PLAYguide: Activities

Orlando Shakes: Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

Having a bad day? Well Alexander can relate, and so can we! Author Judith Viorst creates an on stage adventure of Alexander’s challenging childhood mishaps that will leave your child feeling encouraged and empowered.

PLAY Tip: Join members of the cast for interactive pre-show fun for the whole family. The fun starts 10-15 minutes prior to every performance.

Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day 
Orlando Shakespeare Theatre 
April 5- May 5 
Tuesday – Friday at 10:15 a.m.; 10:30 a.m.; 12 p.m. – $9 
Saturday at 2 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. – $14 children; $20 adults 

Note these special show dates on your calendar:

    Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. 
    Join us one hour before both opening day performances to take part in free crafts and activities. Free to all opening day ticket holders. No RSVP required.
    Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 2 p.m. & Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. 
    Orlando Shakes invites families with children that have sensory, social, cognitive, or physical challenges to participate in our Sensory Friendly performance. In addition to lighting, sound, and vocal cues being adjusted, patrons will be able to exit the theater with ease during the performance should their child become overwhelmed. Social stories and other resources will also be available to patrons via Orlando Shakes website prior to the performance.
    Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 2 p.m. 
    A sign language interpreter shadows each actor, providing a rich theater experience for our patrons who use sign language. This is also an excellent experience for hearing theater patrons as well, as they will be able to enjoy a new and different style of theater.
    Join members of the cast for interactive pre-show fun for the whole family. The fun starts 10-15 minutes prior to every performance.
    Stick around after Saturday performances of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for a special autograph session with the stars of the show.

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Family Easter Events in Orlando

Make new memories with your family by celebrating Easter at these special family events.

  1. American Girl Bunny Brunch
    March 25, 2018, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
    American Girl, Florida Mall
    Hop in and celebrate Spring by sharing a sunny brunch with your child and you can take-your-own-photo with the Easter Bunny! $25 per person. Reservations required. For kids ages 3 and up.
  2. The Bunny Hop
    March 31, Noon–2 p.m.
    Winter Park Village
    Kick off spring at this free outdoor family event that will feature an Easter egg scavenger hunt, cookie decorating, games, crafts, giveaways and music all around the fountain area at Winter Park Village. Bonus: Stay for lunch and the sidewalk sale.
  3. Hippity Hop Adventure
    March 31, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.
    Central Florida Zoo
    Win candy and prizes at Bunny Stops throughout the zoo. There will also be egg hunts, a bounce house, musical story time, a meet-and-greet with the Easter Bunny and more fun surprises! The activities are included in your event admission.
  4. Easter Brunch & Egg Hunt
    April 1, seatings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
    The Alfond Inn
    Go next level by celebrating Easter with the Easter Bunny at The Alfond Inn’s annual event.
  5. Easter Brunch & Egg Hunt featuring The Muppets 
    April 1, 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
    The Easter Bunny lost all of his eggs, and we need your help to find them! Bring the whole family on Easter Sunday for a fun-filled Easter egg hunt with special prizes and a petting zoo, followed by a delectable buffet spread, all before you watch The Muppets, a film the entire family will love. Doors open and brunch begins at 10:30 a.m. The egg hunt starts at 11 a.m. Kids will be grouped by age. Film begins at Noon.

Plus, on Easter Sunday, April 1, PDQ will offer a free kid’s meal with any purchase of any regular meal, bowl or salad, perfect for the whole family to celebrate the holiday.

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Spring Break Camps: Orlando

School may be out, but your little ones don’t have to be bored for Spring Break. We’ve put together a list of some of Central Florida’s best places to get those kids off of the couch and into some serious fun.

Words by Wendy Meyer

A Kids Gym Spring Camp

Theme: Gymnastics and Play Groups
Dates: March 19–23
Time: 7 a.m.–6:30 p.m. (full day) or 8 a.m.–5 p.m. (partial day) Accurate? 8-5 seems like a full day.
Ages: Preschool (ages 1–5) and School Age (ages 5+)
Cost: Daily rates are $36 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) or $41 (7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.); Weekly rates are $140 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) or $160 (7 a.m.-6:30 p.m.)

Camp includes exploring the gym, playing group games, building new friendships, creating art-n-crafts, learning gymnastics and more! Two daily snacks are included. Separate age groups allow for quality friendships. Small group ratios. Licensed facility with First Aid/CPR Trained staff.

Central Florida Zoo

Theme: Jungle Mania!
Dates: March 12–16, 2018 & March 19–23
Time:  9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Ages:  6–12
Cost: $175 Annual Pass Holders; $195 Non Pass Holders

Travel with the Central Florida Zoo as they journey into jungle habitat. Adventures await as campers head out on a daring weeklong quest to find out what lives in the jungle and how animals survive. What does it take to be king of the jungle? Dare to discover wild animals in wild places on this trip into JUNGLE MANIA!

Cranium Academy

Theme: Save the Earth
Dates: March 19–23
Time: 9 a.m.–12 p.m. (half-day); 9 a.m.–3 p.m. (full day); 7 a.m.–6 p.m. (extended day)
Ages: 3–10
Cost: Half day $150; Extended day $180; Full Day $200; Individual day option $50/day

This spring, Cranium campers will have a blast learning how to reduce, reuse and recycle as they begin their quest to save the planet! Each day, children will take on special projects that will introduce them to recycling activities that include creating art using reclaimed items. Interactive games on the learning station will allow children to use their math, reading and critical thinking skills to discover the impact that we each have on our planet. Whether using their energy on a recycling relay through our inflatables or indoor gym or exploring renewable resources in our outdoor playground, campers will love going green on their mission to save our planet!

Crealdé School of Art

Theme: Art and Art Appreciation
Dates: March 26–31
Times: Times vary per class
Ages: 4 and up

Looking for an art class for your mini Monet or pint-sized Picasso? Have a budding artist or aspiring sculptor in the family? Check out the wide variety of classes available at Crealdé! There is a class for every skill level, interest and age.

Orange County History Center

Theme: Inventions Inside and Out
Dates: March 19–23
Times: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (extended morning and after care options available)
Ages: K–Grade 5
Cost: Members $125; Non-members $150

Go back in time and explore Florida inventions that we still use today! This year’s Spring Break Camp is based on the latest exhibit, Things Come Apart, and explores everyday inventions created right here in Central Florida. This is a great way to engage your kiddo in history through play!

Orlando Museum of Art

Theme: The Nature of Art, Spring Art Camp 2018
Dates: March 16 and 19–23
Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (full-day class)
Ages: Grades 1–5
Cost: Daily Rate is $50 (or $45 for Members); All six days are $270 (or $240 for Members)

Kids will celebrate art as they enjoy projects inspired by nature. Campers create collages, paintings, assemblages and more with “eco art” in mind.

  • March 16 – Tree-mendous Art!
    Learn how to weave colorful designs using twigs as looms, while also learning how to paint a landscape using natural and recycled materials as paintbrushes.
  • March 19 – Creating with Nature
    Explore the legends, cultures, and myths of the Ancient Americas by making shelters out of wood and creatures out of clay!
  • March 20 – Passion for Fashion!
    Learn to stitch, bead, and design your own fashion accessories inspired by patterns and clothing displayed throughout the galleries.
  • March 21 – From Drab to Fab!
    Using found and recycled materials, fabrics, and embellishments, create beautiful wall hangings and sculptures inspired by art displayed in the Museum’s Contemporary Collection.
  • March 22 – The Beautiful Outdoors
    Capture the beauty of Lake Estelle, from the wildlife to the plant life, by drawing, painting, printmaking and more. Students will find inspiration for their creations in the galleries by looking at landscape paintings, sculptures and works done in clay.
  • March 23 – All About People
    Discover the tools, techniques and vocabulary that go into creating a portrait. Explore a variety of art forms and mediums as campers create art and visual stories with themselves as the subject!

Orlando Repertory Theater

Theme: Theater and Performance
Dates: March 16 and 19–23
Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Ages: K–Grade 8
Cost: Varies by program

Friday, March 16

  • Grades K5: School’s Out Spring Safari
    Campers come dressed as their favorite animals and spend a day at Orlando REP playing theatre games and exploring stories about their favorite animals!

Monday–Friday, March 19–23

  • Grades K–2: Emoji Madness
    Students create an original story through carefully structured creative play inspired by The Emoji Movie! Travel through Textopolis on a creative and fun “app-venture” where we learn to express ourselves and our true individuality! The class concludes in a presentation on the final day.
  • Grades 3–8: Lion King
    Experiment with building puppetry from found objects and then perform with those puppets in scenes and songs from Disney’s The Lion King. Combining visual arts with musical theatre, students will create and perform a completely unique and exciting version of this classic movie and Broadway show!

Orlando Science Center

Theme: STEM
Dates: March 16 and 19–23
Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (full-day class)
Ages: Pre-K–Grade 5
Cost: Daily rates starting at $60 per day

Give your kids a productive and fun way to spend their time off from school with a program that offers the chance to learn more about STEM in an exciting, interactive environment.

Friday, March 16

  • Grades K–2: NEW! Wonders of the Wetlands
    Take an adventure to the wetlands that define Florida. Search for alligators, snakes and turtles while splashing your way through the water cycle and find out what kinds of creatures call these amazing ecosystems home.
  • Grades 3–5: Rockin’ Out
    Rocks rule! Crushing pressure and intense heat are constantly shaping our world. Dig into an underground world of rattling earthquakes, erupting volcanoes and soaring mountains as you investigate why and how the Earth changes every day.

Monday–Friday, March 19–23

  • Preschool: NEW! The Earth and I
    Taking care of our planet Earth is our daily mission involving the air, land and water. Let’s work together to design recycled structures, create a sun catcher, mix together birdseed cornbread and explore our environment – indoors and outdoors. Join us as we work together to care for our planet Earth.
  • Grades K–2: Who Loves Robots? WeDo®!
    Test your STEM skills by building a chomping alligator and a rocking boat, all from LEGO Education WeDo® robotics! Discover the basic principles of robotics by putting gears, levers, and wheels to work. LEGO is a registered trademark of the LEGO Group of companies, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site. (HEATHER, is this necessary?)
  • Grades 3–5: Mindbender Mansion
    Do you love to wrap your mind around mazes and solve even the most puzzling problems? You’ll be right at home inside Mindbender Mansion. Put your brainpower, math skills, and critical thinking to the test as you lead your team to victory.

TopGolf Kids Spring Academy

Theme: Golf
Dates: March 19–21
Times: 8:30 a.m.–Noon
Ages: 6–12
Cost: $119 per child

This program includes all the components that make up the great game of golf. From chipping, putting and taking full swings to rules and etiquette, kids will learn everything they need to know to improve their game. Each Academy is designed and taught by our professional golf instructors from TopGolf U in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Spring Academy is staffed with a low student-to-instructor ratio to ensure each Junior Golfer receives in-depth, hands-on attention while he or she develops a winning golf swing.

XL Soccer World Spring Break Camp

Theme: Soccer
Dates: March 19–23
Times: 9 a.m.–4 p.m. (full day); 9 a.m.–12 p.m. (morning session); 1 p.m.–4 p.m. (afternoon session)
Ages: 4–14

Kids will learn and develop their soccer skills while making friends and having fun with some of the best instructors in town.

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Kids in Orlando

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Celebrate Valentine’s Day
With your little loves, too.

Love is in the air, and we want to share our top picks for celebrating Valentine’s Day with your entire family. Words by Wendy Meyer

February 9, 9:30 a.m.
HeARTS Galore for Those You Adore

The Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando
Create hearts together with your little artist (age 3 to 5) during the Art Adventures workshop. Create prints, paintings and embellishments inspired by artist Miriam Schapiro.

February 9, 6-8:30 p.m.
Valentine Mardi Gras Masquerade
Amaya Papaya Play Lounge, Casselberry
Put on some colorful Mardi Gras attire and bring your brood to enjoy a family dance party like no other. This special event includes pizza and drinks, themed crafts, a Mardi Gras parade, swag for parents and story time to close the party. Tickets are on sale now.

February 9, 10, 11 and 14
Valentine’s Afternoon Tea
The Tea Room Experience, Downtown Orlando
Celebrate Valentine’s with a Special Afternoon Tea Experience! Your Afternoon Tea includes a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream and preserves, assorted miniature Valentine pastries and your choice of loose leaf tea. Vegetarian options are available; please be sure to request a vegetarian meal when making your reservation. For reservations call 407-219-4380 or book online at

February 10, 12–5 p.m.
Indie-Folkfest 2018

Mennello Museum of American Art
Spread the LOVE at one of our favorite local events—the Indie-Folkfest. This FREE event brings together food, art, music, family and fun. It’s the perfect family-friendly day to come out enjoy live music by local favorites and creations by Orlando’s most talented artists.  Don’t forget to bring your pup! This event is dog-friendly.

February 14, 10 a.m.
Hearts & Crafts
Seminole Towne Center
Children are invited to come out and make special crafts for their loved ones. Tables will be set up in Center Court and will start at 10 a.m. while supplies last.

February 14, 5-9 p.m.
Valentine’s Day Music on the Plaza
Downtown Winter Garden
Love and music will definitely be in the air on Valentine’s Day in historic Downtown Winter Garden as the city hosts a complimentary 4-hour, outdoor concert performed by Breezeway Trio featuring national recording artist and songwriter Dayve Stewart. Romantic melodies will fill the air making it the perfect backdrop for a dreamy evening while enjoying scrumptious dinner and delectable dessert options and charming surroundings.

February 14, 8 p.m.
The Lion King
Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center
Treat the entire crew to a broadway show the whole family will enjoy. If you only see one theater performance in your life–this one should be it.

February 17, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.
Valentine’s Celebration: Bear Hugs and Butterfly Kisses
Central Florida Zoo
If you love animals, the Central Florida Zoo is the place to be. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with special zookeeper chats about love in the animal world, sweet treats to decorate, crafts and more! This family-friendly event will also include a musical story time and a bounce house.

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Molli Miller Surf School

Words by JJ West | Photo by Ashley Dishman

It’s 2018, and I am trying to help my children have fewer things and more adventures this year. My adventurous daughter asked to try surfing, so I began researching and asking my mom friends about where to go for surf lessons. Enter Molli Miller Surf School.

Molli Miller is an Orlando-based woman with impressive surfing credentials. She was a professional surfer with Billabong and traveled the world surfing and running surf camps. Couple that with her experience working at a local elementary school as a certified teacher, and I knew I had found the right instructor for my quirky little wannabe surfer (who isn’t a very strong swimmer).

The experience was great. Molli took care of everything: checking tides and surfs to schedule around Avery’s ability level, providing an umbrella and chair for me and supplying all of the equipment we’d need (including the wetsuit!). She took time to get to know my daughter’s interests and her learning style. Avery was able to stand up on a wave by her third try, and by the end of the lesson, she was riding waves all the way into the shore by herself. Best of all, Avery felt so accomplished. We called almost every member of our extended family to tell them all about her day. Chances are that if I run into any of you in the next few weeks, she’ll probably tell you all about it, too.

Molli Miller Surf School offers private and group lessons, camps and package deals for all ages and ability levels (Molli loves teaching adults, too!).

Follow Molli Miller Surf School on Instagram and Facebook.

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5 Ways to Fuel Family Love


Photo by Kabiki Photography

Words by Sara Marchessault

Valentine’s Day is fun for kids because they get to choose Valentine’s to share with friends and exchange them at school or with other groups. Adults enjoy Valentine’s Day because it’s a good excuse for a date night.

But Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be strictly a kid or grown-up thing. It can be fun for the whole family. You don’t have to bring your kids on your Valentine’s date, nor is it required that you attend the class party to bring a little more love into your day. Instead you can try one of the ideas below to fuel family love and create a richer Valentine’s Day.

Lunch box note. Tried and true, kids love discovering a note from mom or dad when they open up their lunch box. Index cards or even Post-it Notes work well for this. When packing lunch for the day, slip in a little note to let them know you love them, remind them of a recent time they made a particularly good choice, or simply thank them for being a good kid. You never know, your son or daughter might just need a bright spot in his or her day and a lunch box note could do the trick.

Treasure hunt. These take a little more time and effort, but a treasure hunt can be a great way to show your kids how much you love them. It can also be a fun activity for the family to complete together. First, determine the treasure you want your family to seek. Next, prepare a list of clues for them to follow to get to the treasure. It’s fun to create little verses or riddles that lead the treasure hunters from one point to the next. You can hide clues under furniture, on top of the fridge, in the garage, outside, inside a boot, etc. It might be easiest to first choose the number of clues, than select your hiding places for the clues, and finally, write your clues out. This is a great activity for the kids when they get home on Valentine’s Day or even first thing in the morning if you’ve got early risers. The treasure could be a small gift, a new family board game, or a tasty treat that everyone loves.

Love letter. There are many references to love letters in classic literature, poetry, and even romantic novels. Often we think of love letters as expressions of love between two adults. But love letters can be for kids too. Parents can write to their kids a story about a memory they shared or a character trait the parent is particularly proud of their son or daughter for developing. Love letters can be a tool we use to express to our kids what is important to us as parents. We are quick to give comments about beauty or smarts, but in a thoughtful love letter, we can really get into detail about what we love about them, about what makes them special.

Mirror note. Similar to lunch box notes, mirror notes are a little surprise for our loved ones. These can be short and brief, written on any size Post-it Note and stuck to the mirror. Or, if you’d like to write on the mirror directly, you can use dry erase markers, which will wash off when you clean the mirror. Mirror notes can be funny phrases, drawings, arrows pointing to where your son or daughters face is in the mirror with positive phrases and notes of love.

Valentine-themed picnic. Plan an indoor picnic for Valentine’s Day. Choose your sunniest room, spread out a picnic blanket and throw some pillows on the floor, and have a winter snack or meal together. Sweets are traditional for Valentine’s Day, but you could also do sandwiches shaped like hearts and strawberries cut in half. Flour tortillas can be cut into heart shapes too and dipped into a favorite salsa or melted cheese. Dig out your heart-shaped cookie cutters and see if you can plan an entire meal where you cut your food into heart shapes. If this isn’t a surprise for the kids, include them in the planning, assigning jobs and letting them come up with their own ideas.

Whatever you do for Valentine’s Day, whether it feels like a major festivity or a simple moment to stop and say I love you, enjoy your time with your loved ones. Letting them know you care puts a smile on their faces and makes you feel good too.

Sara Marchessault is a writer and coach. Her work helps clients to more fully experience joy in their daily life. Sara is an avid diarist and keeper of her family’s stories. These days her journals are getting lots of details about playing with her kids and the awesome ups and downs of being a mom. Learn more about her work at



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Insider’s Guide to The Prego Expo – Orlando 2018

The Prego Expo: the biggest go-to maternity event of the year is returning to Orlando’s Rosen Plaza on February 11, bringing together the best in local boutiques, pediatricians, doulas and more. Whether you’re a first-timer or a Prego Expo veteran, a little pre-planning goes a long way in making the most of this event.

PLAYGROUND’s 5 Prego Expo Tips:

Stay Connected

Stay in-the-know by following The Prego Expo’s event page on Facebook for updates, notifications and access to pre-show giveaways.

Make a Plan

As event day approaches, make a blueprint of your Prego Expo “musts.” Scroll through The Prego Expo’s website for a map, vendor list and seminar schedule. Here is a short list of what you can expect:

  • Workshops & panels by Florida Hospital
  • Babywearing demos by LITTLEbaby and Boba
  • Cloth diaper resource area by SprayPal
  • Vendors including Newton Baby, Crane Humidifers, Boppy, Ardo Breastpumps, Mumbelli and more.
  • The Babies & Bumps Fashion Show, featuring local moms & toddlers.
  • Giveaways to top off the day
  • Drop by the PLAYGROUND Magazine booth and sign up for a free subscription!

Register in advance to get discounted regular admission or a VIP spot (while supplies last).

Bring These Essentials

  • Address stamp or labels to sign up for freebies from vendors. It saves you so much time.
  • A light snack and drink to supplement the free cake samples.
  • A friend to keep you company.

Dress for Success

Don’t stress about what to wear on event day. In fact, don’t stress about anything! The Prego Expo is a casual meeting of mamas, so just relax and rock those shopping sneakers!

Take Your Time

Once your planning is complete, the key to making the most of The Prego Expo is stopping to smell the roses. Vendor booths boast exclusive deals for Prego Expo attendees, and resource areas offer lessons in babywearing, cloth diapering and more. Explore the whole show and see what you find!

Buy your ticket now.

About The Founders

The Prego Expo was created here in Orlando by sister-in-laws Juliana & Sam Geisler.  They wanted to create an educational and fun event to help expecting couples on their parenting journey. With the help of amazing sponsors like Playground Magazine and Florida Hospital, their first show five years ago was a huge success. This year the Prego Expo will host six shows across the US and help educate thousands of new and expecting parents. 

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5 PLAY Tips for Planet Obstacle

PLAYGROUND sent Megan Navarro to check out Planet Obstacle, one of the newest places for Central Florida families to PLAY! Located in Lake Mary, Planet Obstacle is the brainchild of two Cirque Du Soleil performers on a mission to help Central Florida families achieve their health goals in an exhilarating new way.

Megan’s PLAY Tips:

  1. Wear loose stretchy clothes that are comfortable to play in.
  2. If you’re bringing a child under age 10, make sure to bring an adult who is willing to play in some of the obstacle areas to help keep an extra eye on your child.
  3. Make sure to wear closed-toe shoes if you want to participate in the ropes course or bumper cars. Socks are provided for the rest of the playing areas.
  4. Once inside, make sure to find a meet-up spot in case you lose part of your group. This place is HUGE (and awesome!).
  5. Be ready to sweat! You’ll definitely get a workout in while having lots of fun!

Planet Obstacle
1150 Emma Oaks Trail #100

Lake Mary, FL 32746

Megan Navarro is a true Central Florida native. She was born and raised in DeLand and has lived in Orlando for most of her adult life. She is a graduate of the UCF Rosen School of Hospitality Management and is an accomplished professional photographer. There is nothing she loves more than spending a day at Walt Disney World with her adorable 6-year-old daughter, Lennon Love, and her husband of 9 years, Carlos Navarro. Megan runs and produces the lifestyle YouTube channel I am Megan Navarro, where she specializes in budget-friendly home décor and organization as well as fun videos with her family showcasing some of the awesome family friendly places in Orlando. Megan is a truly positive person who loves life. Megan and he husband live by their motto: To the Top, Never Stop!

Connect with Megan:

Other articles you may be interested in:
GO PLAY: Planet Obstacle by JJ West

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Members Only: 16 family memberships to get this year

Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

The new year is a great time to purchase your annual passes and memberships to Orlando places and attractions. Memberships often include exclusive perks and freebies that you won’t want to miss. Treat your crew to a family membership at one of these Orlando PLAY spots to create fun new memories in 2018.

Words by Anna Karasik


O2B Kids Family Members get access to over 200 classes ranging from music to gymnastics. On top of that, members get free two-hour drop-off care every day for ages 6 and up! Check out O2B Kids locations in Oviedo and Altamonte Springs.

Being an IKEA FAMILY Member means more than getting discounts on furniture; it means free access to IKEA Orlando’s Story Time Tuesdays and Kids KAMP crafts. Plus, up to two kids can eat free with an adult IKEA FAMILY Member on Tuesdays.

Learn Together

The Central Florida Zoo Annual Pass is good for daily free admission, discounts at the gift shop, and even discounts on birthday parties. Families who travel can really make the most of this pass because it’s good at over 150 zoos and aquariums across the country!

A Family Membership at Orange County Regional History Center means everyday unlimited admission—but that’s just the start of the money-saving perks. Members also get two hours of free parking on each visit plus discounts on the History Center’s events and camps.

There is plenty to do at Orlando Museum of Art all year round, and members can make the most of it with free admission to exhibitions—not just at OMA, but at dozens of other museums. This museum sets itself apart with fun events for all ages, and membership offers a discount on those programs as well.

Orlando Science Center Membership is perfect for families who love to learn together and be interactive. On top of free admission to exhibits and events, members get discounts on just about everything else: classes, camps, parties, merchandise and more. Members also get access to exclusive events for all ages!

Break a Sweat

The RDV Sportsplex Athletic Club’s Family Membership gives you access to all of your fitness needs; meanwhile, kids get free rein of Kids Stuff, a 15,000 square foot fun zone. The supervised area includes sports, crafts and video games!

Being a member at YMCA of Central Florida means having a one-stop shop for your family’s child care, after-school activities, sports, student mentoring, camps, and of course, self-care. The best part: there are over 20 locations in Central Florida, so there is bound to be one near you.

Orlando Paintball Membership has multiple levels, each one coming with steeper everyday discounts on admission and rentals. What we love is the BYOP membership: bring your own paint and simply pay a $10 fee or buy Orlando Paintball’s discounted off-site paint to waive that fee completely. For ages 10 and up.

Sit Back and Be Amazed

Being a part of Enzian Theater’s Film Society grants discounted admission to their movies, but the best perk for families is the free large popcorn at every show! Plus, all kids 12 and under get free admission to the monthly Peanut Butter Family Matinees.

The Children’s Series Subscription at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater is valid for one ticket to all three family productions. Season ticket holders are guaranteed the best possible ticket prices, early access to Orlando Shakes events, discounts on youth classes and free backstage tours.

Become a Family Plan Subscriber at the Orlando Repertory Theatre (the REP) to get a 3-, 6- or 10-show package. Also, subscribers get the first pick of seats, access to reserved seating in the first three rows and discounts on parties, merchandise and other ticket purchases.

Create and PLAY

It’s hard to find a safe place for your active toddlers, but membership at Amaya Papaya Play Lounge solves that problem. It comes with free admission to the play space, including access to enrichment activities and play groups. Plus, parents get discounts on Amaya Papaya’s other offerings: parties, snacks, merchandise and event tickets.

The Crayola Experience Annual Pass value is insane. For just a few dollars more than the price of a single-day admission, kids get free admission for a year, plus first access to special events. Passholders even get discounts on parties and merchandise!

The Roth Family Jewish Community Center is a safe community space for all ages. Membership gives adults full access to the fitness facilities, including the tennis courts and exercise classes, while kids have fun in the gym’s KidZone. That’s just the beginning; there are also tons of classes and programs just for members, including the J University after-school program.

Perks for Pet Lovers & their Furry Friends

The Mennello Museum of American Art wants your entire family to enjoy their Sculpture Garden, so they offer Four-Legged and Feathery Friend Memberships! Perks include free/discounted admission to pet events and a 10% discount at participating pet businesses.

The Orlando Cat Café is a coffee shop in Clermont with a room full of friendly kitties just waiting to be adopted. Their “Entire Litter” Family Membership gives two people 10 free hours per month with the cats, two guest passes, beverage coupons and more. Talk about a purr-fect family date!

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New Year’s Parties for Kids in Orlando

Words by Wendy Myer | Photo by Abby Liga Photography

The days of staying up until midnight waiting for the ball to drop while suffering from high-heeled sore feet and over-served adult conversations are probably over. We hear you! PLAYGROUND has selected a few of our favorite events happening in and around Orlando that can have you in bed at a decent hour and won’t require Spanx or hiring a baby sitter. Here are some perfect ways to celebrate ringing in 2018 with the whole family.

December 29, 6 p.m.–10 p.m.
New Year’s Kid’s Night Out
Mad Science Laboratory, Oviedo
Drop off the kids for some fun in the lab, a dance party and dinner with new friends! Science classes, crafts and more are available while the grown-ups enjoy a night to themselves. Ages 4 and up.

December 31, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
LEGOLAND New Year’s Eve Party
LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Winter Haven
Join LEGOLAND to count down to 2018 and watch the ball—ahem, brick—drop at the kid-friendly time of 8 p.m. End the night with LEGOLAND’s most spectacular fireworks show of the year! What a perfect way to ring in the New Year before bedtime. The New Year’s Eve celebration is included with all forms of park admission.

December 31, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Baby Boogie Bash New Year’s Party 
Amaya Papaya Play Lounge, Casselberry
Join Amaya Papaya for a fun-filled Baby Boogie Bash New Year’s Party! The Baby Boogie Bash (East Coast) is a dance party for kids ages 0–7 featuring disco lights and music from the 80s, 90s and today. No nursery rhymes, just real jams (age-appropriate, of course) that will get your feet moving and booty grooving. Pizza and drinks, crafts, circle time and a live DJ are all topped off with a balloon drop at noon (instead of midnight!). Bring the whole family together for a PLAYful celebration of the incoming new year. Tickets are available online.

December 31, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Noon Year’s Eve
Rebounderz, Apopka
Celebrate the New Year’s at noon so the kids can “ring it in” too. Balloon drop, Rick O’Shay dance party, hidden surprises and more! Family Fun Day Special: four 1-hour jump passes, a pizza and a pitcher of soda for $50. Regular jump time is available also.

December 31, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Noon Year’s Eve
Orlando Science Center
Count down to the new year at noon instead of midnight! Learn how different cultures around the world celebrate the new year at the KidsTown Cultural New Year Countdown. Kids can make wishing spheres like in Singapore, craft a Junkanoo mask like in the Bahamas and much more! Other activities include writing New Year’s resolutions, making party hats to wear for the countdown, and of course, participating in super cool science demonstrations. As the clock strikes noon, celebrate together with the big countdown and balloon drop! Complete your experience by visiting the Playing with Light and Gingerbread Lane exhibits, catching a giant-screen or 3D film, checking out all four floors of hands-on exhibits and more!

December 31, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Brevard Zoo Noon Year’s Eve
Brevard Zoo, Melbourne
Join the Brevard Zoo for a wild party that won’t interrupt the kiddos’ bedtime! The ball drops at noon, and everyone is invited to celebrate with complimentary juice toast! Stay and enjoy all that the Brevard Zoo has to offer.

December 31, 12 p.m., 2 p.m, 4 p.m.
New Year Party
My Little Town Kids, Orlando
Enjoy a spectacular New Year’s count down for kids! There will be a countdown with confetti and bubbles at 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., a piñata party at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., plus activities all day long such as: teddy bear, face painting, balloons twisting, tattoo station.Happy new year 2018!

December 31, times vary
Aloma Bowling Centers’ New Year’s Eve Fun
Aloma Bowl, Winter Park
Airport Lanes, Sanford
Boardwalk Bowl, Orlando
The Aloma Bowling Centers are ready to roll into 2018! All of the venues — Aloma Bowl in Winter Park, Airport Lanes in Sanford and Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando — are offering both daytime and nighttime New Year’s Eve specials. The daytime special includes two games of bowling and shoe rental for only $15 per person, plus a $10 arcade card or tokens for the arcade. The nighttime special will keep the fun going even past that midnight kiss. Guests can reserve a lane for up to five people for $80 in advance or $90 at the door. Individuals can also bowl for $25 at the door. The party lasts from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. In addition to bowling, all of the Aloma Bowling Centers offer a full bar with delicious drinks and a restaurant with fresh sandwiches, pizza, salads and more. They also offer billiards, arcades and attractions. For reservations, call 407-384-0003 or email

January 1, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
Girl of the Year Debut 2018
American Girl Orlando, Florida Mall
3…2…1…all systems go to meet our 2018 Girl of the Year! Be the first to discover her exciting story of exploration at a special in-store event.

January 3, 10 a.m.
Happy New Year Celebration
Orlando Public Library, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando
Make some noise and celebrate the New Year with your little ones! Join us for fun, games and an exciting countdown. Ages 2–4.

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Light Up UCF: 6 Tips for First Timers

Reindeer Butt

Words by JJ West

It is officially “the holidays” in Central Florida, and Light Up UCF is celebrating its 10th year of seasonal family entertainment. I was invited to attend for their Media Event Night. My husband and three children (ages 3, 5 and 6) went with me, and we had a blast. Here are a few of my tips for first-timers:

  1. Check the calendar for specific daily hours. Yes, the attractions and lights are set up from now until early January, but they aren’t always available to the public. I did not pay attention to details and accidentally hauled everyone to campus 45 minutes early. It was a lovely night, and the Light Up UCF light display was gorgeous, so we decided to wait it out. “Waiting it out” with three young children ended up looking like the following: ask the CFE arena security guard if he has “big guns,” visit the bathroom repeatedly, make 4,563,423 attempts to breach the ice skating rink perimeter and have full-blown fan-girl and fan-boy episodes when Santa arrived to take his seat. (“Wook! It’s Santa! I see Santa! Santa! Santa! It’s me! Mommy! Santa is here! He is weally here!)

    “Momma, that tastes kind of yuck!”

  2. Talk to your kids about the difference between actual snow and the soapy “snow” used around central Florida. Yes, it looks like snow to you, but I promise, dear 5-year-old, it does not taste how you think it will. My children tried to eat it EVERY time.
  3. If the staff offers to take a photo for you, let them. We had several staff members offer to take photos. I really wish I had agreed when the train attendant asked. I envisioned a cute, artsy photo of them enjoying the lights and the train. I ended up with a photo of reindeer hindquarters.
  4. Ride the snow slide. It’s totally worth it. I forgot how fun sledding is. And seriously, even if you have to wait in line, you get to do it in pleasant weather without having to walk up an actual hill. Also, you may want to have an extra adult on-hand who is only in charge of gathering your children from the bottom of the hill. My 3-year-old slid down ahead of me. My husband was waiting for us at the bottom. My 3-year-old exited the slide and walked over to my husband; my husband then returned to his job of taking photos and video of me sliding. In my fit of giggles and spinning on the ice, he and I missed that our little cherub had loved his ride so much that he had run back up the stairs to the top of the slide (cutting in front of about 15 others). I was in a full panic looking for him when I noticed a woman in line trying to get my attention and pointing to the front of the line. I looked over just in time to see him plop down on the disk as he yelled, “Momma, watch dis!”
  5. Wear pants. Y’all, the ice slide and ice skating take place ON ICE. There is a good chance that your thigh with come in contact with ice at some point during your adventure. I saw a few shorts-clad college kids regret their apparel decisions. #ouch #bruise #cold
  6. And while we’re discussing hashtags, just be ready to be someone’s #photobomb. My children and I photobombed no less than 17 selfies and photos on the ice skating rink. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just that ITS TOUGH TO STOP ON SKATES. (Side note: the outer edge where all the novice skaters hang on to the wall for dear life probably isn’t the best place to try out all of the IG filters to see which one makes your rental ice skates look the cutest.) The good news is that everyone whose photo we ruined was so kind. I don’t know if it was the lights or the awesome music or just general holiday cheer. Every time my oldest zoomed right through the frame or my middle ran into some one as they posed, we were met with smiles and exclamations of how fun it was to see all the children on skates.

All in all, I can see why Light Up UCF is a staple in the Central Florida holiday traditions. My children have already asked repeatedly to go again, and they have added ice skates to their wish lists. We’ll definitely be back before the season ends.

The West Family: A photo of a photo … that’s how we roll.

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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 to me: You should check out Planet Obstacle with the kids!

What I heard: You should take your kids to a place where they run around like lunatics while you frantically try to keep tabs on them.

See, I don’t actually enjoy mass chaos. I assumed Planet Obstacle was one of those types of places. My assumption was very wrong.

First, I was pleasantly surprised at Planet Obstacle’s location in Lake Mary. No tourist traffic, no mall holiday traffic— just an easy-to-get-to location right off I-4 at Lake Mary Boulevard.

Planet Obstacle owners Andrei Roublev and Yuri Maiorov were inspired by their time as professional acrobats.

Next, I realized this was not your run-of-the-mill indoor play area. Owners and former Cirque du Soleil performers Andrei Roublev and Yuri Maiorov had a hand in designing and building each obstacle. Each one is designed with safety, fun, and fitness in mind. There are custom Ninja Courses (modeled after the popular TV show), high ropes element courses, trampoline dodgeball and trampoline basketball areas, a rock climbing wall and a bunch of other trampoline and slide elements. Kids will go nuts jumping into gigantic foam pits and zooming down a 220-foot-long zip line. I love that the really challenging elements offer adult/teen, kid and little kid (ages 3 and up) versions, so no one has to miss out on the fun.

My favorite part— this place has course guides stationed throughout the obstacles. None of this “just one person to man the desk” nonsense!

And if watching your little cherub conquer the Ninja Course for the umpteenth time is not your jam, you can grab an actual meal at the Sky Café, which is located close enough to keep an eye on the action while you enjoy your panini and coffee.

Birthday parties, field trips, corporate events, homeschool experiences, gift cards (hint, hint, grandparents!)— they do all of that, too.

Planet Obstacle
1150 Emma Oaks Trail #100, Lake Mary

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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 22 interactive stations deal with topics such as photography filters, home security systems and fiber optic cables.

Your artsy kids will enjoy learning about color theory and getting the chance to walk inside of a giant, colorful kaleidoscope; your little engineers can experiment by shining lasers through water and other materials. My favorite part was channeling my inner “Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment” to make my way through the security system maze of lasers while wearing a backpack and listening to my embarrassed daughter try to hurry me through the obstacle.

My kids loved the activity that allowed them to catch their shadow, although I did have to promise one young one that there was no chance of her shadow being harmed in any way. My littles also loved running through the tunnel of 20,000 LED lights.

Playing with Light is included with your general admission ticket.

Orlando Science Center
777 E Princeton St., Orlando, FL 32803

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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 Orlando families.

Megan’s PLAYtips:

  1. Check the PLAY section of the website first for the height requirements for each attraction so you know going into it which attractions your children can do.
  2. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, especially if you are playing
    laser tag. You work up a little sweat playing the games, and you’ll want to be able to run around.
  3. Plan ahead which attractions you want to do before you get there to make the registration process that much easier.
  4. If you are going to be dining at Andretti, check out the Sky Bar before you go straight to the Andretti Grill. The Sky Bar has a cool view of the go kart track that is fun to watch while you enjoy some food.
  5. Before choosing your go-kart race, be sure to check out the map of the tracks either on the website or the brochure at Andretti. Your friends and family can only see you race on one of the tracks. The other track goes outside, so your friends and family won’t be able to see you race if you choose that one.

