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Giveaway: Four-Pack of BrickFair Tickets for LEGO Fans

Child looking at LEGO airplane at BrickFair

Children visiting the airport diorama at last year’s BrickFair. Photo courtesy of Abe Friedman, provided by BrickFair.

LEGO fans comes in all sizes — from kids to AFOLs (adult fans of LEGO). An estimated 17,000 of them will come to the self-acclaimed largest LEGO fan festival in US at BrickFair ’12 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA August 4-5 this summer and you can enter a giveaway for a four-pack of tickets!

The fan festival expects to have more than a thousand exhibitors with LEGO creations of all sizes as well as vendors with items such as minifigures, custom-molded weapons, and unique models. If your kids are like mine, all this LEGO-stimulation will leave them eager to get their hands on a few blocks of their own, so fortunately there’s a Stay ‘N Play area filled with bricks where they can unleash their creativity!

Intricate castle creation at BrickFair.

BrickFair ’12

August 4 -5, 2012
11 am – 4 pm
Dulles Expo Center
4230 Chantilly Center
Chantilly, VA 20153
Tickets: 3 and under – FREE, everyone else $10 at door
No strollers please

 

You can buy tickets at the door for $10, but why not try for a four-pack of tickets right here?

Caffeineandaprayer.com’s BrickFair ’12 Ticket Giveaway Rules:

  • These tickets are good for one day only, at BrickFair ’12 in Chantilly, VA August 4 or 5 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 $40.
  • US entrants only, please.
  • Entrants must be 18 years or older.
  • Tickets will be physically mailed to you, so if you are the winner, you will need to be willing to provide me a mailing address within 24 hours of being announced as the winner.
  • To enter: Please comment on THIS blog post with a comment that includes the phrase “BrickFair.”  For example, you can say, “My kids have 6 billion tickets and we would LOVE to go to the BrickFair!” or “I am married to an AFOL and would love to surprise my spouse with BrickFair tix” or “Wow, JavaMom, you are the coolest blogger in the world for bringing us this opportunity for BrickFair tickets…”  (no, really, what you say has no bearing on who wins, I promise!)  If you do not have the phrase “BrickFair” in your comment, you are immediately disqualified!
  • You can earn EXTRA entries by tweeting about this giveaway as long as you meet the following conditions:
    1. Include a link to this post
    2. Either include @brickfair or #brickfair
    3. Include @caffandaprayer
    4. Comment here with a link to your tweet and include “BrickFair” (i.e. “I tweeted about BrickFair and here is my link: _____)
  • 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 24 hours of the end of the giveaway so I can notify you that you are the winner and get your snail mail address and mail you your tickets. If I am not able to reach you, I will move on to the next person. I am not responsible for email that
  • Winners will be selected at random from all qualified entrants.
  • Giveaway ends midnight, Eastern time, Thursday, July 26, 2012.
  • Have fun and good luck!

UPDATE:  We have a winner! Using the sequence generator at Random.org to pick a winner from an Excel spreadsheet list of the names of the qualified entrants, LEGOMOM is the winner. She has been notified and has responded.  Thank you, everyone, for your comments! And thank you, BrickFair, for providing tickets for the giveaway.

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

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Disclosure: BrickFair provided four tickets for the giveaway and a set of complimentary tickets for my family. All photos are provided by the BrickFair convention. LEGO is a trademark of the LEGO Group.

How To Train Your Dragon Live 25% Off Promo Code

Toothless takes flight in How to Train Your Dragon Live. Photo Credit: Lisa Tomasetti.

This 25% off promo code is good for weekday (including Friday) performances of select seats of the production How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular in all cities. See the end of the post for more details.

 

One of my favorite parts of being a parent is watching my children and waiting for that eye-widening moment of wonder and astonishment as they experience something for the first time. It’s that moment I can’t wait for when we attend the July 19 show of How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. I’m already giddy just looking at the photos and videos of the show, I can only imagine their reactions to the enormous, free-roaming animatronic dragons as well as watching Toothless take flight right before their very eyes.

How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular represents the combined effors of DreamWorks Animation, producers of the Academy Award®-nominated film, How to Train Your Dragon, and Global Creatures, the masterminds behind the international phenomenon Walking with Dinosaurs, the number one grossing world tour of 2010. Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, it focuses on a Viking teen (Hiccup) struggling with his tribe’s tradition of heroic dragon slaying, and the conflict that ensues when he encounters a dragon who challenges all he thought he knew about dragons.How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular immerses the audience in the story with bigger-than-life fire-breathing state-of-the-art animatronic dragons interacting with actors and trained acrobats in a full-arena live performance.

