Thursday, February 8, 2018

Family Fun and Travel: Christmas At The Island: Pigeon Forge, TN!! #Travel #FamilyFun #PigeonForge #TravelBlogger #Gatlinburg #Smokies #SmokyMountainTravel


Hey Y'all! I wanted to spend a few minutes today to tell you guys about one of our very favorite places in Pigeon Forge! The Island is a HUGE entertainment/shopping/retail/hotel type complex in Pigeon Forge. It's a relatively new place, and has been around for the last few years, but they are still adding to it and getting things in order. It really has come a long way in the past few years, and it is a really great place to hang out. When it comes to family fun in Pigeon Forge, this is a really great pick! 







Where is The Island? The Island is located centrally in Pigeon Forge, right behind the Comedy Barn theater. You really can't miss it, as there is a GIANT Ferris wheel, known as The Wheel! It's super easy to get to The Island, and usually you can walk from just about anywhere in Pigeon Forge. If you are too far away to walk, you can definitely take the trolley from just about anywhere, and if you do decide to drive, keep in mind that they have a shuttle service to get you from the parking lot over to the main shopping and entertainment area. 

So, what will you find when you get there? Oh, just a little bit of everything! There is so much to do at The Island, really, I think you could spend hours there and still not get to see or do everything! There is a ton to do, so let's go over some of the best things! 
EAT: Of course, this is one of the best parts of any vacation, and The Island does not disappoint when it comes to restaurants. You will find Paula Deen's Family Kitchen, Margaritaville, Timberwood Grill and Mellow Mushroom, just to name a few. If you know me, you know I am going to recommend steering clear of the chain restaurants, not only for the financial aspect but for the atmosphere as well. It's not that I am a hater when it comes to big chains, but I would definitely recommend trying out a more local or even regional chain to get more of a feel for the area and really get the full experience. If I was going to recommend a place to eat at The Island, I would go with Timberwood Grill, who has some really great deals on certain days. I would check their Facebook page for more on that. I have also heard great things about Poynor's Pomme Frites, which is a small German food shop. Of course, if you are looking for a bar or an ice cream stand, or of course, a fudge shop, The Island has you covered on those as well! 

PLAY: When it comes to things to do and play at The Island, there is so much you can check out and experience. There are some great fun family things like arcades, as well as the giant Wheel that you can ride and get a great view of the mountains. There really is so much to do, no matter what it is that you have your heart set on, from a ropes course that hangs high above everyone, to an old time carousel, gem mining, and more. Really, there is so much that you can do here, and you can spend a whole day exploring! 

SHOP:  There is also tons of shopping at The Island, and I believe they advertise more than 60 retail shops! There really is something for everyone here, and the great part is that the shops at The Island are small little retail shops, sort of like mall shops, so it doesn't feel like shopping at a huge outlet mall. It really does feel more like walking down Main Street in a small town, and that is the feeling that I love about it! 

THE ISLAND: WILL IT BUDGET!?!  
First of all, shout out to Rhett and Link, who I blatantly stole "Will It" from, please guys, don't sue me, you are already bajillionaires. Next, let's get to my tips for doing The Island on a budget. If you are going to try to attempt this, first of all, let me say, this is going to be a challenge. This place IS, by all definitions of the word, a tourist trap and a money pit. That doesn't make it any less fun, but, really, let's not sugarcoat it. It is what it is, and if you were to just open your wallet at every retail shop, food stand, and fun "thing to do" at The Island, you are going to be walking out of there at least $1000 poorer than when you walked in. 

There are things you can do to lighten the load on your wallet,so listen up. First of all, you are going to want to focus on the EXPERIENCE of this, not the GETTING OF THINGS. (That's a good life lesson by the way folks, so remember that!) If you have kids, I am going to go ahead and recommend that you pack a snack and some drinks when you head over, or else you are going to be "snacked" and "drinked" to death by your kiddos. Now, once you get there, whether you trolley, shuttle, walk over, or drive over, make it all about the experience. Night time is a great time to go, because there are so many lights and beautiful attractions, and just walking around is a gift! 

I cannot overstate how great it is to just walk around, window shop and especially visit the fountains and the light show. This is SO much fun, and you can just sit in the rocking chairs, relax, people watch and enjoy the fountains. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the entire thing! Also great is a visit to Ole Smoky Moonshine, where for the small cost of $5.00, you can do a moonshine tasting that is guaranteed to leave you more than a little tipsy! I also love going in the little shops and looking around, talking to people, and just hanging out. We had a great time, for example, in one of the magic shops, and spent about 45 minutes in there, chatting with the employees and teaching the boys' magic tricks! So much fun! 

