Fun Travel Prep for Kids - Paris & London

It's not everyday you travel over the pond to such amazing places like Paris and London. I decided to start the journey for me and Mia long before we packed our bags for the airport. Here are a few fun things we did to get ready and excited! My brother sent Read more

Hidden Gem: Sand Key Florida

My other half planned a short getaway for our nine year anniversary. I wasn't exactly sure where we were headed, but knew it was somewhere around Clearwater Beach. As we drove over the bridge to Clearwater, I kept expecting a turn off at one of the many beach hotels. To my surprise Read more

Westin Cape Coral Weekend Getaway

Most of you who follow my Instagram or Twitter know that we had a fabulously fun weekend at the Westin in Cape Coral, FL a few weeks ago. The property became a Westin in December of 2013 and underwent a plethora of renovations, which I believe puts it in the best Read more

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

We finally had the chance to visit Disney's Art of Animation Resort this week for a little staycation. It is located where construction on the unfinished half of Disney's Pop Century Resort was started, but later abandoned after 9/11. The resort is the first to be built in the complex Read more

Healthy Lunchbox Ideas

Mia has a book called Samantha's Silly-icious Sandwiches. Samantha gets sick of having the same boring sandwich in her lunch everyday and decides to create her own unique sandwiches. Her "Silly-icious Sandwiches" turn into a hit at school and a booming business, which she soon hands over for her Read more

Meeting Winter - Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Most of the world has seen (or at least heard of) the movie Dolphin Tale. The story highlights the rescue of a wounded dolphin who ends up losing one very important important thing... a tale! The Clearwater Marine Aquarium works hard in the movie to create a prosthetic tail just Read more

Orlando

Orlando Parents Vote On Their Local Hotel Favorites

Living in one of the most visited locations in the world means that families living in Orlando have a plethora of options when it comes to a staycation. Readers of PLAYGROUND magazine voted on their top staycation choices in town and I had the pleasure of writing about the results. I was also able to throw a few faves of my own in there. I think it’s a must read for Orlando parents and really any family traveling to Otown. Click below for the full article (pages 32-34)

Staycations in our backyard!

Staycations in our backyard!

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, Travel Leave a comment

Holiday Fun Around Orlando

I’m going to petition to add just a few more weekends to the month of December. There are always so many fun things to do in the Orlando area over the holidays. I had a long list, but here is a quick snapshot of the holiday themed activities we were able enjoy this month.

 SeaWorld Sea of Trees is part of SeaWorld’s Christmas celebration. It’s amazing and a must-see in Orlando over the holidays.

The Rosen Shingle Creek Nutcracker Tea is a chance to dress up and celebrate the holidays with carolers, an abbreviated performance of the Nutcracker, great desserts and snacks and a visit from Santa. Truly the perfect mommy daughter holiday outing.

Nutcracker Tea

Nutcracker Tea

Lake Eola Park has a huge Christmas tree as well as gigantic nutcrackers guarding the entrance to the park off of Rosalind Ave. The Russian Academy of Ballet does a free Nutcracker performance at the lake each year and other activities take place at the lake throughout the holiday season.

Lake Eola Park Holidays

Lake Eola Park Holidays

Disney Magic Studios Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights will take your breath away. Disney puts on this magical show of lights each year at Magic Studios.

Whether you are on a budget or have money to spend, there are always fun activities around Orlando during the holidays!

Be sure to follow more of our family travel & holiday adventures on Instagram!

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Back In Orlando & Tix Giveaway

I’m excited to announce the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey January Orlando premier of their brand new show LEGENDS!. The show will be in Orlando January 9-12, 2014 at the Amway Center.

The circus has been a  tradition for families for many years. It’s an experience that spans generations. Truly a show for all ages.

The Greatest Show On Earth!

The Greatest Show On Earth!

Just in time for Christmas, I’m giving away a family 4-pack to this year’s show. I’m sure your family would be excited to see these tickets under the tree. I’ll be contacting the winner on Dec. 23.

How To Enter:

  • Leave a comment below letting me know your favorite circus memory or act
  • Tweet about the giveaway using this tweet: Enter to win tix to @RinglingBros #Orlando LEGENDS! show on @mammamiafl blog. #RinglingOrlando
  • Share on Facebook (leave a comment to let me know you did)

 

Even if you do not win. You can use special code MOM14 to receive $4 off each ticket. This code is valid only for Friday 7:30 p.m., and Saturday 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances.  Not valid on front row and premium seats. Not valid day of show.

