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Disney On Ice: 100 Years of Magic

November 2nd, 2015

Parents are allotted a short — precious — window to cram in kid-fun before those darlings grow up and go all eye-rolly on you. Take Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic. I missed my window. But did that stop me? Not one bit. Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic hit Atlanta and my heart soared. Nevermind that my boys are 12 and one is closing in on six feet. I secured tickets for my husband, myself, and my tweens. Oh sure, there was some whining, but at this point? I’m immune.

Anna and Elsa

As a little girl I was taken to the Ice Capades and was entranced by the sophisticated ice dancing and glittering costumes. I wanted my boys to see the action. So, one evening, scores of little Elsas and Annas decked in princess couture from their tiny crowns to their little clip-clop “glass” slippers and my large male family made ourselves comfortable in Atlanta’s Philips Arena and waited for the show to begin.

The First Hour
The performance opened with our host and hostess, Mickey and Minnie, giggling and welcoming everyone to the show. More giggling. More welcoming. My husband glanced at me. (Uh, oh. I’d seen friendlier looks.) As the show unfolded, one Disney character after another held court on ice. We’re talking princesses, Toy Story friends, Elsa and Anna and about fifty famous Disney characters. A few beloved Disney characters danced alone. Many danced in pairs. And one group ice-danced an entire Disney story. All danced to the beautiful Disney music that many of us can recite from memory: “Tale as old as time, true as it can be…” The first hour closes, giving the Elsas and Annas a 15-minute break.

The Second Hour
The second hour begins and I wondered what could be left. Hadn’t we seen the main Disney celebs? No spoilers here, folks. I won’t go into specifics because second hour surprises are part of the excitement. And the grand finale? Put it this way: I glanced over and saw my husband and two towering boys clapping wildly as the ice dancers bring the show to a powerful conclusion.

Toy Story Characters at Disney On Ice

Best Ages
The show is designed for kids ages 2 and up. My boys advise that kids 4 to about 10 are the perfect age to see the show. I agree. As we were leaving the arena, I noticed many toddlers asleep on their parents’ shoulders. It turns out they’d caught the first hour and then fell asleep.

Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic is performing into 2016 and possibly beyond. In late October, November and December 2015 the show is on the East Coast and travels into North Carolina. In 2016, the 100 Years of Magic heads into the Midwest, back to the East Coast and then into the South. Check for further locations and dates at All guests ages 2 and over must have a ticket.

Other Tips
1. Arrive an hour early for good parking.
2. Bring a jacket or a sweater. Ice arenas gets chilly.
3. Feed kids well before you arrive (easy on the liquid): the venue won’t allow outside food or drinks.
4. Save big by purchasing LED-based wands online and neon bracelets and necklaces at a discount store weeks before the show.

— Wendy Irvine

Wendy Irvine is a homeschooling mom of twin 12-year-old beach fanatics. Follow Wendy’s family travel tips on Twitter @WendyIrvine.

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Leisure Pass City Experiences for Families

October 28th, 2015

Have you heard of Leisure Pass? The pass is available in several cities, and allows you to visit popular attractions for a one-time fee. Plus, the pass often includes public transportation and additional deals and discounts. These are just a few of the cities where Leisure Pass is available.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas Pass
Passholders enjoy access to over 25 iconic attractions in Sin City — including the Grand Canyon Tour and visit to Hoover Dam!

London Pass
The London Pass gives families access to more than 60 tourist attractions in London, such as the Tower of London. It’s available for either one, two, three, six or 10 consecutive days.

OMNIA Vatican & Rome Card
This pass provides families with access to must-visit attractions in Rome, including the Coliseum. It also comes with a travelcard, free guidebook and Fast Track Entry privileges.

New Orleans Pass
Included with this pass is admission to the Audubon Zoo and Mardi Gras World. The pass also includes two swamp tours.

Paris Pass
This is the best deal for Paris, since the pass includes admission to Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Palace of Versailles and a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. The Paris Pass also includes unlimited travel on the metro, buses and RER within zones 1 to 3 — an added value.

Berlin Pass
The Berlin Pass covers entry for several notable attractions, such as the Berliner Dom and Check Point Charlie Museum. It also includes a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, travelcard and free guidebook.

Dublin Pass
Visit the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Zoo and Christ Church Cathedral with this pass. The pass also includes a free one-way airport transfer from Dublin Airport, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook and 20 additional offers.

Vienna PASS
Take in the beautiful landscape and architecture of Austria with the Vienna Pass, which includes a bus tour (hop on and hop off), free guidebook and the option to add a travelcard.

–Amanda Geronikos

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6 Fun Cave Tours With Kids

September 2nd, 2015

Caves are a great place to explore with the family, and they’re especially a cool place to go when the temperatures soar outside. Consider a visit to one of these caves with your family.

