Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Knoebel's Amusement Resort: a Veritable Smorgasbord of Smorgasbordy Goodness!

My perception of amusement park food changed for good when I visited Knoebels Amusement Park in 2010.  I should qualify that statement: my feelings about amusement park food other than Disney park food changed.  Disney parks have scrumptious food; I often revel in memories of the Dole Whip, the Blue Bayou salmon, and my new favorite beverage, the Practically Perfect Punch (because it IS).  But some other parks serve corn dogs, hamburgers, maybe some ice cream novelties, and that's about it.  And most of it isn't worth writing about. 

Enter Knoebels and their wazoo assortment of Food of All Nations!  High-quality ingredients, pride in preparation and clever presentation is evident throughout the park.  And the variety!!  You could literally show up at opening, eat all day, maybe fit in a ride, and keep eating until close.  We didn't quite pull off a feat like that, but we did leave a little roly and slightly more poly.  Here's what we consumed on that fateful day:

We started the day with some potato cakes, at this man's urging.  Dig the vintage signage.  Knoebels is teeming with it:

After that, we saw that the Potato Barn was close by, boasting Tri-Taters,(little triangular fried potato jobbies),  and we're glad we took the time to check it out, because right nearby, the Food of My People, meaning the Polish people, the humble-yet-delectable pierogi:

  After a potatoey, cheesy, Poly (as in Polish, not as in vinyl) morning, we ran the park, riding ride after ride, visiting the glorious carousel museum, taking the sky ride up the side of a mountain, leaving the park hub bub behind for a tad.  But more foodie wonderfulness awaited our return.  Finally, it was time for lunch, and for that, we dove into the Food Court - World Section, and were greeted by this cheery ear of corn.
While we did not consume any corn, we did have a satisfying salad and pasta, radiatori, to be exact.  Impressive.  I mean, what other amusement park sells radiatori??  The World Food Court is impressive, with food from Asia, Greece, Mexico, Italy - on it goes.  And it's all flavorful, not fast food quality but nice, sit down restaurant quality.  Amazing.  Then, it was off to more rides, including the Haunted Mansion, which frightened me enough to seek out some of my book's signature, sugary treat:

No visit to Knoebels is complete without some ice cream, because their ice cream is some of the creamiest, most flavorful around.
(I've enlarged the above picture so you can get an eyeful of the variety you have to choose for your mouthful. Yes, you're reading that right.  Teaberry. Milky Way.  Cotton Candy, fer cry eye!  Oh, and take a look at the little girl with her pet beagle on the left side of the sign. As if the ice cream sign was personally beckoning me, from one beagle lover to another )

Here we are with our crazy chocolate peanut butter cup  and Milky Way mouthfuls.  As you can plainly see, Knoebels does not skimp on size:

Suddenly, I had a  hankering for licorice whips.  Don't know why, just did.  So I was happy to find Stony Gables, a small building formerly used as a vacation space.  It now houses a multitude of sweets, including at least a dozen different flavors of licorice whips.  I had a tutti fruiti one and got a root beer one for Ben.

So, now is the time I get to totally geek out on you.  I know you've had funnel cakes before; everyone has.  But Knoebels' cakes are dream-worthy.  And what makes the whole experience truly magical?  When you tell the sweet ladies making them that you're writing a book - and they let you inside the little building they work in and allow you to photograph them at their craft.  Sizzle, sizzle, yum, yum, YUM!:

A minute later, my baby Ben tucks in and all is right with the world..

And so our day at Knoebels came to an end, but not before taking some time to genuflect at the picnic pavilion,  decorated to look like a gigantic vintage birthday cake:

Yes, we couldn't help but congratulate ourselves at tackling the amazing food at Knoebels.  And we welcomed that nice long walk back to our car at the end of the day.

(To give you a clearer indication of their variety, you should really visit this link. Prepare to have your socks knocked off, and start your dieting NOW:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rye Playland: playing a "Big" game!

Getting my wish from Ms. Zoltar (apparently Mr. Zoltar was out fishing - you can do that off the pier at Rye)
My hubby is always on the lookout for movies that have amusement parks as a backdrop; he knows I like them and it gives me things to blog about.  One of his most favorite films is "Big" and, when we visited Rye Playland in 2011, I learned that the beautiful park was used in the iconic Tom Hanks film.

So recently, "Big" was on TV again and Ben DVR'd a little for me, only the section when the little boy, who's denied access to a ride because he's too small, walks over to the Zoltar fortune teller (a really scary one - and I've seen plenty of those mechanical fortune tellers.  The way his eyes light up red and his mouth does that peculiar yawning open and shutting close = nightmares!) and makes his wish, "to be big".  If you're familiar with the film, you know he gets his wish, gets to be a 30-something Tom Hanks, with a grown-up girlfriend to boot, but is still a  kid on the inside.