All in all, The Island is a great and amazing place, and if you are in town, you will not want to miss visiting it, at least once. This is one of those experiences you can make as cheap or as expensive as you want! Definitely don't forget to check out THIS PAGE for coupons to any of the millions and millions of shops that you can visit on your trip! 

PS: Don't forget to check out all of our other posts about our FAVORITE place in the world, the Great Smoky Mountains! You can read all about things like the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud, The Ripley's Aquarium, The Music Road Inn, Wilderness at The Smokies, and Tips On Choosing A Cabin Or Hotel!! 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Top 5 Must Have Products For Moms of Big Families! #MomLife #MomHacks #StepMom #Blended #MomOf4 #BoyMom #Parenting



Okay guys, I thought it was high time that I write a new post for y'all and share with you some of my newfound wisdom. As many of you know, it was only a few short years ago, that I was a single mama of two little boys. Fast forward to now, and I am suddenly a soon to be married mama/stepmama to FOUR, count them all FOUR kiddos, who are now suddenly 8, 12, 13, and 16. Not only did my boys grow incredibly freaking fast and incredibly freaking big, but I also have been blessed enough to gain two more kiddos! 
Must Have #1: Extra Large Griddle 

Okay, my big family mamas, if you don't already have one of these, you need to get one ASAP. These extra large griddles make cooking SO much easier. I use mine to make grilled cheese (Seriously you guys, I can make NINE grilled cheese at once!) It's also great for pancakes and bacon too, and really helps to cut down on that horrible time when they are all sitting around waiting on dinner, and you can only make one pancake or one grilled cheese at a time. Seriously, this has been a game changer in our house, and I love mine! They are also pretty inexpensive, so they are a pretty good investment! 

Must Have #2: Post Its

I know, I know, you guys already know about post its, but let me tell you how they have really changed things for us. Now, I am not a "Martha Stewart" mama, and I have tried multiple times to incorporate some kind of chore chart or system, to no avail. They just don't work for us, no matter what different kind of Pinterest Fail I come up with. However, tiny little post its have become the best possible thing for us when it comes to chores. I have the really small, square Post Its, and during the day, I look around the house for things that need to be done when the kids get home from school. It's usually only a couple of small things, but just enough so that the house doesn't get messy and that they can have a little bit of responsibility. 

I stick the Post Its to the front of the fridge, and the kids come in from school, grab a snack, and grab their Post Its, and do their chores right away. It has become a habit now, and they know to expect their Post It. Get this: THEY EVEN ASK ME WHEN THEY AREN'T THERE!!! I am not kidding. So, yeah, simple is better. Write some stuff on a Post It. Make the kids do it, and they will do it. Life is good. Note: My kids are big kids, so this is much easier for me than it would be for a mom of small kiddies. 

Must Have #3: Cool Soap
Yes, it sounds stupid. But I am telling you the truth. Once upon a time. Nobody here washed their hands. I kept regular old white Dial squirty hand soap in both the bathrooms and the kitchen. Bottles of hand soap would last MONTHS, since nobody was washing their hands. Well, if you are as paranoid of a mom about germs as I am, you understand that this just can't be a thing. Enter the lifesaver: Cool Hand Soap. 

Really, I don't know why it matters, but once I replaced the plain, white, boring soap with fun soaps, like bright colored ones, foam soaps, or delicious smelly ones from BBW, miraculously, the kids want to wash their hands. Now, a bottle of hand soap lasts about 2 weeks, and somebody is always washing hands. Now, are they wasting soap? Probably. Are they wasting water? Also probably, but I don't care as long as they are at least making it look like they are washing their hands, and it makes me feel better. So, do a soap upgrade, and see if you notice a change. 

Must Have #4: Water Dispenser 

Yep, I am talking about a full on water cooler, like the one you have in your office. When it got to the point that the kids were tearing through an entire case of bottled waters in two days, I knew we had to figure out something different. Of course I am never going to tell the kiddies that they can't have water, since I WANT them to drink more water. Enter the water dispenser. Now, we got a really nice one at Walmart, and I think the initial expense was about $179. We got two of the big five gallon water jugs, so we can swap them out whenever we need to, and to fill it up is about $1.50 each time. 

