{Giveaway} Four Tickets to BrickFair 2015

Don't be a blockhead -- enter this giveaway for tickets to BrickFair '15!

Don’t be a blockhead — enter this giveaway for tickets to BrickFair ’15!

Quick — how many LEGOs do you have in your house? If you said “too many to count” OR you are so obsessed that you know down to the individual brick exactly how many you have, this giveaway for tickets to BrickFair 2015 is for you! (If your answer was “zero” then perhaps you just haven’t been exposed to the joy these bricks bring and need to check out BrickFair!)

LEGO fans young and old (yes, I’m looking at you AFOLs — adult fans of LEGO) will love this event. Exhibitors and vendors will dazzle you with all things LEGO — crazy Rube Goldberg contraptions, dioramas, games, robots and more! Online ticket sales are already sold out, but you can stand in line and pay for tickets at the door and in the meantime, enter this giveaway for one set of four (4) tickets (value of $60) which BrickFair 2015 has generously provided (along with tickets for my family). The event is August 1 – 2, 2015 at the Dulles Expo Center, Chantilly, VA.

BrickFair is primarily an exhibit/expo scenario (look and shop) but there are some interactive displays and a few sections where you can play and even win prizes. Although the tickets advise you to allow 90 minutes to view the displays, we have always stayed far longer and this is an extremely popular event, so there are often long lines to get in and a significant wait for games and anything interactive. In other words, plan to stay a while and bring a great deal of patience (and some spending money for the snack bar because you will invariably need it). But my family will tell you it is well worth it!

BrickFair VA 2015

August 1 -2, 2015
11 am – 4 pm
Dulles Expo Center
4320 Chantilly Center
Chantilly, VA 20153
Admission: 3 and under – FREE.
Everyone else $15 at door — online tickets are sold out.
No strollers please


Caffeineandaprayer.com’s BrickFair VA 2015 Ticket Giveaway Rules:

  • The quick must-knows and must-dos:

    • This is a flash giveaway — it is shorter than my usual giveaways, please pay attention to the time frames.
    • These tickets are good for one day only, at BrickFairVA 2015 August 1 or 2 from 11 am to 4 pm. In fairness to others, please enter only if you actually plan on using the tickets. They have a total value of $60.
    • To enter: Use Please use the Rafflecopter entry form below to comment — make sure you use the term “BrickFair” in your comment. Get creative, but keep it clean!
    • In all your entries, you must include a valid email address so I may contact you if you are the winner. I must be able to reach you via that email address within 4 hours of the end of the giveawayI am not responsible for emails that land in your spam or junk mail or are otherwise blocked by your system or any other technical errors that may occur.
    • Tickets will be physically delivered to you, so if you are the winner, you will need to be willing to provide me a mailing address (no P.O. Boxes due to this being a flash giveaway) within 2 hours of my notification email that you are the winner so we can make arrangements for delivery of the physical tickets.  Time will be calculated based on when my email was sent. If I am not able to reach you, by necessity, I will have to pick a new winner. I am not responsible for emails that land in your spam or junk mail or are otherwise blocked by your system or any other technical errors that may occur.
    • Giveaway ends at 9 am, Eastern time,  Thursday, July 30, 2015.
    • Standard rules and giveaway legalese is spelled out in a link in the Rafflecopter form.
    • Winners will be selected at random from all qualified entrants using Rafflecopter.
    • Once a winner is selected and has responded via email and arrangements for ticket delivery have been successfully made, winner will be announced on this site.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tired of stepping on lots of little LEGO pieces at home? You might enjoy my previous blog post about LEGO organization.


Disclosures: BrickFair provided four tickets for the giveaway and a set of complimentary tickets for my family. LEGO is a trademark of the LEGO Group. BrickFair is not associated with the LEGO Group.

Big Apple Circus “Legendarium” Combines Old-Time Charm With Modern Acts


Big Apple Circus contortionist Elayne Kramer

Big Apple Circus contortionist Elayne Kramer.

There are some things in life every child should have an opportunity to experience, and a good, old-fashioned circus is one of them. Big Apple Circus, especially with this year’s “Legendarium” theme fits the bill. This small, one-ring circus, emphasizes a close connection with the audience and is actually under a “big top” tent rather than in a stadium. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good three-ring circus as well, but there are many advantages to the intimate nature of a smaller circus experience.

As much as I am a technology geek, I fear that our generation of children is forgetting about how to be an audience. I’ve seen kids bringing handheld games and smart phones with games to movie theaters to stave off boredom during the movie! And with the special effects of live performances becoming more sophisticated than they were in the movies we watched as kids, it is easy to see how they can become jaded with simpler fare.

