Category Archives: Around CFL

The Ruckus Cares

The Ruckus is an independent supporters group of Orlando City SC. If you have ever been to a match at the Citrus Bowl, you probably know them as the “crazies” in the south end of the stadium. But did you know The Ruckus is hard at work even on non-match days?

The Ruckus Cares is charitable organization within the main supporter group.  The goal of Ruckus Cares is to make Orlando a better place for everyone in the community.  For example, this past Sunday at the tailgate, The Ruckus collected donations for New Image Youth Center in Parramore. The mission of New Image Youth Center is to help inner city youth obtain a “New Image” through positive and motivating learning experiences. This is not the first time The Ruckus has collected donations at a tailgate for New Image Youth Center, and it won’t be the last! In fact, The Ruckus will be at Shine in downtown Orlando this Sunday (5/24/15) for the official Ruckus watch party collecting donations for New Image Youth Center.  The Center is in need of hot dogs, buns, juice packs, cases of water, and jeans. Cash donations of any amount are also welcome. Every little bit can help advance this amazing cause!



This past Sunday, The Ruckus also began “The Ruckus Remembers” campaign.  The idea here is to raise awareness about the effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and the suicide rate among veterans returning from the battlefield.  Did you know that an average of 22 veterans take their lives due to the effects of PTSD everyday? To help raise awareness, The Ruckus created a t-shirt that will be sold for the rest of the season.  The shirts are $20 and are available on The Ruckus website or at any tailgate throughout the season. A $10 donation for every shirt sold will be made to support our troops! The proceeds will benefit Tally Hall’s charity Banded Brigade Outdoors and Dogs 4 Warriors. Because 22 is too many!

PC: Ben David

The Ruckus will also be hosting a “Raise Your Glass, Raise Awareness” event at Orlando Brewing this Memorial Day (5/25/15).  The event is set to kick off at 4 pm and will run until 9 pm.  A $5 donation to The Ruckus Remembers fundraiser will earn you $1 off all draft beers all night long! There will also be a 50/50 raffle drawing, so be sure to buy a ticket or three! All proceeds from the wristbands and 50/50 raffle will benefit Banded Brigade Outdoors and Dogs 4 Warriors.

Tally Hall PC: Ben David

For more information about The Ruckus Cares, or any of the charities mentioned above, please check out the links below.

The Ruckus Cares

New Image Youth Center

Banded Brigade Outdoors

Dogs 4 Warriors

#RuckusTilWeDie #RuckusRemembers #RuckusCares #VamosOrlando

Orlando City SC: No Angels Here

If you were not one of the 40,000 in attendance on Sunday, you missed one hell of a match! Orlando City SC vs LA Galaxy, two teams that a year ago where in very different places.  Orlando City was playing in USL Pro, while the Galaxy were on their way to becoming MLS Cup Champions. Fast forward to May 17, 2015 and you have two clubs that are struggling for points.  Orlando City came into Sunday’s match searching for their first home win, while the Galaxy have yet to win on the road.  Something had to give, and this match up had the makings of another home nail biter for the good guys.



You gonna eat that cornbread Max? PC: Ish Shah

It was really hot, and considering it is only mid May, June and July matches are going to be BRUTAL!  But, like all good supporters, we make sure to stay full and hydrated. Let’s face it jumping and singing for 90 minutes really takes it out of you! The tailgate menu for this match was Cajun inspired and included a crawfish boil, etouffee, beans, rice, and corn bread.


Ish & Mudbug bringin’ the Ruckus! PC: Pablo Sierra

Good food wasn’t the only thing we were treated to at the tailgate.  To show you what a class organization Orlando City SC is, you just have to see the picture below.


Darwin Ceren & SC Ruckus

The guy in the white is Orlando City midfielder Darwin Ceren. Now I don’t know about you, but I have never been to a tailgate for any other sport, and hung out with a player before the game. Darwin was lucky we were there for him though… after hanging out with us, Darwin scored his first goal of the season.  Now I’m not saying we had anything to do with Darwin’s amazing strike from distance… However, just to be safe, I think we should hang out more often just in case… See you on the 30th Mr. Ceren! :0)

In the end, the good guys played their best match of the season! With goals from Eric Avila, Cyle Larin, Kaka, and Darwin Ceren, the Galaxy were sent home empty-handed.  It was the worst loss in MLS history for the defending Champions against an expansion side.



The general feeling around the Citrus Bowl was that the club finally turned the corner at home.  It has been a rough start for the lads, but we refused to give up on our club.  It’s like they say… You must have lows in order to appreciate the highs. Well Sunday was a definite high and it was greatly appreciated! #DefyExpectations

Vamos Orlando!!!

Orlando City SC will be playing in San Jose against the Earthquakes on Sunday May 24, at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1

The next home match is May 30th against Columbus Crew SC, kick off is at 7:30 pm.  Get your tickets by clicking HERE




Orlando City SC: The Revolution

In their first four matches at home, Orlando City SC have struggled to score goals.  If it wasn’t for a fluke deflection off a free kick against NYCFC on March 8th, Orlando City would have nothing to show for the home half of their season.  On the road however, the club is scoring goals and getting positive results.  In the four matches away from the Citrus Bowl, the club has managed to score five goals and collect seven points (2 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw).  So what is it about playing at home? The support for the club has been amazing since day one, the numbers prove that.  Orlando City has some of the best home attendance numbers in the league.  They are one of only four Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs with a season ticket waiting list.  It is hard for me as a supporter to wrap my head around the lack of home results. When I come home after a match my voice is shot and my body aches from jumping and waiving a flag for 90+ minutes.  As supporters we are doing our part to make sure the club knows we are there for them. At some point the flood gates have to open so goals can finally be scored at the Citrus Bowl.  We supporters are a patient bunch, and we will cheer on Orlando City no matter what. With that said, it is nice to be rewarded with a goal or two from time to time. Week after week I was feeling a bit deflated after the final whistle. The walk to the car with my fellow supporters was a long and often times quiet one. When will this home drought end? We have knocked on the door so many times, only to have it slammed in our faces over and over.


