Archive for Review

23 Dec 2014

Experience Phantom of the Opera

No Comments Adventures, Review, Sponsored, Tampa, Tampa Bay

If you can’t get to New York City this lifetime and you want to experience what most tourists will do on their trip, treat yourself to an experience like no other when the Phantom of the Opera comes to you.

IMG_5195.JPGA packed house awaits the 2nd act of Phantom of the Opera at the Straz Center on December 19th, 2014 in Tampa, Florida.

Clearly, Phantom of the Opera could be considered one of the classics among attractions in New York City as it stands as the longest-running show in Broadway history with 26 years and counting, at the Majestic Theatre. In 2012, the show celebrated its 10,000th show. It is currently playing in 6 countries as well as on tour in the US North American.

Most Broadway show tours only come to cities city for a few short weeks. You should definitely take in a show, even if Broadway isn’t your thing, there is so much more to experience. When people say “On Broadway” it tends to have meaning much deeper than just a street location in New York City. It tends to have a prestige attached to it unmatched to any other. Known as the “Great White Way” for being one of America’s very first streets with lights, the marquee lights on all the theatre houses that light up Time’s Square have become iconic to people everywhere. The Theater District in New York City is now home to more than 40 professional theaters. Theaters can seat up to 500 people and host a variety of productions year round.

The Phantom of the Opera US Tour, which is happening now until January 2016, is everything a Broadway musical production should be, minus New York City of course, but pretty close to it. The stage is majestic. The voices are beautiful. The music is breathtaking. The overall experience is classic Broadway. Everything you might imagine on Broadway will come to you.

The story has never been changed from its original Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score. However, each new actor that plays the lead characters has the ability to interpret the role slightly different than the last. The special effects, including the show’s legendary chandelier, will still have the same impact on your experience, wherever you see it, just as if you were sitting inside the Majestic Theatre itself. Listening to perfect voices sing some of the most recognizable songs from the musical such as “Music of the Night” and “All I Ask of You” and “Wishing You Were Somehow Here” will have you wanting to give a standing ovation for each number.

Experiencing the theatre is an activity that the whole family will enjoy. For centuries, societies have used theatre as a form of entertainment that continues to live on into our generation and beyond. Many Broadway shows are now preformed and are geared towards the younger audiences too (Lion King, Matilda, Wicked, Cinderella just to name a few.) Phantom of the Opera might be a tad bit over the top for some kids (there are deaths that are slightly graphic by nature), but guaranteed that they will not forget the show. The meaning of mask and what it depicts might come later, but a love for theatre and the art form is what the experience is all about, no matter what the show.

The Straz Center currently is hosting its Best of Broadway series presented by Bank of America. Their shows are among some of the best that Broadway has to offer. For season tickets to these and other shows, visit them online to learn more.

Phantom of the Opera is on a US Tour until 2016. For tickets to a show in a city near you visit here. For tickets to the Tampa performances at the Straz Center from December 17th through January 4th, visit here.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Straz Center for the Phantom of the Opera performance. All opinions in this essay are my own.


17 Aug 2014

Winter has Hope: A Dolphin Tale 2 Movie Review

1 Comment Adventures, Family Travel, Florida, Opinion, Review, Sponsored, Tampa

Inspired by true events.

You could stay the storyline was written in the stars…


After the amazing heart-warming and true story made the movie “Dolphin Tale,” we were inspired to say the least. We were so excited to hear “Dolphin Tale 2” would be out in 2014. Being that we aren’t in L.A., New York or Chicago and don’t have too many movies filmed in the Tampa Bay area, visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) where both movies have been filmed has been a highlight for people near and far for so many reasons. People all over the world visit to see and meet Winter because they have been truly inspired by her overcoming the loss of her tale and how she hasn’t given up.
Read more

14 Jun 2014

The New Junior Ride-Along Program at the Richard Petty Experience at Walt Disney World

No Comments Adventures, Family Travel, Florida, Review


“Is this your first time in a race car?”

This was the first question my son asks the VERY experienced driver about to take him on the ride of his life.

“Nope. Not my first time.” (I was hoping he’d say yes and see how my would react.)

