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Storybook Land Founder Passed, But Park Lives On As One of New Jersey’s Best Family Amusement Parks

Storybook land amusement park outlives it’s founder, Ester Fricano (read more about the amazing life story of Ester Frianco’s creating Storybook Land and legacy here….RIP Ester.). This blog post is about all the fun we just had at Storybook Land, which looks like it was gingerly placed in the Forrest, says one Mom in the park. This New Jersey amusement park located close by the New Jersey shores is perfect for a day trip. It is easy to see everything at this 60 year old park (yup Storybook Land is celebrating its 60 birthday this year and a prominent birthday cake is front and center when you enter the park) is kept new looking with regular updating and lots of artistic creativity that one would expect from a park based off of children’s literature. To celebrate Storybook Land’s 60th Birthday there will be a parade, character meet & greet and more from noon – 4pm July 11 & 12. Once you buy your tickets, one doesn’t feel nickel and dimed. Starting with free close parking and the ability to bring in your own food as well as the park being more about the experience than merchandising and upselling the children are less inclined to ask for sweet treats and soviegners. Of course there is tucked away shops blended in throughout the park to grab a refreshment and soviegners if you choose, but it’s not so that my child even thought to ask every few minutes as is the situstion with many other amusement parks. Out of sight, out of mind so we got to enjoy what we came for, which was the attractions and the feeling like we were surrounded by some of our favorite children’s books.   No matter how many cars in parking lot, never any lines for the rides, says a local Dad.

Anyone, including our children diagnosed with sensitive skin that get Eczema induced by allergies to the sun should not find an issue at this New Jersey Amusement Park thanks to the mature trees and lanndscape that provides plenty of shade throughout this park. Storybook Land isn’t just a Summer attraction. The season opens in March with early ticket sales and passes. The Easter Bunny visits with and egg hunt, Christmas in July, Classic Car Shows, Pirates & Princess Adventure Weekend, an Alice IN Wonderland Tea Party, Trick-or-Treating and Santa’s Visit is just some of the fun planned during the season. Just to Highlight Two Off Season Events: Storybook Land also is known for its South Jersey Christmas Tradition starting mid November running through Christmas as Santa appears in his chimney 5pm, waves his magic wand and turns on over one million lights for all to enjoy the rides, attractions and snack bars. Check Storybook Land Website for Santa’s Grand Arrival Parade date/time. October 1-22nd enjoy Halloween Fun with Haystacks, Cornstalks, Pumpkins and Fall Fun at Storybook Land culminating with Trick-or-Treat Weekend where free bags are give with paid admission to the park for kids in costume. Check website for Halloween at Storybook Land. Read more about New Jersey Attractions HERE.

Morey’s Piers, Wildwood NJ – Same As it Ever Was, Only Better!

Mariner’s Landing Pier is the Center Pier and a Good Place to Start as Any!

Mariner's Landing Pier View, Just 1 of Morey's 3 Piers in Wildwood NJ

Our View Of Mariner's Landing Pier as we approached our first ride of the day! It's go time!!!


What a great day in Wildwood NJ we had! My family and I arrived in Wildwood NJ around 12:30pm impressing Grandpop Harry, my father, when we picked him up in the amazing Hybrid Yukon Denali that was on loan to me from @GMNortheast for our Jersey Shore Vacation this year. My father lives in Wildwood year round, most times he gets stuck with the trek up for holiday gatherings and such, but when it comes to summer time, I find it in myself to drive down to visit him at least once a summer. What can I say, I’m a giver like that…lol. We scoop up my fun loving dad (read takes out his teeth to show them to my daughter) and head for the boards arriving at 1pm, found parking for $5 in a lot, got on the boards and headed towards Mariner’s Landing Pier.

View From Airplane Ride is PopPop Harry's Head

We had an excellent view of Pop Pop Harry's balding head from on top of the airplanes.