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:

Tickets for Thursday and Friday performances are: $75 (Front Row), $35 (Premium Seats), $27, $23 and $16

You can also like Ringling Bros. on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

Be sure to follow our family adventures on Instagram!

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Feld Entertainment is providing me with complimentary tickets to the show. All opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my own.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Orlando 7 Comments

Rosen Orlando Holiday Happenings

I can’t even wrap my head around the many fun holiday happenings in Orlando this year. I really need two months of December to fit it all in.

One of my favorite hotel groups here in Orlando, Rosen Hotels, is hosting a slew of fun holiday events for every age. From lunches and dinners with Santa and the Winter Wonderland Festival to the European Winter Fair and Christmas Wagon, there has to be something to put your family in the holiday spirit.

Rosen Centre Holidays

Rosen Centre Holidays

This weekend, we will be taking part in ice skating fun at the Rosen Centre. It’s the first year for ice skating at the hotel and we are super excited. What could be more fun than ice skating in Florida! Plus, the skating is paired with face painting, balloon art, photo booth a DJ and more holiday fun.

Next on the agenda… Mia and I are attending the Nutcracker Tea at the Rosen Shingle Creek complete with a performance of the Nutcracker, traditional tea and photos with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Shh… I’m surprising her with this little mommy daughter holiday date. She is hard pressed to get my full attention these days. Follow my Instagram or Twitter for the play by play of her surprise.

Cost for each holiday activity is listed here. Prices are reasonable for memorable holiday family fun close to home!

Come back to The Mamma Mia Blog to read about more holiday happenings in Orlando.

Be sure to follow more of our family travel & holiday adventures on Instagram!

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Posted on by Amanda in Holiday Travel Series, Orlando Leave a comment

My Birthday Party Boycott & Disney Character Celebration

This year, I decided I was not putting myself through Pinterest stress to create the perfect birthday party for my three-year-old. I was on a mission to find an alternative that would bring just as much fun for us as a family to overshadow the lack of birthday party. My solution was a Disney character dinner. I came upon my solution about two weeks prior to her actual birthday… In desperation mode to figure out a plan. She is obsessed with her Disney pals so why not take advantage of the character dining that Disney does right in our backyard.

I was a little late on the planning and as Disney would have it, there weren’t a whole lot of openings for the celebration.

Party guests

Party guests

(Guests can book 180 days out from their visit so reservations were slim pickings.) I called the Disney reservations line and the helpful planner identified an opening at the Swan Hotel’s Garden Grove. I was hesitant as I know the Swan Hotel to be a convention/meeting focused property, but thought we’d give it a shot.

The restaurant was not buffet style so we were able to order from a menu. Score!

There was a soup and salad bar where I had thebest clam chowder I’ve ever tasted and the most delicious bacon vinaigrette dressing. The kids loved their meals. Our adult entrees were salmon and chicken. There’s was a dessert bar where we observed the pastry chef creating a chocolate nutcracker while we were selecting our desserts. We also had an amazing server who made sure the birthday celebration was complete.

Of course the greatest part of our dinner was the personal interaction she had with Pluto and Goofy. Not her first choice of characters, but they are definitely high on the list and she was a happy girl.

So Orlando moms, if you are stressing about an upcoming birthday and have a Disney character loving child in the house, I completely recommend one of the character dining options.

 

This mom is #winning

This mom is #winning

 

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Disney Live! Orlando Ticket Giveaway

My two-year-old Charli is absolutely obsessed with Mickey and his crew. I’m sure the upcoming Orlando Disney Live! show is going to further foster this obsession…. Especially when they pair Mickey and the gang up with today’s hottest hits.

Mickey Mouse and friends will rock with the stars from The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story in their new touring show Disney Live!  Mickey’s Music Festival.  Disney hits are remixed to the hottest sounds of today featuring hip hop, pop, swing, reggae, rock, country and more!

Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival

Lineup of performers include Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Ariel, Sebastian, Ursula, Jasmine, Aladdin, Genie, Woody, Buzz and Jessie! These are a just a handful among the more than 25 Disney stars featured in the jam session.

The show is coming to the UCF arena on March 3, 2013 for two shows at 2:30 and 5:30 pm. Mamma Mia readers can get a special $3 off ticket discount by entering DLUCF at checkout.

I’m also giving away a family four-pack of tickets to the March 3 5:30 pm performance.

How you can enter:

1.) Leave a comment letting me know your favorite friend of Mickey’s.

2.) You can enter daily by tweeting about the giveaway and letting me know you did so in a comment.

3) You can follow @disneylive on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

I’ll be selecting a winner on February 17 so get your entries in now!

