Target Disney Store Lake Stevens Washington

Disney Comes to Lake Stevens

The new Disney Store within the Lake Stevens Target store.

With little fanfare, a new mini Disney Store opened within the Lake Stevens Target store today. It is one of the 25 Target stores to receive a Disney presence and the only one in Washington state. So far. Disney plans to open 40 more locations in Targets by October 2020.

The Lake Stevens in store store is located near the toy section of the store with another section dedicated to Frozen 2 merchandise near the store’s entryway and a few other displays set up throughout.

Frozen 2 is a big deal at Target in Lake Stevens.
Frozen 2 is a big deal at Target in Lake Stevens.

When the new partnership was announced in August, the two companies stated that each location will stock about 450 items, many of which are usually only available at dedicated Disney Stores. Most of these items sell at $20 or less, but the prices actually range from $2 to $200.

The Lake Stevens store features a little bit of everything including coffee mugs, t-shirts, Christmas sweaters, ornaments, toys and lots of stuffed Olafs. Items found here feature characters from Disney’s wide range of animated hits, TV shows and movies. I suspect that the merchandise will change a lot throughout the year with each new Disney project coming to the big and small screen. Gentle Disney music plays in the area and a TV screen features clips of Disney movies.

The Disney/Target combo is an interesting experiment and from what I saw today, many young shoppers give the place a big thumbs up. Is it worth going out of your way for? That depends. There’s a lot here, but I didn’t see anything spectacular. If you live near a “regular” Disney Store, I would say to just shop there. The prices appeared to be the same as what you would find elsewhere too. Now, when and if the items go on sale, that might be a different story.

‘Indy Jones’ Musical Comedy Gets an Extended Run

A scene from Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark
Photo: Marcia Davis/Seattle Public Theatre

While this year’s summer blockbusters have been few and far between, you have a chance to re-live some of the best action adventure films of all time in a new way. After a fantastic opening weekend, The Habit has announced that they are already extending their current show, Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark, through September 22, 2019.

The new production is from the same crew who created the unconventional holiday show, A Very Die Hard Christmas hoping to recreate more nostalgia fun and it appears that they’ve done it with Indy Jones.

“The Habit love riffing on 80s films and pop culture,” said director Mark Siano who also wrote music for the show. “We were looking for something that inspired our writing team, and the classic Indiana Jones movies hit the spot.”

A scene from Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark
Photo: Marcia Davis/Seattle Public Theatre

According to The Habbit, Indy Jones is a mashup spoof of the first three Indiana Jones movies pretending that the Crystal Skull movie never happened. “Indy Jones is a Crystal Skull-free zone” says a recent press release from the theatre troupe.

The plot involves Indy Jones and Marion Ravenwood’s race to save humanity from a seemingly unstoppable war machine. They must find and secure the sacred and powerful Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis turn it into a weapon of mass destruction.

Indy Jones weaves together jokes, songs, and commentary into a fun night of escapism played out live onstage,” says The Habbit.

A scene from Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark
Photo: Marcia Davis/Seattle Public Theatre

So, this show sounds like a lot of fun, but it’s not for kids. The Habbit gives the show a PG-13 rating for “language, adult situations and lots of swearing.” The overabundance of swearing might be a turn off to some theatre-goers, but at least you have been warned.

Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark is currently playing at the Seattle Public Theatre (aka Green Lake’s Bathhouse Theatre) through September 22, 2019 (although, they will be having a holiday break from August 26 – September 2). The theatre is located at 7312 West Green Lake Drive N., Seattle 98103. Tickets range from $26-$32 and can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 206.524.1300.

Why Silverwood Theme Park is Worth the Drive

Silverwood theme park
(Silverwood)

If you are unfamiliar with Northern Idaho, you might find it odd that the town of Athol is home to the 413-acre theme park known as Silverwood. Unlike most tourist traps, it pretty much stands by itself. You’re driving along highway 95 and all of a sudden you’ll see a glimpse of a wooden roller coaster out in the distance. As you get closer, you find that this is a world you had no idea existed.

Once the home of the Henley Aerodrome airstrip, Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water Park are essentially two parks in one. The original park opened its gates to the public for the first time in 1988 with just a handful of small amusement park rides. Today, it boasts of more than 70 rides, shows and attractions.

Our family’s recent trip to the park was mostly a positive one. Silverwood is beautiful, affordable and safe. Here you’ll find gentle rides for the small set and big, scary ones for the kids that have no fear. The park features an eclectic mix of classic carnival rides like the Scrambler and the Tilt-A-Whirl and newer ones like Panic Plunge and Spin Cycle but somehow, it all works.

One thing you’ll notice right away is how clean and fresh everything looks within the park. Walkways are wide, lined with healthy plants and dotted with beautiful flower gardens. Chipped paint and litter here is a rarity.

Thunder Canyon ride at Silverwood
Sure, it seems peaceful now. Don’t be fooled. Thunder Canyon is a wild ride!

Super Friendly

Silverwood is also one of the friendliest places too. Besides the two employees who barely acknowledged us at a coffee shop (but to be fair it was near closing time) and the poor bored girl resting on her elbow at a sandwich stand over in Boulder Beach, EVERY other employee we encountered here appeared to be having a good time. One employee, whose only job is to sells soft ice cream cones (that are bigger than your head by the way) told me how much she liked her job. When speaking to another employee about how nice the younger employees were at the park, she told me that her son also works at Silverwood. I was surprised to learn that he actually gets “yelled at” by some park guests for referring to them as “ma’am” or “sir” not understanding that he was actually showing them respect. Yeah, good manners can get out of control here. It must be a testament to the owners and managers. Good service and attitudes begins at the top.

Even the ride operators are super friendly. While boarding one roller coaster, my wife was politely reminded her that she couldn’t take her bag along on the ride. The ride operator explained how it needed to be stored in one of the nearby cubbies for safety reasons. I’m sure this girl has to remind guests of this fact many times each day, but there was no annoyance detected in her tone. Later at the water park, we heard one teen spout off the same long list of safety rules to riders over and over again without fail or attitude. Amazing.

A garden in Silverwood
One of clever and beautiful gardens. (Silverwood)

Super Safe

Boarding the rides here might take a little longer than at your average amusement park but with good reason. The cast and crew take safety seriously. It’s not just a motto, they really do. Ranging from late teens to early 20s, everyone here knows their job, and they all do it well without a cell phone to distract them. In addition, warning signs are posted liberally near the park’s attractions as well letting you know the dangers of standing up on a roller coaster and whatnot. Each ride has its own height requirement and you can count on the employees to measure each child. While you might think that your under-height darling “will be just fine,” she won’t make it on the ride no matter what you say.

A cart selling snacks and beer at Silverwood
A cart to purchase cotton candy, popcorn and beer!

