever.  My sister came along to help while I had events to participate in and it turned out to be such a perfect time to visit.

We went to Disney in May for my 4 year old's birthday and honestly it was the very first time we had ever been there before!  I know, right? ha.  

So for the next few weeks as all start dreaming of heading to warmer territory I'm going to share certain aspects of our outstanding trip.  

#1 on deck is the SUPER AWESOME resort we were put up in!

Art of Animation Resort in Orlando, Florida

This is a super awesome place for any kid or family that has a Cars fan!  

5 Reasons to Stay at Art of Animation Resort

 

* The resort comes to LIFE!  There are 3 different areas at the hotel. Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid & Cars are fully decorated with life size fun! We actually stayed in the Cars section and we couldn't have been happier!

* An animation artist walks around the resort and makes awesome cartoon art out of soap water!  Yes SOAP WATER!  The guy that was doing it the entire time we were there was awesome with kids.  He would strike up a conversation with kids and carry these tiny turtles in his pocket so when he asked the kids trivia question he had a little prize for them!  It was super cute to see the kids' at the resort interact with the artist.  And to think he could draw Mickey out of soap water and a broom?  Awesome!

*The Big Blue Pool is the largest pool on any of the Disney Properties!  I loved spending time in the pool area.  Thankfully the weather was perfect for us to sit out and catch some rays a bit in December.  There are 3 pools on the grounds at this resort with this one being the largest of them all.  What's REALLY cool about this pool is that when you go underwater, you can hear your favorite Disney tunes!  Underwater speakers belt out the amazing tunes from the Finding Nemo movie.  There is also a Schoolyard Playground right behind the pool where the smaller kids and splash around on the really soft pads and fountains of fun.

*Staying in the rooms are like living in a movie!  The areas of the hotel are so well thought out.  I can really only speak of where my family stayed. The Radiator Springs section of the resort.  Our room was PERFECT for us.  There were 4 of us - 3 adult and one child.  So for the Cars Family Suite we had 2 full-size beds & the pull out fullsize couch.  The bedroom has a spare bathroom with lots of space in the gorgeous stand up shower. (GREAT shower head!)  The dining table is a Murphy type bed.  (Can I tell you I'd LOVE to buy this for the play room in our house so we have a place for guests to stay!!  LOVED it!  Very comfy and perfect to give more space in the rooms.  Everything in the suite is something you might see in the movie. 

*Free & fast transportation to all the parks.  This is a great perk with any of the Disney resorts.  Their transportation system is outstanding!!!  But we barely had to wait for any of the busses when we were there.  Either going to the parks or returning to the resort.  A HUGE plus.

 Check out my video of the room at the Art of Animation Resort

Omni Berkshire Place Hotel Review

Omni Berkshire

Place Hotel Review

A couple weeks ago I headed to the 'Superbowl for Bloggers' - BlogHer in NYC.

I was blessed to be perfectly located at Omni Berkshire Place Hotel just down the street from the convention center.  

It was a PERFECT location!

My roommates and I had a short walk to the conference center.  

The room was also perfect size for us.  And trust me when I tell you-that's almost IMPOSSIBLE to find in NYC!  The hotel rooms are TEENY TINY!

There were 3 women in our room and not once did we bump heads in getting ready!  It was perfect with the extra large mirror outside the bathroom and the bathroom fit 2 of us perfectly.

So, with that being said:

Top 5 Faves of Omni Berkshire

1.  LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION.  Yes.  The location was outstanding.  Right smack dab in Manhattan where all the hub-bub was happening.  Perfecto.

2. TEEN CONNECTION. All of the Omni properties are very family friendly.  Great for kids, of course-but we all know that it's a totally different ballgame when you add teens to the mix!  They're much more than 'kids'.  The Omni Berkshire has an awesome teen connection program that is a must to check out for teens.  The program was created by the hotel managers teen son, David.  You gotta check out his awesome list of to-dos.

3. 24 HOUR ROOM SERVICE. This is a biggie for me.  Cause sometimes, I just don't want to leave my room.  And so many times hotels stop the dining at an early hour.  Not in NYC! lol.  Omni Berkshire had awesome choices too.  I had breakfast for dinner.

