Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New and Noteworthy at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

We haven't had a chance to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a while, so we were thrilled to get back to that breathtaking building and enjoy artwork that we already love as well as new pieces and special exhibits that we hadn't seen before.  It was also great to be reminded of all of the events and programs that the museum offers.  Their schedule is always chocked full - with something for everyone and every age (plus lots of added bonuses for members).

One of the first things that caught our attention that we just loved was the addition of comfy seats positioned to encourage conversations.  Placed in strategic locations, these couches and chairs give a coffee shop feel to what was once larger, less intimate spaces.  We noticed visitors were definitely taking advantage of them to examine museum maps and program brochures, decide what to see next, and especially to discuss their thoughts and opinions on the artwork.

And there is a lot at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to talk about.  Currently International Pop is on display in the Dorrance Galleries.  With an eye catching array of works from twenty countries including pieces by Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Marisol, and Ushio Shinohara, International Pop explores how pop culture was embraced across the globe.  Lined up for later in the year in the main special exhibit galleries is a showcase of contemporary art from the collection of Keith L. and Katherine Sachs (Embracing the Contemporary: The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Collection - June 28 thru September 5) as well as a close look at an extraordinary moment in the history of Mexican art (Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910 - 1950 - October 25 thru January 6).  Also opening this month at the Perelman Building is an exquisite sampling of art and design from the continent of Africa with exhibits spanning centuries, numerous cultures, and various mediums including fashion, architecture, photography, and ancient metalwork (Creative Africa - May 14 thru September 25).

The Museum has a lot of special events lined up in the coming months, one of the most exciting being the return of "Inside Out".  This popular program debuted last year with high-quality replicas of Museum masterpieces popping up in communities all over the Greater Philly area.  We look forward to seeing what pieces and places will be involved this year.  Pay As You Wish Wednesday Night events continue every week with something for everyone from hands on creative outlets and yoga to gallery tours and once a month specials (5:00pm to 8:45pm).  A glance at the Museum schedule promises an array of experiences to choose from including live performances, dining events, talks and tours, and courses and workshops.

This year also introduces a couple of new things at the Museum.  Another level was added to the membership options - this one a $40 One-Year Artist Membership for anyone who works in the mediums represented by the Museum or a FREE Lifetime Membership for any artist whose work is represented in the Museum's permanent collection.  And coming Fall 2016 the new South Asian Galleries will open after a complete transformation! We are very excited to see it!

Daily Vacationer Jr says:
Families will be thrilled to learn that Art Splash will return this summer with hands on play, creative spaces, and age appropriate gallery tours for kids.  Running from June 30 thru Labor Day, each week has a different fun theme and schedule of programs.  Mark your calendars as well for Family Festivals including a Pay As You Wish viewing of the beautiful animation "Song of the Sea" (during Rivers and Waterways - June 5) and a Pay As You Wish performance by the Grammy Award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers (during The Great Outdoors August 2). There's something for kids every week all year round at the Museum too with Family Sundays, Museum Babies programs, and Children's Art Classes.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Expansion at Sahara Sam's Oasis

(Photo: Sahara Sam's Oasis)
We've already discovered that Sahara Sam's Oasis is an awesome local indoor waterpark that you can enjoy all year round (seriously - all year round!), so we were pretty excited to learn that they are in the process of adding even more fun and adventure to their facility.  The park currently consists of numerous water slides, spaces for water themed sports and play, and a large outdoor section open during warmer weather.  There's also plenty of places for birthdays, events, and the special needs evenings and programs that Sahara Sam's runs (not to mention Diggerland USA, the construction-themed adventure park located right next door).  Check out our post from last winter on how cool this year-round water park is.

(Photo: Sahara Sam's Oasis)
This coming Memorial Day Weekend, Sahara Sam's is introducing a 10,000 square foot expansion to their already 70,000 sq ft park.  Included in this expansion are two additional water slides as well as a family leisure pool. The new colorful 300 ft long winding slides will be much like the already popular Snake Eyes, except that instead of riding inner tubes, guests will have the exhilarating experience of racing each other head first on mats - whoosh!