Andretti Indoor Karting and Games
9299 Universal Blvd.


Megan Navarro is a true Central Florida native. She was born and raised in DeLand and has lived in Orlando for most of her adult life. She is a graduate of the UCF Rosen School of Hospitality Management and is an accomplished professional photographer. There is nothing she loves more than spending a day at Walt Disney World with her adorable 6-year-old daughter, Lennon Love, and her husband of 9 years, Carlos Navarro. Megan runs and produces the lifestyle YouTube channel I am Megan Navarro, where she specializes in budget-friendly home décor and organization as well as fun videos with her family showcasing some of the awesome family friendly places in Orlando. Megan is a truly positive person who loves life. Megan and he husband live by their motto: To the Top, Never Stop!

Connect with Megan:





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2017 Holiday PLAYguide

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at The REP

Whether you want to romp around at a festival or kick back and watch a holiday flick, we rounded up our favorite holiday events for your convenience!

Words by Anna Karasik

Theme Parks & Resorts

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
November 9-December 22

During the holiday season, Disney’s Magic Kingdom becomes the merriest place on Earth. Frozen’s Anna and Elsa are heading up a special show in front of the castle, and the rest of the gang are putting on their most festive attire for Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando
November 18-January 6

Dr. Seuss’s Who-ville is the most festive place of all to celebrate the season! See a live re-telling of the tale of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and maybe even get an autograph from the not-so-jolly green guy himself!

Macy’s Holiday Parade
Universal Studios, Orlando
November 18-January 6, various times

This event in itself is worth the trip out to Universal Studios. As a part of their holiday festivities, the park puts on a parade featuring larger-than-life balloons. This year’s procession features the ever-loved Minions from Despicable Me!

Holidays around the World & Celebrity Candlelight Processional
Disney’s EPCOT
November 24-December 30

The World Showcase at EPCOT transforms into a new kind of educational experience this time of year: guests can learn how each country celebrates the holidays. This park is also home to the Candlelight Processional, a concert of classic Christmas tunes featuring a celebrity speaker who reads the nativity story.

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
SeaWorld Orlando
November 24-December 31, select nights

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is the perfect way to make lasting memories this holiday season! Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is back, along with the Sesame Street crew in an all-new live show. Families can also see aquatic animals in action or stroll through the Sea of Trees.

LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular
LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Winter Haven
Saturdays and Sundays in December, Christmas Day

Master Builders will find no better holiday bash. There will be themed scavenger hunts and building activities, plus an appearance by LEGO Santa! Keep an eye out for the dazzling light displays, and the occasional snow flurry!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms
Gaylord Palms Resort, Kissimmee
November 21-January 7

Where else in Orlando can you walk through and around two million pounds of ice? The Gaylord Palms is back with the ICE! exhibition, ice tubing and our personal favorite—an oh-so-spectacular acrobatics show.

Santa’s Favorite Resort
Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort, Lake Buena Vista
Weekends November 24-December 23 & Christmas Day

Everyone knows that Orlando is Santa’s favorite place to vacation—and with this weather, who can blame him? He and Mrs. Claus are treating resort guests to crafts, movies, meet-and-greets and so much more.

Snow & Ice Skating

SNOWFEST at the RDV Sportsplex

Light Up UCF
CFE Arena, Orlando
November 17-December 31

The University of Central Florida’s annual holiday carnival gets bigger and better every year! Enjoy thrilling rides, ice skating and an ice show. If you need to slow down, let the kids ride the kiddie train or sit and soak in the light show!

“Now Snowing” at Celebration
Celebration Town Center
November 25-December 31, evenings

Evenings at Celebration Town Center are absolutely magical! Snow falls periodically through the night, and if that isn’t chilly enough for your family, there is also an ice skating rink. There will also be carolers and other festive entertainment, along with a visit from the Big Man in Red!

RDV Sportsplex, Maitland
December 16 from 2-6 p.m.

This snowy celebration at the RDV Sportsplex gets bigger and better every year! Families can “chill out” by ice skating, playing in real snow or riding down an icy slide. There will also be bounce houses and other games, plus meet-and-greets with the famous “Ice Queen and Princess.”

Holiday Shows, Movies and Exhibits

Gingerbread Lane
Orlando Science Center
November 24-January 7

During the holiday season, Orlando Science Center invites guests to walk through a wonderland made entirely out of yummy treats! Without any glass barriers, guests can smell the sweet spice of gingerbread all throughout the exhibit.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical
Orlando Repertory Theatre
November 18-December 30, various times

See what happens when the unruly Herdman kids demand parts in the Sunday school Christmas pageant! This funny musical is perfect for all ages.

It’s a Wonder Life: A Live Radio Play
Orlando Shakespeare Theater
November 29-December 30, various times

Go back to the time of radio broadcasts and be a part of the studio audience at this unique experience! Five actors will provide the voices for dozens of characters and even more sound effects. Arrive 30 minutes early for pre-show fun!

It’s a Wonderful Life
Enzian Theater, Maitland
December 9 at noon

Chill out in the Enzian’s comfy chairs and dine on their magnificent menu while watching the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen.

The Polar Express on the Farm
Southern Hill Farms, Clermont
December 9-10
Activities start at 5
Movie Starts at 6

This Southern Hill Farms tradition lets kids take a hayride to a winter wonderland! Play in real snow, get transformed by a face painter and meet a special visitor from the North Pole. The feature presentation is The Polar Express. Kids get a souvenir sleigh bell!

The Polar Express & Letters to Santa
Enzian Theater, Maitland
December 10

Activities start at 11 a.m.; movie starts at noon
The Enzian Theater does its own Polar Express movie night each year. Kids can arrive early and write a wish list to Santa while enjoying cookies and cocoa. After a showing of The Polar Express, Santa will arrive in person to pick up the letters and take photos!

Sleigh – A Family-Friendly Holiday Comedy
Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center, Sanford
December 15 at 7:30 p.m.
December 17 at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.

This hilarious stage show deals with all kinds of Christmas hijinks: while a young couple spends their first Christmas together, two shopkeepers compete for customers– all while the mail carriers scramble to get presents delivered on time!

Christmas is Comin’ Uptown
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando
December 15-17

This funky stage show gives a little “soul” to a story we all know and love. Set in Harlem in the early 70’s, this is “A Christmas Carol” as you’ve never seen it before!

Orlando Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando
December 21-24, various times
Family Show December 23 at 11 a.m.

A toy nutcracker takes a girl on a magical journey in this famous Christmas production. See a shortened one-hour showing on December 23—perfect for the little ones! This holiday tradition is brought to the community by Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.

Community Festivals

Winter in the Park
Central Park, Winter Park
November 18-January 7
Weekdays 3-10 p.m.
Weekends 12-8 p.m.

Head to beautiful Central Park in Winter Park to explore holiday carolers, festive games and outdoor ice skating!

Holiday Fountain Show
Crane’s Roost Park, Altamonte Springs
November 25-December 31 at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m.

Gather around Crane’s Roost Park’s Plaza fountain nightly for a synchronized show of music and lights.

Illuminated Christmas Parade
First Street, Sanford
December 9 from 6-9 p.m.

Head to Downtown Historic Sanford to see a spectacular array of parade floats all decked out in colorful lights.

Free Photo with Santa
tugboat & the bird, Winter Park
December 9 from 10-noon

This cute kid’s boutique is hosting complementary pictures with Santa Claus. Don’t forget to pick up an extra copy of PLAYGROUND while you’re there!

Family Workshops

Chocolate House Party
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park
December 15 from 7-8:30 p.m.

Make a fragrant and festive Chocolate Holiday House at this family workshop by Peterbrooke Chocolatier. Work together in groups of up to 3.

Hot Cocoa and Christmas Ornaments
Super Awesome Cool Pottery, Orlando
All December long

Sit down to a table of clay and cocoa at this holiday crafting event! For just $15 (or $20 on weekends,) you can make three custom pottery ornaments to add to your tree– all while enjoying a holiday treat.

Know of an event that should be on our list? Email

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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
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Fall Festival & Pumpkin Patch at Southern Hill Farms

Pumpkin Patch at Green Meadows Farm
September 29–November 17
Green Meadows Petting Farm, Orlando
Head to Green Meadows Petting Farm to find piles and piles of pumpkins just waiting to be picked! Take one home for free. Don’t forget to visit the animals before you go.

A Lot of Pumpkins
Fridays–Sundays from September 30–October 29
Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest, Eustis
Did you know that Santa loves fall? Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest is home to plenty of fresh-picked pumpkins! Families can carve jack-o-lanterns right there at the farm. Plus, kids can enjoy a petting zoo, giant bounce pillow and hayrides.

Fall Festival & Pumpkin Patch at the Farm
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from October 6–29
Southern Hill Farms, Clermont
From pumpkin-picking to live music to food trucks, there is something for everyone at Southern Hill Farms’ weekend festivals. Admission is only $10 per vehicle, regardless of the number of passengers.

Uncle Donald’s Fall Fun
Saturday evenings in October
Uncle Donald’s Farm, Lady Lake
Have a nighttime adventure with the family by seeing nocturnal creatures around the farm, visiting the “Creepy Crawly Barn” filled with reptiles, and trying to find your way through the corn maze! The pumpkin patch will also be open for browsing.

Hometown Pumpkin Festival
October 21, 22, 28 and 29
Horsepower Ranch, Geneva
Head out to Geneva at the end of October for a family romp around the farm. There will be vendors, a pumpkin patch, plus plenty of children’s activities, including pony rides and a petting zoo. October 29 will feature a luau party with Moana!

Pumpkin Patch Express
October 21, 28, 29
Florida Railroad Museum, Parrish
The only thing that beats a fall hayride is a train ride! On this two-hour excursion to the pumpkin patch. There will be plenty of activities for families as well as food for purchase. Pumpkin included with ticket price!

Pumpkin Patch by Community United Methodist Church
Daily in October
Casselberry’s Community United Methodist Church is once again hosting its big pumpkin patch, featuring storytime with Granny Pumpkin!

Fall Festivals and Harvest Festivals
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Harvest Weekend at Painted Oaks Academy

Club Lake Plantation Fall Festival
September 30–October 31
Club Lake Plantation, Apopka
You can experience this full-on fall festival six days a week. Kids can do a corn maze, shop the pumpkin patch, and even ride a choo-choo train. Plus, where else can you launch pumpkins from a cannon?

Harvest Weekends at Painted Oaks
Saturdays and Sundays October 7–29

Painted Oaks Academy, Orlando
Painted Oaks is coming alive every weekend this October with carnival games, bounce houses, a petting zoo and more. Families can also explore the pumpkin patch! Admission $5.

Annunciation Fall Festival
October 13–15
Annunciation Catholic Church
Join the community for a day of games and food in honor of the fall season! There will also be an auction as well as a big secondhand sale.

YMCA Fall Festival
October 14
J. Douglas Williams YMCA, Lake Mary
The whole community is invited to this free festival. There will be trick-or-treating and other activities for kids as well as vendors and food trucks!

34th Annual Fall Festival at Lukas Nursery
October 14–15
Lukas Nursery & Butterfly Encounter
Head to Lukas Nursery for a weekend of free fall activities for the whole family, including hayrides and a pumpkin patch! PLAY Tip: Stock up on holiday gifts at the Butterfly Encounter’s surprisingly awesome gift shop! #twobirdsonestone

Hay Day Fall Festival
October 20
Earl Brown Park, DeLand
At this free festival, families can take part in games to win prizes, explore local vendors, or plop down on a blanket to catch an outdoor showing of Hotel Transylvania!

Fall Harvest Celebration
October 22
Sunset Park, Mt. Dora
Pisces Rising restaurant presents a festival of food! Enjoy meals prepared using fresh ingredients from local farmers, all while listening to live music.

Forever Florida Fall Fest
October 28 at Forever Florida, St. Cloud

The Forever Florida conservation area invites explorers of all ages to a day of nature encounters via buggy, games with prizes, food and more. Admission is free!

Fall Fiesta in the Park
November 4–5
Lake Eola Park, Orlando
With hundreds of booths, live musicians, and tons of activities for kids, there is no shortage of things to do at this huge festival!

Apopka Fall Family Festival
November 9-12
Kit Land Nelson Park, Apopka
The community is invited to this weekend of family activities, including carnival rides and live music. Parents will especially love the Beer & Wine Garden!

Longwood Fall Festival
November 18–19
Longwood City Hall
Formerly known as the Longwood Arts Festival, this event now offers so much more for families: there will be live music, carnival games, and over 150 vendors to explore.

Corn Mazes
• • • • • • • • • • •

Scott’s Maze Adventures; Photo by Amy Smith Photography

Harvest Holler
Fridays–Sundays from September 22–November 12
Harvest Holler Corn Maze, Polk City
Get lost a (literal) maze of fall fun on the farm. Along with the corn maze, there is a pumpkin patch and a petting zoo. Kids can also ride the Cow Train, climb the hay fort, play on tire swings and so much more!

Scott’s Maze Adventures
Saturdays and Sundays from September 30–December 10
Long & Scott Farms, Mount Dora
Shake up your fall with a crazy corn maze at Long & Scott Farms! This year’s maze theme is a tribute to first responders. Tickets start at $12.

Partin Ranch Corn Maze
Weekends in October
Partin Ranch, Kenansville
There is never a dull moment at Partin Ranch this October: every weekend, families are invited to navigate a corn maze, zip down zip lines, and play all kinds of games.

Sunflower Mazes at Stanley Pond Farm
Weekends in October
Stanley Pond Adventure Farm, Astatula
This unique fall experience is worth the drive: not only is there a sunflower maze to explore, but kids can pick flowers & pumpkins, ride horses, see a magic show, and much more!


Oktoberfest Celebrations
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Oktoberfest at the German American Society of Central Florida

Baldwin Park Octoberfest
October 6
New Broad Street, Baldwin Park
For the first time ever, Baldwin Park’s First Friday Festival is getting a “fall” spin! Enjoy plenty of beer, live music, plus over 100 artists & vendors.

Orlando’s Most Authentic 2017 Oktoberfest
October 7 and 28
German American Society of Central Florida, Casselberry
Button up your lederhosen and enjoy live entertainment, Bavarian style food, and of course, plenty of German beer on tap, all complements of the German American Society of Central Florida.

Sanford Oktoberfest
October 12–14, various times
Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe
Downtown Sanford is turning into Germany for a weekend! Roam around the street party for free or buy a ticket from Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe to enjoy food & drinks.

Avalon Park Oktoberfest
October 14
Avalon Park, Orlando
This is a perfect Oktoberfest celebration for the whole family: while parents can sip drinks at the Beer Garden, kids can quench their thirst at the Root Beer Garden and bounce around at the Bounce Park!

Celebration Oktoberfest
October 20-21
Celebration Town Center
Come early and stay late at this one-of-a-kind celebration. There will be interactive live performances as well as hayrides and crafts for kids. It’s totally free to enjoy!

Hometown Harvest
November 5
Winter Springs Town Center
This free community festival features live entertainment from local artists, a play area for kids, and a meet-and-greet with the Winter Springs Police Department!

More Fall Fun for Families
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Barktoberfest at Lake Eola

2nd Annual Fall Junk Days at the Barn
October 5-8
Ol’ Barn Junktiques, Geneva
This quaint festival has all of the staples your family will want: vendors & artists, pumpkins, and good food. Admission is free.

BBQ and Blues Festival
October 13-15
Lake ridge Winery & Vineyards
It’s a battle of the BBQ pit masters at this weekend bash! See cooks compete to be the “Rib King” while watching live music, browsing vendors, and trying Lakeridge wines.

Lake County Folk Festival
October 14-15
Ferran Park, Eustis
Soak in the season at this outdoor music festival! In addition to live tunes, there will be plenty of food trucks and vendors set up throughout the park.

44th Annual Winter Park Autumn Art Festival
October 14-15
Central Park, Winter Park
This community sidewalk show features local art and entertainment that your whole family will love. Crealdé School of Art is even hosting free art workshops so that kids can make their own masterpiece!

Interactive Fall Arts & Crafts Celebration for Children
October 21
The Historic Sanford Welcome Center
This event will have your kids in a fall frenzy: they can decorate pumpkins, rocks and even cookies! Bonus: this is the same night as the Sanford Art Walk and the Food Truck Fiesta.

Ocoee Founder’s Day Festival
November 3–4
Bill Breeze Park, Ocoee
The City of Ocoee presents a huge, free concert for the community featuring country and pop artists. There will also be carnival activities just for kids.

38th Annual Montverde Day Festival
November 10-11
Town of Montverde
This small-town festival offers a classic car show and live entertainment, plus unique vendors that you won’t find anywhere else.

November 19
Lake Eola Park, Orlando
Come together to celebrate animal rescue groups with Orange County Animal Services. Along with local vendors, there will be animals available for adoption right there at the festival!

Use #PLAYOrlando on instagram to share your fall adventures with us.

Check out our oh-so-spooky 2017 Halloween roundup, a curated list of Halloween parties for you and your little ones.

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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 Count, Elmo, Abby and others take the stage in “Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween.” Families will also enjoy a Halloween Dance Party and meet whimsical characters inspired by the sea. For this special event, children can dress in their Halloween costumes and take part in fun-filled trick-or-treating in the park.

The daytime Halloween fun takes place every Saturday and Sunday starting September 23 through October 29, 2017 and is included with park admission. Event hours are 11 a.m. to park close.

Halloween Spooktacular Highlights Include:

  • Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween – Celebrate a Spooktacular Halloween at SeaWorld with The Count, Elmo, Abby, and the rest of their Sesame Street friends! The Count is feeling lonely this Halloween, and it’s up to the loveable monsters from Sesame Street to get him into the Halloween spirit. Batty bats and spooky skeletons join the fun in a song-filled stage show that invites guests to dance, play and sing along.
  • Penelope’s Garden Party – This dynamic “underwater” environment comes to life with a live DJ, bubbles floating overhead, unique photo opportunities and colorful sea-themed characters.
  • Pets Ahoy Halloween – Guests can enjoy a special Halloween version of this side-splitting show with surprise twists, and a cast of unlikely characters that will have the whole family laughing from beginning to end.
  • Waves of Trick-or-Treat Fun – Costumed youngsters can trick-or-treat from 11 a.m. to park close for ghoulish goodies. Each sea-themed, trick-or-treat station features an assortment of candy favorites including Tootsie Roll®, Airheads® and Junior Mints®, just to name a few.
  • Halloween Dance Party – Children join Princess Penelope and her under-the-sea friends for a Spooktacular Dance Party where they can participate in line-dancing favorites as clouds of bubbles fill the evening air. The party kicks off in the front of the park every event night one hour before park closing.
  • Mermaid Grotto – Meet a mystical mermaid from an underwater world of fantasy. Capture the amazing moment with a Mermaid Photo Package, available for purchase at the park.

4 Ways to Upgrade Your Day:

  1. Count von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast – Back by popular demand, Count von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast features a delicious buffet enjoyed with the furriest characters in town, this breakfast is a fun-filled experience sure to delight kids and parents alike. Starting at $9.99 for kids and $19.99 for adults, reservations can be made online, at the Information Counter or by calling (407) 545-5550.
  2. Reserved Seating: Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween – Enjoy a reserved seat at a showtime of your choice for Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween show at SeaWorld Orlando. Priced at $19 per person, guarantee a seat for a showtime of your choice.
  3. Spooky Game Pass – Guests can enjoy a variety of games throughout the event, each with a guaranteed prize! The Spooky Game Pass offers guests the opportunity to play 5 games for the price of 4. Available for $20 in advance online.
  4. Seasonal Craft Brew Sampler – Adult guests can sip and enjoy 10 craft brews from a wide seasonal selection of unique craft brews offered daily including a wide selection of seasonal fall flavors. All samples are 7 oz. and include over 20 local brews from Florida. Sampling lanyards are priced at $30 and can be purchased online and around the park.

Best Way to Play:

The best way for guests to visit SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is with an Annual Pass. For a limited time, guests who purchase a full paid SeaWorld Annual Pass will get three months free.

For more information, park hours and to purchase tickets, visit

P.S. Just around the corner, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration offers delicious food, stunning live shows, delightful holiday shopping and joyous entertainment. SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration brings together family fun and holiday traditions on select nights, November 24 – December 31, 2017 and is included with park admission.

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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 Halloween shenanigans.

The first Halloween event that makes us drag the costumes out of the attic in early (and hot) September is Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This special ticketed event technically begins in late August, but we usually go in early to mid-September to get a little closer to the Halloween season while still taking advantage of super short lines (if any at all).

5 Reasons We Love Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party:

  1. It’s an evening event, so Not-So-Scary is also Not-So-Sweaty.
  2. If you go in August or September, the lines for rides are super short.
  3. In my opinion, Boo to You is the best Disney parade of the year.
  4. It’s fun to see the guests dressed up in costume. Some adults really get into it.
  5. The Monstrous Scream-O-Ween Ball (DJ dance party) in Tomorrowland is an absolute blast!

I love to see how Disney pushes the scariness just enough to give it a little edge. For example, the Boo to You parade commences with the Headless Horseman — that’s right, a headless man on a horse literally rides through the parade route to kick off the show. Amazing! Another super creative part of the parade is the gravediggers who drag their shovels across the ground to create some serious sparks.

The downside is that not everything is open. You won’t be eating at Be Our Guest or taking the Jungle Cruise. But you’ll be so busy getting through your favorite rides so quickly, you won’t even miss those attractions. Each year, we find ourselves starting at Adventureland and working our way around the park to hit these rides: Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Mad Tea Party, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and Space Mountain. Plus, we make sure to save time for the parade and the dance party!

Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is hands-down this Florida native’s favorite way to experience the Magic Kingdom. I’m telling ya, you’ll be amazed at how much fun you and your own little monsters will be able to pack into five hours without the long lines.


Download Disney’s official 2017 Party Guide here.

Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Select nights from August 25 through November 1, 7 p.m.–Midnight

PLAY Tips:

  • You can enter as early as 4 p.m.
  • The busiest night is October 31st. I’m guessing the lines are probably long, and that night usually sells out fast.
  • Wear family costumes to make it more fun.
  • They provide candy bags, so that’s one less thing you need to schlep.
  • If you’re looking for a complete guide to this special event, this one is the best I’ve found so far.
  • Purchase your tickets here. There’s dynamic pricing so the earlier you go the cheaper the price.


Here’s a video I put together of some of the highlights:

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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.


Selfiesaurus by Hannah Glogower

Science Night Live at Orlando Science Center
Several times throughout the year, the Orlando Science Center opens its doors after hours for an evening of adults-only fun. Check out the grounds (kid-free!) as you sip on adult beverages, play trivia, explore exhibits and attend guest presentations. Tickets are $15.95 per person or free if you’re already a member.


Winter Park Art Tour
Spend an hour wandering through the Morse Museum on Park Avenue marveling at stained glass, lamps, jewelry and a chapel interior designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. There’s also an impressive collection of American art to peruse. Admission is regularly $6 but is free on Friday nights from from 4-8 p.m (November through April). Continue on to the free guided art tour at The Alfond Inn offered every Sunday at 1 p.m., or visit the Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the Rollins College campus (also free).


Game Time
The couple that plays together stays together! Head to WhirlyDome on I-Drive to learn a new game: WhirlyBall. The game is a fun combination of basketball, hockey and jai-alai played while zooming around the court on a bumper car-esque vehicle. The 10-minute game ($8 per person) will fly by as you attempt to score as many points as possible, likely while laughing uncontrollably. Celebrate your victory at the on-site pub and eatery, or continue the fun with a game of laser tag.


Spoken Word and Literary Events
Change up your date night routine with an evening spent mingling with Orlando’s literary community. Listen to strangers read excerpts from their childhood diaries during Orlando Cringe, or attend There Will Be Words, a quarterly literary series highlighting local talent through poetry and readings. Functionally Literate is another unique event that pairs visiting writers and Central Florida writers with the local community for a quarterly reading series.


Grande Lakes Whisper Creek Fables
Whisper Creek Farm, part of the expansive Grande Lakes property, is an ideal respite for foodies. Through a series of farm-to-table experiences, you’ll go behind the scenes at the farm for a delectable date. Pick out your favorite ingredients for a Chef’s Table experience and sip on a welcome cocktail during Farm to Fare ($190–$440 per couple). Alternatively, get an insider’s look at the farm’s role in craft beer production followed by a beer and food sampling during Farm to Foam ($170 per couple).

STEPHANIE PATTERSON is the managing editor for Orlando Date Night Guide, the area’s most comprehensive resource for local date night ideas. A local photographer, travel blogger and food tour guide, she shares her creativity on

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Grayson’s Story: End Childhood Cancer

Grayson with David Shook, MD, medical director of Florida Hospital for Children’s pediatric bone marrow transplant program, who performed his life-saving stem cell transplant.

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, Grayson, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Grayson ringing the bell on May 22, 2017, signaling the end of his cancer treatment.

Over the course of two years, his treatment included a battery of tests, scans and X-rays, surgery, multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and a stem cell transplant. Thanks to the highly skilled medical team at Florida Hospital for Children and the courage of our son, Grayson has beaten his cancer twice. On May 22, 2017, he finally got to ring the bell signaling the long-awaited end of treatment and the quieting of the tornado in our brains.

We wish our story were rare. Sadly, Grayson is one of the 15,780 children who are diagnosed with cancer every year. The disease affects many, yet the funding is lacking. According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer receives more research funding than all childhood cancers combined. With your help, we can change this.

Carl and Michelle Zrelak of Longwood
Parents of Grayson Zrelak, age 12


Join the fight against childhood cancer and help provide hope and better treatment options for kids like Grayson. Visit one of 32 participating Central Florida Chick-fil-A® restaurants during the month of September to purchase this special cow, whose net proceeds will benefit the courageous kids fighting cancer at Florida Hospital for Children.

For more information, including participating Chick-fil-A locations, visit

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PLAYGROUND’s Picks: Best Family Staycations

Tradewinds Island Resort, St. Pete

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 Day staycation spots with you!

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Our ad team was unanimous: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World has some oh-so-exciting offerings, not to mention a delicious discount for locals!

“Every Labor Day, my family and I take a staycation at the Four Seasons Resort in Disney! We skip the parks altogether and just enjoy the gorgeous resort, pool, slides, kids club, lazy river, amazing restaurants and great service! They also offer a Florida resident rate during that time, so it makes it that much more enjoyable! We love this tradition and look forward to it every year! It’s a great way to kiss summer goodbye and say hello to the new school year!”   – Jessica Ventura, Advertising Manager

“We are planning to go back to Four Seasons. They offer a Florida resident discount, and the kids think it’s fun to staycation. They have a great pool, water slides, adult pool and lazy river… also, we can see Disney fireworks from the room!”   – Emily Weiss, Advertising Assistant

The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island

Ritz Carlton Amelia Island

“Our family loves the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island. They always have great poolside activities for the kids, such as making terrariums, jewelry or other crafts. Each night, the staff leads a shark tooth hunt and will string your found teeth on a necklace. We also love the s’mores on the beach. Adults can enjoy a kid-free dinner, while the kids have a blast in the Kid’s Club. The Kid’s Club will feed them and engage them in activities for a set number of hours. Club level guests get this service free! Honestly, there’s so much to do and such great food that we never have to leave the resort.”   – Tracey Velt, Content Editor

St. Pete Beach

Guy Harvey Outpost

The pristine shoreline of St. Petersburg is another PLAYGROUND team fave! Between the relaxing resorts and aquatic activities, our publisher, Heather, and our online editor, Cortney, can’t get enough of this place.

“About two hours southwest of Orlando, St. Pete Beach has tons of oceanfront beach resorts to choose from, and many of them offer beachfront patios with live music- that’s the magic staycation ingredient for me. My family likes Bongos at the Grand Plaza Hotel (we even hosted our breezy, low-key wedding reception there!), but you can walk the strip of beach from Grand Plaza Hotel to the laid-back, surfer-style Postcard Inn and find plenty of live music and things to do along the way.

Almost every day, the TradeWinds Island Resort sets up an enormous inflatable slide on the beach and a water park in the Gulf (the kids make it look easy to climb on that thing; but trust me, it isn’t!). On our next staycation in St. Pete Beach, we’re going to try Swim with the Fishes at the Guy Harvey Outpost, where we’ll snorkel in a giant fish tank. This experience is for ages 8 and up, and it’s a cool way for younger kids to try out snorkeling for the first time.

We love this strip along St. Pete Beach because it’s the perfect combination of excitement for the kids and relaxation for the adults—the kids get their parasailing and paddleboards; I get my margaritas and live music. Perfect combination!”   – Cortney Thekan, Online Editor

Tradewinds Island Resort

“I recommend hitting St. Pete Beach to stay at TradeWinds Island Resort. It’s my favorite resort for families in that area. The water activities are a step above the other resorts with seven pools plus great sea play too — a ginormous inflatable water slide in the Gulf and a really cool inflatable surfing challenge. You can even sign up for “Tank Immersion” experience where families can go snorkel in an enormous fish tank. There are so many unique activities at this resort, I can’t imagine how you couldn’t have a good time.

PLAY Tip: Request a ground floor beach side suite with a patio near the pool. It allows for easier access for older kids to come and go while mom can easily keep an eye out from your room.

Bonus: Downtown St. Pete is the newest hot spot in Florida. Explore the plethora of restaurants, shops and museums in downtown. It’s like a little South Beach (Miami) but much closer to home.”   – Heather Reneau, Publisher

Have you found a new favorite staycation staple for your family? Tell us so on Facebook, and use #playorlando on your Instagram pictures to share the action with us!

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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 the first time in a live production. Tickets are on sale now.

Celebrate what’s possible as five Disney heroines spark the courage inside us all at Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream! In her Disney On Ice debut, see how far Moana will go in an action-packed adventure with demigod, Maui, to save her island and discover her true identity. Join Belle as she fearlessly befriends the enchanted castle staff and reveals the Beast’s gentleness. Experience Anna’s devotion to her sister, Elsa, on her life-changing journey to stop an eternal winter. Explore with Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, Cinderella and friends from around the Disney Kingdom as they find the strength, heart and determination to make their dreams come true. Hosted by Mickey and Minnie, uncover why no dream is too big when we find the strength to shape our own destiny at Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream!

Discover your inner hero when Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream comes to Orlando!

Location: Amway Center, 400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801

Show Times:

  • Friday, September 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 9 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 10 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.


Ticket prices start at $18. Market pricing applies to all tickets. Rates can fluctuate based on factors that affect supply and demand. Lock in your price and location today!
All seats are reserved.

Tickets are available at or, at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone for information only: 407-440-7900). For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740.

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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 kids and spark their interest in science!

Words by Anna Karasik

Orlando Science Center

Head to Orlando Science Center from 1-4 p.m. on August 21 to get a safe view of the eclipse using special glasses and a solar telescope. There will also be eclipse-themed crafts and hands-on sensory activities that younger astronomers will love! It’s all included with general admission, and as always, free for OSC Members!

OSC staff will also be at several free pop-up viewing locations throughout Central Florida.

Confirmed pop-up viewing spots:

  • Central Park West Meadow in Winter Park
  • Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Click here to check for new pop-up locations. RSVP on Facebook.

Select Orange County Libraries

The Orange County Library System is hosting plenty of eclipse events for kids throughout August. At “Eclipse Across America,” kids learn about the eclipse while doing crafts and other activities.

Several library branches will also be hosting viewing parties on August 21, including:

  • Alafaya Branch
  • Eatonville Branch
  • Southwest Branch
  • Winter Garden Branch

View all OCLS eclipse events here.

Bok Tower Gardens

In honor of this rare event, Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales is hosting its own viewing party. The first 400 visitors on August 21 will get a pair of glasses for safe viewing. Arrive early to snag your family’s glasses, then enjoy the gardens until peak viewing time hits at about 2:45 p.m.!

RSVP on Facebook.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

It should go without saying that the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is pulling out all the stops for this solar eclipse! If you are able to make the trek down to Cape Canaveral, you will be treated with more than just a safe and clear viewing. Experts will be on site to answer questions, and young space explorers can take part in other entertaining activities to learn more about the eclipse.

It’s all included with general admission to the complex! RSVP on Facebook.

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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 Karasik

1. Sanford Station: “Choo Choo to the Zoo”

Whether your kids are new to the zoo or mini-tour guides, this experience is too cool to miss out on! SunRail’s new Choo Choo to the Zoo shuttle will take you on a round-trip from the Sanford SunRail station to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens and Downtown Historic Sanford.

When you’re done romping around for the day, you can catch the shuttle back to the station and ride the SunRail home.

PLAY Tip: Present your SunRail ticket at the Zoo ticket window for a 20% discount!

The shuttle itself has a clean, comfortable interior … and an adorable exterior! See a photo tour of the experience in our Facebook album.

2. Church Street Station: Go on an O-Town Family Adventure

Riding the SunRail to the Church Street station puts you just blocks away from some of Orlando’s top family hangouts:

  • Walk a few blocks from the train station to the Orlando Public Library! They host plenty of events for kids, and their children’s section is a neat place to plop down and read.
  • Just one block away from the library is iconic Lake Eola! There, you can ride in a swan boat, run around at the playground, or simply walk laps around the lake and enjoy the scenery.
  • Check out the Orange County Regional History Center, also just a block away from the library. They host events and camps for kids, as well as educational exhibits.

If daytime romping isn’t an option, consider taking the family out for a night on the town! The Church Street station is just blocks away from your perfect evening itinerary:

  • Catch a show at the Dr. Phillips Center. From hit musicals to themed concerts, you’re bound to find events that will “wow” your whole family.
  • Have a lip-smackin’ burger at Wahlburgers. On your walk to and from the Dr. Phillips Center, you’ll pass one of Orlando’s newest and best burger joints– so why not stop in for a dinner date?

3. Winter Park Station: Outdoor Movies and Shopping

  • Popcorn Flicks in the Park is a free film experience that is a favorite among locals. Enzian Theater plays a popular movie on a big projector screen in Winter Park’s beautiful Central Park. The Winter Park SunRail station is right in Central Park, so you hardly have to walk off the platform to be in your perfect viewing spot. Bring blankets and food so you can kick back in comfort and enjoy a show under the stars!

    Before you go, compare movie runtimes and the SunRail schedule! Some movies may run past the last departure time to your home station. (The beautiful thing is, it’s hard to miss your train when the station is right next to you!)

  • Walk across the street to the Park Avenue shopping district! The area is lined with unique restaurants & boutiques. Here are some of our fave Park Avenue destinations:
    – Tugboat & the Bird children’s boutique
    – Max and Marley children’s upscale resale boutique
    – Lighten Up! toy store

Bonus: Pick up a copy of PLAYGROUND Magazine at any of those locations!

4. Florida Hospital Health Village Station: A Cultural Experience

The Florida Hospital Health Village station isn’t just a stone’s throw from the hospital — it’s also walking distance from Loch Haven Park, which is surrounded by some of Orlando’s best family hotspots:

  • There is no shortage of things for your kids to do at Orlando Science Center. Along with a huge re-vamped KidsTown, the Science Center also offers children’s workshops, movies, stargazing, and so much more! Don’t forget to check out their latest traveling exhibit.
  • Orlando Shakespeare Theater doesn’t just offer stellar shows from The Bard. Their children’s shows are as professionally done as their adult shows.
  • Kids & teens alike L-O-V-E The Orlando Repertory Theatre. They run an out-of-this-world youth academy, the members of which put on high-quality musical productions that’ll knock your family’s socks off!
  • The Orlando Museum of Art is a great way to introduce your kids to culture in a fun way. Keep an eye out for Free Family Fundays, where your kids can do a craft and then explore the museum for free. The first weekends of the month are also free for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders thanks to the Museums on Us program.

5. Longwood Station: Get Artsy at The Craft Shack Studio

Just a five-minute walk from the Longwood SunRail station is The Craft Shack Studio. This is a mecca for your little artist, and hey — they offer art classes for adults, too! Check out their calendar to see which classes are coming up. You’ll find everything from painting to needlework, and everything in-between!

The Craft Shack is also a great place to host your little artist’s next birthday party. It’s a cozy space for a memorable celebration! All you have to do is bring the cake and decorations.


Want more ideas for things to do around Orlando? Subscribe to our Weekend PLAYguide! We’ll send the top five weekend events to your inbox every week.

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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 cooking. As a part of the YMCA of Central Florida‘s mission to improve the lives of all and make sure that everyone   has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive — the classes with Chef Gary will be free and open to the public, not just Y members.

Check out the Summer Food Fun Tour flyer for all the dates, descriptions and locations or visit the Facebook event pages.

Florida has the 35th highest obesity rate in the nation (26.8%) and has the 38th highest obesity rate among children aged 10-to 17-year-olds. The state also ranks 15th for obesity-related health issues. (SOURCE).

Gary Appelsies has a B.A. in Culinary Arts from New England Culinary Institute, an MS in Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and is also received a Certified Holistic Health Coach designation from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

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10 Places to PLAY on July 4th

Photo: SeaWorld Orlando

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:

  1. Fourth of July at SeaWorld
    SeaWorld Orlando
    Fireworks at 10:00 p.m.

    Spend Independence Day romping around SeaWorld with the kids! The park’s end-of-day fireworks spectacle, “Ignite,” will have an incredible patriotic finale.
    You can also buy a special “Independence Day Dinner with Shamu Package,” which gets you a buffet dinner, plus a VIP area to watch the fireworks. Don’t forget to check out the incredible new VR experience on Kraken Unleashed while you’re there!