With my daughter being Preschool age, the height requirement eases and she enjoys more thrilling rides with each new visit. Some rides she was able to ride solo and proud starting just this year were the Airplanes, the Convoy & the Pink Elephants. Accompanied by an adult this year, she got to ride even more rides including: the Doo Wopper & Flitzer, 2 moderate thrill rides that are considered kiddie roller coasters. If you ask my daughter, she would most likely tell you that she, “LOVES, LOVES, LOVES roller coasters”. I as her mom think it’s totally cute she is saying the LOVES 3x now to stress how much she LOVES something.


Jump Around on Surfside Pier part of Moreys Piers in Wildwood NJ

Jump Around is Hopper with Wheels Instead of Frog Legs!


I digress…afraid beyond my wildest imagination of roller coasters most of my entire life straight into adulthood, let alone as a 3 year old child, she must get this dare devil side from her Father. Roller coasters were just one of many terrors placed in this world to scare me, so clearly this courage and bravery for high thrill rides was not bestowed upon her from myself. I’m proud and happy she has this excitement along with the courage to try activities such as these higher thrill rides without being too afraid. She even convinced Me (aka Mama Chrissy) to go on The Great Nor’Easter. I’ve only dared to ride this upside down roller coaster, classified High Thrill Ride in the Inside’s Guide provided by Morey’s Piers, one other crazy time in my life a few years back just to be able to check a goal off of my life’s bucket list and to conquer a fear. At that time in my life, I had decided that fears deemed mostly safe by me, needed to be tried at least once in my life. I was sick of being the one that stood below and watched everyone else have fun, so I made some goals and had at them. For a few years in a row, each year I selected a different fear I had been carrying around with me. Some years I conquered high thrill rides, 1 year I rode jet skis and another year I had a conversation with someone I thought I would never go through with that involved me having to ask for an apology that I believed was long overdo.



Mama Rides The Great Nor'Easter

It was a GREAT feeling giving up all control, being FREE in the air as the heavy machine whipped us around like rag dolls. I could barely turn my head to look over at Al to see how he was handling it. Nothing I could say or do was or could have stopped that roller coaster machine, I was helpless and somehow that was exciting, thrilling, invigorating all rolled up into 1 minute of my life (which I knew would end in 1 minute). When I staggered off the Nor’Easter, getting my footing as I got back on solid ground I had a plastered smile on my face as I searched the crowd for my Daughter and my Dad to see their shocked and pleased looks on their faces. When my eyes finally met their eyes, I was greeted with those looks in addition to my daughter’s look of disappointment because I didn’t let her go on the roller coaster with me….lol.

Not gonna lie, my arthritic/fibromyalgia body took a beating on this ride, so I stopped at that one roller coaster because today was about my daughter having fun and I didn’t want Mama unable to move even though my mind was saying give me more.

The Insider’s Guide Was More Useful Than I Had Thought it Was Going to Be!

The Insider’s Guide was super for finding the rides that were best geared toward my daughter on each pier. Of course maps of the piers are shown with rides numbered, which makes finding information, such as height requirements and thrill level a breeze. I would love to see a small description on some of the rides that I just couldn’t figure out from the ride’s name what kind of ride it would be, like the Doo Wopper. Clearly everyone knows what the Tilt-a-whirl goes a round and a round, but the Doo Wopper, that could have been anything. In their defense it does sort of look like a roller coaster in the guide now that I’m looking back…ha! That was the only confusing part of the guide for me. The weekly specials are worth your time to check out for two reasons. 1. if you are looking for a deal, stay tuned for savings and/or 2. if you are looking to go during non peak times, don’t go on the biggest deal day which appears to me to be Tuesday. You can find all this information on as well. Happy Riding :)

Morey’s Piers Parent Friendly Program Thrills Parents!!

I liked seeing “The Parent Friendly” Program where parents ride free on select rides if the child doesn’t met the exact height requirement. Very cool to see Morey’s Piers acknowledging that 1. Parents don’t want to buy wristbands and/or tickets for themselves just to be able to ride a child’s ride = so not cool and 2. Gives the child more respect by saying we recognize you’re not quite tall enough for this ride, but if you can convince an adult to get on, you can get on too.

