Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery Tour in Lititz, PA–Experience Adventure 26 of 100

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Dang, the pretzels up in Pennsylvania taste heavenly.

For real.

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Beautiful and golden, with just a slight outside crunch and a warm, soft, bread-like center, topped with a tiny tang of salt…yummmmmy!

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Fun Fact:  The state of Pennsylvania produces a staggering 80% of the nation’s hard pretzels!

Why???

The Palantine Germans brought soft pretzels and pretzel recipes to America in 1710.  And where did these people settle?  That’s right!  Pennsylvania.  Today, we call these pretzel-bearing geniuses the “Pennsylvania Dutch”.

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Though several PA pretzel makers and companies offer tours, we decided to visit the FIRST commercial pretzel bakery in America–to see where it all began!

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery

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Our 26th of 100 adventures!

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In 1861, Mr. Julius Sturgis built the original ovens for his pretzel bakery in a 77 year-old building located in Lititz, Pennsylvania.  Today, pretzel lovers, visitors and crazy homeschooling families on sabbatical (like us!) can visit the site, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

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The interesting, 30 minute tour includes the history of pretzel making and baking, a hands-on pretzel twisting class and a quick tour of the original bakery, ovens and equipment.

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We twisted some impressive pretzels!

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Visitors also learn about the evolution of machinery used by the company and as a small treat, receive a bag of hard pretzels at the conclusion of the tour.

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Guests can watch large, soft pretzels being made onsite!  ***The company still uses the same recipe from 1861!  AMAZING!

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The shop offers quite a bit of historical information, relics and museum-worthy exhibits, too!

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All kinds of yummy flavored hard pretzels, souvenirs and hot, fresh soft pretzels can be purchased in the front gift shop, separate from the tour.  But, take the tour!  (And then shop!)

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This tour offered all my favs:  an interesting history, a knowledgeable and entertaining guide, original relics, a hands-on activity and FREE snacks at the end!!  Certainly an excellent way to learn about the history of pretzel making and the Julius Sturgis Pretzel company.  A++

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Put this tour on your list of “must-do adventures” during your next visit to Lititz, Pennsylvania!  We loved it!

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Julius Sturgis Pretzel is located at 219 East Main Street, Lititz, Pennsylvania, 17543.

Tours are offered Monday-Saturday, 9:30 am until 4:30 pm.

Prices:

Child: $2.75

Ages 13+:  $3.75

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The store is open 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.  Closed on Sunday and some holidays.

For more information, call 717-626-4354 or visit www.juliussturgis.com

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Looking for other things to do in Pennsylvania?

Check out Wilbur Chocolates–right down the road from Julius Sturgis!  Click here for more info!

Don’t miss this awesome museum:  The National Watch and Clock Museum

Interested in the Appalachian Trail?  Read about our first hike here!

Check out the State Museum of Pennsylvania here!

If you find yourself in Lancaster, PA, click on the titles and check these places out!

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

Lancaster Central Market

Beiler’s Doughnuts

 

 

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The Wilbur Chocolate Store in Lititz, PA–Experience Adventure 25 of 100

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We took a quick drive to Lititz, Pennsylvania to visit The Wilbur Chocolate Store and Museum for our 25th experience adventure.

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The chocolate dynasty began in 1865 when H.O. Wilbur and Samuel Croft produced mostly molasses candies and hard candies.  By 1884, the men separated the company and the cocoa and chocolate divisions became H.O. Wilbur & Sons.

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The Wilbur Chocolate Store features a tiny glimpse into the history of the company and the process of making chocolate candies and goodies.

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Visitors can watch an informative video and see historical candy making equipment and beautiful, antique tins and packaging.

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The rest of the aromatic space is a dedicated and delicious store filled with all kinds of chocolate treats!

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A free sample can be found at the very back.  🙂

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My daughters and I were thrilled to discover some Stroopies (from our 7th adventure)!  Read all about that amazing and social conscious company and our life-inspiring visit here!

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I purchased a Stroopie and some chocolate-infused hand cream.  🙂

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The Wilbur Chocolate Store is located at 45 North Broad Street, Lititz, Pennsylvania, 17543.  For more information, call 717-626-3249 or visit www.wilburbuds.com to make yummy online orders.

Lititz is an adorable, cozy little town, about an hour from Carlisle, PA.

