Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute

When we were kids, dinosaurs were something we saw pictures of in books. Sometimes they were cartoon creatures with human voices. Dinosaurs were, to the regular public, a creatively licensed, far fetched idea on par with aliens.  Then in 1993, director Stephen Spielberg and the special effects team from Industrial Light and Magic pulled dinosaurs out of the confines of fossils and bones and inserted them living and breathing into our modern world.  Jurassic Park boasted not only stunning visuals and an unforgettable score by John Williams, but it completely changed the way we view dinosaurs.  Despite the movie's obvious warnings about the consequences of mixing wild prehistoric beasts in the human world, audiences responded with an intense desire to see more and more of dinosaurs, sparking an interest in paleontology that we don't doubt influenced many in the field today.  Almost 20 years later, we were all excited to revisit Isla Nublar in Jurassic World, and once again be chased by dinosaurs, if only for the chance to be near these amazing creatures.

Like the movies, Jurassic World: The Exhibition is a groundbreaking game changer for both the lifelike animatronics (created by Creature Technology) and the immersive exhibit experience.  The lines are long at The Franklin Institute (even with timed tickets), but we can't say we've ever been to a special museum exhibit that has been so worth the wait!  From the moment you step through the iconic Jurassic Park (World) gates, it becomes everything you always hoped a trip to a fictitious Isla Nublar would be.
The experience starts off with a bang as you enter the the Gentle Giants area and are greeted with a life sized Brachiosaurus just overhead.  It's at that moment that you realize that this is not your average dinosaur exhibit. The plant eating dinosaurs like (our favorite!) the Parasaurolophus and a extremely mighty Triceratops with its offspring breath, roar, look around, and move at what seems to be completely random times (and it may have been our imagination, but it seemed like they also reacted in response to movement and noise from the visitors).  Lovers of the first movie will appreciate the opportunity to stick their hand in a pile of "triceratops dung" - and yes, it's quite warm inside.

Around a corner, visitors next get the opportunity to see the inside of the Hammond Lab where a wall of amber is displayed (giving you a quick reminder of how these dinosaurs came about from preserved DNA - a stretch from the actual science of genetics and paleontology).  Also in the lab are incubating dinosaur eggs as well as moving newborn baby dinos.

From that point you are escorted to the Raptor pen to watch a handler demonstrate its ability to follow some basic training and directions.  This is a fairly creepy experience as the pen is empty when you enter the room. Those looking for the most up close encounter with a Raptor should try to position themselves in front of the pen (and be ready, because she doesn't always follow her handler's directions).  As for ourselves, we never fully recovered from the suspense of a certain "being hunted in a kitchen" scene, so we hung back a little.

Next stop is a visit to the might T-Rex. BUT, OH NO! There is something going wrong on the Isla Nublar, and unfortunately the feed is cut off before we can get a full warning  not to enter the area near the Tyrannosaurus pen.  A step through the doors immediately makes you aware that there is a crashed jeep, a fallen fence, and an eerie lack of T-Rex.  This is one of our favorite parts of the entire exhibit as you hear the familiar crash of footsteps approaching.  Then suddenly the famous T-Rex enters, roaring and on the hunt. (Yup - time to run!)

(Photo: The Franklin Institute)
An escape from the T-Rex brings you face to face with a giant Stegosaurus - which is cool until you realize that there is no fence between you and the dinosaurs anymore.  Plus there seems to be something really bad going on ahead.  There's a wild dinosaur that you've never seen in your textbooks loose and on the rampage - and it's looking for you! Will you survive an attack from the Indominus Rex?? (It was a narrow getaway for us!)

In all honesty, Jurassic World: The Exhibition is all it's hyped up to be.  "The Closest You Will Ever Come to Living Dinosaurs"?? Absolutely! After all, they spared no expense...

Jurassic World: The Exhibition is on display at The Franklin Institute through April 23rd.
Purchase VIP and VIP Plus Passes for an even bigger experience!