Horses rear for trainer Jenny Vidbel at the Big Apple Circus.

Horses rear for trainer Jenny Vidbel at the Big Apple Circus.

With a smaller circus, the focus is on live performers (human as well as some animals) who often involve the audience. Clowns run around the raised perimeter of the ring, interacting with audience members on the front row. Performers come down the aisles. Horses run fast and furious, at one point kicking up dirt right onto my son’s hair and shirt. When we clap, the performers actually see us, and seeing their smiles make the children clap harder. Yes, my family got to sit in the front row, a perk of being part of the reviewing media, but even the furthest away seat (16 rows back) was only 50 feet from the ring! This is the perfect venue to train young children to appreciate the purity of a simple circus and to retrain the over-exposed in the wonder of a trapeze act — after all, they will get a close-up view of the logistics behind the ropes and pullies involved!

Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane keeps the show moving with stories of circus "Legendarium."

Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane keeps the show moving with stories of circus “Legendarium.”

Simple doesn’t mean boring, however. This year’s theme, Legendarium, takes the audience back in history and reminds us of the roots behind some of the acts that are still popular now. For example, Ringmaster John Kennedy Kane explains that circus rings are 42 feet because that is exactly the dimension a horse needs to reach a full gallop. And gallop they do, under the direction of trainer Jenny Vidbel. We experience the antics of old-fashioned clowns (Acrobuffs) who wear masks rather than makeup and traditional trapeze artists and a gorgeous contortionist act by Elayne Kramer with a fantastic finish.

And there are modern acts as well. Zhang Fan’s slack wire act is a personal favorite of mine, in fact, it was at the Big Apple Circus a few years ago that I first saw the slack wire before the art became popularized by its appearance Madonna’s Super Bowl performance. Another don’t miss opportunity is to see a Roue Cyr Wheel acrobatic performance (a roue cyr wheel is a large wheel that is often used for an acrobat to spin inside of or have spin around him or her) by the creator himself, Daniel Cyr.

If the enjoyment of this two-hour, one-ring circus were not reason enough to attend, consider the fact that the circus itself is a vehicle for community change.

The Big Apple Circus is a performing arts not-for-profit with five outreach programs:

  • Circus After School: A 12-week program for at-risk kids that teaches them life skills including team work and confidence while putting together a show.
  • Clown Care: They say laughter is the best medicine, and this program takes that into account, with 80 professional artists doing “clown rounds” with doctors. These “clown doctors” are trained in specific hygienic practices and protocols and in special issues related to interacting with hospitalized children and collaborate with doctors and staff to design a program that fits the needs of each hospital.
  • Circus for All: Every time I get to attend an event, I think “I wish every child could see this.”  Through grants and contributions from individuals and institutions the Big Apple Circus works to  fund free and discounted tickets for children facing economic hardship, physical disabilities, and other challenges.
  • Circus of the Senses: What is a circus like if you cannot see or hear it? The Big Apple Circus found ways to make attending the circus an inclusive experience for those who are visually and hearing impaired with wireless headsets, a play-by-play description of the action in the ring by Circus Founder and Co-Founder Paul Binder and Michael Christensen, American Sign Language interpreters strategically positioned in spotlights to sign throughout the performances, distributing descriptive large-print or Braille descriptive programs in advance, and sensory tours of the circus.
  • Vaudeville Caravan: Circus performances are truly for all ages. An offshoot of Clown Care, this program brings performers to nursing care facilities and combats the loneliness and isolation many elderly face today.

As an animal lover, I appreciated knowing what their animal care policy is.

The Big Apple Circus is in the Dulles Area through October 8 with tickets ranging in price from $25 – $75 (and remember, the furthest row is 16 rows back). Check out their site for prices and availability of seats.


Disclosure: The PR company for The Big Apple Circus provided me with four tickets so my family could attend the show for review purposes. As a long-time paying customer of the show, this did not influence my opinion nor color my review. My kids also received foam clown noses. 


Rita’s of Fairfax Gives Free Italian Ices All Day Today

Rita's Italian Ice logoTake the kids out for a fun summer treat and show a new local business some love by stopping by Rita’s of Fairfax for their opening day and enjoying a free regular-sized Italian ice (free today, Wednesday, June 27 only) from noon to 10 pm. The new location of this popular franchise is 10726 Fairfax Boulevard, Fairfax, Virginia and they are hoping one taste of their treats will have you hooked all summer long.

