Silver Dollar City Travel Guide

SilverDollarCityTravelGuideSilver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri is for everyone! Silver Dollar City is a theme park set in the 1880s. My friend Danyelle of The Cubicle Chick sums it up well, “It’s like Six Flags but is more centered on giving you a nostalgic experience. And yes, The Chicklet (her daughter) loves it!” The entire family will delight in watching crafters use historic tools to create works of art and delicious food right before your eyes. Stop at the blacksmith, glassblower, wood carver, broom maker and other crafters to watch skilled artisans create everything from wrought iron fences to marbles and baseball bats. Beyond crafts, Silver Dollar City also provides shows and live entertainment. Silver Dollar City offered my family tickets during WorldFest, as they were Celebrating America! It was a wonderful experience. The notion that Silver Dollar City is boring is nonsense. Here’s a Silver Dollar City Travel Guide for all ages!

Rides

Roller coasters, water rides, kid rides and theme rides… there are over 30 rides to explore!

For kids, the Grand Exposition featuring 10 family rides cannot be missed. The Royal Tea Party is a classic tea cup ride. Children’s roller coaster, spinning rides in the form of elephants, insects and frogs are just a few of the options.

For family, Fire-in-the-Hole (36 inch min. to ride) is an indoor coaster where riders experience mysterious sounds and mischievous deeds of the Baldknobbers who have set the town ablaze. The Flooded Mine (all ages/ heights may ride, 48 inch min. to ride without an adult) is a boat ride through a flooding prison mine where prisoners are trying to escape – ore carts carry you through the flooded mine shafts, past jack hammers, pump stations, mine explosions and even sleeping guards as riders use pistols to aim at targets along the way, competing for high scores with their fellow passengers. (Warning: your hands will get tired of shootin’, but it is well-worth the fun that will be had.) The Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train (all ages and accessible) is a real locomotive ride with a train robbery show along the way. These are just a few of the favorite attractions. In the heat of summer, cool off with a water ride. The American Plunge is a classic flume ride plummeting from five stories at 35 miles per hour. Lost River of the Ozarks is a six passenger white water rapids ride, where you will get wet! This ride is a game for my family on who NOT get as wet as the others. 😉SDCOutlawRunFor adults who don’t have small kids in tow, the world famous, award-winning wood coaster Outlaw Run (48 inches min. to ride) tops the must-ride bucket list, as it drop you a hair-raisin’ 162 feet almost straight down — 81° to be exact. PowderKeg (42 inch min. to ride), uses an air-launch from 0 to 53 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds and sends passengers on ride with hills including a 110-foot drop and speeds up to 64 miles per hour. WildFire (52 inch min. to ride) travels up to 66mph with multiple loops, hills and incredible views of the Ozark Mountains.

Edutainment

Silver Dollar City offers a little education with their fun-filled experience at the theme park. Marvel Cave is a great place to cool off in the summer, and the kids learn a lot while enjoying amazing views of a spectacular cave. The Cave Tour does require a LOT of stair climbing (almost 600 stairs to be exact), so it is only for the physically fit (no strollers). Tours depart approximately every half hour, weather permitting. Marvel Cave is a wet limestone cave, with many features including the Cathedral Room, the largest cave entrance room in the United States. The tour lasts approximately 60 minutes, with most of that time spent climbing nearly 600 stairs. A trained cave guide leads each group sharing information of historical or geographical importance.SDCBlacksmithEach shop at Silver Dollar City is special… they do not simply sell souvenirs (though there is plenty of that), but the park features the talent of crafters and artists who specialize in forgotten arts. Blacksmithing, broom making, candle dipping, glass blowing, candy making, ice cream making, wood working, leather working & more are just a few of the crafts you may see demonstrated at shops throughout the park. Make a point to visit shops and watch demonstrations on your visit! This was one of my son’s favorite parts of the park.

Shows

Silver Dollar City offers numerous shows, and they change throughout the season with special shows for the festivals throughout the year. Country Music, International Bands, Bluegrass, Children’s Shows, Holiday Shows, Comedy, Magicians, short plays & more are offered. Be sure to check the show schedule when you visit the park. On busy days, you should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to show time to see a show.