Enter to WIN TICKETS below:
(courtesy of The Franklin Institute)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Kid Fit

How do we do it? How in this age of cell phones, video games, and never having to leave your house to be entertained do we encourage our children to get up and move? To not just get up and move, but to get back up and try again when they fall?  It's a struggle that parents and caregivers with kids of every age have to deal with.  To find the answer to this all too common problem, we headed over to the brand new Kid Fit facility now open in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Daily Vacationer Jr originally met the gym owner and CEO, Brian Hurley, when he was teaching preview classes at Kid Fit partner, the Garden State Discovery Museum. These classes were unlike anything we had ever seen before. With exciting names like "Superhero Academy" and "Ninja Training", the classes were designed to build a bridge between a child's imagination and their physical bodies.  Even the most timid in the group was soon trying their hardest with enthusiasm and a smile on their face. There was something about these programs that was making a room full of children laugh and move and just keep trying.

Now that Kid Fit has it's own space, the potential for what it can be used for is unlimited.  The unique classes are back with something for every level and interest from Tiny Tumblers to Future MVPs. Not sure which class your kid will be most interested in? Kid Fit lets you request a FREE CLASS (and we highly recommend that you do!).  Classes are scheduled all week with a variety of different time slots giving everyone the chance to come and discover what makes this place so special to kids and their families. Kid Fit is also available for some pretty amazing (and stress free!) Birthday Parties (on weekends AND weekdays), and they have a lot of different options for Scout events and Field Trips including Overnights, a combo visit with the Garden State Discovery Museum, and even a Mobile Gym that can come to you!

Along with an amazing class schedule and event opportunities, Kid Fit also offers Open Play throughout the week.  We attended an Open Play time, and we were amazed again with how every kid in the room was climbing or jumping or rolling or crawling or just moving in any way that they could - and they were all so excited about it! We loved the infinite number of play area set ups and obstacle courses that were constantly changing and being moved around, giving kids different ways to try things and challenge themselves. Foam pits, climbing barriers, inclined mats, gymnastics equipment, and lots more were scattered around the room and all being used by children in so many different ways (and when they opened up the zipline for use, it was like Elvis had entered the building).

So what is it that Brian Hurley and Kid Fit are doing that is motivating children of all different ages and life stages to be physical active without realizing they are? We think that the secret lies in confidence.  Kid Fit doesn't just provide a place to move - they provide the confidence to move. The confidence to see an obstacle as a challenge. The confidence to know that not doing it the first, second, or even fifteenth time does not mean that you will never do it. Everyone was celebrated for doing the best that they could and encouraged to try anything that they wanted. There was hand holding and a boost up for those who needed it and a hands off and step back approach for those who wanted to do it on their own.  Kid Fit is one of those few and far between places where failing is not seen as the end of trying, but rather just another step toward getting it right.  Simply put, Kid Fit is making being active fun and exciting and something that everyone can be.


Open Play:
$10/child
$5/child for GSDM Members
FREE for Kid Fit Members

Membership:
$75/mon
$65/mon for GSDM Members
Sibling and Twin discounts available

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Philadelphia Flower Show Ticket Giveaway

Photo: GMR Design LLC
The Philadelphia Flower Show returns to the PA Convention Center this March with a theme that highlights the iconic horticultural of the Netherlands. Holland: Flowering the World promises to include Dutch delights from windmills and bicycles to the famous vibrant tulip fields beginning with a magnificent entrance constructed of a floating floral canopy (we can't wait to see this show stopper)! Regional talent will combine with award-winning ingenuity from the Netherlands to embrace both the beauty of Dutch culture as well as their forward thinking eco-designs.