4. GREAT GUEST SERVICES.  They were on top of everything for me and my roommates!  We needed extra towels...DONE.  Toothpaste...DONE.  It was amazing.

5. GORGEOUS DECOR.  I'm in a place in my own home where I'm DYING to do some decorating!  Changing things up a bit.  Removing items that are cluttered.  And I've been stuck in a RUT trying to decide the colors and decor for my bedroom.  DONE!!  The rooms at Omni Berkshire were a tan base with splashes of yellow.  I am so stealing that!

 

Gaylord National ICE 2012

Gaylord National ICE 2012

 

This weekend my family embarked on a quick getaway to check out the Christmas in July ICE 2012 announcement at Gaylord National Resort near Washington DC.

It was a great time!  I've always been a fan of the Gaylord Hotel family-but after visiting Gaylord National this past holiday season to see their amazing ICE! Spectactular-I'm forever sold on this property and their Christmas on the Potomac tradition!

We had an amazing time.

We arrived late Friday night, checked and got ready for a big day on Saturday.

Saturday, we had a tasty breakfast at The Pienza Restaurant this got out and walked around National Harbor.

We hit up the Peeps store (that Boston LOVED!!) and a few other great places around there then headed back to the hotel. 

Around 3p the party began!  Boston was so excited to see some of the great characters at the hotel.  SHREK runs that place! lol  And after the announcement of their theme this year-Shrek REALLY has the run of the place!

Shrek The Halls is this holiday theme.  ICE! is an AMAZING family opportunity to make memories.  

Here are more details:

*Two million twinking lights, nightly indoor snowfall, gorgeous lit dancing water fountains set to holiday tunes and a stunning 60 foot glass Tree of Light!  (The Tree is OUTSTANDING!!!)

*Two million pounds of hand carved, colorful ice sculptures & slides!!

*Exeprience the DreamWorks - themed adventure wit the Christmasy DreamWorks experience!  Shrek, Madagascar & Kung Fu Panda!  

*Enjoy a ShrekFeast, buffet breakfast with your favorite characters from Shrek! (Um. HELLO.  They have a GREEN CHOCOLATE fountain!!!)

November 16, 2012 - January 6, 2013 

Get tix by Monday October 1, 2012 & get a great Early Bird Discount!  

 There are many packages to choose from when you visit the Gaylord National website-but here's an example of my personal favorite!

THE CHRISMASSY DREAMWORKS EXPERIENCE

2-Night Package Details

Availability: Select dates November 16, 2012 through January 6, 2013
Duration: 2 nights (for extra nights and atrium upgrades, call 301-965-4000)

Package price: Two occupant minimum 
(for single occupancy, call 301-965-4000)

Starting at $219* per night for first two occupants, plus tax, 
resort fee and parking

Additional Occupants

  • Each extra adult or child (ages 4 and older): $49 plus tax
  • Baby (ages 3 and under): FREE

Package includes:

  • Two night room accommodations at Gaylord National Resort
  • Tickets and front of the line access to ICE! featuring DreamWorks' Shrek the Halls
  • ShrekFeast Interactive Character Meal
  • "Character Passport" Meet & Greets
  • DreamWorks Themed Scavenger Hunt
  • DreamWorks Welcome Amenity with Package Check-In
  • and even Special Wake-Up Calls by DreamWorks Characters!
  • Souvenir Family Photo

 

Must Do: #Duality #HowIDoAC

Must Do: #Duality #HowIDoAC

On 4th of July I got the opportunity to head to Atlantic City, NJ with my 4 year old to experince so many great new things they brought to the city in celebration of the 4th of July.

We stayed at the BEAUTIFUL Golden Nugget Hotel.  The rooms were spectacular.  They had gorgeous leather "L"-shaped couches, great views and a very comfy bed. Very modern decor and GREAT bathroom amenities!!

(Here's my quick view of the Golden Nugget Hotel via video:

We met at the pool in a private area to meet folks from the Atlantic City Alliance.  The ACA is a newly created non-profit entity funded and overseen by the city's casinos.  Their mission is really to bring more tourism into the area by showcasing the great places in town-outside of the casinos.  