Morey’s Piers Official Height Measurement Program Saves Parents Stress on Fun Time Days!!

Also, if you would like you may visit Guest Services to have your child’s height officially measured and a wrist band issued noting your child’s height in case their is a case of question at the ride. Nice to see this option available for those children that are failing right in between the cutoffs of most rides, which seems to be 36″, 42″, 48″or 56″. So instead of causing Mama or Papa Bear to ask for re-measurement (read holding up the lines and annoying everyone including themselves and their child) and assuring the ride attendant your child is tall enough, you can save yourself the stress and have this little measure done before setting out for the days amusements. I myself LOVE this idea. I haven’t tried it out yet for ourselves, because my daughter is clearly over 36″, but not anywhere near 42″. I will use this program when necessary, but didn’t want to overburden the system just to try it out.

What’s New in 2011 for Morey’s Piers?


"It" New Ride Just This Year, Morey's had it customized like no other ride you've seen beforel

Courtesy of Morey Family Archives, Photo by Rob Kulisek

New Pier Attractions – “it” on Surfside Pier, Jumbo’s Boardwalk Grille & Eatery gets a face-lift and now serves a selection of beers, wines and specialty drinks.

New Events- The Wild Half Marathon, Morey’s Fears: Terror on the Boardwalk Halloween event, Souper Sunday Chowder and Chili Cook Off

Breakfast in the Sky, Morey’s Piers, Wildwood NJ

Did you know that since 2010 with an advance reservation, on specific days in July & August you can have breakfast on the Ferris Wheel? Yes, you read correctly. You can have a meal while enjoying breathtaking views of the ocean along with the amusements and boardwalk at the same time. How amazing is this? Ok, you’re thinking they throw together some cheap food and call it a meal and send you on your way. Think again, because this meal is prepared by their executive chief, served on china that’s placed upon fresh white linens. Pricing is on par with such a treat, but it’s not out of line for the exclusive experience. Click Breakfast in the Sky Reservations to find out prices and click Breakfast in the Sky Details to see the food selection, along with available time slots and FAQ.

Dreams Do Come True in Wildwood NJ

Pop Pop Harry & Jenna On The Way to the Boardwalk

Pop Pop Harry & Jenna On The Way to the Boardwalk

All in all this day reminded me of my childhood and coming to the boardwalk every summer with my family, mostly my dad who dreamed of living in Wildwood since he was a little boy. A few years back his dream became a reality. Now, each year that I visit the Jersey Shore with my daughter I’m sure to pick my dad up and take him with us to walk the boardwalk (his favorite park every time we went down), rides and enjoy the day with his granddaughter, who thinks he is the hoot he sets out to be, teeth or no teeth! The boardwalk still feels the same to me, only I’m different. I’m grown up, with my own child and my own life. I really enjoy these trips and enjoyed writing this review.

Disclosure: These thoughts are of my own opinions even though Morey’s Piers provided me with a pass to review the piers.

Love Mama Chrissy

Publisher for
Columnist for Parents Express Magazine
Writer for
Wildwood New Jersey

Top 10 Reasons Why We Family Vacationed In Atlantic City NJ

Thinking about your next family vacation?

I’ll have the family time entree with the side of already known for night life please!

Like date nights, but don’t want to sacrifice family fun? All kidding aside….its tough trying to build a vacation.

Best Vacation Tip I Ever Received

It doesn’t have to be perfect, to be great. So often we set out on planning the BEST vacation that our budget can buy. We spend countless hours reading blogs looking for the one destination that will give us everything we are looking for in a vacation. Finding vacation was a little easier for me prior to having a child. If there was great nightlife, yummy restaurants, relaxing beaches, a day spa and a beautiful pool all for under $1000 and 4 hours fly time, it was perfect for me! I wasn’t interested in sight seeing, activities that made me walk, or events that made me think. I vacationed because I needed to relax. Now I have a child and I vacation for reasons that are very different than relaxing, I’m not sure I really relax at all while I’m on vacation. I’m sure the majority of you Moms & Dads will agree with me on that.