It's pretty clear why Ben and I love this film: in some ways, we've never grown up, nor do we have any plans to do so in the foreseeable future.  Yes, we're met with grown-up challenges every single day, but when the dust settles, we look forward to playing board games, planning our next trip to Disneyland, or reflecting on our collections (Barbies for me, comic books for my boy).

Original car from the Dragon Coaster
The entrance to Rye, towering trees greeting you and providing a pleasant respite from the sun.
Here's a little photo tribute to the wonderful Rye Playland.  I ranked it in the Top 5 Parks in my book, and I recommend everyone in the greater NYC area take a day to visit this national treasure.  Due to the economy, there's talk that the park may "change" - and part of the change may have to do with rethinking it, and tearing out the rides.  If that were to happen, I may have to lead the charge, head up there, and chain myself to the Derby Racer so they'd have to bodily remove me before taking it out.

The amazing vintage carousel at Rye, my favorite of the entire Road Trip.

Back end of the Dragon (coaster)
One of the park's three, count 'em, THREE dark rides.  Did I mention I got rid of my fear of dark rides here?  Yes, I did!
Background history sign for the Derby Racer, a very rare and exciting ride, that recreates the experience of an actual horse race!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Modern Family" goes to Disneyland!!!

Photos Of The “Modern Family”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, hands down my favorite "Modern Family" cast members
And to think: just a few weeks ago, Ben and I were at Disneyland, possibly traipsing in their very footsteps!  And, like Mitchell and Cam, donning our Mickey ears!  The mind boggles!

Mike Brady from The BradyI haven't been this excited since the Partridge Family visited King's Island in Ohio!!  Remember that episode?  With the family riding the carousel and Keith totally dismal and bored, sitting like a grumpy duck in the carousel coach?  And then the next year, in 1973, even MORE "TV Families Scream Just Like WE Do When Riding a Rollercoaster!" when the Brady Bunch visited the same park!  Remember Mike's blueprint and the madcapness surrounding it?  Remember his perm?

A few years later, my parents took my friend Shannon and me to the Greater Cincinnati area to visit King's Island and I clearly remember trying to retrace Peter Brady's steps:

"Squeeeee!  Shannon - didn't they ride this roller coaster?"

"Yes!  Let's ride it and pretend we're Jan and Marcia, cuz I have braces and you don't and you're taller than me!"

At any rate, tonight's installment of "Modern Family" is set at The Happiest Place in Earth and I simply can't wait to see what hijinx will ensue!  Who will get sick on the Teacup ride?  Which Dunphy will get mistaken for the Cast Member playing Cruella DeVille? These and many questions will be answered in a scant few hours!

To whet your appetite, here's the Entertainment Tonight preview of the episode:

Partridge Family 3rd Season DVDs being discontinued - Kings Island - KingsAnd, in case you're interested in reliving your favorite childhood TV memories:

Brady Bunch at Kings Island

The Partridge Family, David

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Santa's Village Azoosment Park opens for the 2012 season May 13!

Here I am, sitting on one of the park's enchanted, gigantic mushrooms last season.
I just love this sweet, family-friendly park, out in the western Chicago suburb of East Dundee.  What makes it even more fun is that the owner has rescued two of the iconic Kiddieland rides and  placed them in his park to delight more generations of kiddies!  The park was closed for years, re-opened last year, and has new surprises in store for this year!

Here's a link for the park's new commercial:

Take the kiddies on May 13th (Mother's Day)  and have a ball!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Selling the book, the Facebook page, and some wonderful friends

So, yesterday was the big splash for the book, but really it was only the first part of the splash.  Like navigating through a waterpark.  Consider yesterday's splash like, oh, maybe taking your inner tube and coasting down the Lazy Rapids (or whatever else one might call that slow-moving river-like part of a typical waterpark).  What's left?  Oh, the rest of the Really Big Waterpark!  Like contacting everyone I have ever received an email from, everyone I have an email for who is connected to a park, all my agents and clients from my voice-over world, connecting with small bookstores in the region, and eventually, reminding all the PR folks from all the parks that the book actually exists and is ready to wield its magic.

Then there's setting up book signings.  I have some irons in the fire on that avenue.  Small bookstores, libraries, even the Oak Park Arms, where my Dad lives.  They've all expressed interest in one form or another.  And every stone must be turned in order to get the Cotton Candy message out to the masses.

But back to yesterday.  I splashed Facebook, launched my book's Facebook page:


... and told every person I know there, over 600 friends, about the page and to hopefully get it "liked".  Additionally, I took out a Facebook ad with a small budget, and am starting to get folks from all over the world interested in my project!  But the sweetest thing ...

was the outpouring of enthusiasm and love from my Facebook buddies. Their generosity of spirit moved me again and again throughout the day.  One friend purchased a copy of the book so quickly it made me dizzy, then went on to share the book's page link with her other friends.  A number of friends did that as well, shared the Facebook page link.  I blushed time after time at their words of encouragement, how they plugged the book sight unseen, just knowing it's a labor of love, that I poured my whole self into it.

Thank you friends.  Such generosity will be graciously returned.