GREAT job in my eyes!  

I have to admit-I've NEVER thought of AC as a 'family friendly destination'.  At ALL.  

But I have to give them big credit for really trying.  And if you follow the hashtag #HowIDoAC on Twitter you'll see what a great time so many people are having!

After meeting at the pool my son and I got cleaned up to head to Boardwalk Hall to the press dinner, viewing of fireworks, hearing Kevin Rudolf rock & checking out Atlantic City's hottest and newest attraction-a sound and light show called Duality.  Duality is a permanent show occuring twice an hour after dark up until 2am all year long.  This isn't just 'any old light show'...this is a $3 million dollar light show!!  

You have got to check this thing out.  AMAZiNG is not even the word for it.

Virginia Hotel & Cottages in Cape May

Virginia Hotel
Cottages in Cape May

I am a LOVER of hotels.  I love to travel...taste new flavors...check out the bathroom products and share my experiences!

Last summer I was apart of an AWESOME weekend getaway to Cape May to stay and promote Congress Hall.  It was the best experience ever!  

So with the awesomeness and all that is in Cape May-why not return - right?

I wanted to stay at or near the location where my husband & I went on our first 'shore trip' when we moved her from Chicago years ago.  I actually found this property while searching and about fell over when I saw one of the porches actually overlooked the place we stayed!

I have to be honest with myself you...I am a bit travel spoiled!  Yes.  I know.  Me?  Yes. I can't believe it either.  =)  When I was in my 20s and met my husband he took me all over the country. 

We went from Chicago to Vegas, LA, Boston.....finally to Philly.  And since I've been blogging, I've been invited all over as well!  Stayed at gorgeous places (and a few DUMPS along the way...ahem.)  

But the Cape Resorts Group has by far surpassed anything I've ever experienced.  I don't know if its because after meeting Curtis the owner, and hearing his amazing story of how his grandfather use to own Congress Hall and he grew up running the halls!  He later renovated it and gave it life again.....

I love that it's not run by some 'hotel management company' that doesn't even know much about the hotel! Curtis has so much passion in the place-you can tell before you even walk through the front doors.  The warmth and welcome feeling you get from all the properties is impeccable.  You can tell that he takes care of his employees too because they are always smiling and go above and beyond a typical hotel staff.  

In fact, I forgot my coat there when we checked out on Monday and by Tuesday it was at my doorstep!

The off season price to stay in the cottage we stayed in:  The White Cottage (Penthouse Suite) was approx $200 a night.  Not bad for that ocean view, right?  

*Outstanding service

*Close proximity to Washington Mall (SHOPPING!!)

*Open all year round

*AWESOME bathroom amenities!

Disney Fantasy Cruise

Disney Fantasy: Playing Mrs. Potato HeadDisney Fantasy

Cruise Christening

This past Thursday evening I got the opportunity to take part in a magical Disney event that happened in New York City.  

To say this was a celebration is completely and totally not doing the evening justice!!

I was invited to stay at Ink48 Hotel and enjoy a night at the Christening of the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship!

Since I haven't ever 'been to Disney' (I know-pathetic, right? lol) or have I even ever been on a Cruise...I really had no idea what to expect.

Of course we have ALL seen the movie Titanic..and can you believe that was the first thing I thought of when we embarked on this ship?? Seriously!  As soon as we walked through the front doors there were mater dei's lined up to greet us.  Just like in the movie! ha And I can honestly say I have NEVER seen more champagne in my life!!!

My friend Debbie from Mamanista is so awesome at taking me under her wings at these type of things.  I mean, I've done some pretty awesome things in my radio career-but for some reason-when I hit the big city of New York that good ol' country girl comes out of me!!  And I get so overwhelmed!  I can proudly say that I'm getting better at the NYC trips after going so many times (HENCE-I bring spare shoes! lol) but she's so amazing with showing me the ropes.