So far, this is working great for us! The kids all got their very own water bottles, and they fill them up all the time, whenever they want. They are drinking MORE water, we aren't having so much wasted plastic water bottles. It might seem a little bit weird that we do this, but for our big family, it's actually been perfect. Not to mention the fact that we got a water dispenser that has hot water as well, so the kids can also make their own hot chocolate, oatmeal and ramen noodles, so it's a great thing in our household! 

Must Have #5: Charts, Charts, and Charts! 

I can NOT tell you how much CHARTS have changed my parenting life. Being a mom is not easy, and being a step mom is even harder. Multiply that by FOUR kids and trust me, being organized and writing things down is a MUST DO. In our house, charts rule! There are charts on the side of the fridge, for everything! Some of the things that charts have helped with in our home: whose day it is to sit in the front seat of the car on the way to school, whose day it is to help with dinner, whose laundry day it is, who gets to make dessert, who has to do what chores, and who gets to have a sleepover in whose room. It sounds a little bit crazy, but really, it is the ONLY way to keep things straight and keep from fighting about really crazy and stupid things! 

Okay y'all, there you have my first top five tips for managing your big families. I am by NO means an expert on this, but just hoping to pass along some really great tips for things that have helped our family! 

Get The Parenting Answers With A Great New Book By Dr. Tanya Altmann!!



You guys. Seriously. I can not believe that it has been so long since I had a baby in the house! It's crazy, really it is. I recently got a review copy of a great new book for new parents to pass on to my sister for her upcoming baby, and it really got me thinking. It really took me back to the days when my oldest on was born, which has now been close to 12 years ago!

As most of you know, my parents passed away when I was a teenager. As for extended family, I have spent most of my adult life with no extended family to speak of, aside from my wonderful family that I inherited a few years ago from my husband to be! Needless to say, this made for a very stress inducing and scary time for a 20 year old brand new first time mama. Actually, this is where the name "Flip Out Mama" came from, the exaggerated and extra large freak outs that I would have from time to time (ok, all the time!) as a brand new mom.

With no one to call, no one to ask, and no freaking clue what I was doing, those first few years of mommyhood where quite stressful. I remember being super stressed about knowing whether my baby was hot or cold. Did he need socks? Did he need an extra jacket or blanket? Or was I actually burning him up and he was secretly wishing I would take the damn blanket off? UGH, so hard to know at the beginning! When my little guy was 4 months old, I noticed a bulge in his little belly when changing his diaper. It turned out to be a hernia, but did I know that at the time? Absolutely not! It would have been SO nice to have a resource to turn to, no matter the time of the day or night, to answer those pressing and sometimes embarrassing to ask questions.

That's why I'm really excited to share this new book with you guys. It's called "Baby And Toddler Basics: Expert Answers To Parents' Top 150 Questions", and it's written by Dr. Tanya Altmann, who is a renowned practicing pediatrician who founded Calabasas Pediatrics and an assistant clinical professor at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA.  She is an American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson and is the author of several books. 

Dr. Tanya is a top-selling author and contributes her expert advice to leading media outlets including the TODAY Parenting Team, Live with Kelly, The Doctors, USA Today, Parents, Real Simple, Redbook and dozens of other media outlets. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and 3 sons. 

I was really excited to check out this book, and to pass it on to my sister, who is expecting her first baby. Even though she has way more in the way of "a village" than I did when I was a new mommy, I am still excited for her to have this great resource at her fingertips when she is in the trenches of new mommy-dom! This book is super cute, and has a ton of great information in it. I love that it is all laid out in easy to read Q&A form, and it's super easy to find what you are looking for. The book covers the basics, from basic baby care, to the ever popular poop questions, to what to do when kids are sick, sleep issues, and more. It really is a great read, and a great resource for moms (and dads too!) to have on hand for those times when you really don't know what the heck to do!

This is a really great asset for new mommies, and if you know someone who would benefit from such a great book, definitely check it out HERE! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Taking Better Care of My Skin With Era Organics Tea Tree Oil Cleanser and Tea Tree Oil Face Cream! #Review #Skincare #Beauty #Organics


Do we need to mention the fact that I will turn 32 in 21 days? No, i do not think that we do need to mention that. And, yes, I am aware that my blog bio STILL says that I am 27. No, I do not want to change that. We are good, just let it be.

Anyways, as I continue to (somehow, all the time) get older, I am really starting to notice some changes in my skin. It's rough, this aging crap, and it is really starting to get me down. The dark circles, the random acne breakouts like I am 13 years old, the weird age lines or random chin hairs. Come on, this really isn't fair, and what did I do to deserve this? Okay, maybe it was all those times I went to the pool with no sunscreen, or slept in my makeup, or how I continue to eat like a college frat boy every single day. Hmm, come to think of it, it might be time to try to do something about this!

