Historic Baseball in Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford

One of the truly original offerings in Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford is the playing of Historic Base Ball games on summer weekends. The game is played by 1867 rules as set down in Henry Chadwick’s Haney’s Base Ball Book of Reference.

It was mentioned in this informative booklet that I was given while watching a game recently:

There are two teams based out of Greenfield Village that play towards the World Tournament of Historic Base Ball. The first is the Lah-De-Dahs and the second is the Nationals Base Ball Club. I root for the Lah-De-Dahs!

But this particular day my team (the Lah-De-Dahs) were playing against the Regulars Base Ball Club of Mt. Clemens. Let’s start with the pitch from the Regulars:

And a mighty swing from the Lah-De-Dahs batter with some hustle from the field:

     

And the play is in full motion:

And now a brief break from the game: In the background of the picture above you can see a railway track. Every now and then an authentic steam locomotive will chug by. The game must stop when this occurs so as not to hit any passengers with a home run ball, or as the commentator of the game remarked, so as not to have the outfielder knock the train off the tracks as he goes long to catch the ball. Apparently, outfielders in Historic Base Ball stop for nothing! And here she comes now:

“Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!”

The commentator urges the players and spectators alike to yell the above ‘greeting’ to the passengers of the train to scare them so as to help them realize just how dangerous this new-fangled mode of transportation, steam trains, can be!

Now back to the game. One of our fine Lah-De-Dah gentlemen has just made third base:

Lah-De-Dahs wear red with a tie

Let’s have a closer look at this uniform:

    

Notice there are no helmets, gloves, or cleats (in fact, some players play barefooted). Although Base Ball was an amateur sport in 1867 and played by gentlemen only, it certainly took a tougher breed than today’s professional games call for!

The games almost over so now seems like a good time to introduce you to the games excellent commentator:

This man got quite a workout as he walked back and forth among the spectators answering questions while commenting on the game.

The final score was in favor of the Lah-De-Dahs as they narrowly beat out the Regulars 15-13 in nine innings. What I enjoyed about the game was the open sportsmanship displayed by both teams! In the end, the losing Captain led his team in a cheer of appreciation for the respect of the winning team:

Class never goes out of style!

The game of baseball is much different today as it has become a professional business instead of a gentlemanly pastime. Could this be due in part to the kind of players we have today? Notice how the model Base Ball Player is described in 1867:

The principal rule of action of our model base ball player is to comport himself like a gentleman on all occasions, but especially on match days, and in so doing he abstains from profanity and its twin and vile brother, obscenity… He never censures errors of play made by a brother member or an opponent, as he is well aware that fault-finding not only leads to no improvement in the play of the one who blunders, but on the contrary is calculated to have the very reverse effect.”

Does that describe your favorite baseball player of today?

Of course, there was some hypocrisy back then, as the commentator frequently made reference to a ‘muffed ball’, which is a ball that the fielder touches but fails to hold or stop. The commentator delighted in gently ribbing players on both teams for doing this. Of course he also enjoyed picking on them for their facial hair and ages, but I guess the rules of 1867 Base Ball say nothing about how a commentator should act!

The commentator also gave free advice to the players of both teams, telling the batters to hit the ball to where no one was standing (Really? Who knew?) and that if the fielders paid attention and caught the ball, they would get more batters out. Well, I can’t imagine any better advice, can you?

So if you’re in the Detroit area and like sports, Greenfield Village has Historic Base Ball games every weekend, Saturdays and Sundays, all summer long. They would love to see you there cheering for all the good plays, no matter which team makes them!

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!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Peach | Family Adventure | Theme Parks

Canada’s Wonderland Vs. Disney Parks

Only one mountain, but it’s a doozy!

When amusement parks go head to head, it’s very hard to pick a clear winner. Any determination will be highly subjective and depend entirely on the taste of the reviewer.

The purpose of this post is to highlight Canada’s Wonderland (CW), as most of my readers are all too familiar with the Disney parks, and don’t need me to point out the attractions and features therein. But as I compare CW to the Disney parks, I will be declaring a winner in each of the categories listed, just to get everyone arguing!

