Monday, August 12, 2019

The All-New Sesame Street Land At SeaWorld Orlando And More

This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

Me and Soko retired 3 years ago and moved to Florida.  Every year, since then, we have celebrated New Year's Eve at SeaWorld Orlando.  The very first time we celebrated the holiday here, though, was back in 2000 when the threat of the world shutting down was on everyone's mind.  We thought, why not be in a happy place, having fun together, when it happens.   So we packed up the kids and Grandma and off to SeaWorld we went.  And the reason we decided SeaWorld was where we wanted to spend that eve was because, as a family of three generations, we needed a park that we were sure we could all have a great time at.

That New Year's Eve had always been one of our best New Year's Eve memories.  So when me and Soko found ourselves with nothing to do our first year in Florida, we decided to spend the day, and count down the seconds to the new year, with Shamu, Clyde and Seamore!

We love that the Christmas celebration is still happening then.  The festive decorations are everywhere and in the evening the park lights up with so many colorful displays that we are sure you can see SeaWorld from outer space!

And we can't say enough about the special holiday shows.  The O Wondrous Night show is worth the price of the ticket alone.  It is that wonderful!  The joy and happiness I feel by the end of the show, is the feeling I get every time I see it, even though I have seen it three times now, .

Then, if all this was not enough. we are treated to a spectacular firework display after ringing in the new year!  What could be better than that!!

When we were there in December, we were thrilled to see that a section of the park was closed off and work was being done on a new Sesame Street Land   We are brand new grandparents with a grand baby who just happens to love the Sesame Street characters!  I have been anxious, since then, to check out this new section so when my sister, Sandie, and niece, Erica, asked if me and my daughter, Lisa, wanted to go to SeaWorld, with them and Erica's two little ones, when we were in Florida together last week, of course I said "YES"!  Once again, I was making a three generation trip to the park but this time as the one in the oldest generation! 

The first section we headed for when we got to the park was Sesame Street Land.  We dropped off our daughters at Infinity Falls on the way.  The little guys were too small for that ride and me and Sandie are not as daring as we once were years ago.  We decided to pass on experiencing the world's tallest drop on a river raft ride!  So off, me and Sandie went to find Sesame Street Land with the little guys.  It was just past Infinity Falls and right behind Shamu Theater.  We made it there right in time for the Sesame Street Party Parade.

Erica's little guy loved the parade and decided to march alongside. 

There were six rides to choose from in Sesame Street Land but the little guy wasn't quite tall enough for a couple of them.  Little guy and little girl were big enough for Elmo's Choo Choo Train.  They had a great time riding with their grandma.  I think Sandie had the most fun though!

The kids also enjoyed the interactive activities around Sesame Street Land, especially the laundromat game they found outside of  Hooper's Store.

We found 123 Sesame Street with Oscar's Garbage Can outside.  The kids tapped on the garbage can and received a grouchy reply!

We got something to eat and drink at one of the three food trucks parked on Sesame Street while the kids created delicious meals with Cookie Monster and Gonger at Cookie Monster's Foodie Truck Challenge.

A highlight of Sesame Street Land for Erica's kids was the play area where they had a ball running around and climbing up and down the mountains.

Rubber Duckie Water Works was probably the area the kids, and the rest of us, enjoyed most in Sesame Street Land on this very hot summer day in Florida!

Sesame Street Land was a big hit with Erica's kids.  I can't wait to take my grand baby here one day soon! 

Now it was time for me and Sandie and the kids to catch up with Lisa and Erica to enjoy the rest of the park together.  We can never make a trip to SeaWorld and not stop by the Clyde and Seamore show for sure.  
One of cutest shows here, and one that every generation definitely enjoys, is Pets Ahoy.  How can you not love the antics of these pets adopted by SeaWorld from local rescue shelters!

One ride all six of us really loved was Antarctica:  Empire of the Penguin.

We all loved the Aquarium in SeaWorld.  Erica's kids would have liked to spend the entire day here!

In between shows and rides, we stayed nourished and hydrated.  We couldn't beat the price of adding on the All-Day Dining pass to our admission tickets.  The variety of restaurants available at SeaWorld made it impossible for everyone not to be able to find something they would like to eat.  I highly recommend eating at least one meal at Voyager's Smokehouse!  

Our favorite way to end a fantastic day at SeaWorld Orlando is by making it all the way to the grand finale - the fireworks show, Ignite!

We had a great day at SeaWorld.  Now it was time to check into our hotel and relax.  It was nice of them to have orange water and iced tea waiting for us when we got there!

Our plan was to stay overnight in Orlando and spend the next day in Aquatica, SeaWorld's sister park, another perfect place for all of us to enjoy together.

After a very fun but hectic day at SeaWorld, we, by we I mean I, were ready to relax at Aquatica.  The very first thing we needed to do was to find a good place to put ourselves and our things down.  We found a great spot in front of the Cutback Cove wave pool.  It closed for a short time when inclement weather was passing over the park.

Once the areas were open, the kids found their way to Kata's Kookaburra Cove.

Little girl found a slide there that was a perfect size for her.

