Cincinnati, Ohio

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Disneyland VS Disney World

            Disneyland and Disney World both have their fans and critics. Which is the best option for a family friendly vacation?  Comparing these two places can seem like comparing apples and oranges. They are similar but also very different. Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California. Disney World is in Orlando, Florida. The details that will be compared are weather, price, area, attractions, and convenience.
Weather can make or break a vacation. The average daily temperature in Anaheim is 65 degrees. The average high is 76 and the average low is 54. They have only 33 days of rain yearly. The average in Orlando is 73 degrees. The average high is 83 and the average low is 62. They have 117 days of rain a year. The temperature is comparable. The clear winner on days of rain is Disneyland.
            The cost of visiting is always a huge concern. A six day package for Disneyland for two adults and two children (with ages of 3-9 years) includes a hotel and tickets to the park at a cost of $1995.04. A similar package at Disney World would cost you $1,645.64. Hotel prices are higher in Anaheim than in Orlando which likely accounts for the price difference. The estimates do not include the price of food. The cost of food looks to be comparable within both parks. The character meals are around $35 at both parks.
            Convenience and size are other things to consider. Disneyland is one park. It is landlocked and in an urban area. Expansion is nearly impossible. Attractions have been updated over the years but space is at a premium. Disneyland with its urban location is convenient to hotels, shops, and restaurants. Disney World consists of four parks that are ever expanding. It also has two water parks. The parks do have many of the same attractions but there are more in Disney World. Disney World is not within walking distance to anything that is not onsite. Even the onsite areas are spread out. Disneyland occupies 180 acres of land while Disney World occupies 47 square miles.
            The next thing to consider is how crowded the parks are. Disneyland averages almost 40,000 daily visitors. The Magic Kingdom Park in Disney World averages 44,110 daily visitors. The Epcot Park at Disney World only averages only 27,125 daily visitors. Perhaps one of the trivial differences is that Disneyland was built by Walt Disney himself. Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was a copy of Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom. Some say this gives Disneyland a more genuine quality.
            In conclusion, Disneyland was the clear winner in the number of rainy days. The temperature was comparable between the two. Disneyland is much more convenient to the rest of Anaheim. You can walk to and from the park to restaurants, hotels, and shopping. This is nice for people who do not wish to rent a car when arriving by plane. Disneyland wins in convenience to the rest of the city. Disney World was slightly less expensive for the hotel and ticket package. They were almost identical on food prices. Disney World is much larger. There are many more attractions. It has four parks instead of one. It also has two water parks. Disney World is the winner in attractions. Disney World is cut off from the rest of Orlando. It is roughly a thirty minute drive from other area attractions. The last detail that I am comparing is the amount of visitors. Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is slightly busier than Disneyland. However, Epcot does not have as many visitors. Disneyland does have the history of being built by Walt Disney himself. Disney World has a slight edge over Disneyland but there is not a clear cut winner. They both have their own merits.

PS. I had to write this for something else and I thought my travel readers may enjoy it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Olive Garden - Florence, KY

Last night we had dinner at the Olive Garden on Mall road in Florence, Kentucky. I had a really busy day and did not want to cook. We all needed a night off! We threw caution to the wind and embraced a high calorie but fantastic meal! Olive Garden is a very pretty restaurant with amazing food and a great wait staff. I must state up front that this is not a budget dinner but it is not outrageous either. Dinner for the four of us ran just under $50. We did not drink any vino (wine) though because the price stacks up quickly! I had a bottle chilled and waiting at home.

We started with a pick two sampler appetizer. We got stuffed mushrooms and ravioli. You get six of each. The ravioli was wonderful. It was lightly breaded and fried. It came with a thick tomato sauce for dipping. Not good for you by any means but yummy. I am normally a huge mushroom fan but I was not impressed with these. Ivy loved them however.