While we are psyched for new water slides to experience, we are also very much looking forward to the opening of a new family leisure pool.  The indoor section of the park has a lot of water experiences to choose from including the Tim-Buk-To Tree Fort, Congo Bongo Adventure River, Crocodile Flats, and Sam's Slamdunker, but it's never really had a space to just kick back and float and swim around in (though there is a fantastic leisure pool and wave pool open outdoors during the summer).  This new leisure pool is the answer to guests and families looking for a place to swim no matter what the temperature and weather is outside.

Daily Vacationer got to take a sneak peek at the current construction of the new expansion, and it looks incredibly promising.  We have no doubt that Sahara Sam's will get it done in time for its Memorial Day Weekend grand opening (we saw how fast they constructed and opened Diggerland USA), and we can't wait to experience all the new additions.  Remember, Sahara Sam's Oasis is open ALL YEAR ROUND - always 84 degrees with lots of fun for everyone!



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USE DISCOUNT CODE "VACATIONER" TO GET TICKETS TO EITHER SAHARA SAM'S OR DIGGERLAND USA FOR ONLY $23.95 THROUGH THE END OF JULY!!

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Franklin Institute: The Science Behind Pixar

The magic of Pixar has been well known since the debut of Toy Story in 1995, fascinating audiences of all ages with their realistic animation, inspiring plot lines, and memorable characters.  Everyone has a favorite Pixar film from cooking rodents in Ratatouille and the heartwrenching post-love story in Up to the breathtaking seascapes in Finding Nemo and the bond between mother and daughter in Brave. Each Pixar movie is unique and compelling in its own way. Each one immerses you in the world of the characters so well that you soon forget that Cars can't really talk, Monsters, Inc is not really lurking in your closet, and The Incredibles are not actually out there saving the world as a family. But how does the idea of a retrieval robot in a future time period go from just an idea to a wonderful movie experience like WALL-E?


The Science Behind Pixar exhibit at The Franklin Institute has the answer, bringing visitors directly into to the creative and technical process from storyboard to rendering (and beyond!).  The exhibit demonstrates how science, technology, engineering, and math are all used in different parts of the production pipeline.  The process is amazingly complex, and its fascinating to see each part broken down into a comprehensive explanation.  The entire exhibit is interactive, giving visitors a chance to experience each part of production and drive home the idea of what happens at each stop along the creative process.



We really enjoyed the video in the beginning of the exhibit which took you on a tour of the Pixar facility and gave you a look at the faces of the company behind these amazing movies.  It also gave you a chance to hear about each production station, so once you entered the exhibit you immediately recognized them: "There's Modeling!" "Let's check out Lighting!"  Another favorite with everyone was being able to come face to face and pose for a photo with some of the most beloved Pixar characters like Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sully, and WALL-E. (We also loved the Buzz Lightyear toy box photo op!)


The Science Behind Pixar is the perfect exhibit for all ages (since the parents of today were kids themselves when Toy Story was released).  It demonstrates the incredible technology used in creating Pixar movies while continuing to highlight the creativity and human involvement in the process.  The exhibit introduces some and reminds others of the fun and practical uses of STEM education.  Using science, Pixar was able to (and continues to) find ways to push the boundaries of what is possible in animated films.  They give audiences like us relatable characters to cheer for, beautiful worlds to get lost in, and stories that will resonate with us from childhood into adulthood.





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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Daily Vacationer Jr: Calling All Superheroes

One of things that we love best about the Garden State Discovery Museum is their commitment to making their events as awesome as possible.  The dedicated staff are always coming up with fantastic ideas for special events that take experiencing the museum to the next level of fun and interaction.  Daily Vacationer Jr had an absolute blast at their annual Calling All Superheroes event on May 15th, where superheroes of all ages gathered to practice their superpowers and help stop the villains  from taking over the museum!