Super Reasonable

Another great draw to this park is how amazingly affordable it is compared to similar parks. In some cases, admission is half the price of other parks, parking is just $5 and the food is inexpensive enough that the family can splurge on a good meal. Even so, if you want to save even more money, Silverwood actually allows outside food in the park (within reason of course and no alcohol). The park even features a picnic area between the parking lot and the entrance.

Super Responsible

To some, Silverwood might seem a bit conservative with their rules of conduct, but they are in place to assure that everyone has a good time. Swimsuits are only allowed to be worn in the Boulder Beach section, and they must be modest. People wearing clothing or body art that is deemed by the management as vulgar or rude will be asked to leave. Smoking and vaping is allowed in designated sections of the park only. Unfortunately, some of the park’s staff are a bit too trusting of their guests. We watched two employees tell one man that he needed to smoke in a designated area. He pretended that he didn’t know where that section was, and they nicely gave him directions. They walked away, and then he laughed continuing to smoke right where he was. However, that was the only incident we saw during our visit.

Tremors roller coaster at Silverwood
Tremors Roller Coaster

Planning Your Day

Unlike other theme parks, Silverwood opens later and closes earlier than most, so trying to cram everything that the place has to offer in one day can be a real challenge. If you can, visiting for two days will make for a much more relaxed trip. With that said, it is possible to see a lot of the park in one day if you plan things out well. Plus, it your kids are older, you’ll be skipping the kiddie rides. Here are some tips:

  • Visit Silverwood’s website and study the map and attractions. Make a list of the things you “have to see” and make those the first things you conquer when there.
  • Arrive at the park as early as you can. The lines will only get longer as the day goes on.
  • Spend the first half of your day in Silverwood when the weather is cooler before heading to Boulder Beach. However, be aware that Boulder Beach closes two hours before Silverwood does.
  • When entering the park, skip the Main Street section and head straight to Coaster Alley, Garfield’s Summer Camp or Country Carnival to take advantage of the shorter lines. (There is a lot to see in Main Street, but it will serve you well to come back and visit later in the day.)
Aftershock roller coaster at Silverwood
After Shock (Silverwood)

Coaster Alley

Most of the park’s main thrill rides can found in Coaster Alley. These include the wooden roller coaster Tremors (where riders climb 100 feet on the first hill before falling 103 feet down into an underground tunnel followed by three more — and through the ride’s gift shop!); Timber Terror, the park’s oldest roller coaster (considered an “air coaster” giving you a brief sensation of weightlessness) and Aftershock, which is totally different from the others. First, riders “hang” instead of “sit.” Second, you’ll climb up 191 feet in the air backwards before being let go. You’ll reach speeds up to 65 mph going through twists and turns as well as going upside down before being pulled up another 90-degree hill and do the whole thing one more time — backwards. It’s a very smooth but frightening ride.

The two others in this section include Panic Plunge and Spin Cycle. Panic Plunge is sort of like Disney’s Tower of Terror without the tower slowly takings riders up 140 feet before dropping them. Riders reach speed up to 47 mph before coming to a soft landing. It’s safe, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less terrorizing. Check out the videos below to see the Spin Cycle in action and then my “interview” after riding it!

Rides similar to Spin Cycle are popping up at different theme parks all across the country, but Silverwood was one of the first to attain this monster. Up to two dozen people can board this 104-foot tall thrill ride at a time. After getting locked into place, riders facing forward and legs dangling star to spin as the machine rocks back and forth getting higher with every sweep; eventually completing a full circle. And again. And again. And Again. While I was convinced at the time that I never need to do this ride again, now that I’m back home and I’m thinking, maybe one more time…

If you’re not nauseated after riding these coasters, you might want to stop by Chuckwagon John’s for an all-you-can-eat feast including wood-grilled chicken, pulled pork, hot dogs, mac and cheese, corn bread, country green beans, baked beans, corn-on-the cob, salads, watermelon, cookies and beverages. The full meal deal is $13.99 per person.

Thunder Canyon at Silverwood theme park
Thunder Canyon (Silverwood)

Country Carnival and Garfield’s Summer Camp

This section of the part also has its own share of thrills that are not as extreme as Coaster Alley and is more palatable for families of all ages. These include the Corkscrew Roller Coaster (which is fairly short, smooth and more fun than scary), the Roaring Creek Log Flume (which offers a gentle ride before a big drop and large splash at the end) and the amazing Thunder Canyon. While you may get wet on the flume ride, you WILL get wet on Thunder Canyon, so be sure to rent a locker near the entrance of the ride to store your valuables.

In Country Carnival you’ll find classic rides like Krazy Kars (bumper cars), a Ferris Wheel, Super Roundup and others. You’ll also find a bunch of carnival games and judging by the number of stuffed animals being carried around, the games are fair. Garfield is still the park’s mascot, but he isn’t seen as much anymore. However, he and Odie can be found in the Toy Store which also serves as a meet and greet. Garfield’s Summer Camp serves as the park’s kiddie ride section which such attractions as a really cool treehouse, the Tiny Toot roller coaster, the Krazy Koaster and the Puppy-Go-Round.

Wave pool at Silverwood
One of the Wave Pools at Boulder Beach (Silverwood)

Boulder Beach

You could easily spend a full day at Boulder Beach alone and if you have the time, I recommend it. As with the other attractions at Silverwood, plan to head over to the slides you really want to experience first before the lines get too long. Even so, there are plenty of other places in this section to relax and cool off at any time of the day.

For the small set, little guys could probably stay entertained all day at Pollywog Park (full of short slides, geysers and a giant water bucket that spills out every few minutes) and Toddler Springs (a splash area featuring a variety of geysers and fountains). The Elkhorn Lazy River is also a favorite for all ages. Just grab a tube, hop on and relax as you go round and round this never-ending “river” of warm water. Even the waterfalls are warm.

Riptide Racers at Silverwood
Riptide Racers (Silverwood)

For the more daring, I recommend challenging your family to race at Riptide Racer. Similar to those big slides you see at the fair, the six people can race down at the same time using a mat. You have to travel face first and you’ll get a face full of water as you splash down, so if that isn’t your thing (and you wear contacts) you may want to avoid it. Other family-friendly adventures include climbing up the Idaho trail to Avalanche Mountain. Here, your family can board a round raft and zoom down the simulated river rapids aboard the fiberglass terrain. The concept is similar to the Thunder Canyon ride in Country Carnival, but the line is shorter and you’ll already be wet anyway, so you’ve go nothing to lose! The other family raft ride is Ricochet Rapids which is a giant, totally enclosed water slide. The top speed for both is about 20 mph.

Avalanche water slide at Silverwood
Avalanche (Silverwood)

Thrillseekers will want to take a trip to the Velocity Peak Body Slides. After climbing up 100 stairs to the top, you are given three slides to choose from that can make a body whip down as fast as 55 mph. One slide is straight, another has hills and the third is totally enclosed.

