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A quick Universal Orlando Getaway

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{The following is part of a sponsored post for #FamilyForward – all opinions are my own and all photos are courtesy of Universal Orlando Florida.}

A Quick Universal Orlando Getaway

Last month my family slipped away for a quick, last hooray of summer.  It was part of Mom it Forward’s Family Forward Orlando Adventure!!  It was a four day trip for social media influencers & their families – I feel so blessed to have been able to go & most importantly go as a family!

Why a Universal Getaway Makes Sense:

A quick trip to Orlando from North Geogia is definitely possible over a long weekend – like the one coming up this weekend for Forsyth County schools.  We’ve never done this before, but for the first time we actually left straight from school – so the kids got in their full day, we got ahead of traffic and rolled into Orlando for a very late bedtime.  There’s something about vacation – everyone wakes up early anyways, and you can’t be in a bad mood when you’re headed to a theme park!!

Planning Where to Stay:

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel 1 LR

If you plan to visit a Universal theme park it’s definitely worth it to stay on site at one their deluxe hotels.  We stayed at Loews Portofino Bay during our trip.  Not only was it absolutely beautiful (like step into Italy beautiful), incredibly roomy, and had a gorgeous pool but because it was a deluxe hotel you are totally hooked up with your trips to the theme parks!!  There’s transportation by way of the ferry to the park entrance, plus everyone in your room receives a Universal Express Pass with your park admission – basically that means you get to skip to the front of the lines inside the parks (there are a few ride exceptions).  We did the math and it’s definitely worth staying on property to be able to do that.  Not having to spend your day in a long line is absolutely priceless!!  And check out this article here for some more great tips about Loews!

What to Do During Your Stay?

Eat.  Play.  Swim.  Maybe a flash mob dance too (explaining).  A little bit of all of it!!  During our stay we visited both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  I hadn’t been to Universal Orlando in about 10 years so definitely before kids making this visit our first as a family.  So we definitely tried to pack in as much fun as possible and the staff at Universal Orlando treated our conference group SO kindly that yes, they even organized us participating in a FLASH MOB inside the park!!   So cool!

Antojitos at CityWalk 2

Both the parks and City Walk offer some amazing restaurants.  You most definitely won’t go hungry!  We really enjoyed Thunder Falls Terrace (rotisserie chicken, turkey legs and a delicious salad) at Islands of Adventure.  Finnegan’s Bar & Grill at Univsersal Studios and Antojitos Authentic Mexican Grill at City Walk – oh my SO yummy for my Mexican-Food Fix!!

Favorite Rides?

The Simpsons Ride 3 - LR

My kids are 6 and 9 and we had a great time on SO many rides – we could really enjoy them all as a family!  Their absolute favorites that they wanted to ride over and over again – The Simpsons, Despicable Me, Spider Man, and Men in Black.  And I think they chose good.  I think we rode Spider Man like three times in row (like I said that Express Pass really came in handy!)

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 6 - LR

And then of course there’s Harry!!

Now I will probably lose some cool points here, but I actually don’t have a connection with Harry Potter.  I’ve never read a book and I’ve never seen a movie.  But what I can say – even without any knowledge of him, I can totally recognize that Universal Orlando did an AMAZING job with all things Harry Potter related.  Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express, the rides – amazing!!  You really were in another world and whether you’re a fan or not you can most definitely appreciate it!  If your’e cooler than me and know all things Harry, you’ll enjoy this “10 Things to Do in Diagon Alley” post.   And if you’re more in my boat, be sure to check out this article “6 Reasons to Visit for even the Non-Harry Lover“.

Oh!!  And you don’t have to know anything about Harry to know that the BUTTER BEER is AWESOME!!!

So Pack Your Bags!

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The characters and the fun are waiting!  I know my family can’t wait to get back!!

And check here too:  If you’ve never been to Universal Orlando, you may enjoy this “Beginners Guide” like I did!

Disney On Ice presents Frozen at Philips Arena!