I about died laughing! I was replaying this amazing experience at home last night, and watched it from my nine year- old sons perspective of what it was like to drive in a 600 horse power NASCAR race car at the Richard Petty Driving Experience for a Junior Ride-Along.
Read more

21 May 2014

Review: The Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour by Cirque du Soleil

1 Comment Adventures, Opinion, Review, Sponsored

As the lights came up and the stage filled, the music started to take me back. Back to listening to Michael Jackson in my basement on a cassette tape. Back to buying CD’s and watching MTV videos. Good times. Great music. Now music that must live on by parents playing it for their kids, pulling up the videos and break out the record players. These new generations didn’t grow up listening to Michael. But listen to his music and you will open Pandora’s box of pop culture and a true legend. Now an immortal, but brought back through this show, so perfectly scripted, Michael might have just wrote it himself.

Read more

30 Apr 2014

4 Reasons ALL Moms Should See ‘Moms Night Out’

No Comments Ad, Adventures, Lifestyle, Opinion, Parenting, Review, Sponsored

“I am a Mom and that is enough.”

“Being a Mom is… Important.”

What profound statements. Yes, we hear it all the time, but do you really understand the gravity of this job title? Last month, something happened that made me step back and think. I was invited to see the movie premier of Moms Night Out. Looked cute. Didn’t know too much about the film. But for some reason, I rushed around to after school activities, made dinner, had got ready (at 10am that morning) for the 7pm show (which I was late to), dropped the kids (literally-off) with Dad, so I could rush to see this movie. Why? I wasn’t sure. And actually, THAT almost didn’t happen because I this was my first “sneak peak” so I missed the introduction and almost got kicked out of the theater because I wasn’t following the rules (oops…my bad) that I didn’t know existed in screenings like this (but that’s another story) so moving on…
Read more

Pin It
17 Mar 2012

Florida Orchestra is back in 2012!

No Comments Adventures, Review, Tampa

My favorite things to do in Tampa with our kids is go to the Florida Orchestra concerts in the park. They used to split their time between Lowry Park in Central Tampa, Al Lopez Park and Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa. We had first went to a concert at Al Lopez park when the kids were 2. They loved the orchestra “petting zoo” and the music was amazing. It’s now tradition that we go each year. We love it. We bring food, friends and have such a great time with the kids. It’s so great to see more of Tampa embracing what other “larger” cities have been doing for years.

They will only be playing on May 3rd, 2012 at Curtis Hixon Park, so MARK YOUR CALENDAR!!!
Read more

15 Oct 2011

My Adventure at Legoland Florida

1 Comment Adventures, Review

When I saw that Legoland Florida was opening in Lakeland a year ago, I knew that eventually we would end up taking a trip. We were in Chicago this past summer and went to Legoland Chicago. I was honestly not too impressed with it. (Sorry, honest opinion.) I had looked at the Legoland Chicago site and it was pretty impressive. I got the kids all excited and we went with my Mom, who was brave enough to help me with all 3 kids. We had a $20 off coupon, which was the only reason we really ventured to Shamburg in July. It made a big difference in how much we paid to get in with 3 kids and 2 adults (thanks Facebook for hosting the offer and Twitter for how I found out about it.) The Legoland Chicago was in a “Wiregrass Mall” type setting (for all of you who live in Tampa, this will make sense.) It was basically a BIG store with a few rides. In the summertime, they had “camps” and the place was FULL of kids with little supervision (let’s just say a ratio for 1 adult per 10 kids it looked like). The lines were super long and the rides were “kind baby” according to Jake. But we had fun, the kids liked building with the legos and eating over priced pizza and seeing what others had built with the leogs (Jake LOVED seeing all the cities built out of legos. But I wasn’t to impressed and really glad that I didn’t pay too much money to get in.

So on to Legoland Florida. After watching the You Tube video the night before and thanks to a very generous offer from WTSP News Channel 10, we found out we would be going on “press day” the day before the Grand Opening. From my perspective…THIS. WAS. AWESOME. For so many reasons. Few lines. Less people. Not crowded. Can you tell I’m not a “theme park mom”? We have Busch Gardens annual passes and we venture to other places here and there, but I am ALL for off days and little crowds. So here in my honest opinion is what I thought and why (I am not being paid by anyone and these thoughts are my own. I did get free tickets to the park from WTSPand you can see some of their pictures here. Just incase anyone is wondering…)

1. The price sounded kind of high…at first. I honestly looked at the price and had to do a double take. It was, in my opinion, kind of expensive ($75 for adults and $65 for kids… plus tax). But if you live close enough, and you will go 2, 3 or 4 times throughout the year, it’s totally worth it. I’m not a crammer. I like to enjoy the park and know that if we didn’t get to do it in one day, we will come back (gives me an excuse as to why we can’t do something when someone is melting down and we have to leave any park.) But after seeing what Legoland Florida had to offer, I do think that the price is worth paying and very worth the upgrade to an annual if you live close enough. And do yourself a favor, buy at least one person in your family the “plus” admission so you aren’t always obligated to pay for parking, another $10+ per visit if you go often. (If you are a grandparent, they do have Senior rates too!)

