Magical Blogorail: Family Adventure – Winter Travel

Winter is a great time to travel some place warm, but what if the budget doesn’t allow for that? Then it’s time for a day trip! And who better to help us plan such trips than the Beatles, the original Day Trippers!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Peach Loop. Today we are exploring fun you and your family can have this winter. Lots of fun can be found locally!


John Lennon and Paul Mccartney wrote a great song about day trips. Okay, it mainly had something to do with a girl who teased love but didn’t deliver, or possibly it had some other meaning? But for the purpose of this article, I’m going with the title of the song at face value!

So let’s go through the lyrics line by line to see what we can learn about making day trips a successful vacation alternative:

Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out now

EASE OF PLANNING – How long did it take you to plan your last full-on vacation? Months? And was it a pleasant experience? Probably not as pleasant as the vacation itself! So the first reason to take day trips is just how easy they are to plan.

Pick a place within a two-hour drive radius of your home… and go! It really is the easy way out of town.

She was a day tripper
One way ticket, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

LENGTH OF TIME – The beauty of a day trip is the duration. It is by nature very short and thus manageable for even the youngest member of the family.

And if it turns out not to be what you thought it might be? Go home! You won’t have lost much, just a day.

She’s a big teaser
She took me half the way there
She’s a big teaser
She took me half the way there, now

SURPRISE FACTOR – Day trips are a great way to spring a special day on your family. Being as the experience is local, no one will need to pack or prepare. So you can easily load everyone into the mini-van without having to divulge the ultimate destination.

Of course, your family may pry the secret out of you, you big teaser, before you’re half the way there!

Tried to please her
She only played one night stands
Tried to please her
She only played one night stands, now

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE – Maybe you’ve taken a vacation that didn’t please at least one member of your family. This can be disappointing, especially if one member always feels that their interests are never served!

With a day trip, you could forgo the surprise element and let each member of your family pick a destination or activity. Yes, with day trips, it really is easy to please them all!

She was a day tripper
Sunday driver, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

MAGICAL MEMORIES – Instead of just one big experience to remember each year, with day trips you can have many magical memories to add to your family’s scrap books.

I’m sure if you plan a few day trips yourself, you’ll find out just how fun they can be!

Day tripper, day tripper, yeah
Day tripper, day tripper, yeah
Day tripper, day tripper, yeah

I say ‘Day Trip’ you say ‘Yeah‘!

If you’re in the Michigan region, you may want to visit The Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, or perhaps take the Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour.

For more winter travel ideas, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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Blogorail Peach | Family Adventure | Winter Travel

Attractions Review: Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour

After years of having annual passes to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, we finally availed ourselves of one of the extended attractions offered. Apart from enjoying Greenfield Village one can also take a walking tour of the Ford Rouge Factory.

The tour started for us with the payment of a member discounted ticket for just $14.50 US ($17.00 for non-members). Seniors and child tickets are cheaper. We boarded the free shuttle bus and were taken quickly from The Henry Ford Museum to the Ford Rouge Factory.

Up front I’ll say that the staff for this attraction are top notch! Friendly and knowledgeable and obviously in love with their jobs. We were greeted at the door and given a brief overview of what we were to experience and then shown into the first of two theaters. Let’s begin your vicarious tour with the attractions:

Legacy Theater

Archival Footage of the Rogue – Featuring rarely-seen historic footage from The Henry Ford archives, you’ll learn about the triumphs and tragedies that took place at the Rouge and how Henry Ford’s soaring ideas became actualities and helped define American manufacturing and industry. The music you’ll hear was written and performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

I personally liked this presentation, but those who aren’t big on sitting in a seat for 15 minutes or so watching instead of doing… maybe not so much! But you will learn things you never knew about Ford.