We will attend the show as guests of Feld Entertainment.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Orlando 37 Comments

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in Orlando and Ticket Giveaway

It’s that time of year again! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is back in town with their show Built to Amaze!

Be a part of the brand-new spectacles from around the world immersed in the circus tradition. Experience it live in Orlando! Going to the circus with your family is a tradition that never, ever gets old. The show will be at the Amway Center Jan. 10-13. Great way to kick off the New Year! Tickets start at $15 and are available at ticketmaster.com and the Amway Center Box Office.

Built To Amaze!

Performances:

Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7:30pm

Friday, Jan. 11 at 7:30pm

Saturday, Jan. 12 at 11:30am, 3:30pm, 7:30pm

Sunday, Jan. 13 at 1pm and 5pm

Best value for families is definitely the Family Value Pack for $88.00. This includes 4 $15 tickets, 4 small lemonades, 4 small popcorns, and 4 lollipops. This offer is valid for any performance except those on Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at the Amway Center ticket office or ticketmaster.com.

I have a family four-pack of tickets to give away!

How to Enter:

  • Leave a comment below letting me know, what you think is a Circus staple ie. tigers, clowns.
  • You can also tweet about the contest daily for extra entries. Just leave a comment below with the link to your tweet.

The winner will be notified once the giveaway closes on Friday, December 21 at 3 pm.

The Mamma Mia Blog will attend the show as guests of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. All views and opinions on this blog are my very own. 

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Posted on by Amanda in Deals, Giveaways, Orlando 39 Comments

10 Tips For Visiting Disney World Fantasyland

We live in Orlando so it was pretty much mandatory we check out Disney’s new Fantasyland last weekend during the soft opening. My wonderful uncle had sent along a handful of “after 4 pm” passes for me to use before Dec. 31 so timing was perfect.

New Fantasyland

Limited on time with our “after 4 pm” passes, we didn’t have the chance to experience every detail of Fantasyland. However, I did play the part of “extremely annoying and inquisitive theme park girl” and had  way too many questions for Disney cast members. (I’m sure my face is on a list somewhere.) I’ve also been getting the inside scoop from local Orlando friends. Official Grand Opening is tomorrow – Dec. 6.

And now, I present to you my top 10 insider tips for Disney’s new Fantasyland!

1.) Meet Ariel on her turf. The girls were ecstatic to meet Ariel in her Grotto. The line (on a busy holiday weekend) was only 20 minutes and moved quickly. The girls enjoyed toying around with the seashells imbedded in the walls during our wait. The photographers let us take our time once we reached Ariel too. Bonus!

2.) Join the Circus.  Don’t pass up Storybook Circus. It’s full of fun and home to the classic Dumbo ride and the Barnstormer kiddie roller coaster, an all-time Magic Kingdom favorite. Luckily, Barnstormer made the transition over to Fantasyland from the former Toon Town. Casey Jr. Splash & Soak Station looks like it would be tons of fun on a hot Orlando day.

3.) Have fun waiting for Dumbo. Much to my surprise the Dumbo line dumped us into a play area complete with activities for little ones and older kids. The adult receives a pager when the group enters the play area and the pager goes off when it’s near time to ride. The play area was a little hectic, but genius for avoiding typical line waiting meltdowns.

Ariel’s Grotto

4.) See Disney friends up close and in one place. At Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Minnie are circus stars and ready to meet guests. We were limited on time so our meet and greet was with Ariel, but this is on the list for next visit. Always good to know where you can find all of the characters in one place instead of meeting by chance on a park walkway!

5.) Go Under The Sea. The ride itself is built into Prince Eric’s castle. No worries on meltdowns in this line either! Kids are entertained with Scuttle’s scavenger hunt and the chance for little ones to sort Ariel’s whosits and whatsits. Fun things to do in line means sanity for parents. Thank you Disney. Guests board a giant clam shell and ride through musical scenes from The Little Mermaid.

6.) Be A Guest.  Beast’s castle is actually the Be Our Guest, quick service food by day and fine dining by night restaurant. This is one of the most touted attractions in Fantasyland! I’m going to go ahead and recommend making a dinner reservation for the next, um, forever if you plan on dining there. Be Our Guest might be on your list as a parent spending the day in busy Disney for multiple reasons, but important to note it is the ONLY place in Magic Kingdom that serves beer and wine… Just sayin.

7.) Live the story.  Enchanted Tales With Belle lets you step into the actual story reliving the “tale as old as time” with recognizable characters leading the way. The journey begins in Maurice’s workshop. The actual “story telling” lasts around 20-30 minutes so be prepared if you have, say… a two-year-old who doesn’t like to cooperate or be confined. However, if they are obsessed with princesses and Belle, like my little one, you are good to go.