After sliding, you might want to check out one of the two wave pools, or find a spot on the grass to lay out in the sun to rest and dry off.

This section of the park also features a variety of meal, beverage and snack items like burgers, sub sandwiches, hot dogs, chicken strips and ice cream. Mom and dad will appreciate The Cove, which is a float up bar (located just off the Elkhorn Creek Lazy River) serving tropical frozen drinks and beer. There is also one retail store, Boulder Beach Trading Company selling towels, flip flops, t-shirts and souvenirs.

The only negative thing I can say about Boulder Beach is that there is only one locker option to choose from and is $10. The locker is large and will probably hold all of your families belongings, but for us, our clothes were still wet from riding Thunder Canyon, so we set them out in the sun to dry leaving us with just our wallets, phones and keys to lock up. A smaller option would have been nice.

Steam train at Silverwood
Steam train No. 7.

Main Street

Similar in concept to Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A., this area serves as the main entrance to the park and the hub for most of the restaurants, shops and shows.

We stopped for lunch at the High Moon Saloon where you give your order at the bar and your food is brought to your table. They often feature live music, but we were disappointed that none was being played on that day. However, the food was great. I had fish and chips with a freshly-made coleslaw and crispy fries ($7.99), my wife enjoyed a huge roast beef sandwich ($6.99) and we both enjoyed a draft sarsaparilla root beer ($3). Regular soft drinks and bottled water are $2.50 and refills are just $1 (except for draft root beer).

Theatre of Illusion

For dinner, we decided to visit the Theatre of Illusion for Nick and Amanda Norton’s Phantasm show. (Nick and Amanda perform three performances a day for half of the week while Isaiah Daniels takes on the rest.) Nick has performed at Silverwood for 20 years now and it is pretty clear that he still enjoys putting on shows here. I’ve seen him perform three times now and each time his shows get better and better. At just 30 minutes in length, it’s a bit short for adults and just right for younger and squirmier audience members. Sure, he’s spooky in the promo picture, but his show isn’t scary.

The theater is also home to Caselli’s Pizzeria serving up surprisingly good pizzas, cheese-filled bread sticks and chicken Caesar salads. They have a great meal deal including a generous personal pan pizza, a bread stick and a beverage for $9.99. You will want to get here early to get a good seat and if you plan to order food. There are rows of chairs in the front, long tables to dine at just behind the chairs and rows of (unfortunately) hard bleachers behind the tables. While you can pretty much see everything from anywhere in the theater, you’ll be more comfortable up near the front. After each show, Nick and Amanda stick around to take pictures and sign autographs from budding magicians.

Other places to dine on Main Street include the Silverwood Coffee Roasting & Trading Co. (espresso and souvenirs), Lindy’s Restaurant (full service lunch and dinner dining) and the Victorian Coffee House (more espresso, tea and fresh-baked pastries).

Aboard Expedition Silverwood
Don’t worry – she makes it clear that she’s holding a “real fake” gun.

Expedition Silverwood

Other places worth stopping and exploring include the antique Carousel, the General Stuff Mercantile shop, the Sweet Treats candy shop and the historic Engine No. 7 steam engine train. Unlike the trains you’ll find at Disneyland, Old No. 7 only takes round trips; there’s no stopping at any other sections of the park.

The train departs on the hour and depending on the time or weather of the day, you’ll experience the park’s “Expedition Silverwood” stunt show along the way. Upon boarding the train, don’t rush through the Train Depot as it has great themeing and serves as a preview for the show. Unfortunately, the ride itself was a bit of a disappointment and that is really sad because the attraction has so much potential to become something really great. In a nutshell, the ride tries to piece together too many elements to make sense. Along your journey you’ll discover Bigfoot, wild west bandits, trolls, fairies and maybe a mermaid or two.

As it turns out, there is an explorer who has traveled to the Silverwood to find Bigfoot, but he has gone missing. His daughter, also an explorer, boards the train and bless her, doesn’t stop talking until the trip is completely done. Give this girl a raise. The actress who led our trip was amazing and was very animated as she walked up and down the aisle talking to passengers while also serving as a tour guide pointing out slow-moving animatronic characters.

The best part of the trip is when the train stops at a gold mine and a couple of hoodlums robs the train before facing the tour guide. Gunshots are fired, bad guys fall from high places and explosions happen inside a well. This stunt show is pretty good and funny, but way too short. When the train moves again, our guide suggests that the money “taken” from guests should go toward a local charity. This show is presented by a talented improv team, but unfortunately, their material could use a tune up as many of their jokes fell flat. I also didn’t appreciate the push for sales of licorice, popcorn and water before the trip and during the last minutes of the ride, not to mention the sales of “fairy dolls” to take home as a souvenir. This park is too classy for this type of hype.

Admission Prices and Stuff

Technically, Silverwood is open from May to October, but the hours vary from month to month. The theme park is only open on weekends in May and September and only open late on weekend nights in October. Boulder Beach is only open from June through August.

Silverwood is often offering discount promotions for the park, but generally, the regular admission options are as follows:

  • One Day Tickets: $49 (Ages 8-64); $28 (Ages 3-7 and 65 and up)
  • Two Day Tickets: $81 (Ages 8-64); $46 (Ages 3-7 and 65 and up)
  • Three Day Tickets: $111 (Ages 8-64); $61 (Ages 3-7 and 65 and up)
  • Parking is $5 per day

The admission price is good for both the theme park and water park. You cannot purchase tickets for the theme park only or the water park only.

Silverwood is located at 27843 N. Hwy 95, Athol, ID 83801. For more information, visit their website, give them a call at 208.683.3400 or send them a note at info@silverwoodthemepark.com.

The lobby at Triple Play
The lobby at Triple Play Resort Hotel and Suites. (Triple Play)

Lodging at Triple Play Resort Hotel and Suites

As big as Silverwood is, you would think that someone would build a hotel next to the park, but the park is only open for half of the year. Believe it or not, we stayed at one of the closest (if not the closest) hotels near Silverwood and it was still over 12 miles away in Hayden, Idaho. Don’t let that deter you. The drive to the theme park is a quick and easy one.

Triple Play Resort Hotel and Suites is a destination in itself as it features its own indoor water park, bowling alley, go karts, two miniature golf courses, laser tag, a ropes course, bumper cars, bumper boats a huge arcade and more. It’s not the cheapest hotel and shows a little wear and tear, but considering how many families come and go from this place every day, it holds up pretty well.

