Out and About: Previewing the New Crayola Experience at the Florida Mall in Orlando

Today (July 1), the new Crayola Experience opens at the Florida Mall in Orlando, to entertain families. Yesterday, my family and I had a chance to preview the Crayola Experience during a media event.

Crayola Experience opens at the Florida Mall - crayola crayons by Kirk Garreans

I was unsure what to expect as this is a new experience in Orlando. The original Crayola Experience, however, has been open for over 18 years in Easton, Pennsylvania, and this Orlando location marks their second location. So we went with an open mind, as well as a lot of excitement. Who doesn’t love Crayola, right?

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Out and About: Taking the Family to See Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s Production of The Frog and the Princess

Last Sunday the family and I attended a Father’s Day matinee performance of The Frog and the Princess by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater company. Not just a play, it required audience participation, which made it all the more fun.

The Frog and the Princess by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater

You know the Brothers Grimm story: Prince likes Princess but is turned into a frog, frog must win Princesses heart and be kissed to become human again… blah, blah bah. But this production of the classic fable has a twist. Since I am not into giving away spoilers, you must go see this show to see what happens, but it updates the tale nicely.

The Frog and the Princess by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater
My husband Kirk as one of the princes at The Frog and the Princess by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater

The show is only about an hour long, so it’s easy to sit through, even for our seven-year-old. It’s in a smaller more intimate theatre, which adds to the fun.

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Out and About: Orlando Shakespeare Theater Makes The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley So Much Fun for the Family

Orlando Shakespeare Theater presents The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley

Introducing children to the beauty of theater can be a little difficult. Shows steered towards children tend to be boring for the parents and shows that are more for the adults are hardly able to entertain the little ones. To find a happy medium is usually difficult. The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley is one of those happy mediums.

My family and I were able to see the show on Saturday (10/25), and we enjoyed every moment of it. The show is based on the popular kid’s book series, Flat Stanley, written by Jeff Brown. It’s about a boy who becomes flat and makes the best of an odd situation. The musical does differ from the book series in how Stanley becomes flat and how he’s cured, but if you aren’t a stickler for continuity (or have never read the books like me) then it really isn’t a big deal.

The show starts with meeting the adorable Lambchop family. Instead of Stanley and his little brother, Arthur, going to bed, they stay up singing about doing great things when a shooting star flies over and Stanley makes a wish to be able to see the world while “doing things no one else has ever seen before.” The next morning, Stanley wakes up to a much flatter self. After talking to the mailman, Mrs. Cortero, Stanley decides to mail himself to visit his friend in California. Once there, he meets a Hollywood producer who sends him to France and Hawaii. After Stanley has his fill of adventures, he decides home in the best place to be.

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2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to Run September 27 through November 11

epcotfoodwine2The 18th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is only a few months away, and it will feature flavors from six continents, with more than 25 marketplaces to sample from. It will run from September 27 through November 11, 2013.

New this year is the Scotland Marketplace, added due to the popularity of the Disney film, “Brave.” No word on the exact menu offerings, but Disney says it will feature “traditional flavors with a twist ” that will pair well with the beer, mead, and Scotch offerings.

The Brazil Marketplace will return after a one-year hiatus, but it will feature a new menu. Hopefully, they’ll bring back the frozen Caipirinha. Also returning will be the Hawaii Marketplace, with its yummy Kalua Pork Slider, and Terra, with delicious vegan offerings like Trick’n Chicken Curry.

In addition to the marketplace kiosks, renowned chefs like Warren Brown, Paula DaSilva, Gale Gand, Jamie Deen, Robert Irvine, Dean Max, Rock Harper, Jeff Henderson, Art Smith, Buddy Valastro, Allen Susser, “Cake Boy” Eric Lanlard, Duskie Estes and John Stewart, Donald Link, Bryan Voltaggio and Emily Ellyn will share their talents during culinary demos and premium events.