Opened in 1981, this 330-acre amusement park located in Vaughan, Ontario, was the first major ‘theme’ park in Canada, and it remains the country’s largest. Canada’s Wonderland has been the most visited seasonal amusement park in North America for several consecutive years. In 2014, it was the second most visited park in the Cedar Fair chain, behind Knott’s Berry Farm, with approximately 3.5 million visitors.

Disneyland (above) & Walt Disney World

Disneyland was opened in 1955 with Walt Disney World following 16 years later in 1971. Both parks have had amazing success and are the heavy hitters in this comparison! For the sake of this review, I will have the Disney parks compete separately, switching between them as necessary. Now let’s look at our first category:

T H E M I N G

Winner: Disneyland & Walt Disney World

To be fair, it should be mentioned that Disney builds Theme Parks, whereas Canada’s Wonderland and other parks are more like traditional Amusement Parks. So where Disney spends time and money on storytelling, CW simply makes things look good, but focuses more on getting visitors right to the fun and thrills!

Of course, this means that at CW, if you’re not riding, you’re not doing much else. Although the park is pretty, it is basic flowers-and-trees pretty. CW is designed for young thrill seekers and young families (more on them later) leaving the tamer middle-aged set pretty much out of the picture. So no one is standing around admiring the fact that the garbage cans match the Land they are in. Instead, they are usually on the move from one ride to the next.

A D U L T    R I D E S

Winner: Canada’s Wonderland

Disney wants almost every ride to be family friendly. So your ten-year-old can ride even the most wild Roller Coaster with his Grandfather at Disney, whereas at CW, both would be well advised to skip most of the thrill rides offered!

We rode The Leviathan:

Visible from anywhere in the park

This coaster swings out over the parking lot and is the first thing you see when entering the park. While riding, we were dropped from 306 feet at an 80 degree angle! We traveled over 5486 feet of track at speeds reaching 148km/hour, or 92 miles an hour!

We also rode the Backlot Stunt Coaster which has non-stop action from start to finish as we twisted and turned through a helix, a series of quick drops and turns including a pitch black 88 degree banked turn. The Linear Induction Motor (LIM) launches this coaster and reaches 64km/hour (40 m/hour) in less than 10 seconds! It felt faster and more intense than Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Test Track at Disney.

The park features many thrill rides, including 16 roller coasters, tied with Cedar Point for second-most roller coasters in an amusement park behind Six Flags Magic Mountain.

C H I L D R E N ‘ S     R I D E S

Winner: Disneyland/Canada’s Wonderland

Now, if I had called this section Family Rides, WDW would have won hands down. If you include Dark Rides (like Peter Pan’s Flight) and E-ticket attractions (like The Enchanted Tiki Room) than it would be impossible for any other park to match the sheer number of options at Walt Disney World. Even so, WDW gets a very honorable mention here!

CW has two children’s areas: Planet Snoopy and Kidzville. I put CW ahead of WDW because, since the closure of Mickey’s Toontown, WDW has slipped a bit on offerings solely for the little ones. I liked CW’s offerings because the two areas were side-by-side and easy to navigate, with some truly unique offerings. And… they have these:

Swan Boats, anyone?

And keep in mind that Canada’s Wonderland has the rights to use the Peanuts cast of characters. So you’ll see Snoopy and the gang around the park and in some shows. And many of the children’s rides are themed to one of the Peanuts gang.

Hey look, it’s Sally!

And while we’re on the topic of the Peanuts gang, let’s segue into…

M E R C H A N D I S E

Winner: Walt Disney World

No one can beat WDW for merchandise options! So what’s the point even trying to compare? CW adds just enough shopping options to give you a chance to get out of the sun. There is no high-end stuff, as CW focuses more on its Peanuts line of products and the usual Canada’s Wonderland key chains, snow globes, and t-shirts.

