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MagiQuest, Myrtle Beach, SC: World’s Largest Live Action Game


MagiQuest, Myrtle Beach, SC

At the tender age of nine, The Boy tore through the first four books of the Harry Potter series over summer break. He found his preferred literary niche, and has remained true to all things mystical ever since. So when he had the chance to actually become a wizard at MagiQuest, and be a part of the world’s largest live action game…well, he showed more emotion that morning than most tweens do in a whole year.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

While planning our Myrtle Beach spring break trip, I read about the Broadway at the Beach entertainment and dining district. Then I noticed MagiQuest, and knew it would be a hit with everyone in our unabashedly geeky family.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

This is the largest MagiQuest location, and one of two “Mega Kingdom Realms.” (The second is in Tokyo.) There are three smaller “Kingdom Realms,” and ten “Forest Realms,” which are located within the Great Wolf Lodge indoor water parks. When you arrive for the first time at any MagiQuest location, you choose and purchase your own casting wand, which you keep and can use at any location. Through some super duper technology, the wands interact with video screen kiosks and the sets within.

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PHOTO FRIDAY / Sighted and Shared!

One of the best things about travel blogging is the community among fellow bloggers. I especially love when another blogger will let me know about a BIG thing they’ve see in their travels; even more so when they share their photos with me!

For Photo Friday today, I wanted to show you some. First, Annie at Practical Adventurology recently attended Carnaval de Nice in France, one the world’s largest pre-Lent celebrations. It’s been taking place since 1873, but is now known for the spectacular, immense floats. These figures were about six stories tall!

Carnaval de Nice

Carnaval de Nice

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Fantasy of Flight: World’s Largest Private Collection of Vintage Airplanes

Fantasy of Flight

Fantasy of Flight, Polk City, FL

I remember my first flight; a KLM 747 from JFK to Amsterdam, en route to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. I was only seven, and so I thought the airplane would shoot straight up into the sky on a nearly vertical trajectory. Flying in an airplane was a fantastical voyage for me then. It still is.

So I get why Kermit Weeks began amassing his own collection of vintage airplanes at Fantasy of Flight to preserve their romantic history.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

We were looking for large on our summer vacation to Orlando, and we weren’t disappointed. After an itinerary of gators, potatoes, planetariums, and Big Macs, Fantasy of Flight offered something a little different — the world’s largest private collection of vintage airplanes.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

We stayed in a lovely USA Vacation Home in Davenport, which was 20 miles west of Orlando. This location brought us pretty close to Polk City; too close to pass up the opportunity!

Okay, what was so cool about it?

This attraction offers more than a museum of old planes.  You know that wouldn’t be enough to hold a kid’s interest! Even in the main hangars, there are several planes to climb into and play with the controls, as well as a few flight simulators.


A Young Earhart in her Cessna

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Gatorland: World’s Largest Collection of White Alligators, Orlando, FL

Gatorland“Family travel” is a term conjuring images of theme parks and children’s museums, in between stops at local ice cream parlors. As a helicopter parent, I’m all for that safe, reliable model of away-from-home entertainment. So I’m still trying to figure out what came over me when we visited Gatorland in Orlando, FL this summer.  I brought my two kids into a pen containing a white, ten-foot alligator.

Of course, Gatorland — one of Florida’s oldest attractions – is a wholesome family outing; one which I highly recommend to get off the beaten theme park track. And we could have stayed along the sidewalks to passively view the gator habitats and the “wrestlin’” shows with their campy yet endearing theatrics. But on this day, we met Trezo Je. And I loosened my death grip on the apron strings, more than a little.

Here’s how it happened: I contacted the local tourism office, which I normally do before we travel, to request assistance in planning our visits to the area’s attractions. They’re always willing to help travel writers and bloggers find great adventures, so they arranged for us to meet Tim Williams, the “Dean of Gator Wrestling,” when we arrived at Gatorland.

Tim immediately put all of us at ease with his obvious experience and knowledge about all of Gatorland’s residents, which include all manner of reptilians, as well as birds, zebu, deer, and emus. Before we even left his office, our kids were wearing baby alligators on their heads. And not freaking out.