Smokin’ PC: Ish Shah

Friday night the Orlando City lads played host to the New England Revolution.  New England came into the match with the best record in the Eastern Conference, and they played like it. The first half was ugly for the good guys.  New England controlled the midfield and the overall pace of the game. Charlie Davies found the back of the net for the Revolution in the 19th minute after some sloppy defensive play. The opportunities just kept coming for New England throughout the first half. Fortunately for Orlando City, they went into the break only down 1-0. In the second half, another defensive lapse in the 71st minute allowed New England to take the 2-0 lead. Even though Orlando City came out much more aggressive in the second half, silly mistakes in bad areas cost them.  It’s like a movie you have seen before, but you can’t stop watching.  Orlando City is my Goodfellas.  Anytime I am flipping through the channels and I come across it, I have to watch it. On this night, I am glad I didn’t change the channel…


What’s Happening?!?!

In the 75th minute, Ramos serves a ball into Larin and BOOM! Just like that we are 2-1 with 15 minutes left to play. It was a thing of beauty.  The crowed went mental, confetti was flying, and the beer shower was flowing in The Wall. Finally a home goal! It was two months to the day since the last home goal against NYCFC.  But wait… there’s more! In the 90th minute, Boden sends a perfectly placed cross into the box that Collin heads into the net. It’s a new game as we are all level at two apiece. Confetti and beer shower, take two! The feeling you get when your club scores a goal that late in the match to get a positive result, is unbelievable. The anticipation kills you, but when your patience and unconditional support finally payoff, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences. This is Orlando, and it IS a beautiful game.


Sweet Comeback Action!

Vamos Orlando!

Upcoming Matches

May 13th Away vs DC United – City Pub Locations

May 17th Home vs LA Galaxy – Tickets Here


Cyberbullying towards Aspiring SeaWorld Trainers from Anticaps?

Cyberbullying towards Aspiring SeaWorld Trainers from Anticaps?

By: Kaylin Williams

Hard to believe? Think again. Kids from ages of 10 all the way to 18 and older kids who are aspiring to become SeaWorld trainers are receiving death threats from Anti-Caps on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc…

I’m an avid Instagram user and I’ve personally gotten multiple death threats like, “You want to work for PoolWorld? Well, you deserve to get dragged under and killed like Dawn Brancheau did.” I’ve also gotten attacked just for simply talking about SeaWorld at my own school. I also remember seeing a post to the Blackfish Film Facebook page of my article (Link to “The Truth About SeaWorld Parks:The Blackfish Backlash”) where an anti-cap said “The Kaylin Williams scribbling is quite insipid, it’s honestly depressing that kids and teens get sucked into the SeaWorld brainwashing epidemic”.


People go to crazy extents just to tear a kid’s dreams apart. The idea that you have to be in your 20’s to know the truth about SeaWorld needs to be debunked. I’m here spreading the truth, and i’m only 16 years old! There are kids and teens who have done their own research and spread awareness about SeaWorld and the Blackfish backlash going around. People are misinformed, that is becoming more and more apparent. The other day I was talking about Blackfish with a kid that had seen it and wanted my input on the film, and from across the room this girl shouts “SeaWorld is awful! They beat the whales with buckets and they only use those whistles hurt their ears!” Where are these horrendous accusations coming from? These claims aren’t even made in Blackfish itself.

There was even an account I was following on instagram of this aspiring trainer, a young girl who had a HATE account made about her. The account was based around screenshots of pictures on the girl’s account and hating on her, including a long list of followers. This girl had to report that account, delete her own, start a new account and put her account on private! This is uncalled for.

Another incident happened over halloween. A woman dressed up like a zombie Dawn Brancheau, and her baby boy as a killer whale. How disrespectful is that? To glorify the death of someone like that? Unacceptable. Can you imagine how Dawn’s family would’ve felt seeing that? Disrespectful.

Kids, teens and adults should not be scrutinized, torn down or given death threats and wishes. Let kids be kids, teens be teens, and adults live their lives. These keyboard activists need to learn when they’ve gone too far. People shouldn’t be trashed like this, when chatting up SeaWorld with a pro-cap, anti-caps need to be respectful, don’t trash talk or use foul language. Be thoughtful, and courteous to others please. Make this world a friendly place.

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas
Article I wrote for former SeaWorld trainer, Kyle Kittleson:
Articles I wrote for Central Florida Top5 can be found through this link to the first one I wrote:
Thank you for your time and consideration! It means a lot!
And have a Whale of a day!




LEGOLAND Florida Resort updates and more at IAAPA 2014

by: @jenvargas

© 2014 Chip Litherland Photography Inc.

© 2014 Chip Litherland Photography Inc.

Wednesday is going to be a BIG day at IAAPA (the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) expo, especially for our friends at Merlin Entertainments Group! The world’s second largest attractions operator, has expanded here in Central Florida quite a bit over the past few years. We look forward to hearing updates about SEA LIFE Orlando, Madame Tussauds Orlando and 400 ft tall The Orlando Eye (With 4D Cinema Experience) opening in the Spring of 2015.

But wait… there’s MORE! Merlin also plans on sharing new construction updates and photos of the five-story, 152 room LEGOLAND Hotel (opening Summer 2015)… and they’ve had some help!

© 2014 Chip Litherland Photography Inc.

© 2014 Chip Litherland Photography Inc.



Who’s that handsome devil up there? Only true BrickFans know for sure. There’s a little something extra included in Wednesday’s plans! Master Builder Emmet (from The Lego Movie) and Team LEGOLAND have been working very hard lately, and not just on the new Resort.  Merlin also will reveal a new nine foot across, eight foot tall LEGO model designed for LEGOLAND Florida Resort which features all three coming attractions!! I’ve hugged Buddy. My new goal is to hug Emmet! Will I see him in person? I hope so!

Make sure to follow @CentralFLTop5 on Twitter and LIKE our Facebook page for exclusive news live from the IAAPA Trade Show Floor!

FLASHBACK: Remember when we walked all NINE MILES of IAAPA’s aisles back in 2012?