This extremely handsome Parisian man looks at me and goes in the HOTTEST accent ever 'Care for a champagne, madam?'  and I ahem...about died.  Deb looked at me-I looked at her and we both just about bust out laughing.  Of course because this country chic was shining through.  She grabbed the champagne and I grabbed the sparkling-strawberry-mint-like-I-have-no-idea-what-was-in-it-but-it-was-tasty-non-alcoholic-drink and we entered the foyer.

It was gorgeous!  Disney characters were etched in every single piece of this ship!  From the mirrors shaped like Mickey in the bathrooms to the gold plates on the walls with characters-there was no mistaken that this was a magical place!

The didn't hold ANYTHING back in the party!  Neil Patrick Harris was the host of the evening entertainment...great songs from their cruise shows...visit from Mary Poppins....standup by Jerry Seinfeld...

Did I mention the celebrities JUST there to celebrate?  Yeah!  Ty Pennington and some of the cast from The Revolution were there...Mayor Bloomberg stopped by....and you KNOW it's a big deal with the CEO of Disney takes the mic!

Mariah Carey and her hubby were there.  She was the Fairy Godmother of the Ship.  That was cool since now she's a mom and really gets it. (Well, sort of. hahaha)

Check out my video recap and be sure to comment if you've ever been on a Disney Cruise!  We are soo going to take one after that experience!

 

Great Wolf Lodge Review

Great Wolf Lodge Review

I've been DYING and trying to write this post.

Oh..for 2 weeks.

And here I am.  In the radio studio and finally can share the awesomeness of our experience.

I honestly have NO CLUE where the first couple weeks of October went.

But if you can tell me?  I'm down to hear it.  =)

Anyway.  

My little family of 3 got this super awesome experience to go check out Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos.

First off:  NEVER been to the Poconos.  I always think of the Poconos when I watch or hear of the movie Dirty Dancing.  Come to find out from my facebook friends-I Boston threw the eyes of a pineapple ring! hadon't even know if it was filmed there! ha.

Anyway, we drove to the mountains.  

The Poconos.  

It's sooo awesome how many short trips there are from Philly to family getaways.  

Honestly...Hershey?  Hour and a half.

Shore?  Hour and a half.

Baltimore?  D.C?  

You get the picture.

But the Poconos?

A family home run.

So-here is my review of the Great Wolf Lodge in Scotrun, Pa.

Yes.  I'm sure they've heard ALL the jokes.  (As that's what I told my husband..FUNNY guy.)

First off:  It was a 1st class deal!!  

They whisked us into the Family Suite (complete with a balcony, couch, 2 beds, fridge, dining table..and more.)

They then shared this super awesome new feature they have added to the park called Story Explorers.  (WHICH-by the way they are doing this UNREAL family giveaway!!!!  This contest is really awesome.  So...by all means check it out.))

I decided to switch it up a bit and ask my husband what he thought about the trip.

He doesn't get to do these things all that awesome-nor has he EVER blogged.  (He's kind of an important, busy man.  Ahem.)

This is was response:

- water slides were awesome...lines were a little long

- kid pool and slides were excellent - no lines and perfect for a 3 to 5 year old - they can go up by themselves

- loved the make your own stuffed animal thing - and the book was awesome

- food was medicore and service wasn't great

- night time story was very unique and cool 

overall I would go back in a heartbeat.  I thought it was a great experience...but I would go back on a weekday.

My take on the trip:

-The 'one stop' $ shop for the room that included the water park rocked 

-The bowling alley was RIGHT down my alley

-My husband and 3 year old are SUCKERS at the game room. (Yes. They won..again..the big claw game.)

-The bands for kids and family?  AHEM.  Should be different colors.  (Yes-I am the idiot that put my 3 year olds band on...then I had to run to the room for a bathroom emergency which in turn wouldn't let me in and a guy had to tell me that it was a kids band.  Yes.  Not so smart.)

-The food?  Eh.  TOTAL kid food.  

-Would have loved to go on more rides...but lines were awful.  Plus we had a schedule to keep so we didn't get to enjoy the waterpark as much as I wanted to....

-But they did have a cupcake making station.