The nightly Eat to the Beat concerts will feature a wide variety of acts from the Go-Go’s to Sugar Ray to Manhattan Transfer to Boyz II Men. We posted the full Eat to the Beat line-up a few days ago. These concerts are free with park admission.

Authentic Taste seminars, Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, special book signings, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment are also included with regular Epcot admission.

The food and beverage samples, some culinary demos and wine seminars, and special events like Party for the Senses, are an additional cost.

For more information on the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, visit epcotfoodfestival.com.

Chocolate Kingdom Attraction and Retail Store Opens in Kissimmee


If you’re a chocoholic, you’ll love the new attraction that has opened in Kissimmee.

Chocolate Kingdom, the Factory Adventure Tour, located at 5720 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, near Old Town and Fun Spot, opened on December 31, 2012.

According to the company, the attraction is an interactive journey that uncovers how chocolate transforms from a bean into edible delights like candy bars and more.

There is also a chocolate museum, a river of chocolate, and the opportunity to create a custom chocolate bar.

Chocolate Kingdom is open daily from noon to 8pm, with tours leaving every hour from 1pm to 7pm. Admission is $15 for 13 and over; $12 for ages 4-12. The tour takes between 45 minutes and an hour.

For more information, call 407-705-3475 or visit the Chocolate Kingdom Facebook page.

SeaWorld Orlando to End Makahiki Luau Dinner Show at End of September

SeaWorld Orlando has announced it is ending its long-running Polynesian-themed luau dinner show.


The Makahiki Luau will say a final “aloha” to the park on September 30, 2012.

The dinner show takes place in the Seafire Inn near the waterfront, and admission includes live entertainment and the meal.

Menu items include salad, entree (Hawaiian chicken, Polynesian-Style BBQ pork, fish in a pina colada sauce, and a stir-fried vegetable medley), plus a dessert and non-alcoholic beverages.

There is also a children’s menu and a cash bar.

Cost for the luau is $46 per person ($29 for children), and park admission is not needed.

Reservations are required and can be made online at SeaWorldOrlando.com.

SeaWorld Orlando has not said what, if anything, will replace the Makahiki Luau.

[Image courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando]

See Space Shuttle Endeavour One Last Time at Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has put together some special viewing events for the space shuttle Endeavour before it heads for its future home in California.


On September 14 and 15, KSC will have a bus tour that includes a drive-by of Endeavour and the specially designed Boeing 747 that will carry it cross-country, as well as Launch Pad 39-A and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Cost is $20 for those over 12 and $14 ages 3-11, in addition to regular admission.

Then, on September 17, visitors will be able to view the beginning of Endeavour’s trip to its new home. Guests can watch as it crosses above the KSC complex’s Rocket Garden. This is included with regular admission. However, for an additional $40, you can view the take-off from the limited seating area at the Shuttle Landing facility.

Until then, Endeavour is currently in the KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building, and guests that take the special tour of that building will be able to get up close to the shuttle.

Next year, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will open a specially built area that will house the space shuttle Atlantis, the only one to remain in Florida.

Regular admission to KSC is $50 over 12 and $40 ages 3-11. During the month of September, you can save $5 if you purchase in advance online.

For more info or to purchase tickets, go to kennedyspacecenter.com or call 877-313-2610.

[Photo courtesy of NASA]

River Otters Exhibit to Open at Central Florida Zoo September 1

The Central Florida Zoo is adding a new exhibit and it’s all about the river otter.


North American river otters are native to Central Florida and this natural environment exhibit will feature a waterfall and pond to watch the otters swim and play.

The zoo will hold the grand opening on Saturday, September 1, 2012, at 10am.

The Central Florida Zoo is located at 3755 NW Hwy 17-92 in Sanford. Admission is $12.95 for age 13 and up, $10.95 for seniors 60+, and $8.95 for kids age 3-12. Central Florida Zoo members are free.

[image courtesy Central Florida Zoo]

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