  1. Fourth of July Science Celebration
    Orlando Science Center
    11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

    Want an indoor adventure this Independence Day? Orlando Science Center is combining history and science in a series of patriotic activities! Experiment with electricity like Benjamin Franklin, make star-spangled slime, and much more. Included with general admission.
  2. Omni Resort Fireworks Spectacular
    Omni Resort, ChampionsGate
    Sneak away for a PLAYcation at the Omni resort! As a guest there, you can enjoy their fireworks spectacular and other awesome nigttime activities. You can also catch the show on July 15 and 22, as well as August 5 and New Year’s Eve!

  1. Fireworks at the Fountain
    Lake Eola, Orlando
    4:00-10:00 p.m.

    Lake Eola will light up this Independence Day for the 40th annual Fireworks at the Fountain! Arrive early for children’s activities, vendors, music, and great food & drinks. Of course, the evening will conclude with a fireworks spectacular! The event is free to enjoy.
  2. Party in the Park, Winter Garden
    Newton Park, Winter Garden
    5:00-10:00 p.m.

    Bring out a chair or blanket and look to the skies for yet another year of great fireworks from the City of Winter Garden! Come out early to enjoy live music, local vendors, activities for all ages, and great food. Everyone is welcome to enjoy this celebration for free!

  1. A Sci-Fi Fourth of July
    Celebration Town Center
    4:00-10:00 p.m.

    Why not combine this patriotic holiday with one of America’s favorite genres, Sci-Fi? This event will feature a costume contest, tons of activities for kids, and a synchronized fireworks spectacular set to a Sci-Fi themed soundtrack! There will also be a DJ and other live entertainment. It’s all free to explore.
  2. Baldwin Park Independence Bash
    4990 New Broad St., Winter Park
    6:00-11:00 p.m.

    It’s a night full of patriotic festivities at Baldwin Park! There will be carnival games, live music, as well as great food and vendors. Stick around for the main event: a huge fireworks display over Lake Baldwin! It’s free and open to the public.

  1. Star Spangled Sanford
    Lake Monroe, Sanford
    4:00-10:00 p.m.

    See a fireworks spectacular over Lake Monroe in Sanford! The lake will be lined with tons of local vendors with all kinds of unique offerings. This City of Sanford event is free for all to enjoy.
  2. Avalon Park 4th of July Celebration
    Downtown Avalon Park
    5:00-9:00 p.m.

    Avalon Park is going all-out for July 4th, with tons of live entertainment, vendors, and ways for your kids to PLAY. There will also be food trucks, and of course– fireworks to top off the night! Enjoy it all for free.
  3. Leesburg 4th of July Celebration at Venetian Gardens
    Venetian Gardens on Lake Harris, Leesburg

    Bring the family out for an evening of live music, food, and activities for the kids. As per tradition, there will be a big fireworks spectacular along the shores of Venetian Cove. Explore it all for free!
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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 staycation resort. You can’t find a higher quality resort for the price. We’ve spent Mother’s Days, Father’s Days and birthdays at this posh, yet affordable, destination. So, I was thrilled to hear that they’re expanding its already fantastic amenities.

It’s all about the pool for my crew. There are two killer pools, but it’s the lazy river, corkscrew slide and the poolside bar and grille that put this resort at the No. 1 spot for my fam. When I heard they were expanding the pool area to include more kids’ slides and a wave pool, we started planning our next trip. Plus, there are now family-friendly cabanas located in the wave pool area. Sign me up! These will probably be heavily sought-after, so reserve them as soon as you check in (or before). The new slides and wave pool areas opened this past Memorial Day weekend.

There are plenty of dining experiences. David’s Club, an upscale sports bar–will probably be Dad’s favorite–with pool tables, a wall of TVs showing his favorite sports games, and comfy leather seating. Mom will love the comfort and quality of food and service at Trevi’s, which is open for all three meals, including a fantastic Florida-style brunch (think: local honey and grits bar) and an Italian lunch and dinner menu. Drop off the kids at Camp Omni Kids Escape on Friday or Saturday evening, and have a date night at Zen Sushi Bar. The kids will want to hit up the more casual eateries, such as Croc’s Pool Bar & Grille, Morsel’s for a quick snack on the go, and Piper’s Grille located at the clubhouse. Fun Fact: Guests in the spring and fall should hit Piper’s at sunset, where they’ll hear the bagpipes playing on the 10th tee.

The golfing is (for some people) the main event at Omni Orlando. This resort offers two golf courses and the Leadbetter Golf Academy for lessons, workshops and innovative training technology. They’ve turned your swing into a science. Check it out if you’re a golf enthusiast. The nine-hole Par 3 course is super fun and is ideal for families with young kids. You don’t even have to reserve a tee time; just check in to play at the pool towel hut. Rates are $16 per round for adults and $8.50 per round for children (includes the use of three Callaway clubs). It’s super casual and easy — great for the novice golfer. Crane’s Adventure (mini) Golf is also on-site.

A few other activities for your itinerary include the sunset s’mores at the fire pit, the Surrey bike rentals and — my personal favorite — the Mokara Spa. Make sure to go to your spa appointment early to take advantage of the hot tub and saunas. Ahhh…

Memorial Day weekend also kicked off 102 Days of Summer at Omni, which includes even more scheduled events and activities than usual — everything from Saturday night fireworks to dive‑in movies, poolside DJ dance parties and even cooking demos (like kid’s pizza-making)!

Omni Orlando Resort offers an unforgettable backdrop for your next family staycation. If your family is anything like mine, you’ll be hooked after your first visit. See you at the wave pool!

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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 share my suggestions for How to Kids Fringe.

Kids Fringe has partnered with the Orlando Fire Museum and we’ve moved to an exciting new location. We’re situated next to the Orlando Fire Museum and behind the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, convenient for visiting the Big Fringe festival after you’ve had some Kids Fringe fun. Also, the Fire Museum is opening their doors on Saturday and Sunday from 9am-4pm just for us, so take advantage of the opportunity to see a restored fire engine from 1926!

How To Kids Fringe

Check the Kids Fringe Facebook for up-to-the-minute information.

Plan which day you are going to visit, or go all four days!

  • Saturday, May 20: Around The World
  • Sunday, May 21: Animals are Awesome!
  • Saturday, May 27: Hug the World
  • Sunday, May 28: Kids Fringe: Meet Big Fringe

Park at the Florida Hospital Garage (2328 Alden Rd, Orlando, FL 32803)
Parking is FREE on Saturday and a small fee on Sunday. There is NO parking at the Kids Fringe site.

Walk down the sidewalk to Kids Fringe (814 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803)
The walk is a pleasant 4 minute walk.

Fuel up– You’ll pass Downtown Credo Coffee on your way (550 E. Rollins St., Orlando 32803)

Arrive at Kids Fringe, only 4 minutes later AND with coffee in hand!

Stop at our info booth. Check the board for the daily Kids Fringe schedule, the Family Friendly shows at Fringe and other fun stuff.

Explore Fringezilla’s Mainstage, where you’ll see shows by Fringe performers, local artists and animals.

Participate in a workshop and learn to drum, sing, bellydance, spin a flag and much more!
Make some cool art projects in Craftland, learn to say hello in another language, meet a professional puppet builder and more. March in our parade over to the Big Fringe.

Bring your change for water, vintage sodas, healthy drinks and throwback candy. Pop rocks and ring pops, anyone? We’ll also have an ice cream truck and a funnel cake vendor. Yum!

Chill out
and visit the air conditioned fire museum and sit at the picnic tables under the oak trees at the Fire Museum.

Plan your Big Fringe excursion! Check out a family friendly show and join us on Sunday, March 28th as we parade over to the Teen Thespian Showcase to see A Year with Frog and Toad. This family-friendly show is at 1 p.m. and only $5. Click Here to get advance tickets, or purchase them right at the venue.

Kids Fringe has cool stuff for everyone (including parents) and every day is different. I hope you join us for the fun!

Happy Kids Fringe,


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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!


Create a Family Tradition

  1. 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 calendar.
  2. Dive into the pool fully clothed — shoes and all — as soon as you get home from picking up the kids on their last day of school (you too, parents)!
  3. Make a summer blockbuster movie. Your child can be the star of his or her own short film. Instead of scrolling Instagram, use your cell phone for the forces of good! The kids will have a blast being creative with you.

Cool down at one of these hot spots for sugary treats! You’ll snag some major cool points with the kids.

  1. Even though Chocolate Kingdom is in the heart of the tourist trap on I-Drive, it’s absolutely fantastic! A guided tour teaches kids the history of chocolate and includes a tasting of the original chocolate drink, a marshmallow catapult, and a visit to the bean-to-bar chocolate factory. The tour ends with a make-your-own-chocolate-bar experience. Each person picks from a whole bunch of ingredients, then the finished bar comes out on a ceiling-high conveyor belt!
  2. Watch donuts being made through the viewing area at the Krispy Kreme store near Mall at Millenia.
  3. Make a trip to Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream, everyone’s favorite neighborhood ice cream shop in Audubon Park.
  4. Try the chocolate hurricane at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Restaurant located at Universal CityWalk.
  5. Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is a steam punk-style eatery that will blow your mind with over-the-top desserts.
  6. Visit Wondermade in downtown historic Sanford for hand-crafted marshmallows once selected for “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”
  7. Insomnia Cookies near UCF — these large, warm, fresh-baked cookies are to die for. They even deliver!
  8. The Sugar Factory boasts sweet treats for kids as well as super creative sweet drinks for parents.

Beautiful Florida Beaches
The best five beaches for families:

  1. Canaveral National Seashore: The park’s 24 miles of undeveloped beach is the longest such stretch on the east coast of Florida.
  2. Jetty Park, Cape Canaveral: Parking, concessions, fishing pier, plus a safer beach with no driving on the beach allowed. Admission required.
  3. Sebastian Inlet: A favorite among surfers.15.Winterhaven Park,Ponce Inlet: Great family-friendly beach just north of New Smyrna.
  4. Winterhaven Park, Ponce Inlet: Great family-friendly beach just north of New Smyrna.
  5. New Smyrna Beach: Orlandoan’s go-to beach town with public parking, restrooms, showers and beach lifeguards on duty.

Natural Springs
Five natural swimming areas:

  1. Wekiwa Springs State Park, Apopka
  2. Rock Springs Run/Kelly Park, Apopka
  3. Blue Springs State Park, Orange City
  4. Wekiva Falls Resort, Sorrento
  5. De Leon Springs State Park, De Leon Springs

Best Splash Pads
Our top 10 splash pads:

  1. Dr. Phillips Community Park, Orlando
  2. Fort Mellon Park, Sanford
  3. Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista
  4. Downtown Splash Pad and Pavilion, Winter Garden
  5. Shady Park, Winter Park
  6. Trailblazer Park, Lake Mary
  7. Center Lake Park, Oviedo
  8. Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground, Central Florida Zoo
  9. Lakefront Park, St. Cloud
  10. Downey Park Splash Pad, Orlando
  1. Geocaching at Florida State Parks
    Geocaching — it’s a treasure hunt without the pirates. says, “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the hidden geocache (container).”
    1. Go to
    2. Create an account.
    3. Download a GPS app.
    4. Start looking for treasure!
    It’s that easy. There are a few rules you should follow.

    • If you take something from the geocache, leave something of equal or greater value.
    • Leave a note in the geocache logbook.
    • Log your experience at


  2. Junior Ranger Programs The National Park Service has a program for kids to reflect on and gain more knowledge from their time in nature. All kids who complete the Junior Ranger activities created for each specific park get a badge. They are fun to collect and make your experience memorable. Here are local parks that offer the Junior Ranger Program:
    • Wekiwa Springs State Park, Wekiva Springs
    • De Leon Springs State Park, DeLand
    • Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. Augustine
    • Canaveral National Seashore, Titusville
    • Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Kissimmee
    • Sebastian Inlet State Park, Melbourne Beach
  3. Lukas Nursery Butterfly Encounter
    Lukas Nursery has slowly and quietly been building to become quite a destination for visitors. This well-planned nursery offers an outdoor plant mecca for families to explore and learn. Experience the chance to feed butterflies from your fingertips at the Butterfly Encounter, one of the largest native butterflies conservatories in the state. The experience also includes an aviary with exotic finches. Because butterflies are “solar-powered” and need to attain a body temperature over 80 degrees before taking flight, their activity is highest during sunny, warm days. Peak season is April through September.

Farmers Markets
Bring the whole family (even your four-legged friends) and experience what makes community farmers markets so special.

  1. Sanford Farmers Market, every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Magnolia Square in the heart of Downtown Historic Sanford.
  2. Winter Garden Farmers Market, every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., City Pavilion on Tremaine St. in downtown historic Winter Garden.
  3. Oviedo Farmers Market, first Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Lawton House, 200 W. Broadway St., Oviedo.
  4. Audubon Park Community Market, every Monday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Stardust Video & Coffee parking lot, 1842 E. Winter Park Rd. Known by locals to be the most locally sourced farmers market in the greater Orlando area.
  5. Maitland’s Farmers Market & Bazaar, every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Lake Lily Park.
  6. Orlando Farmers Market, every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Lake Eola Park, Orlando.>

Spend the day at one of these destinations:

    1. On Tuesdays, try story time from 1-1:30 p.m. at IKEA Orlando, then kids can eat free in the restaurant afterwards. Combine that with free drop-off at Smaland, and you’ve got a fun (and cheap!) day out. Don’t forget your IKEA Family card.
    2. Climb 213 steps to the top of the tallest lighthouse in Florida at Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum. While you’re there, hit up the Marine Science Center right next door. You can even add in a trip to the beach depending on your energy level.
    3. Spend the day at WonderWorks, a super-fun interactive experience for families. Stay for the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show. The crowds don’t just watch the show, they become part of it. The dinner includes unlimited pizza, salad, beer, wine, soda and dessert.
    4. Enjoy an awesome day in downtown Orlando. Start at the huge public library, then take a rickshaw or Uber through downtown, experiencing these great spots: Orange County History Center, Chewy Boba and Hamburger Mary’s. Stay for the evening with a swan boat ride around the fountain during the Lake Eola fountain show. The fountain comes alive with a choreographed show set to music. The colors of the water and the musical themes change with the season. Shows run nightly at approximately 8 and 9:30 p.m., lasting about six minutes. (Wednesday-Saturday swan boat rides are open until 10 p.m.) Have dinner at Relax Grill to complete a great day.
    5. Start your day at De Leon Springs State Park at the Old Spanish Mill by making a pancake breakfast at your table, then hit the Fountain of Youth Eco/History Boat Tour. Afterwards, take a short paved hike, then cool off in the refreshing springs. Kids can try the Junior Ranger program.
    6. There are tons of things to do at the Central Florida Zoo. Start with the ZoomAir ropes course outside the entrance, then head inside for some lunch (for you and the animals). Bring swimsuits so you can cool off at the splash pad. Save some energy for the train ride before you head out.
    7. Get the best view in Central Florida at the top of Orlando’s newest icon, the Orlando Eye located at I-drive 360, a new entertainment complex that includes Skeletons: Animals Unveiled, SEA LIFE Orlando and Madame Tussauds wax museum. Also, check out the Sugar Factory for a treat.
    8. At Disney Springs, parents will enjoy amazing restaurants, great shopping and live street music. The littles will enjoy the mini train, LEGO builds and the splash pad. An afternoon at Splitsville Luxury Lanes is a fun way to pass the time. Enjoy dinner and a show at the dine-in movie theaters.>

    Hands-On Activities
    Take your kids to one of these free (or super cheap) hands-on classes:

    1. Home Depot: Register for the Kids Workshop the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to Noon. All kids get to keep their project and receive a certificate of achievement, workshop apron and commemorative pin.
    2. Michaels: Hit the Kids Club every Saturday from 10 a.m. to Noon. for a $2 craft for ages 3 and up.
    3. Lakeshore Learning: Free crafts for kids every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for ages 3 and up.
    4. LEGO Store Mini Model Build: Sign up in advance and pick a time to hit the LEGO Store in Disney Springs on the first Tuesday or Wednesday of the month. Every month is a different build, and kids get to take their mini model home for FREE! Registration opens at 9 a.m. on the 15th of the month prior. Participants must be between ages 6-14. Visit to register.
    5. Oviedo Mall Kids Crew: Free crafts for kids every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for ages 3 and up.

    Go Skating
    Blow the stink off ‘em at these skating venues:

    1. RDV Ice Den, Maitland
    2. Semoran Skateway, Casselberry
    3. Let’s Skate, Winter Garden
    4. Astro Skate Family Fun Center, Orlando
    5. Lake Mary Skate Park, Lake Mary
    6. Rippin’ Riverside Skate Park, Oviedo
    7. Metro Skateboard Academy, Orland
    8. Orlando Skate Park, Orlando

    Go Bowling
    Five bowling alleys you’ll love to visit:

    1. Splitzville, Disney Springs
    2. Kings Bowl, I-Drive
    3. Firkin & Kegler, Waterford
    4. Aloma Bowl, Winter Park
    5. Main Event Entertainment, I-Drive

    Top 5 places to catch a flick:

    1. Aloma Cinema Grill, Winter Park
    2. Enzian Theater, Maitland
    3. AMC Disney Springs Dine-In Theatre, Lake Buena Vista
    4. Cinemark Orlando and XD, Orlando
    5. Orlando Science Center IMAX Theater, Orlando

    Top 5 trampoline parks:

    1. Boing! Fun Center, Oviedo
    2. Rebounderz, Apopka
    3. AirHeads, SoDo
    4. Sky Zone Orlando, I-Drive
    5. Outer Limitz, Orlando

    Climb to new heights at these sky-high activities:

    1. WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard, Winter Park
    2. iFly Orlando, I-Drive area
    3. ZoomAir at Central Florida Zoo, Sanford
    4. Coca Cola Orlando Eye, I-Drive
    5. Characters in Flight, Downtown Disney

    Pampering places for kids:

    1. Sparkled Pink, Avalon Park
    2. Spa Fly Mobile Spa
    3. Pigtails & Crewcuts, Windermere and Winter Springs
    4. Pio-Pio Kids Salon, Oviedo Mall

    Take an art class at one of these kid-friendly, hands-on art centers:

    1. Casselberry Art House, Casselberry
    2. The Craft Shack, Longwood
    3. Artistic Hand Gallery & Studio, Oviedo
    4. City of Orlando Pottery Studio, Orlando
    5. Super Awesome Cool Pottery, SoDo
    6. Local Color Art Studio, College Park
    7. Art Studio of Lake Mary
    8. Riverhouse Pottery & Art Center, Sanford
    9. Crealdé, Winter Park and Windermere
    10. The Art Room, Windermere

    We asked our resident roller coaster professionals, Lawton and Lily, to list their top five favorite theme park roller coasters. Here they are:

    1. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios
    2. Journey to Atlantis at SeaWorld
    3. Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster at Universal Studios
    4. Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls at Islands of Adventure
    5. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom

    Note: Since Lawton is taller (and hits the recommended ride height), he thinks Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios is worth an honorable mention too!

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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 – Dr. Phillips Center

    Before the concert begins, it’s a Pokémon free-for-all in the Seneff Arts Plaza! Head down there for vendors, stations to play/trade Pokémon cards, and Pokémon Go lures. There will also be live entertainment and a cosplay contest for anyone dressed up as a character!

    Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions
    April 30 at 2:00 p.m.
    Dr. Phillips Center, Orlando

    Pokémon fans young and old will love hearing the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra play familiar tunes from the popular game series. Carefully-timed visuals play on a projector, making for an immersive experience. See website.
    Tickets start at $26. Purchase here.

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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 an extreme spin on a holiday tradition with its Combat Easter Egg Hunt on April 14. Find eggs scattered around the arena and win fun prizes! There’s no extra charge to take part in the fun. See website for more info.

    • Head to Amaya Papaya Play Lounge for their Baby Boogie Bash: Easter Spring Fling! Kids will love getting up and moving to the beat at this fun dance party featuring jams from the 80’s, 90’s, and today. Be sure to bring socks! See website for more info.

    • Join the Hippity Hop Adventure at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens on April 15! There will be surprise Bunny Stops, Easter egg hunts, candy, prizes, and much more scattered around the zoo. It’s all included with regular zoo admission! See website for more info.
    • The city of Oviedo is hosting its annual Marshmallow Drop on April 15. Kids will collect marshmallows in exchange for candy! There will also be other family activities. See website for more info.

    • Kids will love the O2B Eggstravaganza! Head to O2B Kids Oviedo & Altamonte Springs on April 15 for egg hunts, carnival games, and other family fun. See website for more info.
      • SkyZone Orlando is having an Easter Egg Hop for kids ages 10 and younger. Jump with the Easter Bunny and look for treat-filled eggs! Be sure to buy your tickets in advance. See website for more info.

      • The Enzian Theater is hosting a brunch and egg hunt on Easter morning. In the afternoon, there will be a showing of the 1999 movie Stuart Little. See website for more info.

      • Fancy families will love the Easter Brunch at Four Seasons Resort Orlando. The resort’s Italian restaurant, Ravello, is offering a brunch buffet featuring breakfast classics and decadent desserts; meanwhile, Plancha is offering a Cuban twist on Easter brunch, including bottomless Bloody Marys and Mimosas. See website for more info.

      Never be bored on weekends again! Sign up for our 5 Ways to PLAY e-newsletter to get filled in on the top local events for families.

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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. Choose from these creative newborn-friendly ideas, and celebrate your family date night success. No babysitter required!

    1. Audubon Park Dessert Hop
    Audubon Park combines casual dining establishments with walkability, offering perfect conditions for a date with baby in tow. Keep things light and fun with a dessert hop around the district, starting at East End Market ( for a cookie at Gideon’s Bakehouse. Continue your sweet-toothed adventure with an ice cream right at Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream and a cupcake from Blue Bird Bake Shop (

    2. Winter Park Alfresco Dining
    Take advantage of Orlando’s pleasant year-round temperatures and dine alfresco on Park Avenue ( Taste the best of Italy at Prato, or indulge in weekend brunch at The Parkview. After your meal, take a leisurely walk through Central Park or wander the brick-lined streets.

    Admission for kids under age 4 is always free at Harry P. Leu Gardens.

    3. A Day at the Gardens
    If your baby is happiest when in motion, pack the stroller and spend a few hours in the great outdoors. Harry P. Leu Gardens ( boasts wide, paved trails and a tranquil garden environment year-round. Admission for children under age 4 is always free. More free fun for the family can be found at Mead Botanical Garden ( in Winter Park, which features a scenic boardwalk and picnic pavilions.

    4. Romantic Night In
    For date night fun without leaving home, order food from UberEATS ( or Postmates (, put on your [comfy!] date night best and light a few candles. Then, treat yourselves to a DIY spa day with backrubs and homemade mimosas or dust off your favorite board games for a little friendly competition.

    STEPHANIE PATTERSON is a contributor to Orlando Date Night Guide, the area’s most comprehensive resource for local date night ideas. A local photographer, travel blogger and food tour guide, she shares her creativity on

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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, and I’ve been dancing ever since. I even went to an arts high school in Lexington, Kentucky, where I danced for hours every day,” she says. In fact, by the age of 15, Hannah had already decided she wanted to make a career out of dancing. “I realized that I love to teach and choreograph,” she says.

    So, in the summer of 2014, Hannah founded Dance 360. At the time, she had one son, Shwyer (4). “Three months into construction, I found out I was pregnant with my second son, Shepherd (2). Dancing competitively taught me time management and how to find balance. I tapped into those resources!”

    Both of Hannah’s sons are dancing. “We have a program called Twos in Tutus and a creative dance program geared toward dancers ages 3 to 5,” she says. Dance 360 has a unique curriculum for the younger dancers that allows them to learn to follow directions and work as a group. “Of our staff of 12 teachers, four of them teach the younger children,” she says.

    Like most moms, Hannah finds it difficult to balance work and family; however, she has built a culture at Dance 360 that encourages everyone to put family first. “I am a mom first and a business owner second,” she says. “If I have a child who is sick, I’m staying home. If I keep that mindset, everything falls in place.”

    She also notes that it takes a village at home to manage a business and two small children. “My husband, Brian, has been so supportive,” says Hannah, who notes that her mom, Jolynn, works as her office manager. “You can’t do everything. I’m a Type A personality, and delegating is hard, but I’ve had to learn that I can’t do it all myself,” she laughs.

    Right now, Dance 360 is thriving. “We’ve expanded so quickly and have about 300 students registered (at the time of the interview, registration was still open),” she says. “We’re quickly outgrowing our space and are looking for a new space in the same neighborhood. It’s been exciting to watch,” she says.

    “What sets us apart is that we have something for everyone — that’s what the 360 stands for. We offer all different styles for the casual or serious dancer, including musical theater,” she says. The studio is also the only Dance Masters of America studio in Central Florida.

    With boundless energy, a clear vision and a passion for dance, Hannah is excited about building on the foundation she started.

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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 destinations. This big event is the smart way to set your child up for summer fun!

    Exhibitors include:

    Of course, you’ll need your child’s input– and they’ll love coming with you, because this expo isn’t just for parents! There will be live entertainment, as well as activities for the kids.

    The best part? This whole experience is FREE to explore at the Seminole Towne Center Mall! It’s happening on March 4 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Bonus: Be one of the first 50 attendees to get free tickets to Medieval Times.

    Check out the Summer Camp & Adventure Expo website for more info.

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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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    Go PLAY for the Holidays

    SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

    SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

    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 wonderland. Our favorite parts are the faux snow on Main Street and oh-so-jolly holiday parade. Special event tickets start at $86.
    • Christmas at Gaylord Palms
      November 18, 2016 to January 1, 2017
      Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

      This resort’s iconic atrium becomes an oasis of holiday fun, featuring an all-new light show, a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree and tons of exciting activities, including ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas – a beautiful display of hand-carved ice portraying the Peanuts gang, including Snoopy, of course! Alpine Rush Snow Tubing lets you zoom down a chilly hill covered in real snow!
    • Holidays Around the World & Celebrity Candlelight Processional
      November 25 to December 30
      Disney’s EPCOT

      Experience holiday traditions from around the world as you stroll through the World Showcase experiencing how different cultures celebrate the holidays.
    • Santa’s Favorite Resort
      Select dates November 25 to December 25
      Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

      Join Santa and Mrs. Claus at their favorite vacation spot. The merry couple leads the evening tree-lighting ceremony and meet-and-greets at their Tiki hut. Other activities include cookie decorating, crafts and Santa’s Dancing Lights Spectacular.
    • LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular

      LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular

    • SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
      Select dates November 25 to December 31
      SeaWorld Orlando

      Enjoy a wet winter wonderland of sparkling lights, live holiday performances and festive food. New this year—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends are making spirits bright with their SeaWorld debut!
    • LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular
      Select dates December 17 to December 30
      LEGOLAND Florida Resort

      Build your best holiday the LEGO way. Meet LEGO Santa and other exclusive characters, make holiday projects with Master Model Builders and watch a nightly fireworks spectacular. It’s all included with park admission.

    • Grinchmas
      December 3, 2016 to January 1, 2017
      Universal’s Islands of Adventure

      Celebrate the snarky way with the Grinch! Seuss Landing will become home to the ever-festive Whos of Whoville, who love to spread holiday cheer. For an intimate experience, grab a table at a Grinch character breakfast ($21 for kids, $35 for adults.) The rest of the festivities are included with park admission!

    Christmas Culture

    Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) Presented by Orlando Shakes

    Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)

    • Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)
      Select dates November 30 to December 30
      Orlando Shakespeare Theater

      At first you think you’re watching a classic production of A Christmas Carol, but this comedic show soon dissolves into everything from the story of Frosty the Snowman to the adventures of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts! Tickets start at $25.
    • Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf
      November 7 to December 18, Saturdays & Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
      Orlando Repertory Theatre

      Watch talented young performers play out this new jazz musical. It tells the story Eubie, the happiest elf of all, who tries to restore joy to the town of Bluesville! Tickets start at $14 for kids and $20 for adults.
    • Once Upon a Time on Ice
      December 3 and 4 at 5 p.m.
      RDV Sportsplex

      Enjoy a beautiful ice show featuring RDV figure skaters and those in the Learn to Skate programs. Recommended for ages 3 and up. Tickets cost $9.

      Orlando Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

      Orlando Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

    • Orlando Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
      December 8 to 11; Family Performance December 10 at 11 a.m.
      Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

      Watch the amazing dancers at Orlando Ballet bring to life the classic Christmas tale of Clara and her nutcracker soldier. If you have young kids who can’t sit through a whole ballet, check out the shortened family performance on December 10. Tickets start at $25 for the family show, $29 for all other shows.
    • “Holidaze” Presented by Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Colorguard
      Saturday, December 17 at 7 p.m.
      Orlando Repertory Theatre

      Orlando’s own LGBT+ concert and marching band presents a fun holiday concert for the whole family! Holidaze is hosted at Orlando Repertory Theater, and features uplifting holiday music from Halloween to New Year’s Eve. Kids under 12 get in for free!
    • Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Family Concert
      Sunday, December 18 from Noon to 3 p.m.
      Central Park in Winter Park

      Mr. Richard and the Pound Hounds will kick things off; then, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will play holiday favorites. It’s all topped off with a performance of Peter and the Wolf featuring Orlando Repertory Theatre actor and narrator Timothy Pappas.
    • Amahl & the Night Visitors
      Sunday, December 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
      Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

      Bring the whole family out to enjoy this funny and inspiring twist on nativity story, presented by Opera Orlando. Follow the adventures of a shepherd boy who sees an amazing star, and meets three kings who are looking for a wondrous child. Tickets start at $19.

    Holiday Films

    • The Santa Clause
      Friday, December 2 at 7 p.m.
      Central Park in Winter Park

      This is part of the free monthly Popcorn Flicks in the Park series.
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas & Letters to Santa
      Sunday, December 11 at Noon
      Enzian Theater

      Watch the live-action version of Dr. Seuss’s quirky Christmas tale. Enjoy a menu of holiday treats. Children can write a wish list for Santa during the movie. After it’s over, Santa will pick up the letters and pose for pictures. Tickets are $11 for non-members.
    • It’s a Wonderful Life
      Saturday, December 10 at Noon
      Enzian Theater

      This is part of the Saturday Matinee Classics series. Tickets are $8 for non-members.
    • A Christmas Story
      Tuesday, December 13 at 9:30 p.m.
      Enzian Theater

      This is part of the Cult Classics series. Tickets are $8 for non-members.

    Parties, Parades, and Snow

    lightup-logo-e1477684802771 Light Up UCF
    November 18, 2016 to January 7, 2017
    CFE Arena – University of Central Florida

    UCF’s huge holiday bash is perhaps best known for its ice tubing. Try it as many times as you want; it’s all included with the purchase of a wristband. Try out the ice rink, too! The ferris wheel is back and bigger than ever, and there is a new thrilling ride that will leave you reeling! For smaller ride-goers, there’s always the kiddie train. Snap a picture with Santa before you leave!

  • Winter in the Park
    November 18, 2016 to January 8, 2017
    Central Park in Winter Park

    Skate away the holiday in beautiful Central Park. All-day general admission and a pair of rental skates is $12.
  • “Now Snowing” At Celebration
    November 26 to December 31 – Snowfall at 6, 7, 8, and 9 p.m.
    Celebration Town Center

    Nightly snowfall graces the Celebration Town Center every night of the holiday season. Skate around in an ice rink, take a ride in a horse drawn carriage or ride the Celebration Express train.
  • Holiday on the Drive
    December 1 from 5 to 9 p.m.
    Edgewater Drive, College Park

    Get a jump on your holiday shopping in a snowy winter wonderland! The shops and restaurants on Edgewater Drive will stay open, and Santa will come to bring some early holiday cheer!
  • Light Up Winter Garden
  • December 2 from 6 to 9 p.m.
    Downtown Winter Garden

    Twinkling lights will keep Plant Street aglow while you explore the vendors and kids activities. Watch the dazzling street lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m.

  • Winter Garden Christmas Parade
    Saturday, December 3 at 10 a.m.
    South Dillard Street & Plant Street

    Find a prime spot on the curb to catch this festive procession of local organizations.
  • Macy’s Holiday Parade
    Select nights December 3, 2016 to January 1, 2017
    Universal Studios

    The larger-than-life balloons from this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade get the spotlight once again at Universal Studios here in Florida. In addition to the balloons, parade-goers will see marching bands, clowns, and Santa Claus himself! Stick around afterwards for a spectacular tree-lighting ceremony.
    Saturday, December 17 from 2 to 6 p.m.
    RDV Sportsplex

    If you thought the Ice Den was as chilly as it could be, think again: for one day only, real snow will fall at the RDV! Throw a few snowballs, ride down a snow slide, or do some good old fashion ice skating! Just outside, you’ll find bounce houses, live DJs, face painting and more. Admission is $15 for ages 3 & up.
  • Meet Santa

    Free photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird

    Free photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird

    • Save the Date, Skip the Wait for Santa
      November 11-December 24, by appointment
      Oviedo Mall

      No need to wait in a long line to meet Santa because now you can make a reservation for your Santa visit at the Oviedo Mall. Bonus: Drop off the kids at Mad Science Laboratory (Kids Night Out, every Friday from 6-10 p.m.) or O2B Kids (members only) to get some holiday shopping done!
    • Free Photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird
      December 10 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
      tugboat & the bird

      Stop by tugboat & the bird win Winter Park for complimentary pictures with Santa Claus himself! Characters from The Nutcracker will also be around to take photos.
    • Breakfast (or Brunch) with Santa
      Saturday, December 10 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
      Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

      Sit down for a meal with Santa himself, and then explore a wild winter wonderland with holiday activities and close-up animal encounters. Zookeepers will also be giving the animals special holiday gifts! Admission for non-members is $22 for ages 3 & up, $27 for adults. Reservations are required.

    Stay up-to-date on all of the latest family events in & around Orlando with our Online Calendar!

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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 (Ages 8-12, 13+)
    “Fun” and “high energy” characterize the Jazz I dance class. Students practice isolations, leaps, learn jazz techniques and vocabulary. Students gain the competencies to complete jazz-centric dance combinations and execute complete jazz dance routines.

    Jazz II (Ages 13+)
    The Jazz II dance course builds on fundamentals of the style. Students focus on honing their technique and learning new and more challenging combinations.

    Dance Technique I (Ages 6-8)
    Dance Technique brings the foundation of all movement to young dancers. Ballet positions and terminology, along with movement, pattern and rhythms, establish the foundations for all dance instruction.

    Dance Technique II (Ages 9-12)
    Dancers build on the basic teachings from Dance Technique I and learn to expand their structured dance training and vocabulary.

    Dance Improvisation (Ages 12+)
    This free-thinking and free-flowing dance class encourages students to explore their creativity and individuality through prompts, movement exercises and guided movement. The class focuses on the concept of improvisational dance in solo and group situations. Movers of all levels are welcome in this class as students work collectively to create new and exciting works.

    Tap I (Ages 12+)
    Tapping is an exciting way to start dance training. This introductory course shapes the students’ rhythm and musicality through learning the steps and basic techniques of tap dancing.

    Tap II (Ages 13+)
    Tap is an important part of the Broadway and musical theater craft. This intermediate tap course builds on students’ prior knowledge of technique and movements by adding more advanced steps and combinations.

    Hip-Hop I (Ages 6-9, 10-13, 14+)
    This high energy, fun Hip-Hop class teaches basic steps, while building flexibility, precision, technique and style. Using upbeat music from various genres in addition to the latest Hip-Hop hits, this class begins with a basic warm-up to stretch and tone the body, followed by across-the-floor progressions, concluding with work on a fun and energetic combination.

    Creative Movement (Ages 3-5)
    Perfect for the young dancer, this class focuses on creative movement that builds on the necessary gross motor skills needed for primary dance instruction. Students learn self-discipline, confidence, coordination and rhythm while moving to upbeat and age appropriate music. Students engage in dramatic music movement and learn introductory dance positions and steps.

    Move with Me – Baby Wearing Dance Class (Adults with Babies)
    This is a movement class for adults with young ones in wearable carriers. Move with Me provides early exposure to music, movement and dance. Geared towards creating an environment for community interaction, this class devotes equal focus to the parent/caretaker, the child and the bond between them. Appropriate for all carrier-age children, from birth to toddler. Nursing mothers and siblings are welcome.


    Vocal Performance I (Ages 8-13 and 14+)
    Vocal Performance provides singers with a proper foundation in diction, vocal production and an awareness of their body in both classical and contemporary music. Students also learn how to honestly express themselves through their song, communicate with the musicians, enhance their stage presence and effectively apply their vocal and performance techniques.

    Advanced Vocal Performance (Ages 8-13 and 14+)
    For the advanced singer, this class focuses on performance and vocal production for performance. Maintaining one’s instrument and creating that pitch-perfect performance every time requires more rigorous training, and this class provides that for the advanced vocalist.

    Yamaha Music School

    Yamaha Music School Young Musicians I & II (Ages 7-9)
    This three-year course provides effective and enjoyable musical training for young students. They develop keyboard-playing skills, ear training, rhythm training, note-reading and writing, keyboard harmony, arranging, ensemble playing and music appreciation. This class is taught by qualified teachers in a group environment and is designed to promote confidence, team spirit and group dynamics.
    To enroll, students must be 6 years of age by February 15 and must have access to a keyboard for practicing. Once the course is completed, students can take the Yamaha Student Grade 9 Exam to confirm musical achievement. Teachers refer to the exam results to correctly place students in advanced courses of study.

    Yamaha Keyboard Encounters I (Ages 10-13) and Adult I (Ages 15+)
    This class is an innovative keyboard music program for those interested in learning to play the piano. These classes are taught in small groups, combining technology with an effective and enjoyable approach. Students study piano technique, read music and learn to play various musical styles.

