Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

What’s New at Knott’s Berry Farm

June 28th, 2014

Knott’s Berry Farm recently completed updates to the Calico Mine Train ride and the Camp Snoopy area in an effort to keep the classic attractions looking brand new. On your next trip to the California theme park, be sure to check out the revitalized experiences. Here’s what you can expect:

Calico Mine Train
Originally opened in 1960, the Calico Mine Train ride was in need of a new paint job, a new sound system and new lighting. Each train was refurbished and repainted with new colors. The figures and set design throughout the ride were also repainted and updated. New lights were installed and the music and recordings throughout the ride were re-mastered with a digital program for clearer sound. The Calico Mine Train also received a new miner figure who will greet riders as they enter the mine’s upper level. A few additional figures, such as vultures, were also added throughout. Lastly, the explosion at the end of the ride got a reboot and is now more spectacular than ever.

Camp Snoopy
With the addition of three new rides — Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies, Charlie Browne’s Kite Flyer and the Linus Launcher — Camp Snoopy is more kid-friendly than ever. The area, which opened in the 1980s, is geared toward younger, elementary children and is a popular play area for families visiting Knott’s Berry Farm. The entire area was refurbished and the Grand Sierra Railroad received a facelift and scenes of Peanuts characters playing together were added throughout.

Pig Pen’s Mud Buddies
One of the three new rides in Camp Snoopy, Pig Pen’s Mud Buddies puts riders in ATV’s that spin, bounce and bump around Pig Pen. Children must be 36 inches or taller to ride or must be accompanied by an adult.




Charlie Brown’s Kite Flyer
The second new ride in Camp Snoopy takes kids flying around a large tree. Riders will sit in swings and soar through the air up and down. Kids must be 42 inches or taller to ride or be accompanied by an adult.




Linus Launcher
The last of the three new Camp Snoopy rides, the Linus Launcher has riders lay down and fly through the air on Linus’s “blankets.” Riders are on their stomachs and the ride takes them up 10 feet in the air. Kids must be at least 42 inches tall to ride.




According to Raffi Kaprelyan, vice president and general manager of Knott’s Berry Farm, the park will continue to evolve and plans to revitalize other areas are in place.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz



Summer Fun for the Family in Aruba

June 13th, 2014

Don’t let Friday the 13th get you down — no matter your luck today, start thinking ahead to your family vacation this summer. Have you planned it yet? If not, then you’re in luck! Consider a trip to Aruba because the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa and Casino just announced its newest “Kids Rule! Concierge” service, plus so many more family-friendly activities. Here’s what you can expect if you decide to stay at this beachfront resort this summer:

Kids Rule! Concierge Service
Check-in will be more fun for kids with this new program. Children will receive a welcome amenity with Aruba beach bags, miniature bottles of sunscreen, a beach pail and shovel. They’ll be ready to go as soon as you drop the bags off in your guestroom!

Cool Pool Snacks and More
While soaking up the sun on a lounger by the pool or splashing with the kids in the shallow end, enjoy fresh fruit skewers at 2 p.m. each day. And when the heat starts to get to you, cool down with locally grown aloe — the pool staff will gladly spray your whole family with the refreshing mist.

Games, Smoothies and Movies
If you’re up for a little competition, take part in a team-building activity like Tug-o-War and Limbo. Check the daily schedule of activities for more fun for the whole family, like token dives, shuffleboard contests, beach volleyball, bingo and more.

After breaking a sweat, head to the Kadushi Fresh Fruit Juice Bar for a seminar on smoothies. Learn how to make the resort’s most popular beverage and taste your concoctions when done to see if you’re a true smoothie master. The demonstrations take place daily at 10:30 a.m. and recipe cards are available for families to take home.

In the evening, relax with a dive-in movie. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the resort will screen family-friendly films on the main pool deck. Theatre-style seating will be available for those not wanting to get wet during the movie, but all guests are more than welcome to float in the water during the film. And don’t worry about the popcorn — the resort will provide the salty-snack and other goodies!

Dine for Less at Lunch and Dinner
The Hyatt Regency Aruba has 12 restaurants and bars to choose from when it comes to family meals and date-night drinks, but this summer, eat lunch and dinner at the Palms Restaurant, which has the “Pay Your Age” promotion for kids. Kids will only be charged the dollar amount that is equal to their age (12 years old equals $12). Menu favorites include fish tacos and Caribbean jerk chicken, but kid-friendly dishes like burgers, chicken sandwiches and hot dogs are also available.

Extra Savings Under the Sun
The Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa and Casino is also offering a family-friendly promotion that is sure to please parents. The Sunshine on Sale promotion offers families a free night during their stay! Book four consecutive nights and receive your fifth consecutive night free. And if you need more room to spread out and relax, book a second, connecting room for children 18 and under to stay in at half price. The offer is valid now through Dec. 19, 2014, but based on availability. Additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Friday Family Hotel News

December 14th, 2012

Family Vacation Critic receives a lot of interesting news about hotels that we’d love to share with you. Visit us every Friday to find exciting news about hotels in your favorite destinations.

