Seeing SeaWorld: A Whole New Light

This post was written by Jennifer of Experimental Mommy in partnership with The MOMS and SeaWorld.Travel expenses were provided however all opinions remain 100% mine.

After a long but fun day at Discovery Cove, the next morning we were up early for a full day at SeaWorld. I was extremely thankful for both the Starbucks in the SpringHill Suites lobby and for the news that I would not have to put a wetsuit on again. We started off with breakfast in SeaWorld at Sharks Underwater Grill. It was truly incredible to watch as sharks, rays, and other beautiful fish swam by while we ate. The breakfast was delicious and it was a meaningful experience to be able to watch the ocean life interact in the huge, panoramic aquarium while we heard more about the efforts at SeaWorld to advocate for them.

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After breakfast, we moved on to our behind the scenes Rescue and Rehab tour to learn how the efforts from people at SeaWorld have helped save nearly 28,000 animals and counting. We saw manatees, turtles, and dolphins that have been rescued and are being cared for because they would no longer be able to survive in the wild due to their injuries. We learned that the top problems affecting the manatees that SeaWorld saves are boat strikes, cold stress, entanglement in fishing lines or nets, and orphaned calves. With the use of animal ambulances (which look surprisingly similar to human ambulances, but on a bigger scale), SeaWorld Rescue Teams have been able to save manatees among other animals and continue to care for them until they can be re-released if possible.

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Because of the efforts of those at SeaWorld, many of these animals go on to live happy lives and continue to get excellent care. In addition to the care happening behind the scenes, world-renowned marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey has recognized the hard work and dedication of SeaWorld and has partnered with them to raise awareness about the plight of sharks in the wild and the health of our oceans. Research shows that more than 100 million sharks are killed every year in the global shark fishery due to practices such as shark finning. In addition to science and research efforts, Guy Harvey and SeaWorld will also work together to increase public awareness about ocean health and the need for shark conservation.  SeaWorld’s new roller coaster, Mako, will help to enhance this effort and raise awareness. During the course of our visit, I was lucky enough to meet so many amazing SeaWorld employees from every facet of involvement, and one thing was constant: their genuine love and concern for these animals.

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Following our tour, we had just a few hours of free time before we had to start our trip back home, but we used them well. While I would have been first in line to ride Mako, my daughter couldn’t talk herself into it, so we squeezed in a few other attractions like Wild Arctic, Journey to Atlantis, Antarctica, and Empire of the Penguin (which was our favorite for different reasons). My daughter loved it because you finished the ride face to face with the cutest crowd of penguins you’ve ever seen. I loved it because it was 32 degrees in the attraction as opposed to ten billion degrees outside. Both equally valid reasons!

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We were so sad to leave Orlando but truly feel like our time there was a gift. As I’ve told many friends since returning, if you are heading there just to see a certain mouse, you are missing out for sure. There is so much to do, learn, and see at SeaWorld and Discovery Cove, and knowing how hard everyone is working behind the scenes gives me an even bigger appreciation for the activities and entertainment available there. I encourage all of our readers to learn more through SeaWorld Cares and start planning your trip to Orlando. I know you’ll love it as much as we did!

Discovering Discovery Cove and Rising Tide Conservation

This post was written by Jennifer of Experimental Mommy in partnership with The Moms, Sea World and Discovery Cove. Travel expenses were provided. All opinions remain 100% mine.

I have decided Orlando, Florida is my happy place. It’s always warm and sunny, the people are friendly, and there is always something to do. It is also the site of our famous stay in the Cinderella Castle a few years ago, and I truly thought that could never be topped, until now.

I am ashamed to say that I have visited Orlando no less than a dozen times and never visited the hidden gems of SeaWorld and Discovery Cove. So, when my daughter and I were asked to attend The MOMS and SeaWorld’s “Word of Mom” Weekend I jumped at the chance. I thought we’d simply have fun, see some sights, and enjoy ourselves. Little did I know, we would leave having learned lessons that will stick with us for a lifetime.

After a quick (and early) flight we got all checked in to the SpringHill Suites and rested a bit before heading to Discovery Cove to start getting acquainted with our expert panel accompanying us for the weekend. Although I was familiar enough with SeaWorld, I never knew Discovery Cove existed so we were anxious to see what it was all about. Y’all…it’s gorgeous…white sandy beaches, beautiful landscaping, and complete relaxation. Visitors truly feel like they are on a tropical island. The best part about Discovery Cove is that it’s all-inclusive. Anything you can think of is there for you: towels, animal safe sunscreen, snorkels, masks, lockers, wetsuits and swim vests are all included, in addition to life jackets should you need one.

