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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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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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 on Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes – Win Tix!

While I’m on a Disney roll, I am excited to let everyone know that Disney on Ice is coming back to Orlando’s Amway Center the weekend of September 9 for Disney on Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes.

Amway Center Sept. 9 - 11

Amway Center Sept. 9 – 11

Guests to the show can join Ariel (my personal fave princess) as she yearns to explore the world above the waves and Prince Eric breaks Ursula’s slithering spell to reclaim his one true love. Also in the line up, Prince Philip defeats the evil Maleficent as she transforms herself into a fire-breathing dragon in a race against time to rescue Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora. Princesses & Heroes comes full circle with appearances by Jasmine and Aladdin, Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Rapunzel and Tiana!

We’ve been to the show the past two years and are always in awe at the high flying jumps, acrobatics and amazing skating. Not to mention the Disney friends on hand. 

Join us for the show! Enter below to WIN a family 4-pack of tickets to either the Friday, Sept. 13 7:30 pm show or the Saturday, Sept. 14 11 am show. If you aren’t selected for the family 4-pack, you can use special offer code MOMDOI when you purchase to receive a $4 discount on tickets.

How To Enter:

  • Leave a comment with the name of your favorite princess or hero.

Extra Entries:

  • Like Disney on Ice on Facebook and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.
  • Tweet about the contest with a link to the tweet in the comments. Tweet: Win a family 4-pack tix to @DisneyOnIce in #Orlando @mammamiafl http://www.themammamiablog.com.

I’ll notify the winner on Friday, August 23.

Hope to see you at the show!

See pictures as I post from Princesses & Heroes and witness our other family adventures on Instagram. Be sure to follow me!
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We will attend the show as guests of Feld Entertainment. All views and opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my very own.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways 22 Comments

Share Our Strength & First Watch Giveaway

My family consists of multiple breakfast and brunch loving humans. We are definitely familiar with the awesome breakfast and brunch at First Watch. I’m happy to report First Watch will be donating 25 cents to Share Our Strength from every kids meal purchased in hopes of raising $50,000 within the yearlong campaign. (The campaign started this week!) $50,000 would more than double the $42,000 First Watch has raised since 2009. If you haven’t heard of Share Our Strength, they are an organization looking to end childhood hunger by 2015 – enough said. 

Everyone knows healthy eating is a topic near and dear to my heart so I’m also happy to report the restaurant has announced a new, interactive kids’ menu in cooperation with the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program. Kids menu offerings at First Watch are now being recognized for featuring items that meet qualifying nutrition criteria based on leading health organizations’ scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. Hooray! 

In celebration I have 5, yes 5, First Watch kids cards to give away to readers. Simply leave a comment below letting me know your child’s favorite healthy breakfast or brunch item. Get an extra entry for following The Mamma Mia Blog on Twitter and leaving a comment to let me know.

Giveaway Details: 

  • Offer valid for one meal from the Kids Menu with purchase of an adult entrée
  • Redeemable at any First Watch Restaurant by 12/31/12
  • Open daily 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
  • To find your local First Watch, visit www.firstwatch.com

Winners will be selected on Wednesday, October 3 at 3 pm. 


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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Healthy Eating 3 Comments

Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After

Just the title of the new Disney On Ice show has me counting down to show time! In a new twist on fairytale fun, favorite Disney characters compete to be the next superstar in comical segments leading up to the tales of show stopping princesses – Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, and Merida from Disney•Pixar’s BRAVE in her ice debut!

Mickey and Minnie encounter the most talented performers in the land with an all-star lineup that includes Sebastian and the Daughters of Triton from The Little Mermaid, the rowdy pub thugs from Tangled and the spunky enchanted servants from Beauty and the Beast. The journey continues to the Scottish highlands where audiences will be captivated and star struck by Merida, as an exhilarating archery contest ensues for the right to marry the fiery redhead.

Good news! I’m giving away a family four-pack to the show!

How to enter:

  • Leave a comment below letting me know which character you are most excited to see.
  • Extra entries daily for tweeting! Just leave a comment with a link to your tweet.

I’ll select a winner on Wed. Aug. 15 at 3 pm.

Tickets for performances at the Amway Center are on sale now! If you don’t win the giveaway, I still have a special offer for you. You can get 4 tickets for just $48! This special offer is valid for specific show times: Sept. 7 at 7:30 pm and Sept. 9 at 1 and 5 pm by entering the code MOM12 at checkout.

