Tuesday, May 26, 2015

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.

Looking for more fun at the Garden State Discovery Museum?
Check out their Upcoming Events!
(Their FREE outdoor concert series, Groovin' and Grubbin', starts up on July 1st)!
Calling All Superheroes was presented by
Bertucchi's Italian Restaurant, J-Dogs, Kidsville News,
and The Flying Lyons Cape Company.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Academy of Natural Sciences: Animal Grossology

Things are going to be pretty disgusting this summer at the Academy of Natural Sciences, and by disgusting, we mean downright slimy, smelly, and squishy!  Animal Grossology oozes it's way into the museum starting May 16th until August 30th and will certainly be leaving a lot conversation about gross subjects behind.  The exhibit is fun, interactive, and a great way to learn about those topics that are usually looked at as inappropriate to talk about.

We love how Animal Grossology is set up so that even the more squeamish of visitors get to have a good time.  You're welcomed by a friendly parrot who explains how natural everything that you are about to see is and how humans are really the oddity when it comes to our bodily functions (standing in line to go to the bathroom??).  From there guests begin with more benign stations about hairballs, the different colors of blood out there, and owl pellets.  Everything is hands on, and before you know it, you're learning about blue blood and helping the cat get a hairball out.
Right in the center of the exhibit is a cow demonstrating how these common farm animals have very uncommon digestive workings (four stomachs for a very good reason!).  From there we were drawn next to the upbeat "Slime Game" where contestants listen to a panel of animals talk about themselves and then choose who they think is the slimiest before the correct answer is revealed.  Right next door the Grossology Zoo was a very popular part of the exhibit.  Read and listen to learn all about different dookie and then use the triggered binoculars to match the poo to the animal who did it.
Another popular part of the exhibit was the Belch-a-Baby where you not only discover what animal burps out its own young, but you can help try to get their babies to safety.  We also thought the Scents station was pretty clever.  Smell some really natural stinks and learn what they mean and how they got there.  Nearby, visitors discover the horror of how long tape worms can actually grow (including an unsettling time pulling a rope to see just how long that is - ew!).
As strange as it sounds, we really enjoyed the Vomit Slurpers station with the HUGE friendly housefly who is all too ready to tell visitors all about where he gets his food from.  The station that we wound up being the most squeamish about was the Blood Sucker Blow-Up.  If you've ever encountered a mosquito, leech, or tick, you'll understand why.  Fortunately this was toward the end of the exhibit, so by that time we were pretty desensitized to any kind of yuck.
Believe it or not, Animal Grossology completely normalizes (and even makes fun) the usually avoided topics of slime, blood, poop, and vomit.  Just like the more appealing parts of nature, even disgusting bodily functions are there for a reason.  For even more gross, visit the exhibit on Wednesdays for live dissections of worms, urchins, squids, and even a cow's eye, and check to see when the Cart of Curiosity is coming around.  (And don't forget to take the quiz at the end of the exhibit - were you paying attention or just going EW!?).

Save $2 when you order your tickets at
ANSP.org with code: AGRC

You can also WIN tickets from Daily Vacationer!
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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: American Swedish Historical Museum: Toddler Time

We absolutely love the American Swedish Historical Museum.  Located in a beautiful building in FDR Park, the museum is a fascinating look at the Swedish culture, a well as its impact on America.  A friendly staff and amazing interior always make it a joy to visit this Philadelphia gem.  Daily Vacationer Jr particularly enjoys the ASHM's attention to passing down the Swedish culture to the next generation by including child-friendly programs and activities within the museum and throughout the year. 
We took the opportunity to visit the Do You Know Pippi Longstocking? exhibit while we were there.  A very popular special exhibit from 2014, the Pippi exhibit was condensed and move permanently to a new location in the museum, providing a fun play area where little ones can whip up culinary creations in the kitchen of Villa Villekulla, become Thing Finders in a crazy chest of drawers, play dress up, and enjoy the collection of children's stories.  We were also pleased to find that the ASHM had kept the Pippi Longstocking scavenger hunt.  By following the map and collecting a card from the treasure boxes located around the museum, kids can have their own adventure exploring the building (giving their caregivers get a chance to see all the exhibits).  After all ten boxes have been found, make sure to visit the front desk to claim your treasure!
Daily Vacationer Jr also had the pleasure of making it out to one of the ASHM's much talked about Toddler Time sessions.  A monthly event, Toddler Time immerses young visitors in different ideas and concepts with a fun, interactive experience.  During our visit, the topic of the day was Milk - where does it come from and what do we do with it?  We started by gathering in one of the museum's many interesting exhibit rooms for stories and songs about milk, the animals it comes from (didn't know people milked reindeer!), different kind of dairy workers, and dairy products.  A demonstration of the long horn Swedish herders use certainly got everyone's attention.
After learning through song and story, we were brought outside to meet someone extra special: Delilah, the dairy cow!  As her handlers walked her around, patiently answering questions and even demonstrating how to milk her, the real live cow from Colonial Plantation brought the whole concept of farm animals and milking to life.  (Delilah is not the first farm animal to visit Toddler Time - last year, a sheep was a frequent visitor too!)  After a meet and greet with Delilah, guests were treated to dairy snacks of cheese and crackers and Siggi milk and yogurt products.  Hands on demonstrations of "milking" and churning milk into butter, as well as fun crafts kept everyone happy and busy in the front courtyard.  The whole experience was hands down one of the best run kids events at a museum that we have ever been to!
Toddler Time is $5 per session and registration is encouraged -
FREE for members and accompanying caregivers.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Summer Movie Express