Basic Double Queen room at Triple Play.
Basic Double Queen Room (Triple Play)

The non-smoking hotel is very accommodating to families of all sizes and is pet-friendly offering a variety of different room sizes and prices to match including suites with extra rooms and bunk beds. You can even go all out with the Jacuzzi and fireplace suite if you want to splurge. For us, we settled for the basic two queen bed room. Our room looked and smelled clean and included a TV, DVD player, a desk, a small microwave oven, a small refrigerator and coffee maker. It even featured a deck outside (not all of the rooms do). The room was nice, but we did think it was comical that two of the exact same pictures hung on the same wall. The air conditioning worked a little too well for some of my crew, but my wife and I were happy with it and it was easy to adjust.

We also noticed that the bathroom was only supplied with one small tube each of shampoo, conditioner and two small bars of soap for the sink and shower. This makes sense though as many guests will scoop up whatever they didn’t use on their stay and take them home. Of course, we needed more and when I asked at the front desk for some, they gladly gave me as much as we needed. Later, I had to come back to ask for a toothbrush as I had forgotten mine. Again, no third-degree attitude for the request. In fact, every time we spoke to someone at the front desk, we were treated very well.

Triple Play Breakfast Area
Breakfast area. (Triple Play)

Amenities and Meals

Triple Play offers complimentary parking, a fitness center, high speed internet service and a hot breakfast buffet. The breakfast is similar to the ones that other hotels include with their stays, but the variety of food here was huge including three different juices, cheese omelettes, hard-boiled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, muffins, bagels, hot and cold cereal, fruit, coffee and something I’d liked calling “the magic pancake box.” Just just push a button and in a minute or two, a freshly-made pancake falls out of the other side. Now, don’t expect a chef in the back preparing gourmet meals, because if you do, you’ll be disappointed. But there is plenty to eat and most of it was very tasty too.

The only real drawback here is that with exception of the pancakes and coffee, everything else is staged against one wall making it difficult for guests to pick and choose quickly. People were constantly getting in the way of others. If the room staged different stations of food around the room, it would have flowed a lot better. Also worth noting, the earlier you get to the breakfast area the better. It only gets busier as the morning goes on and breakfast ends promptly at 10 a.m.

Nobody works harder in this hotel than the guy we saw running back and forth refilling pancake batter and omelettes. He took pride in his job and was super-friendly too. We also met a woman cleaning tables who told us that she felt lucky to have a job that she loved.

“Did you see that? Two little boys in matching Spider-Man pajamas. That’s the best,” she told us. “It makes my day.”

Bumper Boats at Triple Play
Bumper Boats at Triple Play

Raptor Reef and Triple Play

Raptor Reef and all of the amusement park attractions at Triple Play are a separate fee, but you can get package deals with your stay that can cut down the cost considerably. (The hotel also offers tickets to Silverwood too.) Similar in concept to The Great Wolf Lodge, Triple Play is actually quite different that will probably appeal more to families with older kids as there is a lot to do. With that said, families with kids of all ages will have a good time here.

Since Silverwood has its own water park, you may want to skip getting a pass to Raptor Reef and just purchase tickets for the other amusements at the hotel. However, if you do get tickets to Raptor Reef, you’ll have more time at the Silverwood to ride the rides and experience the slides back “home.” (Also remember that Boulder Beach isn’t open in May, September or October.) Set at an even 86 degrees, Raptor Reef features a wave pool, a children’s splash play area, a variety of slides and more.

Outside, your family can try out the beautiful and well-kept 18-hole miniature golf course featuring it’s own volcano. Depending on how well the car trip was, you might want have some family therapy time on the Bumper Boats or challenge each other for a race on the go karts. Inside, budding daredevils can enjoy the climbing wall or ropes course.

Our family tried out the indoor and darkened miniature golf course. It’s only nine holes and fairly simple to play, but the glow-in-the-dark atmosphere made it a lot of fun. Next door is the glow-in-dark bumper cars which looked like a lot of fun with its neon lights and mirror-lined walls. We also enjoyed playing a variety of redemption games with game prices that ranged from just 25 cents to $3 each.

We thought about playing a game or two of bowling, but we were just too tired from our drive from Seattle. The bowling center looked great, but even so, it will be closed from September 10 to sometime in October to make way for a new a new Brunswick “boutique” bowling, featuring brand new lighting and sound, as well as a video projection wall to stream sporting events and other entertainment.

One Negative

Overall, our stay at Triple Play was a positive one. The place issues a “quiet time” at 10 p.m. Still, some families are just loud and for that purpose, the place offers ear plugs at the main desk for those who need them. We didn’t bother and our sleep wasn’t disrupted.

The only negative thing worth mentioning was that after a long day at Silverwood, we came back to room to find that housekeeping had not been there. We spoke to the folks at the main desk and they asked if we had placed a “do not disturb” sign on our door. When I told him that we hand’t, he immediately apologized. I told him that it was okay, but we would be needing new towels for the morning. He then asked if I still wanted the full maid service as he was happy to do so. I told him that just the towels would be fine. He stated that he could have someone bring them to me, but it would take a little while. I said that would be fine. Later at 11 p.m. and my eyes struggling to stay open, I went to the desk again to check on the towels. Again, they apologized for the delay and said that someone would be by right away. And he was right! In less than five minutes, we had new towels.

Triple Play’s check in time is 4 p.m. and check out time is 12:00 noon. If you purchase a Raptor Reef pass, you can actually start splashing about before your room is ready and since the water park opens at 10 a.m., you can’t get some more slides in before it’s time to leave.

Triple Play Resort Hotel and Suites is located at 151 West Orchard Ave, Hayden, ID 83835. Visit there website or give them a call at 208.772.7900 for more information.

The Relic Smokehouse and Pub in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
The Relic Smokehouse and Pub in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Dining Nearby

During our short stay, we only ate one meal outside of Silverwood and Triple Play but The Relic Smokehouse and Pub was the most memorable. From the rounded ceiling to the distinct smokiness in the air, everything is this little dining spot was unique. And busy too!

We were seated immediately at the family-friendly pub and had the most attentive server, an older gentleman who we assumed owned the place since he was so busy handling customers, cleaning counters and whatnot. While waiting for our meal, we sipped glasses of hard cider (the pineapple was awesome!)

I had the smoked ribs with a side of mac and cheese with bacon and smoked apples (think of an apple pie filling that has been smoked). The portions were big and the prices reasonable. The place is known for their smoked brisket, pork sandwiches and cheesecakes. Definitely worth a stop.

The Relic Smokehouse and Pub is located at 1901 E Sherman Ave.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814. Give them a call at 208.966.4082.

Northwest Trek tram

Northwest Trek Still Soars After All These Years

Northwest Trek tram
The famous Northwest Trek Tram. (Courtesy of Northwest Trek)

If you live in Eatonville, you’re very aware of Northwest Trek. Signs for the place are posted all around town reminding you of what is in store for you and beckoning you to visit. However, those of us who live outside of town are only reminded of this animal oasis with the occasional TV or radio commercial. If you haven’t ever experienced the park or if it has been awhile, you really should.