Top 10 Reasons Why We Family Vacation

  1. Expose my child, myself and my family to new experiences – others behave and live differently than we do and its nice to see that IRL (in real life)
  2. Quality fun time alone with my daughter – when it’s just her & I, there is no one to distract either one of us
  3. Family bonding time – it’s hard to not make a family relationship stronger while away for 24 hours in a day, several days in a row
  4. Get away from the normal daily grind of our lives – just stopping doing something for a few days, takes you away long enough to make a change
  5. Appreciate successes in our lives – rewarding ourselves with a little trip in celebration makes the success feel sealed and delivered for me
  6. Sponsors send me away to review their destination, event or activity – it’s a little easier to stop your life, rearrange a schedule when someone else is paying
  7. Relieve stress – it’s hard to be worried on vacation
  8. Get me away from technology – some how being charged $2 per minute or 50 cents per text message will make a person power down the cell phone
  9. Give myself a break from chores – dishes and laundry can’t be done if I’m not there to do them
  10. Save mileage on my car – It’s a short drive, save mileage on my car. Take that lease!

Harrahs Pool at Family Fun Center

Family Fun Activities in Atlantic City

  • Dolphin watching on Atlantic City Cruises – or your money back guaranteed, $34 adults, $18, 4 and under FREE – tip 1pm cruise is the dolphin watching cruise
  • Chicken Bone Beach Concert Series – every Thursday night in July & Aug, 7pm to 10pm on the Boardwalk at Kennedy Plaza (Mississippi Avenue) – FREE
  • AC Summer Concert Series – Live jazz, R&B, soul and disco concerts at Gardner’s Basin, Sat at 1pm until dusk (raindate will be Sun of the same weekend) – FREE
  • Storybook Land – amusement park good for ages 1-10 years old, $21.95pp, under 1 FREE
  • Cape May County Park and Zoo – FREE
  • The Water Show – Find this dazzling illuminated water effects show every hour on the hour at the end of The Pier Shops – FREE
  • Summer International Nights – multi-cultural live music and dance performances at Kennedy Plaza on Boardwalk at Mississippi Wed in July and Aug at 7pm
  • Sunday Family Fun Days – AC Free Public Library offers free Sunday programs at the Main Branch (1 North Tennessee Ave), movies, art projects
  • Absecon Lighthouse – 228 steps, one of the oldest lighthouses in the country, views of the AC skyline, cool events each month, $7 adults, $5 children, under 4 FREE
  • Golf – Atlantic City ranked among Top Ten Golf Cities in America by
  • IMAX Theatre at Tropicana

The theater is located in the quarter on the 2nd floor. It was tricky to get to, so just really plan ahead, heck even call ahead to get walking directions and a good spot to park, so you’re not running all over the Tropicana and then the Quarter looking for the place. In my opinion, it wasn’t clearly marked when we did find it, but again I was rushing from trying to find parking and find the IMAX itself because we parked no where near where we should have. We saw the Coral Reef Adventure and this was my first IMAX experience. Wow! It was amazing! I learned a ton of new information and the movie was breath taking on the IMAX screen. When the movie was over, we were in a rush trying to make it to our next event, valet messed up getting our car to us and we were late, thinking valet was our best bet turned out to be not the best choice. We should have done a little more home work and parked as close as possible to the IMAX theater in the Tropicana. Also, just give yourself a little more time in between activities, so you don’t feel like your rushing all day.

With several touch tanks throughout this aquarium, you and your children get an up close view and feel of many featured fish and animals, such as: sharks, juvenile rays, cow nose rays, and bat rays, horseshoe crabs, living fossils, and invertebrates. Be sure to time your visits around the Live Diver Feeding Show, The Exotic Animal Show and Story Time. For the tiny tots, you’ll want to stop by the Coloring Station, Sea Shell Sand Box and Mariner’s Maze. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children and FREE for children 3 and under. FREE parking. While we were there, this fish took a liking to Al, the sweet man in my life.