Since 1829, The Philadelphia Flower Show has been celebrating and influencing horticultural traditions and trends around the world.  With 250,000 visitors annually, the show is one of the most popular attractions during the entire year in the city of Philadelphia.   The show offers not only a breathtaking array of visual and artistic displays and competitions but continues to add more and more amazing and fun extras to the schedule including Make and Take Sessions, the Designers Studio, the Railway Garden, a huge array of vendors, tours and evening events, and even a Garden Spa (new for 2017!). Check out the Experiences and Events pages at theflowershow.com for more.


The Philadelphia Flower Show runs March 11th to March 19th with a special Preview Party on Friday, March 10th.  Purchase Tickets online ahead of time at a discount!

Daily Vacationer is excited to be able to share this amazing experience with one of our readers! Enter below for a chance to WIN 4 Tickets to the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show - Holland: Flowering the World (courtesy of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society).  GOOD LUCK!!


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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Night in the Museum (The Academy of Natural Sciences Overnight)


The Academy of Natural Sciences  of Drexel University is always an amazing place to visit, so participating in their “Night in the Museum” experience was just as awesome as we expected. The overnight was well organized and all of the museum staff members were friendly and informed. Put that together with the Academy’s one-of-a-kind exhibits and you’ve got a winning combination!


We knew right from the beginning that this would be a great experience. A helpful packet of information was emailed out well before the overnight, letting us know what to bring and what to expect. When we arrived at the museum, check-in was quick and easy. A staff member gave the adults in our group colored wristbands, and we brought our overnight equipment to our color’s assigned area. Overnight equipment in each area was stored against the wall so that it would be out of the way while we were exploring the museum. We were thrilled to be assigned to dinosaur hall and enjoyed checking out the exhibits in that area while we waited for orientation to begin.


Everyone headed to the auditorium at 7:00pm for a brief but informative orientation. Soon we had all the information we needed about the rules and expectations, as well as the exciting evening we had to look forward to! The presenter was energetic and funny and held everyone’s attention. After orientation, we opted to head up to the top floor of the museum to avoid the larger groups that began their exploring on the main floor right outside the auditorium. We practically had the Inside-Out area to ourselves, and enjoyed petting a friendly box turtle and seeing what the museum creatures were up to after hours. 


As we made our way through the museum, we found quite a few special activities set up on each floor. Here were some highlights:


-Decorating sleep masks so that the museum’s emergency lights wouldn’t keep us awake.


-Covering shark teeth in tinfoil and plaster, just like paleontologists do when transporting real dinosaur bones.

-Using special markers to put our own mark on the glass in front of several diorama’s in the North American Mammal hall.

-Talking with some dinosaur experts about their table full of replica bones.

-A flashlight scavenger hunt in Dinosaur Hall.


We made sure to head down to the Commons for a snack (pretzels and apples) at 8:15, and we toured the fantastic "Dinosaurs Unearthed" exhibit before it closed at 9:00pm (a special exhibit - now moved on to make room for "Frogs: A Chorus of Colors"). Then we watched a squid dissection, and learned all about the different parts of the squid – the braver members of our party even touched them! Plus we brought home cards with our names written on them in ink directly from the squid! At 10:00 everyone headed back to the auditorium for the Live Animal Show. The kids were impressed by the large eastern rat snake and the rescued hawk, and the adults were impressed by the well-informed and articulate speaker. When the presentation ended we were reminded about where to set up our sleeping bags, and then we were dismissed to lay out our gear. Although we sat closer to the back of the auditorium to have the prime pick of where to lay our things out, we shouldn’t have worried. There was plenty of room for everyone! (Note that the area directly around the T-Rex is reserved for VIP guests.)


After getting ready for bed, we headed back to the auditorium one more time for a half hour movie about dinosaurs. By 11:30 everyone was tired out from all our adventures, and we crawled in to our sleeping bags, just in front of the triceratops skeleton. We guess you could say we slept with visions of dinosaurs dancing in our heads! A friendly voice over the loudspeaker woke us up at 7:00 am, and we all headed downstairs for a breakfast of cereal and bagels (and coffee for the adults!). We packed our things up so they wouldn’t be in anyone’s way, and after breakfast we had the opportunity to go through the butterfly exhibit, which had been closed the night before. Overnight guests were invited to stay for as much of the day as they desired. They even had special t-shirts and patches for sale for the overnight guests. Our Night at the Museum was both wonderful and memorable, and we highly recommend this unique experience at the always amazing Academy of Natural Sciences!

