Author Archives: PLAYGROUND Mag

Go PLAY: Planet Obstacle

PLAYGROUND Magazine’s JJ West laced up her family’s sneakers and went to Lake Mary’s new family entertainment & exercise facility, Planet Obstacle, to find out what makes it stand out. It’s a warehouse jam-packed with thrilling courses, rides and games that will leave the entire family smiling- and sweating! By JJ West What was said […]

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Playing with Light

PLAYGROUND Magazine sent JJ West to check out Playing with Light at the Orlando Science Center. Photos by Christian Sprogoe Photography Playing with Light is lighting up the Orlando Science Center through January 3, 2018. The traveling exhibit showcases how light infiltrates almost every aspect of our lives, providing hands-on experiences for all ages. The […]

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Megan’s 5 PLAY Tips: Andretti Indoor Karting and Games

PLAYGROUND sent Megan Navarro to check out Andretti Indoor Karting and Games, one of the newest places for Central Florida families to PLAY! Located near Universal Orlando, Andretti Indoor Karting and Games is jam-packed with indoor adventures. Complete with a ropes course, zip line and super-fast electric go karts, this place is a must-do for […]

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Party Animals

These Moms Know How to Party! Serendipity can sometimes carve an unexpected path. Just ask Andrea St. Onge of Longwood and Cristina Lima of Sanford, owners of Lou & Pepper. Words by Lisa A. Beach | Photos Supplied by Lou & Pepper A few years ago, the two moms met at their daughters’ preschool. Andrea, […]

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Fall PLAYguide: Pumpkin Patches, Fall Festivals, Corn Mazes and More!

Nothing says fall like the taste of pumpkin spice or the crunch of leaves under your shoes. What better way to soak up the season than to get outside and celebrate? We’ve put together a guide to help Central Florida families navigate the season. Enjoy!   Pumpkin Patches and Hay Rides • • • • […]

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Smarty Pants Kids’ Fashion

PLAYGROUND Magazine fashion at Orlando Science center

Photography by Marliese Carmona Wardrobe and prop styling by Alisha Champ Hair and make-up by Tracie Cervero Gifford Shot on location at Orlando Science Center   Lawton, 8, Orlando Plaid button-down shirt, $15 from Target; ripped jeans, $36 from Zara; brown leather shoes, $30 from Old Navy Michael J, 9, Winter Garden Graphic sweatshirt, $10; […]

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SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular 2017

Attention PLAYers: We just received this announcement from SeaWorld Orlando Popular Daytime Halloween Celebration Returns Weekends September 23 – October 29, 2017 Halloween Spooktacular returns to SeaWorld Orlando this Saturday, earlier than ever before for six weekends of family fun. Guests of all ages can join everyone’s favorite furry friends from Sesame Street as The […]

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Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2017

Words by Heather Reneau Halloween is my favorite holiday by far, and my whole family is right there with me — we’re all huge Halloween fans! We look for any way we can to extend the celebration for the whole season; October 31st just isn’t long enough for us to pack in all of our […]

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9 Tips For Drama-Free Dentist Visit

Taking your child to the dentist shouldn’t be, well, like pulling teeth. Here are nine tips for drama-free dental appointments. Words by Dr. Mandana Nabizadeh, DDS You child’s first dental exam is an important first step in ensuring your child’s overall dental health. How parents frame that first exam makes all the difference when it […]

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We Love Our School

Choosing a private or charter school can be nerve-wracking. Sure, you read their marketing materials and talk to the principal, but what’s the real deal? We went straight to Central Florida parents to get the inside scoop on local private and charter schools. Compiled and Edited by Tracey C. Velt Engaged Teachers As new parents, it […]

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Date Night: 5 Educational Experiences for Couples

Words by Stephanie Patterson Your days as a student may be long gone, but educational experiences are plentiful throughout the city, even for date night. Trade the cap and gown for your date night best, and hit the town to revisit your favorite school subjects — grown-up style. SCIENCE Science Night Live at Orlando Science […]

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Mompreneur: Holly Lesnick

Words by Lisa A. Beach  |  Photo by Erin Monroe In 2005, with a 6-week-old son and a 3-year-old daughter, Orlando mom Holly Lesnick kept a busy schedule packed with naptimes, feedings and playdates. You’d think launching a new business wouldn’t be a high priority for this new mom. But Holly’s kids, Aiden and Anna, […]

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Enrichment PLAYguide

  Orlando’s coolest extracurricular programs for kids A special advertising section A Kids Gym Learning Academy The learning opportunities are endless at A Kids Gym. Our Out-of-School Program offers an integrated approach to after-school enrichment that combines experiences in art, science, physical fitness and gymnastics. Also, our after-school cheer, dance, and gymnastics programs are designed […]

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September/October 2017 Digital Issue

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Grayson’s Story: End Childhood Cancer

A tornado in your brain. That’s what it feels like when a doctor tells you the four ugly words: Your child has cancer. Since Valentine’s Day 2015, we have been on a roller coaster of emotions, fighting for our son’s life. After finding a golf-ball sized lump on his neck, our then 10-year old son, […]

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PLAYGROUND’s Picks: Best Family Staycations

In the midst of this back-to-school craziness, Labor Day weekend is the perfect window to whisk your family away on a much-needed staycation! Orlando is rife with staycation hotspots, and there are even more gems lying in wait just a short drive from your doorstep. This year, the PLAYGROUND team is sharing their favorite Labor […]

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Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream


Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream in Orlando this September, Featuring the Box Office Smash Hits Disney’s Moana and Beauty and the Beast! Make unforgettable memories with Mickey, Minnie and all your Disney friends when Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream comes to Amway Center in Orlando from September 8-10, 2017! The ice skating extravaganza features Disney’s Moana for […]

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Solar Eclipse Viewing Events for Families

People across the country will get a rare celestial treat on Monday, August 21: the first total solar eclipse in 99 years. Central Florida gets to see the phenomenon at 85% totality, and plenty of places around Orlando are setting up viewing areas for families. This is a perfect opportunity to make memories with your […]