Atlantic City Aquarium

Atlantic City Bayside Attractions

After all AC is an island, so there is a bay well known for it’s no no need for a  fishing license attitude along the jetties on Maine Avenue and the Boardwalk and also in the inlet off of the Boardwalk. However, if you prefer to fish off a boat on the water, there are many fishing and cruising charters at several city locations.

While visiting Atlantic City, consider checking out the Beach Bars, Boardwalk activities, bay festivities and year round events as well as the beach and the Boardwalk because, from the beach to the bay, Atlantic City is “Always Turned On.”

New Jersey Moms

I was not compensated for this post, but was given these experiences for review. Special thanks to for the opportunity!

Family Friendly AC Link up

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo, Our Weekend in Lancaster!

A Ride on the Strasburg Railroad

Double Tree Hilton with all it’s electricity and amenities was just what this family needed after a long day of trains at the Strasburg Railroad, Choo Choo Barn & an unplugged stroll through the Amish Village. Spending the weekend in Lancaster County meant being taken back in time as we boarded a passenger train car for a ride on board the historic Strasburg Railroad, followed up with us being amazed as we gazed at the miniature Lancaster County model train display created to include scenes such as: the railroad we were just on and the amusement park we are going to see tomorrow, Dutch Wonderland.

Strasburg Railroad even has Thomas the Train

Lancaster scenes in Mini on Display at the Choo Choo Barn

Other cool scenes at the Choo Choo Barn included a man going potty standing at a urinal inside a train station (sorry, no photo included), one tip is to go around the display as you would normally walk around to view such a display. Then, go around again, this time squat down and view it on a child’s level. The worker at the front register gave me this tip when I checked in.

Al is the sweet, sweet man in my life, my significant other who also happens to work for UPS, so of course I couldn’t resist the photo of the mini UPS freight cargo train shipper at the Choo Choo Barn.  The barn didn’t keep my 3 year old’s attention quite like the railroad had earlier in the day or like Dutch Wonderland did the day after, but she hung in there long enough for Al & I to make one lap around the display.

UPS Train at Choo Choo Barn Display in Lancaster PA

A Day in the Life of the Amish Village

Today was a busy day, with lots crammed into one day! We made our way to the Amish Village once we left the barn. I’m not sure how the Amish women did and still don’t make more of an issue out of back breaking work they do without the current amenities we are all used to, such as strollers not being able to easily go in and out of stores and such. Although the village was very cool to see, it wasn’t very stroller friendly. Being a teacher, my favorite building was of course the school house. I use cast iron so my family doesn’t come in contact with nonstick pans. I saw one of my pans while strolling through the Amish Village in Lancaster PA.

Cast Iron Pans being used in the Amish Village in Lancaster PA

All in all…Lancaster County is a must this Summer vacation season. It took is a little over an hour to get there and was a relaxing and enjoyable weekend! It even has day trip worth for those of us lucky enough to live in driving distance!

Bucks County Fun

Exploring the neighborhood playground: Masons Mill Park

Masons Mill Park, located at 3500 Masons Mill Road in Huntingdon Valley, Upper Moreland township, PA, is a public park that covers 76 acres of land in Montgomery County.  It includes a large playground area for kids with two modular play areas.  There is a fun ship, complete with slide, telescope and a plank to walk for kids to use their imaginations and play “pirates.” In the summer, near the ship playground, is a water spray pole that kids love to cool off under.  There is a larger play area with two different sized playground equipment sets.  The one area is for younger/smaller children and has a series of smaller slides, steps and ramps.  The larger play set has a “rock” wall, a variety of larger slides, ramps, a tunnel, a bridge, and monkey bars of different shapes.  It is designed for older children.  There are plenty of swings around the perimeter, including bucket swings for the smaller kids and babies.   The playground surface is covered in squishy rubber matting to provide a cushioned fall.  There always seems to be a great group of little one’s playing at this park, providing hours of fun!

Safety Town is fun for the smallest drivers!