There's a lot of reasons that Daily Vacationer Jr is excited for summer, but one of our top things that we are looking forward to is the return of Regal Cinema's Summer Movie Express.  For nine weeks select Regal Cinemas will be showing the most popular family movies from the past year at 10am on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.  Theatre goers can enjoy seeing titles like The Lego Movie, Rio 2, and Earth to Echo on the big screen once again.  The best part about this deal?  Tickets are only $1!  (A part of proceeds is donated to the Will Rogers Institute)
Check your location for the closest Summer Movie Express theatre, and double check the starting week.  Each location shows the movies for nine weeks in a row, but they might start Week 1 on a different week than another theatre (which is great if you want to see a favorite movie two weeks in a row and don't mind driving to another location).
Daily Vacationer Jr checked out the Summer Movie Express experience the last two years, and we give it a huge thumbs.  A perfect summer activity, and a fantastic bang for your buck!
Week 1
Nut Job
Week 2
Earth to Echo
The Boxtrolls
Week 3
Week 4
Rio 2
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Week 5
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
The Book of Life
Week 6
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Penguins of Madagascar
Week 7
Madagascar 3
Dolphin Tale 2
Week 8
Muppets Most Wanted
Alexander and the Very Bad Day
Week 9
The Lego Movie
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

PAFA: Art in Process

Recently, PAFA unveiled new late hours every Wednesday evening, and with it, the introduction of Art in Process (included in museum admission).  A cultural event happening every week, Art in Process connects the museum visitor with the artist - immersing them in different aspects of art creation, from inception to completion.  Discussions, presentations, and programs compliment the beautiful galleries, while the presence of the academy gives a closer look at the creative process than other museums can produce.  As an added bonus, the newly renovated Tableau, PAFA's full-service café run by STARR Events, is open until 8pm on Wednesday nights.
Daily Vacationer's own personal experience at Art in Process was quite the memorable evening.  We were treated to an architecture tour throughout the Historic Landmark building from PAFA's director, Harry Philbrick (tours are free with admission, so definitely always check if any are being offered during your visits).  At 7pm, the Copeland String Quartet preformed in the Rotunda with the gorgeous strains of Ravel, Gershwin, and Dvorak drifting through the galleries and the Cast Hall where art students worked on their own pieces in all different mediums.  We wandered from room to room watching, observing, listening, and taking it all in before settling in to enjoy the second half of the performance (we highly recommend going to see the Copeland String Quartet play if you ever get the chance - absolutely breathtaking).
A fantastic look at the inspiration, celebration, and practical application of art, Art in Process takes a visit to PAFA to a whole new level.  Check out their calendar to  see what exciting program is coming each week.  Artists, art lovers, and culture enthusiasts all take note: Art in Process is the new "must do" event to experience in Philadelphia.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Easter at Strasburg Rail Road

Spring break has come and gone - and what a cold, messy couple of weeks it was this year!  Still, Daily Vacationer Jr managed to discover lots of fun out in Lancaster County during the holidays.  Every year, Strasburg Rail Road hosts its annual Easter Bunny Train, and this year, we finally got to check it out for ourselves.
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 Café, 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 made it even better.  Even though the day we visited was overcast with a threat of rain (that fortunately never showed up), 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 train ride itself was 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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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Garden State Discovery Museum: Pinocchio

Daily Vacationer Jr. has long been a fan of the performances from the Garden State Discovery Museum's Discovery Theatre.  After enjoying American Legends and Rapunzel last year, we were looking forward to this year's Passport to Discovery 2015 show.  A timeless tale rewritten with original songs, audience participation, and comedic twists, the Discovery Theatre's version of Pinocchio entertains children of all ages (and the adults who bring them).
Shows from this troupe usually move at a quick pace, and Pinocchio is no exception.  Scenes flow one after another as characters hop in and out of the story to keep things moving.  Certain cast members play various parts with countless (and sometimes surprisingly hysterical) costume changes.  The story maintains the major characters of Geppetto and his puppet son Pinocchio, as well as some recognizable plotlines (a wish to becomes a real boy, discovering what happens when you make bad choices, and, of course, the growing nose), while second hand characters from the original and Disney versions of the tale make appearances (such as a puppeteer, a sly fox, and a wise cricket).
As always, the audience is included in the show as much as possible with actors often addressing themselves to the viewers to tell them their problems, their achievements, and to ask advice.  Various audience members get to become a part of the cast in this show in the form of marionettes, sly foxes, and helpful blue birds.  And no one needs to ask the audience twice to join in the catchy sing-along near the end of the show.  The performances at the Discovery Theatre always have the great distinction of completely enrapturing a roomful of little, fidgety children to where the crowd gets quieter and more attentive the farther into the story they get.  If you're looking for something special to do with younger kids this spring break, Pinocchio at the Garden State Discovery Museum definitely gets our vote!

Discovery Theatre shows are always FREE with admission!

April 8th, 9, and 11th at 1:00pm and 4:00pm
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