I recently received some products from Era Organics to check out and try to help my horrible mom skin. I was really excited to try these, as Era Organics uses, well, all organic ingredients to make it's skin care products. My face is probably going to write me a thank you note after 31.99 years of using horrible chemicals on it. I received the Tea Tree Oil Cleanser, which I have really enjoyed. The cleanser includes natural ingredients like, obviously tea tree oil, but also things like aloe vera, St. John's Wort, and Dandelion Root. It is so refreshing to use something like this on my skin, and feels  very soothing every time I use it. This is a great product and I have really enjoyed the fact that it is good for all skin types, conditions and issues, so no matter what my crazy skin is doing, I can use this product. I am not sure if I am noticing a difference yet or if it is all in my head, but I love the way my skin feels after using this product, and that is what matters!

I also received the Tea Tree Oil Cream. This is a great cream which is useful for breakouts, and acne prone, oily skin. I have been letting my teens use this as well, as they are right in breakout city these days! Just like the cleanser, this cream is soothing and refreshing, and I really do think it has been making a difference in the acne cycles of my kids (and me!). It only takes a small amount to cover your whole face, and the kids have been using it at night after they shower, and I have to say I am really impressed with the results.

I am really happy with both of these products that I have been blessed enough to review from Era Organics. This is a great company that offers tons of products that are safe for the whole family. I love the fact that they even have baby products! So exciting! If you are looking for a new skin care regimen for you or for any members of your family, I would advise you to check out Era Organics, as I have been very impressed with them!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hatfield And McCoy Dinner Feud Pigeon Forge TN!! #Smokies #TravelBlogger #PF #PigeonForge #Gatlinburg #Vacay #TravelBlogger


Are you looking for something fun to do with your family in the Smoky Mountains? I'm getting ready to tell y'all about something to do for the WHOLE family that everyone is going to enjoy. I'm serious, so you better pay attention! 

We just got back from our Spring Break trip to Pigeon Forge, TN. As most of you know, the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee are about 3 hours away from our house, and are also the most beautiful and wonderful and amazing place on the face of the Earth (look it up, it's true!). It might also just happen to be my favorite place in the whole entire world. So, you can trust me when I tell you I am pretty well versed in things to do in the area. 

I'm also going to be the first to tell you that I love a dinner show. There's something about getting all dressed up and going out with the whole family at night. The kids love dinner shows too, we have been to several on our various trips to the area. I really like dinner shows because, as the mom, it takes care of both the entertainment, and the dinner. And come on, especially when you are on vacation, the last thing you want to do is worry about dinner! 

Anyways, the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud is located in Seiverville, just north of Pigeon Forge. If you are coming into town, it's right between the "upside down house" (Wonderworks!) and the "giant boat" (Titanic Museum). It is SUCH a fun atmosphere, just look at the outside of the building! The whole thing is fun, it starts right when you pull up! I mean, there is a petting zoo outside for crying out loud! 

I'm going to tell you right now, this show is over the top. Everything, the food, the performers, the music, all of it! That's the fun of it, and there really is nothing better! This is the one dinner show in the area that has been able to hold the attention of my ENTIRE family, small kids to teenagers to husbands! My whole family agreed that this show was definitely the highlight of our trip! 

It's so much fun! You get your pictures taken, you get to hang out and browse around the gift shop, which is full of cool, unique "redneck" items, and then you go in and are seated at your table, where you are served an AMAZING, family style, all you can eat meal! It's sooo good! 

Look At This Food!!
This is the most fun our whole family has had in a long time, especially all of us hanging out and doing things together! Like I mentioned earlier, when I asked the whole family after our trip, this was all agreed to be the most fun part of our trip!




We really did have an amazing time! This was by far the highlight of our trip! I highly highly recommend this show, and I'd love to check out the Christmas show the next time that we are in town! It's such a fun, family friendly atmosphere that's hard to find anywhere else, and it was something that we will all remember forever! Loved it! If you want to find out more about the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud, check out their website here! 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Ripley's Aquarium Of The Smokies: Our #Review #Smokies #SmokyMountains #Gatlinburg #PigeonForge #Vacay #TravelBlogger



One of the highlights of our trip to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg  was our trip to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies! If I had to completely and totally honest, this was our favorite part of the trip! I will admit, I wasn't too sure at first... I knew that the boys were going to have a great time at the aquarium, but I didn't think I would. I am more of a "zoo" type of girl, and I honestly expected to be in and out and done within an hour or so.. I mean, it was just fish and stuff, right? 