Nearby the playground is the Safety Town Complex.  This fenced in area includes a miniature replication of many businesses in nearby Willow Grove with roads, traffic lights, and parking lots for tots to ride their tricycles and tiny bikes.  The buildings are made out of concrete blocks and are painted to look like the Upper Moreland Library, Abington Hospital, Willow Grove Park, Sam’s Market, Home Depot, Kremp Florist, to just name a few.  The buildings are arranged in clusters and connected by “streets” for little riders to drive on.  It’s also a great place for little kids to run around, as the fence has only one opening so kids are safe running around without worrying about them escaping!

Exploring Safety Town at Masons Mill Park in Upper Moreland

Masons Mill Park also includes a lighted basketball and volleyball courts, softball fields, baseball field, football field, 7 tennis courts, a fitness trail, wooded walking paths, an archery range, a fishing pond, horseshoes, picnic tables, grills, picnic pavilions, water fountains and restrooms.  There are benches situated around the park, as well.  When my son was an infant, this was the park I visited frequently to walk him in his stroller.  The lap around the park on the fitness trail was a great way to get outside for some exercise.  We have also used empty fields to play soccer or just to run off extra energy.  There is plenty of free parking.  During park hours there are park staff present.  During the summer, there is a township camp program that uses the playgrounds, but non-camp visitors are allowed too.

Picnic pavilions are available for rental, as is Safety Town, which would be a fun place to have a birthday party in warm weather.  Contact the township’s recreation department for details.

Free Concert Series at Masons Mill Park all summer long!

Summer brings a great FREE concert series, held on Sunday evenings at 6:30 at the Gazebo.  What a great way to relax listening to music and enjoying a nice summer evening.  Pack a picnic dinner to make it a great night out for your family.  Last summer we enjoyed a fun kids concert that had my son up and dancing with lots of other kids.  Be sure to get there early and bring a lawn chair or blanket.  This series begins on June 19th with The Mango Men, a Jimmy Buffet style group.  Check out the complete concert series here at the township’s website.

Summer Concert series at Masons Mill Park


Exploring the neighborhood playground series will feature area playgrounds that are free to the public to use.  We’ll try to cover a range of neighborhoods in Mama’s Little Helper territory, but it certainly will not be inclusive.  Feel free to send suggestions of playgrounds you’d like to see featured or your kids’ favorite playgrounds in a comment below or email

Photos courtesy of the author.

Fun Sunday at Dutch Wonderland with RA & Fibromyalgia!

Dutch Wonderland Family Fun Weekend Vacation

Dutch Wonderland

We surprised our princess and wrapped up our Lancaster weekend with a Dutch Wonderland visit! Being too young to enjoy the rides last we visited, the stroller was her ride of choice. If your little one is under 36 inches tall, you should wait until once they rise above this milestone as the rides aren’t as exciting compared to the rides for the 36″ or even more remarkable the 42″ child, that is if they are going with children who fall into one of the taller brackets. It was hard for my daughter last year to not be going on the same rides as her taller cousin as he went running all over the park screaming with delight from ride to ride that she wasn’t tall enough to ride. However, if it’s just them and you (no older/taller children), then the 36″ and under tot most likely wouldn’t even realize what they were missing, because there are plenty of cool rides to keep them busy all day long.

We were headed to Lancaster County to check out the Double Tree Hilton in Lancaster…again, special thanks to the Hilton for the wonderful invite and beautiful accommodation, we were only 6 miles away from DW. Instead of heading directly home, why not head over to Dutch Wonderland for some fast moving excitement, which is right up this 3 year old’s alley.

For moms with Fibromyalgia, moms with Rheumatoid Arthritis, or any health challenges, like myself…trips like this can be scary before you even leave. I worry if I will have enough energy to keep going, how many times I will need to stop, what my pain level is going to be, will it be too humid and my RA really flair up- I pray for little pain so we as a family can enjoy the weekend. As any parent does, you need to find a way to make this happen for your child, so I’ve come up with a few strategies I utilize to help insure I’ll have the best time possible, while staying the longest time in the park as I can.