28th Annual Festival of Trees at Orlando Museum of Art

by: @jenvargas

Tis the Treeson! Or, as Orlando Museum of Art’s Council of 101 would say, Tis the Season… for Festival of Trees! For an in-depth look, check out my Google Story below…

As our own Lisa Wilk teased last month in her write-up of Top 5 Fancy Pants Events, one of Central Florida’s favorites, the 28th Annual Festival of Trees has arrived at Orlando Museum of Art. This year’s event features designer decorated trees of all shapes, sizes and colors as well as wall-to-wall wreaths, live entertainment, holiday vignettes, a very swanky holiday boutique (Lilly Pulitzer, Sam Flax, etc), a Festival Cafe, Toyland Town activity area and Children’s Shop and more gingerbread house real estate than you can shake a wooden spoon at! All have been created by local designers, businesses and pastry chefs and THE SMELLS will have you craving hot cocoa or egg nog or just about anything else tasty. Just LOOK at this chocolate resort by Chef Rabii of Four Seasons Orlando

Along with the exciting collection of holiday displays, gifts and more, guests are invited to attend these special events throughout the Festival:

Tuesday, November 18 10am - 5pm 
$9 Senior Admission/$10 General Admission - Celebrating Seniors

Wednesday, November 19 6:30 - 8:30pm
$12 All Ages - Family Fun, Santa, Children's Entertainment

$25 All Ages 5:30pm PRIORITY ENTRY 
VIP Pass will allow for a full hour of enjoying Reindeer Romp privately before the doors open 
at 6:30pm for Reindeer Romp General Admission

General Admission: November 15-23, 2014
10am - 5pm Daily/$10 Adult $6 Child (ages 3-11)

Tickets are now available for purchase by calling 407-896-4231, Ext. 254, visiting or at the Orlando Museum of Art. Your ticket purchase also includes admission to current Orlando Museum of Art exhibitions including Lamar Peterson: Suburbia Sublime and David Rathman: Stand By Your Accidents. (Don’t forget to stop by the membership desk to check out the discounts on OMA Memberships!)

*VIP Passes must be pre-purchased/Limited to 100 Guests. Rudolph’s VIP Pass will allow for a full hour of enjoying Reindeer Romp privately. Guests will have the opportunity to visit with Santa and enjoy the evening’s festivities before the doors open at 6:30pm for Reindeer Romp general admission.

About the Council of 101 The Council of 101 was founded in 1965 to further the cultural development and appreciation of the visual arts in Central Florida. Today, this outstanding group of volunteers consists of Active, Associate, Honorary, Provisional and Sustaining members who comprise an organization of nearly 300 women. These dedicated members devote countless volunteer hours, boundless energy and strong personal skills to annual fund-raising projects that provide significant financial support to the Orlando Museum of Art. In addition to cash donations, the Council of 101 purchases, through the Corporate Lease Program, Museum-quality prints created by contemporary American artists and gifts them to the Orlando Museum of Art. Prints from this collection may be leased by local businesses through the program administered by the Council of 101. The Council of 101, since its inception, has contributed in excess of $6 million towards art, exhibits, facility renovation and Museum expansion programs. For more information about the Council of 101, please call 407-896-4231 x254.

The Orlando Museum of Art The Orlando Museum of Art is located in Orlando’s Historic Loch Haven Park at 2416 North Mills Ave., Orlando, Fla. From I-4 take the Princeton Street exit 85. Drive east on Princeton Street, and at the corner of Princeton and Mills (US Highway 17 / 92), turn left. Go one block to east Rollins Street and turn left. The entrance is the first driveway on the left. For further information please call 407-896-4231, Ext. 254 or visit On-site parking during the Festival of Trees $5, Off-site parking visit the website. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Orlando Museum of Art is a Blue Star Museum supported by the Museum’s Board of Trustees, the Ambassadors, Council of 101, Friends of American Art, Acquisition Trust, earned income, contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is sponsored in part by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program, the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on the Arts and Culture. The National Endowment provides additional support for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

OUC Orlando Half Marathon 2014 Details

World Class Half Marathon Action at OUC Orlando Half Marathon

World class half marathon action comes to downtown Orlando on Saturday, December 6, 2014 at theOUC Orlando Half Marathon.  Over 4000 athletes from around the world will be vying for prize money at one of

Florida’s largest 13.1 mile races.  Orlando Utilities Commission and Track Shack Events, a nationally recognized Orlando-based race management firm, are the organizers of Orlando’s only Half Marathon.

Starting at Lake Eola, the flat, fast 13.1 mile route will wind through 14 downtown Orlando neighborhoods.  More than 400 volunteers and six on-course entertainment locations featuring local entertainers make this well-established
race “beginner” friendly and attractive to new runners.


“Creating the course is a cooperative effort with the City to design the best course for the runners, while showcasing Orlando’s charming neighborhoods with minimal traffic impact,” Race Director Jon Hughes, co-owner of
Track Shack Events.  A flat course that’s conducive to running fast times, cheering fans, makes a course popular with participants.  “Together with the City and our sponsors, our goal is to present Orlando as a big-time running
city and make this one of the biggest and best half marathons in the U.S.”  Participants can register at

On the way to making the OUC Orlando Half Marathon a major international endurance event, merchandise prizes and prize money totalling $3,400 will be awarded to the top three overall male and female winners. The race
also features prize money awarded to the top three male and female Floridians and recognition as state champions.

Currently runners from 17 states and four countries are registered including four runners from Japan who travel to Orlando as part of the City of Orlando’s Sister City Exchange Program. 

The beneficiary focus is on local youth health and fitness programs with race proceeds benefiting the Track Shack Foundation and the Florida Citrus Sports Foundation MVPs.

The OUC Orlando Half Marathon is owned and managed by Track Shack Events, a locally owned road race management firm that manages more than 25 events per year and operates Track Shack, a specialty running/walking
store and the non-profit Track Shack foundation.

Established in 1923 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, OUC—The Reliable One is the second largest municipal utility in Florida. OUC provides electric and water services to nearly 225,000 customers in Orlando, St. Cloud
and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties. Visit to learn more about OUC’s commitment to reliability, affordability and sustainability.