It’s hard to believe, but Northwest Trek will be celebrating 45 years of operation next summer. When it first opened, it was a game-changer. Though similar, the park has never been a traditional zoo. Instead, the park found a way to showcase different Northwest animals in a safe and natural habitat rather than keeping them in locked cages. Today, other zoos like Northwest Trek’s sister zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Woodland Park Zoo, have similar settings, but Northwest Trek continues to be one step ahead.

Northwest Trek kids
The “kids club.” (Photo courtesy of Northwest Trek)

The Second Happiest Place on Earth

While it isn’t Disneyland, Northwest Trek just might be the second happiest place on earth. At least the employees there seem to think so from what we could tell. Every employee we met on our trip was super-friendly. I’m not kidding. Every employee! We talked to a lot of them and every one of them greeted us with a large smile and all of them were very helpful.

The park is ADA-accessible with graded, paved pathways making it really easy to get around the park with strollers. Wheelchairs can be secured in the trams and courtesy cart is available to transport visitors with mobility issues from Trek Center to the tram tour station. The park is also sensory inclusive offering quiet places, sensory bags and headphones if needed.

The Tram Tour

The park’s biggest draw is its Discovery Tram Tour which is included with your admission. On our recent trip, our tour guide made our 40-minute journey over the 435 acres totally enjoyable. Though he shared tons of facts about the different animals, he did so in a fun way with lots of humor. The kids loved learning about the different type of animal poop or “scatergories” as our guide like to call identifying the different types. If you were able to mix up Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride with Universal Studios Hollywood’s tram tour and throw in some live animals, you’d get the Discovery Tram Tour.

With that said, no two tours are exactly alike. Each guide has his or her own personality. Sometimes the animals are active and moving around while other times they will settle in for a nap. Along the route you are likely to see moose, Roosevelt elk, bison, caribou, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and trumpeter swans (which was our guide’s favorite).

The biggest thing we noticed at our recent trip to the park was just how excited the kids were spotting the different animals. All kids like animals, but the kids at the park this day LOVED them. They were totally engaged and only used their cell phones to get a good picture. While some of their parents got annoyed hearing “There’s a black tail deer! There’s a black tail deer!” it was really enjoyable to us.

The Pathways to Animals

A lot of other animals can be found throughout the park and are easy to get to because of the paved paths. Still, you’ll want to bring comfortable shoes as each exhibit is spaced pretty far apart from each other. Follow the various paths and you’ll see bears, wolves, cougars a lot of birds. One of the best places to get up close to the animals are the E.H. Baker Cabin which features low-to-the-ground windows via tunnel to spot gray wolves. Inside the cabin, you can talk to a naturist, feel a real pelt and participate in other activities.

My favorite part of the park was the forest and wetland creatures section. Here you’ll find beavers, skunks, otters and more. There are viewing areas up above the animals and down below with windows looking inside various dens – and the animals do hang out there. I could sit and watch the otters for hours. They seem to like the attention.

Along the way down the paths, you might find an animal keeper sharing information on different animals like where they like to live, eat and their favorite movies. (Okay, maybe not the last part.) On our journey we met a keeper who told us about different insects and showed us special condos built for bees, butterflies and other flying bugs. He even had handouts on how to make one of these at home.

(Photo: Courtesy of Northwest Trek)

The Eagle Passage

The Eagle Passage (opening on August 3, 2019) is the park’s newest attraction. This walk-through exhibit features bald eagles flying above your head or checking you out on a nearby tree branch. The exhibit also explains the eagles’ conservation story from near-extinction 25 year ago to a population that numbers in the thousands today. You can also experience a human-sized eagle’s nest (a great photo opp) and see how big your wings would have to be in order for you to be able to soar.

(Photo: Courtesy of Northwest Trek)

Wiggle Room

Two places that are must-see events for families with younger children are the Cheney Discovery Center and the Kids Trek playground. The Cheney Discovery Center is an indoor, hands-on education spot. Here kids can use puppets to imitate animal behavior, touch various fur pelts, try out a bunch of different activities and chat with naturalist who are wonderful with kids. This is also home to various red-legged frogs, gopher snakes, Western toads, banana slugs, newts and rubber boas.

Kids Trek is unlike any other playground you’ve been to. Inspired by nature, kids can hang on a giant “spider web,” climb down a “tree trunk,” and splash around in a “river.” There are rope bridges to cross, ladders to climb, tree stumps to hide in and dens to build. One section features a log cabin village. And while parent supervision is required, we were impressed that the playground is also monitored by a few employees to make sure everyone is being safe.

(Photo: Courtesy of Northwest Trek)

Big Kid Adventures

For older kids and parents wanting more adventure, you’ll have to check out the Zip Wild Deep Forest Challenge. For an additional fee ($35-$85), you can experience five zip line courses deep in the forest with various obstacles to overcome in-between. The courses include:

Super Kid Course: A low-to-the ground adventure (the highest point is just 5.5 feet off the ground) with two sections of zip lines and nine challenges.

Discover Course: Includes a 14-foot tall climbing wall, ten obstacles and two zip lines.

Sensation Course: Includes something called a Jane Swing (where you grab a rope, jump off a platform, swing out 30 to 40 feet and land on a suspended net), a dozen challenges 80 feet in the air and five zip lines.

Adventure Course: Includes a 30 foot climbing wall, suspended bridges, cargo nets to climbs, a high-wire tightrope above 55 feet in the air and six zip lines.

Aerial Runway: Includes a Trapper Climbing Ladder, two Andes bridges and a 512-foot-long zip line.

Forest Café and Gift Shop

Smartly located near the Kids Trek playground you’ll find the Forest Café housed in a warm and cozy cabin. The food here is a step above what you would expect to find at zoo. The burgers, pizzas, salads and sandwiches are all made fresh on the premises made with local ingredients. Most of the items are made to order. You are given a pager so that the kids can check out the playground and the pager will alert you to when your order is ready.

The food here is very tasty too. The 1/3 pound barbecue burger I had was hand-formed and juicy and came with a huge pile of waffle fries. My wife settled on the personal-sized pepperoni pizza made with fresh dough. There is some seating inside café and the fire place is a very nice place to hang out on those chilly days. There is also lots of seating available outside under the sheltered picnic pavilion. In addition to the café, you’ll find a few other snack options at the Trek Treats stand near the trails.

The Northwest Trek gift shop features t-shirts, sweatshirts, kitchen magnets, bird callers, jewelry, candy, some amazing animal hats (we saw one family of four adults donning these) and lots of stuffed animals to choose from.

(Photo: Courtesy of Northwest Trek)

Walking Trails

Under the various ropes courses, you’ll find five miles of trails, some paved and others “primitive.” The paved ones are perfect for families as they are easy to push strollers. One pathway features 21 different “fairy homes” hidden in the natural surroundings giving kids more incentive to really notice their surroundings. During our trip, we set out to continue on the primitive trails that are easily marked with sign posts. In order to make it all the way through, you’ll need to allow at least 2.5 hours. These trails are not very good for little ones since sections of the trails are overgrown and can be wet. If you do go, watch out for stinging nettles!