Within walking distance of The Wilbur Chocolate Store, we found a delightful restaurant, The Tomato Pie Café.  The menu offers several delicious vegetarian and gluten-free options and features light, fresh, and beautiful dishes.

We GREATLY enjoyed the spinach and artichoke tomato pie and the not-your sloppy joe, which is vegetarian.  Lots of yummy options include coffees, pastries, breakfast items, sandwiches, daily soups, and tempting desserts.

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The Tomato Pie Café serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and has two locations:  one in Harrisburg, PA and one in Lititz.

We visited the Lititz location at 23 North Broad Street.  Call 717-627-1762 or visit www.tomatopiecafe.net for more information and to view current menus.

Looking for other fun things to do and explore in Pennsylvania?  Check these out:

The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, PA

The Harley Davidson Factory in York, PA

Beiler’s Doughnuts in Lancaster, PA

Lancaster Central Market, in Lancaster, PA

Burning Bridge Antiques in Lancaster, PA


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The Harley-Davidson Steel Toe Tour in York, PA–Experience Adventure 24 of 100

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My only real connection to Harley-Davidson began when my husband and I got married in 2003.  At the time, he owned a very cool, 1998 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.  I remember the thrill of riding it only one time–a glorious and exhilarating summer afternoon, on the open roads of Ohio before the commitment to family responsibilities forced us to trade the motorcycle in for an ego-crushing minivan.  I am convinced a small piece of my husband died the day that bike left our possession.

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Fast forward fifteen crazy years, my husband is now a student at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and the Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations Factory is in York, just 45 minutes down the road.

For Valentine’s Day, I gave him tickets to the Harley-Davidson Steel Toe Tour–our 24th of 100 adventures.  🙂

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Harley-Davidson, a classic, American icon, celebrates 115 years of creating captivating and envy-producing motorcycles this year–2018.  What started as an idea and some simple drawings in a shed in 1903, paved the road for a massive and über successful company, which completely supports the belief in the American dream.

Little did William Harley, Arthur Davidson and Walter Davidson know, but their engineering genius and marketing abilities would lead to the creation of a motorcycle empire that unites humans from all kinds of backgrounds, diverse cultures, and genders with no regard to age, religious beliefs or political affiliations.  In our crazy, divided world, who would have guessed a motorcycle brand would unify and strengthen a varied and often contentious human race?

Enter the phenomenon of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.

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The company began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and quickly grew due to the popularity of racing competitions in the early 1900’s.  Clubs for bike owners, riders and racers started popping up in rural and populated areas, flourishing after WWI.  The Harley-Davidson company built cycles for the military, creating a life-long relationship between the brand and American soldiers.

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Today, Harley-Davidson offers tours at three manufacturing plants:  Menomonee Falls in Wisconsin, Kansas City in Missouri and York in Pennsylvania.

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At the York, PA location, visitors choose 3 ways to explore the factory:

  1. Free, self-guided tour of the showroom gallery and gift shop
  2. Free, Classic Factory Tour, includes the assembly line and fabrication areas (about 45 minutes)
  3. $38 Steel Toe Tour, includes a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of the manufacturing floor, assembly line, fabrication center, employee-only areas of paint and polish, and a close-up view of the roll testing area. (about 2 hours)

My family and I experience the Steel Toe Factory Tour at the Harley-Davidson plant in York, Pennsylvania, but photographs are NOT allowed inside the manufacturing area.  However, pictures are allowed in the showroom gallery, to the right of the York Tour Center welcome desk.

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I purchased the tickets to the Steel Toe Tour online, which requires guests to commit to a specific date and time.  When we arrived at the plant, we entered the York Tour Center and checked in with the information desk.  Every person with a paid ticket receives a commemorative pin and a safety vest to wear (and keep!).  Safety goggles and steel-toe protection, worn over your shoes, are provided for free.

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Everyone also gets a $5 coupon for the gift shop and a copy of the very attractive (lol) group photo taken after the introductory film.  🙂

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Because the tour is behind-the-scenes and in the middle of a working, manufacturing plant, everyone wears individual audio headsets linked directly to the guide.

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The York factory, established in 1973, creates and assembles the Touring, CVO and Trike Harley models.

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Captivated by the pure magnitude and intricate attention to detail, the tour exposed us to areas never seen by the public, including the paint and polishing departments.  Our favorite part was the roll test area, a coveted job only awarded to those with senority.