I can already see that there is going to be something for each of us in this show. JavaGirl will be entranced by the creatures. JavaBoy, of course, will enjoy the action-adventure portions. And JavaDad and I will geek out enjoying all the technology behind it — for example knowing that each of large dragon weighs about 2.6 tons (about the size of an average family car!) and covering the 23 dragons required more than 2 miles of “dragon skin.”

These dragons are massive — the official promotional video clip is gorgeous, but I think the NBC Today Show interview gives you a much better feel for the size of the dragons in comparison to people as well as how they will “behave” — it may be a good way to prepare your children for the show.

You can further enhance the experience with VIP packages that include a Hero’s Welcome from Hiccup and Astrid, backstage tours to meet the dragons and more. Note that the coupon code is not valid for the VIP packages.

How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular will be at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC July 19-22. Regular ticket prices range from a low of $29.50 to a high of $69.50 (excluding fees). A limited number of premium seats and special VIP ticket experiences and family packages are also available. See www.dreamworksdragonslive.com for details on tickets and times.  Promo code information is below.

How to Save:

  • There is currently  a Living Social deal for 50% off that runs until the 11th, this information is for the DC area only.
  • Purchase your tickets online and enter the promo code MOM in the “Mom blogs” promo box. If you are buying tickets for an area other than DC and do not see the “mom blogs” promo box, I have been told that you can enter the code in the general promo box. Please note that not all cities have put their tickets on sale  yet. This promo code is good for a 25% off discount on select seats for WEEKDAY (including Friday) shows.

Get a Sneak Preview of a Baby Dragon

See a baby dragon and his Viking trainer at the Gaylord National Resort Saturday, July 7! Kids and their families are invited to a free live performance featuring a seven-foot-tall, 14-foot-long, smoke-breathing Baby Dragon and his brave trainer as they take kids on a magical and humorous journey to learn how to train a dragon.  Kids will learn the three important lessons every young dragon trainer should know and will become an “Official Dragon Trainer” for the day.  Kids will also receive a special coupon valid for discounted tickets to the DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular show at the Verizon Center.

Schedule:

  • 6:00 – 6:15 pm – DreamWorks Character Parade featuring the Baby Dragon
    The Dragon will join the other DreamWorks characters (Shrek, Kung Fun Panda, etc.) as they march thru Gaylord’s Atrium interacting with guests.
  •  7:45 – 8:00 pm – Dragon Training Show 
    The Baby Dragon and his Viking Trainer will give a live, 15-minute performance that features many fun, interactive moments with the kids in the audience.
  •  9:30 pm – Gaylord National’s Summer Fireworks Show
    Afterwards, stick around to enjoy a summertime tradition at Gaylord National – fireworks every Saturday night over the Potomac River.  The best view is along the waterfront!

Fun Facts about How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular:

THE MOST TECHNICALLY ADVANCED TOUR INTEGRATING ANIMATRONICS, PROJECTIONS, LIVE CAST AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES.

  • Global Creatures & DreamWorks have partnered to bring the Academy-Award® nominated film to life with real flying, fire-breathing dragons.
  • The production is four years in the making.
  • The production has the largest number of animatronics ever to tour the globe.
  • The Red Death Dragon is the largest animatronic ever built by Creature Technology Company at over 40 feet high and 60 feet wide.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR IS THE LARGEST FAMILY TOUR EVER PRODUCED!

  • Travels in over 30 18-Wheeler Trucks (52’ each) with a touring cast & crew of 85.
  • Together the show weighs over 200,000 pounds.
  • It would take one person over a year to load in the production.
  • Takes over 160 people to set up the production in each city (the equivalent of one person working 24 hours over 70 days).
  • If all the cables in the production were laid out end to end, they would stretch from Los Angeles to New York City.

DRAGONS TAKE TO THE SKY WITH GROUND-BREAKING TECHNOLOGY!

  • The production created the first-ever touring flight track system that weighs over 28   tons.
  • The flight track uses a proprietary barcode system. The creatures scan a barcode strip as they fly around the track which tells them (and us) where they are at all times.
  • Toothless weighs over 7,500 pounds and flies over 1.2 miles throughout the performance which is equivalent to a Range Rover soaring through the arena.
  • There are more automation cues in the opening sequence alone than a Broadway musical has in a night.
  • The first-ever fully immersive live experience with projection spanning more than 20,000 square feet throughout the entire arena. The back projection wall is equivalent to 9 movie screens combined.

