Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa 2013

December 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm

(Disclosure: My friend Caroline and I were able to attend Christmas Town free of charge thanks to Yelp Tampa Bay and our kids were able attend free of charge thanks to Busch Gardens and my association with the Tampa Bay Bloggers. All opinions are my own.)

Yesterday afternoon we picked up our friends, the other Caroline and her daughters Erin and Kelly, and headed to Busch Gardens Tampa for their annual Christmas Town event. We hit terrible traffic before we even got onto the Howard Frankland Bridge in St. Pete, and it took us over an hour and a half to make the usually 45 minute drive. But finally we arrived and boarded the tram from the parking lot.

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Once we arrived at the front entrance we found the Yelp table and the media relations table and got VIP passes, which the kids thought were pretty cool.

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The light displays at Busch Gardens during Christmas Town are just amazing. None of my pictures do any of them justice.

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I refrained from using flash for most of the night to try to capture the magic of the light display. Which do you want to see…the kids or the lights?

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Beautifully staged photo ops abound all throughout the park. They are hard to resist.

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Mack has been overly excited all week at the chance to ride his favorite coaster in the world, Cheetah Hunt, again. That was our first destination.

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We did make a slight detour into Penguin Point because Erin loves penguins!

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Our “older” kids enjoyed playing dress up with the penguin stands.

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We meant to come back to Penguin Point later to actually see the penguins, but we got sidetracked and didn’t make it back. Sorry Erin! Next year!

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We have been to Busch Gardens many times and it is really fun to see it transformed into a different park during Christmas Town.

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Finally we made it to Cheetah Hunt!

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However, we made Mack wait just a little longer because everyone was starving. We made a pit stop at the Crown Colony Café for food first.

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I knew there wouldn’t be many options at the park for me to eat, so I ate something beforehand. I took the opportunity while everyone else was eating to take selfies in the bathroom.

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I chose my outfit for maximum offspring embarrassment. I would have worn jeans but it was HOT last night. Even the long sleeves were pushing it.

Finally, after everyone ate, Mack and I headed to Cheetah Hunt.

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We had front-of-the-line passes for Cheetah Hunt, Gwazi, and Shiekra but didn’t need them. There was no line on any of the three open coasters.

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It is such a great coaster. The best part is that you accelerate on the ascensions, which is crazy. It also seems like a really long roller coaster to me.

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After that I hung out with the other kids…

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while Mack and the other Caroline rode Cheetah Hunt.

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We watched the Carol of the Bells at the Crown Colony House while we waited.

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My favorite part is the lights!

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After Mack got his Cheetah Hunt hit we walked back around towards Snow World a/k/a Coca-Cola world.

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Snow World was packed with people.

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We stood in line to get a pager to enter the “Snow Play” area (versus the “Snow Throwing” area or the “Snow Sliding” area…they each had different queues). Once we got our pager they told us it would be 30-40 minutes, and since Snow World is right next to Gwazi…

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Mack and I ran over there to get one ride in. No line!

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I have to say that Gwazi is not my favorite. It is so rattley and loud. It scares me to death. Mack loved it, of course. We didn’t stay to look at our picture (I’m sure my eyes were closed) because the other Caroline texted me that the pager had just buzzed. So we went back to Snow World, stood in another queue for a few minutes, then we were in the Snow Play area!

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They should call it, “The Florida Kid with Snow Photo Op Area.”

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It was a little crazy in there, but the kids were having fun.

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Mostly they liked sliding around everywhere.

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After our allotted snow play time was up we walked over to Christmas Town Village.

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It was so pretty.

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They have little shopping kiosks lining the walkways and a train ride for little kids at Jingle Bell Junction.

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Next we went through Poinsettia Parkway…

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where I failed to get a photo of the beautiful poinsettia Christmas trees. We meant to come back that way later, but never got the chance. Too much to see!

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We were hurrying on our way to Stanleyville to see a show, so we didn’t have time to linger. But we passed through one of my favorite areas of Christmas Town, Sesame Street’s A Very Furry Christmas.

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I love it because the trees are lit up in such amazing colors.