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Which leads me to….THE WETSUIT. Confession: I hate to be in cold water. I can stay in my bathtub for hours (and sometimes do, let’s be honest) but won’t spend ten minutes in a pool if it’s even slightly chilly. So, I opted for the wetsuit in the hopes of staying warmer. The very sweet attendant handing them out tells me, “Here you go. It should feel tight, like a sausage.” Yeah. He wasn’t kidding. Think industrial-strength Spanx for your whole body. But I squeezed in, channeled my inner Jimmy Dean, and off we went. After all, black is slimming, right?

We were led to The Grand Reef where we heard about the efforts of Rising Tide Conservation. Started by SeaWorld, Rising Tide Conservation promotes efforts to breed and raise marine tropical fish in aquaculture facilities in lieu of collecting them in the wild. The mission of Rising Tide is to protect coral reefs and promoting sustainable aquaculture. Coral reefs face continually growing threats, including ocean acidification, warming ocean temperatures, coral bleaching, pollution, and over-exploitation. All of these threats cause harm to the delicate balance of the reef and can potentially destroy them. With the recent release of movies like Finding Dory, there will surely be an uptick in families looking to acquire a “Dory” (blue tang) for their home just like the trend in clownfish after the release of Finding Nemo. About 98% of marine aquarium fish are harvested from the wild because reliable protocols for the aquaculture of marine fish have not been developed and shared throughout the industry. Rising Tide is hoping to change that. A recent exciting achievement was celebrated in October of 2015 with the announcement of a breakthrough in yellow tang breeding. This was due, in part, to the efforts of Rising Tide Conservation and Discovery Cove. Fish eggs that otherwise wouldn’t hatch are collected and sent to partner laboratories in the program to be used for breeding research. In addition, the park purchases fish that have been raised by these efforts rather than collect them from natural reefs.

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To that effort, our mission in The Grand Reef was egg collection. Thousands of fish make their home in The Grand Reef, including angelfish, butterflyfish, wrasses, tangs, hogfish, and filefish. The Grand Reef is also home to some of the most beautiful (and friendliest) stingrays I’ve ever seen. Egg collection was easy, and simply involved swimming out and placing nets over the filters. It was just a small piece of the puzzle, but my daughter felt good knowing she had contributed to something that was essentially going to do a lot of good. After the egg collection, we spent some time just taking in the beauty of the reef. It was indescribable…colorful fish everywhere you looked, and my daughter was brave enough to pet a few stingrays too.

After a good night’s sleep we got up early and headed out to learn more about how to help the efforts of Rising Tide Conservation. While my daughter enjoyed meeting a sloth and some other furry creatures (including one that licked her in the ear), I got to hear our panel of experts tell us more about how simple changes can help the amazing efforts of Rising Tide. Here are some suggestions:

  • Visit your local accredited zoo or aquarium. Ask about their conservation work and educate your family.
  • Support conservation programs like Discovery Cove’s Rising Tide.
  • If you are looking to start a home aquarium, remember a few tips:
    • Research the fish you are interested in caring for and how they interact with other fish.
    • Opt for an aquacultured fish first, instead of one collected from the reefs.
    • Saltwater aquariums can be tricky for beginners, so consider a freshwater aquarium instead.
    • For the well-being of your fish and other wildlife and their habitats, never release fish into the wild.
  • Take part in activities like Discovery Cove’s SeaVenture program – guests who participate in the SeaVenture program at Discovery Cove also directly help support Rising Tide Conservation, as the park donates five percent of every program purchased.

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Once our panel concluded it was time to head back to Discovery Cove. I, for one, couldn’t wait to put a wetsuit back on (kidding) but what we really couldn’t wait for was our chance to swim with dolphins. Our group won the dolphin Lotto and were treated to some time with Reef, a one-year-old bottlenose dolphin who is seriously the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, besides myself in that wetsuit of course. Our dolphin trainer Kelly was so knowledgeable and helpful while she taught us all about Reef and her life at Discovery Cove. After getting acquainted with Reef (my daughter says she felt like a “freshly shaved leg” and I almost died laughing) we got the chance to give her some smooches and see how smart she really is. At Discovery Cove, Reef has 24 hour vet care available, eats restaurant-grade sushi, and receives lots of love and attention from her competent trainers. My daughter and I had the best time learning about these amazing creatures and how intelligent they are. As a result of the experience, my daughter changed her future career path from veterinarian to marine biologist. I was extremely grateful for both this incredible opportunity and for all the knowledge we both gained from the experience.