    Yamaha Young Education System Junior Music I (Ages 4-5)
    A comprehensive and fun music curriculum designed for 4 and 5 year olds, this class offers ear-training using solfege, basic keyboard playing skills, rhythm and notation, music appreciation, creativity and singing various musical styles. This is a 2-year program capitalizing on the young child’s developmental characteristics to train basic musical skills. Parents/Guardians are required to actively participate in their child’s music lessons, helping to cultivate a life-long love for music. (Advance level courses, II – IV, as well as Junior Music X, are available for students in the junior music program).
    To enroll, students must be 4 years of age by February 15 and must have access to a keyboard for practicing. Once the course is completed, students can take the Fundamental Skills Survey to confirm musical achievement. Teachers refer to the survey results to correctly place students in advanced courses of study.

    Rock Band (Ages 12+)
    Students gain insight into performing together as an ensemble. Students are grouped into a band based on instrument, musical tastes and age. Band members learn the process of rehearsing and performing, band etiquette, stage presence, equipment set-up and more.

    Guitar I (Ages 10-13) and Adult Guitar I (Ages 16+)
    This class is for the beginner. Learn chords, simple strums, simple finger-picking and tuning in a fun, relaxed group setting. Students are introduced to the basic elements of rhythm and harmony that allow one to make music in no time.

    Adult Guitar II (Ages 16+)
    Builds on the basics learned in Guitar I. Students develop proper left and right-hand techniques. You will learn more about reading music, musical terms, chording, alternating bass and how to move smoothly from one chord to another. Have fun learning to play duets and other simple melodies and exploring many different genres of music. Students must bring their own acoustic guitar with an extra set of strings.

    Strings I (Ages 10+)
    This class is open to anyone with an interest in learning string instruments such as cello, viola, violin and bass. Learn basic instrument set-up and position. Playing in a small group teaches how to match pitch, bow articulation, tone and, best of all, how to play together.

    Strings III (Ages 13+)
    This class is the next step for those interested in the string section. Students play simple songs that use their new skills and are introduced to the music of the great composers. They play games to develop rhythmic skills and a musical ear and also learn the basics of reading music.

    Jazz at Lincoln Center’s WeBop (Ages 2-3)
    WeBop is an early-childhood jazz education program developed by Jazz at Lincoln Center for children that invites families to stomp, strut and swing to the rhythms of jazz. These 45-minute classes are structured for participation in groups of two: child and adult. They offer a creative outlet for children to explore jazz through movement, songs, storytelling and play, all as they learn about the core concepts, instruments and great performers of jazz.

    Theater Arts

    Creative Drama (Ages 6-8)
    In a nurturing and supportive environment, young participants explore an improvisational form of drama where they are encouraged to imagine, perform and reflect on real or imagined experiences. Through stories, games and movement, young students make the connection between the magical world of theater and make believe. There is an emphasis on personal expression, creative imagination, confidence and socialization.

    Creative Drama II (Ages 8-10)
    This class is a continuation of Creative Drama I. Students build on the confidence they have developed. Storytelling, imagination and ensemble work strengthens young actors’ skills, building a foundation for the more complex work of scene study waiting for them in Acting I/II/III.

    Acting I (Ages 10-13 and 14+)
    Through improvisation, script analysis and scene study, entry-level students are introduced to the fundamentals of acting and performance. Special emphasis is placed on interpretation, character development and ensemble work.

    Acting II/III (Ages 10-13 and 14+)
    The intermediate/advanced scene study class allows students to build on the tools they gained in Acting I. Students are introduced to higher level character analyses, stretching their abilities as they attack more difficult acting problems through situations that are foreign and unfamiliar. Recognizing and understanding the subtext of a scene is explored as students examine the texture, tone and timing found in plays of contemporary and classic writers to bring subtle nuances to their performances. Students also gain an intermediate skill set of production responsibilities that an actor should possess to contribute to a piece of successful theater.

    Sensory Friendly Theater (Ages 12+)
    Theater training includes the skills of speaking, interacting, applying memorized text appropriately, listening, non-verbal communication and interpreting. For those on the autism spectrum, these skills can be challenging. In this fun and safe environment, students will learn to interact with others and project in their performance. Students with an affinity for drama will grow through the chance to practice with their peers. Students new to drama will experience a fun and engaging craft that will enhance their social skills.

    Musical Theater

    Musical Theater Performance I (Ages 7-10, 10-13 and 13+)
    Students integrate singing, dancing and acting into one creative expression through Broadway songs, scene work and choreography. This collaborative learning experience introduces basic acting principles, vocal techniques and fun beginning choreography. The emphasis for this class is on building a confident proficiency to execute all three art forms that make up a modern musical.

    Advanced Musical Theater Performance (Ages 10-13 and 13+)
    This class builds on the techniques and skills developed in Musical Theater Performance I, while introducing more challenging material. Students work on advanced musical theater training techniques, an expanded repertoire and the business acumen required for the musical theater profession.

    Prospective students can visit, call 407.455.5551, or schedule a time to register in person at the arts center by emailing
    Early registration is encouraged by January 2, 2017.

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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 $5 million dollar renovation, the first part of the $30 million dollar Unlock Science Campaign, which is an effort to renovate every exhibit at the Science Center. It’s clear that the new children’s area will prove to be worth every penny: each of the 75 exhibits is a safe environment for kids to express themselves and work with others to learn and play.

    Here’s a tour of what you can expect:

    Kids can feed oranges up into a big tower and watch them roll down the pipelines to different areas.

    Kids can feed oranges up into a big tower and watch them roll down the pipelines to different areas.

    Orange Grove Presented by: Dr. Phillips Charities

    Through the big (literally) orange archway at the front of New KidsTown, there is a chain of exhibits that represents the journey of Florida oranges from farm to table. It all starts at the orchard, where kids can gather oranges from trees; then they can head to the factory and check the ripeness of each orange before processing them in a fun machine. Then comes the role playing: kids can deliver the oranges in an interactive truck, then sell produce at the farmer’s market!

    The Farmer's Market at the Orange Grove allows kids to role play selling fresh produce.

    The Farmer’s Market at the Orange Grove allows kids to role play selling fresh produce.

    Science Center veterans will notice a few changes: this new Orange Grove is three times larger than its predecessor, and there are hints of technology that enhance this new experience. In particular, kids who enjoy playing pretend will love adjusting the radio in the delivery truck and ringing up fruit at the farmer’s market with a working scanner.

    Isaacs Family ClimbTime

    Kids are encouraged to conquer their fears and climb as high as they can in this towering play area. A floor-to-ceiling window makes kids feel even higher up as they look out over the gorgeous Florida Hospital next door; alternatively, they can use a telescope to look out over the Science Center.

    Kids will face obstacles and platforms of all kinds while climbing to the top of ClimbTime.

    Kids will face obstacles and platforms of all kinds while climbing to the top of ClimbTime.

    There are nets to run across, platforms of all sizes, and all number of other ways for kids to test their coordination. Once they’ve worked up a sweat, they can see how their body reacted using the heart rate monitor.

    Bonus: kids who aren’t ready to climb, or perhaps aren’t old enough yet, can still interact by feeding balls into twisting air tubes to let the kids above feed them back down.

    Drip Drop Splash Presented by: James M. Cox Foundation

    From rain showers to dams to pipe systems, the exhibits in this area will teach kids about the many properties of water. Tables of water are filled with all kinds of contraptions and tools to let kids ask themselves– “What will happen to the water if I do this?”– and see what happens! If several kids work together to turn valves, they can start a big Florida rain shower at the center of Drip Drop Splash!

    Tables of different heights allow all kids to interact with Drip Drop Splash.

    Tables of different heights allow all kids to interact with Drip Drop Splash.

    There are lowered water tables for younger children and those in wheelchairs; and there are also infant seats that sit below the water’s surface so that little ones can splash around safely.

    Parent pro tip: prepare for the kids to get a little wet (but not soaked!) There are electric dryers on the wall next to Drop Drop Splash, so kids can get warm and dry before heading to the next area without having to waste paper towels in the bathroom.

    Explore It Presented by: Publix Super Markets Charities

    This jumbo track set lets kids create custom courses for rolling balls.

    This jumbo track set lets kids create custom courses for rolling balls.

    Build, experiment, break it down, build again. Kids who love to invent and tinker will go nuts in this area! There are areas loaded with all manner of building tools like pipes, wheels, and cords– anything kids need to make their own fun contraption. Younger children can build too: there are foam blocks, perfect for stacking and building! A projected kaleidoscope and light-up wall let kids play around with color and design.
    Each dot on this light-up wall can change to any color or be turned off  with a simple twist!

    Each dot on this light-up wall can change to any color or be turned off with a simple twist!

    On the other side of Explore It, there is what’s essentially a jumbo Hot Wheels set: kids can move around giant detachable tracks and loop-de-loops to create a course, then drop a ball in to watch how fast it goes! The centerpiece of Explore It is definitely the air tubes that climb all the way up the wall. Kids can feed in colored silk handkerchiefs at the bottom, then watch them shoot through the twisting pipes; the machine then spits the handkerchiefs out in the rafters, so they float down from the sky! (Bonus points if you can get one to land one on your head!)

    Toddler Town Presented by: Community Based Care of Central Florida

    A sensory wall lets kids explore different textures; parents can put any mouthed toys in a bin.

    A sensory wall lets kids explore different textures; parents can put any mouthed toys in a bin.

    Nestled near the center of New KidsTown is an area that presents a big first for Orlando Science Center. Toddler Town is a safe space for ages 0-3 to enjoy the same collaboration and creativity that the rest of New KidsTown has to offer. It’s the first area at OSC that is truly infant-friendly: there is even a bin for mouthed toys, meaning that kids can play in a sanitary environment, and parents don’t have to chase their baby around wet-wiping everything they decide to taste. The sensory wall and storybook bin will also appeal to parents of infants.
    Perhaps the biggest feature of Toddler Town is its prime location: there is a clear view of both Explore It and Drip Drop Splash, so parents can watch over the little one while keeping the older children in eyeshot.

    Studio KidsTown Studio Presented by: Florida Hospital for Children

    The KidsTown Studio is the hub of hands-on activity at New KidsTown; and appropriately so, it’s the hub of parent-child interaction. Families can sit at spacious tables and try out different activities, all available in labeled bins. The area will also be home to craft and sensory activities led by the Science Center, as well as other scheduled workshops. To the everyday Science Center-goer, this will prove to be a great area for some quality sit-down time. Parents can pick activities that work best for their child, then work together to finish. Be sure to stop at the screen just outside the studio to make a virtual “get well” card for patients at Florida Hospital for Children.

    Fun fact: If you make art and accidentally leave it behind, your hard work may not have gone to waste! It could end up displayed on the KidsTown Studio wall as an example to future visitors.

    Harriett’s KidsTown Theatre

    Put on a play in fun costumes, with a choice of four fun backdrops.

    Put on a play in fun costumes, with a choice of four fun backdrops.

    Kids with a taste for drama will find their home in this area. After decking themselves out in costumes at the prop wall, they can take to the stage and create whatever kind of play their heart desires! In order to build confidence, there is a mirror so that kids can watch themselves perform. The curtain closes and opens, and the stage’s background can change with the simple press of a touch-screen. At one moment, your child could be a Yellow Submarine in space; the next, they could be the Statue of Liberty at Lake Eola! When the background changes, the lighting also changes for dramatic effect. There is a wheelchair-accessible ramp at stage left, so every child has the chance to be a star!

    Parent pro tip: milk the Theatre area for all it’s worth– the audience seating is incredibly comfortable! It’s the perfect place for a breather.

    Orange Grove Outside of the main exhibits, there are little details that parents will adore. For one: glorious stroller parking! It’s in a spacious hallway just past the Orange Grove; the area is also lit by fun colored lights, so kids will love watching their shadows move through the hallway. Another big feature is the bathroom location: it’s within eyeshot of the Theatre, Studio, Toddler Town and Drip Drop Splash, and just a stone’s throw away from the rest of the areas. The restrooms here are also all-inclusive.

    Explore It The common themes all around New KidsTown are collaboration, creativity, safety and accessibility. It’s nearly impossible to go through all of New KidsTown without interacting with other kids in some way; this is a great opportunity to teach kids about sharing, taking turns, and working together. Each exhibit also encourages problem-solving and ingenuity as kids figure out their own unique way of accomplishing tasks. The best part is, no child will feel left out due to their age or abilities. Parents will end up loving this area as much as their kids will: there are so many opportunities to jump in and make a learning experience out of every interaction. It’s so easy to be a part of the fun while also letting kids express themselves.

    New KidsTown is now open to the public! The entire experience is included with general admission to Orlando Science Center.

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    Hurricane Camp at Orlando Science Center

    Orlando Science Center Preschool, Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

    Orlando Science Center Preschool, Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

    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 Science Center will offer day camp tomorrow for children in grades K–6. Children will participate in structured activities, visit exhibits, and see films – under guided supervision.

    Pre-registration is requested, but not required. Walk-ins are welcome.

    WHEN: Thursday, October 6; Drop off as early as 7:30 a.m. and pick up as late as 6:00 p.m.

    WHERE: Orlando Science Center |777 E. Princeton St. | Orlando, FL 32803

    COST: Non-Members: $65 per child per day, Members: $55 per child per day

    INFO: Parents can get more information or reserve a spot for their child by visiting or by calling 407.514.2112 or by calling the main OSC line at 407.514.2000.

    NOTE: Orlando Science Center will be open to the public in addition to hosting camp.

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    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat Photo Tour

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat Bookings Now Open

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat bungalow interior 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 discover at this recreational paradise #BuiltForKids. LEGOLAND Beach Retreat combines the fun of surf and sand with the creativity of LEGO® building sets, and will offer picturesque lake views from nearly every sun-kissed corner.

    To make a reservation at LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, visit Room rates start at $182 and vary by season, date and availability. Packages including theme park tickets are also available.

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat amenities include:

    • 83 beach-themed bungalows offering 166 separate rooms
    • Whimsical LEGO décor inside and out
    • Spacious rooms that sleep up to five, including a cozy area designed just for kids with a bunk bed and trundle bed
    • Shaded patios where parents can put their feet up, kick back and relax
    • Multiple outdoor play areas where kids can slide, jump and climb in view of bungalow patios
    • Large themed swimming pool with an expansive sandy play area
    • Centrally located clubhouse featuring a restaurant, pool bar and LEGO building area for kids
    • A bountiful breakfast buffet included with each night’s stay
    • Early access to the nearby theme park

    Announced in March 2016 as part of the largest period of growth and expansion in the resort’s nearly five-year history, LEGOLAND Beach Retreat will join the 152-room LEGOLAND Hotel, more than doubling on-site accommodations and giving guests even more reasons to play-and-stay — at LEGOLAND Florida Resort.

    Grand opening festivities and additional amenities will be announced at a later date. To be among the first to receive the latest news about LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, sign up at

    For more information about visiting LEGOLAND Florida Resort, including savings on advance purchase of admission tickets, multi-tier annual passes, special events, VIP experiences, educational programs, services for guests with disabilities, on-site accommodations and much more, visit



    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Chip Litherland)

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Chip Litherland)

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Chip Litherland)

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Chip Litherland)






    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Chip Litherland)

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Chip Litherland)

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Chip Litherland)

    LEGOLAND Beach Retreat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Chip Litherland)


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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 local bands until 9 p.m..

    The event is free to attend, open to the public, family-friendly, and features the carvers going head-to-head to craft pumpkin creations live at the event that will then be put up for auction to raise money for Make-A-Wish®. While the carving happens, there will be food and drink for sale, trick-or-treating for the kids, live music, silent bidding for the auction, raffle opportunities, and activities for all ages.

    The primary goal of this event is to unify the creative community in support of children who fight for their lives every day and to make their wishes come true through Make-A-Wish® Central and Northern Florida. All money raised from the carver’s registration fees, the silent auction, as well as food, drink, and merchandise sales during the event will go to benefit Make-A-Wish® Central and Northern Florida, and donations will also be accepted.

    The competition is open to local and regional creative professionals who want to test their pumpkin carving skills, and more importantly, raise money for the brave kids of Make-A-Wish®.

    To register to carve in the contest:


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    Public & Permanent: Keep Kids Safe Online


    Girl using internet and watching out for parents

    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 students in grades 5 – 8, is held on Tuesday, October 4, from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. The Christ School is located at 106 E. Church Street, Orlando. The public is invited to both sessions.  Admission is free.  RSVPs are requested at, or by phone at 407-849-1665.

    Presented by author Richard Guerry, Public and Permanent is designed to teach families how to keep safe online. Attendees will learn how to be a responsible technology user while gaining the wisdom to prevent negative, irresponsible, and malicious digital behaviors and trends. Topics in the presentation include cyber bullying, inappropriate photos, the irresponsible use of apps, poor social media behaviors, and inappropriate posting by both children and adults. The program received the School Safety Advocacy Council’s Exemplary School Safety Program Award and Exemplary School Safety Initiative Award.

    Richard Guerry is the author of multiple cyber safety books and has been a featured speaker at numerous national and international conferences. He has appeared as an expert on Radio Disney, CNN, Fox, CBS, MTV’s Thin Line Campaign, Parade Magazine, and many local, regional and international publications.

    For questions regarding the events on October 3 and 4 at The Christ School, phone 407-849-1665 or email

    To learn more about Public and Permanent, visit  




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    Calling All Child Models

    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 for Tugboat & the Bird’s Fall/Winter Holiday “Look Book”, photographed by Simply Shelby Photography, which will be used in those business’s Fall and Winter advertisements. (Bonus: Kids selected for the “Look Book” will also be invited to walk as Tugboat & the Bird’s model ambassadors in the Winter Park Christmas Parade!)
    WHERE: Tugboat & the Bird, 318 North Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL, 32789

    WHEN: Tuesday, September 20th from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (ages 6 months to 4 years) or 3 – 5 p.m. (ages 5-12)

     RESTRICTIONS: Your child must reside within Central Florida (Seminole, Orange or Osceola county) and must be 12 years old or younger.
    MODEL SELECTIONS: All children that participate in this casting will be entered into the 2017 model database for PLAYGROUND Magazine. If your child is selected for one of our photo shoots then you will be notified via email and phone. PLAYGROUND Magazine will also be selecting models for Tugboat & the Bird’s Fall/Winter “Look Book”.
    • No modeling experience is necessary.
    • Children do not have to dress any certain way for the casting.
    • We will not be able to make exceptions to the age requirements.
    • We wish we could use all children who attend the casting but we only need a limited amount of models each year those selected will represent a diverse group in regards to gender, ages and ethnicities, so not everyone that attends the casting will be selected.
    • If you cannot attend the casting schedule in person then you can email a photo of your child to However, children from this casting will be considered first for our 2017 editorial photo shoots.
    • The casting is a very casual atmosphere where you will be with your child the entire time.

    CONTACT: If you have any other questions it is preferred that you text your specific question to 352-895-7535 or email

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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 by the Guest Services Desk for something Art-some.


    Download the treasure map here: Artegon Treasure Map

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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 battle their Pokémon. And of course, there are wild Pokémon all over the Zoo waiting to be found and caught!

    Pokémon trainers can now enjoy $1 off admission after 1 pm. Now through August 10, 2016, show the Pokémon Go app on your mobile device at the admission window to receive the discount. One discount per device, please. Happy catching!

    Please remember that guests should always remain in designated areas. Please do not chase a Pokémon into an employee only area or over any fences or barriers. The safety of the animals and guests is a top priority.

    Don’t forget to check out all the non-digital animal friends at the Zoo as well. Tag #CentralFLZoo on social media to show all your adventures!

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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 a safe Pokémon GO quest at LEGOLAND Florida Resort:

    1. Even a Pokémon Master must stay within guest areas.  Please don’t climb any fences or follow any Pokémon into employee only areas.
    2. No catch is worth sacrificing your safety.  All play must pause throughout the duration of your ride until you exit the ride.
    3. Be sure not to bump into one of our more than 60 million LEGO® models – that could hurt!
    4. With more than one hundred Pokémon to catch, be sure to stay hydrated.
    5. If you find a Pokémon at the Fun Town Pizza Pasta Buffet, let the nearest Model Citizen know, we prefer pepperoni over Poké Balls.
    6. If hours of play have unleashed the power of your phone, recharge in the Imagination Zone.
    7. If your wild encounter leads you to Wyldstyle, keep in mind she may need to stop for a selfie with another guest before you can make your catch.
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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 pal Hank from Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory as they embark on a life-changing excursion to find her parents and discover the true meaning of family. Cheer with the Emotions from Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out –Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust– as they help Riley find the confidence to win the hockey championship and experience the emotional rollercoaster of growing up. Venture to wintery world of Arendelle where Olaf and Kristoff help reunite royal sisters Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen and learn love is the most powerful magic of all. See Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana and the Disney Princesses make their dreams come true through their virtues of bravery, kindness and perseverance. And celebrate true friendship with Buzz Lightyear, Woody and The Toy Story gang. Make unforgettable memories with Mickey, Minnie and all your Disney friends when Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart skates into Orlando!

    Tickets for Disney on Ice presents Follow Your Heart start at $18. Click here or here to purchase tickets for you and your family. You can also purchase tickets at the Amway Center Box Office.

    Friday, September 2 at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, September 3 at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m.
    Sunday, September 4 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

    Also posted in Kiddie Culture, What's New | Leave a comment

    Stick Figure Fun

    Get outside to find inspiration for these adorable painted stick figures

    Words and Photos by Debbie Helton

    Al E. Gator

    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?

    Stewart C. Horse SUPPLIES:

    • Sticks of all shapes and sizes
    • Acrylic craft paints
    • 3D puffy paint
    • Paint brushes


    1. Go outside to gather sticks of all sizes and shapes — the lumpier and bumpier, the better! Lumps, bumps and cracks can be a great imagination booster for your creature.
    2. Examine your sticks and discuss what you see. Go over all of your creature’s features: What could this lump be? A nose or eye? What could this crack be? A mouth or an arm? Have fun and be silly! Ask the stick what it would like to become. Trust us, your creature’s personality will begin to emerge.
    3. Use your imagination and paint the body of your creature. Don’t forget to add details such as stripes, patterns and shapes.
    4. Once the body is painted, use 3D puffy paint to add eyes, spikes and other details. Knobs on the stick make the perfect place for eyes. Use white 3D paint for the eyeballs and black 3D paint for the pupils.
    5. To make your creature come alive, give it a unique name.

    craft-shack-1741b Debbie Helton is an Orlando mom and owner of The Craft Shack, which provides arts and crafts enrichment with a recycled flair through scheduled classes, private parties and corporate meetings. “Discover, Inspire, Create” at The Craft Shack, 218 W. Church Ave., Longwood, 407-448-1375,

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    Indoor Adventures for Kids


    Words by Jenna Shinn and Heather Reneau

    WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard

    winterclub ski-1163

    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 or private lessons on a European-designed simulated ski slope. The slope feels like wet turf with a special lubricant to create a life-like ski slope simulation. Instructors say there is little difference between skiing this and the real slopes.

    Kids enjoy WinterClub Indoor Ski & Snowboard as a fun activity, and parents love that the kids are getting entertaining exercise. The incline and speed of the slope are controlled with a handheld remote. Newbies start out on the green slope incline, which can be adjusted to accommodate even the professional ski levels.

    Two large slopes hold up to six skiers at once, which is perfect for a family activity or birthday party. Most lessons are 60 minutes long, allowing for a 10-minute break after every 10 minutes of downhill skiing or snowboarding. A first-time session for three participants costs $39 for one hour. If you plan to perfect your skills, you can opt for a package price.

    Enjoy aprés ski Italian gelato or coffee in the cafe. We recommend the WinterClub Latte, and all of the gelato is delish! Kick back in the large lodge (just like you do while skiing the Rockies) or enjoy your treat in the outdoor courtyard complete with a playground for the kids.

    In addition to scheduled private instruction, children can participate in after-school classes, birthday parties, school field trips and summer camps and earn the Scouting Snow Sports merit badge. See you on the slopes!

    2950 Aloma Ave., Winter Park

    Urban Ninja Parkour


    Can’t keep your kids from jumping on the couch? Take them to Urban Ninja Parkour in Longwood, where kids are trained in balance and hurdles on the ground before moving up to obstacle course training above ground, sometimes up to 12 feet high. This indoor gym offers several moveable walls, pits and balance beams used to create unique challenges. Kids learn to move over, under and around these obstacles by jumping, rolling, sliding, flipping and using other techniques they learn in the class. Kids have an absolute blast while getting a killer total body workout. Classes are available for children ages 5 and up.


    iFLY Indoor Skydiving

    ifly orlando

    Want to skydive but not quite ready to jump out of a plane? Don’t worry, iFLY Indoor Skydiving ( has you covered. Spread your wings and fly with no need for a parachute. This super fly (pun intended) attraction is one you’ll want to experience over and over again. Flyers experience the feeling of a free fall while only a few feet above the ground in a vertical wind tunnel. Anyone over age 3 can fly. There is a 250-pound maximum weight limit. Tickets start at $60 for one person and two flights. Be sure to arrive an hour early for proper training and gear set-up.


    Artegon Sky Trail


    Do your kids think going to the mall is boring? They won’t think that anymore. Add Artegon Marketplace to your to-do list this summer, and visit the Artegon Sky Trail, an impressive two-level ropes course and zip line. There is a Sky Tykes ropes course for little kids (under 48″ tall) for $8 or a four-story ropes course for bigger kids for $18. If you have a daredevil on your hands, add the Quick Jump free-fall exit for an extra $25.


    WonderWorks Ropes Course


    Ever WONDER what’s better than a three-story ropes course? How about a glow-in-the-dark three-story ropes course! WonderWorks offers a one-of-a-kind experience that allows you to climb high and navigate through neon obstacles with no prior experience necessary. Climbers must wear closed-toed shoes and be at least 42” tall to participate with an adult or 48” tall to participate alone. Admission for this attraction is included in the general admission ticket, which is $21 for children and $27 for adults. Get your glow on!

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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 p.m.
    $6.99 admission + $3.57 skate rental = $11.25 with tax

    Wednesday: 3:00 -4:45 p.m.
    $6.99 admission + $3.57 skate rental = $11.25 with tax

    Friday & Saturday: 7:00 – 9:45 p.m.
    $9.81 admission + $3.57 skate rental = $14.25 with tax

    Saturday & Sunday: 2:00-3:45 p.m.
    $6.99 admission + $3.57 skate rental = $11.25 with tax

    Sunday: 5:30 – 7:15 p.m.
    $6.99 admission + $3.57 skate rental = $11.25 with tax

    Summer Morning Sessions
    Available June 7 through August 11
    NOTE: Not available the weeks of June 13-17 & July 11-15

    Tuesday/Thursday: 10:00-11:15 a.m.
    $3.75 admission + $3.57 skate rental = $7.81 with tax

    NOTE: RDV Sportsplex Ice Den will not be open on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.

    For more information click here.

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    Mother’s Day Happenings 2016

    Floral Background

    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 forever, right here in Orlando.

    It’s All About Mom @ Reunion Resort  


    Reunion Resort is helping you show off and making it easy to treat your mom to everything she wished for. Treat her to one or treat her to all, here is everything the Reunion has to offer.

    1. Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday, May 8 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Eleven
      Includes live music, customized omelet station, carving station, spotlight station, sushi, and dessert. A complimentary champagne or sparkling cider toast, a fresh rose, and valet parking will be provided. Brunch is $49.95 for adults and $21.95 for children ages 4-12.
    2. Mother’s Day Trivia on Sunday, May 8 at 2 p.m.
      Trivia will be held at the Reunion Water Park so families can splash around together, as well as have a fun family trivia competition about who knows mom best! The winning mother will receive a free drink of choice.
    3. Mother’s Day Spa Event on Saturday, May 7 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
      Pampering is always appreciated! For $100 mom can receive mini facials, chair massages, makeup remover, complimentary samples, sweet treats, champagne, and raffle gifts at the spa.
    4. Mother’s Day Spa Packages
      The Reunion is also offering special spa packages throughout the whole month of May for you to surprise the woman of the hour with. Packages include a Mani & Pedi on the Rocks, Mother’s Retreat, and Mommy & Me Spa Escape. Check here for information and pricing on these packages.

    For information and reservations for Reunion Resort events, click here.

    Mother’s Day Special @ The Salt Room 


    Help mom feel her best and relax at the Salt Room Orlando. The Mother’s Day Special includes a free salt therapy session for your special girl if a facial or massage is purchased. Don’t be salty! Be sweet and show mom how much she is appreciated.

    Mother’s Day Discount @ The Central Florida Zoo 


    Lions and tigers and moms, oh my! Celebrate the day with family and exotic animals; the Central Florida Zoo is treating all mothers to free admission with a paid child’s admission on May 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Mother’s Day @ Four Seasons Resort Orlando on Sunday, May 8


    Brunch, dinner service, all-day buffet? The Four Seasons Resort Orlando has it all for mom, because she deserves it! If mom likes brunch, Plancha at the Tranquil Golf Clubhouse is offering a 3-course brunch that includes bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s. Brunch will be poppin’ from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is $68 per person.

    Looking for a decadent meal with pasta stations, raw seafood bars, carving stations, and even more action? Then Ravello is the place to spoil mom on her special day. Prices range from $110 per adult and $45 per child, ages 5-12.

    Thinking about a night out for a lavish dinner? Capa is featuring an a la carte menu, plus all moms will receive a complimentary glass of cava and a box of macaroons. Dinner at Capa is available from 6-10 p.m.

    For reservations for any of these offers, call 407-313-6161.

    Mom’s Jump Free @ Sky Zone Orlando 


    When mom says jump you say how high!? Sky Zone Orlando is offering a free jump pass for moms, in ode to everything they do for us. Show mom how much you love her by jumping as high as you can together, and getting some fun-loving energy out. For more information, call Sky Zone at 407-351-ZONE.

    Mother’s Day Dining @ MOOR


    Mother’s only deserve the best, so treat them to a locally-sourced meal made from only the freshest ingredients on her special day. A holiday breakfast buffet will be available from 7:30-11 a.m., which will include an omelet station, waffle station, mimosa station (additional cost), a “Decorate a Dessert for Mom” station, and a “Make a Mother’s Day Card” station. It is $30 for breakfast for adults and $15 for children ages 4-12. Special lunch and dinner menus will also be available from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and all dining includes complimentary valet parking. Click here to make reservations, or here for more information.


    It’s a Beautiful Mother’s Day Gift


    Looking for a last minute Mother’s Day gift? Look no further than the Fairwinds Broadway in Orlando musical, Beautiful—The Carole King Musical. This IS your mother’s music—hits from the 1960s, 1970s and beyond. The show runs through May 8 at the Walt Disney Theater in the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Click here to purchase tickets.

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    Orlando Shakes: Elephant and Piggie’s PLAYGROUND Review

    The only photo without anyone picking their nose.

    The only photo without anyone picking their nose.

    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 jumped at it. I love the theater ( I mean, seriously, I have a college degree in English literature—they don’t hand those out to people who don’t enjoy a well-written play!) I was also patting myself on the back for being an awesome Mom who takes her children to see plays. I was envisioning an afternoon with grateful, well-behaved, and smartly dressed children so overcome with their newfound love for the theater, they’d sing my praises from the backseat on the way home.

    And then, I actually had to take a three- year -old and five- year- old to the theater.

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    Here is a sampling of statements I said once we arrived in the parking lot:

    “You brought shoes, right? I thought you had shoes when we left the house.”

    “Get out of the fountain.”

    “I said get out of the fountain! Oh my God, you can’t drink that water! Stop!”

    “Don’t stand in the chairs.”

    “You look weird. Do you need to throw up? You’d tell me if you needed to throw up, right?”

    “Do you need to go potty?”

    “Stop looking under the bathroom stalls!”

    “Don’t swing on the railing.”

    “No, that is the set for the play. It is not a playground—get off!”

     Thank goodness the front of the house staff is so great with children. I am serious—they were fun and genuinely excited to have children in attendance. My little hooligans did not phase them one bit, nor did any of the 300 young elementary students also in attendance.

    The production is held in the Margeson theater—it is perfect for children! It is a “theatre-in-the-round”, so the children really feel like a part of the experience. My three-year-old felt so much a part of it that she was really confused about why she could not join the cast as they were frolicking about on all of the props.

    The story is the retelling of several of the well-known Elephant and Piggie books. Mo Willems, the author of the books also wrote the play. The narrative is fluid and well-paced. The music is sweet, catchy, and well-choreographed. I kept waiting for “the lull” that would lead to one of them demanding a snack or requesting we leave. It never came. Not only were my girls enthralled, but the other children in the audience were having fun, too. When the actors left the stage, one of the little boys in front of use turned to his teacher and said, “That was awesome!”

    My girls genuinely enjoyed the experience. They have each asked to go back. The five-year-old most enjoyed “the dancing”. The 3-year-old most enjoyed, “when they were being silly.”

    I do have a word of advice if you are considering taking children under the age of five, you may want to show them the publicity photos ( or give them an in-depth lesson on artistic license in the theater before you go. I did not, so I spent a good portion of the first act dealing with, “Why is Piggie wearing a Minnie Mouse dress?” and “Is there a pig? You said there would be a pig.”   (Not seeing an actual pig was also mentioned about 13 times on the way home.)

    Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!” features Jacob Valleroy as Gerald theElephant and Corynne Wagener as Piggie. Other casting includes Sarah Summerwell as a Squirrelle, Kimmi Johnson as Dog and Squirrelle, and Austin Ryan Hunt as Penguin andSquirrelle. The show runs through May 7th, with an ASL translated show on April 30. Educators, be sure to check out the phenomenal (and free!) curriculum guide at

    The Set

    The Set

    You can't drink that water!

    You can’t drink that water!

    Look we are in a play!

    Look we are in a play!

    Trying to blow a kiss to my boy, Will. My selfie game needs help

    Trying to blow a kiss to my boy, Will. My selfie game needs help.

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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 is limited to 22 children and cost is only $25. Reservations can be made by calling 407-418-9463.

    Chef Ashley will be one of 18 chefs from across the country competing on HELL’S KITCHEN’S 15th Season. They will be be tested and challenged as Chef Ramsay puts them through a series of grueling challenges and dinner services to prove they have what it takes to win the HELL’S KITCHEN title and a Head Chef position at BLT Steak at Bally’s Las Vegas.

    “At age 6, I decided I wanted to be a Chef, ” says Chef Nickell. “After watching every season of Hell’s Kitchen I decided there was nothing more I wanted than to compete on this show. As a result, I spent my entire culinary career working toward attaining this singular goal.”

    Host, executive producer and award-winning chef and Critics’ Choice Awards nominee Gordon Ramsay fires up a brand-new season of HELL’S KITCHEN when Season 15 premieres Friday, Jan. 15 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

    “Like” Chef Ashley Nickell on Facebook at



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    The Grinch Is In WHOlando

    2015-12-08 19.28.25

    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 it was because of the 7:30 p.m. showing. (Families should purchase tickets  for the daytime shows available this Saturday and Sunday.) Or, maybe it’s because this is a fantastic production that entertains adults–even more so than kids.

    I brought my 3.75 year old as my date and had to keep her engaged in conversation on the car ride to downtown so she wouldn’t fall asleep. She’s not yet familiar with the story of “The Grinch” so I gave her a little overview on the way. I think most of The Musical was over her head. So, I would save this performance for a grade schooler who has already maybe seen the film or read the book. However, I enjoyed it thoroughly and was laughing (very loudly) out loud with most of the other adults in the Walt Disney Theater.

    2015-12-08 19.33.55

    The Grinch has some very funny comedic moments. He was interacting with the audience much like a stand-up comic. I appreciated the opportunities for audience participation: such as a sing-along, helping the Grinch say “Merry Christmas” to Cindy Lou and, at one point, it (faux) snowed in the theater.

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    PLAY Tip: Grab a Suess-style beverage on your way into the theater. The Grinchy Sour for parents and a Cindy Lou Who for kids. Love these little details.


    Chat Backs: If you have night owls in your crew, you can stay after the 7:30 p.m. show on December 9, to meet the cast members. Interested participants should re-enter the house at Orchestra Level following the performance.

    Here is a video highlight edit from Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical:

    Dr. Suess How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

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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, Eustis and Gulf Railroad. Santa will say hello to each child and deliver a special gift. Adults: $28; children (ages 3 to 12): $20; toddlers (ages 2 and under): free.


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    Sleigh Ride at Disney’s Fort Wilderness
    Nightly, December 1–30
    Gallop your way over to the campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and take the ultimate holiday sleigh ride. This 25-minute horse-drawn sleigh will take you along the lit pathways of the wooded resort. The sleigh rides are offered every 30 minutes nightly in December. Reservations are recommended. Bring snacks, sip warm drinks, and sing carols as you ride along with the majestic steed. All ages are welcome!




    Celebration Town Center 17th Annual Now Snowing Event
    Nightly, November 28–December 31
    Join in on the holiday fun in Celebration for traditions such as caroling down the streets, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, pictures with Santa Claus, and faux snowfall every evening starting at 6 p.m.


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    Moss Park’s Light Up The Wild
    December 13-19 
    Moss Park is holding this 4th annual event with a huge holiday light display to drive through nightly from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13th – Saturday, Dec. 19th. Cost is $5 (cash only) per car for up to eight people ($1 per additional person) and you can drive through it multiple times.  “Wild Santa Saturday” on Dec. 19th from 1 – 9 p.m., includes giant airboat rides by Wild Florida Airboat ($10 per person), free photos holding a baby alligator (bring your camera), Santa’s Market featuring vendors, crafts, and last minute shopping for stocking stuffers, hot chocolate and marshmallow roasting (nominal fee to benefit the local Girl Scouts), food trucks and more.