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5 Fun SunRail Stops for Kids

SunRail is relatively new to the Central Florida community, so we’re all still figuring out how to make the most of it. A lot of Orlando parents don’t realize that families have as much to gain from this convenient, safe service as commuters do! Here’s a list of our favorite SunRail destinations for families. Words by Anna […]

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Summer Food Fun Tour

Chef Gary Appelsies, the Director of Healthy Eating at the YMCA of Central Florida, is doing a special, Summer Food Fun Tour across Central Florida. Over the course of the next few weeks, Appelsies will be visiting Y’s across the region, from Titusville to Tavares, to teach parents and their kids about healthy eating and […]

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10 Places to PLAY on July 4th

Words by Anna Karasik Independence Day is here, and you’re about to be surrounded by dozens of incredible fireworks displays and parties. Before you drag your family out to the same old show, try something new! Here are the top spots around Orlando: Fourth of July at SeaWorld SeaWorld Orlando Fireworks at 10:00 p.m. Spend […]

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Emoji Birthday Party at O2B Kids

Emoji Party

Best for Ages:  1 to 12 Group Size:  We had 16, but this location could easily accommodate more Cost:  $250 for 10 kids, $15 for each additional child (food cost and cake table not included) Location:  O2B Kids (Oviedo, Florida location) Words by Heather Reneau, Photos by Jessica Friend Photo Design  Because this was Skyler’s last […]

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10 Baby Show Venues In Orlando

We asked the creators of The Prego Expo to tell us their favorite local places and spaces to hold a baby shower. Words by Juliana Geisler and Samantha Geisler 1. MOOR Gaylord Palms Resort 6000 West Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee | 407-586-1101 For an ocean-themed baby shower, sail away to MOOR at Gaylord Palms Resort. The restaurant’s centerpiece […]

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July/August 2017 Digital Issue

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Party PLAYguide 2017

The list of the top party venues, services and products in Orlando! A special advertising section. A Kids Gym Learning Gymnastics Academy Jump, climb, play and laugh your way through our brightly colored space made specifically for active fun! Join us for your celebration and experience what an awesome birthday bash truly is. Your group […]

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“Good Times” Kids Fashion

kids fashion party main event

Photography by Nicole Mitchem Photography Wardrobe and Prop Styling by Consider Any Thing Done Shot on location at Main Event Entertainment Dashiell (left), 7, Windermere Party animal tee, $34 from Tugboat & the Bird; light wash jeans, $15 from H&M; teal Converse, $35 from Journeys Nathan (right), 7, Sanford Multi-colored gingham shirt, $30; red slip-on shoes, […]

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Summer Road Trip to Martin County, Florida

Advertorial Picture this: You’re driving down the Florida coast along the pristine Atlantic shoreline, bright tropical colors greeting you from all sides. You impulsively decide to stop for lunch on the immaculate uncrowded beach. You grab the picnic basket and slip your shoes off, the warm sand pleasantly greeting your toes as you lead your […]

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Dare to Care this Summer with #TCSKindness

Teaching Kids to Care. Downtown Orlando’s The Christ School (TCS) is doing an online summer initiative to remind the students to give back throughout the summer break. The #TCSKindness social movement aims to not only inspire The Christ School students to spread acts of love and kindness, but also the larger community and beyond. “Shortly […]

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PLAYcation: Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate

May the PLAYcation Begin Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate just got better. PLAYGROUND Magazine recently attended a media trip to the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate for a three-night, two-day V.I.P. experience. It did not disappoint! Words by Heather Reneau Here’s the real disclaimer: the Omni Orlando at ChampionsGate has always been my family’s favorite […]

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Mascot Games Ticket Giveaway!

Win a Family 4-Pack of Tickets to The Mascot Games This is a can’t-miss event for sports-loving families! See all of your favorite mascots from the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA and Arena Football League battle it out in competitions. The event is on June 23 and 24 at the Amway Center. All proceeds from […]

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5 Ways to PLAY This Weekend: May 24, 2017

Thank you to this week’s sponsor:   1. Take the Kids to PLAY at Main Event Entertainment May 26-27 from 9 a.m.-2 a.m., May 28 from 9 a.m.-Midnight Main Event Orlando This new high-tech fun center will be enjoyed by kids and parents alike. Main Event combines dining, virtual and interactive game play, state-of-the-art bowling, adventure courses, […]

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O2B Summer Camp is Coming!

Sponsored by O2B Kids. Summer Camp at O2B Kids ROCKS! Any child entering 1st through 8th grade who wants to visit a galaxy far far away, celebrate a year’s worth of holidays, survive the Survivor challenge, splash with friends, get dirty with slime, become a superhero and save the world, take the stage for O2B’s […]

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How To Kids Fringe

Hey Playground readers! My name is Genevieve Bernard, and I’m returning as Producer of Kids Fringe. Fringe is my favorite time of year in Orlando, and Kids Fringe has a special place in my heart. Our Kids Fringe team has worked hard to put together a super-fun, interactive festival with something for everyone! Below I’ll […]

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What Mom Wants for Mother’s Day

Words by Lisa A. Beach With Mother’s Day right around the corner, kids and husbands everywhere are scrambling (often last-minute) to find just the right gift for Mom, trying to show their love and appreciation for the best woman on earth. I laugh when I see those jewelry commercials peddling gold charms and diamonds for […]

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Exploring Spain with Kids

Words by Amanda Keefer Our journey to Spain, Northern Spain and France was inspired by my significant other, Marcus. After traveling to the region twice in the past 10 years, he couldn’t wait to show off the destination to our family. As with all of our family adventures, we hoped that our children, Madison (17), […]

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100 Ways to PLAY This Summer

Keep smiling all summer long with our list of 100 exciting things you can do with your kids around Orlando! FAMILY TRADITIONS Create a Family Tradition Make a wall chalkboard calendar that the kids can up-date with their favorite summer activities. PLAY tip: Visit for step-by-step directions on how to create this wall chalkboard […]

