Posts tagged ‘Fork and Screen’

January 4, 2013

Check It Out: Downtown Disney’s Splitsville

Today my dad treated me to a morning of bowling at Downtown Disney’s new Splitsville.  I had first seen that this was being built last summer when Maggie and I were over seeing a Fork and Screen movie, and apparently it just opened the week before Christmas.  I had heard a lot of good things about it, so I was excited to check it out.

Splitsville Downtown Diseny

When you come in, you get in one of two lines- Dining or Bowling.  They have a full service restaurant that you can sit at, or you can get food ordered right at your lane.  We got in the bowling line, and since we were there in the first half hour of it opening (regular hours are 10 am-2 am), we got a lane right away.  They check you in and plug in your names and shoe sizes to a computer.  You then get a “lane concierge” who takes a basket with your shoes and menus over to your lane and briefs you on the basics:

1. You have an hour and a half to play as many games as you can.  They build in 10 extra minutes for picking out which bowling ball you want and getting your shoes on.

2.  Each lane has its own waitress who will visit periodically throughout your time block.  My dad and I got some fries and a Turkey Club about mid-game, and it took about 15-20 minutes for the food to come out.  Make sure you order ahead of time, so you’re not stuck scarfing down food at the end.  Here’s a peek at the menu (sorry that some parts are fuzzy- I just snapped these quickly between bowling frames and it was kind of dim).  Almost everything is between $10-$15.

Splitsville Menu 1


Splitsville Menu 3

3. At the 15 minute mark, your screen will turn yellow as a warning that your time is almost up.  Someone will check on you then to wrap up your bill.  I’m sure you could pay more to stay longer, but an hour and a half was PLENTY of time- especially for two people.  You can always see how much time you have left by the countdown clock at the bottom of your screen.

Splitsville Time Left

I was pleased to see that our scoreboard was already set up with our names when we got our shoes, so there was no time wasted typing things into  a tiny keyboard.  My dad and I got through 3 full games, as well as the first few frames of a fourth game.  We left about 15 minutes before our time was up because we were both pretty done with bowling by then.  The family next to us had four people, and they seemed to fit about 3 games in during the hour and a half period (plus they ordered some snacks in between).


My dad bowling his next frame. He was much better than me at aiming ; )

I am not super great at bowling and tend to go with the “throw it hard and hope for the best” strategy.  My scores went from 73 to 96 (woohoo!) back down to 71, while my dad beat me all three times with 113, 100, and 122 in the last round (that beats Sheldon’s career best at 68!).  Whenever you get any special shots, like a Strike, Spare, Split, or my go-to, the Gutterball, fun animation pops up on your screen so everyone is made aware of your skill level, haha.

Gutterball Splitsville

They had a good selection of bowling balls to choose from at each station.  I switched between 7-9 pounds with the small finger size, and my dad had a 13 pound ball with an XL finger size.  I saw other bowling balls with XS and XXL, so really, everyone’s hand is covered : )  All the bowling balls have to be Disney related, so they each sport a Mickey or Minnie sketch on the side.

The atmosphere of Splitsville is great.  They played a bunch of Top 40 music, including “Good Time”, “Somebody I Used to Know”, and “Call Me Maybe”.  The walls have a bunch of fun pop art on them, and they also include retro touches throughout the bowling alley to keep up the theme.  The place sports two levels with a total of 20 lanes (10 on each floor).  The bottom floor is always family-friendly, while the top floor turns into a night club for those 21 and up- but only after a certain time at night.  If you go before 5 pm, it’s $15 a person including shoes (obviously food and drinks are extra).  If you go between 5-10 pm, it goes up to $20 per person, and then back down to $15 after 10 pm.  Friday and Saturday might be a little more expensive during that peak time, so be sure to check for pricing.  We paid the $15 for the before 5 pm price on this Friday, though.