    Special Santa (and Mrs. Claus) Meetings


    Sensitive Santa for Children with ASD
    December 8
    With the prevalence of autism quickly increasing, the number of children who struggle to process sensory information also grows. At the Florida Hospital for Children Outpatient Rehab (615 E. Princeton St, Suite 104, Orlando, FL 32803) on December 8 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. these children will have the opportunity to enjoy a sensory-friendly visit with Santa. This event was designed to eliminate long lines and avoid overwhelming crowds to ensure an evening of heartfelt, stress free fun. Click here for more details on this event. Please email Tessa Lee at to request a registration form.




    Breakfast (or Brunch!) with Santa at Central Florida Zoo
    December 12
    Join Santa and his furry friends for breakfast (or brunch). Not only will you get to sit and snack with Santa, but you will also get up-close with the animals. Be sure to make your reservation early before Santa’s tummy gets too full with milk, cookies, and pancakes. Register by December 11.


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    Letters to Santa and ELF showing at Enzian
    December 13th
    This is a special holiday event and screening of the holiday flick ELF at Enzian Theater. Doors open at 11 a.m. and film starts at Noon. Bring your family to the kid-friendly December matinee screening of ELF (2003). Get there early for special holiday treats and fun activities! Children receive a letter writing kit to craft their wish list for Santa! A special menu including cookies and hot cocoa. Santa will swing by the theater to pick up all the letters and will be available for purchasable photos after the movie. Admission (Adults and Children): $11
    Enzian Members: $8.50


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    Teddy Bear Tea
    December 19
    The Four Seasons Resort Orlando is offering a Teddy Bear Tea that is now open to the public, on Saturday, December 19 at 12 p.m. While Santa is busy making toys with all of the Elves, Mrs. Claus will be the special guest of honor during this event. The Teddy Bear Tea will also include treats, crafts, story time and photos opps. It is $50 per person. For more info, view the Facebook event. For reservations call 407-313-6925.



    Ice Ice Baby: Celebrate wintertime at these events that bring in real ice and snow (even in Florida)!


    Light Up UCF
    November 13 through January 3
    Visit this quaint, carnival-style holiday festival outside of the CFE Arena on the UCF campus. Enjoy holiday snacks and cider, a Ferris wheel, Santa train ride, and an ice-skating rink. Don’t forget the ice slide, which is a memory maker for sure! This experience is all about family, friends and sweet fun. The best part? There isn’t a huge crowd or long wait times for rides. Ice-skating: $12; ultimate ride and ice tickets: $19.95.


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    ICE! and Alpine Rush Snow Tubing at Gaylord Palms
    November 24 through January 3
    Every year, families flock to Gaylord Palms’ winter wonderland village. Grab your yearly Santa photo, pick up some holiday ornaments and gifts, enjoy sweet treats and cocoa, decorate a gingerbread house and ride (or watch people ride!) the snow slide. All of this is centered around the ICE! exhibit, where visitors enter a gallery of ice sculptures. Make sure your camera is charged and layer on the clothing because baby, it’s cold inside! At 9 degrees, you’ll still need that blue, shiny (fashion faux pas) jacket that they provide. ICE! also features the Frostbite Factory, where you can watch ice being carved in real time, ride the ice slide (separate from the snow tubing activity) and end in the life-sized nativity scene that is also made completely of—you guessed it—ice! There is a separate cost for snow tubing, gingerbread making and ICE!, but you can browse the village and watch people go down the snow tubes for free. ICE! is $30 for adults and $17 for children; combo package for ICE! and snow tubing is $45 for adults and $34 for children.



    SnowFest at RDV Ice Den
    December 19, 2 to 6 p.m.
    Consider this your carnival of snow! Enjoy ice skating, snowball-making and a mini-me snow slide. Adults: $9; children (ages 3 to 17): $15.



    Snow Mountain at Oviedo Mall
    December 12
    The forecast calls for snow in Oviedo this December. Go early to this family event for the holiday parade and stay for the snowballs! This event features bounce houses, snow slides, zip lines, recreational games and contests, and yummy food trucks. We recommend going early and getting the VIP tickets (if they have them this year) so your kid can be the first to enter the snow area before it gets all slushy and the crowds come!



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    Winter in the Park
    November 20 through January 10
    Bundle up in your winter clothes to enjoy an evening of ice-skating in Central Park West Meadow in Winter Park. Heck, book a group outing for a special winter celebration. Bonus! There will also be games, caroling, snacks and more! The ice rink will be open from 3 to 9 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $12 per person.



    Curtain Call: Take the elves to the theater and give them memories that will dance in their heads for the rest of the year.  

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    Holiday Family Book Party
    Barnes & Noble at Colonialtown Center
    December 4

    Join the Orlando Repertory Theatre at 5 p.m. at Barnes & Noble bookstore (2418 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, 32803) for a FREE holiday family event! Arrive early for dinner at 5 p.m. in the Barnes & Noble Café – Mention “The REP Book Fair” to donate a portion of the proceeds back to The REP. Santa and Rudolph from The REP’s production of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical” will be on-site for a meet-and-greet and photo opp starting at 5:45 p.m.! Settle in on the balcony floor – pillows and blankets are provided – for a live reading of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at 6:30 p.m. Then, enjoy a live reading of The Polar Express by REP actors at 7 p.m. Purchase a hot-chocolate and a cookie as a fundraiser for The REP! A portion of ALL SALES go back to The REP on Dec. 4 when you mention “The REP Book Fair”.

    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical
    Orlando Repertory Theater
    November 9 through December 27
    Rudolph is back with his holiday spirit and bright, shining nose and is giving you the performance of a lifetime at the Orlando Repertory Theater. The REP is also offering a sensory-friendly performance (for children with sensory processing disorders or special needs) on November 29. Tickets start at $14 per person.



    Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
    Dr. Phillips Center
    December 8 through 13
    Discover the magic of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale as it comes to life on stage at the Dr. Phillips Center in downtown Orlando. Tickets start at $33.75.



    Nutcracker Ballet
    Dr. Phillips Center
    December 17 through 23
    Dress up the little ones and take them to a cultural kid-friendly performance (shorter performance time) of The Nutcracker performed by the Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Let your kids buy a nutcracker memento after the performance to add to your home holiday decor.


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    How the McPinch Stole Christmas!
    December 11
    Inspired by the How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “McPinch” is an Florida Film Academy (FFA) original character that students can use to recreate their own original Christmas Story! The FFA Club Night is a new program running on select Friday nights throughout the school year. This is a drop-off event on Friday, December 11 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. for kids ages 6-12. The event costs $35 per child which includes child care, a pizza party (and candy) and movie making fun. Kids can bring costumes. Note: drop off & pizza party is from 5:30-6 p.m. Pick up is 9:30 p.m. sharp!



    Free Memories: No need to break the bank. These free activities are just as memorable.


    Meet the Grinch! story time
    December 8 at 11 a.m.
    Meet the star of the hit Broadway show Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical at Pottery Barn Kids in the Mall At Millenia! Enjoy a reading of hte famous story, take pictures and mingle with the only WHO who hates Christmas. Plus, enter for a chance to win four tickets to see the musical that weekend at the Dr. Phillips Center!


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    Holiday Movies in the Park
    December 11
    Don’t be a cotton-headed ninnymuggins. We’ll see you at the Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park (99 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801) on December 11. Bring a blanket and enjoy your favorite holiday movie.


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    Sanford’s Illuminated Boat Parade
    December 19 from 6-7 p.m.
    Come down to Sanford’s Riverwalk and watch or join the lighted parade of sailboats and powerboats in celebration of the holiday season. Viewing locations: North side of Marina Island, St. Johns River Steak and Seafood Restaurant, Veterans Memorial Park, Wolfy’s Bar & Grill, and along the Riverwalk in Sanford from Park Ave to 17-92.



    Santa’s Wonderland
    Bass Pro Shops
    Now through December 24
    Bass Pro Shops is the place for adventurous kids who like to race cars, shoot crossbows, challenge dad to target practice, or sit on Santa’s lap—all for free. Bonus: they give you a FREE 4-by-6-inch photo with Santa!


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    Christmas at the Casa
    December 2 through 6 from 6–8:30 p.m.
    Feast on cookies, sip cocoa and listen to Christmas Carols at Casa Feliz, a beautifully restored Spanish farmhouse in Winter Park.



    Holiday on the Drive
    December 3 from 5–9 p.m.
    Get your ugly Christmas sweaters out for another starry night along Edgewater Drive (from Smith Street to Bryn Mawr Drive). Admission is free. Entertainment includes Santa, karaoke, a Christmas tree lighting in Albert Park and more!


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    Light Up Winter Garden
    December 4 at 6:15 p.m.
    Join residents of Winter Garden in ringing in the holiday season with live music, kids’ activities and crafts, and shopping. Don’t be late because at 6:15 p.m. they will hold the annual Street Lighting Ceremony.



    Winter Park Christmas Parade
    December 5 from 9–10:30 a.m.
    Winter Park’s annual “Ye Olde Hometown” Christmas Parade is free to watch and features many well-designed and beautifully decorated carts, trailers and floats.



    Theme Parks: Make the most of living near the country’s most coveted family destinations.


    Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
    November 8 through December 18
    Join Mickey and his crew for a holiday experience in the Magic Kingdom! There’s nothing more magical than snow falling on Main Street amid the holiday light display. Meet the characters and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies as you explore the park. This limited ticket special event means shorter wait times—what a great gift!


    Photo credit:

    Photo credit:

    Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure
    Do you like your holiday season with a side of sarcasm? Then Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure is the place you need to visit. The park turns into a Christmas-themed wonderland with WHO-LIDAY Spectacular, Meet the Grinch photo ops, and The Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast. Don’t miss out on the one time of year that the Grinch comes down from his snow-covered mountain to spread holiday cheer.


    Screenshot 2015-11-18 23.16.25

    Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios
    December 5 through January 2
    Always wanted to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but can’t make it to New York City? You are in luck. Universal will be hosting their own Macy’s Holiday Parade that has balloons straight from the parade in New York! Don’t miss this super experience with balloons bigger than some buildings.


    Photo credit:

    Photo credit:

    Christmas at SeaWorld
    November 21–22, 27–29; December 4–6, 11–13, and 18–31
    Visit SeaWorld for their Christmas Celebration. Their wavy, winter wonderland will introduce you to Christmas carols, bright lights, live shows, and even visits from Santa. There will also be a Winter Wonderland on Ice show, the beautiful Sea of Trees light show, The Polar Express Experience, Elmo’s Christmas Wish performance, and more. 


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    Holiday Traditions Around the World at Epcot
    November 27 through December 30
    Broaden your cultural holiday horizons by visiting Epcot to celebrate special seasonal traditions around the world, and the highly anticipated Candlelight Processional hosted by a celebrity each night.



    At the Resorts: Want to make a weekend of it? These local resorts offer special holiday activities.

    Very Merrytime Cruises

    Very Merrytime Cruises

    Disney Cruise Line’s Very Merrytime Cruises
    A one-of-a-kind combination of theme parks, resorts and travel is the Disney Cruise Line. Holiday celebrations set sail on this 3-night, 4-day getaway leaving Port Canaveral on Friday afternoons and returning early Monday mornings (love that work- and school-friendly schedule). Sailing now through Christmas the Very Merrytime Cruises feature some serious holiday magic. Disney Cruise Lines is by far the best way for families to cruise. In addition to all that these fantastic ships have to offer, Very Merrytime Cruises features special events such as a tropical holiday party (candy-cane limbo anyone?), a tree lighting ceremony with Mickey, holiday storytelling, caroling, holiday crafts, a life-size Gingerbread house and more. To celebrate the winter holidays with Disney Cruise Line, book online, call 800-370-8046 or contact your travel agent.



    Four Seasons Resort Orlando
    This holiday season, enjoy palm trees and infinity pools at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. Guests can enjoy a decadent gingerbread display and complimentary hot cocoa and cider daily from 2 to 5 p.m. in the lobby. Also, the Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) complimentary kids camp, open daily for ages 4 to 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., has an array of organized activities like candy cane scavenger hunts, animal visits, timed races in the Lazy River, balloon art, and face painting. Families will love watching the weekly holiday movies (like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Home Alone and Elf)¸ making jingle bell necklaces, and writing letters to Santa.


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    Gaylord Palms Resort
    Marvel at dozens of lavish holiday displays that include more than 2 million twinkling lights and acres of larger-than-life decorations. Enjoy a heartwarming visit with Santa, experience the free Cirque Dreams UnWrapped Live Stage Show, check out the ICE! exhibit and Alpine Rush Snow Tubing experience, enjoy Breakfast with Mrs. Claus, visit the Gingerbread Decorating Corner, and join an Elf on the Shelf® Scavenger Hunt throughout the resort to get you in the spirit of the season!

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    Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel Holiday Happenings
    Throughout December, Santa, Mrs. Claus and their favorite elf, Kandy Kane, are jetting off to Florida to escape the cold and join guests for Holiday Happenings at Santa’s favorite resort – the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel. During this month-long celebration, children and kids at heart can enjoy a magical holiday experience at the Epcot Resort Area hotel with special themed activities and decor including Santa and Mrs. Claus meet and greets, tree lighting ceremonies, a life-side chocolate holiday display, dancing lights show, in-door snow fall, dessert decorating and more. For more information and specific times and dates, please visit




    New Year’s Eve: Ring in the New Year with your kids at these parties.


    Nickelodeon SLIME Drop
    December 31
    The holidays don’t end after Christmas and Chanukah; Nickelodeon Suites Resort will be celebrating New Year’s Eve with their annual SLIME Drop! Check out the pool party to kick off the New Year with poolside games. There are also seven water slides to enjoy at the Lagoon Pool, and the most important part of the event is getting slimed by Nickelodeon’s famous green slime! Don’t miss the ewwy, gooey green madness and ring in the New Year with some sticky fun!


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    Kids and Family New Year’s Eve Party
    Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
    December 31, 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

    Join Rosen Shingle Creek on New Year’s Eve for a rocking good time! There will be a live DJ, so you can tear it up on the dance floor. Try out the photo booths, or challenge your family to a game of pool, pinball, foosball, or ping-pong. Want to go solo? Check out the arcade games. The party will have fun for all ages. Wristbands for party favors and unlimited soda are $10 per person. There will be food and drinks to purchase at the event. The ball drop will be televised on a big screen, so all attendees can count down to the New Year.



    Legoland Brick Drop
    December 31, 7 p.m.
    Legoland wraps up 2015 with the ultimate Kids’ New Year’s Eve Celebration, featuring a Lego Brick Drop and a spectacular fireworks display that the whole family can watch with special viewing glasses. The Brick Drop is included with standard park admission.

    Posted in Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    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.


    The Holiday Light Show strobes across the arena façade, palm trees, and ice rink in perfect synchronization to various holiday songs. The falling snow will create a magical effect during every light show.


    The Holiday Film Festival allows families to gather under the stars to view their favorite holiday films on a two-story movie screen each Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night.


    The Light Up UCF Ice Rink has become a fan favorite over the years. Positioned directly in front of the CFE Arena, the ice rink serves as the centerpiece for the event. Guests are invited to enjoy Central Florida’s largest outdoor ice skating rink while gliding along to their favorite holiday tunes spun by a live DJ.


    Light Up UCF features rides suitable for the entire family, ranging from the Hunter Vision Ferris Wheel, where riders can enjoy a panoramic view of the UCF campus, to the Light Up Express Train, great for children of all ages.




    Visitors can also check out the Arctic Glide Ice Slide, where they can climb to the top of the tower and glide on disc sleds across the 100-foot ice way. Making its annual appearance, the Blizzard offers a whirling and twirling thrill ride, where patrons can twist, tilt, and spin themselves crazy!


    Visitors can also stop into Santa’s Workshop presented by Coca Cola in the NEW Light Up Lane, where they can share their Christmas wishes and have a photo taken with Santa. The Duke Energy Community Stage will offer visitors local talent to watch and enjoy.



    Tickets for ice skating, rides, and photos with Santa can be purchased at the CFE Arena Box Office. Select tickets are also available for purchase through Ticketmaster at or by calling 1-800-745-3000. More information for all of Light Up UCF events can be found at


    PLAYGROUND Tip: Grab a bite to eat at Burger U (right next to the CFE Arena) and try the sweet potato fries with toasted marshmallow dip. Delish!

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    A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens


    Photos by Landon St. Gordon features the characters Jack, Annie, and Charles 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 Tale for Christmas Time by New York Times bestselling author Mary Pope Osborne, the Children’s Series production runs from October 22 – November 20, 2015 in the Margeson Theater. Tickets ($9 – $15) can be purchased by calling 407-447-1700 ext. 1, online at, or in person at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 E. Rollins St.).

    Mary Pope Osborne’s award-winning fantasy adventure series comes to life on stage in this brand new musical adaptation of book #44. Magic Tree House characters Jack and Annie are sent to Victorian England where Charles Dickens is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. Posing as chimney sweeps, the time traveling siblings team up with light hearted, helpful versions of Christmas Past, Present, and Future to inspire Mr. Dickens to write A Christmas Carol.

    Preview Dates – October 22 & 23 at 10:15 a.m. and noon
    Opening Date – October 24 at 2 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.
    ASL Interpreted – November 7 at 2:00 p.m. and November 9 at 10:15 a.m.

    OPENING DAY CELEBRATION – Saturday, October 24 at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
    Bring the kids to the theater one hour before both opening day performances to take part in free crafts and activities. Free to all opening day ticket holders. No RSVP required.

    FREE HALLOWEEN PARTY – Saturday, October 31 at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
    Orlando Shakes will present two special Halloween performances of Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens on Saturday, October 31 at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. All Halloween-day ticket holders are invited to arrive one hour prior to their selected performance for a Free Halloween Party. Festivities include Halloween-themed arts and crafts, as well as a costume contest and candy giveaway.

    Join members of the cast for interactive pre-show fun for the whole family. The fun starts 10-15 minutes prior to every performance.

    Monday/Tuesday//Thursday/Friday at 10:15 a.m. and noon – $9
    Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. – $9
    Saturday at 2 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. – $12 children; $15 adults

    Group Sales: Up to 20% off groups of 10+

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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. Create monster-ific crafts and take your photo with our spooky characters all month long included with general admission. There is so much to “BOO,” you may never leave. Learn more at

    Gobblins & Giggles Getaway Weekends at Gaylord Palms Resort
    Friday and Saturday evenings in October
    From the Monster Mash Bash and costume contest to the Zany Zombie hotel-wide scavenger hunt, there’s no better way to experience the thrills and chills of the season. Your goblins will also be able to trick-or-treat throughout the atrium, watch poolside Moonlight movies, create spooky arts and crafts and get free face painting! Availability: Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the month of October (based on availability). Guests can either book 1 or 2 nights. Rate: starting at $179 per night.

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    Wild Fun
    October 17, 18, 24, 25 and 31, 2015
    The Central Florida Zoo’s ZOO Boo Bash is held October 17, 18, 24, 25 and 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Come in costume, or get your face painted while visiting zoo residents. Hop on a haunted hayride, visit the pumpkin patch, and trick-or-treat around the zoo. There will be no boohooing at this safe, fun and not-too-scary event.



    Fright Hike
    October 24, 2015
    Find the courage to brave Fright Hike, a spooky event at the Geneva Wilderness Area on Saturday, October 24 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The woods at night are scary enough, but this approximately half-mile trail is chock-full of spooky sounds and scenes that are sure to give your older children a fright. Reward yourself at the end with a stop at the Ed Yarborough Nature Center to enjoy refreshments and meet a few slithering and creepy friends. Tickets must be purchased in advance. The cost is $5 per person. 407-349-0959



    It’ll Give You the Chills
    October 24, 2015
    Put your Halloween fun on ice at the RDV Ice Den’s Spooky Skate on Saturday, October 24 from 2 to 4:45 p.m. This special event will feature ice-skating, trick-or-treating, a costume contest and plenty of candy!



    Monster House Movie and Costume Party
    Sunday, October 25, 2015

    Bring the entire family for a costume party featuring Monster House during the Kids Halloween Party at Enzian theater. Between 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m., the whole family can enjoy a delicious lunch, games and fun! The Monster House film starts at 1 p.m. The movie and party package is $18 per person (children and adults). The price includes the film, lunch, a costume contest and games.



    Halloween Event at The Grove Orlando
    October 30, 2015
    Trick-or-treet around the stores at The Grove in Windermere on October 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. In addition to sweet treats there will be live music, outdoor games, contests, a costume parade and halloween crafts. 4750-4767 The Grove Drive, Windermere

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    Baby Boogie Bash: Healthy Halloween Bash

    Friday, October 30 from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. 

    The Baby Boogie Bash (East Coast) is a dance party at Amaya Papaya  for kids 0-7 years old featuring disco lights and music from the 80’s, 90’s, and today. No Nursery Rhymes just real jams (appropriate of course) that will get your feet moving and booty grooving. Halloween crafts, character greetings, pizza, drinks and more are included in the price of your ticket! $8 per person in advance / $10 per person on the day of the event.


    Pumpkinville Musical
    October 30, 31 & November 1, 2015
    Bring the family to experience Carved: A Pumpkin’s Musical Adventure at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden on Friday, October 30 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, October 31 at 11 a.m., or 12:30 or 3 p.m.; or Sunday, November 1 at 3 or 4:30 p.m. Join Earnest, a young pumpkin, on a quest for the truth about Pumpkinville in this not-so-scary puppet musical ideal for ages 6 through 12. Tickets: $7 to $11.

    Carved Logo 2

    Tick-Or-Treat Safe Zone and Halloween Block Party 
    Saturday, October 31, 2015
    The Orlando Public Library and the Orange County Regional History Center team up for a free Halloween event featuring fun for the whole family! Visit both locations from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. for trick-or-treating, a scavenger hunt with a spooky reward, crafts, games and lessons in ghost-hunting practices! Ages 12 and under welcome, must be accompanied by an adult.
    Halloween costumes are encouraged for children and their parents!

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    Weird Science
    Saturday, October 31, 2015
    Celebrate the spookiest time of year at the Orlando Science Center on October 31 from noon to 4 p.m. The Spooktacular Science Extravaganza features a terrifyingly fun day of activities, including face-painting, live shows, crafts and, of course, tasty treats. Come in costume to trick-or-treat; participate in Gross Out Science activities, such as dry ice and liquid nitrogen experiments; brew a batch of gooey slime; or create slimy mucus. There also will be crafts and fun for the littlest pumpkins.



    SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular
    Every weekend in October
    A groovy way to celebrate Halloween without ANY scary spooks for families with young children. Yep, it’s all sparkly, bright and really fun at Penelope’s Party Zone, complete with a live DJ, dancing sea creatures (in gorgeous costumes), crafts and trick-or-treating, of course. This event is on select dates in October (3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25 and 31) from 12-7 p.m., and is included with park admission.



    Magic Kingdom
    Select nights from September 15 through November 1
    Believe it or not, you’ll see the best adult costumes at this special Disney party! Most visitors go all out for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. This is a special event at Magic Kingdom on select nights from September 15 through November 1 (7 p.m. to midnight). Take your tyke trick-or-treating throughout the park, and check out the awesome Boo-to-You Halloween Parade and other Halloween-inspired entertainment. New in 2015, the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” show features the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus with appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent and other Disney villains. Ticket prices start at $68 (ages 10-plus) and $63 (ages 3 through 9). Because it’s a nighttime-only event, there is a cap on how many people may attend. It’s by far my favorite way to visit the Magic Kingdom. No boiling sun, and no lines!

    New in 2015, the "Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular," show during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom Park features the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney's Hocus Pocus, who throw an evil Halloween party with appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Maleficent and other Disney villains, along with dancers, projections and special effects. Walt Disney World Resort is located in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (David Roark, photographer)

    David Roark, photographer


    Trick-or-Treat, Smell My Feet
    October 31, 2015
    Enjoy safe trick-or-treating at this free family-friendly event at Artegon Marketplace. Children ages 12 and under dressed in costume will receive candy from participating merchants from 2 to 5 p.m. October 31. Hit this place early to kick-start the candy pile! If you want to make it a Halloween the kids will never forget, rent one of the Zoo Tamer animal go-karts so the kids can ride instead of walk. You’ll get some major cool mummy points!



    Early Trick-or-Treating Kick Off
    October 31, 2015
    Get your shop on while your kiddo collects candy at shops in the Oviedo Mall. Participating merchants will be handing out treats to costumed kiddos October 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. Then, between 6 and 10 p.m., head over to O2BKids for carnival games and a kiddie costume contest.

    Half page fall 2015flattened


    Halloween Is Awwwesssome …
    Every weekend in October
    Take a selfie next to the world’s largest Lego jack-o’-lantern at Legoland’s Brick or Treat event, held every weekend in October. Visitors should come in their best costumes for the Everything Is Awesome Costume Contest. Kids will love the Monster Mash Dance Bash and the free collectors bricks available along the Brick or Treat Trail. Dad will be amazed by the giant, 13-foot-long Lego hearse, and Mom will be rushing the kids to the Lego Vampire Build. The night will conclude with a spooky fireworks display. The event takes place every Saturday and Sunday in October during regular park hours.



    Ultimate Halloween Weekend
    October 31, 2015
    Spooky Empire
    , one of the largest Halloween events in the country, will gather at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 for three days of family-friendly festivities, including hair-raising ghost stories, trick-or-treating and face-to-face animal encounters in the Kids Zone. Adults will enjoy costume contests, live music, hundreds of Halloween-themed vendors and the world famous Zombie Walk featuring the largest gathering of zombies to creep through Central Florida.



    Family Fiesta: Dia De Los Muertos
    October 31, 2015
    This Halloween, bring the family and celebrate East End Market’s two year anniversary with a Mexican Fiesta! Coinciding with the holiday Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead on Sunday), guests can live it up on Saturday from Noon to 5 p.m. There will be an artisan market in the courtyard where kids can prepare for trick-or-treating with face-painting, make their own calavera mask or flower crown, dance to Mexican folk music by KaMalinalli and mariachis, and stroll through the spooky cemetery garden. No registration necessary.



    October 31 from 4-7 p.m.

    All little ghouls, goblins and boo’tiful princesses 12 years and younger are invited to enjoy a spooktacular time at The Florida Mall for a mall-wide trick-or-treating event. Children of all ages are encouraged to sport their best Halloween costume to haunt The Florida Mall in search of candy. Attendees can also take part in mad science experiments, explore a pumpkin patch, receive a new gift from the balloon artist, and dance along with a DJ! Toy weapons and costumes should be worn only during event hours and masks are allowed only on children 12 years old and younger. Free and open to the public.

    Screenshot 2015-10-13 21.55.07



    Bonnet Creek BOO-tacular Fun Run
    Saturday, October 31, 2015
    The Bonnet Creek BOO-tacular Fun Run is a great way to kick off your Halloween early and show off your costume, all while supporting the happiness that inspires hope at Give Kids The World Village. All money raised benefits GKTW Village, a nonprofit resort in Central Florida that creates magical memories for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Prizes will be awarded for best costume and top 3 Male/Female finishers. Bonnet Creek Resort  14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando, Florida, 32821

    Screenshot 2015-10-13 00.04.59


    Magic Tree House Halloween Party
    Saturday, October 31, 2015
    Orlando Shakes will present two special Halloween performances of Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens on Saturday, October 31 at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. All Halloween-day ticket holders are invited to arrive one hour prior to their selected performance for a Free Halloween Party. Festivities include Halloween-themed arts and crafts, as well as a costume contest and candy giveaway.

    Screenshot 2015-10-26 07.13.54


    A Wickedly Good Time
    Most voyages in September and October
    Set sail this fall on the Disney Cruise Line as ships transform into a ghoulish wonderland. Halloween on the High Seas takes place on most voyages aboard all Disney Cruise Line ships in September and October. This frightfully fun celebration features Halloween-themed parties, lively entertainment and elaborate decor, including the Pumpkin Tree, which magically transforms throughout the cruise. Other special experiences include Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party, with games, dancing, lots of candy and a costume party; The Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream, an interactive movie experience; the Haunted Stories of the Sea storytelling experience, and the Creepy Cabaret atrium party. To celebrate Halloween on the Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, visit, call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or contact a travel agent.

    Disney Cruise Line will treat guests sailing this fall to a wickedly good time as the Disney ships transform into a ghoulish wonderland during Halloween on the High Seas cruises. This extra-spooky celebration features “’A Nightmare Before Christmas’—Sing and Scream,” an interactive movie experience followed by a meet-and-greet with Jack Skellington and Sally. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
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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 how fun and easy cooking can be! Kids experience different weekly themes and make delicious recipes, from main courses to desserts to snacks. Some weeks may have special themes with fees. Class times vary by store location. Call your local store to register.

    The Publix Aprons Cooking School located at 7524 Dr. Phillips Blvd. has classes throughout the year for adults and children. A wide variety of classes are available and take place almost every day. Learn to cook gluten-free, create a vegetarian meal plan, or even hone your knife skills. A full schedule of classes and costs can be found here:

    Truffles and Trifles in Winter Park has been offering family cooking classes and kids summer camps for nearly 31 years! During the school year, there are family-specific classes. In September, there is an Heir and Their Parent class among numerous adult classes. The online schedule gives you classes for the upcoming four months. Check it out for prices and dates:

    At U Can Cook in Celebration Town Center, there are programs for different interests and skill levels. U Can Cook With Me is geared toward family cooking. U Can Cook With Us has master chefs and celebrity chefs teach you skills and techniques so you can be more confident in your culinary prowess. U Can Cook covers it all, from the basics of food preparations to food safety skills and even proper etiquette. More info and class schedules are at

    Whole Kids Cooking Class is a free program at Whole Foods Market, Phillips Crossing for you and your child to learn some quick and easy recipes that are perfect for little hands to handle. Whole Kids Cooking Classes are usually scheduled monthly. Registration is required. Check the store events calendar for details:
    Amanda Keefer is a local mom of two girls, Mia (8) and Charlie (4), and the author of the travel blog She spends her days as the director of marketing at Produce for Kids, educating families on the importance of a healthy diet full of fruits and veggies. For more tips on getting kids involved in the kitchen and kid-friendly recipes, check out

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    You’ve Been Booed!

    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?

    1. Start by baking (or buying) some yummy treats;
    2. Deliver them anonymously to a neighbor along with the free downloadable custom “We’ve Been Booed” sign and instructions;
    3. Then, they pay it forward by “Booing” another neighbor.

    I wanted to get in on the action too. So I created my own version and wanted to share with all of you. Have fun “Booing” your favorite neighbors!

    Click here for the free downloadable custom design compliments of Sparkled Pink.

    Alexandra Rolon is the party stylist and owner of Sparkled Pink. It offers spunky individual salon services, such as haircuts, bubblegum facials, glitter tattoos, manicures and pedicures, spa packages fit for a princess, mobile parties and upbeat birthday parties. (This hairstyle is perfect for the salon’s Jazz It Up Rock Star Party.) Sparkled Pink is located at 450 Avalon Park S. Blvd., Orlando, 407-277-2184.

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    Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld


    SeaWorld Orlando Halloween Spooktacular_2 (2)


    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, Halloween Spooktacular is included with park admission.

    Spooktacular Highlights Include:

    • Waves of Trick-or-Treat Fun – Costumed youngsters can trick-or-treat for ghoulish goodies. Each sea-themed, trick-or-treat station features an assortment of candy favorites including Tootsie Roll, Jelly Beans, Airheads, just to name a few.
    • Penelope’s Party Zone – This dynamic “underwater” environment comes to life each weekend with a live DJ, a variety of craft opportunities, bubbles floating overhead and colorful sea-themed characters. The zone is located on SeaWorld’s Bayside Pathway.
    • Returning Fan Favorite: Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween – Celebrate a Spooktacular Halloween at SeaWorld with The Count, Elmo, Abby, and the rest of everyone’s Sesame Street friends! The Count is feeling lonely this Halloween, and it’s up to you and the loveable monsters from Sesame Street to get him into the Halloween spirit. Batty bats and spooky skeletons join the fun in a song filled stage show that invites you and your family to dance, play, and sing along.
    • Spooktacular Dance Party – Children join Princess Penelope and her under-the-sea friends for a Spooktacular Dance Party where they can participate in line-dancing favorites as clouds of bubbles fill the evening air. The party will kick off at the Village Square in the front of the park every event night one hour before park closing.

    Spectacular Spooky Add-Ons:

    • Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch – Guests can celebrate with an immersive and memorable brunch experience at Dine With Shamu. They will enjoy seasonal items and reserved tables that bring them up close to majestic killer whales. There also are some Halloween surprises including a family photo in a decorative frame and a free cookie decorating kit. Prices begin at $28 plus tax for adults and $16 plus tax for kids.
    • Sweet Treat Decorating – Kids and parents alike can have a “splash” decorating their own sweet treats at the cookie decorating stations. The kits include a cookie, frosting and toppings and are available for $7.

    For more information, park hours and to purchase tickets, visit Follow SeaWorld on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest Halloween Spooktacular details and information. Join the conversation with #SeaWorld and #SeaWorldSpooktacular.

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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 inspire more than 15,000 members of the Central Florida community. Maker Faire Orlando will be held on September 12 and 13 in the Orlando Science Center, Loch Haven Park and, new for 2015, the Orlando Museum of Art!

    The partnership with the Orlando Museum of Art is a result of the growth of Central Florida’s Maker community. In 2014, Maker Faire Orlando received “featured” status and promotional support from the originator and licensor of Maker Faire events, Maker Media, and expanded to a two-day extravaganza. Maker Faire Orlando is fueled by the local arts community with DIY enthusiasts and families taking part in a celebration of technology, science, arts, crafts, engineering, education, sustainability and much more. This year, the can’t-miss event has grown its arts presence even larger with the edition of exhibit and workshop space at the Orlando Museum of Art.

    Orlando Science Center's Mini Maker Faire, Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

    Orlando Science Center’s Mini Maker Faire, Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

    “The creativity demonstrated by the individuals participating in – and attending – the Maker Faire naturally coincides with the work of the Orlando Museum of Art,” said Glen Gentele, Director and CEO of the Orlando Museum of Art. “We are excited to join our colleagues at the Orlando Science Center in hosting Maker Faire Orlando.”

    “Here, people can show off what they are making and share everything they’re learning,” said Candy Cole, President and co-founder of The Maker Effect Foundation. “Our continued expansion will allow even more makers to participate, and others in the community to see and learn from the incredible talents of our neighbors.”

    “Creativity fuels innovation and innovation is at the heart of science,” says JoAnn Newman, President and CEO of Orlando Science Center. “Maker Faire Orlando is an incredible showcase for creativity, imagination and hands-on technical skills so it’s a wonderful blend of art and science. Orlando Museum of Art joining us this year is a perfect fit and further strengthens the connection at the event between STEM and the arts.”

    Maker Faire Orlando is made possible through the efforts of many individuals in the local Maker community and community partner organizations such as FamiLAB, Factur, Maitland Art & History Museums, The Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center, Nerd Nite Orlando and Crealde School of Art.

    The unprecedented collaboration between The Maker Effect Foundation, Orlando Science Center, Orlando Museum of Art and these community partners blurs the lines between art and technology in a way that enriches the community and creates opportunities for creativity, learning, fun, and innovation.

    If interested in exhibiting as a maker, sponsor or community partner, email or visit

    Orlando Science Center's Mini Maker Faire, Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

    Orlando Science Center’s Mini Maker Faire, Photo by Roberto Gonzalez

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    Disney On Ice Celebrates 100 Years of Magic



    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 performances. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, June 16, at 10 a.m.

    Audiences will be a part of the magic of Disney as Mouse-ter of Ceremonies Mickey Mouse leads a parade of more than 50 beloved characters starring Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and featuring an ensemble of Disney Princesses including Cinderella, Rapunzel, Ariel, Snow White and Tiana. The wintry wonderland of Disney’s Frozen also comes to life with Anna, Elsa, and the hilarious Olaf, as they discover that true love is the greatest magic of all. Exciting moments from Finding NemoAladdin and Beauty and the Beast will leave the whole family with memories to last a lifetime.

    The legacy of Disney is displayed through 14 classic and modern stories in this epic production that features an international team of award-winning figure skaters, high-energy choreography and a breathtaking set. With over 30 melodious masterpieces such as “Let It Go!,” “You’ve Got A Friend in Me” and “Hakuna Matata,” Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic is the ultimate Disney fan experience.

    Where:  Amway Center, 400 West Church Street – Suite 200, Orlando, Florida 32801

     Dates and Times of Performances:             

    • Friday, September 4 at 7:30 p.m.
    • Saturday, September 5 at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    • Sunday, September 6 at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

    Ticket Prices and Purchase:
    Tickets start at $25. Also available at $30, $40, $60, $75 (VIP) and $100 (Rink side). (Ticketmaster service charges and facility fees not included.) All seats are reserved, and tickets are now on sale to the public.  Tickets are available at or, at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone for information only: 407-440-7900).  For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740.

    For a complete list of tour dates, visit the Disney On Ice website ( and stay current on the latest developments through social media:


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    5 Things To Do This Weekend

    Want the short list of the best things happening for your crew? We know all about the family-friendly events in Central Florida and hand-picked our top five that should not be missed!

    Screenshot 2015-03-12 18.29.37

    1. Tour Columbus’ Ships Nina & Pinta  Set sail on a voyage to the age of discovery as Columbus’ ships sail into Ponce Inlet March 13-17. These replicas of the Niña and Pinta will be touring together as a new and enhanced floating museum for the purpose of educating the public and school children on the “caravel,” a Portuguese ship used by Columbus and many early explorers to discover the world. Climb aboard to see what life was like 500 years ago!
    2. Cirque Du Taste of Oviedo  Stop by our tent to pick up the new issue of PLAYGROUND Magazine and get a free photo strip from Funbox Photos. Oh yeah, and you can also have a great time shopping, PLAYing and tasting your way through Oviedo’s best restaurants. This year’s event will also include fun cirque-style performers and activities. Screenshot 2015-03-12 17.20.24

    3. Pi Day 2015  On Saturday, March 14, 2015 the Orlando Science Center celebrates Pi Day – the annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi) – with programs, activities and you guessed it: pie!
      Participants will get creative with circle art and pizza pi crafts; walk around a circle to music and when it stops, hope that you’re standing at the announced number to win a slice of pie; spin the wheel and take part in special math-, circle- and pi-related activities; and engage in an ice cream-making workshop!