But the Peanuts merchandise at the shops is pretty amazing:

    

    

    

W A T E R     P A R K S

Winner: Walt Disney World

Again, with two distinct water parks and themed pools at every resort, few come close to WDW for watery fun!

However, Canada’s Wonderland also features a 20-acre water park called Splash Works. With Whitewater Bay – Canada’s Largest Outdoor Wave pool, a ¼ mile Lazy River, and water slides galore; there’s something for everyone at Splash Works. And here’s a fun fact for you: It would take 154,567,128 bottles of water to fill Splash Works!

New for 2015, Splash Works is home to Typhoon, a thrilling new water slide featuring oscillating funnels and hairpin turns and Splash Station, a wet and wild interactive children’s play area!

D I N I N G

Winner: Walt Disney World

Again, it’s like sending a sheep to slaughter to expect a park like CW to compete with the vast amount of dining options at WDW, or DL for that matter. But they do a fair job of giving visitors good options at fairly reasonable (theme park) prices. The one thing I did like at CW was the iPhone App which listed every menu item for all allergy requirements.

And as a bonus at CW this past weekend, they had a Food Truck Festival. Close to a dozen food trucks from the Toronto area showed up and it was diversity heaven!

CW offers a refillable cup for soft drinks. It was $14.99 (or $12.99 if ordered online in advance) and can be refilled as many times as you like, all day, during your visit. They use a bar code to determine this. But if you bring the same cup back on another day, it’s just 99 cents per refill, instead of the usual $3.49 per. Take that Disney!

S H O W S

Winner: Just Disney!

At CW there were about half a dozen shows which cycled with multiple times throughout the day. They had a diving show with 3 men who jumped off the mountain into the moat which only lasted about 5 minutes. A bit anti-climatic. A 3-D dinosaur show was available for an additional fee. A BMX stunt show was popular. We took in Dimensions: A Cirque Experience (think Cirque du Soleil knock-off) which was very good!

And we also stopped by the children’s Playhouse Theatre to see Charlie Brown’s Jungle Journey. This was about 15 minutes long and not very well thought out. The jungle theme did not come across but the kiddies seemed to like it well enough.

It was unfortunate that the Peanuts characters weren’t available for pictures with guests. I had to settle for this shot with ‘Snoopy’:

    

But you could also sit with Snoopy’s little yellow friend

S P E C I A L     E V E N T S

Winner: Three-way Tie?

Again, the Disney parks dominate, but not because CW doesn’t try to mix it up a bit! But being only a seasonal park, the number of special events is obviously going to be lessened. CW does have a Halloween-themed event called Halloween Haunt in the fall season.

This year CW hosted a traveling exhibit called Dinosaurs Alive:

This was a premium paid attraction requiring an additional $5.00 charge to enter. But it was worth it. The animatronics weren’t quite up to Disney standards (for range of movement only), but seeing full-sized dinosaurs up close was amazing!

    

The scale was truly awe-inspiring!

There were dozens of dinosaurs and each was tripped by a sensor to move and roar as you walked by.

S U M M A T I O N

Canada’s Wonderland holds its own against the heavy hitters!

Being as Canada’s Wonderland is just about the only option in my Province, it does stand out in a class of its own. It doesn’t have to apologize to anyone for thrills, as it delivers these in spades! So young thrill-seekers rejoice! Also, CW has many options for parents with very young children.

Where CW falls short is for the middle-aged group who may go with the rest of the family, but may not be interested in going 90 miles an hour in a sled or sitting through a lame character show. The Disney parks definitely cater to the whole family in a better way.

Canada’s Wonderland has one major flaw, and that’s the layout. Karen and I got lost so often, and this was even while holding and ‘following’ the park map! Unlike Disney, who lay out their parks on Walt’s original spoke and wheel design with a central hub, CW has tried to do that, but fails.

There are just too many twisting walkways to attractions, many of which lead to dead-end areas. Backtracking becomes the only way to get around, which wastes time, and sucks when the temperature get high! Also, being a seasonal park, the staff aren’t quite up on all of the features of the park they work in. Most vendor employees had no idea where rides were. While employees walking around were better, some supplementary signage would have been an ideal way to make up for this problem.