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We finally made it to the Stanleyville Theater to see Madagascar Live, Operation: Christmas Vacation.

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It was nice to sit down and enjoy some air conditioning.

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They even made it snow in there!

Next we decided to get on the Skyride so that we could see all of the park decorations, including the areas we had not gotten to like Timbuktu and the Holiday Hills. We had to wait in line for a short while, but the kids seemed entertained.

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On the Skyride:

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We only got to see half of the park from the sky since the Skyride has two sections and you can only do half at one time. We were dropped back off right next to Cheetah Hunt, so of course Mack had to go again. I was still rattled from Gwazi, so the other Caroline went with him.

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We ended our night with hot cocoa for the boys, and cotton candy for the girls.

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Thanks for a fun night Busch Gardens and Yelp Tampa Bay!

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Christmas Town will be at Busch Gardens for 18 select nights from November 29th through December 23rd. Advance tickets for children ages 3 to 9 are available for $10, and the event is a separate-ticketed night event. We didn’t get to do everything that Christmas Town has to offer, so click here for more information about all things Christmas Town Busch Gardens Tampa 2013.

We loved Christmas Town 2012, and now that we’ve gone twice it is a tradition!

Cya.

Yelp’s PASSPORT to downtown St. Pete: Yelp Takes a Load Off

November 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Monday evening was the last installment of Yelp Tampa Bay’s PASSPORT to downtown St. Pete. After seven long days of fabulous venues, food, and drinks all us Yelpers needed to relax a little (socializing is so hard) so this last event was Yelp Takes A Load Off at Pia’s Esthetics Day Spa.

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The previous six days and six events that I attended thanks to Yelp:

Tuesday 11/5: Yelp’s the Mac Daddy event at MacDinton’s.
Wednesday 11/6: The Gallery of Yelp event at the Florida Craftsmen Gallery.
Thursday 11/7: Yelp’s 50 Shades of Plaid event at The Birchwood.
Friday 11/8: Yelp Plays with Fire event at Painting with Fire Studio.
Saturday 11/9: Yelp’s Secret Cash Mob at Sweet Divas.
Sunday 11/10: Yelp’s Black & White Ball at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Gold Club.

My friend Amy met me at Pia’s…

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and we checked in at the Yelp table.

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It was a gorgeous evening and everyone was having a good time hanging out on the sidewalk.

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All of the spa services offered for the evening were on a first-come basis and Brett, our Yelp Tampa Bay Community Manager, was on top of the list.

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While we waited we got to enjoy some food.

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Sandwiches and macarons from La Sandwicherie…

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and empanadas from Latin Lunchbox.

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10th pina colada free!

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Wine from Save Me San Francisco and beer from MillerCoors were also on hand.

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I just stuck with water and ate the insides of several sandwiches. The roast beef, mozzarella, and tomato was my favorite.

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I also looked around the shop a little while waiting for my turn.

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Before I knew it they were calling my name. For my treatment I chose eyelash tinting. It’s pretty obvious why I chose that.

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Without mascara, my blonde eyelashes are pretty much invisible. I have had them tinted before, but it’s been probably 15 years.

The facilities at Pia’s are very nice.

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Nicole, the aesthetician who tinted my eyelashes was also very nice. The whole procedure only took about ten minutes. Nicole was a total pro.

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Here are some scary befores and afters:

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Oops, this one is an after and a before:

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I think it’s a big difference and I like it. Thank you Nicole!

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Amy got her eyebrows waxed.

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My friend Charlotte got a manicure. We were all feeling very special after being dyed, waxed, and polished.

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All of the ladies at Pia’s were wonderful and it was a really nice evening. They even gave us a goodie bag to take home!

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Thank you so much to Pia’s Esthetics Day Spa for hosting us. It was a nice end to a fantastic week of Yelping. Thanks to Brett and all of the Yelp Tampa Bay staff for all of your hard work!

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I was told that I had the most complete PASSPORT of any of the Yelpers (as far as they knew).

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It was strange for the next couple of days not to have a Yelp event to attend. I got very spoiled. Luckily, there is always another Yelp event on the horizon! You should be Yelping.

Cya.