Vaccinate yourself against Bullying’s Virus

My Voice Counts Tour!

During the last few years, it has been made visible to society the phenomenon of violence that has spread through medias. The violence among children and adolescents is a problem that needs/must be addressed by education establishments. According to the “Mayor Conference” executed in Texas the 22nd of June 2014, where the “Bully Project” was established, only in the United States were there 13 million children that were victims of Bullying; These figures were taken from the US census the previous year. However, added unto those 13 million victims are the 13 million families that can total up to 40 million of people that have been affected from the Bullying virus.

Speak up against the bullying: Bullying Report


We love this: myvoicecountstour

Our mission is to create awareness through the campaign where we promote positive values along with a tangible measure that would achieve a real change effectively . Our primary focus is to achieve that children and adolescents can enjoy a healthy environment and make their lives enjoyable within schools. The tools we use are entertainment and with this we awaken a passion in common between them where there are no differences but convergence. This common point is the enjoyment of music. Music is a tool that allows us to be relaxed where differences and forget right now where we are willing to accept these positive values to help implement change. Our goal covers children, adolescents, families, communities, state and build a better country.

Learn more  @


Top 5 Developments Coming to Orlando-Area Malls

mall co

Living in metro Orlando, we’re fortunate to have more than a dozen fantastic shopping malls. And for those visiting from around the world, it provides a fabulous escape from the attractions.

From the luxurious Mall at Millenia to deal-minded outlets, there’s no shortage of places to spend money and go home with countless shopping bags.

But like the convention center, downtown area and airport, the mall scene continues to evolve and improve upon itself.

Central Florida Top 5 presents the top five developments coming to Orlando-area malls.

  1. Artegon Marketplace Orlando Introduces a New Shopping Concept
  2. Gods & Monsters, American Girl and The Crayola Experience Redefine the Mall Experience
  3. Orlando Fashion Square Readies Hotel and Restaurants to Accompany Recently Opened Bowling Alley
  4. From “Food Court” to “Dining Pavilion”
  5. I-Drive getting a 7-star hotel and vertical “megamall”

Artegon Marketplace Orlando Introduces a New Shopping Concept

Remember Festival Bay Mall? Forget about it because Artegon Marketplace Orlando is taking over on November 20, 2014.

Paragon Outlet Partners, LLC has redeveloped the spot into a new shopping concept in the heart of Orlando tourism’s district on International Drive. Rather than host a bevy of traditional mall retailers, Artegon Marketplace Orlando boasts itself as an artisan showcase with 165 craftspeople. They’ll offer everything from eco-friendly handbags and accessories; soaps; jewelry; sculpture; mixed media artwork; custom clothing and more. That’s not to mention hand-crafted foods including popcorn, hot sauces, nuts, local honey plus other surprises.

With studies indicating that half of the American workforce will soon consist of entrepreneurs, this artisan concept doesn’t appear to be short-sighted and should enjoy a lengthier stay than its predecessor.

Gods & Monsters, American Girl and The Crayola Experience Redefine the Mall Experience

Brands want to offer more than a place to purchase goods and are creating an experience that creates a psychological connection.

Gods & Monsters is set to open at Artegon Marketplace Orlando and revolutionize the high-end comics and collectibles store with its theme park-quality decor, inspired product presentation and immersive lounge areas. It’s not just about reading your favorite comic book, but rather stepping into one.

The Florida Mall is also set to open a couple stores that introduce a new way to experience your favorite brands with American Girl and The Crayola Experience.

American Girl will open its 18th location in Orlando on November 15, 2014 and will let little girls shop for their favorite American Girl products; enjoy lunch, dinner and dessert in the Bistro; treat their doll to a new ‘do in the Doll Hair Salon; and celebrate birthdays and other special events. The days of walking into the store and pointing to your mom what doll you wanted are in the past with an experience you can see, taste and touch.

And who would’ve thought there’d be an attraction based on the popular crayon company Crayola? The Crayola Experience is set to open in summer 2015 also at The Florida Mall and features 25 hands-on experiences for families to enjoy. It will also contain a store and cafe and, like most attractions in town, require an admission fee.

Orlando Fashion Square Readies Hotel and Restaurants to Accompany Recently Opened Bowling Alley

Once upon a time, Orlando Fashion Square was the mall to be at. Increased competition stole market share and now it’s time to claim some of that back. Like Artegon Marketplace Orlando is branding itself as something different, Orlando Fashion Square is doing the same behind it’s new ownership group UP Development.

While it’s a shopping mall first and foremost, it also aims to stand for what others can’t — community. While The Mall at Millenia and The Florida Mall can boast a laundry list of brands and retailers, Orlando Fashion Square is taking the grassroots approach, luring shoppers in with community-based events and resources and surrounding them with brands they know and trust.

That’s why they’ve provided a new place for your family to hang out with StrikeOuts Bowling and Entertainment. The bowling alley is on the second floor across from the movie theater and offers 12 lanes of fun. If that wasn’t enough, get your game on in the arcade and rack up points for prizes. There’s also a sports bar area where you can enjoy the game with a brew or mix it up in a game of pool.

Oh, and the food! Enjoy a cheeseburger, fries, wings, milkshakes and sweets galore.

On the horizon, the mall is opening Element by Westin — a product of Starwood Hotels and Resorts — and breaks ground in fall 2014. The idea is that business travelers can stay at this mall’s hotel at the edge of downtown and do all their shopping all under one roof.

Orlando Fashion Square will also introduce at least two new restaurants to entice visitors.

From “Food Court” to “Dining Pavilion”

The Florida Mall continues to invest in itself and rethink how malls should operate. Saks Fifth Avenue closed in the spring and the space is being transformed into a 105,000-square-foot “Dining Pavilion.”

That means eateries in the current food court will make a move and that spot will become the home to new retailers. If you thought seating was scarce now, you’ll be happy to know the Dining Pavilion will seat twice as many and offer high-top tables and even couches.

