Get a break from our summer heat with Disney On Ice presents Frozen, coming to Tampa's Amalie Arena from Sept 29 – Oct 1, 2017! You’ll be magically whisked away into the wintry world of Arendelle, where you will be dazzled by amazing special effects and astonishing skating. Sing and dance along to inspiring songs, including “Let It Go.” Join royal sisters Anna and Elsa, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls as they journey to discover that true love is ultimately the most magical power of all!
Hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by your most beloved Disney Princesses and characters from favorites like Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King, this unforgettable celebration of love and friendship will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime.
Ticket prices start at $18!
Sep 29, 2017
Sep 30, 2017
11:00AM , 03:00PM , 07:00PM
Oct 01, 2017
11:00AM , 03:00PM
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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.
Producers Nicole Feld and Kenneth Feld have selected the brightest and most creative minds in the industry to put together this spectacular show.
The Artist - Nathan Sawaya
When you arrive at The Art of the Brick Tampa, you are welcomed into a small area to watch a 3 minute video about the artist behind the exhibit, Nathan Sawaya. It was fascinating to learn all about his passion for LEGOs and the journey that led to creating the exhibit after being a corporate lawyer in NYC.
After the video, you have a self-directed walking tour of the gallery that houses the exhibit. Each area has a theme, such as the first room with famous art recreated by LEGOs. I loved checking out the title of each piece and the number of bricks that it took to assemble it. The Mona Lisa and Starry Night were my favorites in this gallery!
I will include some photos of the exhibit, but I don’t want to ruin it for you! My boys loved seeing how LEGOs can be assembled to create amazing things of all shapes and sizes. I was in awe of the artistic component. Sawaya truly found ways to take a novel medium to create pieces that were able to evoke emotion and feeling.
At the end of the tour, there is an interactive area with LEGO bricks for everyone to assemble their own creations. There is even a spot for the littlest ones to have fun with the Duplo larger blocks! Everyone will have the chance to be inspired and explore their creativity.
Know if you go - And you should go!
Designated parking is available, but it is a bit of a walk from the museum. There are plenty of lots downtown, just follow signage and pay as posted.
The exhibit is FREE to view, courtesy of the Vinik Foundation, through September 4 at 802 East Whiting Street in Downtown Tampa (District 3 Arts and Event Center). The exhibit is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM.
My first stop was for a donut and coffee of course! Have you ever had a donut from Duck Donuts? Ohhh emmm geeee. It’s a good thing for my health that they didn’t open the store next to my gym in Virginia until after we moved to Florida. Try the Cinnamon Sugar - it's amazing!
I fit in some wonderful time with my matron of honor from my wedding and another close friend of mine. They were my first friends in Virginia when I started teaching, and we share many memories together.
I next spent the afternoon getting my car serviced. This may sound like a terrible way to spend my first afternoon of freedom, but I didn’t have any kids with me, I had free wifi, and they included a complimentary car wash!
Next, I made sure to include a stop at my favorite nail salon for a little pampering before an evening catching up with a great friend.
Well, Day 2 was a little less about me than Day 1. I did a lot of work and emails for Housewives, had lunch at the AMAZING Warehouse in Alexandria with a contact for a Girls Night Out here in Tampa, and had some work done on my computer. It was a little about me when I was working because I used workspace at Wegmans, the best grocery store ever. I’m happy to debate about how it stacks up against Publix. I made sure to fit in another meal and wine time with my awesome, hospitable friend who hosted me at her home in the evening.
Wednesday morning started with an amazing cycle class with one of my favorite instructors in Virginia. I have a couple great classes in Tampa, but this one felt like home.
I spent the afternoon with my friend (and sort of boss!) from the school system I do some work for. It was great to catch up and connect!
That evening, I was so excited to pick up my husband at the airport! A few days apart and time spent on our own left us refreshed and ready for a couple of days in Virginia without our kiddos.
What I Learned
Of course, time away from my family left me with some pretty intense mommy/wife guilt, but I struggle to explain how important this time was for me. I didn’t go on an exotic vacation. I simply spent a few days being me. Just me, not a wife, not a mom, just me. I know those roles of mom and wife are an important part of who I really am, but I want to know that I can fill my days without that too.
Would you ever take a little vacay for yourself? What would it look like?
I received an email from Disney about a month ago about a special annual passholder preview event of their newest attraction, Pandora: World of Avatar. This new area will not open to the public until May 27, and I knew we would not want to join the crowds upon opening. I jumped on the chance to bring my family to check out this new area of Animal Kingdom. I’m excited to share our adventure with you!
