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For the Need to Chew™

Got Sensory? Take a break

December 27, 2014

Got Sensory?  Take a break

Sometimes you just need to get away. When you have a kiddo that has a difficult time regulating their senses, finding a destination that puts the fun in FUNctionality can cause great anxiety. When you are a parent of a cherub with additional needs, vacations usually look like any other day. When you are a sibling to a kiddo with extra needs, your vacation ideas may be trumped in order to accommodate your sibling’s needs.  We are THAT family, and we found the perfect getaway locale that suited us all.

Branson, Missouri is where we parked the car and stayed awhile. One may often confuse this destination for those that mark their lives with early bedtimes, early afternoon dinner buffets and show-tune filled performances that get your feet tapping and your hands a-clapping. What once may have been the grandparents’ retreat of choice has now become our favorite fall getaway….nestled quaintly in the Ozark Mountains.

During this extended retreat, we found several places to go and activities to do that thrilled each and every one of us. Not often do those words purse my lips, so when it does happen, it is noteworthy.

We started out at Silver Dollar City. An amusement park set in the hills and is made to resemble a picturesque mining village from the 1800’s.

 

 

 

This is a sensory seeker’s paradise. We coordinated our trip to be there for the National Harvest Festival. This festival brings out crafters and artisans from a time long ago lost. Those participating dress and act as though they were living in the days of the pioneers. Period clothing and tools make you truly believe you have stepped back in time to a more simple way of frontier living. You hear the clanking of metal as you watch it warmed in stoves and then shaped into designs that will immediately be sold.

 

 

You feel the warmth as you step into the building where they melt, blow and shape glass pieces. You smell the fresh, hot apple dumplings as they are served throughout the park with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. Whether it’s the work of a Blacksmith, Glass Cutter, Potter or Candy Maker, there is certainly an activity to engage the senses and bring smiles to the faces of all involved.

Since all of the young people in our family love roller coasters and any other type of twirly, flippy, make you hurly kinda ride, amusement parks are fairly common destinations for us. I have to say that Silver Dollar City is one of the very best we have experienced. It isn’t just for the rides either. The park is staffed by mature, courteous, and helpful personnel. Have a conversation with any one of them and it is obvious that they enjoy their job and the visitors they serve and interact with. The park is very clean. I didn’t see ‘gum scrapers’ like I did when we were at THE mouse’s house, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. You can tell that the staff takes pride in where they work and what they do. That itself was a top experience for me, as the mama bear leading my cubs on the adventure.

Another thing I loved about this park was the absence of chaos and crowds. Again, I have a sensory seeker so my chaos meter is usually overflowing. It was nice to not have to stand in long lines and worry about losing a child in a sea of humanity. Speaking of which, I did use our ID patches from If I Need Help. I simply stitched them on the shirts of all of my kiddos before heading to the park and had a secure feeling knowing that if someone were to wander, I could quickly get their important information and a recent picture of them to park personnel within minutes. To find out more information about If I Need Help, visit their website at www.ifineedhelp.org.

 

 

 

Upon entering the park, we visited the Guest Relations building to speak to them about how they handle guests with additional needs. Again, I am reiterating that they were staffed by mature, caring personnel that walked us through the process of how they handle each individual situation. A nice, grandfatherly looking man handed me a Ride Guide and Informational brochure for Guests with Disabilities. This very nice fella went over all of the criteria for each ride and based on my child’s needs recommended what rides would, and would not, be appropriate for him. During this initial screening, he spoke politely to my child and engaged him in excitement about the events of the day. Although I wasn’t keen on the name of the guide, I was pleased that they did have protocol in place to deal with such situations. The guide explains the amenities available throughout the park as well as detailed information about what to expect on each ride. They also provide information for companions riding with a person needing assistance so they will know the locations of first aid and guest relation sites across the park. At the end of the guide is a ride admission form that allows for the rider in need of assistance and their family to board the ride through a special entrance, thereby eliminating the need to stand in long lines (during peak seasons) and avoid meltdowns. You may find that once you arrive at a ride, they will set a specific time for you to return and board the ride. This didn’t happen to us, as we were always allowed to board immediately, but during busy operating times it is a process they may implement. Once you are ready to board, simply enter through the special entrance, hand the form to the ride attendant and they will do another screening to make sure the ride is fully accessible and accommodating to the rider. They then sign off each time the rider boards. Again, with the park not being very crowded we didn’t get to test this program like we had fully planned, but knowing that they did have safeguards in place to accommodate those in need was reassuring.