The Eggplant Parm caught my eye on the dinner menu. It was great! I got five eggplant slices and spaghetti on the side. Michael, my husband, got Carbonara Ravioli with Chicken. I tried a bite of each. They were just as good as the eggplant! Their kids meals are set up so the kids get choices. They pick a pasta and a sauce. Bella, my toddler, got small shells and red meat sauce. You can add a protein to a kids meal for a $1.25. This is what Ivy did. She got Fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp. She said it was very tasty. The kids also got to chose a side. Ivy got mashed potatoes, which I thought was a little weird. I normally would not allow two carbs in one meal but this was a special outing. We let the kids pick whatever they want when we go out. It is not an issue because we do this so rarely! I got Bella grapes for her side.

They also brought a huge bowl of salad with Italian dressing and a basket of hot, fresh bread sticks to the table for all of us to share. The salad and bread sticks are unlimited. They will gladly refill either or both as many times as you want. This was not an issue for us. We had way too much food!! While we greatly enjoy food we are not huge eaters. We can all eat a decent sized meal but everything here was double sized! The waiter packed up half of all our meals except Bella's. We brought almost her entire meal home. She only ate a few bites of her pasta. She did have a bread stick and some salad. She was so overwhelmed by the environment that she spared little time for eating. She enjoyed herself, talking to people who walked by, coloring on the kids menu and checking out her large cloth napkin. They ended the dinner by bringing us our doggie bag with our packed up leftovers and mints for all of us.

It was a great dinner! Next time I will not order appetizers. There was too much food for us. The place does have a good atmosphere. It is the kind of place that allows you to linger and enjoy your food. Granted we were a little later then the normal dinner rush which may have impacted this fact. We got there at about 8pm. During the weekend dinner rush our experience could have been much different. The place was still busy but there was not a line waiting to be seated. For popular restaurants it typically pays to go early or wait until a little late. The service tends to be better because the staff is helping less people. At some places we have visited even the food is better when you visit outside of the peak hours.

The Details:
Location: 7848 Mall Road, Florence, KY 41042
Phone number: (859) 371-5425
Ordered: 1 appetizer, 2 adult dinners plus drinks, and 2 kids meals
Cost: $48 plus tip
If I had it to do over: I would drop the appetizer!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Totter's Otterville - Covington/Latonia, KY

Yesterday we took the kids to Totter's Otterville in Covington/Latonia, Kentucky. We had not visited this place since Ivy was little. It had been around 5 years ago that we had gone here for a birthday party. We remembered it being a great place at the back of a toy store. I was a little shocked upon re-visiting. The toy store has since gone under. Totter's Otterville remains. We got there just after lunch around 2pm. They do not close until 8pm. Children's admission is $7.95 each. I had coupons of $2.00 off each child's admission. Adults do not pay to get in. It cost us around $12.00 for both the girls.

We got inside and immediately went to find the bathroom. I was struck on the way there by how run down they have become. It used to be a 4 out of 5 star kind of place. Now it is a 2 out of 5 star kind of place. It was a busy Saturday at a children's play place so I tried not to hold the state of the only bathroom against them too badly. I would have expected a place this size to have a larger bathroom and more than one of them. They also only have one diaper changer that folds down in the main area of  the bathroom. I had to wait in line behind 3 other mother's to change Bella. I tried to wait patiently. While waiting I did see that they have a small potty for toddlers and preschoolers. I thought that was really nice. They only have two adult sized toilets in the woman's room. One is a handicapped stall. Most of the time I try to avoid using these because I think of how I would feel if there was only one stall available to me and other people were filling it. At places like the mall where there are 10 or 15 regular stalls it is easy to not use the handicapped one. Here I had no choice. After changing Bella I used the handicapped stall. I honestly hope that a handicapped child or adult had not been in there. The floor was wet! Really wet. I did report it and on the next potty break it was cleaned up. I want to point this out to readers: If you go to a bathroom that is unsafe please report it. Someone could get hurt. Places do not always know the state of the bathrooms.