Word is it’ll offer more options for the health-conscious.

Look for it and satisfy your hunger in 2015.

I-Drive getting a 7-star hotel and vertical “megamall”

Nothing might be more radical than the proposed “megamall” set to open on International Drive in the summer of 2017. With a name of The iSquare Mall + Hotel, it’s anything but normal.

But what exactly is a megamall?

Think Mall of America in Minnesota, which sees between 35 to 40 million people each year. That’s more visitors than Walt Disney World.

While this project isn’t on the scale of that mall (which is just plain monstrous!), iSquare Mall + Hotel’s impending impact is expected to be quite large. Combine it with the fact it will also be the first seven-star hotel in all of North America, it deserves the “mega” prefix.

It will feature 749 hotel rooms, 490,213 square feet of vertical retail space, a restaurant, a 100,000-square-foot convention center, an indoor ice-skating rink, a 500-seat live performance theater and office space. The parking garage is mega, too, at 11 stories tall and 2,780-spaces.

If that wasn’t enough for you, the building even has a heliport to park your helicopter.

mark sMark Schaub is an Orlando mall enthusiast. A self-proclaimed mallrat, he’s not there to shop, he’s not there to work, he’s just there. Mark has taken his love for malls and turned it into “Orlando Mall Guide” (

Everyone always wonders what happened to the store that closed and what is being built behind that drywall. Mark tells you and goes beyond the news to explain just who are these mall-walkers and  how you can get a job at the mall. Follow on Twitter at @OMGmalls.

Hi Eugene Theatre presents “Matt and Ben” at The Venue

by: @jenvargas

We were invited by the troop at Hi Eugene! Theatre Productions to watch a preview of their production of “Matt & Ben” opening TODAY, Saturday, November 8th, at The Venue Orlando (Mills District, in case you weren’t aware).  Having seen their previous production of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, I knew one thing was for sure; I was going to laugh. And maybe cry, but mostly laugh like a fool. I was greeted with were three familiar faces, those being Christina Carmona (Ben), Lindsay Taylor (Matt) and of course Devon Lucia, the show’s director. These ladies always seem to have such fun together, and with this piece I’m sure it was no exception. One (not really a) problem… Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are clearly male. I got curious.

Admittedly, I am not a fan of Mindy Kaling, so I was a little skeptical going into this preview based on that alone. (Sorry, Mindy. I just don’t find you that funny but you seem very nice.) Having no prior knowledge of this play going in, other Googling a brief synopsis, I was curious to see how this story of “Hollywood golden boys” Matt Damon and Ben Affleck would unfold… with female leads. And not just that, in this story the script from “Good Will Hunting,” falls ‘mysteriously from the heavens.’ Figuratively and maybe even literally, depending on your point of view.

Tip: I encourage you to arrive early to catch the pre show. Anything else I say about it will be a spoiler. Just… enjoy the nostalgia.

MattAndBen 2014

Another tip: Originally, this play was presented with no intermission. In Hi Eugene’s version there is, which is a clever, added bonus for any diehard fan of either. Again, no spoilers but a small hint: A certain person performing at Orlando Improv this weekend *may* be involved.

This play sets up the story of characters “Matt” and “Ben” prior to any big career success. They were lifelong best friends who, for the most part had a fun and funny bromance. Both were struggling to pave a career after their roles in School Ties. Ben, even back when with his leading man good looks, turned more to writing by trying to adapt a screenplay version of “Catcher in the Rye.” Matt on the other hand, the thinker, wished for a really meaty acting role. Lindsay, as “Matt,” definitely sells this desperation in search… and other moments you’ll see. Christina’s “Ben” is very funny, as I can imagine Ben Affleck might actually be in life.

What I really enjoyed about this play was the emphasis on friendship above all. Possibly through the spirit of their previous characters in Dog Sees God, the ladies really drove this point home for me. Behind the scenes, the cast in particular have been presented with huge life challenges this year, including Christina Carmona’s father who has been unwell. I appreciate that Hi Eugene! always manages to give back to the community in some form – in addition to putting on a show.  Their last production donated proceeds to UCF’s Bully-Free Florida Network. A portion from “Matt and Ben” will go to The Barber Fund, a grassroots organization which provides assistance to those living with cancer. Well done team!

Last tip: Stay to the end. There’s a neat little bow tie…

M&B Napkin NOV-v2


About Hi Eugene! Theatre Productions
Created by the Lucia sisters – Devon and Dannon – in 2009 and launched the theatre company in 2013, Hi Eugene! Theatre Productions is a local production company striving to provide community arts and entertainment that have both a heart and a message. Hi Eugene! brings awareness to causes affecting young people today through relevant, poignant and entertaining stage productions. In an effort to raise awareness even offstage, the company hosts fundraising events and charitable outreach programs.  If fundraising goals are met, Hi Eugene! donates 100 percent of a specific night’s profits to a pre-determined charity. To learn more about Hi Eugene!, its mission and upcoming productions or to donate and purchase tickets, visit

Hi Eugene! Theatre Productions Presents

Matt & Ben

Written by Mindy Kaling & Brenda Withers
Directed by Devon D. Lucia

November 8 – 9, 2014
7 p.m. (Sat.)
7 p.m. (Sun.)

The Venue
511 Virginia Dr.
Orlando, FL 32803

Tickets:  $15

Our Company:
“Matt” – Lindsay Taylor
“Ben” – Christina Carmona

Our Team:
Director & Producer – Devon D. Lucia
Assistant Director – Brian Gutierrez
Executive Producer – Dannon Lucia
Graphic Designer – Samantha Sanders
Set Designer and Construction – Adam S. Ressa
Stage Manager – Jordan Irvine

**Matt & Ben has not been authorized or approved in any manner by Matt Damon or Ben Affleck Estate, which have no responsibility for its content. Produced with permission from Samuel French INC.