WRONG! 

I think that I had the most fun of anyone during our trip to the aquarium, believe it or not!  First of all, the building itself is pretty spectacular. Even during the day, when it's not all lit up and cool, it is gorgeous! Just a really cool place! 

We went to the aquarium first thing in the morning on our second day of our trip. It was pretty chilly, around mid forties, but nothing like I was anticipating with snow, etc.. We actually had some tornado warnings, and the parking lot where we parked the car got completely flooded during our visit! Crazy Winter Weather!!! 


Anywho, back to the aquarium. First of all, we picked up our media tickets at the ticket desk. Everyone was so friendly and helpful! It was so nice to be able to chat and relax with the customer service people! Sometimes a review visit is ruined for me before I even begin by rude or just unfriendly service, but not this time! It was such a welcome change! 

I would like to say that this place is absolutely spectacular! It is so nicely done, big and spacious and airy. Not dark and musty like other aquariums I have been to. Like I said before, I had more fun than anyone else! We ended up staying for something crazy like four and a half hours! It's so nicely done, and being late January, the whole place was almost completely deserted, which I have to say that I loved! 




The jellyfish were one of our family's favorite parts! I got some great pictures of them and the boys were just beside themselves in amazement! They really couldn't believe what they were seeing LOL! The only jellyfish they have ever even heard of were from Spongebob, so seeing one up close and personal really did it for them! 



I really thought that perhaps the aquarium's wonderful ratings on TripAdvisor (#1 attraction!! Excellent!!) were overrated... I mean, how cool could an aquarium be? But, I was SO wrong! This place deserves every single award and word of praise! With over 10,000 sea creatures and more than 350 different species, my family really and truly did get a chance to see things that we have never dreamed of! 


Next favorite part? The tunnel! How could you not love a tunnel, with a glass top, and moving floor!? You can see everything in that tunnel,and watching the sharks, turtles, and other amazing creatures swim over your head was really amazing! You can stay on the moving floor and pass through on your own, or if you need to step off and get a closer look, you can do that too! 

The aquarium just keeps right on coming! The giant crabs were another awesome part that the boys really enjoyed as well! I think my sister and I had our own favorite part! There is this really cool shark tank, where you can stick your head up and see a shark up close and personal.. Well, this shark that was in the tank, we aren't sure if he loved us or wanted to eat us, but he really was interested in us. We would go from one side of the tank to the other, and he followed us back and forth and back and forth. It was so funny! I think he probably wanted to eat us, but I will pretend that we loved us and that's why he was hanging out with us! Haha! 

Another one of our favorite parts was the penguins! Who doesn't love penguins!? We spent a good hour at the penguin exhibit, checking them all out and having a great time! Be sure to check out the gift shop on your way out, we got some amazing treasures there that my boys really have enjoyed since our visit! 

I can't believe I underestimated this aquarium! If you have never been, you need to go NOW! You really won't regret it, I promise! I can't tell you much about crowds, but I hear that after 4pm every day is a great time to go... Of course with it being January/tornado/flooding/snowy weather on our trip, we didn't have to worry about crowds haha! 

If you get hungry, there's a great little restaurant inside the aquarium called The Feeding Frenzy! Combos are around $9 for adults, $6 for kids.. Not too pricey considering where you are and what you're doing! You want to also make sure to hang around to touch a stingray in the stingray bay! Divers bring them around every few minutes to make sure everyone gets a turn! 


Here's some more important info: 


Hours: OPEN DAILY 365 Day a Year

January – February: Mon-Thurs 9am to 8pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
March – Memorial Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 9pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
Memorial – Labor Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 10pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 11pm

Labor Day – New Year’s Day: Mon-Thurs 9am to 9pm; Fri-Sun 9am to 10pm
Adult — from $21.99
Child (3-11) — from $13.99
Children 2 & under — FREE

disclosure: i received complimentary tickets to this attraction in exchange for my honest review. All opinions, as always, are my own! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Our Stay At The Music Road Inn- Pigeon Forge, TN #Review #PigeonForge #Gatlinburg #Smokies #Vacay #TravelBlogger

Well, now that we are back from vacation and everyone is done throwing up, (more on that later!), I can finally tell you guys a little bit about how it went! In a word-fabulous! We had such a great time, and can't wait to go back again soon! 