Splitsville Decor

You can not reserve single lanes in advance.  You can reserve two lanes if you also purchase a food package- obviously for just me and my dad this was not necessary.  Groups and parties can always reserves multiple lanes, and on their phone recording, they said they will eventually add single lane reservations this spring.  As I mentioned, we walked right in, but there was about 20 people in line to bowl when we left closer to noon.  Until they allow more reservations, I would try to get there near opening time if you want to try it out.  However, there are plenty of bars and places to sit down and eat throughout the alley while you wait : )

I’d definitely recommend visiting Splitsville on your next trek out to Downtown Disney.  I think people don’t bowl enough in general, and that may be because so many bowling alleys seem run down, smelling of cigarettes and funky smelling shoes.  Splitsville revitalizes the typical bowling alley image, and makes it a much more classy experience.  I think it’s awesome that they cater to young adults as well as families (they even have little bowling ball metal guiders for tiny kids to roll their bowling balls down the lane!).  The food is a little pricey, but you are paying a lot for the convenience of having it brought to you.  It also offers a good variety (even Sushi!) as seen in the menu pictures above.  Everyone will find something to nosh on.  And if you don’t order any food, I feel like the $15 for an hour and a half + shoes is a good deal.  I’m glad I got the opportunity to check it out, along with the free reminder that I need to brush up on my bowling skills ; )

January 3, 2013

Tales of a Gift Giver: DIY Gifts for Any Occasion

Being a teacher isn’t the best way to save money on gifts, so I decided to get a little more creative this year and put a homemade aspect into a lot of my family’s gifts. Here is a rundown of my DIY gifts, and how to make them in case you get inspired ; )

For my mom….

Owl Piggy Bank

When my sister came to visit me in Tulsa, we visited Color Me Mine in Tulsa. This is a “paint your own ceramic thing” kind of place, and of course, I chose the owl. It’s actually a piggy bank, and I instructed my mom to use it to save up money for her next trip to come see me. We always end up going shopping, so I figured every time she is feeling stressed out from daily life, she can look at the equally stressed out owl and deposit change in it to save up for something fun later : )

For my sister….

book of awesome

Last Christmas, my sister gave me this book called “The Book of Awesome.” It contains short passages about the small things in life we should appreciate like driving around to see Christmas lights, finally remembering where we’ve seen someone before after staring at them forever, and playing Robin Hood with batteries in your remotes around your house (steal from the rich and give to the poor!). She not only bought the book, but also had marked it up commenting on various things, drawing illustrations, and coming up with her own Awesome things unique to us. I would randomly read it all year, and was absolutely *delighted* to find out they had released a sequel to it. I bought it, and also the holiday edition, and spent hours and hours marking each passage up and thinking up new awesome things. I was actually afraid she would buy the same thing for me, so I tried to add as much as possible and bought that holiday edition as a back up bonus gift, haha. Luckily, she got me Lego Lord of the Rings instead, so I was safe ; ) Taking a coffee table book and personalizing it for a friend or family member is quite awesome on its own, and it is an easy gift to put together.

For my dad….


Confession Time: I watch a lot of “beauty gurus” on YouTube. I think I follow like 20 now??? It’s a bit ridiculous, but led to a great Christmas gift idea this year. Rachhloves posted a video a long time ago about DIY gifts, and one of them was a jar of notes. Essentially, you decorate a jar and write a bunch of notes with quotes, sayings, memories, etc. for the person to read throughout the year. Well, I am more fond of boxes so I went straight to my local Michaels and bought this basic black wooden box and some scrabble-like tiles (yes, I had the scrabble idea and assumed the store would have it- luckily it did). I spent about an hour arranging the tiles into the perfect way to state the purpose of the box and take up most of the lid. I did this while Inception was on TV, so I feel like I deserve extra points for processing the movie and putting together this gift. After the box was decorated, I just wrote all the notes- most of which are fond memories I share of growing up with my dad. I had bought a bag of randomly sized, colored paper from Michaels, too, which made the notes look a little more fancy and also had been cut down to size. I ended up making 52 so my dad can open one a week. Warning: This can be extremely fun to make and you may want to keep it for yourself by the end.

