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The Puppet Co presents Aladdin

Show poster Aladdin The Puppet Co in Glen Echo MD It is not too late to see Aladdin at The Puppet Co in Glen Echo Park! (Glen Echo MD) I took my boys to see this 50 minute puppet production, and I couldn’t be more glad I did. The phrase “puppet show” may or may not bring to mind a sophisticated theatrical performance, but productions by The Puppet Co are very sophisticated. Aladdin is running through March 15, with shows on Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. See their Calendar for details.

The Puppet Co in Glen Echo MD Waiting in line
The lobby display cases showcase puppets from past productions.

From the very first scene where the magician has summoned an other-worldy assistant to the very last, the effects are spectacular. My 7 year old declared the Magician “creepy” and said the opening scene made him nervous something bad was going to happen. This kid has seen pretty much everything contemporary animation has to offer him, so if he thought the bad guy was “creepy,” then trust me, he was! My three year old was under the recommended age for this performance, and he did have trouble lasting the entire 50 minutes. Fortunately, the performance is shown on screens in the lobby during the show, so when he finally lost all ability to hang about 10 minutes before the end, we were able to watch the conclusion anyway. His favorite part of the production was without a doubt the arrival of the princess, mounted on an elephant. The elephant puppet was large enough to conceal the operator inside it, which may not actually be “life size,” but was plenty impressive for us.

As an adult, I loved this production as well. Not only did I enjoy the telling of the story, I was able to appreciate the skillful way the operation of the puppets contributed to the effects of appearances and disappearances, and I adore the way they use a projection screen behind the action to give the audience a feeling of distance in the action. For instance, when the magician flies off on his magic carpet, he makes his departure into the wings, and then we see his shadow sail off into the distance by the light of the moon. It’s very effective, not just as a transition, but as a part of the action.

Puppets and pupetteers of Aladdin Meet & Greet The Puppet Co Glen Echo MD
The talented performers visiting with their audience after the show.

What to know before you go:

There is plenty of parking at Glen Echo Park, but the parking area is a short and pleasant walk from the puppet theater. Allow yourself enough time to park and make the walk, particularly if you need to get your tickets at Will call. There is no food or drink allowed in the performances, with the exception of bottles, sippy cups, and tightly covered water bottles. Photography is not allowed during the show, but bring your camera for the Puppets & Puppeteers meet & greet after the show. Smoke effects are used during the show, but there are no strobes or flashing lights, and the volume is reasonable. There were toddlers in attendance, and none of them were startled or frightened by loud noises. Most The Puppet Co seating is floor seating, meaning sitting on the carpet, but there are bench seats around the room for adults with or without children on laps.

Kisses for Aladdin The Puppet Co Glen Echo MD
Meet the puppets: Kisses for Aladdin after the show

Show & Ticket Information

From ancient Persia comes this lavish and entrancing tale, true to the original “One Thousand and One Arabian Nights,” full of genies, wizards, magic caves, exotic princesses, and an elephant!  Half life-size rod puppets and exciting special effects make this production exciting and exotic theater.

Age Recommendation: K-Grade 8 • Running Time: 50 Minutes

Buy Tickets Here

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The most kid friendly museum you have ever seen is here!

Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium Baltimore Sidewalk View Joy Makin' Mamas ReviewWhen I was offered passes to visit the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium in Baltimore in order to facilitate a review, I was pleased, intrigued… and a bit skeptical. I wasn’t skeptical of the quality of the museum, but many outings with my kids have proven that they are the ULTIMATE litmus test for how family friendly an activity is. If it’s not going to hold a kid’s interest or there is some major flaw in the execution of the activity, my kids will be the ones to exploit it and take the whole thing down in (hopefully metaphorical) flames. And this is the part where some internet know it all usually chimes in to say I’m a terrible parent and that their children are perfectly lovely in every imaginable situation. I shall consider various responses, such as “yes I am,” “so what,” and/or “liar, liar, pants on fire”… And then discard them to point out that surely anything that has been tested and approved by my rowdy outlaws will be perfectly safe and lovely for any nonexistent paragon of ideal childhood. (Not that YOU would ever tempt fate by smugly pointing out that YOUR children of course are well brought up and would never embarrass you by misbehaving… because I know that you have met Karma and are too smart to fall for her wily ways.)Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium Stone Ball Baltimore Joy Makin' Mamas Review

I’m going to have a hard time not telling you about EVERY single thing that there is to see and do in the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, but part of the fun is turning a corner into the unexpected. And I despise spoilers. So I won’t do that to you, but I will tell you that the museum starts pulling the kids in from the very get go. The Oddities begin out in front of the museum, and the front of the building is open to pull you into the experience. I loved the wooden automobile, but the dudes predictably went for the giant transformer made of old car parts. Ripley’s obviously had their number from the word “go,” and there was never a point where the kids lost interest, got bored, or otherwise wanted to go home. In other words, they didn’t flame out. We spent two hours exploiting the triple combo option to the fullest, and although we had several tired and hungry children on our hands when it was over, they were also smiling and cheerful. Our favorite highlights of the visit were Hogwarts (that’s all I’ll say…), the psychedelic dance room, the secret passage, and the mirror maze. The mirror maze is available as an add on or a stand alone option, and is closer than I ever thought I’d be to feeling like I’d been set loose to wander around inside the TARDIS. That’s only scraping the surface, so if none of those sound like your family’s cup of tea, never fear.Ripley's Believe It Or Not Baltimore Mirror Maze Joy Makin' Mamas Review