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The rest of our day was spent exploring Discovery Cove and all it has to offer. We swam face to face with sharks (don’t worry, they were behind glass), fed all varieties of birds (one thanked me profusely by pooping on my phone), observed otters that were the cutest things ever (and pouted when we couldn’t bring one home), and soaked up the sun on the pristine beaches. Your entry fee to Discovery Cove also includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks throughout the day and I am here to tell you we enjoyed every bite. One of the best parts about Discovery Cove is the limited number of guests per day, making it smooth and easy rather than crowded and stressful.

After a fun day, we headed back to SpringHill Suites and enjoyed a quiet night going through all of the photos captured by the Discovery Cove photographers on PhotoKey. Seeing all the pictures of our dolphin experience was awesome, and we were able to share them with family and friends who were excited to hear all about our day at Discovery Cove. It was truly a day we will never forget.

COMING SOON: Our day at SeaWorld!

 

Encouraging the Next Generation of Innovators with 3M

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While I was compensated for my time and effort, all opinions remain 100% mine.

As a child, I was fascinated with science. I was the kid that wrote “lab supplies and science kits” on my Christmas list for Santa. One of my favorite gifts was a microscope and I would spend hours taking a closer look at anything that would fit under the lens. My curiosity continued into high school where I elected to take science related coursework such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Flash forward to Senior year. I began investigating colleges and my Dad (a civil engineer) took me to a local University to tour their engineering department. We walked into an intro level course to observe a lecture and I froze. The ENTIRE class consisted of 50 men. Absolutely NO WOMEN. Coming from an all-girls high school, I was immediately intimidated when I observed that not one female had elected to take that class. My confidence left faster than my body could get out of that classroom.

I enrolled as an Education major.

While my focus had changed, my love for science did not. I landed an internship at a local government lab and was assigned to assist a female scientist. She quickly became a mentor, my confidence level rose and I decided I could in fact excel in science. I graduated with a Master of Science in Molecular Biology with a Minor in Chemistry.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 8.04.55 PMBecause of my journey, I am passionate about STEM education efforts for young girls. With two daughters, I have taken several steps to bring science to life and show them at an early age that women CAN succeed in science based careers. From science fairs to field trips and Take Our Daughters To Work Day to Career Day, I am doing my best to mentor the next generation of future female scientists.

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I love that companies like 3M, one of the world’s most notable innovators, are inspiring the next generation as well through initiatives such as The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge!  In an effort to make science fun and take it out of the textbook, the contest cultivates the next generation
of problem solvers and give students an opportunity to receive mentorship from 3M scientists.

By April 20, 2016, kids in grades 5-8 can submit a one-to-two-minute video describing the science behind a new innovation or solution that could solve or impact an everyday problem. Judges evaluate the entries through April and May based on creativity, scientific knowledge, persuasiveness and overall presentation. Videos will not be judged on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or basic digital cameras.

This summer, ten finalists will be announced who will participate in a mentorship program during which they will get the opportunity to work one-on-one with renowned 3M scientists. The finalists will be challenged to develop their innovations that positively impacts lives. The winner receives $25,000 and the title, “America’s Top Young Scientist.”

Have a great idea? Check out all of the rules, guidelines and entry requirements here: http://www.youngscientistchallenge.com

Finding My Fringe Hours

In the last few months of 2015, our family was struck with a tragedy. My mother-in-law was rushed to the hospital and found herself in the midst of an 8 hour brain surgery that changed her life. Fortunately, she is stronger than any adversity and has truly amazed us with her resilience. Even though I was not the one going through a life changing event, those few weeks changed me forever.

Life is fragile.