2. If your kid loves Legos, they will love this park. The park was beautiful. They incorporated Legos in to everything! If you have a Lego lover, they will be impressed. I was!

3. I think that there is a window when kids will not want to go anymore. I think that my kids ages 7, 5 and 2, will love this park for about another 4 years. I think after that they will have done it all and want more of a thrill. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I love that we will be able to take full advantage of this park because we are at the right age. Perfect. And hopefully they will remember how much fun they had there and will come back when they are older.

4. The rides were perfect for kids ages 5 to 10/11…12 might be pushing it. I loved the fact that my 1st grader could ride everything. 48″ was the magic number and the rides weren’t that scary for him. He rides most things at Busch Gardens, and had lots of fun on the coasters at Legoland. (I think that I screamed louder than him on a few, but we had a really good time. It’s nice to not have to say you can’t ride that. I liked that they geared the rides toward the early elementary schooler. Mia was a little more timid so she didn’t ride, but she did have the option and I liked that too!

5. It was a very clean park. The Red Rover App people would be proud. Clean bathrooms and changing tables. Cleanliness is important to me. I like things clean. (Hope it stays that way!)

6. There was alot to do and see for a fulls day worth of fun. With shows, 4D movies, things to build in the air conditioning and rides to ride, I would say that one could easily spend the ENTIRE day (much like most theme parks) and have a blast. I’m not big on “pushing the envelope” with my kids, but they were pooped by 3pm and I know that we will be back so we left with out doing everything. Now we have a reason to go back!

7. 48″ is the key number (36″ plus one parent is necessary) Because Jake was JUST tall enough, it made my afternoon much better to know that we could all ride the rides together- Jake by himself and myself with Mia. Jake was JUST barely tall enough. If not, I would have had a much harder time trying to figure out what to do with 2 kids needing me, the single adult on our trip, to ride a ride.

8. The food and drinks were not over priced! Yeah! I was impressed that everything there was not SO over priced. I paid $2 for a water, $3 for a hotdog and $6 for a slushie (with a take-home cup!) and $2 for an ice cream! NOT BAD! I don’t think coolers are allowed in the park and there were restaurants one could dine at. (The pizza in the media tent was pretty good too!) So thumbs up not having to spend a small fortune on food and beverages!

9. There’s actually alot to LEARN from Legos at Legoland. I didn’t feel AS bad about pulling Jake and Mia from school to go to Legoland, because I feel that when kids play with Legos, they are learning something. It’s imaginative play and some of the rides at Legoland Florida will actually give you a workout too! You can learn about gears, levers, pulleys, what makes buildings tall and more. I really like that they have learning experiences based on ages, so I do think that this place would be a great place for a field trip too! Here is where you can find out more about their field trip programs.

The You Tube video had done a great job of capturing what we would be seeing. It was all true. So bottom line, I like the park. I thought it was pretty neato. The kids had a great time and I know that we will come back and start back where we left off. I think it’s worth the trip and I am sure that everyone should keep an eye out for deals and specials. The Legoland Florida Facebook and Twitter pages are pretty active and might have specials. When you find one, jump on it! (I missed the AAA special and I think that there was a Florida teacher special too.) There is also an “unofficial” guide to the park here too.

And if you want someone else’s opinion, I know that some of my Twitter friends also came on Media Day and have reviews posted too: @ThemeParkMom, @WhoaMomma and @MinneMom So check them out too! (They are more seasoned reviewers than I, so you might want to check them out too!)

Nice job Legoland Florida. This Mama is glad you’re here!

26 Sep 2011

After 15,674 miles, it was time to say good bye.

1 Comment Random, Review

Today marks the end of an era. I sadly parted ways with a trusted friend who had seen me through the best of times and the worst of times. She was in my life for 5 and a half years and each time we meet, I was always excited to see her.

I remember the day we meet like it was yesterday. It was the summer of 2006 and my family was on the most memorable vacation we have had to date. It was at Rosemary Beach Read more

18 Feb 2011

Carnies and Fried Butter…I dare you!

2 Comments Adventures, Florida, Review

Updated for February 2015

So against my better thoughts and because they even give my kids a day off of school to go to it, I up and decided to take the kids to the Florida State Fair the other day.   It was kind of a last minute decision, but what the heck… Read more