Additional showtimes are Saturday, Sept. 8 at 3:30 and 7:30 pm. See you at the show!

Disclosure: My family will attend the show as a guest of Feld Entertainment.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, On Stage, Orlando 26 Comments

Orlando City Soccer… Win a summer camp!

Orlando City Youth Soccer

Has your family had a chance to experience the newest sports craze sweeping the Orlando area? If not, I advise you get out with your family this summer and catch an Orlando City Soccer game. Every game has  family activities including themed game nights (from Go Pink to Back to School) with fan zone activities, charity drives and more. A fun inexpensive summer outing for sure!

I’m not a soccer expert by any means, but I’m learning… and hoping Mia will too. Good news for me –  Orlando City Youth Soccer is right in our backyard!  Orlando City Youth offers recreational leagues and camps for those who want to learn more about the game.

Orlando City Soccer is hosting weekly youth summer camps throughout July and August that include both half and full-day options ranging in scope from basic soccer skills for the younger groups, up to position-specific camps for the more experienced players. What a cool way to introduce your kids to soccer!

 And now great news for you! I have one week of summer camp to give away to a lucky reader.

Get out and play!

Leave a comment below letting me know how your kids are getting out and getting active this summer and you’ll be entered into the giveaway, which will be selected at random on Wednesday, July 11.

*Fun fact: These camps are unique in that Orlando City coaches and pro players staff them. Your child has the opportunity to learn the skills of the game from some of the very same players they see take the field in the USL PRO matches.

For updates on home games, theme nights and much more be sure to like Orlando City Soccer Club on Facebook.

 

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Orlando 8 Comments

Weekday Pass At Aquatica!

Great news! There’s a new Weekday Pass from Aquaticathat allows you and your family to enjoy unlimited weekday access through Dec. 31, 2012.

Aquatica

We are big Sea World fans so Aquatica is basically a shoe-in on our local favorite activities list.  Aquatica takes guests in, over and under the water with some super cool water rides and animal encounters with Commerson’s dolphins, exotic birds and more!

I know as a full-time working mom, weekday passes to attractions aren’t always worth the money, but Aquatica is open until 7pm and even 8 pm most weekdays during the summer!

 With the Weekday Pass, guests can play every weekday this summer, and for the rest of the year, for just $59.99 plus tax. There’s even an option to purchase a weekend day for just $15 when you show your Weekday Pass at the front gate. (This is an awesome option!)

Guests can experience Aquatica’s 38 thrilling water slides, rivers and lagoons, side-by-side wave pools and two interactive water playgrounds designed for the littlest of swimmers.

For more info visit Aquatica’s website.

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Birthday Beads & Bows

Bracelet Making

For the past five years, I’ve subjected myself to huge hooplas to celebrate Mia’s birthday. I pretty much created a party monster from the beginning. Oh, the invitations, the themes, the decorations, the goodie bags… Why would this child expect anything less?

This year, I took a different approach to the birthday celebration and I’m so glad I did.

Rae-Berry Beads & More

Mia and four of her friends met at Rae-Berry beads & more  in Dr. Philips to celebrate on a Saturday afternoon. This place is heaven for  little girls! Two tables along each wall at Rae-Berry are filled with thousands of different beads.

First, Ramee, the owner of Rae-Berry, showed the girls how to create their very own beautiful bracelet out of the beads of their choice.

Next came the creation of the “hair pretties.”The girls were able to create funky hair clips layering bright colored flowers with a gem in the center.

Showing Off Their Hair Pretties

Mia and her friends made a bracelet and hair pretty, but there are different choices for parties including bottle cap necklaces and a jewelry board . You can customize your activities based on age and size of your group.

There’s a pizza shop nearby so I ordered a large pie and then we enjoyed cupcakes brought from home. It was the perfect afternoon and the girls had a great time. Plus, they took home a cool bracelet and hair pretty that they created. (The perfect alternative to the goodie bag filled with things that are going to be thrown away!)

I left Rae-Berry wondering when I could come back with my own adult friends for an afternoon of jewelry making. This place is definitely not just for kids!

Supporting local business is a passion of mine, but supporting a local mom-owned business is even better!  For more information on Rae-Berry Beads visit their website.

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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, Parenting Leave a comment