Frozen in Atlanta

Disney On Ice presents FROZEN at Phillips Arena

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you might have seen that my 6yo and I went into “the big city” on Wednesday night.  We stayed out WAY past our bedtimes and woke up tired the next morning, but it was all for a great reason -  Disney on Ice FROZEN at Phillips Arena!

If you’ve never been to a Disney on Ice show, then I’ll just say that I’m constantly amazed – the skating, the costumes, the songs, the production – it’s all wonderful!!   And the FROZEN performance was no different.  “Snow”, lights, pyrotechnics, amazing costumes – it was chill bump worth – and not just because it’s cold in there!

PicMonkey Collage

Picture Philips Arena being FILLED with a family sing along.  Little boys, little girls, moms & yes, even Dads were singing.  I was one of those moms.  It was incredible.  The production retold the story – from young Elsa & Anna to Coronation Day, the “frozen” spell, Olaf, mean old Hans and more.  All in the midst of amazing skating and yes, those songs that you just love (or drive you crazy at times), but we all know we really love them:).

And it’s never a Disney production without Mickey & Minnie (who were adorably dressed for the “frozen” weather) and all their friends.

There are still some seats left, if you get a chance to go you should definitely consider! 

Show description:

Enter a fantastical winter wonderland beyond all imagination at Disney On Ice presents Frozen! The heartwarming, Academy Award ® -winning tale you love is now LIVE and skating into your town. You’ll be magically whisked away into the wintery world of Arendelle, where you will be dazzled by amazing special effects and astonishing skating. Sing and dance along to inspiring songs, including “Let It Go.” Join royal sisters Elsa and Anna, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls as they journey to discover that true love is ultimately the most magical power of all!

Hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by your most beloved Disney Princesses and characters from favorites like Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King, don’t miss this unforgettable celebration of love and friendship. Tickets are on sale now.

Event Details:

There are over twelve performances scheduled at Phillips Arena between opening night, Wednesday October 8th and Sunday, October 12th. Several of those were added after tickets went on sale because they were selling so fast.

Ticket Information:

Tickets start at $25 and are available online at Ticketmaster, by phone (800-745-3000800-745-3000), or at participating Publix locations.

Follow Along:

Disney On Ice on Facebook

Disney On Ice on Twitter – If you tweet about the show please use the hashtag – #DOIAtlanta

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Disclosure: Cumming Local was provided with complimentary tickets to attend a performance in order to facilitate a show review.

A Family Forward Family

Family Forward Family

After a crazy busy summer with lots of family time – both the good-relaxing-enjoying kind and the hair-pulling-sister-brother-constant-fighting kind, we’re slowly getting into our back-to-school routines.  This means the calendar is filling up with commitments, ball games, practices, and homework too.

If we’re not careful and intentional family time can become left-over time.   Later this month, I’m actually headed to an event at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando with my entire family through Mom It Forward.  It’s really got me thinking about practical steps I can take to help my family become a Family Forward Family – one that’s always moving forward.  Together.  Not in a bunch of directions without each other!

Family Forward Family2

Here’s a few steps to consider …

  • Get Up Early -  Wake up in plenty of time to get morning duties done before the kids wake up – this one usually makes me a MUCH nicer parent in the mornings!
  • Unplug – After the kids get home from school until after they go to bed at night – it’s hard, but worth it!
  • Track My Time – Certain things can consume MUCH more of our time than we anticipate (hello Pinterest?!) but setting a clock helps realize how long we’ve been distracted.
  • Work Together – Whether it’s chores together at home, working in the yard outside or volunteering in the community, doing something hard or doing something for someone else is so good for the kids to see!
  • Eat Together – Some dinners go better than others, but if we’re all home we definitely all eat together – no cell phones or tablets!  It’s the only time we’re usually all together each day!
  • Play Together – It can’t be all hard work and homework.  Plan a family game night or just spontaneously decide on something fun to do.

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What are your tips for a Family  Forward Family?