The parking lot was place to learn to fly with various bounce houses taking visitors soaring to new heights, while the close by zip line was a popular place to enjoy some superhero speed.  Guests also got to fine tune their web slinging and wall smashing skills with silly string and cardboard bricks (POW! ZAP!).  Hands on crafts of masks, cuffs, and shields were available to design and put together.  We also enjoyed the novelty of creating your own comic strip.  Fun photo ops were everywhere with "head in the hole" comics and a large collection of grown up superheroes who never tired of stopping to pose and chat with guests
Everything was going well until it was brought to our attention that there were villains in the museum! Lex Luthor, Poison Ivy, Cat Woman, and Harley Quinn had been doing diabolical deeds throughout the exhibits (like leaving Kryptonite in the Dinosaurium and taking over the Farm Stand with Ivy), and it was time for the visiting superheroes to stop them!  After gathering in the theater to receive information and instructions, heroes were given flashlights to search the now dark museum for the villains and their henchmen.  Excited shouts and exclamations rang in the darkness as the bad guys were discovered and brought back to the jail.  (We will take the opportunity here to brag that, yes,  WE were the ones to capture Lex Luthor himself!)

Calling All Superheroes was a thoroughly fun and well-run event, from the delicious eats available (pizza and healthy snacks, as well as amazing homemade dessert creations) to the sense of humor and commitment to character from both the heroes and villains on staff.  A lot of great memories were made, and we definitely plan  on returning next year for another exciting evening.  Even playing in the regular exhibits was made extra special that night with everyone feeling confidant in their capes.  But, of course, you don't need to wear a cape to make the Garden State Discovery Museum extraordinary.  We believe a visit here is always anything but ordinary.





This year's Calling All Superheroes event is
May 13 from 6:30 to 8:30!
Pre-registration is required: Order Tickets
or WIN tickets from Daily Vacationer Jr:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Franklin Institute: Lost Egypt

We love archaeology, so we were thrilled to be invited to check out The Franklin Institute's latest special exhibit highlighting this fascinating merge of science and history.  Lost Egypt takes a closer look at how a vibrant and amazing civilization was and is still being uncovered and researched. Archaeologists of today are constantly using modern technology and cutting edge science to piece together their understanding of the ancient world in order to better share their findings and knowledge.

We were big fans of the way the Lost Egypt exhibit was set up, immediately immersing visitors in their own journey of discovery and making them feel like they were the true archaeologists from the life-sized camel sitting in the desert sand to entering a re-creation of an Egyptian tomb.  The exhibits at The Franklin Instititute are always full sensory experiences, and this one was no exception. Lost Egypt demonstrates how science bridges the gap between discovery and recovery of artifacts to interpreting their importance and understanding how they piece together the bigger picture.

The exhibit is very interactive and sparks the imagination and interest of all ages.  Both children and adults will enjoy building their own pyramids and puzzling together broken pottery. We really liked seeing how the forensic facial reconstructions brought life to real people from a different time. True lovers of Egyptian culture, history, and archaeology will be especially thrilled to see authentic artifacts and art including real human and animal mummies, as well as pieces that give hints as to the daily life in ancient Egypt.

Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science will be at
The Franklin Institute through August 28th.


Daily Vacationer is GIVING AWAY a
Four Pack of Tickets to Lost Egypt!
Good Luck!!



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Friday, March 18, 2016

Daily Vacationer Jr: Easter at Strasburg Rail Road

Strasburg Rail Road is a great favorite of Daily Vacationer Jr's.  Every time we find ourselves back there again, we are immediately reminded of all the great times we had there when we were young.  Some things haven't changed at all: the excitement of the train coming into the station, the old coach cars with sliding seats so you can always face forwards (or backwards if you wish), and the beautiful scenery of the Amish farmland out both sides of the train car.  And some things have changed a lot: the new fun extras to play with and ride on at the station, yummy choices at the Trackside CafĂ©, and all the souvenirs, toys, and books a train lover could wish for at the gift shops!
It's always an exciting experience to be at Strasburg Rail Road, but riding with the Easter Bunny over the holiday weekend makes it even better.  The station was full of excited families - kids in engineer hats, parents carrying train tickets, and grandparents capturing it all on video camera.  The mood was infectious, and everyone got a little giddy every time the steam engine puffed and clanged its way into the station with the Easter Bunny and Mrs. Macgregor waving and smiling from a boxcar.
The ride on the train is loads of fun with friendly staff coming through to collect tickets and take group photos.  A cheerful sounding conductor kept the trip upbeat and interesting with fun information and tidbits about the surrounding countryside, the railroad, and, of course, the Easter Bunny.  When we reached Paradise (yes, we really did), the train came to a stop and waited for the steam engine to come around to the front of the cars (formerly the back) to return home.  During this delay, we got to see the impressive engine puff right past us, and that was also when the Easter Bunny made his rounds.  A child friendly version donning an engineer outfit, the Easter Bunny was welcomed by everyone for photos throughout the cars with nary a frightened little one in sight (BIG thumbs up on this choice of bunny, Strasburg Rail Road!).  Mrs. Macgregor trailed behind handing out special holiday treats to the kids which we all happily enjoyed during our return trip.