We had the privilege of spending our time at the Music Road Inn in Pigeon Forge. The hotel itself was absolutely beautiful, and the people there, even better! The hotel itself is just beautiful, and the lobby looks like something out of a movie set! The giant fireplace just made the whole place feel so warm and cozy, like coming home! Check in was an absolute breeze, and Michelle at the front desk was super helpful and friendly. I have to say that we felt welcome right away, and that is definitely a nice feeling! 

Our room was a standard double queen room, and it was beautiful! My sister decided to come with us, so it was three adults and two kiddos, and the room was plenty big enough for all of us! I have two favorite parts of the room: the first one is the bathroom! I know, I know, that sounds crazy, but really! The bathroom is split off into two parts. One half has the toilet and shower, and the other half has a huge vanity with double sink, bench seat, and huge mirrored closet. I loved that! It was so nice to have room to spread out and even sit down when getting ready, because I sure don't get to do that here at home in our tiny house LOL! 

My other favorite part? The view! We had a waterpark view room, which would have been fabulous in the Summer, to watch everyone on the water slide and in the pool from our balcony, but alas, it was still Winter.. However, the view of the mountains in the background absolutely made my stay! I spent most of my time out on the balcony looking at the view! What a beautiful sight to be able to wake up to every morning! 

The beds in our room were fabulous! They were too tall for my small guy, however, and we had to end up asking for extra pillows and blankets to make him a bed in the floor.. This was after he fell off of the bed like five times in the first hour we were there.. I guess he will just always be my clumsy one lol! But, for everyone else, the beds were great! Just ask my dear sweet hubs, who wanted to sleep til noon everyday! 

We had a great time at the Music Road Inn, and I am so glad that we did decide to go in the Winter, although I had my doubts before we left home... It was so peaceful and quiet there and I bet we probably only encountered ten other guests the entire time! I know this is a big difference from what it is like during the busier times of the year, so I enjoyed the peace and quiet, and the perks of being the only ones around! 

The boys had a blast in the indoor pool (and me in the hot tub LOL!), even though us adults thought it was freeeeeezing! I swear, my kids would swim outside in the snow if there was a pool out there! They just don't care! We really liked the fact that the indoor pool was open 24 hours. It was a great treat to be able to just take Tater down to the pool and leave Bean upstairs with Nanny at night time, and be able to spend some one on one time with him. He hardly ever gets a chance to not have his little brother shoved in his face, so he really reveled in his "alone time" LOL. 


We, of course, also spent a lot of time in the arcade, winning all sorts of prizes. My boys (and hubby too!) all have weaknesses for video games, and arcade games, especially the ones where you win a prize... Needless to say, $15 later, we won Bean a ball, and that is about it. (Hey, I said they like games, not that they are good at them! ha!) Oh, and I can't believe I forgot to mention FREE HBO! I am so cheap, I refuse to pay for both HBO and Showtime at home (got to have that Showtime for Homeland and Dexter!), so I was thrilled to be able to watch HBO :) Ahh, perks of vacation! 

Oh my goodness, I can't forget breakfast! Part of the reason that drew us to the Music Road Inn in the first place was the complimentary breakfast. No one in my crew (except me of course) is a morning person. Getting my three guys up, dressed, and off to breakfast at a restaurant is a real chore. Plus, once I get them to breakfast, I pay for all of these meals that no one eats. I mean really.. Bean wants like a tiny drop of scrambled egg and a piece of bacon, and Tater will eat one piece of toast and a banana. Is that really worth me driving the car to a restaurant, sitting down, ordering, waiting, and all that? I think not. The breakfast here was AWESOME! I had heard about the homemade cinnamon rolls before we even checked in, and yes, they do live up to the hype! I loved the fact that the breakfast room was big enough for a bunch of people,and you didn't have to feel crowded and claustrophobia didn't set in! I give breakfast a definite approval here, and that is a big deal coming from my crew! 

I have to say, we really enjoyed our stay at the Music Road Inn, and I especially enjoyed the great job that the maid service did on our rooms while we were there. Super clean, all the time!  Our initial plan was to check out Music Road this time, and then try out a different hotel when we come back during the Summer months, but I really think after our experience there this time, that this will be our new home away from home when we come to The Smokies. I don't even think we need to try to search for another hotel. The staff at Music Road Inn was so nice and really made us feel welcome, I don't ever want to go anywhere else! I can't wait to come back in the Summer when we can swim in the outdoor pool and check out the water slide! (I don't know what I'm talking about, I will be in lazy river for the duration of the next trip, watch and see!) 