Find more details on the Rita’s of Fairfax Facebook Fan page or web site.


Wii Play Motion Increases Fun

Wii Play Motion Star Shuttle Game

Experienced gamers enjoyed the Star Shuttle game.

The Nintendo Wii joined our family two years ago in time for Christmas and we’ve enjoyed it ever since.  In an ever-competitive gaming landscape, Nintendo has upped the  ante by bringing out the Motion concept — games and remotes that are far more sensitive than the original ones and allow for a new dimension of play.

In terms of remotes you can either buy the Wii Remote Plus controllers or you can buy a Wii MotionPlus adaptor that plugs into the bottom of your existing controller.  Then an entire suite of games utilizing this technology has come out (and will continue to come out), which you can find at http://www.nintendo.com/wii/console/accessories/wiimotionplus.  To test this technology out, Nintendo’s PR company asked me to host a party and try out their Wii Play Motion Game which is a series of 12 mini games with their Wii Remote Plus controllers.

One of the mini-games (Cone Zone)  involves balancing giant scoops of ice cream on a cone, so you hold the controller upright just like an ice cream cone and as the scoops become more unwieldy you have to tilt the controller to counteract the weight.  This game led to the party theme of ice cream sundaes, and the PR team did an adorable job with a pre-made sundae kit with Mason jars of toppings and a gift card to Cold Stone Creamery — how could I possibly fail as a hostess — games and ice cream!

Apologies for not taking more/better photos -- that was a lot of people/kids to manage!

Well, one thing I did was underestimate my RSVPs — and quickly I realized I needed to borrow another Wii and another copy of the game (thanks Julie and Michele) so we could rotate people through the games quickly enough as we had 27 people in attendance!

Since my kids are 5 and 7, the kid base of the invitees were of similar age with a few younger siblings in the mix and of both genders.  Some kids had much more gaming experience than my kids.  All of them owned a Wii.  Only one family already owned the Remote Plus controller.

Screen shot of Spooky Search

Gotcha! Someone grabbed a ghost in Spooky Search!

I nervously gave a quick intro and then released the controllers into the hands of the anxious children who quickly split up into the two rooms.  Surprisingly, few arguments ensued!  It was interesting to watch who preferred which games.  More experienced gamers really liked the Star Shuttle game, which involves very fine control to dock various pieces of equipment very precisely onto a space station.  I, personally, have yet to successfully complete a mission on this.  Spooky Search, which turns you into a ghost hunter and involves listening and watching for clues for ghosts and sucking them into a ghost-eradicating machine, is a bit difficult and yet my 5-year-old LOVES it.  Trigger Twist, which allows you to work as a team to shoot various targets (dinosaurs, aliens, ninjas) is an all around favorite, even with the adults as is Veggie Gaurdin (think of the original Whack-A-Mole).  Jump Park and Wind Runner brought out peals of laughter.  Some games require more time to master, such as Flutter Fly and Skip Skimmer.  I am convinced married couples should not play Treasure Twirl together (you work together to raise treasure from the sea and most coordinate your maneuvers or risk stings from jellyfish, dropping treasure or other hazards).

Sundae fixingsThe ice cream break allowed the parents to wrest control of the remotes from the children and get some play time in themselves and then to convince some tired and sticky children that eventually the party had to end, but it seemed that by the end of it, most were convinced that this was an item they wanted to add to their wish list for the holidays.  If you already have a Wii, upgrading your remotes and trying out the Wii Play: Motion suite is way to extend your investment.  If you are thinking of buying a Wii this season, I highly recommend going for one of the packages that already includes the Remote Plus Controllers so you may take advantage of the new direction Wii is going in.


Disclosure:  Nintendo’s PR company sent me a copy of Wii Play: Motion and three Wii Remote Plus controllers to test as well as supplies for an ice cream party.  They also sent a copy of Wii Play: Motion which included a Wii Remote Plus controller to give away at the party.  I was not required to post about this experience nor did it affect the opinions expressed — I always tell it like it is.  I’ve included product links to Amazon and I’m an Amazon Affiliate. Should you buy any products through Amazon via one of these links, I might actually make enough money to buy a day’s worth of caffeine, for which I would profusely thank you. Wii, Wii Play Motion, Wii Remote, and MotionPlus are trademarks of Nintendo.




Gaylord National’s ICE! Is a Cool Christmas Treat

Santa at Gaylord National's ICE

5,000 blocks of ice, each weighing nearly 400 pounds, are hand-carved to make the dazzling display which is comprised of ten different colors and more than 1, 500 specially designed light tubes that are frozen within the ice.