Of course, we need to keep in mind that most employees were probably new, as the park must have to rehire every season, so training is likely an ongoing nightmare.

CW has a form of Disney’s PhotoPass and ride photo opportunities, season passes with perks and discounts, a V.I.P. tour package, and Cabanas to rent in the water park. And obviously more rides and attractions than I have time to cover here. So be sure to click the links added to this post for more information.

So the main reason to go to Canada’s Wonderland is to hit the coasters! They are amazing and well worth the admission fee. An adult ticket is just under $70 for the day (10 am to 10 pm) with reduced prices available for those who come later in the day.

I’ll be doing some follow-up posts focusing on pictures to show the basic layout and look of Canada’s Wonderland soon.

OVERALL RATING: 3 out of 5 STARS

Magical Blogorail: Family Adventure – Zoos

Welcome to the next stop on Magical Blogorail Peach. Today we are discussing zoos that your family needs to visit.

It seems funny for me to be a part of this loop because I don’t usually enjoy zoos. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a rare exception, and the Brevard Zoo in Florida is another. The reason is that they are quite similar in their approach to displaying the animals and birds within, a way that I feel is more humane. As I share some details about the zoo, and some awesome pictures, what I mean should become clear.

So, ‘All Aboard!’ for a quick trip around the Brevard Zoo:

Yes, it has a train! Put me in an observation car being pulled by a train (steam preferred) and I’ll even watch paint dry for hours! But this train takes you past some more interesting things than Sherman Williams latest color selections.

While we were on this trip, a camel walked beside us, and we saw several other free-roaming animals. A nice cut above simply seeing animals in cages!

When animals were in enclosures, there weren’t any chain link fences, which is what reminded me of Disney’s efforts in DAK. This zoo in Brevard simply cut out large chunks of space from the natural Florida landscape and used berms and wooden barriers to give a more natural feel. It was also easy to see that the animals were more content as they moved around in that natural environment.

    

How many zoos can boast environments like this?

Seriously, although you walked along pathways, you truly felt like you were just passing through the State of Florida and coming across wildlife! A very organic experience.

It would be impractical to list in one post all of the features and animals you will enjoy by visiting this progressive zoo. Suffice to say it is worth the trip!

8225 North Wickham Road
Melbourne, Florida, U.S

For more information on zoos to visit with your family,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Peach | Family Adventure : Zoos

First Disney Cruise: Last Day – Evaluation

Just a footnote to Day Five: Because it was our 25th Wedding Anniversary, we were supposed to get a special anniversary dessert with our last dinner sitting, but we skipped it to enjoy more activities. We phoned and asked if we could have the desserts sent to our room so we could enjoy them later, but were told that they would only send them to the room during our rotation time. If we weren’t going to be in our stateroom during that time, then we couldn’t have the desserts at all. Happy anniversary to us!

Fortunately, we met one of the couples who sat at our table and they said they would get the desserts for us and we could swing by their cabin later and pick them up. Disney Cruisers are the best! The desserts looked like this, and were very tasty:

    

We had some more anniversary surprises, such as this nice one waiting for us when we first arrived in the room on Day One. It was from some good friends of ours:

We got sick before we could enjoy it, so have brought it home and are saving it for a special occasion. Disney also helped us commemorate the event by giving us a nice card and a bottle of wine on our anniversary day, and our Host left us this in our stateroom:

So onward with Day Six, or the last day of our vacation.

We woke up in the morning at 6:30 am and finished packing. By 8:30 am we were disembarking in Miami. This process went very well. Port of Miami has a very efficient customs service. We had hoped for a beautiful full day of sun and fun, but again, our little black rain cloud had found us! No blue sky for our last day of vacation.

Goodbye Disney Wonder!