Hilton Opens First All-Inclusive Resort in Mexico
Families love all-inclusive (makes it easier for us to budget and not have to say “no” at every turn) and now Hilton is entering Mexico‘s all-inclusive market with its new Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort. The beachfront hotel offers 259 rooms and suites, as well as onsite dining with an international buffet and a French and Brazilian restaurant. Amenities include pools, a kids’ club and a spa. Rates will range from $180 to $350 per person, per night.

Warwick International Acquires Paradise Island Harbor Resort
Warwick International Hotels has acquired the 250-room Paradise Island Harbour Resort in the Bahamas. The resort will now be receiving a complete and extensive renovation, slated to begin in the latter part of 2013. The resort will remain open during the renovation.

Haunting Hotels with History

October 10th, 2012

My daughter is fascinated by the notion a hotel may have ghosts after overhearing a conversation about the Stanley Hotel in Colorado (of “The Shining” fame.) She has been begging me to take her to a hotel that claims to be haunted. Luckily, I received a list of four paranormal hotels that we just may have to check out together.

1. The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.
This property claims a ghost has roamed its halls for over half a century. She is referred to as the Pink Lady because of the flowing pink gown she wears. It is believed that this young woman was a guest in Room 545 in the 1920s and that she either jumped or was pushed to her death in the Main Inn’s Palm Court, five floors below. New reports of her sightings still occur, especially by young children. Some say they just see a pink mist, others a full apparition of a young long-haired beauty in a pink gown. I’ve stayed at the Grove Park Inn (a gorgeous hotel) but never saw the pink mist.

2. La Posada de Santa Fe in Santa Fe, N.M.
This hotel dates back to 1882 when Abraham Staab built it as a three-story Victorian mansion for his family. When Julia, Staab’s wife, died in 1896 at the age of 52, her presence continued to live on throughout the home. Today, the Staab House at La Posada de Santa Fe retains its original structure and is home to a cozy bar and Suite 100, which used to be Julia’s bedroom. To honor her, the hotel staff makes sure to invite her to parties held in the house and greet her when they enter her bedroom.

3. The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va.
One of the oldest resorts in America (built in 1766) has reports about the 14th floor in the resort’s oldest wing. As the story goes, in the early 1900s, a woman was set to be married at The Homestead but on the day of her wedding her husband-to-be ran out and never returned. The bride became so distraught that she took her own life. Now her spirit roams the 14th floor of the resort asking guests and staff for the time with hopes her groom will return. Whether or not you spot the bride, this historic resort is a must-visit.

4. Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H.
This resort claims the ghost of Caroline Foster roams the property. Visions of an elegant woman in Victorian dress are often spotted in the hallways of the hotel, but perhaps the most common sighting of the beloved Caroline is in room 314, where guests report seeing the vision of the woman sitting at the edge of their guest bed.

–Lissa Poirot

Getting Away Together

February 16th, 2012

Have you had a chance to catch the new PBS series, Getting Away Together? The reality show focuses on a new group of travelers, friends and family, as they embark on a vacation together. The shows not only highlight the dynamics of traveling together, but the beauty of the places they visit, including Outer Banks, N.C., Hilton Head, S.C., and Kissimmee, Fla. Groups stay in vacation rentals during their travels, and visit historic sites, theme parks, and more.

The show is looking for families and groups of 4 to 10 people for upcoming episodes. If you are interested in traveling and have a great story and destination in mind, the producers want to hear from you! Who knows? Maybe your family’s vacation can become an episode!

For casting, visit the show’s website. Click here to find local airtimes.

–Lissa Poirot

Breakfast with the Animals in Baltimore

February 1st, 2012

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is bringing back its popular Breakfast with the Animals series, a VIP experience that lets guests get up close and personal with their favorite animals. The series includes a one-of-a-kind al fresco dining experience next to zoo animals of your choice, special keeper chats, education stations, unlimited photo ops and a gift.

The lineup includes:

• Breakfast with Polar Bears, March 24 and November 3
• Breakfast with the Penguins, April 12, July 6 and 7 and September 8
• Breakfast with the Elephants, April 28 and August 10 and 11
• Breakfast with the Giraffes, May 12 and July 21
• Breakfast with the Chimps, June 16 and September 22
• Breakfast in Africa (Zebras, Rhinos, Ostriches), June 23 and August 25

Tickets to the event also include general admission so your family can enjoy the entire zoo after breakfast is complete. Tickets are $55 for members and $65 for non-members. Children 2 and under are free but still require a ticket.

If you’ll be visiting Baltimore this year, this definitely is a unique experience for the kids! Find family-friendly hotels in the area at Baltimore Family Resorts and Hotels.

–Lissa Poirot