For my best friend Erin….


I made Erin the same present as my dad except her box was very different. I bought a white cardboard one for her, and then spent forever cutting out quotes, cute pictures, and inspirational words to decorate the entire outside and inside walls of the box. The longest part of this project was arranging everything just so on each side of the box, especially on the top (because that has the biggest real estate and will be seen the most). I probably went through about 5 different layouts before deciding on one. This was done during the movie Elf, though, so my mind was a little more freed up than when I made my dad’s gift. Once I laid out all the magazine clippings, I painted Mod Podge ALL over the box to glue it down and create a finishing effect. It looked pretty awesome in the end. I used the same note paper to write Erin’s notes, and once again wrote 52 to make it last all year (though I did tease her that she wouldn’t be able to wait and I’d find her laying in a sea of opened notes, kind of like Monica opening all her wedding presents on Friends).

For my grandfather….


My grandfather is extremely hard to shop for, so I had to enlist the help of 26 4th graders to put his gift together. We just finished reading Dear Mr. Henshaw the last week before break, and as a “final project,” each student wrote a letter to him telling about themselves and an aspect of the class. I took a picture of each student holding a “Hi Mr. Barr!” sign, too, so my grandfather could see all the cute kids who wrote the letters. I didn’t have time to do practically any editing, so the quotes from some of these letters are hilarious. For example:

“I’m ten years old. I bet you’re really old.”

“My name is Ethan. Do you like my handwriting?”

“Ms. Schrumpf teaches us a little bit too much social studies.”

“My brothers make fun of me. They tease me a lot, but life goes on.”

This was actually really easy to put together. I used a spare binder and some page protectors, had the kids paste their pictures on paper and decorate them like frames, and then stuck all the letters and pictures in the book side by side. And BAM. Present. I think if you’re a teacher, getting your class in on making a gift can be great- but only if you can tie it into a teaching objective (letter writing!). It’s a great way to share what you do with someone else!

For my brother-in-law….

grab and go popcorn

Dan is SO EASY to shop for because I can basically throw Dunkin Donuts gift cards at him and he’s ecstatic. However, Dan’s birthday is December 25th, so I run into the dreaded TWO PRESENT CONUNDRUM. Luckily, Dan and I share a love of fantasy movies, especially Lord of the Rings, that Katie isn’t really as into (and by not really into I mean doesn’t care at all). So, I made a homemade coupon in Dan’s Christmas card offering to take him to go see The Hobbit in any format (there are three ways to see it- basic, 3D, and 3D High Frame Rate) and a $10 snack budget. We went on New Year’s Day and saw the fancy 3D High Frame Rate one at the new and improved Downtown Disney Theater (I hadn’t been to the NOT Fork and Screen side in a long time and was very impressed with its multiple fancy snack bar choices and grab and go popcorn- as seen above). We’ve done movie outings together before (again-usually to the one’s Katie doesn’t care about). I know we saw Tron in IMAX 3D and some of the Harry Potter films, and it’s fun. Homemade coupons may be cheesy, but when a free movie outing is involved, they are golden.

So yes- gift giving this year was pretty awesome. I definitely had to step it up a notch to make up for the fact that I am poor, but it turned out to be really fun to put everyone’s gifts together (and go see The Hobbit!). Hope this gives you some DIY ideas for upcoming birthdays, mother’s and father’s days and the occasional anniversary : )

PS- For each of the kids in my class, I wrote a hand written card. I do this every year because I remember LOVING when a teacher wrote a heartfelt message that was unique to me. This takes me about four hours, but watching each kid read their fairly long message of encouragement, appreciation, and care is totally worth it. Plus, I always get a couple of cute notes back and I gain the trust of some of those hard to reach kids ; )