And Lisa found one, Taumata Racer, that she said was amazing.  I took her word for it because...

...this was her view from the top!  Yikes!!

Then we all went to Loggerhead Lane to relax in the lazy river.

We had a great two days at the parks and made some really fun memories along the way.  And because of the great deals we found on the ticket prices, the icing on the cake, I wouldn't be surprised if our summer visit becomes a tradition like mine and Soko's New Year's Eve visit!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Fayetteville, NC - The "Work In Progress III" Exhibition And More

My daughter, Lisa, and her husband always have so many exciting things to tell us every time they get back from one of their vacations in Fayetteville, NC so when Lisa invited me and Soko to join her to take in a baseball game there, we didn’t hesitate to say yes!   I was very curious to see this city for myself.  My expectations were very high and now that we have returned from our visit, I can tell you that I can’t wait to visit here again.

My first thought, as we drove into downtown Fayetteville, was that the city should be nick-named “City of Sculptures” because around every turn we spotted one.  I have nick-named our Florida hometown, Lake Wales, “City of Murals” because of the 21 amazing murals we enjoy every time we get a chance to walk around downtown.  The murals in our city were a part of a beautification project for the downtown area.  We had to know what the sculptures were all about in this city and why were many of them numbered?  

So off to the Arts Council we went.  We found out, from the lovely hostess there, that the numbered, 14 to be exact, sculptures we were seeing throughout the town, were part of the Work In Progress III exhibition.  It's a temporary public art exhibition, a gift to Fayetteville, and is funded through private donations and Arts Council funding.  She told us about how this was the third year of this project.  Then she gave us a map and information sheet.  Before we headed out into the city, we enjoyed the interesting art in the Arts Council building.  Recycling was the theme of the art projects and we loved the fun displays the artists created.

We had seen a few of the sculptures, in the exhibition, as we strolled around downtown Fayetteville the day before.  We found out, after we received our map, that we saw about half of them so we set out to find the ones that we missed.   I am happy to say that we found them all and had a great time exploring the city at the same time.

#1.  Skyward by Ben Pierce
Arts Center, 301 Hay St.

#2.  Ice Pops by Craig Grey
Cross Creek Commons

This was our favorite and was created by a young, local artist.
#3.  Process by Christian Happel
300 Hay Street

#4.  Eagle by Noelio Gonzalez
City Hall

#5.  Friends by Nnamdi Okonkwo
City Hall

#6.  Winged Glory by Jack Howard-Potter
Bragg Boulevard

#7.  Flat Lander by Richard Pitts
Festival Park

This sculpture we saw every time we passed it coming or going to our hotel, but we never had a chance to stop.
#8.  Midsummer by Hanna Jubran
St. James Square
#9.  Old School by Wayne Vaughn
Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

I was so thrilled that I was able to take a picture of this sculpture as the sun was setting behind it!
#10.  Sunrise, Sunset by Jordan Parah
Historic Courthouse

11.  Sundown/Off Belay by Joe Coates
Historic Courthouse

Another favorite of mine just happens to be by the same artist as our other favorite.
#12.  Guardian by Christian Happel
Market House NW Corner

#13.  Rabbits by Jonathan Bowling
Public Plaza

#14.  Dream Home by Jordan Krutsch
Anderson Street

We had fun on our quest to find the collection of sculptures in the exhibit.  We also found lots of permanent art along the way.  The Venus flytrap, on our cover photo above, looked very familiar to us.  We asked the Art Council hostess about it and found out that this piece was part of the first Work in Progress exhibition and it was so well liked that the city bought it.  The artist is Paul Hill who is from Wilmington, she told us.   Wilmington just happens to be our NC hometown.  I checked and found out that the Venus flytrap me and Soko pass every night on our evening walks downtown, is indeed the work of Paul Hill.  He calls the one in Fayetteville, Natural Embrace and the one in Wilmington, Southern Hospitality.

Southern Hospitality by Paul Hill
Wilmington, NC

We found sculptures and statues everywhere in Fayetteville, and a mural that was bigger than any of the murals in Lake Wales.

One of the most incredible pieces of art we saw as we walked around downtown Fayetteville, was the Tree of Good and Evil created by Charles Pilkey.  First of all, it was very large and secondly, the detail work was really interesting.  We had to take a few minutes to see all of it.

And there was even art that I was able to be a part of.

There is so much to see and do in Fayetteville and even though we spent 3 days and 2 nights here, we didn't see everything we wanted to.  One place we did get to, though, was North Carolina Veterans Park.  The public art here is to honor and acknowledge North Carolina's veterans.  The pieces were very moving, especially the hand castings displayed on columns, one for each of the 100 counties in North Carolina.

These were only some of the amazing works of art we found in this city.  And the art was only a small part of what we enjoyed during our time here.   Fayetteville, NC had everything we could wish for when we are on vacation.  From parks with hiking trails, museums, unique and delicious food to very friendly people, this city has it all and more.  And because most of the things on our to-do list were free, it was a vacation that fit our retirement budget!

Look for our blog post, coming soon, to find out more about the many things to do, see and eat in Fayetteville, affectionately known as America's Hometown!