THE DRAGON FACTS & FIGURES.

  • Produced over a two-year period in Melbourne, Australia.
  • 23 dragons.
  • 12 different dragon species represented.
  • Dragon wings span up to 46 feet.
  • Each large dragon weighs over 2.6 tons (the size of a family car).
  • Over 2 miles of “dragon skin” was created.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON LIVE SPECTACULAR FOLLOWS ON THE HEELS OF THE HUGE SUCCESS OF WALKING WITH DINOSAURS!

  • Before “Walking With Dinosaurs,” no free-roaming animatronics of this scale existed.
  • Creature Technology Company has become a world leader in animatronic technology.
  • “Walking With Dinosaurs” was #1 in Worldwide Ticket Sales in 2010, ahead of Bon Jovi, AC/ DC and Black Eyed Peas with over 6.5 million tickets sold worldwide to date.

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Disclosure: My family has been provided with complimentary tickets in order to review the performance. I am thrilled that the PR company has chosen to reach out to local bloggers to share a promo code so families may save money on special performances.  Remember this code is for certain seats so purchase your tickets early, and put “MOM” in the “mom blogs” promo box.

Space Shuttle Discovery Thrills Audience at Udvar-Hazy #SpotTheShuttle

Joy, patriotic pride, and sadness over the end of an era swept over me as the space shuttle Discovery whooshed over our heads while the kids and I stood with what felt like half of Northern Virginia at National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Tuesday morning. I wasn’t born until after the first astronaut landed on the moon, but I vividly remember (and was even invited to attend) the first shuttle launch. The 1986 Challenger explosion is a defining moment for my generation, and every launch that followed felt like an American triumph over tragedy, especially after the Columbia tragedy in 2003. We no longer naively believed that the shuttle was invincible after Challenger, and Columbia reinforced that. Space is still a wild frontier, with so much left to be tamed. Though there has been the International Space Station, the Hubble telescope, and the Mars Rover — to me, the shuttle program has been the iconic symbol of NASA. It is what I grew up with, studied, rooted for, cried over, cheered for when it rose again, and then struggled with the realization that we weren’t going to see another one launch. I can’t imagine not watching another one launching.

I pulled my kids out of school to watch today’s flight, and made a last minute decision to rush over to Udvar-Hazy rather than just watch from our front yard. The kids were reluctant to miss school, but once they felt — actually FELT — the air rush over them and saw the underbelly of the jumbo jet that gave it a piggyback ride to Virginia, they understood why I was so insistent. Miraculously I managed to pick the right spot to be directly under it for the first pass of the morning, directly under it, feeling so close that we almost felt like we could reach up and grab on for a ride. In fact, it flustered me so much, I pushed the wrong button on my new camera! I got off a couple of shots, but not the ones I should have!

 Space Shuttle Discovery Udvar-Hazy fly-by

Thankfully, we had two more chances for an up-close view.

 

Space Shuttle Discovery side view

Between flights, I had an opportunity to take some shots of the people who were trying to spot the shuttle.

 

There were people of all generations in the parking lot, including a grandfatherly gentleman who was also skipping school (“I told my geology professor I was skipping class so I could come here!”) He was clearly as giddy to be there as some of the kids. In fact, I almost think that the excitement factor racheted up in direct correlation with age. Though there were some grumblings along the political front about the future of the space program (one comment I heard, “JFK must be spinning in his grave!”), overall the crowd was united in how thrilled they were in being able to be this close to the action. It was the most well-run event and politely behaved crowd I have ever seen.

I’m not sure my kids fully grasp the meaning of this historic day, but one day they will, and they will thank me for understanding that sometimes, you can learn more out of the classroom than in it. In the meantime, they got to see the beauty of Discovery in the air, not once, but THREE times, hone their powers of observation, (When did the air traffic stop? When did the pacer plane come by? When did the helicopters sweep through, where did they hover? What clues told us when Discovery was coming back by and which path it would take next?) and feel the difference between watching an incredible moment and actually being a part of it.

Incidentally, one of the channels recently ran a series of programs that was co-created by Discovery Channel and NASA called When We Left the Earth: The NASA Missions. I found it so fascinating that I am going to purchase the DVDs and found you can buy them online at Amazon or at Discovery. I think these will help my kids help put today into perspective, and you may find them helpful for yours!

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate and have included a link to a product to Amazon.  If you buy a product on Amazon directly after clicking on that link, I may receive a small percentage of the sale. I do not track nor have a way of tracking who purchased what.

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.

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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.