-The storytellers exhibit was a HIGHLIGHT!!  I loved watching Boston pick out his friend then learn the story.  Plus the book is really cool that they make with your kid in it!!

-

Hershey Lodge Reviews

Fireplace, Hershey Lodge EntranceHershey Lodge Reviews

One of my favorite things to do is travel.  Obviously. I kinda have a 'travel' section on my website.

And I like to think I'm great at picking nuggets that fit my family.  

This past weekend was a big holiday weekend where many families either hopped on a plane or loaded up the car. 

Well..up until about 9pm on Friday night we weren't going to leave the living room!

Hershey Bars at Check-InThen I realized we had 4 tickets to Hershey Park courtesy of the great people at Chevy.  ((Side note:  NO, they did not pay me to endorse them-but they TOTALLY have the BEST social media practice of all the car companies in the world.  SERIOUSLY. )) 

Anyway...so last minute I hopped online to see about their hotels.  Seems everytime I go to see if they have availability, I always get the 'contact reservations-nothing matches your inquiry at this time' type response.  

So, I called..and after 9 minutes, 54 seconds on hold ((I know cause I told my husband I'm hanging up if it hits 10 minutes)) I finally got a friendly reservationist.  

Hershey Kisses on the Wallpaper!They had one room at Hershey Lodge avail with a king bed.  Price:  $250 a night (($289 with tax)).  For sh*ts and giggles I asked about the Hershey Hotel rooms.  Yes.  One avail.  Price:  $489 ((YES....A NIGHT!!))

So, we decided to go for the poor mans special.

The $289 a night Hershey Lodge.

Now mind you, I had envisioned this "Lodge" like something you'd find in the Poconos.  

The trip took about an hour and a half to get there from Philly.  Not bad!  For some reason I was under the impression it was a lot further than that.  Now I know.

Reese's Guy with BostonWe got to the hotel, checked in and they gave us a special treat.... CHOCOLATE BARS.

THAT was kinda fun.  

We went up to our room and dropped off our stuff.  We didn't bring much since we were only going to stay the night and return the next day.  The room was average.  Very comparable to a Sheraton Suites or a Marriott.  

*NOTE:  I may be wrong, but don't recall paying upwards of $300 for either of those hotels.  $200 tops.  So the price that we paid for the Hershey Lodge wasn't the value we had expected.  And if we would have spent $600 for two nights, I would not have been a happy camper.  But since it was one night-not a big deal.

Kit Kat guy!They did have Hershey Kisses on the walls.  Yes.  In the wall paper.  

Another great thing they do at the resort is that they have a 'Kids Check-In'.  We missed it cause we were at HersheyPark but I thought it was really cool that they do that.  It definitely did well in the 'resort' area.  The check-in for kids, they from 2p-6p daily.  They give the kids their own 'key' and do other things like treats, etc.  

When we got back from Hershey Park I noticed they had someone from the Zoo there on the lawn with kids around them.  The man was holding a boa snake.  Boston was snoring so we didn't make it down there.  But I did notice they had a snowcone machine too.  

 

 

A couple things I noticed they did well:

*Biodegradable stuff.  Yes...they were on the 'save our planet' train like other hotel chains have done.  Great work.  Things like 'reuse your towels' and even a 'biodegradable showercap.'

*I'm a product junkie.  Hershey Lodge uses its own Chocolate Blend of products.  Chocolate Shampoo anyone?!?!?!  I rate a hotel on what kind of products they leave for you to use in the bathroom.  Congress Hall uses Aveda, W Hotel in Times Square uses Bliss, Avalon Golden Inn uses Bath & Body Works...and so on. YOU get the picture.  =)

Big smile and BIG strawberry Milk!*The Hershey Characters visited from 10-11a on Sunday morning.  Boston loved giving them a 'high five'.

*They have many things to choose from if you have a rainy day.  Like, Mini Golf, game room, etc.  We didn't see them-nor experience them.  But we knew they were there.

*The Bear's Den restaurant had GREAT stuff to keep the kids occupied!  They give out Wikki Stix.  (Their story is awesome...check them out sometime!)  Not only do they give them out-they display the artwork that kids make while there.  LOVED it!  I had to take pictures of it.