Yes, we have terrible traffic,  high gas prices and a housing market I never seem to be on the right side of, but when it comes to celebrating the holiday season, the Metro DC area knows how to do it right! Having spent the first two-thirds of my life celebrating Christmas in sunny Florida and California, those wintery holiday scenes in TV Christmas movies were quite foreign to me.  So you can understand why I may have been the most excited member of the JavaFamily when MomzShare invited me to see Gaylord National’s ICE! at National Harbor.

If you live locally, you’ve been pelted with commercials and fliers about it, but nothing does it justice like seeing it in person.  I had stayed at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center a few weeks earlier for the Blogalicious conference and even I was amazed by the transformation.  The first thing to understand is that ICE! is part of an entire set of Christmas on the Potomac activities.  It is indeed the centerpiece, but there is so much more!

Another thing to know is that previously you had to stay at the hotel to access many of the activities, but this year, the Gaylord National has changed the package pricing so members of the general public may join in the fun of meeting characters and decorating gingerbread houses.  Because there are so many components, I will break down the events and the pricing as I explain our experience — keep in mind if you like more than one activity, you may want to look into a package.

Gaylord National’s ICE!

No doubt the sparkling gem of the Christmas on the Potomac experience, this ranked high with all members of the family.  Each year 2 million pounds of ice, some clear, some colored, is carved to recreate scenes of a popular movie — this year it is Merry Madagascar.  But what we didn’t know until visiting the web site beforehand is that the ice carvers are 40 artisans from Harbin, China, sharing knowledge from an old tradition of ice lantern festivals.  There is a lot of science involved in how the ice is made — the differences between the processes for making the very clear ice, the cloudier white ice, and the colored ice.  For example, clear ice is made using deionized, highly filtered water that is slowly frozen whereas white ice is quickly frozen. I highly recommend watching the videos available online beforehand so the kids can better appreciate the work that goes into building the scenes and know what to expect.  Although it was not busy the day we were there, as part of their “crowd control” you will get a chance to see a video before entering ICE! but it still helps to read/watch video on the web site ahead of time.  I think this made the difference between the kids just running through it and saying “oh yeah, neat” and us really talking about what was done, looking at the details, discussing  the science involved, appreciating the hard work of each part of the process and truly enjoying the artistry.

It is truly cold, 9 degrees Fahrenheit in the ICE! Pavilion, which is a tent across the street from the Gaylord National.  You will be required to wear one of their large, blue parkas (yes, ALL of you), because these are also what are used to slide down the main attraction — the lit ice slides.  They had the parkas in all sizes, even for me as a plus-sized person.  I recommend wearing long underwear under warm clothes, and bring your own gloves/mittens and hats. While we did have jackets and coats that fit under the parkas, you may find that you want fleeces instead to minimize your bulkiness, and scarves may help you keep your faces warm — a friend who had gone previously brought ski bibs for her kids, that would’ve been overkill for my family, you will have to figure out what your family’s comfort level is and I recommend a backpack so you can add and subtract layers as needed. Warm, comfortable walking shoes (no heels allowed on slides) are essential. Try to minimize how much you need to bring in with you. Keep in mind your camera may fog/freeze in that temperature. They will take a souvenir photo of your family in front of a green screen (and lay in a nice backdrop digitally) just before you enter, which is then for available for you to purchase ($20-30) in the large gift shop you pass through on the way out should you choose. Since we knew the kids did not get a decent photo of the two of us inside, we opted to buy the photo.

Ice slidesWhen it comes to the slides, it’s really simple — sit with the long, slick parka tucked under you, feet ahead (no high heels!) and whoosh off you go!  JavaGirl was frightened at first, but once she got going, she didn’t want to stop.  This was, of course, for the kids, their favorite part of the ICE! event. If I felt a little more graceful at the top and the bottom of the slide, I would’ve made more trips myself!  This also seemed to be the coldest, so be prepared to either go up and down the stairs with them a lot (the slides aren’t that tall) or to stand at the bottom of the slides, taking lots of photos and perhaps getting  little red in the cheeks from the chill.

Nativity made of ice.In my opinion, one of the prettiest parts of the display was the crystal ice nativity scene with a quick narration and dramatic lighting to give an overview of the birth of Jesus.  It was breathtaking and frankly, put me in the Christmas spirit.  It is the last room of the ICE! display so if you have objections to the religious meaning, as I overheard one visitor exclaiming, you can quickly scoot out.  Upon exiting, workers will help you return your parka and oh-so-conveniently hot chocolate and snacks are for sale.  You can then exit or go on to ice skating, visiting the Madagascar Penguins or riding the train (extra charges apply).