As the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, my year flashed before my eyes. I saw myself starting a new full time career. I saw myself growing iConnect Influencer Management to it’s biggest numbers to date. I saw myself hosting a successful blogging conference and helping colleagues grow their own brands and businesses. I saw myself raising two beautiful girls, helping with homework, attending dance recitals, working the school fair and chauffeuring my little ones to many social events. I saw myself taking care of the home, bills, and laundry. And I did see glimpses of spending quality time with my husband. What I didn’t see? Me just being me.

If not now….when?

During this little flashback, it was obvious that I had a busy year. But I definitely noticed that I spent very little time focusing on me and that needs to change. But since my life pace is not anticipated to get any slower in 2016, how am I going to find time for myself? Fortunately, I have some pretty amazing friends in this world of blogging and Jessica Turner reached out to me to take a look at her new book, The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You.

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What is a fringe hour? Turner defines it as:

“…a limited or appointed piece of time that is found in the margins of the day….something decorative. Activities and passions pursued in the fringe hours make your life more beautiful.”

Sounds great, right? But how do you find your fringe hours? Well, you will have to read the book! But I will tell you that following Jessica’s suggestion of tracking your time for a week was a real eye opener. This exercise allowed me to better understand where my time is being spent, how I can streamline activities and where I can possible find my fringe hours.

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While it is still very much a work in progress, I am genuinely excited about finding time for me in 2016.  Want to join me in finding your fringe hours? You can find the Kindle version of The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner on Amazon for just $1.99 this week! It’s time to focus on YOU. If not now….when?

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While I was compensated for my time and effort, I genuinely love the book and know you will love it, too!

Take a Fall Break with Wyndham Extra Holidays and Save!

This is a sponsored post with Wyndham Resorts. However, all opinions are my own.

In just a few hours, Halloween will be over and the Christmas carols will begin. Time seems to be moving so quickly. I could sure use a break from the craziness to relax and soak in these precious days with my little ones.

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Wyndham resorts offered by Wyndham Extra Holidays are your ticket to the perfect vacation. With spacious and comfortable suites plus all the amenities of home, you can be sure your Fall vacation will run smoothly before the craziness of the holiday season begins. You can cook hearty Fall meals in fully equipped kitchens or relax on your private deck and enjoy the scenery. No pizza on a hotel bed necessary. And now, stay at select resorts for as low as $84 a night this season! Hurry—offer ends October 31.

Ready to get away? Find your Wyndham Extra Holidays deal here, travel by November 25th and save up to 30% just by mentioning code FALL15!

Two-night minimum length of stay required. Valid for new reservations only. Reservations subject to availability. Reservations not valid over holidays and special events. Cannot be combined with any other offer. All monetary amounts are noted in U.S. Dollars unless otherwise noted.

How I Survived Hurricane Katrina: A Tribute to Lily

To be honest, I had no intention on writing a post recapping my thoughts on this 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The week long television documentaries, radio editorials, and Presidential visits have been emotionally overwhelming and I think I speak for most New Orleanians when I say this is one Monday we are actually looking forward to arriving. The daily pictures, videos and stories will stop and we can go back to our new normalcy. But as I was reflecting on my own Katrina experience, the same question kept popping my head.

How did I get through it?

And my mind drifted to the same answer…I had Lily.

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When we began packing to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Katrina, it was clear this was no ordinary trip. We now had a 6 month old in tow and being prepared suddenly meant diapers, wipes, stroller, high chair, bottles, steam sterilizer, baby food, medicine, pacifiers and of course, her favorite lullaby CD. This left little room to pack much else for my husband and I but we were sure we would be pack in 2 days or so. And off we went…

The Red Roof Inn in Shreveport, LA was invaded by many of my family, friends and pets (14 rooms to be exact). What started out as a fun “Hurrication” quickly turned serious as we huddled by the TV and watched our levees fail and our city, homes, cars….LIVES….drown. But despite the tragedy and the palpable sadness, it was Lily (even at 6 months old) that brought hope, laughter and purpose back into the air. And not just for me and my husband, but for all 14 rooms at that Red Roof Inn.  It was like Lily could sense that people needed some comic relief and when anyone walked into the room she flashed this biggest, brightest, funniest smile that instantly made them laugh…even if only for a few minutes.

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Soon, word spread about the baby and other Louisiana evacuees at the Red Roof Inn came to play with her in order to pass some time and forget about their problems. When I originally thought that evacuating with a baby would be stressful, I had no idea that she would actually be the stress relief for so many people.