*Their gift shop had unique goodies in there.  Yes.  I'm a sucka for chotskies.  I won't pay silly amount of cash for something that is useless but if I find something fun in a gift shop or such I'll get it.  My son is a DIE HARD strawberry milk kid.  I think it's more psychological than anything.  Ever since he was tiny my husband use to take him to get 'strawberry milk and a donut' on the weekends at Dunkin Donuts. And it has just stuck.

So their gift shop had this almost lifesize bottle of strawberry syrup.  And it was a piggie bank.  So of course the SUCKA novelty lover I am got one for Boston.  I figured he'd toss it aside but turns out he loved it.  

Made me smile...not because I know how HORRIBLE that stuff is for my kid...but because it entails a memory that child will have for the rest of his life.  'Going with daddy to get strawberry milk and a donut' might be up there like 'hearing about the birds and the bees'.  NO!?!?!??!  Ok.  maybe not then.  

Oh well.  At least now he thinks we have to snag all of daddy's money and fill up our bottle so we can take a trip to Disney World!! hahaha. ((He's still at a great brainwashing age, ya know?))

You can't see the pic very well since it was after dinner and late when I took it.  But you can make out the smile and the bottle, right?!?!?!  

To RECAP:

*Hershey Lodge is a great place to stay if you head to Hershey, Pa.  It is definitely a bit overpriced...but I can't complain too much since we just came and went in 24 hours.  They did exceed the 'family options' though.

Have you been to Hershey? Where did you stay?

Check back to see our review of Chocolate World and Hershey Park.. 

 

DISCLAIMER:  This is my HONEST opinion of my experience.  No one knew I was coming....nor did I get any 'special' treatment to share my review.  My family paid for everything: except the tickets to HersheyPark.  They were provided by Chevy.  We just had a great time and many moments I said to my husband 'I have to write about this!'


The Congress Hall Cape May, NJ

My Run for Congress

 

Well..sorta.

I'm actually running to The Congress Hall.

In Cape May..my FAVORITE beach city ever.

LOVE this town.  Let's just say.ahem..this little town changed my whole world.  AHEM...let's just say... I could have named my son Cape May instead of Boston. lol

Anyway..I'm soo excited to be going there this week.

My most fave 'mom' site that I'm blessed to do so much with, The Motherhood, invited me to take part in a weekend getaway at The Congress Hotel.

Um..TWIST MY ARM WOULD YA?!?!?!

I'll be there Thursday till Saturday.  And there MIGHT be a chance till Sunday.  (Ya know, my birthday is Sunday...so why stop on Saturday, ya know?!?!?!)

You can seriously tell how thrilled I am about something by my punctuation, ya know?

This little trip doesn't leave too much time by the pool.  So if there's a possibility to really get to dig my toes in the sand-I'm all over it.

Only sad part...I won't have hubby & bubby with me.  =(  Moms only.

So..I could mope and wish they were there-or I could EMBRACE it!

So..I'll mope. (wink wink).

And have an absolutely MISERABLE time without them.  (wink WINK WINK wink.)

So the visit has big plans to get down to business.  I mean ya know, this here blog is 'my business'.

This place is seriously top notch.

It's not cheap-but the history is rich.

And if you're one to really go all out for a vacation-I HIGHLY recommend any of the awesome hotels from the Cape Resorts Group. 

When we stayed there-it was in 2007.  GRANTED...we didn't stay at the Congress, but we did have lunch at The Blue Pig one day.  LOVED it. 

So..while we're here, I get to spend a bit of time on the beach, at their gorgeous farm, and dining at some super amazing restaurants! 

Shhh.  I'm gonna try to fit in butterscotch pancakes from Uncle Bill's Pancake House.

DEAR LORD THEY ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

I really could live at the shore.  Summer, Winter, Rain, Shine.

Something about that smell.  The breeze.  The feeling you get. 

Excited to share my time!  Wish you were going too!

Do you have a special vacation place that you feel so at home when you're there?

