It’s no secret that we here at The Roarbots love Kings Dominion. We’re huge theme park fans, big-time coaster fanatics, AND we still have a little one in the family. All of which, together, makes Kings Dominion such a logical choice.
Located just north of Richmond, VA, and just a couple hours south of Washington, DC, the park has an incredible number of rides, including 12 roller coasters and an impressive 19 rides in its kids area.
And it’s that kids area – Planet Snoopy – that really sets Kings Dominion ahead for families. Planet Snoopy is the largest Peanuts-themed area in the country (probably the world), and this season sees the area expand even further with three new rides.
At this point, I think it’s fair to say we’re seasoned vets when it comes to Disney on Ice. Yeah, we’ve been to our share of shows.
If you’ve never been or are curious about specific touring shows, be sure to check out our reviews of Treasure Trove, World of Fantasy, and 100 Years of Magic. They should give you a good idea of what to expect.
But we’re here today to talk about the brand-new show, Follow Your Heart, which actually breaks the Disney on Ice mold in a few key respects. Although I didn’t learn this until after the fact, it still explains quite a bit: this show was written by Shea Fontana, who is a veteran of several Disney animated series and is currently head writer for the DC Super Hero Girls franchise.
In other words, it comes with a fair bit of impressive star talent behind the scenes, which should be getting more publicity than it is.
It’s that time again. Disney on Ice is returning to the Baltimore/Washington area, and they’re bringing a new show. This time around, it’s called Follow Your Heart, and it’s got some familiar faces and fresh acts.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Disney On Ice shows, check out our reviews of World of Fantasy, 100 Years of Magic, and Treasure Trove. They should give you a good idea of what to expect: Mickey and the gang act as hosts, a variety of characters perform routines to well-known songs, and there’s a big finale at the end with everyone.
Follow Your Heart breaks the mold a little bit and focuses mostly on Pixar films. The show promises acts from Finding Dory, Inside Out, Toy Story, and Frozen (of course). Not gonna lie, we’re really looking forward to the Inside Out segment.
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 Petersburg National Battlefield!
Performances at Wolf Trap rarely disappoint. As the National Park Service’s only park dedicated to the performing arts, the venue is a wonderful place to watch live music (when the weather cooperates, of course). We’re huge fans of Wolf Trap, and their summer concerts that combine films with live orchestral accompaniment have become a Roarbots tradition.
It began way back in 2008 when they screened The Fellowship of the Ring with a full orchestra. The next two years saw performances of The Two Towers and Return of the King. I was at all of them, and they were amazing. Since then, they’ve branched out, and some of the highlights have definitely been Pixar In Concert and Disney in Concert.
This year’s DreamWorks in Concert fits the mold of those two shows perfectly. In short, there was a full orchestra on stage, playing music timed to video clips projected on a big screen over the stage and outside the amphitheater for everyone sitting on the lawn.
Please, Wolf Trap, do more of these. (psst….Star Wars, just sayin’)
I have to admit, I wasn’t really a fan of James Cameron’s Avatar, and I’m not particularly interested in the three sequels he’s currently working on. But I am absolutely interested in what he’s doing with the franchise off the big screen.
What I’ve seen of Pandora: The World of Avatar, the incredibly immersive land coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2017, looks astounding. And as a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil, I’m thrilled to see their take on the world of Pandora, the 10-foot-tall Na’vi, and the Toruk (the flying dragon creatures).
My complaints about the movie aside, it was a gorgeous film with a fully realized alien planet and creatures that lend themselves to the Cirque du Soleil stage quite nicely. Toruk will be Cirque du Soleil’s 37th production since 1984, and I’m really looking forward to this one.
This year’s incarnation of the Disney On Ice show is called 100 Years of Magic. Why 100 years? Good question. As far as I can tell, that name is just figurative. Almost nothing of lasting significance happened in 1915, and it wasn’t until 1923 that Walt and Roy Disney moved to Hollywood and set up their first animation studio.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit first appeared in 1926, and Mickey Mouse made his debut (with sound) in Steamboat Willy in 1928. So if we’re really meant to celebrate 100 years of magic with these characters, we still have a ways to go. But “87 Years of Magic” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Disney On Ice shows, check out our review of last year’s show: World of Fantasy. It should give you a good idea of what to expect: Mickey acts as host, a variety of characters perform routines to well-known songs, Anna and Elsa serenade the crowd, and there’s a big finale at the end with everyone.
