Push Away the Screen: Summer Nights at Busch Gardens Tampa 2015

It's no secret that my family are huge fans of Busch Gardens Tampa. When we were recently invited to be VIP guests at the opening of 2015 Summer Nights we jumped at the chance to attend! Despite all our years attending events at Busch Gardens we'd actually never stayed long enough to see the fireworks, and I was super excited to see some great fireworks! And Kinetix, I thought that was a magnetic game that kids played. We were certainly in for a wonderful treat (no pun intended....)

 With our VIP pass we quickly hopped on our favorite rides: Cheetah Hunt and Montu, and before we knew it it was time for us to head over to the Sesame Pavilion for the VIP experience. All we knew was that there was going to be desserts!!

And desserts there were!

They had a chocolate bar where you could dip all kinds of fruit, pretzels, marshmallows, and more. They had unlimited dipping dots, eclairs, and so many tasty treats. The kids (and James) LOVED the dessert bar. I was very good, and only snacked on pretzels, not even chocolate covered pretzels, just pretzels. 

The trio also had the opportunity to meet some of the cast of Kinetix, and this is when I realized that it was REAL people, not the magnetic game I had imagined. Silly Jenny.

There was a GREAT pre-show where kids and adults were able to dance, and sing, and just have a good time! I know for sure that these two (and maybe their mama) danced the Cupid Shuffle and they LOVED it!!

 And then as the sun began to set, the show really got started and it was AMAZING!! Acrobatics like I have never seen before!

And the stunts were all performed to LIVE music. It was SO GOOD!!


There was a lot of cheering from the crowd, and I heard my trio say more than once "hey mama, DID YOU SEE THAT??"


And then the fireworks started and they were as amazing as I had hoped they'd be!

 I'm pretty sure you can tell by the look on their faces that they are in awe too! I took a short video and you can see for yourself what a great show Busch Gardens puts on!

 And then once the show and fireworks are over, Busch Gardens remains open until MIDNIGHT! And yes, we closed the park down!! My gang finished up the night by riding Shiekra, Falcons Fury, Scorpion, Sand Storm, and the Phoenix. We had a GREAT night!!

Busch Gardens is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays throughout Summer Nights beginning June 27 through August 16. Plus, the fan-favorite, award-winning Kinetix show returns to Summer Nights with nightly performances of its rock-fueled blast of music and acrobatics. This thrilling performance pumps up the crowd every night in Gwazi Park at 9 p.m. Experience the amazing fireworks finale right after the Kinetix show. The best views are on Gwazi field, but the fireworks are visible from all over the park. And this is all included with your daily park admission (or season pass if you opt to go that route, which really, if you live in Tampa, you should!!)

Have you ever been to Summer Nights at Busch Gardens??

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I read a lot. So I've decided to start a new "feature" here on the blog. Every Wednesday I'll share what I'm currently reading. I'd love to hear in the comments what you are currently reading!

Right now I'm reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

This book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2014.

The summary from Goodreads is as follows:

It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher's calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

I am currently on Part 8-Chapter 4. There are 32 parts to this book, so I have quite a bit more to go! It's due in 3 days and I can't renew it, so I hope I can finish it in time!

What are you currently reading?

Push Away the Screen: Summer Vacation 2015 Preview-Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Happy Summer!!

We are so excited for our upcoming visit to Asheville, North Carolina and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains!!

My mom moved up to the Blue Ridge Mountains late last Fall and we haven't had the chance to go up and visit with her yet. We did go up in the summer of 2013 and we stayed at the Biltmore Hotel and also with my aunt and uncle. We had a GREAT time and we knew for sure we'd want to go back when Grandma got settled in her own house!

For this trip I really wanted to do some activities that were new to me and my gang. Now that they are getting older, they are able to live more on the wild side, so I have planned a full agenda for us!

I've tried to work it out that we spend one day doing an activity and then one day resting and playing it low key.