Pandora is the backdrop for the movie Avatar, a 2009 science fiction film. In the movie, humans are mining the mineral unobtanium by using avatars to interact with the native Na’vi tribe. It results in a great conflict, but the world of Pandora at Animal Kingdom is set a generation after the movie. I was worried that I would need to review my movie knowledge before visiting, but the signs and information available did a great job explaining the story.
The details from the floating mountains to the lush plant life, to the castmembers who stayed in character, did not miss anything. In our previous trips to Animal Kingdom this year, we always noticed the floating mountains, but it was not until we were standing under them that I truly appreciated their size and beauty.
My boys also LOVED the collection of drums they could play on under the floating mountain! Make sure to give them a try!
We visited Pandora from 3 – 5 pm so we did not enjoy any food during that time, but I did indulge in the Mo’ara Margarita from Pongu Pongu. DELICIOUS!
There are two attractions in Pandora: the Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey, and they are completely different experiences.
The Flight of Passage ride is an amazing 3-D experience that immerses you in the experience of riding a banshee. It is so real that you actually feel the banshee “breathing” beneath you! I wasn’t sure how the ride would work, but of course Disney executed it beautifully. The best comparison I can offer is that of Soarin’ at Epcot. The sights, smells, and feeling of flying all reminded me of Soarin’, but with more of a thrill. We were not allowed to take photos inside the ride itself, but I snapped some pictures in the standby line and in the first room where they match you with an avatar. My 7 year old had a blast on this ride, but he is a bit of a thrill-seaker! The castmembers were sure to advise all guests that this ride requires you ride individually on a seat resembling a motorcycle, and some guests may not fit comfortably.
The Na’vi River Journey is a breathtaking, slow boat ride in the dark, surrounded by bioluminescent rainforest. The ride is a perfect respite from the Florida heat, and provides a quiet, soothing experience. The Na’vi Shaman of Songs serenade is amazing! Our whole family loved it!
There are tons of reviews and websites with info about these new attractions. None of them compare to the real experience! I hope you can find the time to visit Pandora: World of Avatar soon at Disney's Animal Kingdom!
Looking for a great resort to spend time with your family? We had the immense pleasure of spending a weekend at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra, and we all had an amazing time! The resort is located in Ponte Vedra Beach, between St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Florida. Its location off of A1A made it convenient to the beach, local shopping (Publix is just off the property), and of course the famous TPC Sawgrass Golf Course.
This Marriott has recently undergone renovations, and the rooms were fresh, bright, and new! There are not only standard hotel rooms, but the villas on the property provide more space and even kitchenettes. If you are staying for a longer amount of time or want to splurge, the villas are a great option. Traveling as a family of 5, we loved the ability to add an adjoining room. My husband and I shared a king-sized bed, we had a comfortable living area with a couch and chairs, and our boys were able to have their own beds (and bathroom!) in the adjoining room.
My favorite area of the entire villa was our balcony! We had a view of the main hotel and could even see the TPC Sawgrass course!
Fun for the Kids
My initial thought was that my three boys, ages 6, 4, and 10 months, wouldn’t have much to do at a golf and spa resort. I was so wrong! It only took about 3 hours into our stay for our 6 year old to proclaim that he “loves this place!” He and his brothers enjoyed the restaurants, pools, cornhole game, ping pong, putt-putt golf, Surfstream (more on that later!), and the beach. The Marriott even provided a pack n play for our baby to sleep in, complete with fresh sheets.
Marriott has really thought of everything for the children of guests here. They recently added the Mighty Oaks play area where parents can accompany their children for some quiet play time with a great selection of toys and even foosball! There was never a dull moment during our stay!
Sawgrass Marriott has an amazing selection of restaurants with a variety of fare for every desire. We were lucky to sample delicious food ranging from beach casual, brunch buffet, Mediterranean themed dinner, and the fine dining selection at Vernon’s. I loved that our kids felt welcome and had great choices at each of the restaurants, and my husband and I were able to enjoy delicious food as well! Just a few of our favorites include: the swordfish and desserts at Vernon’s, the burrata at 619 Oceanside, the crabcakes at the Sea Porch Bar & Grill, and the chili glazed gator nugget tacos at the American Gator Club!