Food

Silver Dollar City’s food is delicious with home cooked options at many vendors. My family’s favorite is Buckshot’s Skillet Cookery. Who doesn’t love succotash and harvest field vegetables?! Wash it down with some Frozen Lemonade in various flavors. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, make a stop at Berries and Cream for some fresh strawberries pilled on top of ice cream. However, you may also pack a picnic and bring your own food (we especially appreciate this with children who may not want to wait in line or desire smaller portions).SDCSkilletSDCFrozenLemondaeSDCBerriesCream

Silver Dollar City Travel Guide Tips

  • Bring bottled water, snacks and consider bringing a picnic.
  • Set a budget. You can spend as little or as much as you like. If you bring your own camera for pictures, pack a picnic and limit souvenir purchases (the $1.99 dipped candles are our top pick), you can still have a great time with rides, shows, demonstrations, etc. Plan according to your family budget and know that souvenirs and food are typical amusement park prices and plan accordingly.
  • Measure your children before the trip and determine which rides they will be able to enjoy.
  • Bring a camera.
  • Dress comfortably for a day at an amusement park. Wear comfortable shoes. In the summer, plan for water rides. In the winter, plan to be outside in the cold.
  • Don’t forget to put on or bring your sunscreen!
  • Watch where you’re going…. Silver Dollar City’s ambience is in the details. Read signs, check out landmarks, stop in shops and ask questions, watch for street performances, sample foods you have never enjoyed before and keep an eye out for unusual things – it’s all part of the fun!

I hope this Silver Dollar City Travel Guide proves to be helpful for your next trip. I highly encourage you to bring your family and friends there!

Jonah Wins Our Hearts and Entertains The Whole Family

JonahSightSoundI have heard a lot about Sight & Sound Theatres. My friend Scott Vann said, “Sight & Sound is on par with the theater experience in NYC.” Well then, I MUST check it out. My family recently took our first trip to Branson, Missouri, and our first stop was to Sight & Sound Theatre, which tells stories from the Bible with a high-tech, spectacular spin.

Sight & Sound Theatre gave my family tickets to see their show, “Jonah,” about the man who gets swallowed up by a giant, spectacular fish. There are some huge set pieces in “Jonah,” including an almost life-size ship, a gorgeous underwater world and the imperial fortress city of Nineveh. Film is also used creatively and seamlessly to bring certain aspects of the story to life. More importantly, the story (which is extended to fill two hours) is told well.

The biblical story is well known. Jonah gets a prophesy from God to go to Nineveh to declare the city’s wickedness and impending destruction, but there’s a problem. Jonah hates the Ninevites. So, Jonah attempts to flee “the presence of the Lord.” This stage production of “Jonah” adds depth to the character by giving him a backstory to why he struggles following God’s will.  He gets passage on the ship, which is amazingly life-like. Perhaps the most spectacular portion of the show is watching the storm that rages, and the ship being battered by it.JonahShip

Jonah, knowing the storm is God’s will, insists the sailors throw him off the ship. Instantly, the storm is calm. Jonah falls deeply into the water. Jonah’s time in the big fish is done beautifully. He survives his three days ordeal, this time resigned to do as God asks. But, God’s demands become even stronger. Jonah must help the people of Nineveh find redemption. Jonah keeps trying to avoid God. So, how can he help them seek redemption?

What I liked about “Jonah” is that Jonah is quite funny, but he’s not too heroic. He whines. He wonders why God is bugging him. He’s a bit demanding, too. Yet, we stick with him…even like him. The actor who plays Jonah is both funny and frustrating, but keeps you liking him throughout the show. I’m in awe of the powerful voice of the Queen of Nineveh, as she sung herself into my heart. The costume design is stunning and the show is brilliantly produced and directed. Did you know that it takes 25 stage technicians who run the show and 48 actors who star in it? “Jonah”  remarkably brings the story alive both as a spectacle and as a Biblical message. You won’t be disappointed with either.

Treat Your Mom Like a Queen at JW Marriott

JWMarriottMomsDayFor the woman who is the CEO of the household, president of the PTA or master of motherhood, treat her to a special Mother’s Day at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. That is just what the hotel did for me and my family this past weekend! On Sunday, May 11, the hill country San Antonio resort will be offering two great reasons to celebrate there – the legendary 18 Oaks Mother’s Day Brunch and a relaxing treatment at the Lantana Spa.