Night in the Museum overnights are hosted throughout the year and are a great time for families as well as groups for scout trips, birthdays, sports teams, and kids' clubs.  For upcoming dates, ticket prices (take note of the benefits of the VIP ticket!), and more information on other museum programs, head to www.ansp.org.
(ma)



Sign up for Academy eNews to be the first to learn about specials events and exhibits. 

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Winter at the Garden State Discovery Museum

It's the perfect time of year to invest in an indoor play membership, and one of our top recommendations is the Garden State Discovery Museum.  We absolutely love this children's museum.  The permanent exhibits are loads of fun (you can literally play in just one small part of the building the entire day), and they constantly have fun extras and memorable events to add some excitement to any time of year.

Take a journey around the world in January and February with the Passport to Discovery series (included in general admission). Every weekend visit and learn about a new culture including an Indian Kite Festival, a Chinese Snow and Ice Festival, the Up Helly Aa Viking Festival from Scotland, a frosty Finland weekend, and the rhythms of Africa with the Universal African Drum & Dance Ensemble.  Enjoy fun and science from around the world and create your own special take home craft.

Fans of Frozen can rejoice with the return of the 3rd Annual Frosty Ball on Friday, February 10th. Make sure to reserve your spot ASAP as pre-registration is required, and this event is POPULAR (for good reason!). This year looks to be even bigger and better with delicious desserts from Classic Cakes, games, Frosty friends, take home crafts, a hot chocolate bar, and chilly snow cones.  Dance the night away with this super fun winter tradition (tickets are discounted for museum members!).



Stay up to date on events and announcements by following the
Garden State Discovery Museum on Facebook.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 in Review


All the places and things we check out in Greater Philadelphia for our followers would not be possible without various people and places giving us all these amazing opportunities.  As 2016 comes to a close and we look forward to a brand new year, we'd like to thank all those who made it such an amazing year for Daily Vacationer and Daily Vacationer Jr. 


The Academy of Natural Sciences
Garden State Discovery Museum
Delaware River Waterfront
Independence Seaport Museum
Liberty One Observation Deck
Glen Foerd on the Delaware
Diner en Blanc Philadelphia
Brandywine River Art Museum
Sesame Place
Philadelphia Christmas Village
En Route Marketing
Philly Tour Hub
Philadelphia Urban Adventures
Philadelphia CVB
The Kimmel Center for Performing Arts
Pennsylvania Ballet
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Johnson's Corner Farm
Hill Creek Farm
Morris Arboretum
Aversa PR
Strasburg Rail Road
UniverSoul Circus
Please Touch Museum
Fairmount Park Conservancy
Edaville USA
Adventure Aquarium
Dutch Wonderland
Moozie's Play Cafe
Kid Fit
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Ride the Ducks Philly
Stand Up Philly
Historical Philadelphia
Franklin Square
Betsy Ross House
Valley Forge Casino Resort
Kids at Play
Broad Street Run
Sahara Sam's Oasis
The Franklin Institute
Philadelphia Horticultural Society
The Philadelphia Flower Show
International House Philadelphia
Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation
Gloucester County Parks and Recreation
Gloucester County 4H Show
West Philadelphia Orchestra
Longwood Gardens
Royal Haven Horse Farm
Philadelphia Horticultural Center
Camden Waterfront

 We tried to remember everywhere and everyone.
Thank you so much!