It’s no secret that we here at The Roarbots are big theme park fans. It was therefore surprising that we’ve lived in the Washington, DC, region for as long as we have and never made it to Kings Dominion. It’s a couple hours south, just outside of Richmond, and we’ve certainly passed it a number of times. The sign is visible from I-95, and every time we’ve driven down to Busch Gardens Williamsburg or other points south, we comment that we really should check it out one of these days.
Well, this summer, we finally did it. And I’m so glad we did. It’s actually a great park with a lot to do for all ages!
The summer season for mid-Atlantic theme parks might be drawing to a close, but it’s not over yet! And now’s also the perfect time to pick up 2016 season passes, if you’re so inclined. As an added incentive, the park recently announced a new ride coming next season: Delirium — a powerful, spinning pendulum.
Another stellar performance at Wolf Trap. Did I show my hand too early? Come on now, we’re huge fans of Wolf Trap, Disney, and films projected with live orchestral accompaniment. So what’s not to love here?
After last summer’s Pixar In Concert, we knew what to expect from Disney In Concert, and it didn’t disappoint. And the sold-out crowd filling every seat and covering every square inch of grass seemed to agree.
In short, there was a full orchestra on stage, playing music timed to video clips projected on a big screen over the stage and outside the amphitheater for everyone sitting on the lawn. For this show, we were also treated to four vocalists who sang several of the most popular Disney songs.
Please, Wolf Trap, do more of these. (psst….Star Wars, just sayin’)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is already one of the prettiest theme parks in the country, so it doesn’t really take much to make it truly spectacular. Millions of sparkly Christmas lights and decorations?
Yep, that’ll do it.
From late November through the end of the year (check calendar here), the park transforms into Christmas Town. Everything is draped in lights and other decorations, shops turn into Christmas stores, and all of the shows switch to different holiday-themed shows, among other changes.
On the surface, these are all remarkable changes that really beautify the park and put you in the ol’ holiday spirit. But are all of the changes good? Is the event worth it? Let’s dig a little deeper.
(Dralion is currently playing at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, VA, through Sunday, October 26. Buy tickets here.)
Let me begin by saying that I thought we had never seen Dralion before. Halfway through the show, we realized that we had. (The clown act gave it away for us.) That’s how many different Cirque du Soleil shows we’ve seen. We’re in the double digits now.
To say we’re fans is putting it mildly.
For the purposes of this site, please feel free to check out our visit to International Headquarters in Montreal and our review of the touring show Varekai.
Dralion is one of the longest-running Cirque du Soleil shows (if not the longest-running). It premiered in 1999 and has been touring the world for the past 15 years. Sadly, though, the show will come to an end next year, ending this impressive run.
Therefore, if you want to see this one and it’s coming near you soon, I’d highly recommend you catch it before it’s gone forever.
Cirque du Soleil’s touring show Dralion is coming to Charlottesville, VA—and just in time for homecoming at the University of Virginia!
If you’ve read The Roarbots for any length of time, you know that we’re fans of Cirque du Soleil. Check out the recap of our tour through International Headquarters in Montreal and our review of another touring show—Varekai.
Dralion premiered in 1999 and has been going strong (in front of some 11 million people) ever since. Similar to Varekai, the show began its life under the big top but is now performed in arenas. If our experience with Varekai is any judge, they haven’t sacrificed quality at all to make this transition.
I’ve been to a lot of different conventions in my life: comic book conventions, book expos, Star Trek conventions. Until recently, I’d never been to a LEGO convention.
It was awesome.
Well, calling it a “convention” is sort of a misnomer. There’s only one exhibitor—LEGO—and it’s far more fun than your typical convention. It’s more like a huge LEGO playground. Their official marketing copy actually calls it “a hands-on, educational, all-ages LEGO extravaganza.” And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
LEGO KidsFest is a traveling show that’s been on tour since 2009, but it only makes seven North American stops each year. It also has a history of selling out well in advance. Therefore, if it comes anywhere near you, I highly suggest you make every effort to go.
We attended the event in Richmond, VA, which is a solid 3-hour drive for us from DC. I regret nothing.
Yeah, I’m gonna do it: Frozen is still hot.
The newest Disney on Ice show from Feld Entertainment is themed entirely around the gang from Arendelle. The Academy Award winning tale will be told live for the first time in this production, and it will of course include Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf.