 

 

 

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DISCLOSURE:  I am soooo grateful and sooooo thankful to be able to enjoy such a gorgeous little town.  So relaxing, peaceful and full of summer.  This little getaway is courtesy of Cape Resorts Group-but trust me when I tell you...ALL opinions are my own.  And they are 100% TRUE!  See ya at the beach!

Strasburg Railroad Ride with Santa!

Yep.  We went and had a BLAST!  Had to get bundled up...as it was FREEZING.  My husband didn't bring a coat...and I told him he's gonna freeze!! 

He froze.  =)

Anyway, if you're looking for a totally different way to enjoy Santa AND trains - take your kids to Strasburg Railroad for the Santa Paradise Express.  They have carolers and musicians all dressed in traditional holiday attire. 

You can even make it a lunch date!  We just road coach...but realized the lunch car would have been awesome. 

Check out our little day of trains and fun!

Mexican Getaway!

A Mexican Getaway by Marcie Pickelsimer Marcie Pickelsimer, founder of Grown in My Heart and a member of the Villa Group travel affiliate network, got the chance to visit Nuevo Vallarta and shares priceless vacation memories and tips.

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I'm beginning to think that living in Mexico might not be so bad as long as I can live at the Del Palmar Flamingos and had my food delivered to me poolside everyday. I don't think Jenny Craig would go for it though and with all the money I've been paying her lately it would be such a waste, wouldn't it? Oh, but I could dream. The entire family returned home last Saturday from Mexico, sun drenched and beer logged (at least the adults, that is). After literally living in paradise for seven days the leaves on the ground were not a welcome sight. But I digress...Since this is a review I'll make it easy and outline a few things. The Food: While the resort only sports two restaurants and two bars (open at different times), the food is fabulous. The Bellavista Restaurant offers a causal breakfast buffet or menu dining, à la carte lunches, and buffet or à la carte dinners with themes such as lobster, Mexican, Argentinian grilled meats, and pasta. The open air Cafe is both pool and beachside and serves pizza, burgers, sandwiches, Mexican items, and tropical drinks (and beer and liquor) from late morning to early evening. The Cafe turns into an Italian restaurant, La Trattoria, at 6 pm for beachfront dining. They serve fabulous pizza, onion rings, quesadillas, and fruit plates. They also have the most incredible gelato. During the day, servers cater to quests every whim: one only has to raise an empty glass or lift an eyebrow to signal their attention. Servers are hospitable, kind, gracious, and very child friendly. Although the all-inclusive information states no tipping the servers do expect tips and because the minimum wage in Mexico is so low we actually didn't mind. It is the way they make their living. The all-inclusive package: My family chose the all-inclusive package because we took two young children and knew they would want to snack during the day. This was actually a great deal for us and in my opinion the only way to go if you eat more than one meal and drink more than two drinks at the resort per day. The daily cost for the all inclusive is $70 for an adult and $35 for a child under 12. When you add up food prices and drink prices it makes complete sense. Additionally, the all-inclusive package includes all of your non-motorized water sports, kids club, and the fitness center. Children's activities:

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I have two boys that LOVE the water but they can only get so much of the beach and the pool. SO, it was a great option for us that the Flamingos had a Kid-Certified Staff. Everyday there were age-specific activities for our seven year old (two was too young). He could make bracelets, paint ceramic animals, play bubbles, join movie time, or even join in some good Pirate fun. During Prime Vacation season they also have Kids Nights that include dinner, arcades, discos and movies. My boys were exhausted by 5 pm because ALL they wanted to do was surf the waves or play in the pool waterfalls. The resort also offers babysitting services which we used once. The service is $15 an hour and if you use it after 10 pm you will also need to pay $15 for a taxi. Pretty reasonable. The babysitter we used was the concierge from the hotel next door (also part of the Villas) who had a child the same age as our oldest. The BEST activity of the week was the Sea Lions. Every Tuesday the resort brings in a Sea Lion named Maggie for all of the hotel guests (and neighboring hotel guests) to see. (It's part of a tour promotion) Maggie was absolutely gorgeous and super sweet. She smiled, gave kisses to Gus, and was a blast to see. Adult Activities: My husband loved the adult activities, as he was able to play some vigorous beach volleyball, pool volleyball, and water polo. The resort also has theme dinners on Sunday nights. It's a little over the top but they have interesting Mexican entertainment, good food, great drinks, and entertainment for the kids. Additional Activities: Because my family was at the resort to review the property the General Manager offered us some fabulous extras so that we could see all the resort had to offer. I would not generally pay for these activities because, well, we can't really afford these extravagances on just my husband's salary. However, I do HIGHLY recommend that if you get the chance to try one or two of these please, do. They were absolutely fabulous. Spa treatment; My husband and I were offered the Honeymoon spa treatment at the Tatewari Spa that would include a European Seaweed Facial, Therapeutic Hot Towel Massage, Tropical Exfoliation, a bottle of champagne and Hors d'oeuvres. It is valued at $225. However, my husband is not really into spas. So, I offered to take my mother who was along for the trip with us. We were able to choose whatever treatment we wanted and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The spa is absolutely beautiful, a little pricey (but they are always offering deals), and the treatments are incredible. We both chose the mud massage and a facial and I honestly LOVED it, as I had never had either. Dinner at La Casona; Um, Heaven? We hired a babysitter for this evening because we wanted to be able to have at least one dinner without a child on our lap or food flung at us. It was well worth it. Chef Eugenio knows his way around organic foods, raw foods, gourmet delights, and even fabulous desserts. The menu includes specials like Kobe beef and his own specialty, Creme Brulee. Dining at La Casona is not included in the all-inclusive. En Villa Dining with Chef Eugenio The Villa La Estancia directly next door to Flamingos is an ownership community that is absolutely divine. We were invited to tour THE Penthouse and enjoy dinner created by Chef Eugenio and his staff. I can't explain how special this was to my family. We were able to enjoy the sunset from the top of the resort, sip a cocktail, and dine with one of Mexico's premier chef's. Cooking Lessons with Chef Eugenio

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The last day of our trip Eric and I had the unique opportunity to have an afternoon cooking lesson with chef Eugenio. Yes, me...the one who does not cook. I actually learned to cut vegetables the correct way, learned a fabulous secret to REALLY good guacamole, and I now have an incredible recipe for Tortilla Soup (that I can't wait to try!). The afternoon included a Personalized Chef Jacket, lunch and wine, a recipe book, diplomas, and the lesson. The afternoon is valued at $200 per couple. You can take a tour of the entire facility online at the Villa Del Palmar Flamingos. *As a member of the Villa Group Travel Affiliate Network, The Villa Group Resorts gave my family the spa treatment, several dinners, the cooking class, and a portion of our stay in return for this review. Visit Marcie online at Grown in My Heart, an adoption community where everyone can grow together.

#VisitLancaster Part 2 - Cherry Crest Farm

Fun fun and MORE fun!  Our trip to Lancaster & Strasburg, Pa had so much going on-that I'm really just now getting the chance to reflect on the super fun we had.

We started out at Strasburg Railroad (Read my info on that here) and our next stop was at Cherry Crest Farm.

What a COOL place!  When I think farm... I think.. animals, right?  Well... kind of.  These aren't just ANY animals.  They are FARM animals-but Cherry Crest makes them super FUN FARM ANIMALS!

I have to say-my fave part of our 100 degree holyhottness of an afternoon was when Boston held a baby chic.  It was the CUTEST thing ever. 

I gotta admit-I'm not TOTALLY a germaphobe.  I mean.. since I've become a mom-I'm more aware of it then before.  And the thought of my kid touching a bunch of dirty animals?  Yeah.  I'm a bit of a priss.  But I'll tell ya-they are PREPARED for whacked out over protective clean moms like me.  They had a hand washing station right next to the petting area. 

Unfortunately, I had no idea that there was so much more on the OTHER side of the train tracks!  There was so much to do.  An unbelieveable amount of stuff to do with the kids.  So you KNOW... Me and my bubba & Matty are heading back for a FULL day of fun!

Check out the recap.... Fun Fun!  OH- and when you go-you HAVE to check out their legendary Corn Maze!