Legoland Westchester NY

Our Review of Legoland- Westchester NY

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During Superbowl Sunday, we took a ride to visit Legoland Discovery Center in Westchester NY since the boys have been begging to go after seeing some you tube videos about it. It was about an hour drive for us from where we live in Central NJ which wasn’t so bad. I was pleasantly surprised that it was part of an outdoor mall  and next time we go back, it’ll have to be during nice weather so I can take advantage and shop too! There were palm trees, a mall directory and even outdoor escalators. I was worried it would be difficult to find parking or that it would be expensive, but we got parking right in the Otis Garage which is the closest to Legoland and it was only $3 for the entire day to park which was fantastic!

Let me start off by saying this is not like the YouTube videos of Legoland they’ve watched. This is much smaller in size and it is the “Legoland Discovery Center” so it’s more about small play and learning, not a theme park.

When we first walked in, there was no line. I am not sure if it’s always like this on a Sunday, or if it’s just because it was Winter and also Superbowl Sunday when most people stay in or go to a Superbowl party, but we were next in line right when we entered. We had the basic tickets, and didn’t get a lanyard.

Be prepared, the first room you enter after getting your entry tickets you’ll be staged to take a family photo. There are booths inside that you will have the option to purchase the photo if you wish, but we did not due to the fact that my boys didn’t look at the camera because they were so focused on entering Legoland. Personally, I think they should take the photo at the end when everyone has experienced it already and not impatiently waiting to enter and take coats and such off.

While I am on the topic of coats, let me address a few things. YES you can bring a stroller. I advise you do so that you can store all of your belongings in it. You can put your stroller to the side near you while the kids play. The only thing that will make the stroller more difficult, is the first attraction where the line is really tight. There are also a few cubbies inside where you can store your stuff, but act quickly because they’re first come first serve, Luckily, when we entered at 10am, there were a bunch of cubbies available and we had no issue with getting one.

When we entered, we had to skip past the first attraction because my son had to pee really bad. Unfortunately the ONLY bathroom in the place is right smack in the middle of everything, so we had to quickly walk by everything to get to it, and then back tracked. We couldn’t get on the first ride which was “Kingdom Quest” because we had already past the line and would’ve had to squeeze through everyone to get back. I personally disliked how that set up was, it felt awkward to squeeze past everyone with our big heavy coats and say “sorry, just going through, we aren’t cutting… ” “sorry, my son needs to use the bathroom, we aren’t cutting in line…”. The line was pretty long too, so I didn’t want to wait in it anyway.

Here is what the entire map looks like so you can get an idea of the layout.

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Since we had to initially rush past everything, we back tracked and started at the “Miniland” which was probably me and my husbands favorite part aside from the 4D movie which I’ll get to later. The things that are built here are unbelieveable. They are replicas of landmarks in NYC equipped with sound effects and lighting that you control by pushing buttons. There is even a METS/Yankee stadium that is a working pinball machine!

Check out some of the amazing displays;

 

Unbelievable that these are created entirely by tiny legos right?

After we checked out Mini Land, we went to the Lego Build & Test section. This is really cute because kids and parents get the build their own lego cars and there is an official race every few minutes that everyone watches. You want to build the biggest and best car to beat your opponent. I liked watching, but my boys weren’t too big in building their own cars. After they tried for a minute they were on to the next activity.

This is the largest part of the facility, the “Play Zone”. This is just a large crawl through obstacle filled with foam legos, slides, and tunnels. I loved this part because me and daddy were able to relax while the boys played safely. They will not let them out until you come to get them from the gate which was really nice. We were able to see them from the small dining area and we got some refreshments and snacks which we watched them play. They stayed inside for about a half an hour and then we had snacks and moved on to the featured 4D movie.

What is 4D you ask? It is A-Maz-ing! Not only do you get 3D glasses to experience the movie up close, but you also FEEL everything going on such as wind and water from rain, etc. It was really cute. The movie we saw was a weekend special, the “new” Lego Movie made specifically for Legoland. I think it was a short term show, and they change it weekly but it is always 4D. It was 10 minutes, and my 7 year old still talks about it today. My 3 year old liked it, but he wasn’t a fan of the 3D and didn’t wear the glasses. Personally, I thought it was really cute and would’ve done it again! It is all included in your entry fee and there is no additional cost. You can go in as many times as you’d like too. Here is the trailer of the one we watched; https://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/westchester/lego-4d-movie/

There are a few other sections, like the Master building class which we did not do because my 3 year old probably wouldn’t be good in the room an might be a distraction. There was a Lego Village with a karaoke area that both boys loved. Also, a Lego Duplo area specifically for kids under 5, and another ride that me and my 8 year old went on called  “Merlin’s Apprentice”.