      Pi Day is observed on March 14 every year since 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of π in the decimal form and the date reads 3/14 in month/day date format. This year (2015) is even more significant because the date 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 follows a longer sequence of pi (3.14152653). This won’t happen again until 2115!
      For some reason, the only place they have this posted is on their Facebook page:

    4. Screen shot 2015-01-16 at 12.38.46 PM
      Healthy Mom (To Be) Healthy Baby This course at East End Market, on March 14 from 10 a.m. to Noon, offers tips and tricks on how moms-to-be can eat the right foods in the right combinations. They will focus on essential nutrients, maintaining energy levels, stabilizing blood sugar, managing morning (or evening) sickness and making better choices to satisfy those (let’s be honest – sometimes crazy) cravings. Katinka will demonstrate 6 easy-to-make recipes and discuss lifestyle choices that nourish both you and your baby during this exciting, miraculous time. maya

    5. Kid’s Yoga On The Farm Visit Maya Papaya Organic Farm in Oviedo for Kid’s Yoga on the Farm with Madison Wilson, on Sundays from 3 to 4 p.m. Then, stay and play on the farm until 5 p.m. Meet the alpacas, chickens and Lola the Goat.


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    WonderWorks Lowers Fee For Locals


    WonderWorks Invites Locals to Have Fun and Save Big

    WonderWorks is thanking residents by offering a locals appreciation discount through February. While the I-drive attraction is known to draw tourists from all over, local residents are a key factor in helping the business succeed. The discount is one way the team aims to show just how thankful they are for these supporters.

    General Manager Elvira Fee said she is always sure to recognize the importance of local support. “We make discounts for locals a priority each year,” Fee explained. “When you live in a tourist driven area, it is really special to be able to enjoy the attractions in your backyard at an affordable price. This discount is a small gift we can give them for all that they do for us!”

    From now until February 28th Central Florida residents can say the phrase, “locals save” to receive a discount on admission. General admission tickets will be lowered to $17.99 for adults and $14.99 for children, Sundays through Thursdays. Locals will also receive 20% off admission for the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show, as well as the dinner show combo which includes access to all of the activities WonderWorks has to offer. Proof of residency is required.

    The team hopes to bring in first time and returning locals to experience all of the exciting exhibits, including the newly renovated laser tag arena. Grab your friends and family and head to WonderWorks to enjoy one of Orlando’s best attractions for less!

    To learn more about WonderWorks, visit

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    Marvel Universe LIVE!


    Marvel Universe LIVE! Roars into the Amway Center on December 5th – 7th

    Words by Jessica Long

    Although it’s not even Thanksgiving, the holiday season seems to be in full swing already. While your kids are preoccupied with thoughts of Santa and Rudolph, don’t let them miss out on an incredible chance to see their favorite non-North Pole characters as 25 Marvel heroes (and villains!) take the stage at the Amway Center on December 5th – 7th in the mind-blowing show, Marvel Universe LIVE!.

    The paths of Marvel’s most iconic characters will cross in this fast-paced, original story, which has villains such as Loki, Red Skull and Green Goblin plotting a treacherous scheme that threatens not only the Earth but the entire Universe. Will the Mighty Thor be able to foil their plan? No doubt he’ll have plenty of help from Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk!

    Cutting-edge special effects and pyrotechnics set the scene for this monumental performance, which is being hailed as the most technically-advanced live show to ever take the stage. Heroes and villains will battle using their advanced martial arts skills, fly through the air performing amazing aerial stunts and race motorcycles around the stage in thrilling high-speed chases.

    Marvel Universe LIVE! roars into action on Friday, December 5th at 7:30 p.m. with additional shows at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 6th and Sunday, December 7th. Tickets range from $20 to $120 and can be purchased online or in person at the Amway Center or Ticketmaster.

    Disclaimer: The folks at Marvel Universe Live were kind enough for sharing a few tickets with us for posting this information for all of you (although we were headed there anyway!). See you at the show!






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    American Girl Grand Opening


    The Day Has Arrived!

    Words by Tracey C. Velt

    PLAYGROUND Magazine got a sneak peek into the new American Girl store, located in Florida Mall, and it’s everything we imagined it to be … It truly is a little girl’s paradise!

    American Girl Orlando will open its doors Saturday, Nov. 16 in Florida Mall. Take the kiddos for the festivities! They’ll have the Orlando Magic dancers, an ice cream truck, DJ Rubonix leading interactive games, a ballet performance, and crafts, face painting, games and more this weekend.

    My daughter, Sofia (8) and I got a sneak peek at the store and it delivers on the American Girl promise. From miniature sequin holiday dresses to, my fave, a horse drawn carriage, the American Girl store is chock full of holiday surprises.

    The company recently rebranded its historical characters and brought back Samantha, one of the original dolls. Sofia headed straight to Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor and staged a party. The best part of the store is the displays. Dolls are staged with their respective accessories and clothing, along with furniture. It’s better than a doll museum because you get to take everything home (for a price!)

    For the younger set, the Bitty Babies are oh-so-cute. We loved the double strollers and multiple ethic options. Not to be missed is the AG Girl section, which features look-like-me doll options, clothing and accessories to highlight sports, music, art and more. Whatever your little girl is into, they’ve got matching doll accessories and uniforms. That’s where you will find the holiday dresses and accessories as well. Sofia loved the navy sequin holiday dress so much that she and her doll are dressing in the outfits for Christmas.

    Want a birthday party to remember? Try out the American Girl Bistro and party room. Schedule your child’s birthday party in the main dining area, where she’s get a birthday cake, goody bag and doll tiara and a set of invitations with matching thank you notes. Need more space? Try the party room that seats groups of 6 to 12.

    The Bistro is open daily for lunch and dinner (birthday or no birthday). Reservations are required. Call 877-247-5223 to reserve a table or plan a birthday party.

    After lunch, drop off your child’s American Girl doll at the hair salon where she can choose from a gaggle of hair styles. Sofia chose the double ponytail for her doll, Caroline, part of the BeForever historical doll line.

    Sofia and I are looking forward to trying out the Bistro our next visit!


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    Clean Energy + Discounts at the Zoo

    The Central Florida Zoo just installed a new solar photovoltaic system provided by Florida Power & Light (FPL) Company. The system is made of 40 solar panels and capable of producing enough energy to power the equivalent of an average home for one year.

    From November 1 through January 31, Zoo visitors can take advantage of a special FPL-sponsored discount of 10 percent off admission rates to celebrate the new solar energy system. Additional information on this discount can be found at or

    The FPL solar array system will give visitors hands-on opportunities to learn about renewable energy. Interactive signage adjacent to the solar panels will enhance the educational experience for guests. In addition to education, the energy that the solar panels produce will be credited to the Zoo, saving money on energy costs.

    This installation and program are part of FPL’s commitment to advancing solar energy in Florida. FPL operates three solar power plants in Florida and has been installing educational solar arrays at schools and non-profits to help educate the public about solar energy.

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    Call for Entries: Young Artists to Design Holiday Banners


    Calling All Young Artists

    The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce is seeking young artists to enter the annual holiday art competition. Students are asked to create original illustrations of what the holidays mean to them. Winners will have their artwork digitized and printed on vinyl banners to decorate the light poles along Morse Boulevard in downtown Winter Park.

    Here are the entry guidelines:

    1. Entries are now being accepted on white construction paper (8.5″ x 11”) and must be vertically oriented.
    2. Awards will be presented in two age groups, 0-7 and 8-13; one entry per person, please.
    3. Artwork and entry forms should be submitted to the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 280, Winter Park, FL 32790 or delivered to the Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 West Lyman Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789 by Friday, November 14,  2014 at 5:00 p.m.

    Judging will be held on Monday, November 17, by a committee selected by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. Winners will be publicly recognized at the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, December 5, at 5:15 p.m. in Central Park. Two winners will be announced in each age category and their artwork will be transformed into banners and on display at the event. Afterwards, the banners will be hung on the light posts along Morse Boulevard and will become property of the City of Winter Park to be displayed during the holidays in future years for the community to enjoy. In addition to this recognition, each winner will also receive a $100 gift card.

    To download an entry form, please visit or call 407-644-8281.

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    25 Fall Family Activities


    We may not have falling leaves or even crisp autumn air, but Central Florida still offers plenty of fun activities that will get you into the spirit of the season.

    Written by Jessica Long

    1. Long and Scott Farms’ Corn Maze
      Who will be the first to navigate through the twists and turns of this seven-acre corn maze? We can’t tell you that, but we can tell you your family will have a blast finding out! And if the kiddos (and let’s be real … the parents, too) aren’t worn out, the farm is filled with slides, hayrides and other fun activities that will help us Floridians get into the spirit of fall.
    2. Pick the Perfect Pumpkin
      In October, Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest in Eustis has lots of pumpkins and even more Halloween fun! After you pick the perfect pumpkin, carve it on-site, and leave the messy part of making jack-o’-lantern memories behind. In addition to enjoying hayrides, pony rides, a petting zoo and zip lines, kids can attempt the Magical Maze and take a jump into the Black Cat Haystack.
    3. Halloween at Green Meadows Farm
      You can visit the pumpkin patch at Green Meadows any day in October to pick a free pumpkin, and the kid-friendly haunted house makes every Saturday and Sunday that month a little bit spookier. But on Sunday, October 26, Green Meadows opens up its barn doors for an entire day of trick-or-treating fun. Be sure to wear your costume so the animals won’t recognize you!
    4. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
      In September and October, join your favorite Disney characters for a special night of “not-so-scary” fun as the Magic Kingdom becomes a spooktacular setting for Halloween. Dance with the Disney villains in a special new venue, and enjoy trick-or-treating, fireworks and Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade.
    5. Brick-or-Treat at Legoland
      Where can you snag a photo op with the world’s largest Lego pumpkin? At Legoland, of course! Visit any weekend in October, and your little brick-builder can set out on a scary scavenger hunt through Miniland, gobble up goodies on the Brick-or-Treat Trail, and win big in Emmet’s Everything Is Awesome Costume Contest!
    6. SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular
      Go under the sea every weekend in October as SeaWorld creates an underwater “fantasea” of family fun in its Halloween Spooktacular event. Kids of all ages will enjoy the sea-themed arts and crafts, trick-or-treating, music and dancing!
    7. Zoo Boo Bash
      This might just be the wildest Halloween party in all of Central Florida! For two weekends in October, kids have a chance to trick-or-treat amid their favorite residents at the Central Florida Zoo. Put your Halloween best to the test in the daily costume contest, or if you forget yours, there will be face painters on hand to make sure you fit right in.
    8. Click, Clack, Boo!
      The beloved barnyard crew returns to the Orlando Rep with a brand new musical complete with apple-bobbing, bottomless candy bowls and a spooktacular costume contest. Follow along as Farmer Brown learns that sometimes a little trick can be a big treat!
    9. Bats: Myths and Mysteries
      This traveling exhibit hits the Orlando Science Center just in time for the spooky season, but what you learn about bats just might surprise you! In addition to seeing live bats native to Central and South America, kids can explore bat habitats and try out a pair of giant bat ears to experience echolocation.
    10. German-American Society’s Oktoberfest
      Two opportunities to celebrate, the Oktoberfest events on October 4 and 25 will fill you with beer, brats, pretzels and plenty of other home-cooked German and Bavarian treats. Test your strength in the stein-holding contest while your kids party on in the Kid Fun Zone!
    11. Oktoberfest at Alive After 5
      Central Florida’s favorite street party gets an Oktoberfest theme for fall! On October 9, Sanford’s celebrated Alive After 5 event will feature live music, local artists, fabulous food and a brand-new Kids Zone. If that’s not enough, walk over to Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café for even more authentic German food, beer and entertainment.
    12. Hotel Transylvania
      Get into the spirit of the season with a family-friendly movie under the stars at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. On Saturday, October 11, bring a blanket or pull up some chairs, and enjoy an outdoor showing of Hotel Transylvania.
    13. Winter Springs Hometown Harvest
      Visit Winter Springs Town Center on October 11 for an old-fashioned fall festival the whole family will enjoy. Hop on a hayride, paint pumpkins, and enjoy live entertainment throughout the evening.
    14. Winter Park Autumn Art Festival
      On October 11 and 12, the weather should be perfect for a stroll through beautiful historic Winter Park for the city’s annual autumn art festival. In addition to the juried art show, kids age 5 and up can create their own masterpieces in the free workshops presented by Crealdé School of Art.
    15. Oktoberfest at Celebration
      You know you’re getting close to Disney when autumn leaves fall daily at 7, 8 and 9 p.m. At the town of Celebration’s Oktoberfest event, October 17 and 18, the hayrides, pumpkin painting and other festivities are so convincing, you may end up believing there really is a hint of fall in the air.
    16. Healthy Halloween Bash
      Let your little ones put the “boo” in boogie at Amaya Papaya’s sixth annual Healthy Halloween Bash. On October 24, dance the night away under the disco lights, and enjoy food, face painting, character visits and story time in this special party thrown for kids ages 8 months to 7 years.
    17. Franklin’s Friends Howl-O-Ween
      Don’t leave your four-legged family members out of the Halloween fun! Bring them to the Howl-O-Ween dog walk and canine costume contest October 25. The rest of the family will enjoy music, food trucks and shopping. Proceeds from this event benefit animal charities in Central Florida.
    18. Spooky Skate
      Put your Halloween fun on ice at the RDV Ice Den’s Spooky Skate on October 25. This extended skating session will feature spooky music, a costume contest, and plenty of candy, games and fall fun! Wear your costume to receive $1 off admission.
    19. Halloween Spooktoberfest
      On October 25, Lake Concord Park in Casselberry will be haunted with lots of howling fun for a family-friendly event that’s creepy and crawly without being too spooky. Dazzle the judges in the costume contest, and then boogie the night away at the Ghost and Ghoul Dance Party.
    20. Pumpkins and Ponies Festival
      Head out to East Orlando on October 25 and 26 for Painted Oaks Academy’s Pumpkins and Ponies Festival. With a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, pony rides, hayrides and a bounce house, it will be hard to decide what to do first. Come in costume for a cute photo op by the pumpkins!
    21. Trick or Treat Safe Zone
      What says “Halloween” more than honing your ghost-hunting skills? At Orange County Regional History Center’s sixth annual Trick or Treat Safe Zone, on October 26, you can do just that—plus enjoy four floors of trick-or-treating, scavenger hunts and crafts.
    22. Carnival of Screams
      Don’t let the name scare you … the City of Oviedo has fun for all ages planned for its Halloween event on Saturday, October 25 from 5 p.m.-10 p.m., including a special “lights on” haunted house tour from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for younger kids. Dress up for the costume contest, and stay for the kids activities, hayrides, music and fun!
    23. Teenie Weenie Halloweenie
      City of Oviedo hosts Teenie Weenie Halloweenie event at Riverside Park for kids age 5 and under on October 31 from 10 a.m.-Noon. Get in all the traditional Halloween fun without missing bedtime! Go to the tennis courts to enjoy games, costume contests, hayrides, and a few hours of safe trick-or-treating.
    24. Mad Science Lab Halloween Party
      Your little ghouls and goblins will enjoy a science show, make glowing goop, eat spider webs (cotton candy) and play games at the Mad Science Lab at Oviedo Mall. The best costume at each party will win a free Kids Night Out pass (for the older monsters) or a free 2-hour Saturday Pass (for the little devils). There’s three separate party dates:
      October 25th: 6:30-9:30 p.m. (ages 5-12), $25/child
      October 26th: Noon-2 p.m. (ages 3-5), $20/child
      November 1st: 6:30-9:30 p.m. (ages 5-12), $25/child
    25. Fall Fiesta in the Park
      As if the awesome playground and friendly swans weren’t enough to make a day at Lake Eola a hit, the Fall Fiesta in the Park on November 1 and 2 features a huge kids zone with bounce houses, face painting, live music and clowns.
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    Pink Out Winter Park


    Pink Out Winter Park kicks off with more than 1,200 people coming together for breast cancer awareness

    Central Park was glowing pink when more than 1,200 Central Floridians literally took a stand against breast cancer as part of Pink Out Winter Park’s Get a Leg Up on Breast Cancer event. The community came together in an attempt to not only raise awareness for breast health but attempt to reclaim a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS® achievement for the most number of people standing on one leg, like a flamingo.

    Despite the large crowd, only 1.224 people stood one leg for two minutes. The current record, set by Tesco (UK) at ExCeL London on Oct. 18, 2012, with 2,276 people remains. “We are so proud of the way the community came together this year for breast cancer awareness,” said Ken Bradley, mayor of Winter Park. “The flamingo has become the unofficial mascot of Pink Out and inspiration behind our world record attempt. Despite not reclaiming this achievement, we know we can continue to spread awareness for breast health in our community.”

    At the event, Park Avenue was aglow in a dazzling array of pink lights as a visual reminder for the importance breast health. Pink lights will remain in the trees lining Park Avenue during the month of October for the community to enjoy.
    “This event serves as a great way to bring attention to the importance of screening mammograms. According to statistics, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime,” said Dr. Steven Dukes, Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Winter Park Memorial Hospital. “But the earlier the cancer is detected, the better the chances are for recovery. This is why it is so important to remind women of the importance of yearly screening mammograms and to help those in our community who do not have the resources to get one.”

    Since Pink Out Winter Park launched in 2011, more than 140 women have accessed the Winter Park Memorial Hospital Mammography Scholarship Fund, which provides screening mammograms and further diagnostic testing to women in need. Six women have been diagnosed with breast cancer and gone on to receive treatment at Florida Hospital as a result of the scholarship fund.

    Pink Out Winter Park will continue through the end of October and the community is encouraged to get involved by getting a mammogram, purchasing a Pink Out flamingo or donating to women in need. For just $10, a person receives one Pink Out flamingo to keep and another is added to the growing flock of flamingos around Winter Park. More than 35 Winter Park merchants are also participating in Pink Out in a variety of ways including decorating their store fronts, hosting breast health events or donating a portion of proceeds from designated items.

    To schedule a mammogram, or to see a complete list of participating merchants or find out more information on how to donate to the Winter Park Memorial Hospital Mammography Scholarship Fund, visit

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    Bats at Orlando Science Center


    Immerse Yourself Into the Mysterious World of Bats at Orlando Science Center’s Latest Exhibit

    Exhibit Opens Saturday, Sept. 20 at Noon

    Fly into Orlando Science Center’s newest traveling exhibit, “Bats: Myths and Mysteries” on Saturday, Sept. 20 at noon. Featuring live animals, educational simulations, interactive displays and more, it’s an experience the whole family will go batty for!

    This hands-on, educational exhibit will introduce visitors to the amazing world of the flying mammal people are both frightened and fascinated by. After visiting, guests will have a new appreciation for these misunderstood creatures and be armed with knowledge to aid in the preservation of the species.

    “Bats: Myths and Mysteries” will motivate attendees to explore the natural world, grasp the importance of bats to the ecosystem and provide the tools to protect these fascinating animals. Promoting strong community-based involvement, participants will be encouraged to conduct habitat monitoring, bat watches, become involved in bat conservation and educate others about the importance of bats around the world.

    Throughout the exhibition, visitors will be immersed in the sights, smells and sounds of the tropical fruit bat habitat and get a glimpse of the vast pallet of Chiropteran diversity. Live bats will be cared for by animal keepers from the Organization for Bat Conservation who will also engage the public in daily live programs about the different species on display.

    At “Bats: Myths and Mysteries” visitors will have the opportunity to:

    • Come face-to-face with 25 – 50 total specimens from around the world including straw-colored fruit bats from Africa, big brown bats from North America, Egyptian fruit bats from Africa and short-tailed fruit bats from South America.
    • Don a pair of giant bat ears and experience the sensitivity of bat hearing.
    • Learn about echolocation and the importance of bat conservation.
    • Match bats with their preferred foods.
    • Unveil the mysteries and debunk the misleading myths surrounding bats.

    Experience “Bats: Myths and Mysteries” with admission to Orlando Science Center which is $19 for adults and $13 for youth (ages 3 – 11). Tickets include access to all four floors of exhibits, giant screen and 3-D educational films, one Hollywood feature-length film, and live programming.

    For more information, call 407.514.2000 or visit

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    The Borrowers

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    The Borrowers continues this weekend at The REP (September 2 – 28, 2014). This enchanting play by Charles Way is based upon the award-winning children’s literature classic by Mary Norton. Meet Arrietty Clock- she is a typical tween yearning to experience the grown-up world. The only difference? She and her tiny family live on dollhouse furniture under the floorboards. When their home is discovered, they are forced into the giant universe outside and Arrietty gets a bigger adventure than which she could have ever wished.

    Presented by: Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs

    CAST (In alphabetical order)
    Homily: Megan Borkes
    Arrietty: Sofia Deler
    Crampfurl/Gypsy/Spiller: Adam DelMedico
    Arrietty (Understudy): Jasmine Forsberg
    Boy/Uncle Hendreary: Chris Metz
    Pod: Stephen Pugh
    Mrs. Driver/Aunt Lupy: Wendy Starkand

    Directed by Rob Winn Anderson

    This performance runs for approximately 100 minutes, including an intermission. Please be advised there are loud noises, fog, and haze used in this production.

    Please call 407.896.7365 or visit  for tickets!

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    Click, Clack, Boo!

    Click, Clack, Boo! Orlando Repertory Theatre

    Just in time for Halloween is Click, Clack, BOO! A Tricky Treat (October 6 – November 9, 2014), based on the book by Doreen Cronin and Betsey Lewin. It’s Halloween! Duck, Pig, Cow, and Hen cannot wait to throw a Halloween party, complete with apple-bobbing, bottomless candy bowls, and a spook-tacular costume contest, against Farmer Brown’s wishes, as he is afraid of Halloween. Join the barnyard crew as they show Farmer Brown that sometimes a little scare can be big fun in this new musical.

    About Orlando Repertory Theatre:
    The REP is a professional theatre with a mission to create experiences that enlighten, entertain and enrich families and young audiences. In addition to productions, The REP conducts community engagement initiatives. The award-winning REP Youth Academy provides classes and workshops for children, along with professional development opportunities to classroom teachers. Housed in a three theatre complex in Loch Haven Park, The REP is also home to the University of Central Florida’s MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences graduate program.

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    Nick Hotel Preschool Celebration

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    Special Nickelodeon Preschool-themed activities, shows and character meet & greets around the Nickelodeon Suites Resort

    Nickelodeon Preschool Celebration activities at Nickelodeon Suites Resort kick off, August 22-24, 2014 with a special Dora & Friends Weekend.  The Nickelodeon Preschool Celebration continues throughout August and September; ending with Julius Jr. Weekend, September 26-28, 2014.

    Nickelodeon Preschool Celebration includes:

    • New Nickelodeon Preschool-themed Character Breakfast (Monday & Wednesday, charges apply)
    • Dora’s Friendship Fiesta Show (Sunday’s, excluding special event weekends)
    • Story Time with Dora and her Friends Live Show (Tuesday & Thursday)
    • Nickelodeon Preschool episode viewings (select days)
    • Self-guided scavenger hunt (daily)
    • Nickelodeon Preschool Giveaway (1 per child)
    • Character* meet & greet opportunities with:
      • NEW Dora & Friends – Dora, Pablo and Kate (August 22-24 only)
      • Dora the Explorer, Boots and Diego
      • Milli & Geo from Team Umizoomi
      • Molly & Gil from Bubble Guppies
      • Blue from Blue’s Clues
      • Little Bill
      • Pablo from the Backyardigans
      • Ming-Ming from Wonder Pets
      • NEW Julius Jr. (September 26-28 only)

    * Characters listed appear throughout the week.

    Special Event Weekends include:

    Dora & Friends Weekend

    Saturday, August 23 2:30pm & 4:30pm Studio B
    Meet Dora, Kate & Pablo, including an episode screening, snack and special giveaway (no charge to attend)
    Sunday, August 24 1:00pm Studio B
    Meet Dora, Kate & Pablo, including an episode screening, snack and special giveaway (no charge to attend)

    Julius Jr. Weekend

    Saturday, September 27 2:30pm & 4:30pm Studio B
    Meet Julius Jr., including an episode screening, snack and special giveaway (no charge to attend)
    Sunday, September 28 1:00pm Studio B
    Meet Julius Jr., including an episode screening, snack and special giveaway (no charge to attend)

    Find out about our Nickelodeon Preschool Package, click here.

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    Everything Is Awesome

    Legoland Hotel California

    COPYRIGHT: 2013ErikPeterson

    Reservations now being accepted for the new LEGOLAND® Hotel, opening Summer 2015

    It’s less than one year before Legoland Florida Resort opens the doors to its new Legoland Hotel, and the window is now officially open for guests to book their rooms! Opening Summer 2015, the five story Lego themed hotel will feature 152 brightly colored and highly themed rooms and suites, thousands of Lego models and interactive play areas! The addition of the Hotel gives guests the opportunity to extend their stay and explore Legoland Florida Resort for more than one day giving them the ultimate family experience.

    To book your reservation to Legoland Hotel, visit:

    Construction is going strong since the November groundbreaking and Legoland Hotel recently reached its “topping off” milestone as the concrete was poured onto the roof. Emmet, from “The LEGO Movie,” dusted off his construction hat to help with the placing of the Merlin flag. Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of LEGOLAND Parks, is the number one attraction operator in Europe and the second largest in the world with more than 100 attractions in 22 countries and across four continents.

    Located at the main entrance of Legoland Florida, the Hotel includes a pool, restaurants including a kid-size buffet, interactive play areas and is truly designed to inspire imaginations and create memories for all visitors. Hotel guests will have early access to the Park and be treated to nightly entertainment.

    Families can choose from one of three popular Lego toy lines as their room theme: Pirate, Kingdom or Adventure. All rooms include two separate sleeping areas, with a queen-size bed for grown-ups, and a separate sleeping area for up to three little ones, complete with a bunk bed, pull-out trundle bed and their very own TV! An exciting new room theme will be announced at a later date. Room rates start as low as $249, varying by season. For the most updated information, visit

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    2014 KidFest Movie Series

    Movie Series: July 6 – August 3

    The KidFest Film Series at Enzian offers film fans and children of all ages the rare opportunity to experience an exceptional selection of family-friendly movies. From unique, side-splitting silent comedy classics to popular and unusual retro favorites.

    These films play for FREE on weekdays and only $5 on weekends!

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    Summer Celebration Series

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    The REP Presents Summer Fun For The Entire Family

    Orlando Repertory Theatre presents The REP’s Summer Celebration Series for Central Florida families. With three exciting shows between July 18 and August 3, the productions are Crazy For You, The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful (and Her Dog!), and Leslie and Lolly Make Stuff Up! Join us on the weekend of July 26 – 27, 2014, when all three shows are playing along with activities and fun.

    The REP Youth Academy performs Crazy For You on July 18 – August 3, 2014. This Gershwin hit is filled with foot-tapping musical and dance numbers, along with a hilarious story. Carefree New Yorker Bobby meets spunky Polly in Deadrock, Nevada, where they quickly fall in love. Populated with Follies girls, cowboys, socialites, and plain folk, this Tony-Award winning musical is packed with classic Gershwin tunes including “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “Embraceable You,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “I Got Rhythm.” Things are looking up! Crazy For You features music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin and a book by Ken Ludwig.

    After a statewide tour of Florida, The REP is happy to bring back by popular demand, The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful (and Her Dog!) with book and lyrics by Lauren Gunderson and music by Brian Lowdermilk, is presented on July 23 – August 1, 2014 and is a co-production with Miami’s City Theatre. Fly through the solar system with Dr. Wonderful and her amazing adventure team of Newton (the dog) and Ben (the human) in this musical as Dr. Wonderful and her team receive an important call causing them to leap into action from their laboratory/bedroom into outer space. Saving a superstar from disappearing is no small task; especially when the star is 1.3 million times the size of Earth and 93 million miles away. With a couple of butterscotch candies and a rock song from Mom in the mix, the mystery solvers are amazed by their final discovery.

    The REP is thrilled to present Leslie and Lolly Make Stuff Up! featuring Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, a 2014 Daytime Emmy Nominee for Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series for her work on Sesame Street, where she is best known as Abby Cadabby. Join Leslie and her sock puppet sidekick, Lolly Lardpop, for a show full of music, joy, and laughter on July 26 – 27, 2014. This show is also a homecoming for Leslie, as she has appeared in many shows throughout the years here, beginning in the 90s.

    Mark your calendar for the weekend of July 26 – 27 for The REP’s Birthday Celebration! Single tickets to Crazy For You are $15, and The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful (and Her Dog!) and Leslie and Lolly Make Stuff Up! are both $10. Multiple Show Summer Passes are also available – Two Show Summer Passes are just $20, and Three Show Summer Passes are $25. Please call the Box Office to receive your Summer Pass and save up to 20%! This offer is not available online.

    For tickets or more information, please call 407.896.7365 or visit

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    Local Model Search


    Pigtails & Crewcuts Celebrates First Anniversary with Local Model Search

    Pigtails & Crewcuts, a premier children’s hair salon, is celebrating its first anniversary in Orlando by launching a Local Model Search. The Model Search is designed to showcase the children of Orlando and surrounding areas.

    “We are ecstatic to be celebrating Pigtails & Crewcuts first anniversary in Orlando,” said Jennifer Tribble, Owner of Pigtails & Crewcuts Orlando. “The Local Model Search is our way of thanking our customers for welcoming us into the community and showcasing the adorable children we have gotten to know and love.”

    The Model Search seeks to feature children ages 0 to 12 residing within the community and will be open to anyone who “Likes” the Pigtails & Crewcuts – Orlando_Dr Phillips Facebook Page. The search begins July 1, 2014 and runs through August 1, 2014. Photos of aspiring models will be featured on the Facebook Page and open to the public for “voting.”

    Winners of the Model Search will include two boys and two girls determined by the photos with the most “Likes.” Winners will be invited to a professional photo shoot and receive a free haircut from one of Pigtails & Crewcuts’ licensed stylists. Photos from the photo shoot will appear in ads and promotional materials used by Pigtails & Crewcuts Orlando throughout the year.

    Proud parents can find more details on the Model Search, Headshot Events, and photo submission guidelines at or on its Facebook Page.
    Pigtails & Crewcuts Orlando is located at 7536 Dr Phillips Blvd, #300. The hours are Monday ‐ Friday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.–4 p.m. No appointment necessary. For more information, please email or call 407.351.1017.

    Pigtails & Crewcuts is a high quality children’s salon dedicated to providing a fun and comfortable experience for each of our young patrons. Moms and dads rest easy in our clean, safe and professional facilities designed to fit the needs of their child. Pigtails & Crewcuts specializes in haircuts for boys and girls of all ages, trend‐setting hair styles, children’s parties, and retail products. With 38 national locations and growing, Pigtails & Crewcuts is one of the most respected children’s hair salon franchises in the country.

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    BLOCKHEADS: Recycled Art Project


    With a few simple things found in your recycle bin and craft closet, your kids can create silly characters that are sure to make them giggle. Making these Blockheads is a great way to spark your kids’ imagination and creativity. You might find yourself giggling, too!

    Created by Debbie Helton from The Craft Shack


    • Wood blocks cut from a 2-by-4-inch piece of lumber
    • Sandpaper
    • Craft paint
    • A paintbrush
    • An array of junk, such as bottle caps, plastic spoons, pop tabs, old keys, nuts, bolts and washers — almost anything can be used!
    • An array of craft materials, such as pipe cleaners, yarn, googly eyes, ribbon pieces, zipper pieces and buttons
    • Glue
    • A creative imagination

    (PARENTS: Cut 2-by-4 into a 2-by-4-by-3-inch size. Then, using sandpaper, smooth out block.)

    1. Use your imagination to decide who or what you want your Blockhead to be.
    2. Paint your wood and let it dry.
    3. Gather materials, including glue, and start creating!
    4. Some creative ideas: Plastic spoons can be painted and used as ears; pop tabs can be used for noses, washers or bottle caps can be used for eyes. There’s no limit to your imagination!

    Go green at The Craft Shack, a creative recycled arts and crafts studio for ages 8 to 108. The Craft Shack has space for a great girls night out, birthday parties and other artsy-craftsy events. 407-448-1375




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    Disney on Ice Presents Frozen in Orlando


    Disney On Ice presents Frozen visits Orlando from September 5 to September 7 for seven performances at the Amway Center; tickets go on sale June 3 at 10 a.m.

    The Academy Award® winning tale will be told live for the first time in this production, capturing the dynamic between two royal sisters, Anna and Elsa.  Anna, a girl with an extraordinary heart, embarks on an epic journey to find her sister, the magical Elsa, who is determined to remain secluded as she finally feels free to test the limits of her powers. Rugged mountain man Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven, the lovable and hilarious snowman Olaf and the mystical trolls help Anna along the way in this story about love conquering fear. Audiences will get to sing along with such musical masterpieces as “Let it Go,” “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “Fixer Upper.”

    In Disney On Ice presents Frozen, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse take the audience through the magical story based in Arendelle, with special appearances by beloved Disney princesses and favorite characters from Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story and Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King, who come together to prove that true love is the greatest power of all.  Director Patty Vincent says, “Our goal is to showcase these heartwarming characters in a way that allows the audience to cheer and sing along throughout this emotional journey.”

    To create a completely immersive experience for the audience, the set design will encompass the space from the ice surface up through the air, drawing everyone into the story and closer to the characters. Families will feel that they are trekking up to the North Mountains with Anna, Kristoff and Sven, and they will tangibly experience the storm inside Elsa.  Elsa’s magic will be enhanced by state-of-the art special effects while her emotions will be conveyed through powerful skating.

    Where: Amway Center, 400 West Church Street – Suite 200, Orlando, Florida 32801

    Dates and Times of Performances:  
    Friday, September 5 at 7:00 p.m.
    Saturday, September 6 at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    Sunday, September 7 at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

    Ticket Prices and Purchase:
    Tickets start at $16.  $65 Front Row, $39 Premium, $30, $22, $16
    (Ticketmaster service charges and facility fees not included.) All seats are reserved, and tickets are now on sale to the public.  Tickets are available at or, at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone for information only: 407-440-7900).  For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740.

    For a complete list of tour dates, visit the Disney On Ice website ( and stay current on the latest developments through social media, including instructions on how to access presale codes for tickets as early as May 20th:

    ·       Facebook  (
    ·       Twitter  (@DisneyOnIce/@NicoleFeld (show’s producer twitter feed))
    ·       YouTube  (

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    Curious George Returns to Orlando Science Center


    Get Curious with Everyone’s Favorite Monkey
    Exhibit and Feature-Length Movie Opens Saturday, May 17

    The insatiable curiosity of Curious George — the little monkey who has captured the imagination and hearts of millions of children and adults for 65 years — comes to life Saturday, May 17 at Orlando Science Center. The exhibit, “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious!,” will introduce young children to Curious George’s world and lead visitors on a fun and meaningful math, science and engineering-based adventure. The exhibit will be on display at the Orlando Science Center through the summer.

    “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious” inspires young children’s natural curiosity as they explore early science, math and engineering through hands-on interactive play. The immersive exhibit environment takes place in the neighborhood where Curious George lives with his friend, The Man with the Yellow Hat.

    The exhibit’s content is based on educational standards developed by Minnesota Children’s Museum and an expert advisory panel to the PBS KIDS series, as well as national science and math standards for young children. The exhibit is designed, developed and built by Minnesota Children’s Museum in partnership with Universal Studios Consumer Products Group.

    The immersive exhibit environment takes place where Curious George and The Man with the Yellow Hat live. Insatiably curious, George lives to find new things to discover, touch, spill and chew. Learn like George — through direct experiences and problem solving.

    This engaging exhibit features several areas, including:

    Apartment Building: Operate wheels to move George on pulleys from window to window. Climb the fire escape and climb inside to play with color, light and shadow.

    Sidewalk Produce Stand: Play customer or salesperson and explore shape, sorting, weighing and counting with fruit and vegetables.

    Construction Site: Climb into the construction trailer and design a building, then make use of a bounty of building materials and get to work constructing different structures and using machines to move materials.

    City Park: Enjoy the urban green space: rest or give a hug to a full-size George and take a picture! Our youngest visitors will enjoy our busy wall activities for babies and toddlers.

    Mini Golf: Use pipes, ramps, funnels, turntables, bumpers and force to experiment with physics and engineering as you putt through three holes of mini golf.

    Space Rocket: Climb into the rocket Curious George took on his space adventure! Catch a glimpse of George in his space suit then take a picture from the control station and email it home.

    Farm: Take a vacation to the country and visit the farm. Experience cause and effect and use wind power to move yard art like whirligigs, windmills, windsocks, and wind chimes. Build your own whirligig and care for the farm animals.

    Museum Within the Museum: Learn new things about George when you visit the Museum within the Museum. Follow H.A. and Margaret Rey’s work, the escape from France to safety during World War II that saved the Curious George manuscript, and Curious George throughout the years.

    The return engagement of “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious” features the 2,500-square-foot experience as compared to its first run at the Science Center in spring 2011 which was the 1,500-square-foot version.

    And for four days only (May 15 – May 18), see “Curious George” in the Digital Adventure Theater: A National Geographic Experience. When The Man In The Yellow Hat befriends Curious George in the jungle, they set off on a non-stop, fun-filled journey through the wonders of the big city toward the warmth of true friendship. The 88-minute-long film features the voice talents of Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore.