Approximate time: 13 minutes

Manufacturing Innovation Theater

Manufacturing Process Up Close – Celebrating the engineering ingenuity behind the production of the award-winning Ford F-150 truck, this multisensory film experience comes complete with vibrating seats, gusts of wind, and winking robots. With jaw-dropping special effects, from “floating” 3D laser projection mapping and high-energy audio to a breathtaking behind-the-wheel finale, you’ll see the manufacturing process up close, from concept to highway.

This was much more entertaining than the first visual presentation. As far as attractions go, this one had some very cool features! Especially interesting was the use of the F-150 model as it was modified from basic shape to full-fledged running vehicle.

Approximate time: 10 minutes

Observation Deck

Bird’s Eye View of the Rouge – You’ll also get a bird’s-eye view of Ford’s famous “Living Roof.” This eco-industrial wonder – the largest living roof in the world – blankets the top of the final assembly building. Two interactive exhibits help explain the environment features in view.

Not much to see here really. You look out the windows and see buildings. If you’re into reading though, this is the place for you!

Approximate time: 5-15 minutes
Assembly Plant Walking Tour

View F-150 Assembly – The elevated walkway, a 1/3 mile journey, provides you with a unique bird’s-eye view of the plant’s final assembly line. You’ll see firsthand the complex web of equipment, robotics, parts delivery and skilled workers that come together to build one truck per minute at full line speeds.

The tour gives you glimpses of the trim lines for cab, box, and door as well as final testing. You’ll see the F-150 come into the plant as an empty shell and leave as a fully tested F-150 ready for you and me. I’ll take mine in red, please!

FUN FACT: We were told that it was rare to see a Raptor pick-up go by on the line. Why? It may have something to do with this trim lines price tag being upwards of $75,000 US!

The only thing I could nit-pick about this part of the tour is that you start near the end of the process and finish near the beginning as you walk the main plant area. You do then go out to see the finished vehicles being checked and driven away. I thought it might have been better to bring you in from the other side of the building.

Approximate time: 30-45 minutes

Legacy Gallery

Historic Rouge-made Vehicles – Take a journey through time and see some of the most famous Ford vehicles made at the Rouge. The cars on display inside the Legacy Gallery include:

  • 1929 Model A
  • 1932 Ford V8
  • 1949 Coupe
  • 1955 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1965 Ford Mustang
  • 2015 Ford F-150

Explore the stories and engineering behind this vehicle in the Truth About Trucks kiosk. Go deeper into The Henry Ford’s collections with the Collections Explorer kiosks that include interactive educational games, Expert Insight videos, curated collection highlights, and complete access to thousands of digitized artifacts.

Basically, you look at six vehicles and read some more.

    

Of course, no trip to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour would be complete without a visit to the Factory Store located next to the Legacy Gallery.

We picked up this commemorative pin for just $5.99 US at the Factory Store on our way out.

Approximate time: As long as it takes!

Buses leave for The Henry Ford Museum every 20 minutes or so. We finished our tour and boarded the bus for the trip back. One hitch came when we were dropped off at the final tour stop. The doors into the museum were closed because we came back close to closing time. So we had to walk to the front entrance. If it had been raining this would not have been good! The bus could have pulled forward and let us off closer to the front entrance as it had to exit the property via that route anyway.

Cool Rating: 4.5/5

I would highly recommend the Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour along with the other attractions offered at The Henry Ford Museum! That said, it is basically a one-time experience, as things won’t likely change quickly unless Ford radically redesigns the F-150 or updates the manufacturing process.


For full details, check out the Official Website here.

Trip Report: Walt’s Birthplace in Chicago, IL

Do you have a Disney Bucket List? So far we’ve managed to visit both North American parks, we’ve taken a Disney cruise, attended a Disney press event (and saw John Lasseter), and now we have been able to add a special item to our list. Walt’s birthplace!

We just visited the birthplace of Walt Disney at 2156 N. Tripp Ave. in Chicago, IL:

Corner of N. Tripp Avenue & E. Palmer Street

It was raining off and on when we pulled up but we made the best of it and even managed to do a couple of live Facebook feeds.