We were there expressly to see the world’s largest collection of the extremely rare Leucistic alligators. Only 15 are known to exist in the world, and four of them live at Gatorland. They have white skin, but unlike the more common albino alligator, have some color variations, as well as steely blue eyes instead of pink. While albino gators have other genetic mutations and tend not to survive to adulthood, Leucistic gators are strong, healthy… and mean.

Leucistic alligator

Tim brought us to their pens. Trezo Je lives alone, because apparently he doesn’t warm to company. (Get it, warm? Cold-blooded? Still with me?) He and the other white gators were relocated from Louisiana bayous, so his name honors his Cajun Creole “roots.” Trezo Je means “Treasure’s Eye.”

Tim introduced us to the animal trainer who works with these gators, and asked him to bring us in to the small space surrounded by wood and plexiglass walls. The trainer opened the door, Tim waved me in, and I …just…went. No dramatic protests, no time to wish my husband farewell. Then he sent my kids in behind me, and those chickens from my own gene pool followed me blindly.

Trezo Je

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Orlando Science Center: World’s Largest Digistar Planetarium

We’re just back from Boston, and summer is winding down. Say, is that a dim light I see at the end of the tunnel?? Why, it looks like the light coming from a local elementary school classroom…

Orlando Science Center

Photo credit: Orlando Science Center

Of course, we have yet to share all of our Orlando adventures, so…

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Picture it: Orlando. Summertime. A heat-phobic family of nerdy tourists needing somewhere to escape. Orlando Science Center to the rescue!

WHY did you go there, exactly?

Orlando is not only theme parks, a fact which I urge everyone to consider when they visit. There are some really fun attractions which have nothing to do with a certain mouse and his friends.

Because we proudly fly the geek flag on our homestead, we’re always up for a visit to a science museum. The OSC lured us in with its promise of the world’s largest Digistar Planetarium.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

The Planetarium was our last stop, after visiting the center’s other exhibits. The kids enjoyed the “DinoDigs” exhibit gallery features several reproduction skeletons of dinosaurs and prehistoric sea creatures, including a T-Rex. Two fossil dig areas attracted a gaggle of kids clamoring to find dino bones.

The Girl especially enjoyed being with other pre-schoolers in KidsTown, where she spent an inordinate amount of time at the water table and in the pretend orange juice processing plant.

water table

Remaining relatively dry at the water table.

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World’s Largest McDonald’s, Orlando, FL

McDonald'sI’m completely swamped by work since we got back from our Orlando trip, and I’m getting very little accomplished, thanks to this time of year which others cheekily call summer “vacation.” However, I’m under an intense deadline to post this one, because this McDonald’s won’t be the world’s largest very much longer. Several sources have advised me that a larger McDonald’s is being built for the Olympics in London, which begins in three weeks.

So technically, we did see this one while it was the world’s largest. And to be fair, it qualifies itself as “the world’s largest entertainment McDonald’s and PlayPlace,” which I assume relates to all the arcade games and other diversions which you won’t find in many other Mickey D’s.

Two Floors of Fun

When you enter the ground floor, you might be greeted/accosted by a person selling theme park tickets from the booth set up along the side wall. There are some games on this floor, and the “jungle room.” Do you remember the borderline creepy 1980’s TV commercials featuring the moon guy named “Mac Tonight” singing to the tune of Mack the Knife? Well, he’s here with his piano, and he’s a little dusty.

Mac Tonight

“When the clock strikes half past six, babe…” Sing it with me...

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Walt Disney World: World’s Largest Theme Park

On Wednesday, we spent an exhausting day at Walt Disney World, the world’s largest theme park. Specifically, we spent 10 hours straight in the Magic Kingdom, pushing through the heat-induced crankiness and cyclical sugar lows to fit in what everyone wanted to see and do.

There’s not much new to write about Disney World. Many of us have the same photo, standing in front of Cinderella’s castle, and similar stories about our favorite rides and characters. What makes it magical is seeing it through our children’s eyes, especially if it’s their first time there.

This was The Girl’s first visit to the Magic Kingdom. I spent more time watching her face than anything else.