Premiere Tours

Northwest Trek also offers three other specialized tours for an additional fee:

Keeper Adventure Tour: Instead of tram, guests hop aboard a jeep with one of the keepers to get even closer to the animals during the 90-minute tour.

Photo Tours: Still a tram tour, but with a limit of just 13 people and promises to get you up close and personal with the creatures.

Elk Bugling Tour: A two-hour tour through the free-roaming areas during the elk breeding season also known as “The Rut.” During the tour you can expect to hear some bugling calls, see some elk sparring and more.

Visit this link to learn more about these advanced tours.

Bear at Northwest Trek
(Photo: Courtesy of Northwest Trek)

Admission and More

Tickets to Northwest Trek are $22 for adults ages 13-64; $20 for seniors age 65 and up; $14 for kids ages 5-12; $10 for 3 and 4-year-olds and those under 2 years of age get in for free. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online or at the park. Parking is free.

Zipline Tours run an extra $35-$85 depending on the course you plan to do.

The park is open from 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. through September 2, 2019. From September 30-January 1, 2020, the park is open from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. The park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

A limited number of wheelchairs, electric carts, and single and double strollers are available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis:

Strollers: $10 single/$12 double.
Wheelchair: $12
Electric wheelchair: $35
Umbrellas: $6
Locker Rentals

Small lockers are available for rent if you need a place to stash your purse or lunches. Four quarters ($1) are needed to operate the lockers, located past the main admissions area.

Northwest Trek is located at 11610 Trek Drive E., Eatonville WA 98328 and can be reached by calling 360.832.6117.

Great Balls of Fire! Million Dollar Quartet Should Not Be Missed.

The cast of “Million Dollar Quartet.” (Photo: Matt Kitaoka)

It was on December 4, 1956 at Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee when an impromptu jam session was conducted with the likes of Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and a fairly unknown singer and musician (at the time) Jerry Lee Lewis. Though there was a recording of the session, it’s doubtful that it was ever intended to be shared. However, a reporter from the local Memphis Press-Scimitar was called in and he dubbed the session, the Million Dollar Quartet.

Many years later, a recording of the session was found among many other recordings in storage at Sun Records. In 1981, the Million Dollar Quartet recording was released as a record in Europe in 1981. It wasn’t until 1987 that the recording was released in the United States. In 2006, the stage show of Million Dollar Quartet was presented in Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals. The mainstage premiere of the show was presented in 2007 followed by a Chicago debut in 2008 and Broadway in 2010. This year, the show made its way back to Village.

Jerry Lee Lewis (John Countryman), Elvis Presley (Jason Kappus) and Dyanne (Cayman Ilika). (Photo: Mark Kitaoka)

Based on real and imagined events that happened in that recording studio, Million Dollar Quartet is a different type of show than what you normally see at Village Theatre. Rather than a traditional musical, it’s part theatre, part live performance. The program allows the audience to become a fly on the wall and imagine the conversations to might have been exchanged between four great singers/musicians and Sam Philips, the owner of Sun Records.

The story begins with Carl Perkins (Skye Scott) coming into the studio to record his new song Matchbox with his brother Jay (Chris Jones) playing the bass. They are joined by a drummer (James Reif) and hopeful new Sun Records sensation, Jerry Lee Lewis (John Countryman) playing the piano. Throughout the night, the small group are joined by Cash (Brian Grey), Presley (Jason Kappus) and his girlfriend, Dyanne (Cayman Ilika). Though the time together is mostly cordial, conversations become heated at times and it becomes clear that the egos of musicians back then were just as fragile and testy as today’s biggest stars.

Philips (Matt Wade) is in a jovial mood hoping to get Johnny to sign on for another three years while Elvis would like nothing more than to get Philips to work with him over at RCA. Meanwhile, Perkins butts heads with newbie Lewis, whose clearly too big for his britches. Remarkably, Dyanne seems to have a soothing quality that helps keep the men in check.

Johnny Cash (Brian Grey), Bassist (Chris Jones), Carl Perkins (Skye Scott) and Drummer (James Reif). (Photo: Mark Kitaoka)

Million Dollar Quartet isn’t just a good show for people who grew up in the 50s and 60s. It’s a good show period. Even if you don’t think you’re very familiar with any of these guys’ music, you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll recognize. Favorite songs (which may or may not have been played during the actual recording) include “Blue Suede Shoes,” “That’s Alright,” “I Walk the Line,” “Hound Dog” and “Great Balls of Fire.”

While the cast don’t necessarily look a lot like the characters they’re playing, they sure sound and play like them.  Brian Grey, is probably the best fit all around, but all four men are equally impressive. Finding four guys who can not only sing, act and play instruments like the famous foursome was no easy task, but these guys pull it off. For that matter, Cayman Ilika (who has appeared in numerous other Village performances and just sang the national anthem at a recent Aquasox game) is a nice addition to the otherwise male-heavy performances. Her rendition of “Fever” and “I Hear You Knockin” is spot on. The only real negative about the show is Lewis’ constant sexual innuendo comments and Countryman plays them out way too long.

John Countryman as Jerry Lee Lewis. (Photo: Mark Kitaoka)

The show also hints that this recording session was a happier time for the foursome who all wrestled with their inner demons years later. But even at this time, their lives were far from perfect. All of them had grown up in the Bible belt and struggled reconciling playing secular music instead of sacred. The music scene back then wasn’t a whole lot different back then than it is now apparently. Overall, this is an upbeat show that will get you up on your feet and clapping along enjoying every minute of it.

Finally, a word must be given to Andrea Bryn Bush’s stage design. Every detail from the ventilation system to the smudges on the studio’s door’s windows are perfect. Instead of watching a show that takes place in a room that resembles a recording studio, you are transported to a real one.

Million Dollar Quartet continues at the Everett Performing Arts Center through July 28, 2019 (but I wouldn’t be surprised if the show gets held over). The theatre is located in Everett at 2710 Wetmore Ave. 98201. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 425.257.8600.

Sara Carbone

Sara Carbone Shares Personal Stories with ‘Pieces of Her’

Sara Carbone
The many faces of Sara Carbone. (Photo: Sarah Carbone)

Though only one woman will grace the stage, a baker’s dozen of characters will materialize in Sara Carbone’s Pieces of Her playing at 18th and Union from June 20-22. The actress sings, speaks and dances through the 70-minute, semi-autobiographical play. It’s a musical dramedy about navigating the triumphs and perils of the professional acting world and learning how to find your voice as an artist. The show follows her attempts to climb out from under the weight of a strong-willed father, unfriendly classmates, and two unruly manifestations of her psyche battling things out in her head, which sounds interesting.