Pearl Harbor Honor Cruise Dec. 6

by Kelly Green

American Victory Logo - ColorSaturday, Dec 06, 2014, the SS American Victory sets sail for their 20th Honor Cruise. In remembrance of Pearl Harbor and the events that took place on that fateful day, December 7, 1941,  the American Victory will leave port for a 5 hour cruise. Guests will enjoy the Big Band-era entertainment, as well as refreshments. (Doors open at 10 a.m. Sailing is at 11.)

The  American Victory Ship is one of only four fully operational WWII merchant steamships in the U.S., now dedicated to hosting historical, educational, training and special events.

On board, guests will get to see virtually the entire ship including cavernous three-level cargo holds, radio and gyro rooms, hospital, galley, weaponry, steering stations, flying bridge, signaling equipment, wheelhouse, mess halls, crew cabins, lifeboats, the Captain’s quarters, cargo equipment and the engine. The ship is a world-class  maritime museum dedicated to honoring the men and women who built, sailed, protected and provided service, worldwide, through the American Merchant Fleet since 1775 during times of peace and war.

The SS American Victory is berthed at 705 Channelside Dr, Tampa, Florida.

Tickets are $99 for adults; $69 for military/veterans; $49 children (4-12); and $89 for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased through this link or by calling 866-468-7630. Purchase tickets by November 7, 2014 to save $10 off each.
For more information on the Honor Cruise or the attraction, call 813-228-8766.




Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts opens to public this weekend

This weekend is going to be BUSY in Central Florida! The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will open to the public with tours running all day on both days, a hospitality suite and a free concert on Saturday by NINE TIME Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter, Sheryl Crow! This makes us very happy…

Here’s some important information to know before you go:

Saturday, Nov 8th – Open House and Sheryl Crow Concert

  • Plaza opens to the public at 11:00 a.m.
  • Open House begins at 12noon and runs through 6:00 pm, early preview for members at 11:00 a.m.
  • Food and soft drinks will be available for sale all day, 11:00 a.m. until the end of the show.
  • Beer and wine will be available for sale at 6:00 p.m.
  • Hospitality Suite opens at 6:00 p.m.
  • Prohibited Items
    • Chairs
    • Wagons and carts
    • Large bags or backpacks
    • Coolers
    • Outside alcohol
    • Glass containers
    • Pets, with the exception of service animals
    • Signs/posters with poles, sticks, indecent or derogatory comments/images
    • Signs/posters must not be larger than 2×2
    • Large umbrellas
    • Video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses greater than 6 inches, laptops
    • Weapons, lasers pointers, fireworks
    • Skates, skateboards, cycles, recreational equipment
    • Unauthorized solicitation, handbills, giveaways, or sampling
    • Any other items that could be deemed as dangerous, illegal and/or detrimental to others enjoying the show.
  • All bags and/or guests are subject to be searched.
  • There will be an ATM(s) on site

Sunday, Nov 9th – Open House and Family Festival Day

  • Plaza open to the public 12:00 p.m.
  • Open House 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Food, soft drinks, beer and wine will be available for sale at 12:00 p.m.
  • Hospitality Suite opens at 12:00 p.m.
  • Prohibited Items
    • Large bags or backpacks
    • Coolers
    • Outside alcohol
    • Glass containers
    • Pets, with the exception of service animals
    • Signs/posters with poles, sticks, indecent or derogatory comments/images
    • Signs/posters must not be larger than 2×2
    • Large umbrellas
    • Video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses greater than 6 inches, laptops
    • Weapons, lasers pointers, fireworks
    • Skates, skateboards, cycles, recreational equipment
    • Unauthorized solicitation, handbills, giveaways, or sampling
    • Any other items that could be deemed as dangerous, illegal and/or detrimental to others enjoying the show.
  • All bags and/or guests are subject to be searched.
  • There will be an ATM(s) on site.

Have fun, be safe and please share your pictures with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Orlando City Soccer Club kicks off 2015 campaign with new jersey

By: @jenvargas

Game face… ON.

Orlando City Soccer Club is ready to take care of business, and they are doing it in style! We told you about the new stadium, whose groundbreaking was last month. Now? Our Lions have a brand new Home jersey!

In my humble, novice-soccer-supporter-but-devout-lover-of-purple opinion, the new jerseys are exquisite. Obvious standout is, well, the color. You (have always) had me at purple, Orlando City!! Oh, and in the soccer world, players don’t wear “uniforms,” they wear “kits.” We’re learning, Orlando City. We’re learning….

Photo Credit: Orlando City SC

Photo Credit: Orlando City SC

Orlando City-specific Kit advanced features:

  • This is Orlando” sublimated on the inside of the neck tape – laying claim to the City Beautiful
  • Orlando City” and a gold crown 3D heat transferred onto the neckline, highlighting City’s championship success prior to MLS entry
  • Placement of the Club’s previous logo on the inside of the jersey – underneath the Lions’ new MLS crest – keeping the team’s foundation and history close to the heart.

Technical kit advances:

  • Adidas adizero engineering – the lightest soccer kit in history, allowing players to remain fast, cool and comfortable on the pitch
  • Jacquard engineered banding on the front of the jersey, representing Orlando City’s transition to a new era;

Cool, right? More highlights from their press release:

ORLANDO – November 5, 2014 – Orlando City Soccer Club unveiled the team’s 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) home jersey today during a press conference at Orlando Health’s downtown campus. The event also served as the launch for Orlando City’s new advertising campaign which will run throughout the winter until the Lions’ MLS debut. 

The inaugural Orlando City MLS home kit, both long sleeve and short sleeve, will be available for purchase starting in early December. However, pre-sale for both models is currently available to fans online at

“We worked very closely with Adidas during the design process of our first-ever MLS home kit, as we want the jersey to have a simple and classic look that accurately represents our brand and prominently displays our long-time partners Orlando Health,” said Orlando City Founder and President Phil Rawlins. “We are very proud of the end result, and we can’t wait to see our team take the field next year.” 

“Four years ago, we entered into a partnership with Orlando City SC and we haven’t looked back. It has been a wonderful friendship between two organizations that stand for the advancement, well-being, growth, and passion for our community,” says Jamal Hakim, M.D., interim CEO for Orlando Health. “We share the excitement our community has shown for the team and are proud to be the jersey sponsor and official medical team for Orlando City SC.” 