From 9AM to 3PM, 18 Oaks will feature an elevated offering of its delicious Sunday brunch, serenaded with music from 9:30AM to 2:30PM. Brunch at 18 Oaks is an experience with fresh seafood, carved meats such as prime rib, housemade pates, artisan cheeses and a unique take on breakfast with dishes such as: poached eggs on cheesy grits, grilled quail with maple glaze, omelets and mini chicken pot pies. And, trust me, the 18 Oaks is not just fresh, local eating, it is about the sustainable experience that your tastebuds will have after each bite.18OaksFruit18OaksShrimp18OaksMeatCheese18OaksBreads18OaksDesserts

I haven’t been yet, but I look forward to retreating at Lantana Spa. It is truly the perfect gift for mom! *ahem* The Spa’s recently announced Hill Country Lavender Farm to Treatment Table Experience will help mom relax and unwind surrounded by the fragrance of lavender – a staple in the Hill Country this time of year. Offered Saturdays, May 24 through June 28, 2014 (lavender bloom season in the surrounding Hill Country), mom will experience the ultimate relaxation with this package.

Mom will begin the morning with transportation by limousine to Blanco, Texas (approximately 60 minutes) and visit the Hill Country Lavender farm where she will meet the owner, Tasha Breiger. She’ll take in the soothing fragrance of lavender all around her as she tours the farm and learns about growing lavender and several of its properties and benefits. She will also have the opportunity to clip her own sprigs of lavender and receive a personal bottle of organic lavender massage oil produced with lavender grown at the farm.

After her tour of the farm, she will be driven back to the resort where the spa’s Replenish Bistro Chef will prepare a lavender-infused dessert as part of her lunch in the tranquil setting of the restaurant in Lantana Spa. Content and nourished, she will next unwind with a lavender based spa treatment of her choice featuring the organic lavender massage oil she received at the Hill Country Lavender farm. Treatment choices will include 105-minute Spirit of the Curandero’s Energy Spa Journey, a choice of an 80-minute or 50-minute Lavender Aromatherapy Massage or a 50-minute Lavender Salt Glow.LantanaSpaTreat your mom or that special woman in your life to not just a gift BUT an experience at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa!

Watermelon Salad

WatermelonSaladWatermelon + Feta + Onion Salad
A salad that will impress friends and family at your next get together. Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, Cookwell & Co. gave me a bottle of their Watermelon Vinaigrette to try – just in time for summer! Pair this sweet side dish with grilled chicken, hot dogs or burgers and discover the fresh, refreshing flavor of Cookwell & Co.’s Watermelon Vinaigrette. It is obvious why they have been so successful for the past 10 years, and in the years to come. This dish is close to perfection!

Ingredients
6 cups diced watermelon (well drained and chilled)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup Feta cheese crumbles
1 cup Cookwell & Co.’s Watermelon Vinaigrette

Toss all ingredients together and serve chilled.

Just For Kids Rocks into SeaWorld This Spring

Just_For_Kids_Logo Disclosure: SeaWorld Antonio selected me be to be a “Wildside Blogger,” which provides my family with an annual pass to SeaWorld and Aquatica San Antonio. This post was not reviewed by a 3rd party. All opinions are mine and may not reflect those of the company. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. All photos are mine and are subject to copyright.

SeaWorld San Antonio’s Just For Kids festival returns on Saturdays starting April 26 through May 18, 2014.KidzBop This Saturday, April 26, 2014, Kidz Bop brings the party to SeaWorld San Antonio! Come sing and dance along to today’s biggest hits sung by kids, for kids! Concert will take place at 12:45PM and again at 3:15PM.

Your kids will line the stage and interact through songs and movements. The artists, like Kidz Bop are geared toward children, and they know how to do all the things that kids want to see and hear and do, so even older kids will jump, high-five others, stomp and clap with the music. The line-up will be announced each Monday before the saturday performances. All show times 12:45PM and 3:15PM. Plus, see the Elmo Rocks! show in Nautilus every Sunday.

When you enter the enter the park, grab a Just for Kids brochure. It’s a bright yellow flyer with a map of all the interactive learning opportunities for your kids. Next, you need a wristband per person to enter the concerts, so get this as soon as you can, as space is limited. SeaWorld’s Just for Kids festival also have other interactive things throughout the park that my kids loved, such as visiting four locations and collect the corresponding cards. My 8 year-old daughter loves this the most, as she is naturally curious and loves collecting things. There is also Shamu’s Party Zone, located near the concert venue. This area features a live DJ, games, crafts and character appearances.
IMG_2328 CookieMonster IMG_2332Remember to also grab a SeaWorld program guide to see all the other amazing shows and be entertained with your favorite animals and characters!
IMG_2249 Catch Just for Kids before it’s gone with a Fun Card and come back for a year full of fun when other great seasonal events will be happening! Take advantage of the BOGO Fun Card offer. Click here for more information!