Daily Vacationer Jr finished up the day taking advantage of all the fun extras around the station included with our train ticket.  We took a mini train ride on the Pint-Sized Pufferbelly Miniature Stream Train, used our own power to get our Cranky Cars around the track, and explored the new playground area.  Naturally, we also popped into all the gift shops (and may have made a couple of purchases), and we saved our nickels to enjoy the lively player piano.  We had a wonderful time, and we are already looking forward to our next visit to Strasburg Rail Road!





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Monday, March 7, 2016

The Philadelphia Flower Show: Explore America

In the year 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the "Organic Act" officially creating the National Park Service in order to take responsibility of the parks, monuments, and preserves that had been set aside as public land from as early as the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. For the next hundred years, the National Park Service would work "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."  This year, The Philadelphia Flower Show has chosen to honor that century of dedication, preservation, and protection provided by the National Park Service and celebrate just how much "future generations" have indeed enjoyed and will continue to enjoy these amazing places in our country.


The Philadelphia Flower Show has its own rich history, making its debut in 1829 as the first ever flower show in the United States.  Hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the show is not only a visual display of beauty to admire, but also a predictor and setter of future horticultural trends and a platform to share and teach about growing and maintaining ones own beloved blooms.  This year the theme Explore America highlights the amazing and vast array of flowers, trees, and natural elements native to our country and demonstrates how exotic, breathtaking, and beautiful our own wildlife truly is.  It also allows visitors to reminisce about their own national park memories while inspiring all ages to get out and camp, hike, and experience nature on a personal level.

Surrounded by tall trees and showcasing an entrancing video of the parks wildlife, one enters The Flower Show through the enormous Big Timber Lodge.  The vibrant music and giant colorful compass  set the mood for adventure and a desire to explore and admire the natural beauty beyond. The Landscape displays this year showcase famous National Park destinations from "Yellowstone National Park" and "Acadia National Park" to the "Muir Woods National Monument"  and "Cape Cape National Seashore". Some of our favorite moments this year in the show can be found in the floral displays with the bold shapes representing "Arches National Park" and the fascinating depiction of Ansel Adams' black and white captures of nature.  We also enjoyed seeing local favorites like Philly's own "Independence National Historical Park" and the nearby famous "Valley Forge National Park".

The Flower Show's event schedule is jammed packed with excitement and fun all week with early morning and photography tours, demonstrations at the designer's studio, and extras like the Railway Garden, Butterflies Live!, and the Make and Take Room. Check to see a list of special days throughout the show including Wedding Wednesday, Fido Friday, and International Women's Day. Adults will enjoy Flowers After Hours on Thursday at the Base Camp Pop-Up Beer Garden, while visitors with little ones won't want to miss seeing their favorite Thomas and Friends riding around the Railway Garden and attending the Flower Show Jamboree and Teddy Bear Tea.  As an added twist to the Explore America theme, park rangers from the National Park Service can be found throughout the show answering questions among the displays, giving talks at the Find Your Park Pavilion, and helping kids earn their Junior Ranger Badge at the Ranger Station.

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society makes visiting simple with a Survival Guide for the Flower Show Explorer, parking reservations through Parking Panda, coat check near the show's entrance, and hand stamps for easy re-entry.  PHS members get FREE Flower Show tickets as well as a ton of discounts and exclusive benefits at the show.  The Philadelphia Flower Show will only be a the Pennsylvania Convention Center from March 4th to March 13th, so make plans today to go and Explore America!


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