The Seven Dwarfs Are Coming To Disney World!

The new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is heading for Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom! The Mine Train is a steel roller coaster and is part of a major expansion of Fantasyland. The ride will be based on the classic Walt Disney animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Fantasyland is undergoing a huge expansion and renovation, which is being done in phases and should be completed by 2013.  This is the same time many of the rides and new experiences are expected to open, but the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which will also feature Snow White’s cottage, is not expected to open until 2014.  Snow White’s Scary Adventures was permanently closed in May and will be replaced by Princess Fairytale Hall.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride will be a steel roller coaster that will travel both in and outdoors.  This attraction will be more family friendly than some of the other rides which include California Screamin’ and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster featuring Aerosmith. It will be a traditional roller coaster but will also feature a new ride system that simulates swaying and moving as if you were in a mine cart.

Disney revealed today that the first tracks had been laid for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride.  The ride will join the new Little Mermaid based ride and the Beauty and the Beast themed area in the updated Fantasyland. Below is a time lapse video that Disney released showing Fantasyland’s build out.

Howl-O-Scream 2012 – The Darks Side Of The Gardens

Howl-O-ScreamsHowl-O-Scream is back at Busch Gardens, Tampa.  This year’s theme is The Dark Side Of The Gardens and features 2 brand new haunted houses, Blood Asylum and Circus of Superstition 3-D, for your scary pleasure!

Blood Asylum involves “The Creature” escaping from a holding cell in a high-security asylum for the criminally insane. “The Creature” runs around the asylum skinning his former cellmates and turning the mental hospital into a giant, mostly metal, torture chamber. According to the Howl-O-Scream website, “this serial killer’s bloody playground will drive you out of your mind with fear”.

The Circus of Superstition 3-D is a crazy mix of evil clowns and superstitions. Evil crazy circus clowns come after you as you try to survive 13 superstitions in the 3-D Tent of Terror! “It will take more than luck to escape this whole new dimension of fear!” Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights had a 3-D haunted house last year but this is supposed to be much better.

The Howl-O-Scream also features scare zones and this years might be the best, literally. For the past 13 years Howl-O-Scream has featured some of the scariest and disturbing characters in the haunted houses and scare zones.  This year the scare zone theme is Faded Memories and features the “best of” and most scary characters from each of the past 13 years! Get ready to be scared out of your mind.

Howl-O-Scream has a Freaky Preview September 21 and 22 and begins regular dates and times on September 27th. It then runs every thurs-sat through October 27th. Get ready to scream and have a great time! For more information visit www.howloscream.com/tampa

The Amazing Adventures Of Spider Man Now In 3-D at Universal’s Islands of Adventure!

Amazing Adventures Of Spider ManThe old Spider Man ride at Universal’s Islands of Adventure was one of the most acclaimed theme rides in history and set a standard for simulator rides. This past March, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man was re-opened and is better than ever! It is now a 3-D ride with “mind-blowing new effects”, which gives it a brand new element of fun! Visitors now wear new high-tech 3-D glasses and get to experience new high-definition animation, audio, and lighting.

This family friendly ride has a new storyline too.  This time the diabolical villains of the Sinister Syndicate have stolen the Statue of Liberty and you and Spider-Man have to save the day. During the ride you feel like you are flying through the streets and scaling sky scrapers with Spider-Man.  Part of the fun is a 400 foot freefall, from one of the skyscrapers you climbed, to the streets below.

The new Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is the first ever combination of a motion-based ride vehicle, 3-D film, and live action. According to the website the simulator’s set includes 1.5 acres of adventure!

So visit Universal’s Islands of Adventure for Spider-Man, Harry Potter, and more!

SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular

Student TravelWow, summer seemed to fly by this year and now that we are past the official end of summer it is time to start looking towards the spookiest time of the year, Halloween!  SeaWorld has a a great family-friendly Halloween celebration every year with trick-or-treating, dancing with sea creatures, and silly/spooky shows.  The kids can also create sea themed arts and crafts!

One of the crowd’s favorite shows is the Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween Live Musical Stage Show. Phew, long title. Count Von Count even has his own Spooktacular Breakfast! Penelope also gets in on the action with her own Party Zone that includes interactive ice DJ, games, and activities. Bring your kids to trick-or-treat and interact with fun-loving and fanciful sea creatures that will play and mingle with you along the way.The SeaWorld staff goes all out with great costumes and everyone has a great time!

The Halloween Spooktacular has been called a “must-do for little kids” and one of the “best Halloween events in Orlando”.

Music Makes Kids Smarter

Some still believe that listening to classical music will make your children smarter, which is true, sort of. Turns out that just listening to classical music only stimulates your brain for a short period of time and the effects can only be seen for around 20 minutes.  So if you need to study for a test or get a quick burst of brain power listen to classical music, but if you want there to be a long lasting effect you have to go a little further.

To get long term benefits kids must learn and acquire the skills that are needed to play music and not just listen to it. The same can be said for a variety of things from sports to public speaking, but for now we will concentrate on playing an instrument. A child who learns to read music and play an instrument, or two, benefits a lot more than a child who just goes to watch the concert. Students who learn music and play in school perform better on standardized tests than their fellow classmates and have fewer disciplinary actions against them and fewer absences from school later in life, even if students stop playing after a few years.

A German study, out of the University of Munster, showed that music lessons during childhood enlarge the brain, since musicians are able to access more neurons that are needed to process sounds.  The earlier a child starts taking lessons the more dramatic the effects on the brain. There is also a social impact to taking music, choir, or drama lessons since the students can make life long friends in all of these activities. While the social interaction isn’t unique to just artistic learning, the learning capabilities can be.  A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin divided a group of three year olds into separate groups and either taught them to use the piano or another skill.  When the kids were tested again the ones who had been taught keyboard skills and reading music scored higher on spatial-temporal reasoning than the other children, who had been taught different skills.

Sure, there are a variety of studies that indicate learning music at any age can make you smarter but it also adds a lot more to our lives and helps us enjoy a wide range of things we might not have before. Your child doesn’t need to be a musical prodigy to benefit from learning how to read music and play an instrument.