We all can use some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Sawgrass Marriott has a secluded, quiet location that provided comfort and beautiful views! If that’s not enough, you can enjoy time at their spa for a variety of services including facials, massages and body treatments for men, women and couples, and manicures/pedicures.
If you prefer to relax by exercising, the workout studio has a great selection of cardio and strength-training equipment.
Fun in the Sun
I am a beach girl at heart. I hadn’t visited the Atlantic Ocean in about three years, so it was a delightful treat that the resort offered a free shuttle to their Cabana Beach Club for our enjoyment! Our kids played in the sand, enjoyed the surf, and then transitioned right over to the pool at the beach club. The resort had toys on hand, towels by the pool, and clean bathrooms. The Sea Porch Bar & Grill and 619 Oceanside Restaurant are both located at the beach, so you can spend the day here without any problem at all!
The first Surfstream American Wave Machine in the continental US just opened at Sawgrass Marriott, and it was the highlight of my trip! The instructors gave us the safety equipment and training we needed, and were so supportive while we tried out this fun activity! My husband, my 6 year old (height requirement of 42 inches), and I had a blast taking turns riding the waves right at the resort! They had boogie boards and surf boards available so everyone was able to ride a wave without trouble. I was a nervous wreck, but it was such an amazing experience!
You can’t stay near TPC Sawgrass without feeling the influence of the game of golf. Adjacent to Alice and Pete’s Pub is a floating hole challenge. For a small fee, guests can try their luck at hitting a golf ball into the “floating” hole 65 yards away.
A Wonderful Family Getaway
The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa was a perfect destination for our family. We were able to sample delicious food, have fun, and relax on the property and at the beach club. The Marriott staff all went above and beyond to make our weekend memorable, and we would gladly return! You can find many more details and book accommodations on their website.
We were invited for a media weekend as a guest of Sawgrass Marriott.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!
All photos are my own unless otherwise noted.
Tampa is full of so many amazing places! I asked the locals and used my own experiences from visiting our city as a tourist and as a new resident to narrow it down to 5 awesome attractions here in the area. These spots are all great with or without families, as a local or a tourist, and include low priced and more expensive options! Did I miss your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
The Florida Aquarium is the best aquarium I have ever visited. The variety of sea life is amazing, and the exhibits are engaging. We even had the pleasure of attending a wedding here a few years ago with the shark tank as the backdrop. It was breathtaking!
If you have little ones, don't miss the splash area outside. It's a perfect way to cool off and entertain the little ones!
For more info, visit their website.
Hillsborough River State park
If you love nature and would love a relaxing time viewing Florida's natural wildlife, check out Hillsborough River State Park in the northern part of the county. You can find many areas with rentals such as kayaks or canoes, or you can enjoy an easy walk through the park. They also have camping facilities available.
For more info, visit their website.
Shopping at International Plaza
Need something to do on a hot afternoon? Let's face it, if you visit during the summer, you will need to cool off somewhere! Or you may need a place to explore during afternoon thunderstorms. International Plaza is a high-end mall with over 200 specialty shops and Bay Street at the Plaza, an open-air village of fine restaurants and small boutiques. It is conveniently located near Tampa International Airport.
For more info, visit their website.
Lowry Park Zoo
For the animal lovers, time in Tampa is not complete without a trip to the Lowry Park Zoo! It is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). They care for over 1,300 animals and offers entertainment for the whole family. My boys love feeding the giraffes, visiting the petting zoo, and riding some rides! Insider tip: pack swimsuits for some time in the children's splash zone!
For more info, visit their website.
Tampa is home to some great food! For a fancy celebration, try out the well-known Bern's Steakhouse. Its delicious steaks, expansive wine list, and amazing desserts have earned Bern's numerous awards. It is worth a visit!
Another favorite is Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, known for its authentic Spanish fare. The paella is amazing!
Finally, for a little fun, ask a Tampa native where to find the best Cuban sandwich. Everyone has their own favorites, and I'm still looking for mine. Every one of these pressed sandwiches (usually with roast pork, pickles, ham, salami, swiss cheese, and mustard) I have tried has been delicious!
Looking for something to do this summer? Check out Summer Movie Express at Citrus Park!
Admission to the Summer Movie Express is only $1, and movies begin at 10 am. I suggest arriving early because you have to purchase at the box office. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.
Check out the schedule below! Each week, both movies play on both days.
Hi! I'm Diana. I love the beach, my family, chocolate, coffee, and meeting new people. I host monthly events in the Tampa area and cannot wait to meet all of you!