For many families, this is an “investment” event — is it worth it?  I would say yes, but that it is up to you to maximize the value.  Spend the time before your visit to look at what is involved in creating ICE!  Walk over to the conference center to take advantage of the additional beautiful decorations and some of the free activities I’ll mention below.  Take time to talk about the event afterwards and discuss as a family what you saw, what was your favorite, how do you think they made the different characters, how fast do you think you went on the slides, or whatever other extension activities you can think of.  A week later my family is still talking about it and that to me means it was family time well spent.

Details:  Hours and prices for individual tickets vary by the day so check web site for details but Adult prices range from $35-25, Seniors from $24-19, Kids (4-12) $30-20, Military Adult with ID $32-22, Military Child $27-17, younger Kids (3 and under) are free.  There are also package prices that allow you to save by bundling other events with the ICE! tickets. Self parking is $10 for up to three hours with purchase of an ICE! ticket.  You can buy a VIP Pass to bypass the line and get a cup of hot chocolate and a meet and greet with the Penguins of Madagascar for an additional $15, conditions apply. There are a variety of public transportation options including the National Harbor-Washington DC Shuttle, Alexandria-National Harbor Water Taxi, and NH-1 Metrobus from the Branch Avenue Metro Station Green Line.

Ice Skating, Potomac Express Train

While still inside the ICE! Pavilion, you can buy tickets to skate at the (smallish) indoor rink. $10 for overnight guests, $12 otherwise, includes skate rentals.  This was the first ice skating experience for the JavaKids and the rink was probably just the right size for them. There are no lockers (or none we saw) so again, travel light. There were no buckets or gliders for new skaters (or that I saw) so it was the old-fashioned hang-on-to-the-rail-honey method as I tried to teach JavaGirl how to skate. It was towards the end of our day and we were rushing to get to the tree lighting so we didn’t spend much time here, but it was just enough for us to let the kids get the taste of ice skating, I am not sure how packed it gets on a busy day. In the same space is the Potomac Express Train,  a small train similar to the types that run through many local malls, $3 per ride, or three rides for $5. Here you will see the Madagascar Penguins — as they were on break while we were there, I wasn’t clear whether you had to have the character pass to see them or not.

Activities Inside the Resort

Obviously you could spend plenty of time just inside the tent, but maximize your day and maybe even wear out your little ones (you will definitely be worn out by the end of your visit!) by heading across the street to the resort. If you really want to splurge, book a package for an overnight stay at the hotel so you can spread out the fun — the view of the harbor is truly gorgeous and the resort has 300 acres.  But even if you don’t stay overnight, it is worth it to walk over to enjoy the decor and shows.

Several activities are free while others require tickets. 

Nightly Tree Lighting Ceremony Featuring the DreamWorks Characters

Tree lighting ceremony at ICE!Synthetic candy glass tree at ICE!There is a beautiful fountain in the atrium and suspended above it is a 60-foot Tree of Light made of synthetic “candy” glass. Although gorgeous by day as it sits in front of a large window and radiates from the sun, at night the tree is lit by single light source, one of the world’s brightest light bulbs. In a theme-park-worthy show, DreamWorks characters such as Shrek, Fiona, Alex the Lion, and others come out while the fountains behind them dance to music and change color leading up to a dramatic lighting of the tree. Though the lighting ceremony is at 6:30, my advice is to either get a seat in the atrium (there are a limited number of seats there) or pull a chair up to the glass railing at the Belvedere Lobby Bar one floor above the atrium to get the best view by 5:45 or 6:00 pm and as this is prime kid dinner time, either have snacks handy or order something from one of the many hotel restaurants and bring it with you. The production pulls out all the stops — including indoor snow! Apparently by the end of the season, an average 15 inches of snow will have fallen INDOORS at the Gaylord! This is FREE.  If you do only one free show with your kids, this is the one and getting prime seating is key for maximum enjoyment. 

Brightest Star Fountain Show

At the same fountain, the water “dances” while you listen to a narration of the classic Christmas story.  We happened to be sitting at the National Pastime Sports Bar and Grill while this went on and saw/heard part of it from the patio, but I can’t really tell you how crowded the atrium was. I suspect any place that gives you a nice view of the atrium would be sufficient for this show, which begins at 9:30 pm, and that you don’t have to secure a spot as early as you need to for the tree lighting.  This is FREE.