For help in planning your trip, let me talk about strollers. I have taken some variety of stroller to and into almost every place that they are allowed over the course of the last seven and a half years, and I can tell you that this is NOT a stroller friendly museum. I assume there must be an elevator somewhere, and I’m sure they conform to all the clearances specified by the ADA. I cannot find anything that says they are actually forbidden, but we went without our stroller and were glad we did. This was our first major expedition as a family of four with no stroller along to serve as a bag minder and emergency nap location. I was nervous, but we rocked it! Potty training may have scarred me for life while we were doing it, but there is no denying that it frees you up to travel light, at long last. All of which is to say, I cannot tell you what a visit to this museum would be like with a stroller, but my extensive stroller experiences lead me to recommend you go without it. If you can carry or wear younger ones, you won’t miss out on things like the musical staircase or worry that your parked buggy is blocking the traffic flow for other visitors. Part of the museum’s charm is that, since there are many “touch me” activities, there is very little “dead” space on the exhibit floors. And since you are continually pulled forward to the next fun surprise, you won’t want to backtrack to collect your empty stroller. And it WILL be empty, because even toddlers will want to be out and able to explore here. Stroller free is the right call here for most people.

The movie experience was the perfect finish to this adventure. Two animated shorts take you on a simulated 3-D “ride” along with kid-friendly cartoon characters. Sensitive kids may find this too stimulating, but be aware that if you want to try it out, there is nothing to prevent you from leaving at any point, and there is an intermission after the first (and shorter) segment to allow anyone who needs one a chance to exit.

Lastly, I feel like I should mention is that this experience is loud. I don’t mean rock concert or industrial manufacturing level of loud, I just mean that it’s pretty much always noisy. This is not a hushed, reverent museum experience. It’s very much a “loud thing” approved kind of place. Check out the slideshow for more highlights, and if you’ve been, let me know what your family thought!


Disney on Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic show review + photos

disney on ice 100 years of magic show review by Joy Makin' Mamas

Before I tell you what I thought about the show, please read this weather related updated regarding Verizon Center shows for 2/13/14:

Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic weather updates

Dori and Nemo at Disney on Ice 100 Years of Magic

Ticket exchange available due to potential inclement weather; All shows will go on as scheduled at Verizon Center

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 12, 2014) – All shows for Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic at Verizon Center will go on as scheduled from February 12 – 17, 2014. Due to the potential for inclement weather on Thursday, Feb. 13, ticket exchanges will be made available for the two Thursday shows for the Sunday or Monday performances. To exchange tickets please visit the Verizon Center box office. Refunds will not be offered unless a performance is canceled.

For those looking to escape the snow with the kids, head to Verizon Center to join 65 of Disney’s most unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories. Guests of all ages will be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, the beloved Disney Princesses, and other favorites including Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio, Buzz Lightyear, Woody and many more.

Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic will be at Verizon Center through Monday, Feb. 17. Tickets are still available for all shows. Get tickets here. Continue reading Disney on Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic show review + photos

Your kid will love Monster Jam ® more than cookies.

Monster Jam will knock your socks off. (Possibly literally!) To experience this fine example of modern pageantry, find show dates at the Monster Jam® website. It was even more fun than cookies. (But less filling.) Before you do, read on for more about the show!
Monster Jam Monster Truck Show is fantastic.

From the show description: Monster trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, monster trucks generate almost 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. They whirl and fly 130 feet into the air, amazing audiences of all ages.
Date Published: 01/25/2014
My kid and his dad are both monster truck fans, so I was expecting this to go over well. I was shocked to find out that they liked it MORE than I thought they would. Even if you've watched monster trucks on TV before, I promise you are NOT prepared for the energy and excitement of this show. You WILL want earplugs or headphones to muffle the sound. I have been a lot of really loud places before, but this... yeah, either take the ear plugs, or there are vendors who will be happy to sell you some headphones once you arrive. Aside from being great fun for kids of all ages, the quality of the showmanship was fantastic. Even as a cynical adult who understands that things are done to manipulate the audience, I didn't mind going along because it was well done and just plain good fun.
5 / 5 stars

There was a “no videos” sign posted, so I can’t give you a video of the show we attended, but here’s one from YouTube:

I was provided with free tickets to facilitate my review of this show. I was not compensated for my completely honest and irreverent opinion in any other way.

REVIEW: Disney on Ice Presents LET’S CELEBRATE!

THANK YOU to Joy Makin’ Mama Mary S for sending me this review after she and her family attended Disney on Ice Let’s Celebrate!

Children's entertainment featuring their favorite characters from Disney.
Disney on Ice Presents Let's Celebrate!
Date Published: 10/26/2013
The Disney on Ice Let's Celebrate! show was awesome ! The holiday theme made it even more enjoyable. Watching Mickey and his friends celebrate Halloween, Valentine's Day, Christmas, and an Un-Birthday was spectacular. The entrance of Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Rex, and Hamm from the Toy Story trilogy was especially exciting to the youngsters in the audience. The show was beautifully choreographed, and perfectly accentuated with music, lights, and pyrotechnics. All of these elements came together to produce the sheer Disney Magic ! We were impressed by the number of characters which appeared in the show. In addition to Mickey, Minnie,Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and the usual host of Disney Princesses, there was Jack Skellington, Cruella DeVille, Captain Hook, Jafar, Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter, Tinkerbell, and Lumiere, just to name a few. Disney on Ice Let's Celebrate! is a wonderful show for kids of all ages !
5 / 5 stars