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Summer Camp-cation in Martin County

Advertorial Fun for Parents and Kids alike. What if you could have the best of both worlds—a memorable family vacation with the kids and a romantic holiday without them? Martin County, Florida can give you both. With 22 miles of Atlantic shoreline, this charming hidden gem of the South Florida coast offers activities for the […]

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Spring Fashion 2017

Spread the peace, love, and fashion- we have the latest trends in our music festival-themed Spring fashion shoot! Click on the video below to see it all, or scroll down for pictures. Photography by Simply Shelby Photography Wardrobe and Prop Styling by Alisha Champ Hair Styling by Pigtails & Crewcuts Shot on location at Mead […]

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May/June 2017 Digital Issue

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Pokémon Concert & Free MiniCon

Calling all Pokémon Masters. Back by popular demand, Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions brings the iconic music from the Pokémon video games to life in a unique concert by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. This year, though, the festivities go way beyond a simple show: FREE Pokémon MiniCon April 30 from 10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Seneff Arts Plaza – […]

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Win a Beachmate!

The better way to beach. As we ring in Summer of 2017, we’re giving away a Beachmate! Beachmate is an all-in-one stackable storage system that consolidates all your beach products in one easy to pack bag. There is a place for everything, giving you hands-free convenience you simply carry over your shoulder. The Beachmate is […]

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Exploring Canada with Kids

Words by Diane Jennings The Jennings clan welcomes exploration. My husband, Kevin, and I have been on the voyage of marriage for 16 years. We have two curious young men, Noah Samuel (15) and Sawyer Finn (11), who count the days until our next adventure. After all, they’ve been traveling since birth in planes, trains, automobiles […]

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Summer Camp PLAYguide

Your resource for awesome summer adventures! A special advertising section Camp Kids Academy at A Kids Gym allows children to explore their creative side and have fun! We offer weekly theme camps for toddlers and preschoolers, as well as summer camp for school-age children in grades K–8. Weekly tuition ranges from $105–$160. There are even […]

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Things to do Easter Weekend

Easter fun goes way beyond regular ol’ egg hunts here in Orlando. Check out the top places to PLAY: Do an Easter Egg Craft on April 13! Kids ages 5-12 will love this free event at the Windermere Library. Be sure to register in advance! See website for more info. Hard Knocks Orlando is doing […]

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Newborn-Friendly Dates

4 Date Night Ideas That Don’t Require a Sitter Words by Stephanie Patterson As a new parent, date night may be the last thing on your priority list. Yet, a regular night out is an important part of a happy and healthy relationship, and there’s no need to forgo it once your baby has arrived. […]

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March/April 2017 Digital Issue

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Orlando’s Best Places to PLAY with Baby

B.Y.O.Baby: You might think this play business is just for the older kids. Not so. Orlando has a plenty of great places geared for baby play. FREE PLAY Love playgrounds but worry the older kids will trample your baby? There are plenty of fun indoor playgrounds geared toward babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Let them explore […]

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Gender Creative Kids

Coloring outside the gender lines. Words by Cortney Thekan | Artwork by Erin Stork When my first child was born, I didn’t give gender much thought. He was a boy, and it was the late ’90s, so I dressed him in a hideous navy onesie emblazoned with “Little Slugger” or something equally conventional. I painted his […]

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Mompreneur: Hannah Harshman of Dance 350 Orlando

Words by Tracey C. Velt | Photos by Jessica Friend Photo Design Hannah Harshman is no stranger to dance. “My mom put me in dance class when I was 3 years old,” says Hannah, artistic director and owner of Dance 360 Orlando in Baldwin Park. “It started as a summer activity to keep me busy, […]

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DIY: All Natural Cleaner

Words by Luna Jauregui, Doulas of Orlando Did you realize that with a few items from your pantry, you can mix your own kitchen and bathroom spray cleaners? Bonus: They’re a lot cheaper and healthier for your little one! Exposure to chemicals in our environment could affect your baby, even in the womb. After all, […]

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Spring Break Camps in Orlando

Keep the kids playing at these local Spring Break camps. RDV Sportsplex Ice Den is hosting a Learn to Skate Camp and a Figure Skating camp from March 20-24! Each camp is $245 for the week or $60 for individual days. Skaters must be at least 6 years old to participate in Learn to Skate […]

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Maternity PLAYguide 2017

Here comes baby! These local services for expectant mothers will make your new baby’s transition into the world a little easier. A Special Advertising Section B & B Babytalk offers a unique shopping experience. From Once Upon a Time to Happily Ever After! Fulfilling your needs from maternity to childhood. This family-owned business has everything. […]

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Get Ahead on Summer Camp Planning

It’s already March– time to start thinking about summer camps! Take the stress out of planning your kid’s summer experience by booking it all under one roof. At the Summer Camp & Adventure Expo on March 4, you can interact with camp counselors one-on-one; get exclusive discounts on travel and camps; and find unique new […]

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Baby Playgroup at O2BKids

Whether your baby is just a few weeks or a few years old, O2BKids has fun parent/child playgroups for your crew! At the Oviedo Mall (and soon to open in Altamonte Springs) Morning Magic Show (Walking to 5 Years Old) Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. This is an interactive and engaging program for parents […]

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Florida Hospital’s Top 10 Baby Names of 2016

Bringing a new bundle of joy into the world? The Baby Place at Winter Park Memorial Hospital sent us their top 10 baby names of 2016 to help give you ideas of what you’ll call your little prince or princess. Girl Names: Kayla Annabelle Elizabeth Carolyn Grace Stephanie Sarah Abbigail Lexy Jazlynn Boy Names: Alvin […]

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Dress Up. Play Hard. Stand Out.

