Showing posts with label amusement park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label amusement park. Show all posts

Monday, August 20, 2018

Gurnee Fun: Great Wolf Lodge to Six Flags

It was the end of the trip to the new Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee,Illinois, but it was far from the end of fun for the weekend.

The day started with a farewell breakfast for the journalists and their families. In my case, it was with Brittany, Shaun, and Kyler.

The buffet filled with delicious food was in one of the resort’s convention rooms. In addition to the writers, the public relations staff, and the hotel’s management, we were greeted by Wiley the Wolf, who took the time to visit with all the kids.

After breakfast, we had a chance to enjoy one of the cabana’s (which guests can rent) as we did our last round in the waterpark. (I stuck with the lazy river.)

Then we headed around Great Wolf Lodge to see if there were any spots we missed.

We never did make it to Ten Paw Alley. With just two lanes of bowling, there was always a wait and there seemed like so much else to do without waiting.

We walked through the Build-A-Bear Workshop without a purchase but couldn’t resist picking up some goodies at Candy & Company (the dipped marshmallows were delicious).

Great Wolf Lodge also has its own Ben & Jerry’s and Dunkin Donuts, where we grabbed some coffee for the road. 

We never did make it in to Freshwoods Market, which sells all types of snacks.

I have to say that I definitely recommend the Paw Passes at Great Wolf Lodge Illinois. There are a couple different ones to choose from, depending on your family. 

They can save you a lot of money on the attractions, and even food and drinks.

We checked out and said goodbye to the staff for hosting us on such a fun trip. I also said goodbye to my friends as we were heading in different directions.

I was going up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for some exploration of that area, while they were heading down the road to Six Flags Great America.

It’s almost always a great time to go to Six Flags (and an even better family vacation combined with Great Wolf Lodge).

The amusement park is open weekends all year. Summer fun includes its waterparks.

This year Six Flags Great America started something new, Holidays in the Park, weekends November 23-December 23, and daily from December 26-31. It includes rides, light displays, shows, and activities such as arts and crafts in Santa’s Workshop.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Fun Day in the Sun at Knights Action Park

As the weather warms, it’s always a great time for an outdoor day trip. I had never been to Knights Action Park in nearby Springfield, Illinois, before and I was anxious to check it out.

For a small amusement park, Knights Action packs a lot in.

They have a waterpark, amusement rides, miniature golf and a golf range, and a racing track.

I had a teen and a pre-teen with me who were anxious to hit the long slides, while I am always happy to grab a tube an relax in a lazy river.

I enjoyed that for a while and ten hit the wave pool, where I met up with Brittany, Jacob, and Kyler.

We walked around for a while and saw the Seal Bay area for younger kids, as well as the river, where they have paddle boats.

Unfortunately, the paddle boats weren’t available the day we where there. It’s something I’d definitely enjoy next time I’m back.

There is a snack bar inside at Knights Action Park, but the consensus was to go outside and take a short drive to Chick-fil-A, which we don’t have in Champaign.

We had gotten the all-inclusive bracelets so we were able to come back in with no problem and continue our activities.

First, I played photographer (and videographer, check out my YouTube video), while the others tried out the go cart racing.

We decided to skip the Ferris Wheel as it was starting to get dark.

It looked like a lot of fun as I watched them go around a few times. Then, we all played a round of miniature golf on the 18-hole Putt Putt course. 
I definitely recommend purchasing an all-inclusive pass at Knights Action Park.

If you live nearby, it’s also worth getting a season pass as only the waterpark closes after Labor Day. 
The passes are also discounted if you buy them before the start of the next May season. (Check their website for details.)

Another thing I didn’t have a chance to check out that I need to come back for is the Route 66 Drive-In Theater, which is under the same ownership as Knights Action Park.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Amusement Park Fun and Special Cocktails in Branson

It was the last full day in Branson for Marsha, Brittany, Amanda, and I. We had a full day of fun planned, as well as a very special nighttime celebration.

We were up and out of the Radisson Hotel Branson early to head to Silver Dollar City, one of Branson’s most popular attractions.

I expected an amusement park, but I also got a period attraction that reminded me of Colonial Williamsburg.

Silver Dollar City has as many depictions of historical sites as rides, including period costumes and vehicles, an old school house, animals, walkways that looked like streets from long ago, woodworkers, a glassware maker, a pottery store, and other shops that had a lot more than your typical theme park souvenirs.

The park also has lots of shows, such as “Mean Murphy Rides Again” at the Saloon, McHaffie’s Homestead, and the Silver Dollar City Street Troupe. They also have seasonal shows in the fall and Christmas shows in December.

Unlike most amusement parks, Silver Dollar City is open through January 1st each year, and then re-opens in March. 

You can also purchase a triple ticket during the summer to include admission to Whitewater Water Park and the Showboat Branson Belle  (which we had done a few days before) dinner cruise at a discount rate.

We started with breakfast at Eva & Delilah’s Bakery. It was hard to choose free the pastries, breads, brownies, cookies, Danishes, and cupcakes.

We ended up with a cinnamon roll and sticky bun to share, and some fresh coffee to go with them.

There is no shortage of food at Silver Dollar City, from sit-down and buffet restaurants to stands for funnel cakes, sidewinder fries, tater twists, ice cream, candy, and fudge.

Marsha and I wondered around exploring while Brittany and Amanda hit the rides: 

The Giant Barn Swing, Thunderation Wooden Roller Coaster (called “the world’s most daring wood coaster” since it has three upside down twists), Firefall, and the Firespotter Roller Coaster.

We all did the train ride at Silver Dollar City, which stops for a comedy skit along the way, and the Fire in the Hole ride.

We were all very hungry and decided to go to Molly’s Mill Restaurant for the buffet luncheon. It was good and quite filling, with fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, a salad bar, a pasta bar, and more.