Healthy Tips for Enjoying Summer Trips to Theme Parks While Struggling with RA & Fibromyalgia!

  • plenty of rest the night before
  • healthy eating to keep energy up
  • limit sugar intake to reduce highs and lows in energy level
  • secure fitting sneakers not only soothe achy feet, protect your back too
  • staying hydrated keeps you feeling well
  • stretch and take breaks (stand/sit) even if you feel well keeps your muscles/joints from tightening
  • pack ice packs or plastic bags to fill with ice you get from the snack shop, use on achy joints alternating different locations
  • bring your China Gel/Bio Freeze/Tiger Balm or whatever arthritic ointment you love best
  • take your anti-inflammatory along with any supplements such as acai berry that reduce inflammation
  • give yourself a mini massage in spots that are exhausted throughout the day, watch you don’t hurt those hands
  • go in the pool (immediate anti-inflammatory)
  • go in air condition buildings to combat tender, hot joints
  • enjoy shows, monorails, sky line or train rides (anything that takes longer than 5 min that can give your body at least a min break without you being a lame duck for stopping to sit at every park bench
  • enjoy a fruit smoothie or another very cold treat that gives you the overall sensation of being cool
  • take a warm bath with Epsom salt back in the hotel room and go to bed early
  • don’t plan for an entire day of walking, just pick the most important rides- get to them and then spend time in the water park in the afternoon

When we first arrive, I was sure to inquire about the special id bracelets (neon green) available free of charge, write my phone number on the inside and put it on my daughter’s wrist in case we are separated. Pointing out all the employees in dark blue and light blue shirts as safe people that she may approach should should find herself lost, I begin my conversation explaining that she shouldn’t get lost if she follows the rules of staying close by Mom and not running off.

Dutch Wonderland Lost Child Id Bracelet

Today was an awesome day to go, because it was a very iffy day for weather, mid 60′s, cloudy and a 35% chance of rain in the forecast kept the park pretty low key all day. Everyone knows this means no lines for anything, food or ride related!! woot! woot!

First stop is the Joust Family Coaster, which was her first roller coaster. Followed by many, many rides, all of which fulfilled her thrill seeking side. We even went on one of the two new rides this year, Leapen’ Frogs. This was a special trip for us, my daughter did a lot of the rides independently, really emphasizing her fast approaching “big girl” world. For me this was bitter sweet, as I want her to be independent, proud of her accomplishments, but be my baby forever!


Thanks again to the great weather, we were able to skip the air conditioned eateries in the park (Castle Cafe & Mill Stream Eatery) an opt for pizza and fries. Potato Patch has fresh cut fries – which can also be a yummy snack to hold you over till after 2pm when the crowds aren’t so bad in the eateries on extremely busy days at the park. As I walked through the park, there were plenty of spots to rest and fill up on my ice as well as the water rides to cool off. This park had a lot of the strategies I utilize to keep me going during my theme park trip.

Free Parking & Free Hours at Dutch Wonderland

What a great time we had at Dutch Wonderland! We will be back for sure! Free Parking! One last cool thing I want to point out is about the Preview Plan they offer 3 hours before Park closing. Purchase a regular admission ticket for a full day at the Park tomorrow – and join them FREE for the remainder of the evening! Also returning this year, is the free wonderland mini golf- just show your ticket stub and you’ll be ready for your hole-in-one! This is one amusement park you can’t afford to not have on your list of things to do this summer!

Philly Mom Blogger

Visiting Longwood Gardens with children

Are you looking for a fun day trip destination that both adults and children will enjoy?  Love going to the flower show but hate the crowds?  Need a place to take the kids to run around and explore to shake the winter blahs and deal with spring fever?  A trip to Kennett Square to visit Longwood Gardens may just be the answer.

Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, PA  offers a beautiful array of entertainment for everyone in the family.  Originally it was a historic arboretum that was doomed for the lumber yard, but in 1906 philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont purchased the property and saved the trees.  The original arboretum, Pierce’s Park, is the heart of today’s Longwood Gardens, which covers over 1,077 acres.  That’s a lot of room for little boys and girls to run and jump and play!

Recently featured discounted tickets to Longwood Gardens and I jumped at the chance to get them.  I hadn’t been to Longwood for more than 12 years and I was overdue for a visit.  Plus, I wanted my three year old son to have the chance to see the children’s garden there, which I had heard was fantastic.  I packed up the snack bag, the kid and his grandparents and headed south to Kennett Square!  From the Bucks County/Montgomery County area it took me just a bit over an hour to get there via the PA turnpike and RT 202.  My GPS gave perfect directions.  General admission for adults is $18, Seniors (the grandparents) is $15, Students ages 5-18 (or with student id) is $8 and kids 4 and under are FREE!  They also offer a 25% discount to Military members and their families with valid ID.  There are special events held throughout the year that may require additional tickets. Parking is free and plentiful.

We arrived, purchased our tickets, hit the potty (complete with baby changing table if needed,) and headed out for a walk through part of the gardens to the Conservatory.  Since it was technically still winter, most of the outdoor gardens are not in bloom and several were closed.  This was not a problem since Longwood Gardens is so vast there is many options to explore.  My favorite part of Longwood Gardens is the Conservatory, a large glass enclosed building that is always in bloom.  The displays are magnificent and immaculately cared for by many gardeners.  Just walking into the entrance took my breath away, especially after this never ending winter we’ve had.  We were greeted by this display:

Until March 27th, Longwood Gardens is featuring the Orchid Extravaganza, so everywhere we looked there were beautiful orchids blooming.  The only reminder I had to give my son was that he could not walk on the grass inside the Conservatory and to not pick the flowers.  This was not an issue for us and many access points to the displays are blocked.  We headed to the children’s garden next, which had a whole section just for kids to explore with their senses.  There were fountains that could be touched, a small fishing fountain with nets and little toys to capture, paintbrushes for water painting the walls and sculptures, just to name a few!  There was a maze lined with blooming flowers for kids to explore, along with a walkway lined with an herb garden that smelled amazing!  There was a spiral staircase that led to a hallway that ended in a tiny alcove with beautiful xylophone for kids to play.  Everything was kid-sized, so the adults had to duck under doorways, but it was fun to explore.  They really made the children’s garden magical and completely kid-friendly.  My son loved painting the dragon fountain and the walls.  While he got a little wet, there was one little girl who was just drenched from ducking into the water fountains and painting with her whole body.  She was having a blast.  It might be wise to bring a change of clothing, or at least a dry shirt, for your adventurous child.  They did have towels available to use for drying off.



Besides all of the indoor gardens to explore, there were three outdoor tree houses that were open.  We had fun following the paths through the gardens trying to find the tree houses and we were glad we took the time to discover them.  Made mostly of recycled and reclaimed wood, along with a steel structure to support them, so they are not actually attached to or harming the trees that surround them.  Each tree house was completely different and beautiful.  We had fun climbing through them, checking out the views from the tops of the houses, and seeing the different types of woods used to make them.  My three year old had just as much fun checking out the tree houses as he did in the children’s garden.

Longwood Gardens offers two style choices at the Terrace Restaurant, a sit-down, more formal one and a cafeteria style one with plenty of seating.  There is a picnic area that opens mid-April.  I did see many kids with lunch boxes.  We chose to get lunch in the cafe.  They had several kid-friendly choices, both hot and cold, along with fresh sandwiches, salads, and soups for adults.  They even sell little bottles of wine!  They featured a variety of desserts too.  We had a great dining experience and would definitely return again to the cafe.

We only explored a fraction of the gardens, but it seems that every season there is something different to explore at Longwood Gardens.  This mama will definitely be returning!  It was a great excursion into nature and a refreshing taste of spring to come!

Longwood Gardens is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm.  Check their website for the most up to date info for the time of year you go, as the hours change seasonally.

Mama Diane




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