Words by Lisa A. Beach | Photo by Jessica Friend With a company slogan of “Dress Up, Play Hard, Stand Out!,” mompreneur Tracey Currey of Winter Park is a force in giving back to the community and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Currey’s company, PonyTail Bows, caters to the equestrian market (with expansion plans in the […]

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8 Ways to Raise Healthy, Active Kids

Words by Dr. Sharon DiChristafaro, First Choice Pediatrics Hectic sports and school schedules, heavy use of electronics and perceived safety risks of allowing children to play outside unsupervised have created consequences to our children that are frightening and life-long. One in three children and teens is obese, according to the American Heart Association. Even children […]

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10 Downtown O-Town Spots for Kids

Words by Amanda Keefer Think downtown Orlando is off limits for families and especially kids? Think again. Downtown features some great places your kids will love. Flip through the pictures below to explore downtown O-Town: Click anywhere to see next slide, or use arrows at the bottom to navigate.

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National Catholic Schools Week

The “Lions” of Holy Family Catholic School are gearing up for a week of fun and festivities to show their pride! Students will show their support for their school and Catholic Schools around the country during their Catholic Schools Week celebration. This year, CSW will run the week of January 30, 2017-February 3, 2017. (National […]

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Mia Muniz Has the Write Stuff

Words by Lisa A. Beach – Photos by Jessica Friend   Many writers spend their entire lives trying to break into the big leagues, aiming to snag a byline in Time magazine or The Washington Post. But Lake Nona grade schooler Mia Muniz, age 10, can already add that feather to her cap, as she […]

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Having “The Talk”

When is the right age to talk to your kids about sex? Words by Angelique Luna I know what some of you are thinking: Talk about sex with my kid? Never! However, in today’s tech-driven society, we don’t have the luxury of putting off “the talk.” Still, there are suggested guidelines about how much information […]

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Speed and Agility Trainers for Kids In Orlando

Words by Tracey C. Velt Want to improve your child’s speed and strength? Consider speed and agility training for children 10 years and older. Here are some places around town: 1. Atlas Speed Orlando Former Olympian sprinter Ernest Wiggins works with kids from age 8 to college-age, offering training for speed, agility and explosiveness. His […]

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Making Exercise a Family Affair

Words by Tracey C. Velt When my son, Jake (21), was small, he would ride his bike alongside me during my runs, often veering off into the park and forcing me to chase after him. As he got older, he started running along with my husband and me (complaining all the way!). Running wasn’t his […]

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Pediatric PLAYguide 2017

Keep your family healthy! These pediatricians and pediatric dentists can guide your path to a healthier lifestyle. A Special Advertising Section Children’s Dentistry of Longwood: Dr. Donald is committed to the highest level of pediatric dentistry for your child. You and your child will experience dentistry in a fun environment that teaches about healthy teeth. […]

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USTA National Campus Now Open!

Tennis Like Never Before The Home of American Tennis officially opens to the public on Jan. 2, 2017, and it’s ready to provide a tennis experience like never before. The USTA broke ground on the USTA National Campus back in April 2015 with one goal in mind: to enhance the sport at every level and […]

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Protected: Mom’s Guide to Sports: Speed and Agility Training

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5 Secretly Healthy Recipes

Make a New Year’s Resolution to fill your family up with healthy fruits and veggies! Ready to get started? Try these five easy snack recipes from Produce for Kids and Power Your Lunchbox.   1. Flourless Rasberry Banana Pancakes (Pictured above) Packed with three kinds of fruit, these gluten-free pancakes are a sweet delight! Use […]

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Star Wars Celebration at Florida Hospital For Children

The Force was strong at Florida Hospital for Children on December 15, where staff and volunteers “trained” the next generation of Jedi with fun, games, and of course costumes. Disney and Lucasfilm sponsored the afternoon of excitement: the hospital’s young patients got to do Star Wars activities, take photos with characters, and take part in […]

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Win Tickets to Orlando Science Center!

Be a winner this weekend!   PLAYGROUND Magazine is giving away 4 Family 4-Packs of tickets to Orlando Science Center! It’s a perfect holiday gift, or a great treat for your own family as you come together for the holidays. The Science Center just opened New KidsTown in October. We checked it out— and it’s […]

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Orlando Science Center Afterschool

Limited space available – Program begins January 17, 2017. Orlando Science Center Afterschool is an immersive program that gives students in grades K-5 an opportunity to develop their skills with hands-on STEM activities. This program runs Monday – Friday. About Orlando Science Center Afterschool The program will provide an interdisciplinary approach to various STEM topics […]

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Registration Open at R School Orlando

R School, a new Florida nonprofit independent school, is now accepting applications for the spring term. The first of its kind in Central Florida, R School is an accessible educational alternative to public, private, and home school. Enrollment options for grades K-8: Full-time, campus-based independent school Part-time, campus-based homeschool or private school enrollment Private school […]

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Light Up UCF Giveaway!

Ho ho ho! PLAYGROUND is playing Santa with a big giveaway! Be merry at Light Up UCF with a family 5 pack of ice skating vouchers! Each one is good for one person’s admission to the ice skating rink in front of the CFE Arena. While you’re at the festival, your family may also want […]

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8 Tips for Holiday Sanity

By Kerrie McLoughlin Remember when you didn’t have to worry about being in three or four places at once during the holidays? The dilemma of where to go seemed to be so easily worked out by our parents and extended family. Now that we are grown-ups, by the time the new year rolls around most […]

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Your Elfin’ PLAYguide

Don’t Panic, here are 24 easy things to do with your Elf on the Shelf. Last-Minute Ideas For those days where you want to put zero brainpower into this elf thing. 1. All Buckled Up The elf is buckled up in the car or carseat, all ready for a ride! 2. Flying High Elves don’t […]

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Go PLAY for the Holidays

Don’t wait until Santa lands on your rooftop to celebrate the season. Words by Anna Karasik Theme Parks & Resorts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Select dates November 7 to December 22, 7 p.m. to Midnight Disney’s Magic Kingdom Join Mickey and friends in a holiday celebration as the Magic Kingdom transforms into a winter […]

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Orlando Science Center Thanksgiving Week Ticket Giveaway!

