Travel Tuesday: From New York to Disneyland

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(Apologies for the random photos; my phone died midway through our day trip to New York, so all I got were some weird shots of Lance at Steak n’ Shake Express :-/)

There are not many Broadway shows that I have to drop everything to see.  While I appreciate the skill, discipline, and talent involved in staging these often elaborate, mostly intensive shows, it’s not in my blood like Lance (who owns the cast recording of Sunset Boulevard in six or seven different languages.)

Still, we hadn’t been to NYC together in almost a year, and with spring in the air, Lance was itchin’ to visit the Great White Way.  And this time, I was actually excited to see a show: the revival of Pippin, but  my enthusiasm had nothing to do with the show itself.

Y’see, I’ve mentioned loyalty programs before; most of the time, your “loyalty” is rewarded with a hill of beans, but every so often, if you play your cards right, you can hit the jackpot.  Today’s example: Audience Rewards.

Audience Rewards is the loyalty program for big-time theatre productions, mostly in New York.  Every time you see a show, you earn Audience Rewards points, the objective being to earn enough to redeem for free tickets to a stage show.

Well, like a lot of airline loyalty programs, Audience Rewards also couples with other loyalty programs, like Delta Airlines’ SkyMiles or Starwood hotel group’s Preferred Guest (SPG) program, where you can opt for your points from Broadway ticket purchases to go to one of these other programs instead.  Sometimes, they even offer a bonus.

This is why I was so excited to go up to New York for the day and see Pippin (and, with rush tickets, the fabulous off-Broadway production Peter and the Starcatcher).  See, for every Pippin ticket you purchased, you got 5000 SPG points, so between the two of us, that’s…well, you can do the math.

That may not seem like a lot, until you look at what 10,000 SPG points will get you: three nights at the Sheraton Garden Grove near Disneyland in California, a hotel that goes for over $130 a night.

Since we were already thinking about going to California this fall, these bonus points from Pippin will end up saving us almost $400!

As with any of this loyalty program stuff, the trick is not spend any more (or significantly more!) than you would normally spend in the pursuit of points.  It just worked out that we were looking to see a show, and this promotion happened to sync up with that.

Disneyland, December 2013, baby!!

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Travels With Lance

[Continuing our series on the origins of Lance+Jeff! You can see our other entries here, here, and here!]

It was never a conscious choice of ours, to travel so much, but looking back to compile these posts, it’s pretty clear that going on adventures is a fundamental element of our relationship.

Our first trip together was actually the start of a rapid-fire succession of mini-trips, about five months after we began dating.  We went to New York for the day to catch the original off-Broadway production of future Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal, starring Lance’s fave stage actress of all-time, Alice Ripley.

[Sidebar: Lance’s obsession with Alice Ripley started in a Tower Records.  “I just saw her name on the back of a CD and I KNEW I had a connection with her!!” he describes. Stalker, much?]

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Since this was supposed to be Alice’s big Broadway comeback show (“It’s a RETURN!” says Lance) after an unsuccessful detour to Hollywood and rock music, Lance was terribly excited…and nervous, since the show was still working through some kinks in this limited off-Broadway run.  At that point, it was doubtful that it would even transfer to Broadway…and then what would happen to Alice??

So, after we saw the show that weekend, we decided to bus it back to New York to see it again…twice…the following week.

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It was obviously windy that day. This is why Lance no longer has his Milo Ventimagina hair.

New York, twice in one month (not the only time we’ve done that)–a test for any couple.  But wait, there’s more!

Some four days after this second NYC trip, we flew to Chicago!  Lance was checking out grad school programs at the time, and both of us have a mad metropolitan crush on the Windy City.

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Since that chilly March in 2008, we’ve travelled a bunch. Probably too much.

There was Universal Studios Orlando in May 2008…

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Yes, those are cargo shorts. 2008 was the darkest timeline.

DC in January of 2009 (for Next to Normal’s off-off Broadway re-tooling run):

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…then Atlantic City…

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…Finally back to NYC to see Next to Normal play on Broadway, just a few months before Alice won her Tony for the role (and will be forever remembered for her Tony acceptance speech.)

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…Then to Las Vegas…

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…And back to Chicago in October 2009…

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…And then to Hawaii in April 2010, where our Lance+Jeff story will continue tomorrow:

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Our first trip to Hawaii also marks quite a significant event in the long slog of our relationship (I bet you can’t guess what it is!!!1!), a turning point for our relationship, but also for our travels.  Ever since this trip, we’ve gone even more travel-crazy, going back to NYC multiple times, back to Vegas two more times, then to New Orleans, Dollywood (x2), Disney World (x2), Tokyo…and I think there was even a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska in there somewhere…not to mention our trips home to Michigan…

Why does it work for us? That’s hard to say.  If you don’t like the bussle and anxiety of travel, this might not be for you. Thankfully, both of us like travelling and like spending a lot of time together, though we have, over time, established guidelines and agreements so that we don’t kill each other.

This isn’t to say that we’re the world’s most-traveled couple. Obviously not! Nevertheless, our desire to hop on a plane together, to hold hands as the wheels slip free of the runway, and go off exploring somewhere…that’s in the chemistry of our relationship.