Ten years later, my “baby” is now 10 years old and to this day, I don’t think she knows what an important role she played in the lives of those at the Red Roof Inn in the days following Katrina. I have spent several years thanking friends, volunteers, police officers and doctors for what they did to help us at our darkest hour. But this year, I am thanking my daughter.

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Thank you, Lily. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t think I would have made it. I love you. ~Mommy

 

Top 5 Things to Know Before Heading to Dollywood’s Splash Country

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. While tickets were received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

On a recent trip to Pigeon Forge, TN, my family and I decided to cool off at Dollywood’s Splash Country. Below are a few tips based on our experience.

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1. Pack it: While I am sure you won’t forget your sunscreen, you should know that the park does not provide towels. Since we did not pack any in our luggage, we chose to purchase beach towels at the park. We were able to get 2 towels for $25 which not only served their purpose but doubled as excellent souvenirs as well. Bonus tip: the sidewalk gets hot, consider wearing water shoes to protect little sensitive feet!

2. Climb it: To this below sea level, flat terrain Louisiana girl, the hills of Tennessee are no joke! Do yourself a favor and do some cardio training before you visit especially if you have kids that want to ride the slides again and again and again……

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3. Rent it: By far, the best money we spent on this entire vacation was on the River Retreat at Splash Country. Nestled against the lazy river, our private retreat featured patio table and 6 chairs, 4 lounge chairs, flat screen TV (with the Disney Channel), two ceiling fans, a locker and wait for it……ROOM SERVICE. That’s right, no standing in long lines for lunch and fighting for a covered table. We ordered food from our retreat phone, designated a time for delivery, and went on our way to enjoy the park. When we returned, our food had been delivered for no extra charge and no extra hassle. As a Mom, this little hideaway in the middle of a bustling theme park made a World of difference in the mood of the kids and stress level of the parents. Worth EVERY penny!!

Bonus Tip: TimeSaver passes are available for $20 per person. This wristband allows you to schedule times to experience popular slides without waiting in line. For us, the lines were not unbearably long when we arrived and a team member told us bands could be purchased at any point in the day. So we decided to wait it out and see if we needed to take the leap. Crowds did not pick up so we opted against the bands which saved us $80!

4. Buy it: We opted to buy the refillable drink mugs the day before when we went to the Dollywood theme park. In the heat, it is important to stay hydrated and the mugs cost us $35 for 4 mugs. With the mug, refills are only $0.99 and we were excited to learn that we could use the Dollywood mugs in Splash Country, too.

5. Conquer it: With all the things you need to pack, I can recommend one thing to leave at home…fear. Let it go and experience new things! What an incredible feeling it was to see my girls conquer their fears of the unknown and truly enjoy life. Splash Country provides quality time (read: no electronic devices) together with my whole family.  The staff was incredibly friendly, the facilities were clean, the food was yummy and a fun time was had by all!

Have you been to Splash Country?

New Orleans Audubon Zoo’s New Gator Run Lazy River: SNEAK PEEK!

For more NOLA inside scoop, follow me on Facebook and Instagram, too!

It’s time to plan your Summer vacation?  Do you know where you will be taking the kids this year? While New Orleans is not traditionally known as a kid friendly destination, I beg you to reconsider.  Between the Aquarium, Insectarium, Children’s Museum, kid centric walking tours, beignets and City Park’s Carousel Gardens, there is no shortage of entertainment for your little ones.  And now, the Audubon Zoo is making a New Orleans vacation even “cooler.”

The Cool Zoo already offers jumping water spouts, a huge alligator water slide, a spider monkey soaker, and water-spitting snakes and will expand in 2015 by an acre and a half with the Gator Run lazy river, sand beach and additional refreshment stand with more seating.  The Gator Run addition is slated to open in April of 2015 to cool off zoo guests in the crazy New Orleans heat.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the first to get a sneak peek of the addition right after water was added to the park.  Who’s ready to dive in?

 

UPDATED: 

The Cool Zoo Admission will be $10 for Members and $12 for Non-Members.  It WILL include the Gator Run lazy river.

Coming to iRetreat? Join STASH Hotel Rewards!

Do you love to travel? Do you love a good deal? Then the STASH Hotel Rewards program is for you!  Stash is a hotel rewards program which allows you to earn stays at independent, unique hotels across the U.S. We are excited to announce that Stash has partnered with iRetreat 2015 which will be held in New Orleans on June 28-30 (use code IRETREATEARLYBIRD for 20% off your conference pass) and our host hotels, Hotel Mazarin and Dauphine Orleans.