Elizabeth Toon Charities Concert

ElizabethToonCharitiesElizabeth Toon Charities is gearing up for the 8th Annual Elizabeth Toon Charities Concert on Thursday, May 1, 2014 from 7PM to 10:30PM at The Rustic. Tickets are available for $50 by clicking here. The Sporting Clay Tournament follows on Friday, May 2 at the Dallas Gun Club.

 
Concert highlights include:
· Mockingbird Sun will open for our surprise headliner, which in past years has included names like Jack Ingram!
· Kendra Scott will host a “Mystery Box” that benefits Elizabeth Toon Charities during the concert. For $100, you can purchase a mystery box that contains Kendra Scott Jewelry and gift cards to various stores and restaurants around Dallas.
· They will have a live auction and raffle for a chance to win prizes such as golf retreats and tickets to prime sporting events and concerts!

Elizabeth Toon Charities is dedicated to helping children in need in all areas including health, education, therapy and children facing challenging disabilities and terminal illnesses. Each one of these charities are doing to their best to improve the lives of children in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Beneficiaries for 2014 include:
· Behind Every Door Ministries
· Catch Up & Read
· ChildCareGroup
· Children’s Medical Center (Foster Care Program)
· Foundation for the Education of Young Women
· Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support
· ManeGait
· Mental Health America of Greater Dallas
· Promise House
· Camp John Marc
· Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center
· Rise School of Dallas
· Scottish Rite Hospital

Parents, Make it a Date to Have a PowerTalk!

powertalk21A new survey of Texas teens and parents let us know that there is a huge disconnect in what parents believe their teens face in terms of pressure to drink alcohol versus the reality of what their teens experience when it comes to alcohol. The good news is that parents are the No. 1 influence on their teen’s decisions about drinking. What parents do and say matters, and some teens may be getting mixed messages.

April 21 is PowerTalk 21® – the national day for parents to talk with their children about alcohol. I know this may go beyond the topics that you normally cover, but as a parent, this is important to us all, whether it’s your child or someone else’s child. We’re hoping to get the word out through influential moms like you. Register for a free 30 minute online workshop here!

Conversation Starters

CONNECT.
– Eat dinner together.
– Include your tween and teen while you run errands.
– Watch your kids moods. If there are any change, ask why.

EDUCATE.
– Tell them of the dangers of alcohol, especially when ingested by young people.
– Tell them WHY you are concerned about them drinking alcohol. Your tween and teen cannot hear “I love you and want you to be safe…” too much.
– Introduce them to car services like the UBER app.

BE A ROLE MODEL.
– Don’t drink and then drive. I know this is obvious, but your kids are watching your behavior. Try to practice what your preach. Call UBER and let your kids see how safe and responsible this service can be.

ENCOURAGE.
– Acknowledge the ways your kids contribute in the family.
– Notice the little things that they do.
– Have an open door policy in your house, where you kids feel comfortable to ask you ANY question without punishment. Be NOT just available to your kids, BUT also to your kids’ friends.

MONITOR.
– Ask where your kids are going when they leave the house, who they are going to be with and how you can reach their friend’s parents.
– Put a mobile phone rule in place where they have to call you or text you when they leave “said” location.

ENFORCE.
– Be consistent on your family rules. If your kids miss curfew, follow through with the agreed upon discipline. Your kids love structure, even though sometimes their actions demonstrate differently.

Lastly remember that parents have power, and kids look up to you FIRST. I HIGHLY suggest you start having the talk about drugs and alcohol sooner than later. I recommend at least by the time they enter Junior High or age 11. Kids are experimenting, and it is better to have a plan in place and an open line of communication than to have to get a call from the police that the worst has happened.MADDPOYINFOGRAPHIC

Better Than Good Roasted Brussels Sprouts

BrusselsSproutsBaconJamRoasted Brussels Sprouts with Better Than Good Bacon Jam
A sure-fire way to liven up any dish is to add the delicious taste of bacon! Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, Cookwell & Co. gave me a jar of their new Better Than Good Bacon Jam to try – just in time for Easter dinner! Pair this hearty side dish with chicken, pork or pasta and discover the savory flavor of Cookwell & Co.’s Better Than Good Bacon Jam. It is obvious why they have been so successful for the past 10 years, and in the years to come. This stuff is addictive!

Ingredients
1 bag Brussels Sprouts, end trimmed and halved
1 medium yellow onion, diced into 1/4 in pieces
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 jar Better Than Good Bacon Jam

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place Brussels sprouts, onion, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and toss or stir to combine and coat.