Got the whole gang home for Thanksgiving week? Get out of the house and over to Orlando Science Center! It’s open all week long barring Thursday. New KidsTown recently opened its doors to the public, and if you haven’t gone to see it yet, this could be your chance! You can win a family five-pack […]

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Letters FROM Santa

“Is Santa Claus real?” The answer is Yes, thanks to USPS! Have your child write their wish list to Santa, and they can get his personalized response back in the mailbox, postmarked and all. Drafting up the letter to Santa is a great Thanksgiving activity that the whole family can take part in; getting Santa’s […]

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5 Healthy Holiday Snack Ideas

Sometimes it’s hard to fill your kids up with the fruits and veggies they need. It’s a lot easier when they don’t even know they’re eating something that’s good for them! Try out these healthy and insanely easy-to-make snack recipes from Produce for Kids: Fruit Cornucopias The Cornucopia is a symbol of plenty during the […]

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Registration Open for Spring Classes at DPC School of the Arts

Registration is now open for 2017 Spring Semester classes at the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts. Classes begin Monday, January 16. Students of any age can take part in classes for dance, vocals, instruments, acting, and musical theater. Check out all of the available classes below: Dance & Movement Jazz I […]

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Fall Fashion Look Book


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Science of Parenthood : The Book for Parents who Love to Laugh

Author Norine Dworkin-McDaniel has parenting down to a science– a funny science. From her own experience and that of others comes Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, a book that highlights the moments that just about any parent can relate to. Dworkin-McDaniel spoke to PLAYGROUND Magazine about the book ahead […]

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The Christ School Invites Parents to Explore

The Christ School (TCS) is an independent, Christ-centered K-8 school in downtown Orlando. TCS is hosting two events for interested parents to check it out: On Tuesday, November 1, 2016, parents are invited to the Kindergarten Chat, held from 9 to 10 a.m. in the school’s Library and Media Center. Learn about kindergarten readiness and […]

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Teal Pumpkins: Change How Kids are Trick or Treating

Written by: Renee Seltzer Halloween is almost here, along with tummy aches and sugar rushes. Why should everyone who celebrates Halloween participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project? For starters, it’s more inclusive, safe, and healthy for kids. It also teaches an important lesson: that fun is not exclusive to candy and sweets. By placing a teal […]

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New KidsTown: A place for Collaboration, Creativity, Safety & Accessibility

Words by Anna Karasik A cheery blue archway welcomes families to the new jewel of Orlando Science Center, New KidsTown. It’s the only entrance and exit to the area: one of many features specifically geared towards the safety of the thousands of kids who will now enjoy it. New KidsTown is the product of a […]

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Hurricane Camp at Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center Offering K–6 Camps While School is Closed Thursday Due to Hurricane Call 407.514.2112 or visit For information about break camps Thursday, October 6 | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.* *Early Drop Off and Late Pick Up Included WHAT: Since schools are closed in Orange County on Thursday due to Hurricane Matthew, the […]

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Show Review: Llama Llama at The REP

Words By JJ West The Llama Llama book series by Anna Dewdney has been a staple at our house since a preschool teacher gave my daughter one of the books last year. Llama Llama, his precious Mama Llama and his animal friends are on regular rotation in our bedtime routine. My kids love these books […]

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LEGOLAND Beach Retreat Photo Tour

LEGOLAND Beach Retreat Bookings Now Open LEGOLAND® Florida Resort just announced that bookings are now open for its second on-site accommodations, the eagerly anticipated LEGOLAND Beach Retreat. Reservations are available for stays beginning June 1, 2017 through Sept. 4, 2017. New images released today reveal even more of the brick-tastic, beachy details that guests will […]

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GUTS Orlando: Creatives Carving For Kids

GUTS is a friendly pumpkin carving competition with all proceeds benefiting Make-A-Wish®.  AIGA Orlando presents its 2nd Annual live pumpkin carving competition, GUTS Orlando. The event will be held October 29, 2016, at 2428 E. Robinson St., Orlando, FL, 32803. The carving competition will last from 2 to 5 p.m., with an after-party featuring live music from […]

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Public & Permanent: Keep Kids Safe Online

  The Christ School is pleased to host IROC2‘s (The Institute for Responsible Online and Cell Phone Communication) informative program, “Public and Permanent.” Two sessions will take place. The first session, geared toward parents of children of all ages, is held on Monday, October 3, 2016, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  The second session, geared towards […]

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Calling All Child Models

*** CHILD MODEL CASTING CALL ***   WHO: Calling all Central Florida child models ages 6 months to 12 years old WHAT: We are casting models for PLAYGROUND Magazine’s model database for our 2017 editorial photo shoots. So, we will be selecting from this group of models for all of our shoots for 2017. Immediately, we will be choosing models from this casting […]

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Mompreneur: Colleen Gonzalez

Colleen Gonzalez Founder of G.R.O.W. Central Florida Inc., a nonprofit that partners with unfunded elementary school health and wellness programs in Seminole County   Growing up, Colleen Gonzalez was the youngest of four children. “We were a middle-income family, but money was tight, so my siblings and I never participated in any sports. My family […]

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Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye The Dreaded School Drop-Off  Words by Amy Zolessi  School’s here, and it is time to say goodbye to summer. For some families, school drop-off can be daunting. Are the crying, pleading and tears too much to handle? The key to peaceful and happy drop-offs is to build a routine. The brain is pattern-seeking, […]

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Pro Pokemon Players

Meet: Tanner and Parker Hurley Pro Pokemon Players Five years ago, Tanner Hurley (12) found his older sister’s Pokemon  (a Japanese card game and video game) cards in the attic. “Morgan (now 25 years old) didn’t realize it was a game. She would just trade the cards,” says mom Shannon Hurley, from downtown Orlando. The […]

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Date Night: Take Your Child Out on a Date Night

      For six years my husband and I have worked with a parenting coach. Among her many gems of advice, one that truly stands out as a game-changer for us is the concept of time in. The idea is that when kids are being less than angelic, parents should swap time out for […]