City’s new home kit prominently showcases the color purple – the Lions’ primary color – coupled with three white Adidas stripes. 

Orlando Health – the official medical team and jersey sponsor of Orlando City – is highly visible with the healthcare leader’s logo centrally located on the front of the new home uniform. Orlando Health has been the Club’s jersey sponsor since the team’s arrival to the City Beautiful

In 2013, Orlando Health extended their partnership with Orlando City, becoming the first jersey partner in MLS history to commit to an expansion club prior to admittance into the league. 

Orlando City Kicks off 2015 Campaign 

During the ceremony, the Lions’ also unveiled the first of dozens of new ads and billboards that will canvas the City Beautiful over the next five months leading up to the team’s highly anticipated MLS debut. A 16′ x 80′ banner was installed on the UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health facing Orange Avenue. This banner highlights the partnership between Orlando City and Orlando Health, with the headline, “Part of Something Major,” and four of the Club’s players: Kaká, Kevin Molino, Tyler Turner and Tommy Redding. 

The marketing campaign will span outdoor, print, radio and digital – prominently featuring Orlando City players Kaká, Darwin Cerén, Molino, Rafael Ramos, Estrela, Redding, Turner, Harrison Heath and Luke Boden. 

For more information on Orlando City SC or to purchase 2015 MLS Season Tickets, visit or call 855-ORL-CITY.  Also, follow the latest Orlando City news and updates via FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.


About Orlando City Soccer Club:

Recently ranked 14th among all professional teams in North America, Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) is Major League Soccer’s newest expansion club set to debut in 2015. The Lions’ first team set the U.S. record for best start of any professional soccer club in its first USL PRO league 100 matches (66-12-22). Orlando City has won three USL PRO regular season titles and two postseason championships. Outside of the first squad, OCSC also has a youth club, Orlando City Youth Soccer (OCYS) and a U-23 team that participates in the PDL. For more information on the pro and youth clubs, visit and

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014: Orlando’s BIG Exchange

Orlando has never had a week-long celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week…until now

The BIG Exchange is Orlando’s first week-long celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. We’re inviting Thinkers, Educators, Artists & Makers to work together to solve pressing problems through a series of workshops designed to move teams through from problem to solution.

For one week, the BIG Exchange lets anyone help create the next for profit, nonprofit or social enterprise startup. Passes start at just $89. Many of the workshops can be viewed remotely if you can’t escape from your desk the entire week.

Top 5 things you NEED to Know:

  1. A prize pack of over $20k will be given to one team to sustain their solution for 1 year (thru till GEW 2015)
  2. At the 11/17 Monday Kickoff Session at Dewey’s Indoor Golf (a multi-million dollar, Vegas-style interactive golf venue) teams will form around the problem they want to solve.
  3. Workshops will be offered throughout the week to help teams progress from problem to viable solution
  4. Open office hours will be hosted across the city for teams to reach leaders, mentors, service providers and other resource centers for help
  5. At the 11/21 Friday Showcase Solution at Rollins College one solution will be presented with a year-long prize pack valued at over $20k
Full details @

Have a silly, spooky time at Sea World’s Halloween Spooktacular!

by @jenvargas

Over the weekend, we spent some time with our friends at Sea World Orlando to preview #SeaWorldSpooktacular!


Having a whale of a time @SeaWorldOrlando’s #SeaWorldSpooktacular!

View on Instagram




The Spooktacular fun is included with daily admission and is filled with ‘fantasea’ trick or treat stations, sea snacks, a huge dance party (with pumpkin fish, sea fairies, even Pete and Penny Penguin), up-close animal encounters, cookie decorating and more. My favorite part of Sea World’s Spooktacular (aside from the candy)? Watching Jamie and the Sesame Street gang Countdown to Halloween! It’s a live show happening daily at the Seaport Theater featuring some Sesame Street favorites. Consult the nearest park map for times. After the show, there’s a special meet and greet opportunity with one or more of the cast. Maybe you’ll meet Elmo… maybe Abby Caddaby… maybe even The Count himself! Check out my #GoogleStory below to see some video and more fun!

Sea World’s Spooktacular is open on weekends in October (11-12, 18-19, 25-26) from 12pm to 8pm and includes sweets and treats from AirHeads, Black Forest, Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores, Lemonhead, Mentos, Sunrype and Tootsie Roll. (Smarties? Nerds? YES!)



Eat More Candy? You don’t have to tell @CentralFLTop5 twice @SeaWorld! #SeaWorldSpooktacular

View on Instagram


Also available, a special Dine with Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch. Familes will enjoy a delicious menu of seasonal and sustainable items and one complimentary family photo with a SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular photo frame. Also included; a cookie decorating kit for guests under 12 and a trick-or-treat bag with goodies. Get a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into the interactions that occur between our trainers and whales. Learn what you can do to help save valuable ocean resources and habitats by enjoying sustainable and natural foods.

To find out more about #SeaWorldSpooktacular, locate your nearest broom and fly on over to!

Winter Springs ARToberFEST!

Love fabulous art? How about art blended with mouth watering German-inspired food and drink? Include an outstanding variety of live musical performances to get your juices flowing and you have the 7th annual Winter Springs Festival of the Arts with a German Oktoberfest twist called ARToberFEST! This year’s art festival creates an intriguing atmosphere designed to draw art-lovers and festival fans.

ARToberFEST, presented by Bright House Networks, will be held on October 18th and 19th from 10 am to 5 pm along picturesque Blumberg Boulevard in the Winter Springs Town Center. Produced by the Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce together with the City of Winter Springs, organizers are looking to continue the success of the Winter Springs Festival of the Arts. Event attendees will find a great selection of food, live entertainment, and artwork created by talented artists from around Central Florida and the nation.
ARToberFEST has something for everyone! Savor delicious German cuisine and German beer available from a variety of vendors. Enjoy live entertainment between 11am and 5pm on both days and hear musicians perform various genres of music including rock, blues, jazz, top 40, and German sounds. Performers at ARToberFEST include Mud Rooster (blues), Sweet Bea and the Boys (Jazz, Top 40) and accordionist Jimmy Bubaloni. For the true art aficionado, there will be 100 of the finest juried artists from all over the country. A wide variety of art will be available for enjoyment and purchase including drawings, paintings, glass works, wood working, and mixed media along with, jewelry, and sculptures. Youngsters will be introduced to the world of art while enjoying activities offered by local kid-oriented businesses.