Northern Lights

When the sun goes down, the 19-story atrium sparkles from 6:00 pm to midnight as more than two million lights illuminate the atrium and garden. If you put all the strings of lights in a row, they would equal 12.27 miles! Walking around the hotel and enjoying the ambiance is FREE.

DreamWorks Character Passport

Puss In Boots at ICE!

Meow! Even mommies like Puss In Boots!

Buy your tickets and cross into a tiny village where you can meet your favorite characters from Madagascar, Puss In boots, Kung Fu Panda, and Shrek.  In addition to meeting characters in six locations, children get a keepsake passport stamped at each location and can participate in the Puss in Boots and the Quest for the Magic Beans Scavenger Hunt, which takes you throughout the indoor gardens on an interactive scavenger hunt (warning, lots of counting involved!)  My kids thoroughly enjoyed the scavenger hunt and were thrilled with their prize.  Check web site for dates and times as there are some blackout dates.  Tickets are $35 for ages 4 and up BUT one complimentary guardian or parent is allowed per paying child.  Professional photographers will take photos of your kids and you may buy them online (they give you a card with a barcode on them) but you are also allowed to take your own photos.  Note that not all characters are available for all meet and greets at all times — read all the fine print and make sure you are comfortable with it before booking. I’ll note here that my kids are very wishy-washy about meeting characters – sometimes they’ll run up to, say, the Easter Bunny, but they didn’t care to wait in line to see a character at Disney, perfectly content to watch from afar.  Yet they thoroughly enjoyed this particular experience and are still talking about it days later (my 5-year-old mostly).  So you will have to gauge for yourself whether this is worth your time and money or not.

Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating

Decorate either a gingerbread family or a gingerbread house at Gingy’s workshop and then meet Gingy!  Prices start at $29.95 (plus tax) and are based on the item you decorate rather than by the number of people doing the decorating.  We did not have time to try this out, but plenty of families looked like they were having fun when we quickly walked through this area.

Santa Souvenir Photo

Although we did not take our photos there, several of our friends did and were thrilled with the results.  A very jolly old elf indeed has taken up residence at the Gaylord National and with photo packages starting at $20, quite competitive with the rising prices of pictures with Santa at the mall. A photo purchase is required in order to gain audience with this Santa, but I’m told he’s quite a good listener. 

There are many, many more activities, including a Brunch with Santa, a ShrekFeast, and spa treatments I would kill for! 

Final Impressions

My husband and I are customer service fanatics. Nothing infuriates us more than rude service and nothing catches our attention faster than excellent service. Every single employee, literally every one of them we came in contact with at the Gaylord National, was polite, friendly, and attentive. Down to details such as noticing that my parka was snug and insisting on getting me a different size, seeing upon exiting the ICE! exhibit that the warm air made my daughter’s nose start running and bringing her a tissue, packing up a Diet Coke in a to go cup for me for the ride home at a restaurant and so on. Wherever we were in our day, each employee asked us if we were enjoying our stay, even the parking attendant as we left asked if we had a good time. The kind of customer service that is rare these days. But imagine my surprise when the next day I discovered I had left my wallet at the Gaylord and didn’t know where after traipsing all over the 470,000 square foot center, the customer service continued at the same level. I was certain there was no hope and yet within hours, they found it for me, all contents intact, and had it at the bell hop desk waiting for me. It is perhaps for this reason the most that I think my family found it quite fun and relaxing to spend many hours at the Gaylord National — we felt truly cared for and away from the hustle and bustle for a while and could focus on just having fun as a family, and have built priceless memories we’ll cherish forever. It was a great reminder that for those of us lucky enough to live in the Metro DC area, you don’t have to travel far to give your family a special experience they’ll remember for years.

The entire Christmas on the Potomac event runs from now through January 8 and you can find more details at www.ChristmasOnThePotomac.com or by calling 301-965-4000.  If you are doing multiple events, packages such as the Freeze and Fun Day are the way to go.  Look online to see if they are running special web deals at the time you want to go.


Disclosure:  My family and I were provided with complimentary tickets to the Gaylord National’s ICE!, character passports, ice skating and parking as part of a MomzShare media event.  This did not impact my opinion of the event or what I wrote about it (I always tell it like it is), but it did give me an opportunity to share a local event with you with firsthand knowledge.  Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and all related characters and properties © 2011 DreamWorks Animation L.L.C. Merry Madagascar © 2011 DreamWorks Animation L.L.C.  All photos are mine.