I can’t forget to mention there is a Lego store when you exit the center, and it has some really cute but pricey sets. We got the mini-figure key chains 5 for $20 which was the best deal – you can remove the key chain part and you have mini figures!

We w12714423_10208592151341773_2141372526_nent to eat afterwards at one of the diners outside in the mall. There isn’t much to choose from inside Legoland itself besides a few basic sandwiches and chips. You’re NOT allowed to bring your own food into Legoland (although you can bring a juicecup/bottles) but they did not really check any bags either.

Overall, if you’re not too far from it, I’d say go check out the Legolan Discovery Center in Westchester. Like I said, we will most likely go back during the Summer so we can make a day out of it and hit up the outdoor mall stores as well. It was much smaller then I thought, but then again it wasn’t for me. It was for my boys and they had a blast.

Have you visited this location? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Check out the video from our visit;

 

Also, if you’re interested in visiting, you can save 20% on your tickets by using my promo code after clicking below:

https://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/westchester/tickets-and-offers/ticket-prices.aspx

When you are purchasing your tickets, there will be a tab titled “Promotional Code” when you click on it you will be prompted to input the code and the discount will be added to your order.

  • JUST FOR MOMS READERS PROMO CODE IS: MB16008

Follow the prompts to complete the purchase.

ENJOY! Let me know below in comments if you’ve visited!

Superbowl Sunday- Easy Cheddar Cheese Fondue

Super Bowl Sunday is TOMORROW so how about a crowd pleaser that is easy to make, yet seems super elegant?

Over my birthday weekend my husband and I visited the Melting Pot for the first time and tried fondue. I knew I’ve always had a love for cheese, but REALLY?! I am IN LOVE with fondue. The act of dipping anything you want into freshly warmed melty cheese is just too good to be able to describe with words. What is even better is that I remade it at home several times since then and I am going to tell you how to do the same.

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Now, Here is what I use- feel free to change it to your liking;

  • 8oz Beer – I used O’douls (2 reasons… I was serving it to my children and didn’t know if my fondue pot was hot enough to get the alcohol completely out of it like it does at the Melting pot) & I live in NJ and didn’t want to make a separate run to the liquor store and they sell O’douls at the grocery store here. I’m sure something like a Bud or Coors would make the flavor that much better though, but this worked.
  • 1 1/2 packs of Shredded Cheese – I used packaged sergento shredded cheddar and swiss (2 different packs) but you can shred your own higher quality cheese if you’d like. This is Cheddar fondue we are making, so the cheddar is a must, but you can omit the swiss however as a normally “swiss cheese hater”, I do still suggest you add the swiss into this, it’s just that much more flavorful. The ratio is 1 package Cheddar to 1/2 package swiss.
  • 1 tspoon Flour – It must be All purpose flour however you may use whole wheat. Just add into either the package of cheese and shake until mixed in.
  • Mustard Powder – Not sure everyone has dry mustard powder laying around, but you can omit this if you do not. It does make the flavoring better, but it’s not a total deal breaker if you don’t have it.
  • Garlic– 1 Cloved finely chopped. Fresh is best, but dried will do too.
  • Worcheshire Sauce – Just a few drops.. I like to add a tad more, but that’s just me.
  • Black Pepper – just a few shakes.

MAKE IT;

  1. Add the beer & garlic to the steel pot (or fondue pot, or whatever you’re using). Wait for it to heat up nice.
  2. Add the already floured Shredded cheese in handfuls, one handful at a time mixing after each with a fork in an up and down motion. You’ll see the cheese start melting and at first it’ll look really watery.. that’s OK. after about the 4th handful, you should see it start to thicken and turn into a fondue consistency.
  3. Add the Dry Mustard Powder, about 5 good shakes into it.
  4. Add the Black Pepper & Worcheshire Sauce & Mix it all up.

You’re done! Keep away from direct heat an consume immediately after. It is not good heated up and will start to burn quickly if left over heat too long.

Suggested Dippers;

  • Cubed Apples – YES. Apples. Green are best.
  • Carrots
  • French Bread or any kind of hard bread
  • Cauliflower

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Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe? Let me know your thoughts!

 

2016 Hyundai Tucson, Blizzard of 2016, & The Melting Pot

2016 Hyundai Tucson ECO – Cute, Affordable, & Efficient

There was so much going on this week. This is one day that will go down in history, and not just because it was my 30th Birthday (!!!!!) January 23rd 2016, but it was the biggest recorded blizzard on the East Coast in years. The last I remember was actually 20 years ago – the Blizzard of 96′ we all refer to it as.