On a foil lined baking sheet spread out sprout mixture in a single layer. Roast in oven for 30-35 minutes. Sprouts should be fork tender but not mushy.
BTGBaconJam While still hot place Brussels sprouts in a bowl or skillet and pour in 1/2 jar of Better Than Good Bacon Jam. Stir or toss to coat and serve.

Austin-based Cookwell & Company is celebrating 10 years of creating food products that elevate the everyday eating experience by providing the products necessary to prepare quick, easy to make, but great tasting meals that you will feel proud to serve to your friends and family. Check out this Super Bowl commercial featuring their BACON JAM!

Jon Bonnell’s Waters: Fine Coastal Cuisine

Jon_Bonnell_Waters-BookTexas Chef Jon Bonnell has both a passion for sport fishing and maintaining a market for sustainable wild seafood that is evident in both his aptly named restaurant, Waters – Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine, in Fort Worth and in his forthcoming cookbook.

Jon Bonnell’s Waters: Fine Coastal Cuisine is an impressive cookbook filled with gorgeous photography and more than 100 recipes that showcase the ocean’s bounty. Chef Bonnell shows his mastery of the art of cooking seafood. Throughout the book, he skillfully educates you on a variety of seafood preparations which can be daunting or intimidating. Chef Bonnell shares his vast knowledge and experience preparing seafood, demystifying it in a way that makes it just as approachable as buying a cut of meat and cooking it at home.

Jon Bonnell’s Waters: Fine Coastal Cuisine pays homage to “what’s fresh” and starts off with a tasty selection of Chilled and Raw recipes such as Ceviche of Grilled Striped Bass and Oysters on the Half Shell with Southwestern Serrano Sauce. Bonnell teaches how to home cure smoked salmon and smoke a trout. From the visually appealing Seared Tilefish with Tarragon Cream Sauce to comfort food favorites like Crawpuppies or Lobster Mac and Cheese, each recipe provides something for the novice to the ambitious cook.

Check out this New Orleans-style Barbecued Shrimp, which is as much about the sauce as it is the shrimp. Plenty of bread is a must, as the dark, peppery butter sauce is likely to be the most memorable part of the dish.
NewOrleansBBQ Shrimp Ingredients
8 jumbo wild Gulf shrimp, 10–15 count
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 tsp chopped garlic
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp water
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp Texas Red Dirt Rub, Creole Blend (available at waterstexas.com)
1 lemon

Remove shells from shrimp, then rinse and devein, leaving only the tail portion (optional). Cut the butter into 6–8 cubes. In a large nonstick pan, heat the chopped garlic with 1 of the butter cubes just until it begins to bubble, then add all liquids and seasonings.

Once the pan comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the pan, then add in the lemon halves as well. Simmer on medium heat until the shrimp are cooked, roughly 2–3 minutes, turning once. Swirl the pan while adding in the remaining butter and continue swirling until the butter has been emulsified into the sauce; then remove the lemon halves and discard.

Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl and pour the sauce over the top. Serve with plenty of bread for sopping.

You can purchase Jon Bonnell’s Waters: Fine Coastal Cuisine at Central Market or online. Also, if you are in Fort Worth, make sure to visit Waters – Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine! You can experience first-hand how sustainable fish dish should taste. 🙂

Praise Wave Flows into SeaWorld this Saturday

PraiseWave2014This Saturday, April 12, 2014, SeaWorld brings top Christian artists to San Antonio for their annual Praise Wave concert event. Experience a powerful day of soul-stirring music with live performances by Matthew West and Kari Jobe. The concerts will take place at 3PM and 6PM in Nautilus Amphitheatre and are included with your park admission.

I HIGHLY recommend this family-fun event! My recommendation is once you enter the park to grab a wristband, which is required for entry into the Nautilus Amphitheatre. Wristbands will be distributed at the “Park Information” tent by Nautilus Amphitheatre. Wristbands are valid for one concert time only. Also, remember that there is a limited amount of space, so arrive early enough to grab a seat, as they are first come, first serve.

SPECIAL OFFER: For a limited time, when you buy 1 Fun Card, you get 1 FREE! Your Fun Card gives you unlimited admission to SeaWorld San Antonio through December 31, 2014. 🙂

Disclosure: SeaWorld Antonio selected be to be a “Wildside Blogger,” which provided my family with an annual pass for SeaWorld and Aquatica San Antonio. This post was not reviewed by a 3rd party. All opinions are mine and may not reflect those of the company. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” All photos are mine and subject to copyright.