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Date Night: Globe Trotting

Wouldn’t it be lovely to hop on a plane with your sweetie and land in an exotic place far from the ups and downs of modern parenting? When such a getaway is out of reach, consider recreating the experience locally. We’ve uncovered five Orlando spots that will take you around the world on your next […]

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Date Night: Get Schooled by Local Chefs

If you’re tasked with the monotonous chore of cooking every day (pasta again?), learning a shortcut or delicious flavor combination can be a breath of fresh air. You can spend hours watching Food Network or taking cooking classes, but we’ve got a better idea. Turn your date night into a culinary education via a chef’s table at one of Orlando’s best restaurants. You’ll get […]

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Hidden Treasure @ Artegon

Ahoy Matees. Summer is upon us and so is some treasure! Artegon Marketplace is full of fun finds and X marks the spot! 12 spots to be exact. Skip the sun and head to Artegon for some air conditioned treasure hunting to see what you find. Once you’ve answered 6 of the 12 questions, stop […]

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Summer Love

Originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Playground Magazine. Words by Jennifer Jones, MS, NCC/NCSC Parenting 101: FIRST CRUSH Ahh… your first crush. Maybe it was on a schoolmate; perhaps it was on a celebrity or rock star. Or maybe, like my son, it was on a teacher. Yep, a teacher. For my 5 […]

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The Central Florida Zoo is Calling All Pokémasters!

Wild Pokémon on the Loose at  Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens  The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has been overrun by mysterious creatures… Pokémon! Following the launch of the new Pokémon Go app, the Zoo is now home to over a dozen Pokéstops and two gyms, where guests can gather to train and […]

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11 Kid-Friendly Things To Do in NYC

Originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Playground Magazine. Words by Tracey C. Velt New York City 11 Kid-Friendly Things to Do in NYC Navigating “The Big Apple” Can Be a Fun Adventure For You and The Kids.  Afraid that New York City (NYC) is too adult for a family vacate? No way! After spending […]

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LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Releases Safety Guidelines for Guests Playing Pokémon GO

At LEGOLAND® Florida Resort believes #AwesomeAwaits for kids seeking to “catch ‘em all” as they play Pokémon GO, the tremendously popular new app.  Pokémon haven been spotted throughout the resort and guests are welcome to play during their visit, but the resort has issued a few ground rules to ensure a safe search. Rules for […]

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Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts 2016 Fall Semester Classes

The Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts continues its award-winning programming with the announcement of the 2016 Fall Semester classes. Registration for these classes is now open. The Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts uses the arts to its full benefit in the development of each student from 3 to 103. […]

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Disney On Ice Presents Follow Your Heart

Tickets are on sale today for Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart Featuring Disney•Pixar’s Record-Breaking Animated Hit Finding Dory and Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out.  This Disney On Ice extravaganza is visiting Orlando at the Amway Center from September 2 through September 4 for a total of six performances. Just keep swimming with Dory, Nemo, Marlin and new […]

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Raising a Water-Confident Kid

Originally published in the Summer 2010 issue of Playground Magazine. Written by Joanna Nesbit When my daughter, Leah, was 6, I signed her up for a month’s worth of swim lessons, every day for half an hour, because, well, it worked for another mom’s kids. This mom had told me her kids’ skills didn’t progress […]

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Hidden Gems

We go off the beaten path to give you relaxing Gulf of Mexico beach vacations. Words by Brittany Perry.  There’s something for everyone on the white sand shores of Sarasota. Whether you’re looking for the No. 1 beach in the United States (Siesta Beach on Siesta Key), amazing art museums or the worlds’ best pancakes, you can […]

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War Stories

Originally published in the Summer 2008 issue of Playground Magazine. I’m writing to you from our bomb shelter, or at least that’s what is feels like since we never leave the house anymore. I am documenting the battle in hopes that other new parents can take solace in knowing they are not in the trenches alone. […]

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Unsolicited Advice (From Your Non-Breeding Friends)

Originally published in the Summer 2008 issue of Playground Magazine. They have been by your side through the pivotal turning points in your adult life, but what happens when that pivotal moment lasts nine months and consists of raging hormones and a baby growing inside you? PLAYGROUND’s childless friends off their unsolicited advice on your big […]

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Stick Figure Fun

Get outside to find inspiration for these adorable painted stick figures Words and Photos by Debbie Helton PLAY TIP: This fun activity is a great exercise in exploration, creative expression, laughter and silliness — the sillier, the better! Before you know it, magical painted stick creatures will take over your home. What could be better than that? […]

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Indoor Adventures for Kids

TURN IT UP A NOTCH Words by Jenna Shinn and Heather Reneau WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard Hit the slopes at the new WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard in Winter Park, complete with chill ski instructors and après ski treats! Skiers ages 3.5 and up and snowboarders ages 10 and up can take group, semi-private […]

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RDV Ice Den’s Summer Schedule

Looking for fun activities to help entertain the kids once school is out? RDV Sportsplex Ice Den has updated their prices that will make you want to skate on over. Here is their weekly schedule which includes pricing for admission and rentals, as well as their new Summer Morning Sessions schedule. Skate on! Monday- Friday: 12:00-1:45 […]

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All the “graduations” are a bit excessive

I was just reading a flyer about the VPK graduation at my daughter’s preschool. It reminded me of when we tortured my first born at his preschool graduation. We were all really excited about it, I asked family to travel from over 2 hours away to attend (and they did), then we laughed and pointed at a […]

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Spa Fly: Luxury Mobile Spa

Spa Fly, the luxurious spa “on wheels,” has launched in Orlando, bringing the amenities of a full service salon direct to birthday parties, corporate offices, girls’ nights out or any occasion imaginable. The unique, plush mobile spa features professional, licensed and highly skilled technicians who can provide a wide range of beauty services including manicures, […]

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Mother’s Day Happenings 2016