My plans to go to Atlantic City with my husband for a long weekend were not ruined because I had just gotten the 2016 Hyundai Tucson to review. This made it easier to get out of town (literally!) and make the 1 hour and 30 minute hike to Atlantic City NJ. We wound up having to wait until Sunday to go, but the Tucson made it a smooth ride.

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It definitely has a slick exterior an some flashy 17″ Alloy wheels. I thought the fact that it is a keyed entry was a little outdated, but then again, this is the standard model. For this model, it’ll run you only $25K which is amazing for a CUV of this sort. The inside seats 5, but the trunk space is huge! You can fold down the back seats to make it even larger, and the front seat down you can fit something straight from front to back easily.

I also thought about the fact that this CUV is ECO model and gets 29 MPG on avg which again, is a win when you’re talking about a family vehicle that you’ll be driving a lot. The interior felt a little basic to me to, but it works. It’s especially good for those who may not be ready to take the leap into all of the modernized technology around these days. Hyundai is known for their outstaning warranties and this behicle will not disappoint. It comes with a 50,000 Mile New Vehicle Warranty, and 100,000 Mile Powertrain Warranty.

The standard features it does come with is;

  • The touch screen – 3.5″ LCD Display
  • Sirius Radio compatible (with 6 mo free trial subscription)
  • Blue Tooth
  • ECO Option
  • Teether bars for child car seats (3 of them)
  • 17″ Alloy Wheels

This one was FWD, so although it did not do well navigating the unplowed roads, it did handle the slushy, icy, salted roads well. This color is Ruby Wine and there is something about the deep red color that is so attractive, especially with the beige interior.

Check out the video review for footage of the vehicle and how we used it for our weekend getaway even in the 2 feet of snow!

We stayed at Bally’s in Atlantic City and unfortunately we didn’t get to go out to the boardwalk because of the snow. I didn’t get an ocean view room this time but the room was huge and so nice.

Luckily, Bally’s Casino was just 2 blocks from the Melting Pot fondue restaurant that we made reservations at so we were able to walk there. What a nice place for a date night! It took about 2 hours for us to cook and eat all 4 courses (Cheese, Salad, Entree, & Dessert) but that was the best part. We weren’t in a rush, and the atmosphere was just perfect. I got the chicken/shrimp/& Beef terryaki. I have to say, I would never go there just for the entree. It is what it is, you boil the meat to cook it. I prefer it cooked other ways to preserve flavor and have a better texture, but overall we enjoyed the experience and would go back.

I got free chocolate covered strawberries for free for my birthday to take home too!

*Disclosure: I received this vehicle to drive for a week in exchange for my honest opinion and review. All of the opinions and photos are my own.

 

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate Review (Xbox One)

 

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate Review

(Xbox One)
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By Ryan Kosinski

 

“Whoever controls London, controls the world.”  A statement that both sets the tone and envelopes the central theme of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Ubisoft’s 2015 entry into the acclaimed Assassin’s Creed franchise. Syndicate is the follow up to 2014’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity, a polarizing release, met with criticism due to many launch-day bugs, a less-than-engaging story, and a disappointing protagonist.  Syndicate has addressed the issues that plagued it’s predecessor, and the experience is reminiscent of what I felt playing through Ubisoft’s original Assassin’s Creed (2007)Syndicate places renewed emphasis on both visual and mechanical elements that have long made Assassin’s Creed a successful franchise.

111Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate places gamers in 1868 London, and in control of two playable protagonists: twins Jacob and Evie Frye.  Immediately setting Syndicate apart from recent Assassin’s Creed games are its charming and likeable main characters.  Both are quick-witted and engage in frequent exchanges of banter reflective of their sibling rivalry.  Jacob is brash, carries himself with a seeming air of invincibility, eager to lead (The Rooks in particular).  Evie is more cunning, contemplative, and calculated in her actions.  These characteristics are also inherent in each character’s play-style.  Syndicate allows the player to swap between Evie and Jacob to accommodate the skillsets required by a particular task.  Jacob is the brawler, more physically imposing and strong for combat-heavy missions or tasks.  Evie’s strengths are her quickness and using stealth to elude her adversaries.  Evie is great for infiltration and kidnapping targets.  The main characters compliment each other brilliantly.  The use of dual-protagonists in Syndicate was a genius maneuver by Ubisoft to add depth to the overall story and to engage the player in strategizing their character choice as they attempt to proceed through the game.