I do wish I would have gotten a few more pictures of our room, though. I had big plans to do a bunch of photos of the whole hotel on Saturday morning before we were heading out, but... we had an issue that involved my oldest son catching the flu and throwing up on every tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee (Okay, I am exaggerating, but only a little!) Needless to say, when coupled with the impending Snowstorm Of Doom that was hitting later in the day on Saturday,we decided it would be best to just head on home before things got worse. So, I am going to post a few pictures of Music Road Inn from their website too, just so you can see the things I missed! 

If you are looking for a real family friendly hotel in the Smokies, Music Road Inn should be the one that you pick! I know how happy I am with our stay, and my family really had a great time! If you are interested in checking out their website for yourself, you can click here to go there directly. Or, you can be sure to follow Music Road Inn on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news, discounts, and promotions! Thanks again, Music Road Inn staff, and we will be seeing you again real soon! 

We received a complimentary stay in exchange for this post. However, all views, thoughts and opinions are 100% our own. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review: Wilderness At The Smokies Resort - Sevierville, TN #Review #Wilderness #PigeonForge #Gatlinburg #Smokies #TravelBlogger

Disclosure: Our family was given a two nights complimentary stay at Wilderness at the Smokies in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are 100% our own. 

Our family recently concluded our Smoky Mountain vacation with two wonderful nights at Wilderness at the Smokies Resort in Sevierville,TN, which is just north of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Tater, our oldest, has been eyeing this place for years, since we drive past it every time we head to the Smokies. We actually didn't tell the boys that we were headed to Wilderness, we told them we were headed home, and then we surprised them when we got there by telling them we were really spending two extra nights on vacation. Needless to say, they were pumped! 

Our room was an awesome bunk suite located in River Lodge. (River Lodge is the hotel connected to the Wild Waterdome Indoor Waterpark, as well as Lake Wilderness Outdoor Water Park. Salamander Springs Outdoor Waterpark is located across the street at Stone Hill Lodge.) This was a perfect room for us! Our room included a queen bed, and a twin/queen bunk bed, separated by a wall. It also contained a pull out twin sleeper sofa as well. There was plenty of room for the four of us in this room, which was great! It was wonderful to be able to spread out a little bit! Tater took the top bunk without hesitation, and it was so cute to see our sweet little Bean in the queen bed all by himself! The room also featured a microwave and fridge, and a small table and chairs. The best part for us was the private balcony which featured not only views of the awesome Lake Wilderness Outdoor Waterpark but also a few beautiful mountain views as well. The rooms at Wilderness at the Smokies are decorated really beautifully, sort of like a rustic cabin, but still very modern as well. I also loved that there were two flat screen tv's in the room so that we could watch our own thing while the boys watch their own thing! We did have an issue with one of the tv's in our room, but maintenance  was able to switch it out for us and get us another one fast! We loved the room, I could have stayed there forever! 



However, we had MUCH more to do than just hang out in the room the entire time! Our first stop was, where else? The indoor waterpark! It really is an amazing place, there isn't another way to describe it! If you've never been somewhere like this before, you're in for a real treat, and maybe a bit of a shock. The entire indoor waterpark is just incredibly huge and a bit overwhelming, but in a good way! 
Photo Credit: Wilderness at the Smokies
 This place is awesome! We had so much fun, I honestly could have stayed a few more days! There is just so much to do in the Wild Waterdome section, not to mention anywhere else! The big boys (Dad and Tater) had a great time in the wave pool, they stayed there the majority of the time! I love the wave pool better than anything else, but my little guy was a bit intimidated by it, so we hung out in the kiddie area most of the time. The water there is only around a foot deep, and it has a seesaw, sprinklers, swings, and slides. It's perfect for little ones! My big boys had more fun than everyone else, though, no question about it! They rode the Storm Chaser, which is the huge funnel ride that you can see from out on the highway! I would have had a heart attack on that thing! My hubby said that Tater LOOKED like he was going to have a heart attack, but by the time he climbed off the raft, he was begging to go back again! 