Mom, mother, mommy, best friend, go-to, companion, wife, caretaker … She is all of this and more! A mother’s love is never-ending, and one day is definitely not enough time to spoil her as much as she deserves. So we’ve put together a compilation of ways to celebrate mom and make memories that will last […]

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Smart Start by LearningRx

LearningRx is now providing Smart Start, fun, interactive brain training classes for children ages 4 to 6. By attending weekly classes and labs with your child, you will be able to work together on skills such as attention, memory, logic and reasoning, auditory processing, visual processing, and processing speed. Smart Start includes a class kit […]

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Orlando Shakes: Elephant and Piggie’s PLAYGROUND Review

Words by JJ West It is really important to me that my children have a variety of cultural experiences as they are growing up. We travel, we read, we explore. When I was offered the opportunity to take my girls to experience Elephant and Piggie’s “We’re in a Play!” at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, I […]

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Fun St. Patrick’s Day Treats for Kids

As originally published on St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! We all know this holiday is loaded up with lots of green and the dream of finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  We are excited to share two new St. Patrick’s Day themed creations straight from the […]

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Hands-On Harley Davidson

Hit the Road with the Hands-On Harley-Davidson™ Exhibit! Dream It! Build It… and Ride It! Orlando Science Center exhibit opens on Saturday, January 30 at Noon Ready to hit the road? Opening this Saturday, January 30 at Orlando Science Center, the Hands-On Harley-Davidson™ traveling exhibit immerses children in the world of motorcycles in an engaging, free-flowing […]

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Dream School

NO TESTS • NO GRADES • NO HOMEWORK If you were to ask a student what a dream school would look like, the Walden Community School is probably what they would describe. Words By Heather Reneau | Photos By   Walden Community School is a progressive private school in Winter Park, Florida, founded in 2002 […]

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Sushi Rolling Class for Kids

Ashley Nickell, Chef de Cuisine for Central Florida based FMI Restaurant Group will be offering an exclusive sushi rolling class for children aged 6 – 11 years old on Saturday, February 20 from 2:20 pm – 3:30 pm at Funky Monkey Bistro & Bar (9101 International Drive, Suite 1208 at Pointe Orlando This event […]

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Star Wars Upgrades at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Jedi Training Seventh Sister

Words by Heather Reneau Unless you have just woken up from a coma for the past year, you already know that Disney has purchased the Star Wars franchise and is now promoting the hell out of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, the new movie set to release on December 18, 2015. There is no place untouched […]

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The Grinch Is In WHOlando

I was invited to attend the opening night of Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at the Dr. Phillips Center. Words by Heather Reneau Cindy Lou Who, who? Spoiler alert: the Grinch stole the show … but you would have probably guessed that. This holiday favorite was attended by many adults. Maybe […]

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Sensitive Santa For Children With ASD

Special Holiday Event for Families of Children with Autism  It is all about perspective. We view our environment and experiences through a custom lens, one that has been formed throughout our lives and is constantly evolving. This “lens” is also affected by our natural biology. The brain has an amazing ability to take in stimuli […]

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Holiday PLAYguide

Holiday Sleighs, Trains and Carriage Rides Cannonball Christmas Express Departures through December 23 Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies on the Tavares train station platform, and then board the Cannonball Christmas Express for a trip to see Santa. Sing along with Eugene the Elf and Mrs. Claus on board Central Florida’s historic train on the Tavares, […]

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Light Up UCF

Light Up UCF, an annual holiday event returns to CFE Arena with exciting holiday attractions begining Friday, November 13, 2015 and running through Sunday, January 3, 2016. At Light Up UCF, families can enjoy a number of free activities including the Holiday Light Show, the new Light Up Lane, the Holiday Film Festival, and parking. […]

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Kindergarten Chat & Open House

Explore The Christ School This November at Two Special Events The Christ School (TCS), an independent, Christ-centered K – 8 school located in downtown Orlando, presents two events designed for prospective parents this November. On Thursday, November 5, 2015, parents are invited to Kindergarten Chat, a program exclusive to The Christ School.  The Kindergarten Chat is […]

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A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens

Orlando Shakespeare Theater travels back in time with Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens Theater makes history fun in this musical adventure for young audiences Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF presents the World Premiere of Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens. Based on the book A Ghost […]

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Orlando Moms Be Like …

Words by JJ West Originally published in the new local mom blog I am not a native of Central Florida, and I am not married to one either. We moved here so my hubby could attend flight school. The plan was to be here for two years and then head into the real world. Here we […]

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OMA Homeschool Art Classes

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The Princess and the Tea Party

Theatre South presents The Princess and the Tea Party at the Rosen JCC. Your mini royals (ages 4 to 8) can join Princess PenelPEA and her Fairy “Oh My Gawd” Mother for a magical two-hour Manners Tea Party. Princes and Princesses can be dropped off for a fun lesson in manners followed by a sit down tea party. After tea children will […]

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Sport & Social Kids

Sponsored Sport and Social Kids offers flag football leagues for boys and girls ages 5-14. With over 15 years of league management experience here in Central Florida, our goal is simple: To provide organized and well run youth sports leagues so your child can develop both athletically and socially. We want your child to develop […]

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Kid-friendly Halloween Events in Orlando

Get your family into the Halloween spirit by hitting up these haunted, kid-friendly happenings in Orlando. Only the best for you!   Monster Mania October 1-31, 2015 Ghoulish tricks and yummy treats are waiting at Crayola Experience during Monster Mania on October 1 – 31! Werewolves and Witches and Tips … Oh My! Trick-or-Treat while exploring 25-colorful-hands-on attractions. […]

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Braided Fauxhawk

  Do your kiddo’s hair up super cool in this fun, braided fauxhawk. Words and photos by Tanya Dombrowski If your girl is addicted to Cute Girls Hairstyles on YouTube (look it up; it’s mom-approved), then she’ll love this adorable braided fauxhawk hairstyle. Think of it as rocker chic, plus it’s easy to do (seriously) […]