And yes, all the songs are also included, so you can go home humming “Let It Go” all over again.
The show isn’t a straight-up retelling of the movie, though. It’s hosted by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by some of the Disney Princesses and characters from Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King.
(Big Apple Circus is currently playing at the Dulles Town Center in Dulles, VA, through Sunday, October 5. Buy tickets here. The show then moves back to New York for the holiday season, through January.)
The Big Apple Circus is probably best described as a happy marriage between a traditional circus (think Ringling Bros) and Cirque du Soleil. There’s a nice mix of acrobatics, contortionists, jugglers, and small animal acts.
It’s a bit more “fun” for little kids than Cirque du Soleil might be (and certainly more affordable), and it avoids the large animal acts that often plague larger, more traditional circuses. (There are no elephants, lions, or tigers.)
The conceit here is fairly simple: the Big Apple Circus presents a one-ring circus underneath a big top with an old-school ringmaster between acts. It’s almost enough to transport you back to the Dust Bowl. Almost.
It’s no secret that the Roarbots are fans of acrobatics and the whole “artistic circus” genre. (See our tour of Cirque du Soleil’s International Headquarters here.)
Cirque Dreams is in this same category and has been around since 1993, entertaining audiences around the world in theatres, casinos, theme parks, and at sea on cruise lines. They have a number of different performances touring at any one time.
Their newest show is called Jungle Fantasy and is currently touring the United States. Created and directed by theatrical and circus impresario Neil Goldberg, Jungle Fantasy is an exotic encounter inspired by nature’s unpredictable creations that are brought to life by an international cast of soaring aerialists, spine-bending contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and musicians.
Now here’s an event we’ve been looking forward to. The LEGO KidsFest will be held from October 3-5 at the Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, VA.
The show floor is an astounding three acres of LEGO awesomeness and will include a LEGO Model Museum, a Master Builder Academy, Race Ramps, Creation Nation, Construction Zone, a retail store, and the tantalizingly named Big Brick Pile.
Exhibits and activities will represent the wide variety of LEGO lines–Star Wars, Super Heroes, Ninjago, Mindstorms, Friends, Disney Princess, and Duplo–so there’s sure to be something for everyone, regardless of age or ability.
Richmond will be the tour’s second-to-last stop for 2014 (it moves on to Indianapolis next), and I can tell you that we’re waiting for this one with baited breath.
LEGO KidsFest tickets are $22 for adults and $20 for children, and they can be purchased online at legokidsfest.com.
Click this link and enter to win two tickets to the opening night session (4-8:30 pm) on Friday, Oct 3! Good luck, and thanks for playing!
Coming soon to the Dulles Town Center in Sterling, VA, just outside of DC!
Full disclosure that I’ve never seen the Big Apple Circus before, but it seems to be a nice mix of traditional big-top circus and more “Cirque du Soleil” type theatrics. They do use live animals, but I don’t see mention of any “big” animals, such as elephants or lions.
From their press release: You will be thrilled by the Flying Trapeze, the razzle-dazzle of the Rolla-Bolla, the dynamo of the Diablo, the risky rhythms of the Risley team, the cunning conjurors of the Quick-Change, and the incredible flexible limbs of the Contortionists.
Save $10 off with promo code BIGAPPLE (*Limited availability. Offer good on select seats and shows. Children under 3 are free when seated on the lap of a paid adult.)
Additionally, Big Apple Circus has made two tickets available to Roarbots readers for the opening night performance on Thursday, September 18 (7:00 pm). Enter using the widget below, and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’ve been members of the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore for several years now. One of the best-kept secrets of membership is the reciprocal admissions offered by other institutions affiliated with the Passport Program of the Association of Science and Technology Centers.
The Roarbots love science museums, so this program has been an incredible perk of membership. We make it a point to visit as many participating museums as possible during our travels.
This is the first of an occasional series of posts highlighting some of these amazing local science centers. Find more by following the ASTC tag on this post.
On a recent trip to Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, we managed to stop at a couple ASTC institutions. First up was the Virginia Living Museum, which was a wonderful surprise.
Located in Newport News, Virginia, the Living Museum is in the heart of Southeast Virginia’s tourist center.
(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)
Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Jay Tacey, Manager of Zoological Operations at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Like most kids, Zoey’s fascinated by animals of all kinds and can’t get enough of ’em. Zoos, aquariums, and natural history museums are some of her favorite places.