After the bad trip to the bathroom we moved on to the animal hospital room. They have real animals behind glass kind-of like a pet store. The rest of the room is fake animals and "vet" equipment. Bella dressed up in a scrub coat and checked their blood pressure. The girls got a real kick out of this! I am in school and they have seen me practice taking blood pressure well over a hundred times. I think they enjoyed pretending to do the same. After that we went out into the main area near the entry where they had a  special man in for the day. He had a white rabbit that the kids were allowed to pet and he was making balloon animals for $1. Not expensive but I still felt like it was not right. They charge you at the door and you get the feeling that other than food the entertainment will be free. This annoyed me for some reason. Bella is really too young for balloons and Ivy was not remotely interested so I did not have to have an internal battle over where I was going to come down on this. They did spend some time petting that rabbit.
Next, We proceeded to go outside. They have the cutest fake fishing pond. The girls loved this! There are little poles and fake fish in the lake. They are magnetic so the kids can "catch" them. It is really adorable and was a huge redeeming feature for this place. After that we went  through the small outdoor maze. The first time Ivy lead them through. We later let Bella lead us all through. It was funny. She got us turned around many times but eventually lead us back out. The walls in the maze looked like they had better days. There is an outdoor sand area. We did not play in it. I HATE sand unless we are at the beach or prepared for it with spare clothing and shoes. It is such a mess! I simply said we will not be playing in the sand when we went outside and that was it.

We went to ride the small outdoor train which is one of their big attractions but they were closing it down! It was around 3pm & they do not close until 8pm. I could not believe they shut it down. It had rained earlier that day but was running when we got there. There was no sign and when I asked I was told that the guy wanted to go home or something. We played on the outdoor playground equipment which looks extremely run down. I have seen better outdoor playground equipment at free parks in many places. There is a very small toddler playground area near the fish pond that Bella played at for a couple minutes. It looked much nicer than the big one. That is all of the outdoor areas.

We went back inside. We took the kids to the area by the entry. They took off their shoes and went to play in the ball pit. This was the first time that Bella has ever been in a ball pit. She loved it. When they first got in there was only one other kid in it but after a few minutes there were loads. Ivy conned Bella out because she was afraid the bigger kids would hurt her. They went to play in the big indoor playground. They climbed up to the top and played in the helicopter. They went down the slides. They checked out the giant stuffed elephant. It is really neat. I am sure this area is much newer. It was in much better condition.

They have an area named the village. In here there are miniature versions of the grocery store, a restaurant, a clothing shop, and a house. This was Ivy's favorite part last time we visited. They played in here for a while. It is still cute but everything is a little rough around the edges. The whole area was a complete mess. My kids, being true to their genes, had fun cleaning up and putting straight the store and restaurant. Ivy said they were shop keepers with bad employees. At that point my hubby started laughing and said "Wow, What is your mommy doing to you?" I gave him a quick elbow in the side. He laughed and said "Maybe you could talk to the owner of this place about training their employees to clean up a little." I about died laughing. He had a point. They had one girl running around the inside areas trying to keep everything clean. She was great! The problem was the rest of the staff just hanging around near the snack area not doing much but chatting.

The girls also checked out the clothing shop. I let Ivy put a dress on Bella but I would not let either of the kids wear the dress-up shoes. Just thinking of all the feet that had likely been through those shoes that day grossed me out. The little house area was so messy the kids just avoided it. I did not blame them it was so bad you could not walk in there. After that we went to the wet play area. I was happy that they have waterproof smocks so the kids can play without getting their clothing wet. While the kids were playing here I went to the snack area to get us all drinks. I got the hubby and I large soft drinks. Ivy got a small root beer. I was thrilled to see they had milk for Bella. Hubby really wanted nachos so I got one order of them to share. I had found a coupon for $5.00 off $10.00 or more at the snack bar. Our total was blissfully under $6.00! I'm glad because those were the nastiest nachos ever! Seriously, avoid their nachos! The drinks were fine. Their refills are only 25cents which was really nice.

We moved the kids to the block building area so we could sit and watch them. I was so happy to grab a seat. I had other stuff I did that morning and the high heeled boots I was wearing were starting to bother my feet. I was also battling allergies yesterday. The pills are starting to work today. I found out that one of the worst areas for allergies is indeed the greater Cincinnati area. That's just a little side note for anyone interested in visiting in fall. The block area was nice. Next to it was a dance studio. Bella put on a tutu and started to play dance. Ivy tried to play with her but she was a little tall for the bars. Then a child came over and started climbing on top of the bars and jumping off. I looked around for a likely parent for her but could not find one. She later started climbing the dividing walls that are about 5' high. I told her to please get down before she hurt herself. She shot me a dirty look and took off. At least she did not break a leg or fall on another child. We moved our girls down another section to the conveyor belt area. This reminded me of a factory assembly line. Bella enjoyed this. She liked packing the foam blocks into the milk crates. Ivy got bored with this quickly but there was a post office area right by this and she went to check it out.