-From the Daily Vacationer and Daily Vacationer Jr Team



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Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place

Sesame Street and the holiday season have always gone hand in hand for us at Daily Vacationer. Watching "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street" is a cherished tradition, and we love every second from the beginning at the ice skating rink to the very end when Cookie Monster has devoured Gordon and Susan's Christmas tree.  As a kid (and kind of as grown up too), we couldn't think of a better way to spend the holidays than with our friends on Sesame Street, so when we got the chance to head up to Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA to experience A Very Furry Christmas, you better believe we were thrilled!

Sesame Place is incredibly exciting during its regular season with loads of fun and attractions geared for different ages of children.  There's so much to do in this fantastic location, and it seems like every year they come out with a new ride or expansion to the park.  The waterpark sections were, of course, closed when we visited this December, but there was still tons to do, and since the amount of visitors were no where near the numbers in the summer, we could hop on and off anything around the park.  Some of our favorites included Captain Cookie's High "C's" Adventure and Oscar's Rotten Rusty Rockets (great for even the most timid of the group), the views from the Count Around, and the Sunny Day Carousel.  We had to give special marks to Vapor Trail for being the most thrilling ride we've ever seen at a children's theme park for very young kids (nothing like getting to do a real roller coaster with a three year old!).

For those of us who are, have been, or now have our own Sesame Street lovers, it's an absolute dream come true to walk past Mr. Hooper's Store, up the stairs of the apartment building next to Big Bird's nest, and get to meet beloved characters!  We were too old ourselves for the Elmo phenomenon and the introduction of super popular Abby Cadabby, but we're not ashamed to admit that we took plenty of selfies with our personal favorites like Ernie and Bert, Grover, Count von Count, and Oscar the Grouch. Other characters we met or saw that day included Telly Monster, Zoe, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Honker, Murray, Rosita, and Prairie Dawn. So much fun!

You don't just get fun photo ops with the Sesame Street characters, you also get to sing and dance all day with them during their various show and street parades.  We were absolutely floored by the level of professionalism from the Sesame Place friends.  Not only did they perform a bazillion different dance routines, songs, and scripts throughout the day, they also knew their stuff well enough to be able to improvise with it and continue to have spontaneous interactions with the audience and each other.  While we loved the carefully choreographed dances ("backup" dancers during the parade: we are in awe of you as well), it was all the extras that made the characters really believable and fun.

There are so many different shows to choose from (we saw and loved A Sesame Street Christmas though it looked like the indoor Elmo the Musical was the most popular), and we highly recommend seeing as many as you can for more time with the characters. (Another great place to meet and greet Sesame Place Friends is to pay a little extra to Dine with Elmo & Friends - that experience got rave reviews from others we talked to that day).  And whatever you do, DO NOT MISS THE STREET PARADE! It's a lively and magical show from beginning to end with floats, music, and fun It captures the excitement of Sesame Street like nothing else you will see that day.

During A Very Furry Christmas, the park has a ton of holiday extras to enjoy that make this season a great time to visit for both first time guests like ourselves and frequent Sesame Place visitors.  More than 300 Christmas trees (including one giant one with its own light show) and millions of twinkling lights that get brighter and more amazing as the sun goes down shine all around the park (some in the shape of Sesame Street characters!). The Twiddlebugs Gingerbread Factory, an adorable interactive walk-through attraction, was located right next to the Reindeer Games where we got to meet Lightning, the reindeer from the movie "Elmo Saves Christmas".  There's also Christmas Storytimes, meet and greets with Santa (Cookie Santa after Christmas), and the enchanting Furry Express train ride.  Also look for festive and warming additions to the menus and food options around the park.

We loved our visit to A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place!  It was pure magic for the little ones and nostalgic fun for the grown ups (when the characters burst into "Keep Christmas with You" during one of the shows, we just freaked out inside).  The holiday cheer runs select days through January 1st with New Year's Eve Fireworks on December 31st.  Tickets are discounted for the holiday season plus an extra 2016 visit is included for FREE!  Now is also a great time to buy season passes for 2017 as they are being offered at their lowest price ever.

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