Her first character encounter was with Merida from Brave:


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World’s longest freestanding escalator, Atlanta, GA

Krofft Supershow

Electra Woman and Dyna Girl first appeared on the Krofft Supershow in 1976. I may have wanted to be one or both of them. Photo credit: Sidandmartykrofft.com

While I don’t broadcast my age, my frequent references to 70’s pop culture should leave little doubt that I’ve been here a while. Today I learned something I didn’t know about Sid and Marty Krofft. Do you remember watching The Krofft Supershow on Saturday mornings, anywhere from 1976-78? Well, in 1976, they masterminded the world’s first entirely indoor theme park – The World of Sid and Marty Krofft – inside the Omni Center in Atlanta, GA.

Leading up to the entrance was the world’s longest freestanding escalator. That escalator is all which remains of the attraction, which closed after only six months. This part of the complex is now the headquarters of CNN, and the escalator leads you from the lobby of the CNN Center up to the public tour.

Many thanks to Jen at Two Kids and a Map for the trip down Memory Lane. And for this month’s guest post! Jen and her family just got back from Atlanta, where they took the long ride up the world’s longest escalator which led them to the start of the CNN tour.

Here’s her escalator experience:

Where we went, and who was coerced into going: 

We went to the global headquarters of CNN for their Inside CNN Studio Tour while spending a long weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.  It is the largest of the network’s 48 bureaus worldwide.  Besides being the largest CNN  bureau, it also houses the world’s longest unsupported escalator.

world's longest escalator

World's longest freestanding escalator

WHY did you go there, exactly?

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The Varsity: World’s Largest Drive-in Restaurant


Credit: TheVarsity.com

Back in my carefree, single, post-college days, I visited my friend Tina in Atlanta. She took me to the Varsity, the world’s largest drive-in restaurant. While I relished the extremes of salty and sweet, what made a lasting impression was the frenetic pace and secret language of the counter staff, and the charmingly retro décor.

Twenty years later, and still in Atlanta, Tina blogs at Veggievangelist about the wholesome, home-cooked meals she prepares for her family. But she still takes them to the Varsity on occasion.

In this, her second guest post for GBOGH, she assures us that not much has changed at the Varsity. Phew.

Did I mention I’m hungry?

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

When my friend Michelle suggested that we take our gaggle of boys to The Varsity in Downtown Atlanta before heading over to the World of Coke, I didn’t hesitate. If there are wide gaps in my religious education, it isn’t hard to figure out why. Our church is across the street from what is the “World’s Largest Drive-In Restaurant.” We would go get onion rings instead of getting our butts into our Sunday School classroom.

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World’s Largest Santa and other BIG Christmas Fun!

Let’s talk about Christmas! Primarily, let’s talk about what I want for Christmas {sheepish grin}. Then we’ll get to you.

I would like your vote! Go BIG or Go Home has made Christopher Elliott’s list of nominees for favorite travel bloggers! He’s a consumer travel advocate who publishes this annual list, and it would mean significant exposure for us. We’re included in a list of 25 blogs, from which 12 will make the cut for “Top 12 Favorite Travel Bloggers.” The final list will be posted this Friday. Thanks in advance for voting for Go BIG or Go Home!

Moving on…have you entered our giveaway yet for some fun stocking stuffers? You could win a $50 gift certificate to Appalachian Outdoors or a pair of BTB Sunglasses. Winners will be chosen tonight and announced tomorrow, so enter now!

On to the fun part! We like BIG expressions of holiday spirit, so we thought we would share a few with you.  Like…

The world’s largest Santa Claus! You can find this sizable St. Nick at the Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK. Our friend Erin writes about family fun in the 49th state at AK on the GO. She tells us that the 42-ft, 900 lb. fiberglass statue has stood in front of this attraction since 1983, although he was originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

The world's largest Santa lives in...where else? North Pole, Alaska!

There’s a live Santa here all year with whom you can share your wish list. You can also have a letter delivered from the Big Guy, see reindeer, shop and grab a snack. Erin says, “It’s pretty fun to visit, a little kitschy, but a worthwhile place to stop, especially since it’s the North Pole, for goodness sake!”

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