After they were finished with that area we moved on to the face painting area. Ivy drew a heart on Bella's cheek. I let Bella enjoy it in the mirror for a minute before I washed it off. There were 4 signs stating that the paint may stain clothing. Bella was trying to rub it off before Ivy had finished. I took Bella to the flower shop area to play while Ivy did her face. Ivy drew a mustache and a goatee on herself. It was hilarious! After she was done she joined Bella in the flower shop area. This was one of the cutest areas in the best shape. The kids made flower arrangements for a while before moving over to the art station next door. In the art area Bella did stamps. Next to the art area was a baby area for children under 2. Bella played in here for a little while. The floor is soft in this area. She ran around in there for a little while. Next, the girls played in the miniatures room. It had doll houses, farms, and other various miniatures. After that Bella went across the walkway to the train area. Ivy did not go with her to this one. She was enjoying the doll houses too much.
When we were done with these two stations we were done with the whole place except for the puppet theater room which was exactly where we went. Ivy likes puppets. Bella did not quite get the concept of what they were for. She would pick one up and shake it. Then she would give it to one of us. We would put our hand in it and make it talk. She would laugh and repeat the process with the next family member. When the kids were done playing puppets I gave them the option to revisit anything that we had done. Bella yelled "Fishy." We went back to the fishing pond. We also went by to pet the rabbit again and did the maze once more before we left.

They have this system to ensure safety. They give the parent/adult and the children they are with the same bracelet. The attendant checks the bracelets when you leave to ensure they match. When we got to the front we were shocked to find that nobody was working the gate. The gate is not locked or anything. It just swings right open. Instead of just leaving I decided to wait to see how long it would take for somebody to turn up. We waited for around 5 minutes before a girl comes jogging up and announced "Sorry." If I had been trying to walk off with someones child I would have been not only out of the building but out of the lot and headed for the highway! Please do not trust in their "system." I let her cut off all of our bracelets and headed to the car. I will not be visiting this place again. Do not waste your money making this trip.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Miller Lite Concert - Columbus, Ohio

I was lucky enough to attend the Miller Lite Concert last night in Columbus, Ohio. It was a private event. You could not buy tickets for it. It was at the Nationwide Arena. We got there early and got lucky enough to get floor seats. We were about 10 rows from the stage watching Phil Vassar, 3 Doors Down, and Sammy Hagar and The Wabos! It was a great party! I got videos and photographs to share with my blog readers! ;) Enjoy!

On our way to Columbus!

Waiting for the concert to start

Phil Vassar got things started.

Phil Vassar playing the piano.

Singing on top of his piano. He was everywhere! Very fit to be jumping on that piano!

This video is of Phil Vassar singing "Piano Man." He was very good! This was my first good video of the night.

Laughing and enjoying my Grape vodka mixer! YUM

Lead Singer of 3 Doors Down: Brad Arnold

Brad Arnold

3 Doors Down were great!

Brad Arnold

Hubby trying to get a shot of both of us.

A margarita & 2 grape vodka mixers and this party got even better, lol. (and no I was not driving!)

This went down to cover the stage while they got ready for Sammy Hagar to play.

The jumbotron was literally over our heads!

Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar Live

Sammy Hagar

Fans got to stand on stage as they played

One of the Miller Lite Girls

Here's the links to my videos from the concert. Blogger was having trouble loading them. - 3 Doors Down - 3 Doors Down- Kryptonite - 3 Doors Down - I'm So Far Down - 3 Doors Down - When You're Young - 3 Doors Down - I'm a Loser - 3 Doors Down - Here Without You - Sammy Hagar - I can't drive 55 - Sammy Hagar - Best of Both Worlds - Sammy Hagar - Finish What You Started

Fun With Flowers