Poole’s Mill Park in Forsyth County

A Trip to Poole’s Mill Park in Forsyth County

I can’t believe I’ve never written about a trip to Poole’s Mill Park – actually I can, because there are LOTS of things I’ve never written about … so much to do, so little time. But we spend a lot of time here so it’s about time I sit down and write a little. If you’ve been then you probably already know all about this little gem. If you haven’t, hopefully you’ll know more after reading this!

Poole’s Mill Park is located in the far west part of Forsyth County – it actually has a Ball Ground address – 7725 Pooles Mill Road, Ball Ground GA 30107.

It’s probably most famous for its old covered bridge – so much history (and tacky graffiti, what a shame). It’s an incredibly popular spot for family photos – my family included. But it’s also a great place to make new memories too.

Poole's Mill Park in Forsyth County GA

Poole’s Mill features include:

  • Playground
  • Covered Picnic Pavilion
  • Outdoor Picnic Tables by the River
  • River – for fishing or swimming
  • and of course the famous “rock slides”

A typical spring or summer visit for our family will include a visit to the playground, a picnic lunch down by the river and an hour or two at the rock slides. If my husband is with us then we’ll tack on an extra hour for fishing at the river.

The following “Pros, Cons & Tips” are strictly from my (Mandi) perspective. They may look different for your family but hopefully, if you’ve never been before, it will help you with some of your planning.

Pros:

  • Completely free to enjoy – so much entertainment without having to open up your wallet
  • A little something for everyone – playground, swings, river, picnic tables, and the rock slides
  • Pavilion available to reserve or use if not already reserved (note: It gets crowded though, so if you want it make sure to reserve through Forsyth County Parks & Rec).
  • Picnic Tables down by river – makes for a great picnic setting
  • Grills available for use – just bring your charcoal & supplies
  • Playground is great for elementary age children and there is also a smaller slide and swings for the little ones too.

Cons:

  • The bathroom isn’t convenient unless you’re spending all your time at the pavilion. I always make sure the kids use the bathroom before we go to the park itself and then again before we go down to the river or rock slides.
  • While there is some good shade throughout the park, there is little to none afternoon shade on the playground itself so just be prepared.

Tips for the Rock Slides & River:

Poole's Mill Park Rock Slides

  • Wear old swim suits or ones you don’t mind getting messed up. While the rocks are smooth it’s also a lot of wear & tear on them.
  • Bring a chair or blanket to sit on – there is some great, sandy places to sit if you want to relax while the kids enjoy themselves, but nothing to sit ON. So pack a bag of blankets or carry some folding chairs.
  • I’ve even seen some families enjoying a picnic at the rock slides – plenty of room to do that if it’s not too crowded.
  • Consider bringing an inflatable tube to lounge in the river. We usually don’t do this, but I see plenty of people that do.
  • Don’t go past the private property signs. Ok, so this is a pet peeve of mine – there are fences & signs clearly marked. I see so many people (sometimes parents with their young kids), walking right past them. If you cross a fence you’re on private property.
  • Whatever you carry in, carry it back out. This is a beautiful area of Forsyth County – people travel just to come enjoy it. Let’s keep it clean. The ugly graffiti and spray painting on the historic covered bridge is so sad to me. And just as sad is all the trash that you might find on the river banks. It’s easy – if you bring it in, bring it out!
  • Enjoy & have fun – this truly is a special gem here in Forsyth County!
  • Want to get family photos taken? Be sure to check with our website sponsor, Cassesse Photography – Terri goes there a lot for mini sessions or as a requested location.

Poole's Mill Park Rock Slides

Yoga in Cumming GA

Yoga

Yoga in Cumming GA

Thinking about trying out Yoga? We did a Facebook post asking our readers and you can see that post by clicking here. Yoga is a great way to exercise with all the stretching, balance, and relaxation. But it does work up quite a sweat. It’s all about strengthening your core. And I know I need that! Maybe I will try it out too. Anyway, i’ve listed out all the recommendations. Hope you find one that works for you. Happy Yoga-ing!

