I was recently invited by the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors’ Authority to come down with my family and enjoy the Atlantic City Airshow, aka “Thunder over the Boardwalk.” Originally I had made plans to stay overnight, then canceled all my plans to go, then re-made plans to go, but just for the day. Sooooo glad that we did!
I got a late start, but we still got to town at about 9:30 and traffic was moving very well, considering the show was due to start at 10:30. Parked and got to the boardwalk in plenty of time. Now, here’s where it gets tricky for me with my child with special needs–he HATES sand. Hates it hates it hates it won’t touch it and don’t make him. Last year he had gotten over this and was actually playing in it, this year we are back to square one. So, that fact combined with the walk to the beach, I used the stroller. It was tough, dragging a stroller through dry sand, but soooo many people helped me, it was amazing. And, I was pleasantly surprised that the AC beach actually has longer areas of “packed down sand” as compared to Avalon and Ocean City, thus making it easier for me. AC is also only one of a handful of free beaches in New Jersey, nice plus.
Admittedly, when I think of Atlantic City, although I know that they have grown immensely and offer so much more than casinos, I still really think of it as an adult place. A place that I like to go for a date night with hubby. This trip definitely changed my mind. They have all the things that the other beach towns have–easy access to beach, lifeguards every block or so, free beach access, boardwalk with shops and junk food, the best saltwater taffy….and, better shopping (more on that later).
My boys loved the airshow; it was noisy but not too noisy or too frequent. Pretty much what you would expect from the nation’s largest one-day airshow. It was mobbed, but if you go in knowing that, it’s easier. We packed food plus since we were guests we were able to access the food in the media tent if we wished. My only regret is not staying overnight for two nights and making a little getaway out of it. The day before the airshow is when they practice and that is apparently fun to watch. And, getting out of town afterwards was a bear. Mind you, it didn’t bother my kids as they were sound asleep in the back seat. It only bothered me to be sitting in traffic and I was wishing that I was still on the beach or walking the boards. Or…as I approached another stop light….the outlet mall. They have a huge outlet mall there. It looked like they had all the major brands you’d expect. My boys were asleep and we were all covered in sand and still wearing bathing suits, or I absolutely would have sat-out the traffic by shopping there instead. I also saw a Melting Pot which I think is such a fun restaurant. I was so psyched to receive a box of James/Fralinger saltwater taffy as a gift, which is our favorite. We get it every year in Ocean City, so I was so pleased to find it in Atlantic City. It’s turning out to be a MUCH bigger motivator for potty training than were the M&Ms that I bought.
Next year we are definitely going and staying for a few days.
Now, my little guy that has some sensory issues……..he did great. The noise of the planes didn’t bother him (in fact, in my photo album, it’s my other little guy holding his ears). I made the usual accommodations that I would make for him–towel to sit on for the beach, his own toys, his own food, etc. He was surrounded by lots of strangers and lots of activity all day long. At one point midday, he did shut down and take a deep nap. Very loud planes went by and he didn’t budge. Knowing him as well as I do, this could have gone either way–complete shut down into a deep sleep, or complete meltdown into an extreme tantrum. Glad it went the sleep route. But overall, I wouldn’t be any more leery of taking a kid that has sensory issues there, as compared to any other place.
If you go, some tips:
- Bring your own food if possible.
- Bring or rent an umbrella, it’s a very long day in direct sun. Bring sunglasses and/or a hat for all.
- There are beach showers to rinse sand off as you exit beach.
- There is handicapped/wheelchair access for beach, but it is limited.
- It can be done as a day trip, but it’s a long day. I recommend staying overnight if it’s in your budget, but doing it as a day trip again wouldn’t prohibit me from going either.
- Combine your beach trip with holiday or back to school shopping at outlets.
- If the big crowd (1 million people) is too much, go the day before and watch the planes rehearse instead of the actual show.
- You can always ask around and pursue other options, such as there are indoor venues from which you can watch the show.
- My kids did not need/use earplugs, but I did see many people wearing them. Keep it in mind if sound sensitive.
I would like to thank all of the sponsors that made this trip possible for us:
Fralinger & James candy and taffy
And here are some of our photos:
And, one of my favorite TV shows, FYI Philly, dedicated their entire Saturday show to the airshow. Really captured the feel of the show, check it out.