We boarded our shuttle to the Hertz rental car facility and arrived just after 9 am, but due to a reservation mix up (not Hertz’s fault) we didn’t get on the road until almost noon! So most of our day in Miami was lost. Catching a break just isn’t our thing.

By now we are starving as we haven’t eaten all day, so we stopped at a Wendy’s and had some lunch. From there we hit a couple of Disney Stores and then drove to the house of Karen’s parents to repack and get a final night’s rest before flying home. The next day we drove to Orlando and boarded our JetBlue flight for Buffalo. We picked up our own car at the park and fly service and had lunch at Bob Evans. We hit two Malls on the way home and picked up some last Disney souvenirs, from a Hallmark store no less, and so ended the adventure.

F I N A L     E V A L U A T I O N

You might think that I would totally trash the Disney Cruise Line after such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad vacation. Make no mistake, we are planning to contact the DCL to complain and see if we can’t get some compensation. But in life one has to look at the pros and cons. So let’s do that now:

PROS

  1. Time away from our regular routine
  2. New experience, first time cruising aboard the beautiful Disney Wonder
  3. Met some really great people
  4. Enjoyed some excellent service from Crew Members
  5. Saw some amazing shows and performers
  6. Picked up some awesome souvenirs
  7. Were compensated slightly for the bad experience (thanks to Vacation Insurance)

CONS

  1. Got an onboard illness and were quarantined, losing almost 3 days of our cruise (out of 5)
  2. The food was substandard, an almost non-existent buffet, and few gluten-free options
  3. Some truly unhelpful experiences with Customer Service
  4. Missed one port of call and got rained out at the other, bad weather over all
  5. Missed the Pirate deck party, fireworks, and Toy Story the Musical, and 2 movies

We would give the cruise as it turned out only a 4 out of 10, which is very low considering the amount a Disney cruise costs! But in fairness, Disney can’t control the weather and getting sick is just the chance you take. But being as the service was generally poor in response to our troubles, and the food was generally average, and there was almost a total lack of variety in gluten-free options, we can’t give a better mark. However, if everything had gone well we still would only give the Disney Wonder a 7 out of 10.

Cruising is not for everyone!

We arrived home to a DCL commercial on the TV with the tagline: “When it comes to pleasing everyone, the difference is Disney!” I don’t believe the ‘difference’ they are talking about is what we experienced!

We’ve all heard that if you’ve never cruised before, you should start with a 5-day excursion to see if it’s for you. We are definitely glad we did this! For us, a middle-aged couple with no children, there just wasn’t enough to do on board with the majority of the time being at sea. A Walt Disney World vacation with something happening every minute is more our speed, whereas a cruise is more about slowing down and relaxing. Maybe even coming to a complete stop at times! Families would definitely enjoy the experience more.

And in fairness, I doubt anyone would have as many problems as we did! But even if all had gone right, the value just isn’t there when you cost out the fun-to-dollar ratio. And one last time, I just have to mention how terribly disappointed we were in the food. The Beach Blanket Buffet was actually closed quite often, and after everyone telling us you could eat 24/7 on a Disney Cruise, I found this to be unacceptable! And as I saw many other guests throwing up their hands in frustration outside a closed eating location I know I’m not alone in this. The same DCL commercial mentioned earlier touted a ‘Royal Banquet’ enjoyed while cruising. We never found where this was served on our cruise!

Would we cruise again? NO! Should you? I think every Disney fan should keep it on their Disney Bucket List… but… don’t go into it with high expectations. It appears that the Disney Cruise Line may not always be able to live up to them.

I’ve always believed that good customer service isn’t always doing everything perfect up front, but more about how you fix a problem afterwards. Thanks to our having purchased Vacation Insurance, we were able to get a small financial refund and a DCL Embroidered Pillow for our troubles.

At first, Disney sent us a 10% discount coupon for our next Disney Cruise that had to be redeemed in a relatively short period of time. We turned that back over to them for the above item.

And that concludes our First Disney Cruise anniversary vacation. Do you think I’ve been fair in my evaluation? If you’ve cruised with Disney, how was your experience?