Kennywood’s Open

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Growing up as a kid in the Pittsburgh region, it wasn’t summer until you made the annual pilgrimage to the holy land of childhood fun and memories: Kennywood Park.

Since my dad worked there for many years when he was younger, I grew up going to the park ever since I could remember.

When I was younger I remember riding The Turnpike with my Dad in the passenger seat thinking I was a big deal because now he was the one in the the back seat.

When I got older, high school age, I couldn’t wait to go to Kennywood with my friends as part of our school picnic. We would ride from morning to dark when the lights would come alive and transform the park to a magical, neon fed world that made it seem like summer would never end.

Then for awhile it seems like life gets too busy and you are between college classes, work and starting out on married life and you just don’t think about going back for awhile.

But everything changes when you have a child of your own and you want to take them to give them the same kind of experience that you had when you were growing up.

Luckily for us Kev’s work hosts an annual company picnic at Kennywood and we take advantage of the offer and spend the day in the park where I grew up.

I remember the first time we went to Kennywood with Lily it was a different experience then the one I just had this past week which was three years later.

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Kennywood 2016

This year we were able to try Lily on a couple of different rides that she was unable to ride last year, like the Kangaroo. She really enjoyed this ride, but at first she was afraid that it was too fast, but she ended up really liking it.

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We did spend a lot of time in Kiddieland riding the numerous rides that she enjoyed a couple of times. I felt bad for the poor ride operator that had to basically pull her out of the helicopter ride while she was a sobbing mess.

The carousel was my favorite attraction to enjoy with Lily. We rode it twice and the first time Lily didn’t like it because she said her horse went up too high. But the second time we opted for one that didn’t move. She liked it a lot better.

But, her favorite ride was Garfield’s Nightmare. This 3-D boat ride through different scenes depicting a nightmare for the orange fuzzy cat (ie attacking ice cream cones, a menacing vet getting ready to give a shot, and more).

The ride is more funny than it is scary and is brightly painted and highlighted by a black light.

Speaking of things that are funny, Lily has the best of luck when it comes to playing games at amusement parks.

She loves the fishing game or duck game where you pick three of the animals to see what you win. Lily picked three ducks at Kennywood and she walked away with a large prize, which was a big frog that she named Ribbit.

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We had a wonderful day and were so thankful to Kev’s company for having the picnic and giving us many more memories that we will cherish for years to come.

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Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride

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This past trip to Walt Disney World we decided to try the “Disney’s Spirit of Aloha” dinner show at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

I had heard a lot of mixed reviews of the show and we decided to give it a shot.

The show only takes place on select evenings so you will want to make reservations a few days in advance. You can make them as far out as 180 days before your trip.

Also, you will need to check in at a desk located in the main lobby of the resort before you make your way to the grotto where the luau takes place.

You will want to arrive at least an hour before your scheduled dinner time because the line to check in is huge! I was so surprised by how long the line was and ended up standing in line for at least a half hour.

The nice thing is that you only need one person to check in so the rest of your party can relax and enjoy the beautiful lobby while they wait.

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Our little Lilo with her Stitch

Once you are checked in, you make your way to the grotto where you get a lei and can have a family picture taken. This is a really nice picture to have especially if you have the Memory Maker.

You choose your seat based on three different price points.

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

As you can tell from the diagram up above, the different areas are assigned a number. One is the most expensive at $78 for adults and $46 for ages 3 to 9. Category two is $74 and $44 and category three is $66 and $39.

We ended up siting in the second tier of seats that is a little off the floor and I felt the seats were a little better then the back few rows of the tier one seats.

The tickets are expensive, which is the same for the other dinner shows on property such as the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical review.

When you figure how much it would cost to see a theatrical performance in a larger city and work in the cost of a meal it would be more expensive then these tickets. But, I still think the prices are a little on the pricey side.

The food, I think, is delicious and has something for everyone, including the kiddos.

The menu includes a variety of food such as chicken, pork, salad, cold noodle salad, guava cake and more.

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This is a sampling of the entree that is served.

Lily had a pizza, which she ate all of, and then proceeded to eat almost all of the cold noodles. (This is a lot of food for our picky eater.)

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The show is really great and highlights all the various cultures that make up the islands of Hawaii that is bookend with a story about O’hana, family. (And of course fire twirling. Who doesn’t like vitamin swirling?)

Have you gone to one of the dinner shows on property? What were your thoughts. Leave them in the comments below.

 


Mexican cuisine added to Disney Springs

 

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Photo courtesy of Frontera Cocina’s website.

 

Disney Springs, formerly Downtown Disney, has grown so much since the new concept took over.

The most recent addition to Disney Springs is Frontera Cocina by Chef Rick Bayless, which just opened Monday.

Bayless, a six-time James Beard Foundation winner opened the restaurant located in the Town Center section of Disney Springs.

The menu features a lot of gourmet Mexican dishes like freshly made salsa, The Cocina Half Chicken and more.