It was a very hot day and we were ready to go over to Whitewater Water Park. Marsha and I again took the relaxing route, spending time on the Lazy River before enjoying one of the many lounge chairs in the sun with an afternoon ice cream treat.

Brittany and Amanda went through the Pipeline Plunge, Surf’s Up Wave Pool, Kalani Towers, and Kapaui Plummet.

We headed back to the Radisson Hotel Branson in the evening. We had a late night planned and all napped for a while before dressing up.

The plan was to head to Crazy Craig’s Cheeky Monkey Bar at 10:00 and have dinner, and be there at midnight for a 21st birthday toast to Brittney.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of a mix-up with the PR rep as far as the Missouri laws were concerned. No one under 21 was allowed in the bar between 10 and midnight.

Another wrench in our plans was the fact that Branson is just not a late-night dinner town. The only place we found open for the birthday dinner was the International House of Pancakes!

We actually had fun with breakfast for dinner at IHOP and made it back to the Cheeky Monkey at 11:45.

While Brittany waited outside the door with Amanda (who had turned 21 a few weeks before), Marsha and I got the drinks ready and talked to Craig, the bar’s owner. 

He told us about his journey as a farm boy from Nebraska to Washington, DC, Panama, Costa Rica, and more, including where the monkey came from (you can read the whole story on the back of the menu in the picture).

At exactly 12:01 am, Craig personally escorted Brittany into the bar for her first official cocktails.

I picked the Cheeky Monkey Bar because of the fun atmosphere and interesting cocktails. It seemed as if every one of them made it to the birthday girl at our table! Including these:

Cheeky Monkey
Cruzan Mango, Guava, banana, and Coconut rums with a splash of tropical juices.

A Monkey’s Uncle
Svedka Raspberry Vodka, Svedka Mango Pineapple Vodka, Cranberry Juice, sour mix, and a splash of Sprite.

Grass Monkey
Cruzan Coconut rum, Deykuper Melon Liqueur, pineapple juice, sour mix, and a Cruzan 151 floater.

We closed down the bar at 2:00 am and headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. We had some more birthday celebrating to do for the last day of our trip in Branson, Missouri

Monday, July 3, 2017

Bigfoot and Dixie Stampede in Branson

It was day three in Branson and I continued to enjoy this Missouri city with my friends Marsha, Brittany, and Amanda.

Our first stop for the day was at an attraction new to the city this year, Bigfoot on the Strip. 

We thought it would be a quick stop, but we soon realized there was so much to do (and eat) that it was fun for the day.

Bigfoot, a joint adventure by three locals, who also happen to be in the food business (more below), is an adventure park with unique activities to keep kids and adults occupied and having fun.

Brittany and Amanda took off for the maze immediately. It was nothing like you’d find at chuck E Cheese.

This one required a lot of climbing and crawling, with stops in a tall water tower and the opportunity to jump onto a trampoline-like pit.

Before checking out anything else, we stopped for lunch at Bigfoot’s food trucks, Big Ds BBQ and Parlor Pizza Wood Fired Pizza.

It was a unique and delicious alternative to a snack bar. Owner Darrell “Big D” Henley showed us around the state-of-the-art trucks, where they can smoke their own meats and wood-fire pizzas.

Our “samples” turned into a magnificent buffet and I couldn’t even tell you what we liked best – it was all mouth-watering.

After lunch, Brittany and Amanda hit the main attraction, the Bigfoot Action Tower, which contains two rides in one 200’ high construction.

The Gravity Bomb™ is a freefall that uses a magnetic braking system to bring the riders to a smooth, but abrupt, stop after they “fall” down from the top.

The Super Sling™ is more of an actual ride, as two people sit together and flip slingshot like into the air and back down.

After the golf, we went inside to the arcade for the 8D Action Ride. 
This goes way beyond any 3 or 4D experience I’ve had, as you get 3D glasses and laser guns, while on an actual mini bike that jerks back and forth with sound effects.

You can buy individual tickets to Big Foot on the Strip, but I recommend going for the all-inclusive package if you want to spend the day. 

It was hard to get them off the Action Tower, but Marsha and I were ready for some mini-golf and Bigfoot has a fun course that even takes you through a muraled tunnel.
We couldn’t help but notice an Andy’s Frozen Custard next door as we got in the car to leave and stopped for some afternoon treats.

We went back to the 10479934?" target="_top"> Radisson Hotel Branson
for a bit to shower and change. We had plans to go to the Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Show.

Marsha had been to the show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, but the rest of us weren’t sure what to expect when we pulled up to what looked like a Southern mansion.

After we picked up our tickets we had time to walk through the stables and see the horses at this Branson, Missouri location.

They are switched out each show so they don’t get worn out and they were all pretty friendly.

We walked through the gift shop and into the carriage room where there is a bar (non-alcoholic drinks only) and a pre-show.

A bit crowded it was a bit crowded, but we were only in there for a short while before they called us into the main arena.

We all sat around a large circular sand-filled area for the show, which included a little of everything, with changing backgrounds, horses, riders, cowboys, dancers, wagons, and more.

There was plenty of special effects, including jumping through fire, and stunt riders. It was a lot of fun to watch.  There was a wonderful and patriotic finale.

Our place setting was complete, but without any type of utensils. You eat everything at this show with your hands, but it’s not quite as messy as it sounds.

Dinner was quite good, consisting of a small rotisserie chicken, barbecued pork loin, creamy vegetable soup (in a bowl with a handle to pick up), corn on the cob, a baked potato, a biscuit, and an apple turnover for dessert.

After the show, we went back to the Radisson Hotel Branson for a good night sleep. We had one full day left in Branson and it was going to end with a late night out.