 

 

 

It was quickly apparent upon entering the park that all of our five senses would be put through their paces. Lest we forget our other two senses. Our vestibular and proprioceptive senses had their share of opportunities to engage on this adventure too. Not only did the roller coasters give us all a lesson on gravity, balance and our bodies in motion, but some in our group also commented on how they loved the feeling of being tightly ‘hugged’ by the restraining devices that tightly held the rider in place during the loops and drops. Personally, I tend to close my eyes during the wildest of rides. Seeing our pictures publicly displayed on the monitors at the end of the ride were often my only visual take away from the roller coaster rides. Of course, being a seeker, those are the rides my kiddo gravitated toward.

 

 

 

As if we hadn’t experienced enough to wake up our senses and keep them busy for the day, there was still more to see and do. We took in the Wild West Stunt Show and watched a reenactment of a comedy of errors old west style shoot’em up. Good guys vs. bad guys…if I say more it may ruin it for you. The use of live animals and stunt man choreography was enough to keep everyone entertained and engaged for the duration of the show. Walking in and out of the natural cavern amphitheater was enough to count as several days of moderate exercise, which was good considering the smell of freshly made candy and baked goods as you exited the show. 

 

 

 

Our final stop for the day was the Marvel Cave. The cave itself dates back to the 1500’s and was discovered by the Osage Indians. It has been an active tourist destination since 1894. Silver Dollar City was build around the cave. This is a very strenuous tour and is only advisable for those that can physically and mentally endure the hour long walking trip 500 feet below the surface. There are more than 600 stairs to traverse and much of the tour does have dangerous areas. It is an active cave, and although there are rails in most places, it is not completely a safe zone for those that like to wander or seek thrills. Since my kiddo fell into that category, I was edgy the entire tour. We were the only participants in our group, so once we reached the middle of the tour, they turned off all of the lights. We were 500 feet below the surface of the earth in complete darkness. That was quite the sensation. There is a cable train that takes you out of the cave at the end of the walking tour. However, it has been known to not always work, so they ask that you only take the tour if you are capable of back peddling your entire way out in reverse. They also offer lantern tours of the cave during certain hours and dates of the year. Tickets to Marvel Cave are separate from the park ticket and are not included in the park entry fee.

As a family that often finds it difficult to come to a happy consensus on travel destinations, Silver Dollar City certainly made that a thing of the past. With over 30 rides for all levels of daredevils and thrill seeker enthusiasts, it had enough to keep us busy for several days.  If members of your traveling group aren’t as eager to engage in upside down type of thrills, the park also has a life sized walk through area that resembles an old village. There is a petting zoo, house, jail, schoolhouse and church that will give you the feeling that you have stepped back to the 1850’s in rural America. Silver Dollar City will be opening an entirely new family themed section in spring of 2015. Fireman’s Landing will have family rides and fun zones designed for ages 3 to 93.

After taking a day to relax and rest our legs from our Silver Dollar City adventure, we headed over to Sight and Sound Theatre to catch a Broadway worthy performance of Jonah.

 

 

 

Being that it was housed in a theatre named for senses, we felt certain this would be another must do item on our sensory seeking vacation. Again, we were not disappointed. We knew the biblical story of Jonah, so we were very anticipatory of how they could make such a story come to life. Because it is a professional theatrical company presentation, pictures inside of the theatre were not allowed. However, it was performed on a 300-foot stage (yep, think football field size) that wrapped around 3 sides of the audience. Additionally, performers, both of the human and animal kind) routinely walked the aisles. Oh yeah, don’t forget to look UP. That is where you will find the star of the show. The sets were colorful and eye catching.   Measuring in at four stories tall, the life sized set allows the scenes to take place all over the stage. There really isn’t a bad seat in the 2,000-seat auditorium. The show lasted almost two and a half hours, but there was an intermission between the two acts. They did have concessions in the hallways of the theatre and also brought snack vendors into the main theatre during intermission.