When I travel with my family, I love to take advantage of the boutique hotels which embody the unique charm of each City we visit…something that big box hotels are missing.  From free breakfast buffets with local flare to some of the most luxurious pools and spas, hotels included in the Stash program have it ALL.  And just by staying at these hotels, you quickly earn points towards future stays.  Stash away your points to get FREE nights and make that dream vacation much more affordable! Ready to get started?

JOIN STASH–IT’S FREE!

SPECIAL OFFER

Sign up for STASH using this special membership sign up to qualify and immediately earn a bonus of 500 points just for joining! And if you are a blogger, write a blog post before February 15, 2015 featuring the STASH program and earn an additional 2500 points (report your post here to qualify for this bonus). Plus, one lucky blogger who writes a verified blog post post by 2/15 will receive a special award of 25,000 points!

Going to iRetreat Blog Conference?

iRetreat Attendees: Points may be redeemed at Hotel Mazarin or Dauphine Orleans Hotel during iRetreat. When you stay at Hotel Mazarin or the Dauphine Orleans Hotel during the conference you will earn on average another 800 points per night of your stay. Those who stay at least four nights will be awarded another bonus of an extra 2500 points from the New Orleans Hotel Collection.

Now that you have seen the benefits of Stash, join for FREE now!

Safe travels!

Get In The Holiday Spirit at the New Orleans City Park #CelebrationInTheOaks

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy as part of the Holiday of Wonder campaign sponsored by Wonder and Company and Celebration in the Oaks at New Orleans City Park. All opinions remain 100% mine.

Sometimes living in Southeast Louisiana can make it very difficult to get into the holiday spirit.  Wearing flip flops to Thanksgiving dinner, sweating while searching for the perfect tree and turning on the air conditioning while wrapping presents does not make me want to belt out my favorite Christmas carol.  But this is the reality that all New Orleanians have to face and as a Mom, I struggle to get my family ready for the fa-la-la-la-holidays.

For many years, my own parents took my brother and I to the New Orleans City Park to experience Celebration in the Oaks which was the signal of the arrival of the Season.  And now, I love carrying on the tradition with my own little family. More than 165,000 visitors flock to the magical light displays covering 25 acres of the historic City Park including the Botanical Garden, Storyland, and Carousel Gardens.

While I have visited Celebration in the Oaks many times in the past, every time I return I see something new.  The creative team at City Park works hard to add fresh ideas and breathtaking displays to delight even the seasoned guest.  New for 2014 is the expanded Sea-Labration exhibit and an animated light display set to music called “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” which is truly spectacular.  Looking down at my two daughters, they were dancing and singing along with the holiday tunes…in shorts…..in 75 degree weather.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

But, my entire family stopped in their tracks and gasped when we saw the enormous Dripping Snow Tree.  While we knew it was actual snow, the tree was covered in white lights and appeared to be dripping snowflakes on the ground below.  And can you believe that since the park uses energy efficient LED lights, the entire illuminated tree uses only as much energy as a simple toaster?

The dripping snow tree at #celebrationintheoaks #cito2014 uses the same amount of energy as a toaster!!

A video posted by Bridgette Duplantis (@experimentalmommyblog) on


One of my favorite activities in City Park when I was a kid was riding the train around the 2 mile track.  But when the route is decorated in lights, the ride is something to behold. I highly recommend you visit Celebration in the Oaks Monday -Thursday (as crowds are lighter on weekdays) and head straight for the train when you arrive to avoid long lines.  Even better?  Buy your tickets online at CelebrationInTheOaks.com which will make accessing the fun much quicker!

So, for people across the South who are melting in their fuzzy winter socks and scarves you insist on wearing, brighten up your holiday spirit by taking the trip to Celebration in The Oaks at the New Orleans City Park.  The experience is open from now through January 3, 2014 (closed on 12/1-12/4; 12/24 and 12/31).  Tickets are only $8 per person (children under 3 and Friends of City Park are free).  The train ride is well worth the additional $4 per person and you can also purchase tickets for the amusement park rides for $3/ride or $17/unlimited rides.

Need more info?  Follow New Orleans City Park on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.