Playing with Aunt Rachel and Uncle Mark
On Thursday, July 30th, we had plans to go to Idlewild Amusement Park, which is about an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh. Ellie was psyched about this day, because she has been asking to ride "Daniel's red trolley" since the beginning of time and now, she was about to be able to do so! You see, Idlewild used to be home to a Mister Rogers' Neighborhood ride, but they recently closed it and renovated it to reflect the new version of Mister Rogers: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
For any who may not know, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is an animated PBS show that is, essentially, the next generation of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe. For instance, the title character, Daniel Tiger, is the son of Daniel Striped Tiger from the original show. His best friends include Prince Wednesday (son of King Friday and Queen Sara Saturday, and little brother of Prince Tuesday); Katerina Kittycat (daughter of Henrietta Pussycat); O the Owl (nephew of X the Owl); and Miss Elaina (daughter of Lady Elaine Fairchilde and newcomer Music Man Stan). Each episode features a little jingle to help the viewer learn some sort of appropriate behavior (such as empathy, cleaning up, anger management, etc.), and kids eat it up. Seriously, Ellie adores this show and sings the jingles often in regular life.
Needless to say, Ellie was super excited to go ride the trolley and meet Daniel. She even dressed the part: I made her a red trolley tank top (my solution to keep her from asking to wear a red sweater in July heat, because she would absolutely do that), and she paired that with her tiger ears and tiger tail. She then referred to herself as Daniel Tiger for the entire day, because she's three years old and awesome. E.J. also had a "Daniel's red sweater" carrier cover, and a little tiger t-shirt. We were ready to go!
Her outfit is on point!
Naturally, upon arrival at Idlewild, we headed straight for Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
We made it!
Right away we came upon the stage where they have a Daniel Tiger show, and had to take a picture in front of "Daniel's house."
Ellie is all, "Who needs to go to L.A. to see the stars' homes? THIS IS DANIEL TIGER'S HOUSE!"
Then, we got right down to business and rode that trolley. The ride was pretty cute—it took you through Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, with stops at all the main characters' homes. The trolley would pause at each scene and the ride operator would "talk with" the characters. I have to admit, I got a little teary-eyed on the ride because Ellie loved it SO MUCH. Every time we would turn a corner and spot a new character, she would yell out, "LOOK! It's Miss Elaina! Hiiiiiiiii, Miss Elaina!" and wave furiously. She was so thrilled, and it was so much fun to watch!
We're on the trolley and she's excited!
Ready to go!
Prince Wednesday's castle
The tree where Katerina Kittycat and O the Owl live
Miss Elaina in the Museum-Go-Round
Dad Tiger (or "Daniel Striped Tiger" all grown up, if you will) at the Clock Factory
Waving to Mr. McFeely
The big finish!
After the trolley ride we were trying to decide what to do next (Idlewild is a pretty big park and has lots of different "lands" to explore), but Ellie spotted a motorcycle kiddie ride and wanted to give it a try. We weren't sure how she'd like it, never having done something like that by herself before, but when it was over she hopped off and said, "That was GRRRRRR-rific!" (a la Daniel Tiger) and ran off to find more rides. And then she rode ALL THE RIDES.
Running to find more rides
She loved riding this turtle "roller-coaster!"
Carts with her Daddy
By that time, we were hungry for lunch so we picked up some food and found a picnic bench near the stage for the Daniel show. We had just enough time to eat before the show began. Ellie loved the show. She was so excited to see Daniel and Katerina Kittycat!
Handsome boys before the show
It's Daniel and Katerina!
After the show, the kids are allowed to meet Daniel and Katerina and take pictures. Naturally, we took advantage of that opportunity.
Like long lost friends!
Big hug for Daniel
Possibly the greatest moment of her life.
Great family fun!
After that, we rode the trolley again, just because, hey. We went all that way for that trolley, and we were going to ride it until we were sick of it, by golly.
The boys out for a walk while we waited for the trolley
So much fun!
Idlewild was also having "Princess Days" that week, so Ellie was able to meet both Snow White and "Beauty." I had to chuckle when Snow White asked her, "What's your name, Princess?" and Ellie replied, "I'm just Daniel Tiger." Oh, that kid.
Ellie and Snow White
Ellie and Beauty
We were pretty hot and tired by that point, so we took a break for some ice cream.
Then, Ellie rode the carousel and met some more Idlewild characters.
She loves the carousel!
She also loves any and all costumed characters!
And then, we decided to call it a day. We made our way back to Pittsburgh, fearing the worst of rush hour traffic, but it really wasn't that bad. E.J., on the other hand, was SO OVER IT. He was exhausted and his very brief car catnap was not sufficient and he LOST IT. Of course, he's E.J., so he was back to normal as soon as we arrived in Pittsburgh, but it was a rough ride back.
My Aunt Rachel had already left for Cleveland to prepare for our family reunion starting the next day, so we had dinner with my Uncle Mark and shared some nice conversation before gathering our things a little bit and calling it a night. We had a long weekend of family fun ahead of us!
To see more pictures from our fun at Idlewild, click here.
Coming up next: The annual Hesterman Family Reunion in Cleveland!