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We experienced the fascinating process of manufacturing frames, fenders, fuel tanks and mechanical parts.  The factory floor was clean, well organized and of course, ran like a well-oiled bike (machine).  The professional craftsmen and craftswomen smiled and took a few seconds to demonstrate each of their contributions to the production of the legendary motorcycles.

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Walking through the assembly process and viewing the full scope of vehicle operations gave me and my family a brand new appreciation for the powerhouse Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company and the beautiful motorcycles they build.

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Overall, I would recommend the tour to all motorcycle enthusiasts or people interested in seeing the manufacturing process up-close.  There was an excessive amount of time spent just standing and waiting on the Steel Toe Tour and our guide stood silently for much of it, only sharing a few sentences of explanation here and there.  We all walked away wanting more historical information.

My only other complaint is personal–Harley-Davidson should be utterly embarrassed that they do not offer a military discount on tours.

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The Steel Toe Tour at York Vehicle Operations is located at 1425 Eden Road, York, Pennsylvania, 17402.

The tour is $38 and available Monday-Friday at 9:15 am and 12:00 noon.  Book your date and buy your tickets in advance online.  The experience was sold out on the day we toured the factory.

The York Tour Center is free to visit and open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday-Friday.

Tours are also available in Wisconsin and Missouri and the Harley-Davidson Museum is located at 400 West Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI.

For more information, visit www.harley-davidson.com

We supplemented this experience and recommend watching a very interesting and entertaining mini-series (through Amazon Prime) called  Harley And The Davidsons, The Story Behind the Name, from the Discovery Channel.

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Interested in other adventures, experiences and tours?

Here is a list of the 18 things we completed during the month of January!

 


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The State Museum of Pennsylvania–Experience Adventure 22 of 100

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On Valentine’s Day of 2018, and for our 22nd of 100 adventures, my daughters and I spent the day exploring the remarkable State Museum of Pennsylvania.  Established in 1905 and adjacent to the breathtaking and beautiful State Capitol Building, the historical institution is the commonwealth’s official museum located in the state’s important capital city of Harrisburg.

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The museum takes visitors through a full range of fascinating regional history, focusing on Pennsylvania’s multi-faceted culture and prominent figures, beginning with prehistoric geology and archeological exhibits and continuing to present time pop culture influences and art showcases.

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Four impressive exhibit floors and a full-dome planetarium chronologically organize and display over 3 million items in the museum’s expansive collection.

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Interesting and permanent exhibit halls include Life Through Time, Geology, Mammals, Ecology, a Memorial Hall dedicated to William Penn, and Objects of Valor, which features Civil War artifacts.

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**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania was named by King Charles II, who took the Penn family name and combined it with the Latin word “silva”, which means “woods”.

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The Memorial Hall features an enormous mural, state map, and a monumental bronze statue of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.

**Fun Fact:  William Penn’s forward-thinking policy of religious tolerance and acceptance created a diverse religious and ethnic culture in the state of Pennsylvania.

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My daughters and I spent most of our time in the noteworthy exhibits of Pennsylvania Icons, Village Square, the Anthropology and Archeology Gallery, and the Transportation and Industry hall.

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**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania is the nation’s #1 producer of mushrooms, #2 producer of apples and ranks 3rd for eggs and Christmas trees!

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**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania produces 80% of the nation’s hard pretzels.

More than 350 unusual and thought-provoking items fill the Pennsylvania Icons hall, where visitors learn about the national influence of Pennsylvania’s unique places, people and products.

 

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**Fun Fact:  20% of the United States’ production of craft beer is produced in Pennsylvania.

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True-to-life historical facades, buildings, a summer kitchen and a general store represent a 19th century Pennsylvania town in the walk-through Village Square Hall.  I wanted to find some hands-on activities, but unfortunately, this is a purely visual exhibit.

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The creation and historical significance of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is thoroughly explored within the Transportation and Industry hall.  Focusing on the tools, vehicles and the history of innovative machines, the exhibit gives viewers a fantastic and engaging glimpse into transportation industry and commerce.

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**Fun Fact:  In October of 1940, the nations first modern superhighway birthed a new interest in cross-country travel for post-WWII Americans.  That superhighway is the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Native American artifacts and archeological methods are explored in great detail inside the Anthropology and Archeology Gallery.

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**Fun Fact:  The Meadowcroft Rockshelter, located near Avella in Washington County, Pennsylvania, boasts the earliest signs of human habitation in North America and has been continually inhabited for the past 19,000 years.