“The play captures the experience of growing up as a child actress and into adulthood as an artist and how that journey can be one of incredible joy and magic as well as disillusionment and self-doubt,” says Carbone. “The piece explores what artists sometimes go through around their art and their sense of themselves, particularly around creating original work.”

Directed by Mik Kuhlman, Pieces of Her will be presented at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets for 18th & Union co-presentations are sold on a 3-tier Choose Your Own Price model: Discount (for those who need it), Full Price (for those who can afford it) and Give a Little More (for those who have it to share). Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 206.937.6499. The theatre is located at 1406 18th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122.

Art and Plant Lovers Come Together

This weekend marks one of Everett’s biggest and free arts events. Sorticulture Garden Arts Festival (sort of art, sort of horticulture) will be blooming June 7-9 at Legion Memorial Park in Everett.

The lush arboretum is a great setting to chat with artists, talk to plant experts and dance to live music in the wine garden. Pick out some fine, hand-crafted art for your garden, learn how to care for specialty plants you (up until now) have been to scared to plant and keep the kids busy with their own activities.

Photo: City of Everett

It’s here where you check out a few outstanding display gardens for your inspirational pleasure and listen to plant specialist Ciscoe Morris on Saturday at 2 p.m. Dozens of artists, craftsman, landscapers and plant experts will bring their wares as well.

Over a dozen food booths will be on hand as well including Crepe Town (sweet and savory crepes), Gip’s Down Home BBQ (BBQ pork sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs), NW Corn Roasters (roasted corn on the cob and smoked turkey legs) and Scotty’s Northwest (blackened salmon Caesar salad, clam chowder and shrimp salad.)

Kids’ activities include free face painting, a “paint a flower pot” workshop for kindergardeners, the Quilceda Carvers where you can learn the art of carving wood from the experts and Arthouse Mosaic Studio offering a variety of take home projects (for a fee) and the animal shelter showing off some of the city’s finest critters ready to take home if you’re ready for them!

Photo: City of Everett

The Sorticulture Garden Arts Festival will be held at Legion Memorial Park, 147 Alverson Blvd, Everett, WA 98201 and will open each day at 10 a.m. and will close on 7 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. There is only limited ADA parking at the park, but you can take a free short shuttle ride from Everett Community College. Dogs are weclome on leash at the event but not on the shuttle.

Fremont Sunday Market

The Best of the Fremont Sunday Market

(Photo: www.fremontmarket.com)

Since 1990, the Seattle Fremont Market has been quite the event and despite its age, they still refer to it as an ongoing experiment that I think we can all safely say works. Unlike your traditional farmer’s market, this one is open all year round and features less fruits and vegetable and a lot more fun.

“We favor common sense, courtesy and intelligence over excessive bureaucracy. Our aim is to provide an accessible community marketplace for anyone who wants to sell their goods and try their ideas,” They say on their website. “Our goal is to help people succeed and make the experience here fun and rewarding for all. We ask for your understanding, cooperation and comments as the markets continue to grow, change and evolve.”

The Fremont Sunday Market features over 150 vendors bringing their A-game and an amazing selection of handmade crafts, street food, antiques, collectibles, vintage clothing, up-cycled furniture and world imports. The market it open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. each week rain or shine.

While this isn’t exactly a popularity contest, here are my top picks and booths worth a second glance at the market. What they sell is incredible and I found that these people are a lot of fun to talk to too. I can’t guarantee that they will all be at the market during your next visit, but I’ve included their website links just in case you miss them.

All About Cookies

Pamela Rose and her cookies have been a fixture in Fremont since 2011 and since that time, she pretty much has perfected the simple cookie. Today, she bakes up over 40 different varieties of cookies and bars that in addition to the market, can be found in various local coffee shops. She says that she strives to make treats that not only taste delicious, but look great and are made sustainably. She tries to use palm oil products as little as possible (to protect rainforests and orangutan habitats), while using Eastern Washington’s Shepherd’s Grain Flour and Sky Valley Family Farm eggs in abundance. While many of the cookies are made the traditional way, others are gluten free and made with rice flour with a goal of making each cookie tasting like a cookie should.

Personally, what I think is the best cookie is also the most popular. The S’mores Bar has everything you like about the campfire treat with chocolate and marshmallow goodness atop a graham cracker crust. It’s huge too! Other choices include (but not limited to) Blackberry Cream Cheese, Chocolate Cherry, Blueberry Orange White Chocolate, Chocolate Crinkle, Chai Spice, Oatmeal Raisin Walnut, Snickerdoodle, Silly Sugar Whales and good ol’ Chocolate Chip.

Factory 305

Factory 305 gets their name from the area code for Key West Florida where shop owners Jerry and Kate used to live. What started out as a hobby as turned into a full time unique woodworking business. Using a CNC router, Jerry carves out his designs while Kate lends a hand painting. Together, they have produced a fantastic selection of wall art that just about everyone can appreciate. Their Star Wars/Aztec design is truly amazing with lots of attention to detail. But the pair also churn out other great designs including recreations of various beer logos, state signs, superhero logos (suitable for kid’s room or a local man cave) and even some great-looking pieces made from pianos! The day I visited, Kate showed me a fantastic shelf and cabinet that was made from a baby grand piano. If you like their work, but don’t see something that speaks to you, they will gladly work from your own design as well. “Whether it is our idea or a customer’s we have fun creating each and every one.”

Lost Commodity

Lost Commodity is a Seattle-based bag company dedicated to designing and producing quality goods that will only get better with time.

The story goes like this: after a night of waiting for the shuffleboard table to open up at a local watering hole, a small group of friends decided to design their own gear for an upcoming surf trip down to the Baja peninsula. The trip there and back was a rough one and sadly, the gear didn’t make it. However, that only strengthened their resolve to fix what went broken (with many, many prototypes) to create what they now are proud to call their Heritage Collection. Their stuff is pretty neat and definitely worth a stop.

Fire and Scrape

Beth Ringland describes the art of Raclette Cheese as “food theater.” The process of scraping a variety of fatty Raclette cheese under fire originated in the Alpine regions of Switzerland and France as far back as 1291! Ringland brings her “theater” to the streets of Fremont heating halves of Raclette cheese under a direct heat source and then scraping the cheese and sliding it on new potatoes, seasonal vegetables or baguettes and served with cornichons and pickled onions (as is the tradition).

Sweatpea and Boy

Sweatpea and Boy have been screenprinting infant, toddler and adult apparel in Tacoma since 2013 and when they come to the street of Fairmont, they come prepared! Each Sunday that feature a variety of original designs on many different colors and sizes to choose from. My favorite design by far is the Paramount logo redo using Mount Rainier as a stand-in and the word “Seattle” replacing Paramount in the same movie company font. I’m pretty sure you could wear this only only half of the people looking at would notice the difference between it and the original logo.