In no particular order:

  • Yoga Selah
  • Do Yoga with Doug Keller
  • BodyPlex
  • Fowler Park Rec Center
  • Breathe Yoga Atlanta (Cumming location)
  • Freedom Journey Yoga
  • Central Park Rec Center
  • Be Here Now Yoga
  • South Forsyth Rec Centers

 Anywhere else you might add to take Yoga in Cumming GA?

Photo credit

Review: Disney on Ice Celebrating 100 Years

disney on ice 100 years

Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic:  A Review

On Friday, my daughter and I had the opportunity to catch the latest Disney On Ice production – Disney on Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic.  We’ve been to several of the Disney on Ice shows and it’s always been something we’ve really enjoyed.  So I was thrilled to be able to check out this big celebration!

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If you missed our first announcement about the show, here’s a summary of what to expect:

Join the celebration as more than 60 of Disney’s unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!  You’ll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many Disney Princesses.   Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Storyfilms; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you’ll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!

The first half was filled with lots of princesses – Cinderalla, Snow White, Belle, Little Mermaid and others.  The second half had the hysterical Incredibles and a big celebration of all the characters.  It even went back to It’s a Small World & Pinocchio – way back!  And of course Mickey & Minnie were our “hosts” throughout the night!

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I’m always amazed (although I shouldn’t be since it is Disney after all), by the incredible costumes and props – everything is so real and life like.  And the dancers are incredibly talented – top notch moves & stunts like Olympians!

And of course the face of the little one you bring, might be the best part of the show … I love just looking at my kids when they are taking it all in!

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Once again, the show was about 2 hours with a short intermission in the middle.  So the timing is perfect for little attention spans.

There are still several shows to take advantage of – and the location couldn’t be better!!  I LOVE the Gwinnett Arena.  It is so easy to get to from Cumming, GA and parking is so easy – even free!!  So no extra expense there.  Plus it’s just super easy to get in & out of.  The staff is usually very helpful – even eager to help us find our seats, the restroom, food, etc.  I’m a big fan of fun, family events coming to the Gwinnett Center.  Oh – and their seats are super comfortable too:)

If the kids get to go, feel free to let them dress up as their favorite Disney Characters – you’ll see little princesses all over the place!  And that’s always a fun treat for the kids.

For other locations across the US, click here.

 Tickets:

There are still several show times left.  You can buy tickets by going to the Gwinnett Arena website by clicking here.  The ticket prices range from $28-$98 per person.

And I love that parking is FREE at Gwinnett Arena – no extra expense there plus it’s super easy to get in & out of!!

Remaining Showtimes:

Friday, May 16, 2014 – 7:30 PM
Saturday, May 17, 2014 – 11:00 AM
Saturday, May 17, 2014 – 3:00 PM
Saturday, May 17, 2014 – 7:00 PM
Sunday, May 18, 2014 – 1:00 PM
Sunday, May 18, 2014 – 5:00 PM

Goldstar

Want to help your little one get ready for the fun?  Click here for a fun Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic Coloring Sheet.

Discounted Tickets:

Gotta love discounted tickets!!  Be sure to check out Goldstar for discounted tickets on all shows.   They have discounted seats on all showings right now.  Click here for more information.   And while you’re there, check out all other great Atlanta discounts they have too – Atlanta Braves, Gwinnett Braves, LEGOLAND, and more!

Stay Connected to Disney on Ice:

Official Disney on Ice Website  |  Like Disney on Ice on Facebook

Disclosure:  We were provided four tickets to attend this event in exchange for hosting a giveaway and providing an honest review.  However, as always – this did not alter my opinions provided.  

Movers and Handy Men in Forsyth County

MoversAndHandyMen

Movers and Handy Men in Forsyth County

Spring and Summer are the biggest times for moving. Whether you are moving a little or a lot, having movers will always help. If you are looking for a mover, we have some recommendations below for you.

We also understand that things can break over the spring and summer around your house and you might need a handy man. We have recommendations for that as well.