    The exhibit “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious” and the film “Curious George is included with admission to Orlando Science Center, which is $19 for adults and $13 for youth (ages 3 – 11). Tickets include access to all four floors of exhibits, giant screen and 3-D educational films, one Hollywood feature-length film, and live programming.

    For more information, call 407.514.2000 or visit

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    Gone With The Wind: Reel To Real

    “Frankly, My Dear…”

    The Orange County Regional History Center Celebrates
    75th Anniversary of Gone With The Wind: Reel To Real

    See Gone With the Wind (1939) on TMC.  TM & © 2007 Turner Classic Movies.  A Time Warner Company.  All Rights Reserved.

    See Gone With the Wind (1939) on TMC. TM & © 2007 Turner Classic Movies. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.

    The exhibition Gone With the Wind: Reel to Real, commemorates the 75th anniversary of one of the most popular films ever made. The nationally significant exhibition relives the magic of the iconic novel and film through artifacts and memorabilia. The exhibition features original gowns, costumes and artifacts of the film and is derived entirely from one collector, James Tumblin, who has the largest privately-held collection of memorabilia from the film.

    James Tumblin, who was a former head of the Universal Studios makeup and hair department, started his collection in 1962 when he purchased the first dress from the film for only $20. “I was doing research for a film and looking at costumes, and noticed there was this dress lying on the floor. I went over to pick it up when someone told me, ‘don’t bother we’re throwing it away’, says Tumblin. I had no idea where it was from. I saw the label that read Selznick International Scarlett, and I realized I was holding something from Gone With the Wind.” Actress Vivien Leigh wore this dress during the attack at Shantytown scene in Gone With the Wind. It is featured in the exhibit Gone With the Wind: Reel to Real.

    Tumblin’s collection now includes more than 300,000 authentic Gone With the Wind items including, says Tumblin, three Oscars won by cast members. The exhibition runs August 16 – November 30, 2014 at the History Center. A series of special events and a VIP reception will be presented including a grand opening August 16.  “We are excited to have the opportunity to host Mr. Tumblin’s collection of Gone With the Wind memorabilia. What better way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the film’s premier than to bring this exhibit to Central Florida. We know our guests will be thrilled to discover the history behind the making of the movie and see all of the costumes and items from Gone With the Wind. Mr. Tumblin’s collection is a must-see and a great way to find out the story behind one of the few movies to have shaped our culture and how we think about history.” Michael Perkins, Curator of Exhibits.

    Released in 1939 and based on Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gone With the Wind, the movie’s depiction of pre-Civil War American South and Reconstruction “continues to resonate in the national consciousness.  It is captivating and enthralling, heartfelt and ironic, troubling and comforting, repulsive and compelling—all at once!” wrote popular culture historian, Spencer Downing, Ph.D. in 2007.  Both the book and the movie have helped define our impressions of the South—from the stereotypes of African Americans to Southern belles, to Yankee scoundrels—shaping our memories throughout the 20th century and even into the 21st century.  To explore these contradictions  and our impressions of both the novel, the movie and this time period in American history, the Orange County Regional History Center is planning a series of programs throughout the exhibit’s stay.

    About the Orange County Regional History Center

    The Orange County Regional History Center, housed in a restored historic five-story 1927 courthouse in downtown Orlando, showcases the vast collection of the Historical Society of Central Florida, Inc. The museum features three floors of permanent exhibits and presents nationally limited-run exhibitions. The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and accredited by the American Association of Museums. We honor the Past, Explore the Present to Shape the Future. We do this through preserving our local history, acting as a repository for the community’s artifacts, archives and collections, and through providing a place for non-partisan dialogue on our community and history, through educational programs and exhibits, which reinforce that we all are part of history.

    The Orange County Regional History Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. General admission during the exhibit is $15; seniors (60+), students, and military with I.D. $13; and children ages 5-12 $12. Historical Society Members and children ages 4 and under are free. Parking is available at the adjacent Orlando Public Library garage on Central Blvd. For general information, call 407-836-8500 or visit

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    YOLO: 100 Things to Do This Summer in Central Florida

    Words by Regina Knabe

    Click the link to download the PDF: YOLO: 100 Things to Do This Summer in Central Florida

    Climb 213 steps to the top of the tallest lighthouse in Florida at Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. 4931 S. Peninsula Dr., Ponce Inlet, 386-761-1821

    2. Walk through an inversion tunnel and be upside down at WonderWorks. 9067 International Dr., Orlando, 407-351-8800

    3. View an icon. The Lake Eola Fountain show, complete with music and lights, is daily at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. throughout the summer. 512 E. Washington St., Orlando, 407-246-4484

    4. Wield a sword at the Orlando Fencing Club. Kids classes are Mondays at 6 p.m. at the College Park Community Center. 2393 Elizabeth Ave., College Park, 321-246-1813

    5. Monkey around in the treetop ropes course at Zoom Air Adventure Park. Located at the Central Florida Zoo, Zoom Air offers kids an adventure in the trees they’ll never forget. 3755 N.W. U.S. Hwy. 17-92, Sanford, 407-330-0767

    6. Drift on a tube while relaxing in this 70-degree natural spring at Kelly Park. Bring your own tube, or find tubes at rental shops near the entrance. 400 E. Kelly Park Rd., Apopka, 407-245-1902

    7. Climb the walls at Aiguille Rock Climbing Center. With 10,000 square feet of climbing, there is a wall for all levels of ability. 999 Charles St., Longwood, 407-332-1430

    8. Reach terminal velocity (or close to it!) at iFly Indoor Skydiving. Flyers as young as 3 years old may enjoy this simulated free fall in a 45-foot flight chamber. 6805 Visitors Cir., Orlando, 407-903-1150

    9. Smooch among the flowers on date night at Leu Gardens, which provides an outdoor movie experience on select Friday evenings. Bring your own food, or get some grub from the Curbie’s food truck. 1920 N. Forest Ave., Orlando, 407-246-2620

    10. Count the butterflies, or spend the day trying, at Lukas Butterfly Encounter. It’s one of the largest native butterfly conservatories in the state. 1909 Slavia Rd., Oviedo, 407-365-6163

    11. Volunteer! There are so many ways to help others, and kids can help too. Hands On Orlando has tons of opportunities. 407-740-8652

    12. Zip through the treetops, 65 feet high, on one of eight zip lines at Zip Orlando’s Canopy Tours. Tours are 1.5 to 3 hours long. 4509 S. Orange Blossom Tr., Kissimmee, 407-808-4947

    13. View eight counties from the 22-story-high glass-enclosed observation deck at The Citrus Tower. 141 N. Hwy. 27, Clermont, 352-394-4061

    14. Become a chocolatier at Farris and Foster’s Chocolate Factory. Create your own creamy, dreamy chocolate yummy goodness. For the best value, check out family night. 4875 New Broad Cir., Orlando, 407-770-1607

    15. Cruise through the Winter Park chain of lakes on a guided Scenic Boat Tour. 312 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-644-4056

    16. Organize a pet food drive for The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Central Florida. Your donations go directly toward the animals’ care. Visit either of the two facilities. Orlando and Sanford, 407-351-7722

    17. Soar high above Lake Dora on a seaplane. Jones Bros. & Co. offers a variety of adventurous splash and dash seaplane tours. You can even customize pickup and drop-off to your private location. 150 E. Ruby St., Tavares, 352-508-1800

    18. Pick your own veggies at Hydroeats. Learn about hydroponic farming, and make a salad for dinner. Choose from a variety of hydroponically grown summer vegetables. 18430 S.R. 19, Groveland, 352-429-0686

    19. Battle Darth Vader at Jedi Training Academy in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Register early for this unique experience,
    as the place only allows 12 potential Padawans per show. 351 S. Studio Dr., Lake Buena Vista, 407-939-5277

    20. Witness a live venom extraction from some of the most dangerous snakes in the world at Reptile Discovery Center. The venom is used for making antivenom that is shipped worldwide. 2710 Big John Dr., Deland, 386-740-9143

    21. Throw clay on a potter’s wheel to create a bowl from start to finish at Super Awesome Cool Pottery. 6100 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, 407-452-2452


    22. Hold a family food-tasting competition at any Orlando’s Food Trucks event. Check the website for daily, weekly and monthly events throughout Central Florida.

    23. Be a paleontologist and dig for authentic fossils at Dinosaur World. You’ll be transported back in time as you explore more than 150 life-sized dinosaurs. 5145 Harvey Tew Rd., Plant City, 813-717-9865

    24. Drum by the light of the moon at Dandelion Communitea Cafe’s Full Moon Drum Circle. 618 N. Thornton Ave., Orlando, 407-362-1864

    25. Grab your camera, and head to Downtown Disney for a hidden Mickey scavenger hunt. 1490 E. Buena Vista Dr., Orlando, 407-939-6244

    26. Discover how boats are made at the Regal Boats Factory Tour, Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. 2300 Jetport Dr., Orlando, 407-851-4360

    27. Power a swan-shaped paddleboat at Lake Eola. 512 E. Washington St., Orlando, 407-246-4484

    28. Catch air on a half pipe at Orlando Metro Skateboard Academy. Skateboarding classes are offered for kids age 4 and up. Don’t worry if you don’t have the equipment; they have rentals. 4624 L.B. McLeod Rd., Orlando, 407-650-8171

    29. Stargaze at Seminole State College’s Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium. 100 Weldon Blvd., Sanford, 407-708-4722

    30. Paddle your way through the bioluminescent Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon. You’ll be awe-inspired by nature’s watery illumination show. Titusville,

    31. Milk a cow at Green Meadows Petting Farm. 1368 S. Poinciana Blvd., Kissimmee, 407-846-0770

    32. Touch a moon rock at Kennedy Space Center. 6225 Vectorspace Blvd., Titusville, 866-737-5235

    33. Land a triple toe loop at RDV Ice Den—or just try to stay upright! 8701 Maitland Summit Blvd., Orlando, 407-916-2550

    34. Treasure hunt with your smartphone or GPS. The possibilities are endless. Start by reading the Geocaching 101 guide at


    35.Play a game of life-sized chess with your kids at Winter Park Village.

    36. Touch an alligator at Jungle Adventures. 26205 E. Colonial Dr., Christmas, 407-568-2885

    37. Glide through the air as you go parasailing at Sammy Duvall’s Watersports Centre. Disney’s Contemporary Resort,407-939-0754

    38. Go fly a kite! Check out the worldwide database of the best places to fly a kite anywhere:

    39. Take in a free family-friendly movie at Enzian Theater in Maitland, during the KidFest Summer Movie Series.

    40. Wave good-bye to the cruise ships at Jetty Park as they set sail out of Port Canaveral. 400 Jetty Park Rd., Cape Canaveral, 321-783-7111

    41. Get sweaty and eat watermelon at the Watermelon 5K on July 4 at 7 a.m. Register your children for the shorter kids run.
    N. Mills Ave., Orlando, 407-898-1313

    42. Sing along with local children’s recording artist Mr. Richard at one of his free shows.

    43. Rent a “skate mate” for your little skaters so they can feel confident about roller-skating. Let’s Skate is a great value, and the extra $5 for the skate mate is totally worth it to help your kiddos feel a better sense of achievement. 14207 W. Colonial Dr., Winter Garden, 407-614-3812

    44. Touch a stingray at the Marine Science Center. 100 Lighthouse Dr., Ponce Inlet, 386-304-5545

    45. Jump, bounce, leap and roll off the walls at Boing! Jump Center. 532 S. Econ Cir., Oviedo, 407-542-7844

    46. Go back in time at 1876 Heritage Inn. This postal museum is housed in what was the first post office in the area. 300 S. Volusia Ave., Orange City,

    47. Cloud-watch. Find shapes in the sky on a cloudy day at beautiful Gemini Springs. 37 Dirksen Dr., Deltona, 386-668-3810

    48. Hit the trails on June 7—National Trails Day. Go to to find trails near you.

    49. Sign the Declaration of Independence at The Presidents Hall of Fame, one of the largest depositories of presidential memorabilia in the nation. 123 N. Hwy. 27, Clermont, 352-394-2836

    50. Catch him if you can! The JiggleMan captivates all ages with his zany physical humor. He is an eight-time David Letterman guest.

    51. Adopt a bird at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. 1101 Audubon Way, Maitland, 407-644-0190

    52. Dance like no one’s watching at Friday Night Live, Cranes Roost Park’s free live music series. 274 Cranes Roost Blvd., Altamonte Springs, 407-571-8863

    53. Grow a Tower Garden. Start with a vertical garden greenhouse tour at Living Towers. 19621 Lake Lincoln Lane, Eustis, 352-357-4453

    54. Become a passenger on one of the world’s most famous ships at Titanic the Experience. 407-248-1166

    55. Cool off in the largest library in Central Florida. Orlando Public Library, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, 407-835-7323

    56. Splash all week on your very own splash pad tour. Hours and prices vary, so call before you go: Capehart Park (Orlando) 407-254-9160, City of Oviedo Splash Zone 407-971-5570, Downey Park Splash Playground (Orlando) 407-245-9180, Dr. P. Phillips Community Park 407-254-9038, Lake Mary Splash Pad 407-324-3068, Trotwood Park (Winter Springs) 407-327-6597; Fort Mellon Park (Sanford) 407-688-5103

    Chocolate Kingdom

    Chocolate Kingdom

    57. Follow a cocoa bean’s journey from a cacao tree to a chocolate bar at Chocolate Kingdom’s interactive factory adventure tour. This is where true chocoholics come to learn about “the food of the gods.” Make your very own chocolate bar at the end of the tour. Sweet! 2858 Florida Plaza Blvd., Kissimmee, 407-705-3475

    58. Rent a River-bana, and get away for a day at Wekiva Island. 1014 Miami Springs Rd., Longwood, 407-862-1500

    59. Watch Rapunzel escape her tower at Orlando Shakespeare Theater from June 19 through July 27, 2014. 812 E. Rollins St., Orlando, 321-622-2284

    60. Celebrate National Watermelon Day on August 3.

    61. Build something at Lowe’s Build and Grow program. Saturdays at 10 a.m.

    62. Read enough books to earn a free pizza from Pizza Hut’s Book It! program.

    63. Savor a fresh-baked authentic German treat from Yalaha Bakery. Check out the events calendar, and schedule a tour.
    8210 C.R. 48, Yalaha, 352-324-3366

    64. Plunge toward the earth on the largest skycoaster in the world at Fun Spot Kissimmee. This giant swing will hoist you 300 feet and let you go, so you can soar through the air at upwards of 75 miles per hour. 2850 Florida Plaza Blvd., Kissimmee, 407-397-2509

    65. Row a canoe through the cool waters at Blue Spring State Park, and look for manatees. 2100 W. French Ave.,
    Orange City, 386-775-3663

    66. Play Frisbee golf at the UCF Arboretum. The nine-hole disk golf course is fun for everyone. 4312 Scorpius St., Orlando,

    67. Go on a helicopter ride over Orlando attractions at Air Florida Helicopter Tour. 8990 International Dr., Orlando, 407-354-1400

    68. Knock down all 10 pins for free. There are several ways for kids to bowl for free. Learn more at

    69. Take a sewing class at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores (for kids age 5 and older).


    Showcase of Citrus

    70. Feed an orange to a cow from the top of the world’s largest 4×4 at Showcase of Citrus’ Swamp Safari and Eco Tour. Tour a working 2,500-acre estate. With 70 varieties of citrus, zebras and more, this is a truly unique experience. A reservation is recommended. 5010 U.S. Hwy. 27, Clermont, 352-394-4377

    71. Feed farm animals any Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Good Neighbors Farmer’s Market and Petting Farm. 1101 Lloyds Lane, Oviedo,

    72. Cool off in the 72-degree natural spring at Wekiwa Springs State Park. 1800 Wekiwa Cir., Apopka, 407-884-2008

    73. Get an official Legoland driver’s license (kids ages 6-13) at the Ford Driving School at Legoland.

    74. Observe Galapagos Tortoises at the world’s third-largest turtle and tortoise museum. Chelonian Research Institute,
    402 S. Central Ave., Oviedo, 407-365-6347

    75. Host a foreign exchange student for the summer through Education First.

    76. Stomp the grapes at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards’ Harvest Festival. June 20-22,10 a.m.-5 p.m., Clermont, 800-768-WINE

    77. Stand in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway. Choose from multiple tours of this legendary racetrack.

    78. Feed and pet the dolphins at SeaWorld.

    79. Spend a night at the museum. Orange County Regional History Center, 65 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, 407-836-8580

    80. Dance-walk around Lake Eola with the Jolly Ninjas. Or, join any of their random attacks of kindness.

    81. Indulge in a chocolate volcano at Rainforest Cafe, the wild place to eat. 1800 E. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista, 407-827-8500

    82. Dig out your earplugs, and close your mouth to keep the bugs out during a Black Hammock Adventures airboat ride. 2356 Black Hammock Fish Camp Rd., Oviedo, 407-365-1244

    83. Safeguard your summer with classes at Children’s Safety Village. 910 Fairvilla Rd., Orlando, 407-521-4673

    84. Get a free Lego at the Lego Store Monthly Mini Model Build event on the first Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m. until supplies last (for children ages 6-14 only). Downtown Disney,  407-828-0065

    85. Investigate urban legend and strange phenomenon at Spook Hill. GPS coordinates: 27°, 54′, 43.35′N; 81°, 34 , 56.47′W.

    86. Get your feet wet on an ecotour at Marine Discovery Center. 520 Barracuda Blvd., New Smyrna Beach, 386-428-4828

    87. Experience the behaviors of nocturnal animals at the Night Hike at the Zoo event, Saturday, June 21, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the Central Florida Zoo. 3755 N.W. Hwy. 17-92, Sanford, 407-323-4450

    88. Compete in a triathlon. There are great kids events throughout the state—some are shorter than you think.

    89. Pitch a tent, and go camping. The Florida State Parks site can help you find just the right spot.

    90. Slip and slide into the natural sulfur spring at Wekiva Falls. Or, play in the waterfall. 30700 Wekiva River Rd., Sorrento, 352-383-8055

    91. See how animals are rescued, raised, rehabilitated and released at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge & Education Center.
    10525 Clapp Simms Duda Rd., Orlando, 407-568-5138

    92. Cheer for your team at an Orlando City Soccer game. Games are at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 407-478-4007

    93. Listen to the bells, stroll through the hills and have a scenic picnic lunch at Bok Tower Gardens.

    94. Tour an orange juice factory at Florida’s Natural. 20160 U.S. Hwy. 27, Lake Wales, 863-679-4110

    95. See the oldest fire truck in Central Florida at Orlando Fire Museum. 814 E. Rollins St., Orlando, 407-898-3138

    96. Take a ride on the Orange Blossom Cannonball vintage steam train. 352-742-7200

    97. See, touch and sit inside of retired military vehicles and aircrafts at the Corporal Larry E. Smedley National Vietname War Museum. 3400 North Tanner Rd., Orlando, 407-601-2864

    98. Learn about Florida ecosystems and conservation at Lyonia Environmental Center. 2150 Eustance Ave., Deltona, 386-789-7207

    99. Get crafty at Lakeshore Learning. Free kiddie crafts are offered every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 335 E. S.R. 436, Fern Park, 407-260-5566


    Photo and recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids

    100. Make your own Fro-Yo at home. Ingredients: 2 bananas (chopped), 3 cups lowfat yogurt, 1 cup pineapple (chopped), 1⁄4 cup caramel dip. Directions: (1) Place bananas in freezer bag and freeze overnight. (2) Blend bananas, yogurt and pineapple in blender until thick and smooth. Portion and freeze 25 minutes. (3) Drizzle with caramel dip.

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    Hook Kids on Fishing


    The City of Casselberry, Friends of the Park, and Fish Florida have teamed up to present an exciting day of adventure at Secret Lake Park with the Hook Kids on Fishing event Saturday, May 17 from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.. This free family event will feature a fishing clinic that will teach kids how to fish.

    After the fishing clinic, each child will be able to take home their very own fishing pole and tackle box. (All children must be accompanied by an adult family member.) A free lunch will be provided for all participants.

    Bring the whole family to enjoy the Hook Kids on Fishing event and build special outdoor memories that will last a lifetime! This event is sponsored by the City of Casselberry, Friends of the Park, and Fish Florida.

    REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED as this clinic is limited to the first 100 children under 16 years of age. Call 407-262-7700, ext. 1576 to register.

    Secret Lake Park is located at 200 N. Triplet Lake Drive in Casselberry. For more information visit the City of Casselberry website at, email Mario Algarin

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    Avalon Art Installation


    Children of Avalon Park, in East Orlando, will have the opportunity to contribute to an art installation that will be displayed in the office building of Avalon Park Group.

    Throughout the month of April, kids of all ages are welcomed to participate in an arboreal art project. Children will create colorful leaves that will be added to a large tree to represent the tightly knit neighborhood. The collaboration will culminate in a grand art display and will be a beautiful addition to the Avalon Park Group office lobby.

    “The tree is symbolic of how deeply rooted we become as a community when we support and care for one another,” said Tiffany Hill Brittain, owner of Abrakadoodle of Orlando.

    “I’ve heard Beat Kahli say that his vision when creating Avalon Park was to create a place where people could be born, grow up, and spend their final days in one place,” continued Brittain. “We are based here in Avalon Park; this project is especially important to us. We work with people of all ages and artistic abilities, and I wanted all of them to have the opportunity to participate in the creation of Avalon’s first community art installation.”

    Abrakadoodle of Orlando is sponsoring this project and will be present at community events this month. Young students in their comprehensive art program will each contribute, but those who are not Abrakadoodle kids will get the opportunity to take part, as well. The art company is hosting booths at various local events in the East Orlando area.

    The art installation will be unveiled on May 17th, 2014, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. during an opening reception sponsored by the Avalon Park Foundation, in the Avalon Park Group Lobby, located at 3680 Avalon Park E Blvd. Artwork from Abrakadoodle’s Avalon art classes will be displayed, as well. Children will gain a real art-opening experience and get the chance to proudly display their works of art. Avalon Park Group will provide refreshments. Members of the community are encouraged to attend the presentation of the beautiful art installation.

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    Easter at Outdoor World



    Families are invited to celebrate Easter at Bass Pro Shops this spring by enjoying free photos with the Easter Bunny, crafts for the kids, and an old-fashioned Easter egg hunt. This free, family Easter event is hosted at Bass Pro Shops 64 stores across the U.S and Canada from Saturday, April 12 to Sunday, April 20*.

    The Easter Bunny is a favorite holiday symbol for many children, and families are invited to bring the kids to their nearest Bass Pro Shops store to have their FREE 4×6 photo taken with the Easter Bunny during the following days and times:

    • Saturdays and Sundays, April 12-13 and 19-20 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

    • Monday-Thursday, April 14-17 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

    • Friday, April 18 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.

    The Bass Pro Shops store in Vaughn, Ontario, will offer the free photo opportunities at the following times:

    • Monday through Thursday, April 14-17 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    • Saturdays, April 12 and 19, and Sunday, April 13 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Kids ages 2-10 will have a blast searching for eggs during Bass Pro Shops old-fashioned Easter egg hunt.

    • Saturdays and Sundays, April 12-13 and 19-20 • 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

    • Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. at main entrance. • Hunt starts promptly at 2 p.m. • Kids that find five eggs can return to registration for candy.

    Another fun activity includes holiday crafts for the kids, including:

    • Color an Easter Egg

    Saturday and Sunday, April 12-13 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (while supplies last/crafts may vary)

    • Color a Bunny Frame or create a Scratch Art Bunny Craft

    Friday, April 18, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

    Saturday and Sunday, April 19-20 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (while supplies last/crafts may vary)

    Head to Bass Pro Shops April 12-20 where families can enjoy making special Easter memories.  For more information visit and click on the local store link for more details.

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    10 Family Activities for Valentine's Day


    Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about romantic love. Show your kids how much you love them by doing some of these fun V-Day activities.

    Words by  Tiffany Doerr Guerzon

    1. Slip a Valentine card under each kid’s pillow and tell them to check underneath for a fun surprise when they wake up.

    2. For breakfast, cut out toast with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Spread the heart shape with cream cheese and top with strawberry or raspberry jam. Then, use the rest of the bread by placing the piece of toast with the heart cut out on a plate and filling the center with red berries. Wet the rims of wine glasses or plastic cups then dip into pink or red sugar. Fill the cups with sparkling apple juice.

    3. Draw a large, open heart on the bathroom mirror at kid-height with a dry erase marker. Write “I love” with an arrow pointing to the heart shape. When your child looks in the mirror to brush their teeth, his or her face will be in the heart!

    4. Glam up lunch boxes by using your heart cookie cutter to shape sandwiches. Include a treat of valentine candy and—of course—a love note.

    5. Draw a trail of hearts on the driveway or sidewalk in red and pink chalk. Kids can follow the path by hopping from one to the next on the way to the car or bus stop.

    6. Visit a local nursing home and hand out flowers or valentines to the residents.

    7. Cook up a valentine-themed dinner. Serve heart-shaped individual pizzas, or top pizza with heart-shaped pepperoni. (Cut pepperoni pieces into hearts with a mini cookie cutter.) Many pizza companies offer heart shaped pizza for takeout or delivery on V-Day as well. Serve with pink milk or sparkling juice.

    8. During dinner, have each family member say why they love the person sitting next to them. Go around the table one way, and then do it again in the opposite direction.

    9. After dinner, cuddle up in PJs to watch a Valentine’s Day show such as a Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Hurray! It’s Valentine’s Day, Winnie the Pooh, A Valentine for You, WordWorld: My Fuzzy Valentine, or Madly Madagascar.

    10. Last but not least, don’t forget story time! Try one of these love-themed books: Queen of Hearts by Mary Englebreit, Love, Splat by Rob Scotten, Snowy Valentine by David Peterson, I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt or Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day is Cool by James Dean.

    Spread the love by trying one or more of these ideas this February 14th. By replacing candy and gifts with time spent together, you will surely brighten your kids’ days and make fun family memories.

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    PLAY Calendar – January 2014

    Check out our new PLAY calendar, packed full of local fun for your family!

    Download a PDF of the January 2014 PLAY Calendar here.



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    The 12 Days of Christmas


    Downtown Winter Garden is transformed into a spectacular Holiday Wonderland for the month of December filled with all the trimmings. This charming cobblestone street is filled with locally-owned stores and award-winning restaurants, so start your holiday season off right in a low key, family-friendly downtown environment.  Also, visit A Very Merry Farmers Market on Saturdays with Santa in December from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  There is also Santa’s Christmas Tree Village where you can buy a fresh Christmas tree and all the trimmings.  The Garden Theatre will be hosting a myriad of holiday concerts, movies and live performances.  There are free concerts every Friday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Gazebo for Fridays on the Plaza in the heart of Downtown.

    Enjoy live music, holiday movies, lights, Christmas trees, “A Very Merry Farmers Market,” live theatre, local food and an eclectic mix of stores that will help provide that perfect gift!

    Be sure to check out the Free Holiday Movie Night at the Pavilion on Saturday, December 14th. They’ll be playing Shrek the Halls at 6:30 p.m. and Miracle on 34th Street at 7:00 p.m. Bring a blanket or a chair.  Refreshments will be provided for purchase.

    Visit and click on special events for details.


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    Aquatica Announces Two Special Offers


    Aquatica is offering big savings on single-day admission through the end of the year with tickets as low at $19 a day. This limited-time offer is only available online, and is limited to 6 tickets per transaction. Each ticket requires a name that must match with photo ID upon park entry. Tickets will be date specific and only valid on the date selected.  Tickets must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance to receive the offer. Limited quantities of $19 tickets per day are available.

    For Florida residents who would like to visit Aquatica Orlando again and again, they can purchase an Annual Pass with EZpay, the convenient monthly payment plan.  Back for a limited time, residents can enjoy an entire year of splashin’ family fun for only $8 per month with EZpay.

    Even during the fall, the waters are always warm and comfortable at Aquatica Orlando. Open throughout the holidays, Aquatica Orlando sends guests through racing rides, glistening lagoons and winding rivers all kept at a warm 82 degrees. Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, offers unique attractions that promise unlimited fun that will delight all ages and interests this holiday season.

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    Red Tail Pilots


    Looking for something meaningful to do with the family to honor Veterans Day? Take them to see the film Red Tails at the Orlando Science Center, and fly like one too.

    Friday, November 8 – Monday, November 11
    The activities include:

    • Opportunities to fly a Red Tails flight simulator courtesy of Lockheed Martin
    • Showings of the 2012 film “Red Tails” in the Digital Adventure Theater: A National Geographic Experience
    • Science of flight activities such as the Egg Drop Challenge, which emphasizes the engineering design process and demonstrates an understanding of aviation concepts such as gravity and lift
    • Microsoft Flight modules provided by Vision of Flight

    HISTORY LESSON: The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. armed forces. There were 932 pilots trained at Tuskegee, Ala., of whom 356 airmen were considered an elite group of fighter pilots that were sent to various bases in Europe. Flying escort for heavy bombers, the pilots earned an impressive combat record. The Allies called these talented airmen “Red Tails” or “Red-Tail Angels” because of the distinctive crimson paint predominantly applied on the tail section of the unit’s aircraft. Today, there are fewer than 50 surviving Red Tail pilots.

    Experience these activities with admission to Orlando Science Center which is $19 for adults and $13 for youth (ages 3 – 11). Tickets include all Red Tails weekend activities as well as access to all four floors of exhibits, giant screen and 3-D educational films, one Hollywood feature-length film, and live programming.

    For more information, call 407.514.2000 or visit

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    Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents: Legends

    elephants-142_20120107_11443-Edit Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is proud to present LEGENDS! The brand new show plays the Amway Center in Orlando January 9-12, 2014.
    Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings the unbelievable to children of all ages in an all-new show at the Amway Center. Experience unimaginable family fun as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and the mysterious: a Unicorn, a Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth
    Performance Schedule:
    Thursday, January 9 at 7:30 p.m.
    Friday, January 10 at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, January 11 at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, January 12 at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
    Ticket Prices and Purchase:
    Tickets for Thursday and Friday performances are: $75 (Front Row), $35 (Premium Seats), $27, $23 and $16
    Tickets for Saturday and Sunday performances are: $75 (Front Row), $40 (Premium Seats), $30, $23 and $16
    Visit or to purchase tickets.
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    Winter Park Boat Parade


    The Rotary Club of Winter Park presents, along with Southeast Marine Sales, the 9th Annual Winter Park Boat Parade & Festival of Lights and Ski Show which will take place December 14th on Lakes Virginia and Osceola. The Winter Park Boat Parade and Festival of Lights is a fun, community-wide water parade with holiday-themed and lighted boats along the lakes’ shorelines.

    Event Schedule 

    3:30 pm: Water ski show presented by Southeast Marine Sales will be on Lake Virginia with viewing on the Rollins College campus by the Jump Ramp in front of the Campus Student Center/Swimming Pool. The area’s leading water skiers will be performing a one-hour ski show set to music. Over two dozen professional skiers will be pulled by Tige’ boats performing routines featuring jumps, multiple skiers’ acts, barefoot, wake boards, and high-performance equipment.

    4:00 pm to sundown: The Polasek Museum hosts the official viewing station and judging stand for the Winter Park Holiday Boat Parade, where the festivities kick off with live music, face painting, a sculptural Christmas tree unveiling with this year’s artist sculptor Amy Wieck and her apprentice, family art activities and Santa. This year’s parade will truly be an event to remember; watch as the historic Capen-Showalter House floats on top of a barge at the center of this spectacular procession around the lake. Witness this engineering marvel in action, truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Rotary Club of Winter Park hosts this fundraiser to benefit local non-profits, with food, wine and beer available for purchase. Admission to the Polasek Gardens for the Parade is FREE. Limited onsite parking will begin at 3:30 p.m. for a $5 donation. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, friends and family to The Polasek to enjoy a Winter Park holiday tradition. Additional public viewing of the boat parade at Dinky Dock (off Fairbanks Avenue) beginning at sundown. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Be sure to stop by at the WUCF tent and say hello! They will be on hand to emcee the festivities and play some great jazz music (including jazz with a holiday theme)! The Gazebros Band (Sheila Aquilia, lead vocal; Jack Byrd, vocal, guitar, mandolin, harp; Trevor Hall, vocal and guitar; Craig Taylor, vocal, guitar and banjo; Chip Weston, guitar and percussion) will be entertaining with selections culled from the great music of the 40s through the present time, with an emphasis on classic rock, folk, bluegrass, and blues. They will also be adding some “sing-along” holiday tunes for the evening. The Winter Park Public Library’s Spellbinders will perform/recite Christmas stories. Other musical offerings will include the “Minute Men,” an all-male, a cappella Winter Park-based choral group, performing Christmas carols live (approximately a 15- to 30-minute set).

    Sundown: The parade will begin on the east shore of Lake Virginia (near Dinky Dock) and proceed clockwise around the shores of Lake Virginia, navigating through the Palm Canal to Lake Osceola.

    About 6:30 pm: Boat parade passes in front of judges at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens and continues around Lake Osceola.

    CALL FOR BOATS: Organizers of the event are seeking resident and business boat entries. For resident boats there is no entry fee, and all local licensed area boat owners are invited to participate. Boat registration is required with applications available at or by calling 407-647-6294.

    Key Sponsors: Southeast Marine Sales; The Rotary Club of Winter Park; The Mayflower; Scenic Boat Tours of Winter Park; Winter Park Memorial Hospital; Costco; City of Winter Park Lakes and Waterways Department; Beck Realty, LLC; Francesco’s Ristorante-Pizzeria in Maitland; Rollins College; and the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens.

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    Family-Friendly Hiking Trails



    Enjoy the cool Fall weather by hitting the trails with the kiddos. With hundreds of local hikes to choose from, these are some of the best to enjoy with the family.

    Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake
    3401 S. Hiawassee Road, Orlando 32835
    Walk as little or as much of the loop as you like, as the trail is part sand and part paved. Watch for gopher tortoises, ducks and turtles. Then, run around on the big playground by Turkey Lake.

    • GPS: 28.500772, -81.475042
    • Best for: Spotting wildlife
    • Bonus: There’s a children’s farm along the trail.

    Lyonia Preserve
    2150 Eustace Ave., Deltona 32725
    The best place to see Florida scrub jays is right in your backyard. Pretend you’re Snow White in this teeny, tiny forest, where these colorful and curious birds often will come out to greet you.

    • GPS: 28.930217, -81.225438
    • Best for: Florida scrub jays
    • Bonus: There’s an interactive nature center and café at the trailhead.

    Oakland Nature Preserve
    747 Machete Trail, Oakland 34760
    A stroller-friendly boardwalk leads through marshes to the shores of Lake Apopka. Visit the nature center, and walk the gentle trails on the hills behind it.

    • GPS: 28.554992, -81.639834
    • Best for: Swamp creatures
    • Bonus: Antelope graze next door.

    Shingle Creek Regional Park’s Historic Babb Landing
    2491 Babb Road, Kissimmee 34746
    Paved trails lead past a historic homestead and playground to a landing along Shingle Creek. Wide-open spaces let the kids pedal fast while you keep an eye on them.

    • GPS: 28.318133, -81.457217
    • Best for: Biking
    • Bonus: Twistee Treat ice cream is less than a mile away.

    Trimble Park
    5802 Trimble Park Road, Mount Dora 32757
    Broad boardwalks parallel two lakes on this breezy peninsula. With a big playground beneath ancient live oaks, this is also a great picnic spot.

    • GPS: 28.765659, -81.652135
    • Best for: Bird watching
    • Bonus: Families can camp in the shady campground.
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    Festival of Trees


    The Orlando Museum of Art’s Council of 101 will present Central Florida’s favorite holiday event, the 27th Annual Festival of Trees, “All That Glitters,” opening November 16-24, 2013, from 10 am to 5 pm daily. Enjoy the sparkle, glitter and shine of the Festival with these special events:

    Thursday, November 14th 6-8 pm LIGHT UP THE HOLIDAYS

    $50 Per Person – Lighting of the Grand Tree – Pre-Festival Opening

    Friday, November 15th 7-11 pm THE GREAT GALA

    $125 Per Person – Preview Festival – A Gatsby Evening

    Tuesday, November 19th 10am-5pm SENIOR’S DAY

    $9 Per Senior – Celebrating Seniors

    Wednesday, November 20th 6:30-8:30 pm REINDEER ROMP

    $12 Per Person – Santa, activities and more!

    Friday, November 22nd 7-11:00 pm SHAKE, GLITTER & STROLL

    $40 Per Person – Happy Days – Good Times – Date Night!

    The Orlando Museum of Art will be filled with glimmer, entertainment and surprises that will be sure to enchant guests of all ages. The Festival of Trees will showcase awe-inspiring displays of designer deco­rated trees, wreaths and gingerbread creations and stunning holiday vignettes which are all available for purchase. Visitors will enjoy the gift boutique, the Toyland Town activity area, Holiday Garden, and a Festival Café, complete with live daily entertainment and much more!

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    Snow White Ballet for Families


    Kiddos too wiggly to sit through a long ballet? Good news! The Orlando Ballet offers a family series with an hour-length performance sure to keep their attention. Join in on family-friendly activities and photo opportunities too. Next weekend, catch the debut of Snow White retold and conceptualized by Orlando Ballet ballerina, Chiaki Yasukawa.  A new mother, Chiaki has managed to create a captivating version of this classic tale.  She was involved in every detail from script to choreography to casting and executing the movements with the cast. The scene with the seven dwarfs is not to be missed and her interpretation of mirror, mirror takes on a more contemporary approach. My daughter already has her Snow White costume pressed and primped for this magical fantasy performance.

    Saturday, October 19, 11 a.m.
    Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre
    Family Series – Ballet for young audiences. Arrive early with your family to enjoy family-friendly activities, story-telling and an opportunity to take pictures with the characters of the story. Doors open at 10AM. Tickets start at $25. Call the box office at 321-418-7632 today.