Cave at Inner Space Caverns

Inner Space Caverns – Georgetown, Texas
This amazingly preserved cave in Georgetown, Texas, was hidden for thousands of years until discovered by a construction crew who was working on the nearby freeway. Listen closely and you can hear the traffic over head. Once upon a time, there was a hidden entrance to the cave, where animals left their bones to be discovered later as fossils. An artist painted the animals who left their fossils behind on a man-made wall — see which ones you recognize. You’ll enjoy using your imagination to look at shapes, learning about the cave’s development, and searching for the tiny bats that call this fascinating cave home.

Carlsbad Caverns – Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
Inside, you’ll find one of the largest limestone ‘rooms’ in the world. It is just shy of 4,000 feet long and 255 feet high. Carlsbad Caverns has lots of rooms with really cool names. You’ll love exploring the Balloon Ballroom, King’s Palace, and the Spirit World. Enjoy discussions with the kids on how each room was named. The Balloon room was once only accessible by a rope with balloons attached that could float into the cave. The King’s Palace has a formation in the center that looks like a castle. The Spirit World has formations that look like angels. Can you guess how the Bat Cave got it’s name? That’s right! It is home to 17 species of bats, including the most famous residents, Brazilian Free-Tailed bats. Until 1932, visitors had a long climb into and out of the cave, but now elevators take people down to the caverns below. Enjoy visiting the cafeteria and museum, too.

Fantastic Caverns – Springfield, Missouri
This truly fantastic cave is the only one in North America in which there’s a ride! Guests ride in a large tram that is pulled by a propane-powered jeep. Ride along while admiring the formations and see the names painted on the wall by the very first 12 explorers in 1862 — all ladies. One really fantastic moment is when the lights are all turned off and you can experience true darkness in the cave — an experience teens will love. On the ride, you’ll also learn how mushrooms grow in the dark and see a former fungus garden.

Jewel Cave National Monument – Custer, South Dakota
Interested in a little bling to go with your cave visit? Then Jewel Cave is the cave for you! The cavern, lined with calcite crystals, was found in 1900 when explorers found a hole that exhaled cool air. After blasting a hole big enough in which to crawl, they found what is now the third longest cave in the world, with 175 miles of mapped passageways. Visitors see just a small portion of the cave system and have three trails to choose from for touring.

Ruby Falls – Chattanooga, Tennessee
Inside Lookout Mountain, 1,120 feet below the ground’s surface, is North America’s highest underground waterfall, which drops 145 feet. Ruby Falls (named after the wife of the discoverer) has a whole list of curious tidbits. It was the setting for a beauty pageant and as a fallout shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This cave was one of the very first to use electric lights!

Caverns of Sonora – Sonora, Texas
This cavern is formed from 100-million-year-old limestone. Ponder how old 100 million years really is during your visit — dinosaurs roamed the Earth then! While lots of caves have stalactites (hanging tightly from the ceiling) and stalagmites (reaching mightily upwards), these are pink and rose colored. The nearly translucent formations grow in interesting shapes. The most famous is called The Butterfly. Most caves are chilly, but not this one. The temperature stays around 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, with 98 percent humidity.

–Natalie Tanner, The Educational Tourist

Natalie Tanner, The Educational Tourist, has hundreds of thousands of miles under her belt — business trips with her geologist husband to places like Scottsdale, Jackson Hole, New York and Denver — and family adventures to far-flung destinations like Rome, Paris, Tangier, and Istanbul. When she isn’t traveling, The Educational Tourist stays busy planning the next adventure while being mom to two kids, three dogs, Sushi the fisand a hamster. Follow her adventures at The Educational Tourist.

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Where Selfie Sticks Are Banned

August 8th, 2015

Six Flags recently announced the banning of selfie sticks in parks nationwide, citing safety as a concern. Earlier in 2015, Disney did the same for all parks. As more attractions and events shun the devices, we’ve compiled a list of popular family destinations where it’s best to save the selfies.

Mom and Son With Selfie Stick

– Six Flags, Nationwide
– Disneyland, California
– Disney World, Florida
– Disneyland Paris, France
– Disneyland Hong Kong, China
– Lake Tahoe, Nevada and California
– Colosseum, Italy
– The National Gallery, London
– Museum of Modern Art, New York City
– Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
– Lake Winnepesaukah, Georgia
– Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
– The Palace of Versailles, France
– Kentucky Derby
– Minnesota State Fair (Partial Ban)

Visit (a newly launched site) to search attractions you’ll be visiting and see what the policies are on selfie sticks.

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Family Guide to Six Flags Amusement Parks
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