To find these recommended movers and handy men in Forsyth County, we did a Facebook post on our Facebook page . We really hope these will help you out! And feel free to share the information with your friends!

Movers:

  • Best Deal Movers
  • Jason Taylor Moving and Storage (Many recommendations for this one!)
  • Two Men and a Truck
  • Pair of Guys Movers
  • Local Guys Moving and Repair

Handy Men:

  • Handy Man Malcolm
  • Elite Homesteads Inc.
  • Daniel Woodman
  • Mark Caron
  • Bell Electric
  • Local Guys Moving and Repair

New Farmer’s Market in Cumming GA

Farmer Markets in Forsyth County

New Farmer’s Market in Cumming GA

New stores and opening in Cumming GA and Forsyth County is always a hot topic (click here for more new business news)!  We love seeing new {good} growth in our county!  And this is one that many of you will be excited about.

Southern Growers (currently sold at the Vickery Village Farmer’s Market on Fridays) is opening a Farmer’s Produce Market & Country Store in North Forsyth County!

Location:  4310 Settendown Village Road, Cumming GA 30041

Store Hours:  Sunday – Noon to 5pm
Monday through Tuesday – closed
Wednesday through Saturday – 8am to 7pm

Grand Opening:  Spring 2014 – Click here for their website with updates.   OR Like on Facebook for more updates too.

More Information

Be sure to check out our past round-up for additional market options in Cumming GA & Forsyth County too.  And those of you still asking about a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods – no change there, but don’t forget we’re still scheduled to get a Sprouts Farmer’s Market at Lakeland Plaza and The Collection has officially included EarthFare on their coming soon banner!

Extermination Companies in Forsyth County

ExterminationCompanies

Extermination Companies in Forsyth County

I’m starting to find spiders all over the place in my house. What about you? I’ve been searching to find a good exterminator here locally. Luckily we did a Facebook poll to find some recommendations of Extermination Companies in Forsyth County. Here is a link to that post. But to make things easier on you, we have the list right here as well!

In no particular order:

  • Arrow
  • Lanier Exterminating
  • Forsyth Exterminating (several recommendations for this one)
  • Allgood Exterminating
  • Pest Ban
  • Pure Defense
  • Elzey Exterminating
  • King Green
  • Earth Conscious Pest Control
  • Crabapple Pest Control
  • ARK Pest Control
  • Skyline Pest Solutions
  • Forever Green
  • Bulwark Pest Control
  • Surguard Exterminating
  • Spencer Pest Services

If you know of any other extermination companies in Forsyth County, please let us know!

Wedding Locations in Forsyth County

Wedding Locations in Forsyth County

Wedding Locations in Forsyth County

It is officially wedding season in Forsyth County. If you are a bride or a friend of a bride that wants to get married here at home, then we have some ideas of places you could get married either here in Forsyth County or very close to Forsyth County. Our Facebook fans helped us create a list of some recommendations on wedding locations in Forsyth County. If you know of other wedding locations in Forsyth County we would love for you to comment on this post and let us know.

  • The Foster House
  • White Oaks
  • Forrest Hills Mountain Resort
  • Autrey Mill
  • The Reid Barn
  • The Wheeler House
  • Gibbs Garden
  • Wolf Mountain Vineyards
  • Brannon-Heard House
  • Waters Mill
  • Windermere Golf Club

Let us know if you have other recommendations!

 Photo Source

Disclaimer: We do our best to provide accurate, useful information about events, activities and small business within Cumming & Forsyth County. Information (including times and locations) is gathered from various sources including press releases, Facebook postings, signs around town, event submissions and word of mouth. We always attempt to confirm details before published. It is possible that details change or we are given inaccurate information. Whenever possible we link our articles to the source or information provided and strongly urge you to confirm details before you go. Cumming Local is in no way responsible for any problems that occur while participating in activities recommended on this site or for any errors & omissions. The goal of this site is to highlight businesses in Cumming, GA – the availability of them and praise ones that I personally love. It is not to provide personal reviews of each, that will be left up to you.