 

Syndicate’s central plot pits the Frye twins against Templar Grand Master Crawford Starrick, and the reaches of his influence, which include Maxwell Roth and his gang, the Blighters.  Gamers are tasked with utilizing the Frye twins to free each London borough of Blighter control.  In doing so, the Frye’s also foster the growth of their own London gang – The Rooks – in an attempt to overthrow Templar influence.
111With strong protagonists in place, and an engaging story as the backdrop, Syndicate truly shines with its beautiful reimagining of London circa 1868.  Although the story and characters both are strengths in this release, the London backdrop was the reason I kept going back for more.  Free-running through the boroughs I am consistently enamored with the black-smoke-heavy skyline.  Factories churn out the industrial revolution while the Frye’s catalog mission objectives through viewpoint synchronizations; (‘synching’ a viewpoint places location markers on your map for important tasks).  The NPC’s have a reasonable and bearable degree of exuberance.  I found the groups of young children playing on street corners and roadsides to be a charming occurrence representative of the game’s chosen setting.  Conversely, attention is called to child labor practices, and many side missions call for the rescue of imprisoned groups of children.  Horse and carriages are littered throughout the London streets.  Hooves trot over reflective rain puddles on stone sidewalks.

 

Essential to any Assassin’s Creed game are the accurate depictions of significant geographical landmarks.  There is no shortage of those in Syndicate.  Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, Victoria Station, the Monument to the Great Fire, and London Bridge Station are all represented, among many more.  I was especially impressed with the landscape at night.  The city glistens against a starry backdrop, lighting and visual effects are gorgeous, and the dynamic weather conditions enhance how real the experience of traversing through 19th century London feels.

 

It should not be understated how fun simply free-running through London can be.  Syndicate’s free-run mechanics add a degree of control to the player by incorporating specific controls for running upwards and downwards.  Although these mechanics are counter-intuitive on occasion, overall they are smooth and I experienced minimal hiccups when free-running.  A welcome addition to the free-running mechanics is a zip-line, which allows Jacob or Evie to efficiently travel between distant rooftops.  The zip-line is a much-needed addition, and I found myself drifting from area to area without the desire to fast travel, although fast traveling is an option upon synching with a viewpoint.  Leaps of faith are still exhilarating.

Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory’s score is thoughtful, serene, and underscores the moral conflicts at hand throughout the game.  The music changes as you wander from borough to borough and compliment an artfully crafted environment.

 

The core game-play and combat mechanics are all vastly improved from previous Assassin’s Creed titles.  I consistently found myself playing “fight club” side-missions repeatedly, where Evie or Jacob can take on challenge-waves of Blighters.  Fluid combat allows for stringing together a multitude of attacks, and chaining lengthy combos – complete with devastating multi-kill finishing moves.  Bringing opponents “near death (indicated by a the opposing fighters hunched over highlighted in white) allows for one-button finishers, which can be used on one, or multiple opponents at a time.  These added maneuvers make the combat presentation continuously versatile.  Utilizing weapon enhancements mid-combo can make for some truly spectacular combo-chains.  You will utilize specialized brass-knuckles, swords, revolvers, knives, and hallucinogenic darts as you upgrade your characters’ respective skill-tree.  I found the combat in Syndicate to be the most satisfying of any Assassin’s Creed release.

 

Syndicate provides players a variety of types of tasks to complete as you conquer London’s boroughs.  The game contains no multiplayer, a direction that aided Ubisoft in returning Assassin’s Creed to top form.  Sequenced missions feature a variety of influential historical figures.  Syndicate offers players a chance to cross paths with Charles Dickens, Alexander Graham Bell, Karl Marx, and Charles Darwin, among many others.  For the purposes of income and resource gains, side missions are available at every turn.  Eliminating Gang-leaders in Blighter strongholds is a great tactical exercise.  Mix things up in kidnapping missions where you abduct targets, place them into a carriage, and escape by riding the horse-and-carriage at high speeds through the highly-populated London streets as Blighter carriages attempt to swarm and attack.  Hijacking carriages is fun, you can leap from roof to roof at high speeds and follow up with a ruthless execution of the driver.

 

I’ve played most of the Assassin’s Creed releases, and Syndicate is, without question, my favorite entry into the franchise.  It’s emphasis is firmly placed on what makes the Assassin’s Creed games so enjoyable: an immersive, rich landscape serving as catalyst to a strong criminal industrial complex narrative, fluid free-run controls allowing the player to engage with the environment in varied ways, and an enhanced combat system that can both test your strategic acumen through high-difficulty combo strings, or can be equally satisfying slashing-and-mashing your way through hoards of Blighters.   Syndicate unequivocally breaths new life into a previously stagnant franchise.  Ubisoft wisely went back to basics with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, and the result is the finest installment in the franchise’s storied history.

 

*Disclosure:

I received this game for review courtesy of Ubisoft. All opinions are my own and reflect my own game play experience.