Gaston & my girls outside his tavern

8.) More than just a tavern.Gaston’s Tavern is more than just a quick-service food spot. Go inside, take a seat in Gatson’s chair and have a delicious A LeFou’s Brew. Brew is made up of  no-sugar added frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. Yum! The tavern is an attraction in itself and my girls ran into Gaston right outside.

 9.) If you’re wondering why there’s still some construction going on, it’s because there’s more to come!  Princess Fairy Tale Hall will be home to the Disney Princess meet and greet and is scheduled to open in 2013. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will open in 2014.

10.) There will be a wait. Lastly, it’s inevitable there will be a line and there will be a wait. I think as a parent once you put yourself in that mindset, your day will be a lot better. There’s always Fast Pass, if it’s available. Pack snacks and drinks to save money on in between meal hunger and don’t forget that Mickey Mouse and princess costume from home. This will save you on souvenir purchases!

Get more insider tips from my friend here in Orlando The Suburban Mom or visit Disney’s Fantasyland page.

Check out photos from our most recent Magic Kingdom visit on Instagram. Be sure to follow me!
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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, Travel 6 Comments

Christmas At Sea World Orlando & Ticket Giveaway

We never miss Christmas at Sea World and neither should you! My absolute favorite thing to see is the Sea of Trees, where over 100 massive trees, each sparkling, lighted and choreographed to classic holiday tunes, making a dramatic display around SeaWorld’s center lake. Mia counts the days until she can take a ride on the Polar Express to see Santa Claus at the Wild Arctic exhibit.

Sea of Trees

The daily shows, like Clyde and Seamore and Shamu show, are transformed with a holiday twist. A Sesame Street Christmas is a great show for the little ones and all ages will enjoy watching the world-class figure skaters amaze the crowd.

If you get to Sea World during the Christmas season you can get your Fun Card to come back throughout 2013. It’s the best deal for sure – $89 and $81 for kids 3-9. A whole year of family activities are lined up for you and already paid for ahead of time. Just Kids is coming up in January and there’s always Summer Nights and Halloween Spooktacular.

And now for good news… I am giving away four entrance tickets to a lucky winner to enjoy Christmas at Sea World! (The tickets need to be used prior to December 31, 2012)

To Enter: All you need to do is comment on this post telling me a sea creature who you think might be on the naughty list. There are no right or wrong answer here! Just a little holiday fun.

For Extra Entries: Follow @mammamiafl on Twitter and tweet the contest daily for extra entries. You need to leave a comment letting me know you did so for the entry to count.

Winner: The winner will be randomly selected from the entries on Wednesday, December 5 at 3 pm.

I just uploaded photos from our most recent Sea World Christmas visit to Instagram! Be sure to follow me!
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*Sea World provided four tickets to be given away on The Mamma Mia Blog. All thoughts and opinions about Sea World are my own.

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Orlando 57 Comments

Sea Creatures, Tricks and Treats Oh My!

We’ve been doing Sea Word’s annual Spooktacular for a few years now and each year seems just a little more Spooktacular!

Sea World Halloween Spooktacular

The Spooktacular festivities are taking places weekends in October (now) from 12 – 8 pm and entry is included with admission. We take advantage of the annual pass offer every year so the Spooktacular is a no-brainer when it comes to Halloween activities for us in Orlando.

The fun colorful characters and scenery really make  Spooktacular for me and my girls. Oh, and the bubbles… There are bubble machines in every direction. The elaborately costumed sea creatures are super friendly and I’ve never run into a long line for a photo opp. This year, the Spooktacular fun spills over into Happy Harbor, where kids can partake in the usual Harbor fun and hop on a Spooktacular train ride.

We had a chance to catch  Sesame Street Countdown to Halloween, which you can see at different times daily, before we started our trick-or-treat adventure. My little one was mesmerized by her Sesame Street friends all dressed up for Halloween.

Coming from a Spooktacular expert, here are my top tips:

Sea witches!

  • Don’t do Spooktacular right at noon. Waiting till late afternoon is best – cooler and less crowded.
  • Sea World provides treat bags for collecting goodies so leave your trick or treat bags at home unless you really want to lug them.
  • Make sure you take the path for Penelope’s Party Zone – lots of crafting fun and a dance party (think top fun dance hits, limbo and hula hooping waterside) your little ones will love.
  • Bring a change of clothes if you are going in costume and plan on seeing some other sites. Not fun being splashed by Shamu in costume.
Go forth and be spooky!

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, Travel 3 Comments
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