Sweatpea and Boy offer screenprinted images on super-soft t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, tank tops, sweatpants, hoodies, hats and patches. They offer many designs that can be printed on top with slogans and saying for Seattle, Tacoma, Edmonds and Portand. You’ll also find Northwesty graphics featuring the Space Needle, Husky-wear, 12th man needs and more.

Maria Made Me

Maria Benjamin is a delightful person. She quietly sits nearby as shoppers stop to look at her original, handmade greeting cards often getting a chuckle here and there. Unlike some vendors, she waits until people approach her and she actually encourages people to open her 3D cards to see how they “pop” up when opened. These are super impressive, but Maria told me that she doesn’t actually make the 3D cards (which when you see them, you’ll know why that’s an impossible feat) but every other card on display are lovingly created by her hands. She offers a variety of themed cards including birthday, graduation, baby, holidays, sympathy, friendship and more.

While we may not be sending as many cards out as we used to, Maria’s work will make you rethink that notion.

Susu Rolled Ice Cream

Another type of “food theater” comes from Chef Muhammad Fairoz A.R. and his partner, Katie Pohl. Together they literally roll gourmet ice cream and create sundaes that a work of art, but don’t stand around too long admiring it as it’s gonna melt. Fairoz and Pohl combine French custard ice cream recipes with the heritage of Thai-style street ice cream and create something magical.

Here’s the…scoop…they begin each flavor by pouring a fresh custard base onto an anti-griddle (which is extremely cold) and flip it around, chop it up, mash it really good, spread it out and then roll sheet of the perfect confection into sundae cups where the rolls are topped with a variety of deliciousness. And the flavors offered are just as unique as their pair. Flavors can change every week, but usually they offer a couple of favorites like S’mores Fun (chocolate base, graham crackers, marshmallow and shaved chocolate) and Like a Mango in the Sky (a Vanilla-Coconut base with Mango Purée, Sticky Rice and a Pineapple Cloud) along with a few adventurous choices like these recent offerings: Yuz Laughin’ At Me? (made with Lavender, Yuzu and pickled cucumber), Masala Spice & Everything Nice (made with Masala Chai, Papadum and Jeruk) and the Goaton Ramsay (made with Goat Cheese, Apple Grapefruit Compote and Tuile).

Teatro ZinZanni's Circus Tent

Review: Teatro ZinZanni’s Love, Chaos & Dinner Does Not Disappoint

Teatro ZinZanni's Circus Tent
Inside Teatro ZinZanni’s Spiegeltent. (Teatro ZinZanni)

Teatro ZinZanni’s dinner theatre show’s name is also the same phrase they use to describe their shows. Love, Chaos and Dinner is a healthy mix of hilarious humor and beautiful performances and the food is pretty wonderful too. The large ensemble cast interacts with guest within the Spiegeltent before the show. They mix and mingle with the dining staff and often act incognito so that until the show actually begins, you may not be aware who all is performing in the show.

Frank Ferrante (Chef Caesar) and Amelia Zirin-Brown (Lady Rizo)

Featuring a live, albeit small, orchestra, Love, Chaos and Dinner is led by two larger-than-life characters: Frank Ferrante and Amelia Zirin-Brown. Outside of Teatro ZinZanni, Ferrante has performed as Groucho Marx over 2,500 times and the influence shows as he plays Chef Caesar for night. Performing as Lady Rizo, Zirin-Brown is a comedienne and singer. She’s one powerhouse of a singer alternating between musical numbers of yesteryear and more modern rock ballads.

Throughout the night, both Caesar and Lady Rizzo take time to call members of the audience to come forth and be teased. And they both flirt with everyone. While their style of teasing is similar, Caesar’s comes off as playful while Lady Rizo’s breathy lines and raunchy one-liners comes across a bit harsh and off-putting. Don’t get me wrong, she is very talented with an incredible voice and the two work very well with their “Martini Time” bit, but by herself, she is a bit much.

Chef Jason Wilson

The entertainment happens in between the four course dinner which includes salad, soup, four main course choices and dessert by James Beard Award-winning Chef Jason Wilson. I highly recommend the Grilled Washington Sirloin as it was cooked to perfection and just about melted in my mouth. (Click here to see the full menu.) A variety of appetizers, wines, hard liquor and soft drinks are on hand as well.

Top Row: The Anastasini Brothers and Elena Gatilova
Middle Row: Tim Tyler, Duo Rose and Joe De Paul
Bottom Row: Domitil Aillot and Kelly Brit

Each night of performances runs about three hours, but the time will fly by and a good time will be had my all. From the elegant acrobatic acts to the chaos that comes with dessert, every moment is full of surprises. Performing during Love, Chaos and Dinner include:

The Anastasini Brothers
Some people can juggle balls, but can you juggle your sibling? Fabio and Giuliano Anastasini are making their circus-performing parents proud with their body juggling act. The entire act is great but the finale is nothing short of breathtaking. The concept is simple – one brother lays on his back while he hurls his brother in the air with his feet.

Kelly Britt
Hailing from Chicago, Kelly Britt has performed opera and musical theatre throughout the Midwest and west coast, but what makes her a fit for Teatro ZinZanni is her family’s over 300 years of circus performing! Perhaps though her greatest talent is her smile. While I’m not usually a fan of opera, she is truly charming in this show.

Joe De Paul and Tim Tyler
Canadian actor and clown, Joe De Paul is one of my favorites and was so glad to see some of his signature acts again at Teatro ZinZanni. His laughter is contagious. Just wait until he brings out his film projector as you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. Joe is very short and Tim Tyler is a bean pole (his words) so the contrast of these two is fantastic. They both have a similar style of humor and they complement each other rather nicely. Going by the stage of Mr. P.P., Tim is a jack of all trades when it comes to performing. The Australian can sing, play the ukulele and make ping pong balls appear out of his mouth at random times.

Duo Rose
Samuel and Sylvia present a romantic trapeze act that is truly spectacular. The pair have been performing together since 2007 have created every aspect of their act from the costumes to the “aerial ballet” completely on their own. They are amazingly flexible and their performance is what I would call tastefully sensual.

Elena Gatilova
World champion rhythmic gymnast, Elena performed with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas performing in over 2,500 shows. She has a great time playing a silly and unglamorous character before performing her solo act. There she comes alive with grace and elegance. It is truly the most beautiful act of the show.

Domitil Aillot
French artist Domitil Aillot usually performs on the Chinese Pole performing acrobatic feats. For the performance I attended, he was part of the group, but didn’t perform solo which I can only assume was because he had become injured recently. I have seen him perform many times in the past and I can attest that he is pretty amazing.

Love, Chaos and Dinner performs every night Tuesday-Sunday through June 30, 2019. Click here for ticket information and more.