2016 Cleveland LEGO Kidsfest

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If you are looking for something fun to do with the whole family, hopefully you purchased your tickets for the 2016 Cleveland LEGO® Kidsfest early, because all sessions are completely sold out, and for good reason. The LEGO Kidsfest Cleveland has not been back in town since 2011. Therefore, we were due for a return of this family friendly event.

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The LEGO Kidsfest is specifically designed for kid level builders. Throughout the entire show floor are tons of areas for kids of all ages to build various builds. There are specific areas to just build Ninjago, or LEGO Friends, or build in only purple blocks. Kids also have the chance to make custom builds that get displayed on walls or there is a complete outline of the United States where builds are displayed from throughout the event.

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While we did not take part in them, be sure to take part in some of the zones where there are specific challenges, as kids get to take home LEGO sets for participating.

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One of our favorite areas is looking at all the lifesize figures made entirely out of LEGO. The mastery is quite amazing!

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The Cleveland LEGO Kidsfest takes place through Sunday, November 6, 2016.

For those looking to attend Kidsfest in your city, you are encouraged to buy your tickets as soon as possible, because the events can and do sell out in advance. See the www.LEGOkidsfest.com for available times and events.

Disclaimer: Our family was provided with tickets in exchange for an honest review of the event.

9 Must Do Reason to Visit Disneyland During the Fall

What is your favorite time to visit Disneyland? As Disney theme park fans, we have done our share of visits to Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. However, we love the little things about Disneyland that make it our favorite of the parks. Having seen Disneyland during the regular season and Christmas season, we recently visited the park to experience Halloween and the Mickey’s Not So Scary party for the first time, and boy were we glad we did, as we quickly learned 9 must do reason to visit Disneyland during the fall.

1) Decorations

Not only does the park have family friendly, non-gory decorations throughout the park, but they also have decorations that are put out just on nights of the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

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2) Creative Treats

As foodies, our family really enjoys the food experience at Disney parks, and get excited to see special menu options available only during the fall season.

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3) Exclusive Rides

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Our favorite reason for visiting Disneyland in the fall/winter is because of the Haunted Mansion overlay with a Nightmare Before Christmas. The Haunted Mansion is already some of our favorite dark ride; however, the whole experience is reinvented during the holidays with the AMAZING Nightmare overlay. It is so well done, it is well worth a second, or third ride.

You also will not find this overlay experience at Disney World, making it a must do fall event at Disneyland.

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4) Exclusive Merchandise

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Disney does a lot of things right, and they also create amazing merchandising that makes you want to spend more money. We picked up this exclusive poison apple drink cup, which goes perfect at home on our scary fireplace mantel.

5) The Unexpected

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Down the road at Knott’s Berry Farm, they are famous for their Haunt event featuring the fog. We were quite happy to see Disneyland creatively uses fog throughout Rivers of America to create an immersive environment.

6) Halloween Overlays

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At first thought, the idea of projection mapping onto buildings sounds like a cheap way of decorating. However, like many things at Disney Parks, they did a good job overlaying the Sleeping Beauty Castle, It’s a Small World exterior, and even Main Street with Halloween scenes that were tied to music and helped bring an additional level of impressiveness to the event.

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7) Halloween Parade

In the everyday world, we are not ones to always enjoy a parade. However, at Disney Parks, it is always a must do! The floats, the music, the cast members are always so well done. Plus, that moment a character takes a second out of their day to look your child in the eye, smile, and wave, it is a magical experience.

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8) Special Characters

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Speaking of Characters doing terrific things, the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is a great time to meet some of the rarer characters from the Disney playbook. We even ran into a great scarecrow that loved interacting with guests.

9) Candy

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What is Halloween without some trick-or-treating? Disney does candy like your wildest imagination. Throughout the parks are TONS of snack stops. Everyone, including parents, can fill their bags to the limit with great candy, chips, and healthy snacks like baby carrots and sliced apples.

Summary of 9 Must Do Reason to Visit Disneyland During the Fall

We can not say enough how much we enjoy Disneyland during the fall. It was great seeing not only characters, but also guests dress up in their favorite costumes. It was great seeing all the decorations and getting to see some of our favorite rides. It was great trying some of the exciting Halloween treats and being in a fun, family friendly Halloween environment.

We would absolutely return again in the future.

Review: Dollywood for Families

Millions of guests visit the Smoky Mountain region every year. Most take in some iconic hikes to see waterfalls and nature. Others spend time taking in the various tourists activities from mini-golf to Jurassic boat rides. However, somewhere between the creation of the mountains and the proliferation of tourism came an amusement park that was fitting to the region in theme and atmosphere.

In 1986, that small amusement park called Silver Dollar City was purchased and rebranded as Dollywood after the iconic singer Dolly Parton.

During our family’s summer venture to the Smoky Mountain region, we took in plenty of nature packed hikes, some tourist activities, and made it a point to spend some time at Dollywood to see how it compares to the many other amusement parks we have visited from Cedar Fair to Disney.

The very first thing we did was take advantage of the offer to buy a ticket after 3:00 PM and get in free the next day. We arrived promptly at 3:00, entered the park, and headed straight for their new ride, Lightning Rod. However, after an hour plus of the ride running, then going down for repairs, we opted to go out and enjoy the rest of the park. Lightning Rod would have to wait for another time.

Fortunately, there were tons of rides the whole family could enjoy in the rest of the park.

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We LOVED the theme to all the rides. None of them were just plain roller coasters. All had an incredibly detailed theme and character that made them memorable.

Our boys loved Blazing Fury, a dark ride depicting a fireman theme. Firechaser Express also held a special place for us since it was the first big kid coaster that are youngest son (3 years old) was able to ride, and he loved!

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Our family also managed to take advantage of the Parent Swap, which is great for those with young kids who may not be able to ride certain attractions. Each ride is different in how it operates with Parent Swap, but the general gist is that one parent rides the attraction, while the other watches the kids. Then, when the first parent completes their ride, they switch with the other parent, who then gets to ride without waiting. Parent Swap is a wonderful program that helps alleviate double waiting in line to ride attractions.

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Since our family visits a lot of the Cedar Fair parks from Kings Island to Knott’s Berry Farm to Cedar Point, those parks are heavily operated by a younger, college age crowd. While a minor detail, I love when visiting parks like Knoebles and Dollywood, where the staff are the majority of an older aged crowd. We find them more pleasant, helpful, and give the park a sense of authority with an experienced, older staff. We also assume it means the park pay their employees a decent wage.

When visiting Dollywood, guests also know they can eat some really good food! In partnership with the CPFoodBlog, we had to try the iconic cinnamon bread from the Gristmill. Following we also took in a great all-you-can eat buffet at Miss Lillian’s Fried Chicken restaurant.

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After walking around the entire park, you really get a sense of how absolutely gorgeous the grounds are maintained. From the beautiful landscaping, water features, and historic period buildings, Dollywood is well worth the investment.

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PS We did eventually get to ride Lightning Rod on the day of our full day visit, first thing in the morning. Lightning Rod is the world’s first launch wooden coaster with some fantastic elements that were a real surprise. The verdict: Lightning Rod was fantastically fun and a great new experience!

Our family was partially sponsored by Dollywood with two free tickets to visit the park.