NPS Adventures: General Grant National Memorial

The Roarbots’ series of NPS Adventures takes a big-picture view of one location within the National Park Service and highlights some of the best activities that site has to offer. This is usually done through a kid-friendly lens and almost always includes activities and suggestions we can recommend from personal experience. And pictures. There are lots and lots of pictures. Glad to have you aboard!

Welcome to General Grant National Memorial!

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NPS Adventures: Federal Hall National Memorial

The Roarbots’ series of NPS Adventures takes a big-picture view of one location within the National Park Service and highlights some of the best activities that site has to offer. This is usually done through a kid-friendly lens and almost always includes activities and suggestions we can recommend from personal experience. And pictures. There are lots and lots of pictures. Glad to have you aboard!

Welcome to Federal Hall National Memorial!

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NPS Adventures: Hamilton Grange National Memorial

The Roarbots’ series of NPS Adventures takes a big-picture view of one location within the National Park Service and highlights some of the best activities that site has to offer. This is usually done through a kid-friendly lens and almost always includes activities and suggestions we can recommend from personal experience. And pictures. There are lots and lots of pictures. Glad to have you aboard!

Welcome to Hamilton Grange National Memorial!

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The Illusionists: Turn of the Century on Broadway

A bit of background: my kids (like all kids) cycle through various obsessions. One of their current obsessions is a National Geographic show they found on Netflix called Brain Games. The show highlights all of the ways we can trick our brains into believing what we see even when it contradicts what we actually know to be true.

One of the recurring hosts on the show calls himself a “deception specialist,” so of course that’s exactly what my daughter wants to be when she grows up. We’ve tried telling her that it’s not a real career (unless you’re a thief), but she’s hearing none of it.

She’s fascinated by magic, illusions, sleight of hand, and people who specialize in deception. So it was with great anticipation that we checked out this year’s version of The Illusionists show on Broadway.

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Cirque du Soleil: Paramour

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(See here for more Cirque du Soleil reviews from The Roarbots!)

After more than 30 years and nearly three dozen different shows, Cirque du Soleil has clearly become an institution. Over the years, they’ve taken their fair share of risks and exploded the boundaries of what was considered possible not only on stage but also by the human body.

There have been touring big-top shows, touring arena shows, and resident theater shows, and each has wowed and blown away audiences around the world. Not content to rest on its laurels, though, the brand continues to stretch the horizons of what’s possible and what audiences should expect from a Cirque du Soleil performance.

The touring Toruk show is evidence of how far they’re willing to stray from their core to put on a spectacle. Added to that list? The brand-new Broadway show, Paramour.

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The Discovery of King Tut Exhibition

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Manhattan is a mecca for world-class museums, and there’s certainly no shortage of genuine art and artifacts from Ancient Egypt. The Metropolitan Museum of Art holds tens of thousands of pieces of historical significance, and practically all of them are on display – including the magnificent Temple of Dendur and several real-life mummies! The Brooklyn Museum also has two mummies on display.

So it came as a bit of a surprise at how much we enjoyed an exhibit about King Tut composed entirely of reproductions. This is something you should know about The Discovery of King Tut, currently on display at Premier Exhibitions on 5th Avenue (at 37th Street) in New York. It consists of about 1,000 replica objects but is without a single genuine artifact. But that almost doesn’t make a difference.

What came as a shock was just how enraptured my kids (4 and 6) were with the exhibit. I credit much of that to the audio guide that comes with your admission, but neither of my kids wanted to leave until they had listened to all 38 tour stops and seen absolutely everything the exhibit had to offer. As a result, my daughter is currently fascinated by all things Ancient Egypt and has a stack of library books on her bedroom floor. I call that a win.

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Star Wars and the Power of Costume

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Discovery Times Square has become one of the hottest go-to venues for nerdy exhibits and traveling shows. The space recently hosted the incredibly high-tech Avengers STATION and has been home to a Hunger Games exhibition for more than a year now.

The newest exhibit to come through may have a clunky name, but – in short – it’s well worth your time and money if you’re in the city. Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume opened in November of 2015 and will remain on exhibit until September of 2016 (before moving on to the Denver Museum of Art).

The traveling exhibit was developed by the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and Lucasfilm. Rather than focus on the narrative structure, special effects, or chronology of the Star Wars films, the exhibit instead turns its focus to the costumes created for the saga.

More than 60 different costumes, spanning all seven films, tell the story not of Star Wars but of the collective vision to develop that universe. The exhibit walks the visitor through the creative process of turning ideas into reality.

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New-York Historical Society: Superheroes in Gotham

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Superheroes and popular culture. They’re like peanut butter and jelly. For almost as long as there’s been a “popular culture,” there have been superheroes. I mean, Edgar Rice Burroughs had superhero archetypes in the Barsoom and Tarzan novels as early as 1912 . . . and he wasn’t even the first.

But, realistically, when people think of superheroes, they’re not thinking of John Carter or Dejah Thoris. They’re thinking of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, and all the rest. In short, they’re thinking of DC and Marvel characters.

Even those characters are much older than many people think. Mention Superman, and odds are people think of Christopher Reeve. Mention Batman, and people probably think of Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, or his animated form. Iron Man? That’s easy. Robert Downey, Jr. essentially introduced the character to a huge population that had never heard of him before.

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Avengers STATION

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The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N exhibit in Times Square is something I’ve been looking forward to seeing since it opened. However, first things first. That acronym? Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network. Of course.

Officially, the exhibit is “a completely immersive experience that brings visitors into the world of The Avengers. Visitors of all ages are granted S.H.I.E.L.D. access to the official S.T.A.T.I.O.N. headquarters and taken deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here visitors will have open access to a vast array of intelligence files, classified studies and experiments that explores the history and scientific origins of Marvel’s The Avengers.”

It’s important to note that this exhibit is almost exclusively based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’ve seen (and enjoy) the movies, then you’ll enjoy this exhibit. No comic book knowledge is required.

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Santa’s Workshop (North Pole, NY)

“Christmas in July” is one of those phrases that has kind of lost whatever meaning it originally had. A couple weeks ago, though, we decided to make it a reality with a visit to upstate New York’s Santa’s Workshop theme park. Located in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, mere minutes from Lake Placid and several ski destinations, the park is truly a step back in time.

It originally opened in 1949, and–I can’t stress this enough–very little has changed. Walking through the park is like stepping back to the 50s. There’s a small museum in the village that showcases vintage photos of the park, any of which could have been taken this year. When a majority of theme parks continually try to reinvent themselves, add new attractions, or otherwise try to keep themselves “fresh,” Santa’s Workshop has clearly decided to rely on nostalgia.

And it works.

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