From opposite corner

The outside renovations seem to be done and the sign out front indicates a finish date of December 5th, 2016. According to the official website fundraising is still underway to help with completion of the interior.

Exterior Sign

I took the time to walk around the place, which didn’t take too much time, as the piece of property it’s on is very small.

Side and rear

I noticed the two colors of siding and the different facing material on the rear. I read once that this building has had a few additions over the years. So it is likely that the yellow portion represents the original house built by Elias Disney and the rest representing subsequent renovation efforts.

Garage and small back yard

The city of Chicago tried to designate this property a heritage site but a previous owner blocked the effort. The present owner has worked hard with a dedicated team to make sure that this building will be around for years to come! In their words, the dream is that this property ‘becomes a portal to new approaches in early childhood development and helps to inspire future Walts and Roys.’

    

Front porch detail

So now we can cross another item off our Disney Bucket List. And just to make sure that there is no dispute:

Yup. I was really there!

And so was Karen!

 And now you’ve been there, virtually, too!

Magical Blogorail: Family Adventure – Weeki Wachee Springs

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Peach Loop. Today we are discussing theme parks that would be perfect for your next family adventure. Welcome aboard!


W E E K I     W A C H E E     S P R I N G S

We’ve visited this State Park twice now, and although it isn’t as big as some of its competing roadside attractions, it still offers much to entertain the whole family!

Weeki Wachee Springs is located in Spring Hill, FL at the intersection of S.R. 50 and Hwy. 19 which places it just 45 minutes North of Tampa and 2 hours West of Orlando. The full address is: 6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606.

So why should you make the trip to Weeki Wachee Springs?

SPRINGS: The Weeki Wachee River winds its way 12 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. But it starts from a spring. The Seminole Indians named the spring “Weeki Wachee,” which means “little spring” or “winding river.” The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns.

RIVER BOAT CRUISE: Take a ride down the pristine waterway of the Weeki Wachee River as experienced boat captains give you an educational experience about the river and the different types of natural wildlife that might be seen during the trip. This may include manatees! They have swum next to boats and have been known to interrupt the live Mermaid shows (see next entry).

You can also rent canoes and kayaks and make your own way down the river!

MERMAIDS: There are ‘real’ mermaids swimming and putting on shows for audiences in the Mermaid Theater that seats 500 and is embedded in the side of the spring 16 feet below the surface. The Little Mermaid and Fish Tails are the shows presently in production.

Ariel and her sisters (2008)

This post, and the Peach Loop in general, is to introduce you to family-friendly tourist destinations. So I feel I should put in a word of warning at this point: There be boobies!

Well-endowed Mermaids in bikini tops aren’t the only occurrence of this overt feature of Weeki Wachee Springs. Stone statues are installed throughout the park and there is a whole line of topless sirens-of-the-deep at the entrance (see opening image for reference).

 

The statues are tasteful and are no worse than what you would see in an art museum, but I just thought forewarned was forearmed. You may want to bring blinders for the little ones… or the husbands.

ANIMAL SHOWS: The animal encounters provide you with a first-hand glimpse of some of Florida’s native wildlife including alligators, snakes, birds, and others.

 

BUCCANEER BAY: Florida’s only spring-fed water park, the thrilling flume rides empty you into the pristine waters of Buccaneer Bay. Lil’ Mates Caribbean Cove (Kiddie Pool) is an area reserved for kids 6 years of age and younger.  A water play area that the kids will enjoy and where Mom and Dad can relax as a trained lifeguard supervises.

Of course, Buccaneer Bay is a seasonal offering. Please visit the official website for more detailed information, directions, and pictures.

To conclude, I’d just like to mention that the park has been used for a backdrop in many films. And Don Knotts once visited the Mermaid Theater to promote his (then) new movie The Incredible Mr. Limpet, and how cool is that?

For more information on family adventures in theme parks,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


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