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I’m over on the NYC Moms Blog talking about why I like spring break. Of course, I wrote that post a week ago, before Sunday Monday and Tuesday were lost to crappy crappy weather, and I kept the kids inside out of a combination of laziness and just being damn comfortable in my house when it was windy and wet outside. So Wednesday, finally, we got out.
Jake wanted to go to The Empire State Building, and when we all woke up the sun was shining and the sky was clear and it looked like a perfect day to go to the top of a tall building and see for miles around. But a big breakfast, a big breakfast clean-up, three showers, two loads of laundry, two conference calls, a hundred emails and a post later, things had clouded up again. A call to the Empire State Building to check on the line for the Observation Deck was not helping, since it was between 90 minutes and two hours. But I went ahead and bought tickets anyway, since they’d be good for two years.
Then I went over to Tropicana.com and looked for something else to do in the city, preferably in midtown, that the kids would like. I knew I had a winner with Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a complete tourist-trap of a museum filled with all sorts of gross and weird stuff that I knew my kids would dig. I spent six of my Tropicana Juicy Rewards points on a coupon that would save us a total of $13 off of our tickets, or about 20%. It’s not the biggest money-saver on the Tropicana site – there are lots of museums with buy-one-get-one-free coupons – but since it’s a completely overpriced destination I was happy to save anything.
My coupon printed up no problem. (I was using Explorer, and last time I used Firefox; I can’t even get the site to work at all with Chrome though.) We grabbed a fast-food lunch that was delicious and annoying, and headed down the street to Ripley’s, in the heart of Times Square.
The kids had a fantastic time. Ripley’s has an eclectic collection of stuff, from beautiful ships made out of jade, to shrunken heads, to a piece of coal from the Titanic, to an entire room of torture devices. I don’t know what it says about me, but that room was my favorite. Which is kind-of weird, because just about the only thing that will get me to cringe on TV (besides any kind of reality show with the goal of mating two people) is torture. Start pulling fingernails and I can barely watch. Some of the devices in that room, though, were truly inspired.
There’s also this really weird “black hole tunnel” that looks cool from the outside. It’s basically just a metal catwalk suspended in the middle of a spinning fabric cylinder, with dots of light twirling all around you. Right outside the start of the tunnel is a “cowards exit,” which Jake took immediately. I called after him that the tunnel wasn’t a big deal, I’d hold his hand, but no dice. Fiona walked in with no problem, and I stepped in – I’m talking one step – and almost threw up immediately. I have an inner-ear thing, and my balance has never been great, but nothing has ever affected me like the two seconds I spent in that tunnel. I stepped right back out and joined Jake through the coward’s door. My head didn’t feel right for about two hours.
Fiona, though, wouldn’t let up on Jake until he went all the way through the tunnel with her. I lost track of how many times Fiona went through. I was a little jealous! I could do that stuff when I was five too.
After that, we headed towards the Empire State Building, but stopped in Bryant Park when Jake saw ping-pong tables set up. He wanted to play, but there was just no way – there were lots of adults lined up waiting, and these guys were good. But my kids met two other kids their ages, and the four of them had a great time watching the players and retrieving errant ping-pong balls, while I talked to the thoroughly charming women with the kids – tourists from Ohio who couldn’t quite wrap their heads around how anyone could live in NYC.
At that point I called the Empire State Building again, was told the line was still 90-minutes long, and broke it to the kids that we would have to do that another day. The yelling and protesting started immediately, but I had three words I knew would shut them up: Toys R Us. We headed for the Times Square toy Mecca, and I let the kids each buy a toy. The place was crowded and noisy and the kids had a ball.
After that we headed a few blocks north to grab a quick dinner at Sbarro. Great NYC pizza everywhere, and my kids wanted Sbarro. I was resigned at that point. They’d exhausted me, and they were also behaving well enough that I didn’t want to deny them their crappy, over-priced pizza.
Walking back towards the C train through Times Square I had to steer them away from the dingy costumed characters that pose for pictures and beg for cash. Fiona fell fast asleep on the subway, leaving Jake to talk the ears off of whoever would listen to him. The kid told half the train about our day. It’s cute and funny when I’m there to make sure he doesn’t get off of the train with someone, but I worry about him.
It was fun playing tourist for a day: the constant picture taking, fast food, and over-priced admissions. I was glad to be back in Brooklyn though. Being a tourist is hard work.
Now I’m in Buffalo, and I was just checking out the Tropicana.com site to see which kinds of offers there were for this area. I found two great coupons for Darien Lake, a local amusement park. One of them is a buy-one-get-one-free admissions offer for seven points, which will save us about $34! I’ll definitely be using that one next time we’re in town to visit grandma.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 2. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and the NYC Moms Blog.