Tater even somehow got me on the Runaway Canyon waterslide raft ride, I don't even know how that happened, but I thought I was going to die! I did have fun though, but I spent a few minutes in complete terror! (Mom does NOT like roller coasters, scary rides, waterslides, or anything like that!) I did survive though, and I actually rode the thing twice! It was pretty fun, once I faced my fears! There is also a huge indoor pool which is three feet deep all the way around, and it has basketball goals inside it. The boys had a great time in there, and I had to drag them out of there when it was time to leave! However, I have to say that the biggest hit of our entire time at the Wild Waterdome was the Smokies Surf Rider! This body surfing ride was their highlight of the trip! My hubs only rode the Surf Rider once, and he really took a tumble! He didn't do it again, I think he was a little bit embarrassed! However, Mr. Tater LOVED the Surf Rider and he just kept on, probably ten or fifteen times! We have a hilarious video of one of his attempts, I will upload it in a little bit! 
We had a great dinner at the Thirsty Miner restaurant, located on the second floor of the River Lodge. How convenient is it that you can eat a real, sit down meal without even leaving your hotel! Love it! The Thirsty Miner has a great deal too, Kids Eat Free with a paying adult meal purchase. We stayed during the week, so our kiddos got a free kid's meal, but if you stay on the weekend, you can get the buffet, and kids get a free buffet too. The food at the Thirsty Miner was really good, and with the kids eat free deal it was cheaper for us than going out to dinner. Plus, we didn't have to leave the hotel, which is definitely worth it! The Thirsty Miner is just one of tons of restaurants or snack bars on site, so you can always get something to eat or drink no matter where you are! 

It would be hard for me to say whether we spent most of our time at the Wild Waterdome or in the all new Adventure Forest dry play area. I think it's probably pretty close to even! My boys (all three of them!) are arcade lovers, so we spent a ton of time there! The arcade is not my favorite thing, but I still had a great time there, and Bean was absolutely thrilled that his daddy won a giant Adventure Forest ball for him from one of the machines! There are so many things to do in the Adventure Forest area, not just the arcade! There's a bowling alley, a snack bar, black light mini golf, a laser maze, laser tag, a rock climbing wall, a huge ropes course, and more! Seriously, enough to keep you and your kids busy for days! I'd say our favorite part was Cubs Climbing Den, which is like a McDonald's Play Land on steroids! It was absolutely huge, and even though Bean took a tumble and ended up with a bloody nose, he was begging to go back in as soon as we patched him up! We had a ton of fun at the Adventure Forest! You can buy credits for each attraction separate, but I would highly recommend buying an "all day" pass or an "all stay" pass, so you can play as much as you want! It's really a great deal! 

See this beautiful view? This is exactly what we saw from our hotel room! Lake Wilderness Outdoor Waterpark looks like SO much fun! I didn't get the chance to go over to Salamander Springs and check out that Waterpark, but the pictures we saw look amazing! That's one thing I can say for certain about Wilderness at the Smokies- what you see is what you get. The pictures on the website really do truly represent the hotel, which is not always the case. It's nice to know that with this resort, you can trust the website to be a guide for you in planning your trip.
My boys and I are already planning a trip back to Wilderness when the outdoor waterparks are open. We have a LOT more adventures planned for this resort already! The boys want to bring their nanny with us next time, so we will have to plan on getting a bigger room, or a suite to fit all of us. I know that Wilderness will have plenty of options for us, no matter what we choose! (Also, if you are trying to plan what to pack for your stay at Wilderness, I would highly recommend going comfy with yoga pants, tee shirts and tennis shoes. If you want some ideas of the perfect clothes to pack, check out this post from GearWare!) 

 Some important things to remember about Wilderness At The Smokies: 

  • Don't forget KIDS EAT FREE at the Thirsty Miner restaurant! It's a great deal! 
  • Make sure to check out the "All Stay" pass for Adventure Forest, another great deal! 
  • Towel cards are also provided for your towels at the waterpark. Simply exchange your card for a towel, then when you're done, exchange your towel for a card.. Easy as that! 
  • Lifejackets and tubes are provided in the waterpark, so don't worry about those.
  • Arrive before check in? No worries! You can preregister for your room and start playing in the waterpark right away!
  • Same goes for check out: you can check out of your room and spend the rest of the day in the waterpark. This is a great way to get extra time to play! 
  • Don't forget all the extra amenities on site: the gift shop, candy shop, paint your own pottery studio, fitness center, laundry room and more! Spend some time just exploring the hotel, there really is so much to see! 
  • You can rent Redbox movies in the lobby of both Stone Hill Lodge and River Lodge if you want something special to watch on your stay! 
  • Make sure to follow Wilderness at the Smokies on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date with news, deals and promotions before you book your stay! 

Thank you to the great folks at Wilderness at the Smokies for hosting us and helping us to make some great memories! We'll definitely be back! 
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