Branson is known for shows, and this was one of the top rated shows currently in production.   The Sight and Sound Theatre has been home to this faith based theatrical company since 2008.   Not only do they use actor portrayals to make the stories of the Bible come to life, but they also use animatronics, pyrotechnics, and 3D video imaging to create a very realistic view of the story of Jonah.   Clearly a sensory adventure for those wanting to immerse themselves into this Biblical story.

It should also be noted that when reserving the seats, the customer service representative was very helpful in offering suggestions on seating arrangements. When traveling with a child that may sometimes need an immediate sensory break, knowing a clear exit strategy is always good. I explained this need to the representative and she took that into account when assisting us with our seat selections.

Located next to Table Rock Lake, Branson is traditionally known as an outdoor vacation spot. However, the weather is generally accommodating into late October. If you can travel to the area during that time, you will be greeted by the glorious colors of changing foliage. There is plenty to do on the lake, as well as in town. Branson Landing is a clean and popular dining and shopping plaza on Lake Taneycomo (not to be fooled, it’s more like a river).   There is a spectacular dancing fountain display and seasonal firework display to entertain family members of all ages.   The Strip is full of many exciting visual experiences and numerous extreme go-kart and mini golf fun houses. Since it is so close to the water, there are loads of water activities available. Because we were there in the fall, we didn’t get in the water, but we did play on the water. We had a glorious day of fishing off of one of the many marina docks. The water is very clear and great for casting a line. We didn’t catch enough to feed us dinner….ok, being honest, we didn’t catch enough to feed us a snack either, but it was fun, family bonding time and a great opportunity to use our tactile and olfactory senses.

 

 

 

Another trip highlight was found on the strip. They have a permanent Titanic Museum that is fabulous. Built to replicate the inside of the famed ship, each guest is given an identity of a real life passenger upon boarding. Once you make your way through the museum, you learn the fate of passenger that you have portrayed. There is a room that is made to resemble the outside of the ship as it is sinking. The temperature is that of the outside air during the disaster, which was 24 degrees. There is also a container of water that is the temperature of the ocean water at the time of the sinking, 28 degrees. Participants are allowed to put their hands in the water to see how long they can withstand the cold. My kiddo did it for over 3 minutes. Me, a few seconds and I needed a heating unit and gloves.

The next time you find yourself in need of a get-away and know that it’s only possible if you take the sensory seeking cherubs with you, consider visiting Branson. There are so many family friendly options in and around town to consider. Accommodations run from budget friendly camping to five star resorts. It is conveniently located in the middle of the country, so it is a drivable journey from many major cities. They also have a small airport for those that may want to fly.

 

 

I received free tickets from Sight and Sound Theatre and discounted publicity tickets from Silver Dollar City in exchange for this review/post. A positive review was not required. All thoughts and opinions are those of my family or my own.

  

http://www.silverdollarcity.com

http://www.branson.com

 





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Buyers Guide

Need Help Chewsing your Chew™? We have many options! Each Chewigem is different in size, strength and personality!

         

Collection         

Mild

Moderate

Moderate +

Tactile Nubs

Matte Finish

Polish Finish

Dimensions 

Emitochew Small

2.75" x 2.75"

0.25" thick

Emitochew Large

3" x 3"

0.25" thick

Dog Tags

1" x 2"

0.25" thick

Cats

1" x 2"

0.25" thick

Skullls

1" x 2"

0.25" thick

Raindrops

1" x 2"

0.25 " thick

Chubes

2" x 1.5"

0.5" thick

Realm Rings

     

 

 

2" x 2"

0.5" thick

Eternities

2.75" x 2.25"

0.5" thick

Discs

1.75" x 1.75"

0.5" thick

Miller Hearts

2.25" x 2.25"

0.5" thick

Geo Tags

1" x 2"

0.5" thick

Tread Bangles Small

3" x 3"

0.5" thick

Tread Bangles Large

 

3.5" x 3.5"

0.5" thick

Bubba Bangles

3.25" x 3.25"

0.5" thick

Hexichews

4.5" x 4.5"

0.75" thick

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Due to the intended use of the product, wear and tear are expected and products should be checked routinely for damage and used with adult supervision. Discard and replace immediately once damaged. Necklaces are not intended to be worn for children under age 3 due to the concern of long cord strangulation. Clasps and ties contain small parts and may be a choking hazard and are not intended for chewing. This is not a toy.