So here is our agenda....no dates of course Wink

Wednesday-drive up

Thursday- Asheville Treetops Adventure Park and Kolo Bike Park. How cool does this place look?? 51 unique climbing, zipping, walking, jumping, swinging and rappelling challenges anchored to over 30 trees and towering poles tucked in a wooded area.  The park has 5 trails to choose from including 2 Beginner trails, “Blue” &” Green”, 2 intermediate trails, “Yellow” and “Orange” and 1 advanced “Red” trail.  Each “Trail” includes 10 to 15 different challenges to complete the circuit.

We'll spend 2 hours at this park climbing and exploring, then stop for lunch. After lunch we'll head over to Kolo Bike Park. 

Both parks include EVERYTHING! Including the bike, so that means we don't need to tote our bikes up to Asheville with us. Sweet. Watching this video made us ever more excited to go to Kolo!

On Friday during the day we're relaxing at home, but on Friday night, WATCH OUT!! We're heading on a Vampire and Occult Tour with Haunted Asheville!

THIS 2-HOUR TOUR is the ultimate for intellectuals who want to take a step outside the bounds of a usual tourist experience. Your knowledgeable guide will explain, in the library of the Asheville Masonic Temple, what masonry is all about, and explore the conspiracies with you. Next we'll pass through some alleyways where dark and tragic events have transpired. You'll then get the full scoop on our local vampire scene, tribal rites in Pritchard Park, dark spirits on Church Street, Native American mysticism, and much more. This tour includes late-night access to the Asheville Mystery Museum where you'll see artifacts Joshua P. Warren brought back from Transylvania, including a sacred crucifix and a piece of Vlad the Impaler's Castle. And just in case you didn't know, Joshua P. Warren is an internationally-recognized expert on paranormal research, he starred on every episode of the Travel Channel's Paranormal Paparazzi.

My gang has done a haunted theater tour at the Tampa Theater and they like to think that they are quite the intellectuals, so I think they'll really enjoy this tour. 

Saturday is a rest day Laughing

Sunday James and I are going to head to downtown Asheville for a grown-up afternoon out! What are we doing?? We're going on a tour of some of the local Asheville Breweries with Asheville Brewery Tours

They'll take care of all the driving and we'll get to sample some of the best local beer in Asheville!

Monday is a day that is all about the kids. My mom took Haley to this place 4 years ago and Haley still talks about it today, which is why I thought it deserved a visit with the rest of the #TampaTrio.

We're heading to HOLLYWILD ANIMAL PARK! Hollywild is home to hundreds of animals and dozens of species that are native to five world continents. Hollywild animals have made more than 65 appearances in feature films and numerous national advertising campaigns. Some have come to Hollywild as retirees, some are still ‘working’ and others are actually born at the park. The name “Hollywild” refers to the link between Hollywood and wild animals as represented by the park’s connection with filmmaking. NONE of the animals are taken from the wild. 

The kids are all super excited to visit Hollywild, and to be honest...so am I! 

Tuesday....we'll rest up for Wednesday which just might be our biggest adventure yet!

Wednesday. WHITEWATER RAFTING and zip lining!! That's right folks. The Tampa Trio is heading to the Nantahala Gorge for some Class I, II, III rapids.  We will be taking the fully guided tour which is eight miles of constant waves and swift, clear currents. The trip takes over 3 hours and contains numerous class I and II rapids, with a class III at the end.  All rafts have a guide in them on the trip.  Could you imagine me and James taking the kids on an UNGUIDED tour!?!?! Tongue Out

After the tour we'll have lunch, and then do the Zip Lining!! Well, let me rephrase that...we'll head over for KIDS ZIP! KidZip Nantahala offers ziplines and adventure park elements for kids 4-12 years old old in a scenic wooded adventure setting. With a continuous cable and roller system there is no clipping and unclipping for the participants!! They said James and I could go with them, but I think I'll stay on the ground and wave. 


Thursday. Rest Day

And I think we'll probably leave on Friday and take a nice slow drive home and arrive home late on Saturday afternoon. 

And that's our vacation! Of course, we'll be visiting Sliding Rock, and I'm thinking a swim at Hooker Falls is also in order. But other than that we're just going to enjoy some (hopefully) cooler weather and some great family bonding.

Have you ever been to the Blue Ridge Mountains? What are some MUST SEE activities on your list?