As a lover of the visual arts, we greatly enjoyed the engaging, rotating art exhibit, which featured unique art pieces bought and acquired by the museum through the years.

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Overall, we found The State Museum of Pennsylvania educational, interesting and thought-provoking.  It was clean, well organized, thorough, and visually stimulating.  Of course, I prefer a hands-on approach and appreciate exhibits with interactive components, but the museum’s extensive collection makes up for its lack of experiential learning.  My daughters and I left with massive amounts of new and relevant Pennsylvania state knowledge and a greater historical understanding of our nation.

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Kudos to The State Museum of Pennsylvania.  As a museum-obsessed, homeschooling mom, I give it a “B++”!

Hours of operation:  Wed-Sat 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 pm.

Please note:  The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Adults:  $7.00

Children ages 1-11 years:  $5.00

The museum is FREE for military members and military families with ID’s.  THANK YOU!

The State Museum of Pennsylvania is located at 300 North Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17120.  For more information, call 717-787-4980 or visit www.statemuseumpa.org.

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For some other fun and educational adventures in the great state of Pennsylvania, check out:

The Turkey Hill Experience

George’s Furniture

The Pennsylvania Farm Show

The National Watch and Clock Museum

The Lancaster Central Market

 

 

 


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Universal Studios Orlando–Experience Adventure 20 of 100

I honestly think long and hard before I count an experience as one of our 100 adventures. One of the main rules I put into place to keep this journey on the right side of interesting, is that the experience MUST be NEW, something my daughters have never seen or experienced or eaten or heard.

With all of our trips down to Walt Disney World, I naturally and occasionally consider a detour to visit Universal Studios. My #1 goal was to wait until my youngest daughter was ready for most of the rides and I think we found our sweet spot in January of 2018. 🙂

Plus, all 3 of my kids are SUPER big Harry Potter fans. SCORE!

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For our 20th of 100 adventures, we spent 4 days at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. I am lumping all 4 days into one “experience” and writing a pretty short post that covers 4 days of endless fun. When time allows, I will write reviews, tips and comparisons about everything we experienced at the park. For now, enjoy a super quick summary. 🙂

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Universal Orlando is a theme park destination that includes Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal’s Volcano Bay and Universal CityWalk.

We spent most of our time at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, the two main theme parks with rides and attractions. Within walking distance of the two parks, CityWalk features restaurants, bars and shopping venues. Volcano Bay, Universal’s water park, opened on May 25, 2017 and offers guests a chance to use Tapu Tapu, a bracelet with a virtual place holder for long lines. We did not visit Volcano Bay.

For Harry Potter fans, the theming for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is AMAZING and BREATHTAKING. Visitors enjoy the wonders of Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and the impressive details of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. The ability to ride the Hogwarts Express is reserved for those who have Park-to-Park privileges, Universal’s version of Park Hopper, because the train travels between the two theme parks.

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Butter Beer, served at carts, stands and restaurants, comes in several delicious varieties: regular, hot, frozen, ice cream and fudge. Frozen was my favorite, but I suffered through a beast of a sore throat that week and consumed an embarrassingly large amount of frozen Butter Beer to dull the pain. 🙂 All 3 of my kids unanimously preferred the hot. As you can assume, we spent a crazy amount of money on Butter Beer. LOL

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Not going to lie–we LOVED the Harry Potter sections of both parks, maybe a tiny bit more than some sections of Disney World. The rides are top-notch and the environment feels like the real deal. (More on that in a different post!)

Thrilling and sensational roller coasters, like Revenge of the Mummy (my FAV!), Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, and the Incredible Hulk Coaster proves Universal’s commitment to cater to an older crowd.

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Be warned: The two water-themed rides, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges will get you mega-wet, like SOAKING, even if you wear a poncho.

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Almost all rides showcase amazingly realistic environments and complete immersion for guests. Don’t miss Skull Island Reign of Kong, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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My husband and son loved the Simpsons Ride, Kwik E Mart and Duff Brewery.

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Cool things not to miss and a few quick tips (more to come when I write the big post!):

Obviously, do not miss the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in both parks.

If you or your child love Harry Potter, buy an interactive wand on the first day.

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Try the Butter Beer–let me know which one you like the best!

If you are cool with crazy roller coasters, don’t miss Revenge of the Mummy (my FAV!), Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, and the Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Splurge for the park-to-park ticket AND the Universal Express Pass. The Express Pass beats Disney’s Fast Pass+ system a million times over. (more on that later!)