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    About the Writer:
    Tammara Kohler, owner of Fused Fashion, offers such services as personal shopping, wardrobe styling and fashion production. Tammara has provided a fresh and modern style to many national ad campaigns, editorial features and local celebrities walking the red carpet. She’s also setting the standard in kids fashion with Style Tot for PLAYGROUND Magazine.

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    Orlando Science Center School Break Camps

    Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 2.18.41 PM

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    Fall-Tastic Festivals


    SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular

    Freak out at these ghostly gatherings, fall festivals, and celebrations:

    Every Saturday and Sunday in October
    Brick or Treat
    Legoland Florida
    Your little Lego lovers will want to go all out for the costume contest at Brick or Treat. The prizes include Lego products and park tickets! They will also love the spooky scavenger hunt, the world’s largest Lego jack-o-lantern and a special Halloween-themed build.
    October 19th
    Lost Legends Haunted Trail
    Osceola County Historical
    Society’s Pioneer Village
    Only the bravest little goblins will navigate the Lost Legends Haunted Trail, but the rewards are great. Survivors can enjoy the haunted village, the pumpkin patch, the corn maze and a s’mores roast.
    October 19th – 20th and 26th – 27th
    ZOO Boo Bash
    Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
    Take a walk on the wild side for some not-so-scary trick-or-treating at the Central Florida Zoo. Be sure to bring your most boo-tiful costume, as a costume contest will be held at 1 p.m. each day.
    October 25th and 26th
    Oktoberfest at Celebration 
    Celebration Town Center
    Think that leaves don’t fall in Florida? They do in Celebration, where colorful leaves drop nightly on Market Street during Oktoberfest weekend. Hop on a hayride, paint a pumpkin, or stroll through the downtown area to enjoy the crisp fall air.
    October 26th
    Pumpkin Bash
    Winter Park Village
    Join PLAYGROUND Magazine for a frightfully fun time. After your costumed kiddos have decorated their own cupcakes and played Pumpkin Pick, local photographer Jessica Friend will be available to capture all the cuteness in a mini photo shoot!
    October 26th
    German American Society’s Oktoberfest
    381 Orange Lane, Casselberry 
    Oktoberfest can be a family affair! Bring the kids for the live music, Alpine dancing, face painting and bounce houses. We promise not to tell them you’re really there for the beer garden.
    October 26th
    Halloween Carnival of Screams 
    Riverside Park
    This family-friendly event will take place at 1600 Lockwood Blvd. in Oviedo. The event includes costume contests, carnival games, children’s activities, food, music and a frightening haunted house.
    Ocotber 26th
    Downtown Avalon Park
    Check out this Halloween hot spot for an evening of family fun featuring a haunted house, pumpkin carving and a costume parade. It’s spooky, but not scary, fun for the kiddos!
    October 27th
    Trick or Treat Safe Zone
    Orange County Regional History Center
    Trick-or-treat your way through three floors of haunted mazes, scavenger hunts and creepy crafts. Or, for a walk on the mild side, decorate a pumpkin in the museum’s own pumpkin patch.
    October 31st
    Waterford Lakes Town Center and Florida Mall &
    Bring the kiddies in costume to the fun, family-friendly Halloween events the in safe, well-lit, and climate-controlled environments at Waterford Lakes Town Center and Florida Mall. 
    November 2nd and 3rd
    Fall Fiesta in the Park
    Lake Eola Park
    As if the awesome playground and friendly swans weren’t enough to make a day at Lake Eola a hit, the Fall Fiesta in the Park features a huge kids zone with bounce houses, face painting, live music and clowns.
    September 10th – November 1st
    SeaWorld Spooktacular
    SeaWorld Orlando
    Dive into an ocean of Halloween fun with an under-the-sea dance party, crafts and games in Penelope’s Party Zone, then trick the kids into making their own treats at the apple and crispy rice treat decorating station (we promise they won’t complain!).
    September 10 – November 1
    Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

    Disney’s Magic Kingdom
    This limited-access party is a great way to experience Disney with shorter lines. Characters and guests dress in costumes, and enjoy trick-or-treating, a special HalloWishes fireworks show and the best Halloween Parade in town! 
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    Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra

    Screen shot 2013-10-04 at 2.27.10 PM

    The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 57th Season opens with an October 13th concert featuring all four of the organization’s orchestras and distinguished cellist David Bjella, who enjoys a successful career as both an educator and performer.

    The orchestras – Overture Strings, a string training orchestra with performers 7 to 14 years old; Prelude, whose musicians are age 9 to 15; Philharmonia, featuring 11 to 18-year-olds; and Symphonic, a pre-professional group whose members are age 13 to 20 – will present works from composers including Verdi, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. The Symphonic orchestra program will feature a piece for solo cello and orchestra with cellist David Bjella: currently Associate Professor of Cello and Director of the Chamber Music program at Stetson University and Co-Principal of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Michael Stern.

    Mr. Bjella will be performing Gabriel Faure’s Elegie for cello and orchestra; a piece he believes stands apart as both beautiful and emotive. When asked to speak about the piece Mr. Bjella:

    “It [The Elegie] is a solo cello piece with orchestra that is extremely emotional and gut wrenching at its core. It has the full range of dynamics and it is written in the incredibly dark key of c minor. It is also an “old friend” of mine and I absolutely love the way Faure has orchestrated the piece”.

    The most special and attractive aspect of this piece is a “dark singing quality I love… It should soar above the orchestra”. He says. “The biggest challenge is bringing across the emotional element of the music along with projecting beyond the symphonic sound.” This piece will be the special focus of the opening concert.

    The professor has spent time with various FSYO students helping them to strengthen their skills, but this will be the first time he has played with an FSYO orchestra in concert. “I love the FSYO! I have had students in this group for the last 20 years and I have found this group is quite professional in every way– the conductors, the administration, the students and parents.”

    Mr. Bjella sees playing for a live audience essential to a young developing musician. “Playing music with an audience is the best for any of us! There is an edge that comes with a live performance that one can never duplicate in the practice room or rehearsal. The art of communication is a wonderful thing to feel and react to as well. I love it and it is important for kids to experience that as well”.

    Audience members can join this exciting event by purchasing tickets, which range from $8 to $16, through the FSYO website (  The concert begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, October 13, at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, 401 W. Livingston St. This concert is part of the Season Subscription Package.

    ABOUT: The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra aims to educate and inspire Florida’s top young musicians through programs committed to strengthening musical talents and developing appreciation of the arts through classical music. The FSYO, in its 57th Concert Season, comprises three full orchestras and one string training orchestra made up of more than 250 students from eight Central Florida counties.
    Programs are sponsored in part by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs; the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; Darden Restaurant Foundation; Universal Orlando Foundation; and United Arts of Central Florida. The FSYO is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For more information, please visit

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    Arts and Manners K.A.M.P. for Kids


    Photo by Brittany Miller

    Sip tea with the Mad Hatter at K.A.M.P.

    A Kid’s arts and manners program at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes

    Saturday, October 19, 2013 from 1 to 4 p.m.

    On Saturday October 19th, The Elegant Way Foundation will launch K.A.M.P., Kid’s Arts & Manners Program, at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. K.A.M.P. will feature an interactive series of programs designed to teach children manners through classic children’s stories such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate FactoryAlice in Wonderland and more. Geared toward providing “edu-tainment”, each session offers KAMPers educational and entertaining instruction in areas such as social introductions, table etiquette, the spirit of giving and receiving gifts, how to be a gracious guest, the art of writing thank-you notes, and culminates with a dazzling ballroom dance lesson.
    The programs include fantastic prizes, fun trivia questions, movie and music favorites, and an award ceremony and presentation upon completion.
    The 2013-14 season kicks off with the Mad Hatter Tea Party Saturday, October 19th,  at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and costs $85 per child. To reserve a space online visit
    In addition to the kids, parents can enjoy a pampering visit to The Ritz-Carlton Spa while the children attend the K.A.M.P. program and choose a multi-service package that includes a massage and organic facial plus a glass of champagne for $269 or a choice of either a massage or facial and a Florida Fresh Manicure and Pedicure plus a glass of champagne for $245– to book online visit the Ritz Carlton Spa website.
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    A Night in New Orleans: A Magic Tree House Adventure




    The Orlando Shakespeare Theatre presents A Night in New Orleans: A Magic Tree House Adventure. Get ready for a night filled with music, ghosts, and the king of jazz himself as the beloved Magic Tree House characters, Jack and Annie, are transported to 1915 New Orleans. They must find a young Louis Armstrong and set him on the path to becoming the legend we know him as today. The show features a live band, a cast of skilled performers, and a powerful message about dreams, race, and possibilities.

    The show will open on October 17th, and will run till November 23rd. For tickets and show times visit



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    Family Day September 23


    With busy work schedules, after-school activities, and the many distractions that get in the way, it can be a daunting task to coordinator family time and dinnertime. Research conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University shows that the more time spent at the table together, the more likely your child will do better in school, and be less prone to anxiety and depression.

    To help parents, Informed Families has created a video game contest called “Family Dinner Dash” to learn how to overcome these obstacles. Children and parents can register at to play the retro-style challenge and compete for prizes. The grand-prize winner will win a $250 Publix gift card and six regional winners throughout the state will win a $100 Publix gift card. The entry deadline is September 24th and winners will be announced on October 1st.

    Informed families has also provided a list of tips you can implement now to make the most of dinnertime:

    • The dinner table should be an electronics-free zone—and this rule doesn’t just apply to the kids. Take a break from the outside world and focus on family.
    • Become a team—turn dinnertime into an event for the whole family. Let the kids help with the cooking, and show them how much you appreciate their participation. Assign a table-setter, and let him/her choose the place settings. Plan for next week’s dinner menu together, with each member of the family having input.
    • Make conversation the main course.  Use open-ended questions like “what was the funniest thing you saw today?” or “what was the best thing that happened to you today?” to get everyone talking and sharing.
    • Keep dinnertime positive. Avoid discussions about discipline, arguments, or broken rules. Make the dinner table a peaceful place for the whole family.
    • Always sit together—whether it’s at the table, out on the patio, or on a picnic blanket (even in its in your living room), make sure the family comes together for this time.
    • Make a “You Are Special Today” place setting and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, whatever they may be.
    • Have fun! Change things around and serve breakfast for dinner, with everyone in the family wearing their pajamas.
    • And remember, it’s the time together that counts—don’t stress over making an elaborate meal.
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    Sesame Street Presents: The Body


    Big Bird, Elmo and fellow Sesame Street residents are set to arrive at the Orlando Science Center Saturday, September 28th for the newest traveling exhibit Sesame Street Presents: The Body. Join your favorite characters for an engaging multimedia experience that’s all about you.

    Sesame Street Presents: The Body is set in the  fun, familiar world of Sesame Street where the lovable characters anchor an exciting hands-on, interactive experience. A result of Sesame Workshop’s initiative Healthy Habits for Life, Sesame Street Presents: The Body is an interactive exhibition created in response to the current childhood obesity crisis in the United States. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, and Thinkwell Design & Production created this experience to teach families about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially at an early age.

    The exhibit will feature three different education zones related to the human body: Your Insides, Your Outsides, and Staying Healthy. Each area has multiple activities to provide age-appropriate and exciting learning opportunities for your children.

    Experience Sesame Street Presents: The Body with admission to Orlando Science Center which is $19 for adults and $13 for youth (ages 3 – 11). Tickets include access to all four floors of exhibits, giant screen and 3-D educational films, one Hollywood feature-length film, and live programming. Get your tickets here.

    The exhibit will run from September 23th, 2013 to January 5th, 2014.




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    Talk Like a Pirate Day


    Ahoy, matey. Thursday, September 19th is National Talk Like a Pirate day. Though this day only encourages talking like a pirate, we thought a few pirate-themed activities would rock the boat, in a good way. Here’s a list of a few fun ideas for celebrating.

    Download Pirate Rush: Pirate Rush is a free game for iPhone and iPad that features high seas, romance, and of course, treasure. The object of the game is to rescue Princess Annie, if you can find her that is. You can get the app here

    Have a date night at Treasure Tavern: Pirate Dinner Adventure’s “dirty sister” show has been known to raise the bar on raunchy pirate behavior. The show is for adults only, and for good reason. Enjoy food, drinks and a live show that will get you wishing everyday was National Talk Like a Pirate Day.

    Take the Kids to Pirate’s Dinner Adventure: This is a dinner show for the whole family that is a must-see, not just on this pirate-themed occasion. Enjoy an interactive dining experience where talking like a pirate is more than encouraged.

    Visit Magic Kingdom’s “Pirate’s Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas”: This new interactive experience gets its guests in the pirate groove with a treasure hunt throughout Adventureland. Using pirate maps, guests engage in five different raids as they join the most lovable pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, in facing a whole slew of enemies.

    Take a Disney Pirate Cruise: Set out on the high sea’s for this two-hour treasure hunt. Children ages 4-12 will be donned with a red and white pirate’s hat as they board their maiden voyage. This one is just for the kids and the pirate crew, no parents allowed. At each “port of call” a new treasure awaits. At their final stop, they can share their booty while enjoying lunch. Cruises depart daily from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. from the Yacht and Beach Club, Grand Floridian, Caribbean Beach Resort and Port Orleans Riverside resorts


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    Penguins 3D


    Get ready for the coolest 3d movie ever! “Penguins 3D” is now playing at the Orlando Science Center.

    Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, “Penguins 3D” follows the life of a very special King Penguin, who returns to his birthplace in the sub-Antarctic. The Island is known as Penguin City, as it is home to nearly six million penguins, as well as hundreds of albatrosses, fur seals, and elephant seals.

    Join King Penguin on his journey to earn his place among his natural habitat and fulfill his destiny of finding a mate and building a family. What follows is the story of the most challenging time in a King Penguin’s life, when he is driven to nurture and defend his offspring against harsh weather and fierce predators.

    See “Penguins 3D” with admission to Orlando Science Center which is $19 for adults and $13 for youth. Tickets also include access to all four floors of exhibits, unlimited educational films, one Hollywood feature film and live presentations. “Penguins 3D” will run through the fall season, so don’t miss this epic event.

    For more information and show times, visit Visit the film’s website at

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    Arabian Nights Holiday Show


    Arabian Nights holiday show image

    Arabian Nights holiday show, Amirah’s Wish, is the perfect way to spend a night out with the family celebrating the holiday season. The show is performed on horseback and brings together characters such as Khadri the Genie and Santa Claus himself. The show runs from December 1st, to January 2nd at Arabian Nights in Kissimmee.

    Tickets may be purchased online at

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    Spooky Skate


    RDV Ice Den celebrates Halloween with “Spooky Skate,” on Saturday, October 26, from 2 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. The event will feature a costume contest, candy, games, and much more Halloween fun. Admission is $10.65, which includes tax and ice skate rental. Skaters are encouraged to come out dressed in their Halloween costumes and will receive $1 off of admission.

    To make a group reservation call 407-916-2666.

    RDV Sportsplex is located at 8701 Maitland Summit Blvd. just a 1/4 mile west of I-4.


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    Museum Day Live!


    On Saturday, September 28, 2013, the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens will open its doors free of charge along with over 1,400 other participating venues for the Ninth Annual Museum Day Live! This immensely successful program, in which the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens will emulate the free admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities, encourages learning and the spread of knowledge nationwide.

    The museum will be open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. With a focus on the importance of Historic Preservation, enjoy complimentary art activities in the Museum’s Gallery that the whole family will love! Learn about preserving your family’s history with a “Life Casting” demonstration by President of the Central FL Sculptors Guild, Amy Wieck. Preserve part of you in this hands-on demo! And then gather up at 11 a.m. for a special presentation by The Maitland Art Center’s Curator of History, Christine Madrid French, on The Capen House Preservation Project. What’s it all about? Find out the scoop from the Capen House Project Director herself.  Ask questions, be inspired, and learn about the POWER of Place. Have fun and get involved with your family and with historic places that matter in our community!

    Inclusive by design, Museum Day Live! fulfills Smithsonian Media’s mission to make cultural education accessible to everyone. For one day only, the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens will grant free access to visitors who download a Museum Day Live! ticket at

    The Museum Day Live! Ticket will be available to download at

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    Casselberry Art House Offers Parent/Child Workshops

    Casselberry Art House

    The Casselberry Art House offers many exciting classes throughout the year. Located in Casselberry at 127 Quail Pond Circle, the Art House serves the communities throughout Seminole County. In addition to six week art classes, Summer Art Academy, Date Night, Girl’s Night Out, and birthday parties, the Art House offers fun Parent/Child Workshops on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 1 to 3 p.m. During these one day workshops, families will work with a professional art instructor to create one-of-a-kind paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and more! Every month is a new project. All supplies are included and classes have limited seating, so please register early!

    Classes are $20 for residents and $25 for non-residents, and that includes both the parent and the child. Register now for upcoming workshops at

    Class Schedule:

    • September 21 – Clay Creations
    • October 19 – Casting Keepsakes
    • November 16 – Urban Plaster Refrigerator Magnets
    • December 14 – Winter Mosaics

    For more information or to view and register for any Casselberry Art House class visit or contact Ajay Monnett at 407-262-7700 x 1122 or

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    Magazine returns to Oviedo Mall for the third year of their annual Back to School Bash & After School Enrichment Expo. The event will be held on Saturday, August 3rd, from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. throughout the mall. This free family event will feature three kiddie fashion shows, DJ dance party, indoor rock climbing wall, interactive activities, swag bags, and after school enrichment vendors. Families can enjoy in store activities with Sears, Mad Science, Teddy Mountain, Spoil Me Sweet Bakery, and more. The Back to School Bash & After School Enrichment Expo is sponsored by Primrose School of Oviedo, Boing! Jump Center, After Hours Pediatrics, and The Event Specialists.

    Kiddie Fashion Shows
    Your little fashionistas can rock the latest fashion on their first day back to school. Come check out the newest trends all available at the Oviedo Mall.

    12 p.m.  Macy’s & Gymboree
    2 p.m.  Dillard’s
    4 p.m.  Sears & The Children’s Place

    Hair Styling by Regis Hairstyles; Accessories by Claire’s; Shoes courtesy of The Shoe Dept., Payless & Foot Locker

    Specific Activities

    • Face painting @ the Primrose School of Oviedo table
    • Wii Dance Party & Wood Kit Building @ Sears
    • Cupcake decorating @ Spoil Me Sweet (4 cupcakes for $5)
    • Mad science projects @ Mad Science
    • Free face painting @ Teddy Mountain
    • Recycled art projects @ the Craft Shack table
    • Spin the prize wheel @ the After Hours Pediatrics table
    • Sand Art @ the KinderCare Oviedo table
    • Bean bag toss @ the Studio 5D Dynasty Dance table
    • Instrument petting zoo @ the Kindermusik table
    • Play along @ the Seminole Music Together table

    Winter Cover Casting Call
    PLAYGROUND Magazine will also be holding a casting call for their winter issue cover family, during the event, inside Ashton Photography. Interested families should visit Ashton Photography, in their new location across from Modern Furniture Gallery, between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.

    Tax Free Weekend
    Tax free shopping is available Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4. Oviedo Mall will be open regular mall hours for shoppers to shop and prepare for the upcoming school year. Oviedo Mall hosts a wide variety of stores, to make tax free back to school shopping a breeze for families, such as The Children’s Place, Justice, Journey’s, Payless ShoeSource, Claire’s, The Shoe Dept., Foot Locker, Champs Sports and Gymboree.

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    Free LEGO Fun


    Here are a few Lego tips to help you keep the fun bus rolling during the end of the summer. And the best part is … they are all completely FREE (or almost free)!

    Written by Betsy Jewell

    1. Build Your Lego Supply

    If you don’t have Legos at home, be sure to check out local thrift stores, garage sales and Craig’s List. You may find people selling Legos by the tub. Ask your friends with grown children if they are done using their Legos. Many people are happy to give them away, knowing they will be going to a good home. You don’t need to purchase expensive kits with instructions. We have found that kids have a lot more fun when they use their imagination and make up their own instructions!

    2. Have a Lego Block Party

    Why not round up all your friends and neighbors this summer and host a Lego Block Party? We often dump our Legos in the driveway and just sit outside in the sunshine and build with friends. It’s a great way for kids (and adults) to spend time using their imaginations and having fun.

    3. FREE First Tuesday at Lego Stores

    On the first Tuesday of every month, the Lego store at Downtown Disney hosts a FREE “Monthly Mini Model Build” where your child can build a model and take it home at no cost to you. So pop on in for a fun FREE time.

    4. Build Together FREE Building Projects

    Lego has a website called “Build Together” ( where you can find FREE building projects based on your child’s building ability and the amount of time you have to build. Love this!

    5. FREE Lego Magazine (and Lego Jr. Magazine)

    If your child(ren) likes to receive snail mail then you might want to sign him/her up for a FREE subscription to Lego Club Magazine. There’s a Lego Club Jr. version for kids 6 and under. Lots of fun stuff to read and do! Sign up here for a FREE two-year subscription …

    6. Rebuild allows you to get more bang for your bricks. Just enter in the Lego set numbers you already own, and this site will spit back to you other things you can make with the parts from old sets. This site is not owned, published or endorsed by the Lego company but it’s worth a try!

    7. FREE Lego Online Games

    And for the computer users in your house, there are lots of FREE Lego games online here:

    This should keep your little Lego Builder(s) happy for the rest of the summer. 🙂 One last note: If you have Legos that you don’t use any more, please consider giving them to a friend who would use them. Or, consider donating them to Stenstrom Elementary School for use next year and beyond. We’d be happy to take them off your hands!

    Betsy Jewell is the volunteer chairperson for Stenstrom Elementary’s Brick Buddies Lego Club in Oviedo, Florida.

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    Day trip to Busch Gardens


    With back-to-school on the horizon, is it possible that you’ve already exhausted all the fun Orlando has to offer this summer? If you’re bored of the beach and done with Disney, consider taking a walk on the wild side these last few weeks of summer with a day trip to Busch Gardens Tampa.

    Written by Jessica Long

    In addition to everything you already know and love about Busch Gardens, here are three brand-new reasons to make that drive down I-4.

    Adorable Lion Cubs
    Have you ever seen a lion so cute and cuddly that you just wanted to pick it up and squeeze it? Probably not, but the three newest additions to the Busch Gardens family will make you wish you could do just that! The trio of South African lions – two females and an unrelated male – has formed a new pride and can be seen in their habitat in the Edge of Africa. Though only a few months old, the cubs are growing quickly, so be sure to get there this summer if you want to catch them while they’re still cuddle-worthy.

    Madagascar Live: Operation Vacation
    When you’re ready to cool off from your time on the savannah, head over to the Stanleyville Theater (newly-enclosed and air conditioned!) to “move it, move it” with all your favorite Madagascar friends in this brand new stage show. Accompanied by singers, dancers and a live band, Alex, Gloria, King Julien and of course, those crazy penguins vacation right along with Busch Gardens guests. After the show, stick around for a meet-and-greet and photo op with the characters.

    Summer Nights
    In addition to longer park hours, Busch Gardens is ending each night this summer with its award-winning Kinetix show, a rock-fueled performance by singers, dancers, acrobats and musicians from around the world. And as the grand finale, they light up the sky with an incredible fireworks extravaganza that can be seen from all parts of the park.

    Whether you’re there to take on the legendary roller coasters or to get up close and personal with the newest animal additions, this fun, diverse park is the perfect solution to the end-of-summer slump!





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    The "World's" Coolest Hotel Pool


    With summer officially in full-swing, we want to make your readers aware, one of the world’s coolest hotel pools* just got cooler as guests “Slide into Summer” with the highly anticipated completion of the multifaceted overhaul to the iconic Falls Pool Oasis at Orlando World Center Marriott — culminating the resort’s five-year, multi-million dollar transformation.

    Sparing no expense to both thrill and chill, guests plunge into an entirely new experience with enticing enrichments inclusive of a new Icon Slide Tower featuring two, 200-foot winding waterslides and one, 90-foot speed waterslide — among the tallest and fastest resort slides in Florida — in addition to a Splash Zone offering kids a zero entry pool and playground, as well as a Kid’s Activity Zone and Poolside Bar and Grill.

    In an effort to continue offering endless experiences that are a “World Beyond Compare,” Orlando’s 200-acre tropical oasis invites summer travelers to slide-in and chill-out with “Suntastic” summer savings, starting at $131/night, bookable now – July 21,  2013, for stays now – Sept. 30, 2013 — representing savings up to 50% off peak season rates — when using promotional code: F8L.

    Orlando World Center Marriott will officially celebrate the multi-million dollar renovation completion July 18-21, inviting vacationers to come make a splash among sun-seekers. With a wide array of on property events and activities, including everything from live poolside music and entertainment, to a luau, golf clinics and yoga on the lawn, as well as culinary events like “Taste of Our World,” cooking classes and an exclusive Wine dinner – there is something to suit every lifestyle and interest. To build excitement and encourage everyone to join the fun and festivities, the resort has started a countdown clock on Facebook ( and will also engage on Twitter (@WorldCenter) using #SlideIntoSummer.


    Kids splash zone and zero entry pool now open!

    Newly renovated suites with great views and more room for the family.

    Newly renovated suites with great views and more room for the family.


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    The World of Chima


    LEGOLAND Celebrates Opening of The World of Chima Presented by Cartoon Network

    Expansion Features Thrilling, Interactive Water Ride and Play Areas

    Opening to guests on July 3, the centerpiece attraction, The Quest for CHI, features an interactive water ride where guests will set off on an otherworldly and super-wet adventure. After boarding watercraft, families can use water cannons to activate the story in each of the scenes along their journey as well as have a chance to battle other boats and guests along the shore line.

    Those interested in even more splash and water fun can experience Cragger’s Swamp play area that features playful bubbles, intermittent water spouts and interactive elements that trigger swamp water effects.

    At the SpeedorzTM Arena, kids will enjoy a super-charged, super-fast competition where multiple players battle against each other using rip cord-powered LEGO vehicles.

    The World of Chima also features a character meet and greet and a merchandise location that carries the latest LEGO Legends of Chima building sets. All of these areas are complemented by the park’s 4-D movie experience, The LEGO Chima Movie Experience, an exclusive to LEGOLAND parks and LEGOLAND Discovery Centers.

    “The World of Chima will become a signature land for LEGOLAND Florida and provides an experience unlike any other in our park today,” said Adrian Jones, LEGOLAND Florida General Manager. “Developing and opening yet another expansion is a prime example of how LEGOLAND Florida continues to provide unique guest experiences, rides, shows and attractions for families with children ages 2-12.”

    The World of Chima features:

    • 2 million LEGO bricks, (bringing the total of LEGO bricks found in LEGOLAND Florida to an astounding 58 million)
    • Nearly 150 LEGO models
    • 219,000 gallons of water in The Quest for CHI
    • Capacity for approximately 1,200 guests per hour to experience The Quest for CHI ride
    • Mount Cavora which stands 55 feet from the ground, Weighs 7,500 lbs., Rushes 1,000 gallons of water every minute

    LEGO® Legends of Chima™ fans can also tune into Cartoon Network on July 10 at 8 p.m. for the cartoon series premiere.

    For the most current information on LEGOLAND Florida and to purchase tickets, visit






    The new park map with the addition of The World of Chima expansion area, seen on the far right.

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    Character Breakfast


    Every Sunday now through September 1 | 8:00 a.m. – Noon

    Enjoy traditional breakfast favorites with an island twist at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, while your favorite theme park characters stop at every table to interact and pose for photos. Make memories with some new friends!

    Adults $26.99 | Children (3 – 9) $14.99
    Children under 3 complimentary

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    Flying Monsters 3-D


    “Flying Monsters 3D” Soars Into Orlando Science Center
    Premieres Monday, July 1

    For thousands of years, humans have believed that there were once flying monsters. But did they really exist beyond our nightmares? On Monday, July 1, the Digital Adventure Theater: A National Geographic Experience will explore this question with the opening of “Flying Monsters 3D,” a new adventure film from award-winning Atlantic Productions, in association with Sky 3D, and distributed by National Geographic Entertainment. The film uses 3D and CGI technology to immerse audiences in a prehistoric world inhabited by pterosaurs, flying vertebrates with a wingspan of up to 45 feet that lived alongside dinosaurs. “Flying Monsters 3D” was produced by filmmaker Anthony Geffen and narrated by veteran filmmaker and renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

    More than 220 million years ago, dinosaurs were beginning their domination of Earth. But another group of reptiles was about to make an extraordinary leap: pterosaurs were taking control of the skies. The story of how and why these mysterious creatures took to the air is more fantastical than any fiction — and one of the greatest mysteries in paleontology. How did lizards the size of giraffes defy gravity and soar through prehistoric skies? Driven by the information he finds as he attempts to answer these questions, Attenborough starts to unravel one of science’s more enduring mysteries, discovering that the marvel of pterosaur flight has evolutionary echoes that resonate even today.

    Applying the same state-of-the-art 3D CGI technology that was used in “Avatar,” “Flying Monsters 3D” also employs pioneering scientific techniques that reveal new details about pterosaurs. From discovering pterosaur embryos that show they might have flown from birth to figuring out how a creature the size of a giraffe could possibly fly, “Flying Monsters 3D” will resolve mysteries that have intrigued scientists for more than two centuries.

    “It’s almost as if this animated 3D technology was created to tell our story,” Geffen said. “With a pterosaur’s eye-view of a hyper-real prehistoric Earth in 3D CGI, our audience will see the challenges of survival, including courtship, flying and hunting.”

    “3D is a wonderful way of seeing the world as the pterosaurs did,” Attenborough said. “Pterosaurs are the most unlikely of creatures, but they dominated the skies for millions of years, and now this film will enable us to fly in 3D with them, the largest flying creatures the world has ever known.”

    “Flying Monsters 3D” will be showing at Orlando Science Center through fall 2013.

    See “Flying Monsters 3D” with admission to Orlando Science Center which is $19 for adults and $13 for youth. Tickets also include access to all four floors of exhibits, unlimited educational films, one Hollywood feature film and live presentations.

    For more information and show times, please call 407.514.2000 or visit Visit the film’s official website at




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    Extreme Weather Safety Station


    OCRHC Pilots Interactive Extreme Weather Safety Station for Children
    June 8-September 1, 2013

    An interactive learning station teaching children how to stay safe from dangerous weather will be piloted at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando, Fla this summer. “Kids Get a Plan” targets children in grades first through fifth and brings to life a series of 2004 “Kids Get a Plan” books.

    Developed jointly by IDEAS Orlando and the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the station’s interactive monitors allow children to explore new games and learn how to keep themselves safe from lightning, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, and dry weather fire hazards. Florida holds the record in the nation for the highest amount of deaths by lightning strikes, is ranked third in average tornado frequency, and experiences the second highest number of wildfires, making weather safety education vital.

    As a pilot partner, the History Center and its visitors will help fine-tune the experience, while additional books and games are added to the station throughout the summer. “Kids Get a Plan” will travel throughout the state beginning in the fall of 2013. Visit for more information.

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    Visit Space Shuttle Atlantis


    Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s new Space Shuttle AtlantisSM attraction opens June 29, 2013.

    This one-of-a kind, $100 million attraction features a nearly 360-degree, multi-level view of Atlantis raised 30 feet off the floor and rotated at an angle with its payload bay doors open, as if orbiting Earth. Space Shuttle Atlantis features state-of-the-art multimedia presentations and more than 60 interactive exhibits and high-tech simulators while shining a spotlight on the astounding achievements made during the shuttle program.

    For the very first time, the public will be able to get nose to nose with what many consider to be the most complex machine ever built by mankind – almost close enough to touch it.
    Other highlights and thematic areas include:

    • The Entrance – Outside Space Shuttle Atlantis, guests are greeted by a full-scale, 184-foot-tall vertical replica of the space shuttle’s external tank and two solid rocket boosters, giving visitors a true sense of the awesome power needed to launch the shuttle into orbit. The entrance walkway is lined with river rocks from Kennedy Space Center’s crawlerway, upon which Saturn V rockets and space shuttles were transported to the launch pads.
    • The Building – Space Shuttle Atlantis features two sweeping architectural elements, or “wings,” representing the space shuttle’s launch and return. The outer layer of the building, cloaked in iridescent hues of orange and gold, represents the fiery glow of re-entry. The taller, internal wing of the building is covered in a shimmering gray tile pattern representing the tiled underside of the orbiter. The building is designed to meet LEED Silver sustainability standards.
    • The Preshow – Multimedia and cinematic presentations build anticipation by illustrating the evolution of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program and the thousands of people who took part in creating and maintaining NASA’s five space-flown shuttles – Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour.
    • Hubble Space Telescope Theater – A high-fidelity replica shows the Hubble Space Telescope in all its glory, 43 feet long and 14 feet in diameter, with its solar panels fully deployed. A cinematic production in the 40-seat theater shows highlights of the Hubble program, including its 1990 launch, subsequent repair missions and stunning images of deep space.
    • International Space Station Gallery – Guests can climb aboard a high-fidelity replica of ISS modules and experience the sensation of floating in space. An interactive touch screen offers a variety of topics about living and working aboard the ISS. The topics are then explained using real footage shot exclusively for the Microgravity Theater by actual ISS crewmembers, who are shown in zero gravity inside the ISS. Freestanding pods recreate components of the station, including upside-down astronaut sleeping quarters and the space potty. A 16-foot-long, 4-foot-tall interactive media wall tracks the location of the ISS and provides downloads from the crew’s Twitter feed, as well as exciting updates about the scientific research conducted.
    • Shuttle Launch Experience – Guests can “get vertical” and strap in to experience the sights, sounds and sensations of a space shuttle launch. Veteran NASA astronauts who helped develop the attraction call it the next best thing to an actual space shuttle launch.
    • Astronaut Training Simulators – Future astronauts can practice landing the orbiter, docking to the ISS and manipulating the robotic Canadarm on 21 consoles modeled after actual NASA training simulators.
    • On Orbit Gallery – The 24-foot-long interactive Space Transportation System (STS) Timeline brings NASA’s 135 space shuttle missions to life with details on every launch, landing, astronaut, payload and more. Banks of interactive monitors provide an “X-ray” view of Atlantis’s crucial systems and prerecorded views of its interior, including the cockpit, middeck and payload bay. At the rear of Atlantis, guests can see an actual 8,000-pound space shuttle main engine. Virtual reality simulators invite guests to test their spacewalking skills, while budding commanders can take the controls in a space shuttle cockpit replica.
    • Space Shuttle Processing Area – The authentic “beanie cap,” or vent hood, from Launch Pad 39B finds a new home at the “Blast Off” game in which guests can kick together virtual molecules of hydrogen and oxygen to create the space shuttle’s liquid fuel. They can also try their hand at virtually mating the orbiter to the shuttle stack in the Vehicle Assembly Building. The wheels and tires from Atlantis’ final mission, STS-135, are also available for guests to touch and spin.
    • The Re-entry Zone – Visitors can see what it takes for astronauts to land the orbiter as a high-speed glider, creating their own sonic booms and gliding, or rather, sliding, to a landing on the steep slope of the Re-entry Slide.
    • Shuttle Express Gift Shop – The 4,000-square-foot shop features a wide array of shuttle and space-related merchandise displayed amid youth artwork depicting their visions for the future of space flight.

    Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Kennedy Space Center), Fla. – the home of human spaceflight, 45 minutes east of Orlando.

    Twitter: @ExploreSpaceKsc


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    TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D


    Universal Orlando marks the grand opening of TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D at Universal Studios Florida today – officially opening one of its most highly anticipated entertainment experiences in years.

    The new attraction is based on the popular TRANSFORMERS films and created along with the award-winning director of the film series, Michael Bay.  It blends a powerful storyline, powerful technology, all-new hyper-real animation and massive sets into an action-adventure that grabs riders and does not let them go until the very last second.

    Riders are recruited for a high-tech, good versus evil battle in which they must save Planet Earth.  They join iconic film characters Optimus Prime and the Autobots as they fight Megatron and the Decepticons to the end.

    The 3D-action is mind-blowing and everywhere all at once; the 4K high-definition animation breathtakingly real.  Riders burst into battles between “life-sized,” three-story-tall Autobots and Decepticons.  They dodge relentless attacks, explosions and missiles.  And they come face-to-face with Megatron – who wants to destroy them.

    For more information about Universal Orlando and TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D, visit

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    Father's Day Craft


    Make Dad’s Day extra-special this year by creating a one of a kind altered paintbrush sculpture in his likeness!

    Created by Debbie Helton of The Craft Shack

    Supply List:

    • 3″ paint brush
    • Double sided foam tape
    • Aluminum Foil ( to create the body)
    • Model Magic in miscellaneous colors
    • Wax Paper (to work on top of)
    • Small cleaned out yogurt container
    • Acrylic Paint (optional)
    • Paint Brush (optional)


    1. Add double sided foam tape to both sides of the paint brush. This will help to hold the aluminum foil “body” in place.
    2. Using skin-toned Model Magic and working on top of wax paper begin to create your Dad’s face. Wrap the “skin” around the metal part of your paint brush and down the handle just a bit (the foam tape in this area will help to hold it in place). Create the eyes, nose, ears and mouth and attach it all to the face. As you do this think about what your Dad really looks like … Does he have glasses? … Does he have a mole or freckle on his cheek, or a mustache or beard? … Does he have an earring?  What makes your Dad unique create it and add it to your figure.
    3. Tear off a medium sized piece of aluminum foil and start to wrap and crumble it around the paint brush handle just below the neck area of your figure. Take another piece of foil and wrap and crumble it over the first layer, but start to build your figure’s base. The bottom should be wide and flat in order for your figure to stand up.
    4. To create the arms tear off 3 medium-sized pieces of aluminum foil and fold them width wise to create 3 bands. Ta