Here is a listing of the dishes available according to the restaurant’s website:

Starters

  • Chipotle, salsa verde
  • Creamy Yucatecan pumpkin seed-habanero dip, crisp cucumber and jicama
  • Tortilla soup
  • Coctel Rojo
  • Coctel Verde
  • Queso Fundido
  • Chipotle Chicken Tostada
  • Zucchini and Poblano Raja Tostada

Guacamole

  • Verde Guacamole
  • Bacon Guacamole
  • Atomic Guacamole

Salads

  • Taqueria Salad
  • Caesar

Tacos and Tortas

  • Carne Asada Tacos
  • Chicken Tacos
  • Pepito Torta
  • Cochinita Pibil Torta
  • Mushroom Torta

Entrees

  • Crispy Half Chicken
  • Carne Asada
  • Oaxcan Red Chile Chicken
  • Shrimp Mojo De Ajo
  • Carnitas
  • Red Chile Chicken Enbchiladas
  • Salsa Verde Shrimp Enchiladas Suizas

Sides

  • Arroz Con Plantains
  • Fried Plantains
  • Refried Black Beans with Cotija Cheese
  • Queso Anejo Mashed Potatoes
  • Grilled Calabacitas

Desserts

  • Pecan Pie Bar
  • Platano Sundae
  • Coconut Lime Quattro Leches

Drinks

  • Carrot Ginger
  • Avocado
  • Minty Pineapple
  • Tamarind
  • Topolo
  • Spicy Grapefruit
  • Jalapeno
  • Agave Flights
  • Wines
  • Beer
  • Sangria

Kids

  • Quesadillas
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • Chicken Tacos
  • Ice Cream

If you are interesting in going to the restaurant,  highly suggest making reservations.

Will you and your Mousekatots be checking out Frontera Cocina in the future? Leave your comments below.


Beyond the Mouse: Kennywood Park Overview

My husband works for a wonderful company that really treats its employees well. In addition to a huge Christmas party, the company also has an annual picnic at our local amusement park, Kennywood Park, located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania right outside of Pittsburgh.It has been a place of pilgrimage for many families.

My Dad worked at the park when he was a teenager and I have been going there ever since I was an infant, and the same thing is true for our Mousekatot.

We went last year, but Lily was too little to remember a lot about the visit.

This year, we arrived about 1 p.m. and decided to try and take Lily onto a ride that is like the Haunted Mansion, which is her favorite Disney ride, however she was a little intimated to ride in the beginning. She was upset, so we decided to get out of line.

This leads to an important tip: never force your toddler to ride something. You know them best, if they just seem a little intimated, but just need a little encouragement to be fine, then fordge ahead.

We knew this would be something Lily would like to ride, so we decided to go and visit Kiddieland and come back later.

Kiddieland at Kennywood is a really nice area. There are a bunch of rides that are perfect for toddlers including a mini coaster, a ride that drops you like Tower of Terror, an airplane ride and more.

Lily decided she wanted to ride the min-swings. When we first put her on the ride she was a little nervous at first because she didn’t know what to expect. After the ride got started she enjoyed herself, but still had a look on her face like she was trying to figure it all out.

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Enjoying the swings

 

After the swings Lily decided she wanted to go on the kiddie version of the whip ride, that takes you around in a circle and whips you around. This was the first ride of the day where we really got to experience how great the employees are this year. When we arrived at the ride the ride operator came and took Lily over to her car. On the way there she was asking her what color car she wanted and she was enjoying her day. This made her feel a little better about riding by herself. When the ride was over she helped her out, walked her to us and said bye.

We also had a wonderful ride operator when Lily was too scared to ride an airplane ride by herself. He helped her out of the ride and tried to soothe her on her way over to us. You could tell these employees really enjoyed their jobs.

Lily’s favorite ride of Kiddieland was the mini-turtle. This was her favorite ride at a sister park to Kennywood and it was no surprise that she would love it again this year.

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My two favorites on the mini-turtle.

 

After we rode all the rides that we wanted to in Kiddieland we decided to give the ghost ride another chance.

Luckily, this time Lily felt a little more brave. When we went to watch the pre-show video she got a little nervous, but she just covered her eyes and she was fine. She really enjoyed this ride that had you shot at targets, like Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, with a ghost theme. She was so proud and excited that her score was zero. (We didn’t have the heart to tell her anything different.)

She loved this ride, Ghostwood Estates, so much that we went back again at her request.

We also had the opportunity to go on the newly refurbished Noah’s Ark, which is a funhouse attraction. Lily got a little scared on this one, but was alright once Kev held her and walked her through it.

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You enter the attraction through the mouth of a whale.

 

We also really enjoyed a lot more rides including the carousel.

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We loved riding our horse that we named Mrs. Horsey

 

While it isn’t Disney, Kennywood is still a really fun place that has been an important part of my life growing up and I am happy that it is going to be a part of Lily’s.

Do you have a local amusement park that you visit? Leave your comments below.