Everything is within walking distance–both theme parks and CityWalk. LOVE!

The “people dryers” do not work as well as you want. Save your money.

Some rides require guests to store all belongings, free of charge. The lockers are tiny and crowded. Carry small backpacks, if you need.

Characters walk around freely and can be found inside ride queues and shops. Very cool.

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Our fav restaurants were the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Mythos. Get a milkshake(s) and the Brussel sprouts at Toothsome.

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Well, I sure made a lot of promises to write more posts detailing all there is to know about Universal Studios Orlando. I better cut this one off. LOL

A super entertaining BlueMan Group permanently runs at Universal CityWalk. Read all about that experience here.

Want other things to do in Orlando? Click here! And here.

How about a list of every character meal in Walt Disney World? Yep! Read this.

Read about some of our other adventures in our attempt to experience 100 new things in 6 months!

The Prohibition Museum

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

The National Watch and Clock Museum

The Turkey Hill Experience


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Blue Man Group Orlando–Experience Adventure 19 of 100

Blue Man Group is awesome.

You MUST go.

I sort of feel like that statement is enough, but for those who have never seen a Blue Man Group performance, I will give you just a tiny bit more info. 🙂

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At the present, permanent Blue Man Group shows reside in Boston, Orlando, New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, but there are also traveling performances currently in Germany, Istanbul, Czech Republic, and Monaco.

I consider myself very lucky to have attended shows in Houston and Las Vegas in the past.

But, for our 19th adventure, my family of 5 experienced the show in Orlando, Florida.

No pics are allowed during the performance, so my photos are limited. 🙂

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Located in the CityWalk section of Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, the 1,000 seat Blue Man Group theater was built in 2006.

The show engages all the senses like no other performance. Unique sounds and musical instruments, active creations of expressive artwork, hilarious (and silent) theatrical moments and audience participation fill the auditorium. It is exciting and interesting and engaging and entertaining.

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OH! And just a quick side note: The Blue Man Group shows at each location ARE different, so go see one! (or two or three!)

***If you sit in the first couple of rows, don’t wear anything nice. 🙂

Visit www.blueman.com for more information.

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Visiting Walt Disney World soon? Read this.

Find other interesting things to do in Florida here, here and here.


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100 Experience Adventures–January Summary

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By now, most of my readers know that my daughters and I are attempting to complete 100 experiences during our 6 month sabbatical away from our home in Texas.

For newbies, click here.

And read this.

I am super happy to report we surprisingly completed 18 awesome experiences during the month of January and I kept a running list of the events and the cost for reference.

Below is a quick summary and each one is a clickable link to more information about the experience, in case you are curious. 🙂

Experience 1:

The Pennsylvania Farm Show (Free to attend, $15 for parking)

Experience 2:

George’s Furniture in Marietta, PA (Free to visit, we donated $20 for the personal tour)

Experience 3:

Cinnaholic, Vegan cinnamon rolls in Lancaster, PA ($28.04 for four cinnamon rolls)

Experience 4:

The National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA ($8.40 for four tickets through Groupon)

Experience 5:

The Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, PA ($45.75 for three people to attend the lab class and the experience)

Experience 6:

Burning Bridge Antiques Market in Columbia, PA (free to visit)

Experience 7:

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe and Stroopie Co. in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 8:

Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 9:

Beiler’s Doughnuts in Lancaster, PA ($11.25 for 2 dozen doughnuts through Groupon)

Experience 10:

Sledding in real snow in Carlisle, PA (free!)

Experience 11:

Maymont in Richmond, Virginia ($12 for three tickets to the nature center and $15 “donation” for three people to tour the mansion)

Experience 12:

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia ($24 for three tickets)

Experience 13:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA (free for military families, $10 for the audio tour for two people)

Experience 14:

The Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia ($32.10 for three tickets)

Experience 15:

The Museum of Science and History (The MOSH) in Jacksonville, Florida ($30 for three tickets)

Experience 16:

Hunting for fossilized sharks teeth in Nokomis Beach, Florida (free)

Experience 17:

Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop at the International Festival of the Arts in Epcot, Walt Disney World ($166.16 for four tickets)

Experience 18:

Disney After Hours event at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World ($476 for four tickets)

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What is next?!?

Many more adventures to explore in the month of February!