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Kids Cooking Classes in Orlando

kids cooking classes orlando

Try some of these cooking classes for kids and families that are hosted by Orlando chefs and cooking gurus around town.  Words by Amanda Keefer The Williams-Sonoma stores in Winter Park and at Mall at Millenia offer Free Junior Chef Classes (best for kids ages 8 to 12) on Saturdays. Let them show your junior chef […]

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An American In Paris

Kids Fall Fashion

Celebrate life with these fabulous Paris-inspired fashions Photos by Carlos Amoedo | Wardrobe and prop styling by Consider Any Thing Done, LLC Models from Kids Beating Cancer | Shot in studio at Lightbox Orlando Kids Beating Cancer was founded by local mom Margaret Guedes in 1992, in memory of her son John Robert Voight. This […]

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TechMe Avalon Park

YouTube vlogging, app-building and computer programming are just a few of the subjects all tech-savvy kids want to know. TechMe Avalon Park makes it that much easier. Founded by two highly motivated tech-savvy educators with more than 18 years’ experience combined, TechMe After School is a hip and fun way for school-aged kids to learn the latest […]

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You’ve Been Booed!

“Booing” neighbors and friends is a fun trend we have seen on the rise. Written by Alexandra Rolon “What is Booing” you ask? Start by baking (or buying) some yummy treats; Deliver them anonymously to a neighbor along with the free downloadable custom “We’ve Been Booed” sign and instructions; Then, they pay it forward by “Booing” another […]

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Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld

    Halloween meets the sea during weekends in October at SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular. This family-friendly event will immerse guests in an underwater “fantasea” with trick-or-treating, whimsical pumpkin fish, sea-themed arts and crafts, and up-close animal encounters. SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular takes place from 12-7 p.m. weekends, October 3-31. Like all special events at SeaWorld, […]

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Gender Reveal Ideas

Gender reveals were unheard of ten years ago, but today, they’re everywhere! Many couples are choosing to host gender reveal parties, while others are opting for a gender reveal photo shoot. Photo announcements on Facebook or Instagram are also popular ways to announce your baby’s gender. Pinterest is overflowing with great gender reveal ideas, but […]

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Free Flu Shots This Fall

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Maker Faire Orlando Expands

The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth is Bigger and Better than Ever Maker Faire Orlando is growing thanks to a new partnership between Orlando Museum of Art, The Maker Effect Foundation and Orlando Science Center. The two-day family-friendly celebration will feature more than 250 local Makers, hands-on workshops and more that will entertain and […]

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Bright Horizons at Windermere

 Bright Horizons is opening a new child care center in Windermere Bright Horizons Family Solutions® is excited to announce that this summer they will be opening a new state-of-the-art child care center at 7866 Winter Garden Vineland Road, which will serve families in Windermere and the surrounding communities. The new center’s opening will allow area […]

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Family-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities

(This is an excerpt from Philanthropy Does a Family Good; originally published in PLAYGROUND Magazine’s Winter 2008 issue) It’s time to get your family out into the community for a hands-on, site-based volunteer experience. We are very excited about this dynamic Central Florida volunteer resource: Hands On Orlando Written by Cris Phillips-Georg Hands On Orlando takes all the stress […]

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Artegon Marketplace

ARTEGON MARKETPLACE ORLANDO Orlando’s newest International Drive retail attraction offering an eclectic shopping adventure is distinguished by its indoor marketplace (The Village) housing 165 local artisans and craftspeople selling and demonstrating their products and services. Artegon Marketplace is also home to the area’s only Bass Pro Shops plus Ron Jon Surf Shop, Sheplers Western Wear […]

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DIY Face Painting

PARTY FACE A Step-by-Step Guide to Fun Face Paint Who hasn’t hung out in an hourlong line waiting to transform her kiddo into a tiger or butterfly? Try your hand at DIY. Following are some professional tips so you can earn some major brownie points with your kiddos. It will take time and practice to […]

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Crayola Experience Birthday Party Giveaway

PLAYGROUND Magazine’s Birthday Party Giveaway! Enter to win the most colorful birthday party ever at Orlando’s newest attraction the Crayola Experience.  70,000 square feet and 25 exciting hands-on attractions await your family & friends. Whether it’s creating spin art with melted wax, seeing a live show on how crayons are made or burning off some […]

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Slumber Party Style

Summer fashion has never been so fun. Photos by Nicole Mitchem Photography Wardrobe and prop styling by Consider Any Thing Done, LLC Hair and makeup by Christine Gold Shot in studio at Lightbox Orlando Behind-the-scenes video by Claire Almond Jade, 8, of Celebration: Basic jean trousers ($35), hot pink backpack ($52), birthday hat ($28) from Tugboat & […]

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STEM Activities For Preschoolers

STEM Education & Activities for Preschoolers by Bright Horizons at Windermere One of the newer educational terms that we see frequently in the news is STEM education. But what exactly is STEM education and is it appropriate for preschoolers? We met with the new Bright Horizons at Windermere team to learn more! (Did you know […]

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Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic

TICKETS FOR DISNEY ON ICE CELEBRATES 100 YEARS OF MAGIC ON SALE TOMORROW, JUNE 16, IN ORLANDO The celebration of the century comes alive in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic Presented by Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt. This monumental ice skating spectacular is coming to the Amway Center in Orlando from September 5-7, 2015 for six […]

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The Crayola Store Is Now Open

Crayola Store

Here comes color: The Crayola Store is now open The second of its kind in the nation, The 6,000 square-foot Crayola Store is an part of the Crayola Experience family attraction that will fully open on July 1 at The Florida Mall. The Crayola Store offers the widest variety of Crayola products and souvenirs available anywhere. Guests will discover super-soft plush, […]

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Themed Home Decor

Be inspired by Reunion Resort’s most unique rental home. From a vintage drive-in movie theater to a bedroom on the moon, the sky’s the limit on decorating inspiration. Words by Amanda Keefer  Transforming your home into a wonderland can be easy and fun. Just ask Michael and Nicole Mendicino. After getting their feet wet in […]

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