October 18th and 19th- wsfota

1160 East State Rd 434
Winter Springs, FL 32708
United States

More details @

Why You Should Attend the Next Orlando Art Critique Hosted by Parker Sketch

By Kevin Chung

Art by Parker Sketch

Art by Parker Sketch

You may not know it, but there’s a strong art community in Central Florida. There are artists all around us and they are producing some wonderful work. If you want to get involved in Orlando’s art community or you just want to check out some great art, you should go to the Orlando Art Critiques hosted by Parker Sketch. Here are five reasons you should go:

1. It’s a Good Place to Go When You Get Stuck

All artists know the feeling of getting stuck when working on their art. It’s just a part of the creative cycle. The great thing about these art critiques is, you can explain to others what you’ve been having trouble with. Just talking it out with others can get you out of a funk and give you a better direction of where to go with your art.

2.You Get Valuable Feedback From Fellow Artists

If you sign up to have your art critiqued, you will have a few minutes to explain your work. Then the floor is open to questions and comments. Most people who attend these critiques are artists themselves, so it’s a great way to get feedback from other artists. You will get opinions from artists of all kinds. They all have different perspectives that can help shape and better define your work.

3. You Get to Meet Some Extremely Talented Artists

Another great benefit of attending these critiques is getting to see the art of people in the community. Central Florida has a thriving art community and you will get a glimpse into some of the wonderful art that is being created around you. You can see some of the unique styles people have developed and the thought processes they have when creating their work. You also get the added benefit of exposure to many different styles, mediums and ideas.

4. The Open and Friendly Environment

One of the great things about these critiques is the great atmosphere. The floor is open to anyone that wants to make comments, but all the feedback is very helpful and constructive. People aren’t tearing each other down or trying to one up each other. It’s a very informal, laid back, atmosphere without strict rules, and everyone is very welcoming and encouraging. This allows all the artists to be comfortable presenting their work while getting some great feedback. It’s even great for first time presenters!

5. Get New Ideas for Your Artwork

One important part about art that many artists neglect is finding new sources of inspiration. This definitely isn’t a problem if you attend one of these Orlando art critiques. As I mentioned above, there are many different artists who present. They each have their own distinct styles, which you might not encountered before. These reviews can give you an idea for a new art piece or spark your inspiration. You can also talk directly with other artists to get new ideas about where you can take your work or find someone to collaborate with. Meeting other artists is a great way to kickstart a brand new set of ideas and possibilities.

If you are interested in attending the next Orlando Art Critique join the open Facebook group below:

Kevin Chung is the creator of Marketing Your Art the Right Way, a blog dedicated to helping artists market their artwork and build connections with their audiences.

Free Flu Shots in Central Florida!

Centra Care Flu Fighters

Flu Season is upon us again, and for the 12th year in a row, Centra Care, Florida Hospital Urgent Care and Get Healthy Florida are making sure you and your family are protected. This year, Centra Care is offering six different opportunities to get your flu shot, fast and free!

Everyone 6-months and older can get a free flu shot at any one of the scheduled Fast & Free Flu Shot clinics. Because last year’s flu season impacted younger adults in particular, Centra Care physicians want to remind Central Floridians that the single best protection against the flu is the flu shot, even for healthy children and adults. And since the flu virus changes every year, you need a new vaccination each year.


2014 Fast & Free Flu Shot Event Schedule:

Wednesday, October 8thNoon – 5PM

Centra Care at Winter Garden Village

3005 Daniels Rd., Winter Garden, FL 34787

Monday, October 13th:

Noon – 5PM

Colonial Town Centra Care

630 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando, FL 32803

Wednesday, October 15th

Noon – 5PM

University Centra Care

11550 University Blvd., Orlando, FL 32817

Tuesday, October 28thNoon – 5PM

Port Orange Centra Care

1208 Dunlawton Ave., Port Orange, FL 32127


Monday, November 17th

Noon – 5PM

Hunter’s Creek Centra Care

3293 Greenwald Way N., Kissimmee, FL 34741


Wednesday, November 19th

Noon – 5PM

Sanford Centra Care

4451 West 1st St., Sanford, FL 32771

(No reservations. First come, first served, while supplies last.)


Who Should Be Vaccinated?

The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone, especially those who are at high risk for developing flu-related complications. Including:


o    Pregnant women

o    Children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years old

o    People 50 years of age and older

o    People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions

o    People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

o    People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

-Health care workers

-Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these infants are too young to be vaccinated)


For those unable to attend one of the Fast & Free Flu Shot events, Centra Care offers convenient, $25 shots, 7-days a week at their 26 Florida urgent care centers; open late and weekends. Walk in anytime, or visit to schedule an online No Wait Reservation.



Top 5 | Magical Dining Dishes of 2014

By Lisa Wilk

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month is wrapping up and I enjoyed dining at restaurants far and wide to seek out delicious meals. Here are five dishes that left a wonderful impression and have me planning to return to each restaurant to enjoy again.

Kasa Corn Magical Dining 2014

Kasa Corn: Roasted corn with miso lime aioli, Togarashi spices, Manchego cheese and queso fresco elevating the flavors of Mexican street corn with Manchego cheese and a fusion of Japanese flavors. Kasa Restaurant & Bar is located in downtown Orlando and Kasa Corn is available on their regular menu.


Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Sweet Corn and Bourbon Saute had so much flavor in every component, a delightful and unique preparation of a premium Norwegian Salmon. (And Bacon!) This delicious dish featured on Eleven at the Reunion Resort’s current menu, enjoy.


Grilled New York Strip Steak topped with bone marrow gremolata butter, served with pan seared baby summer squash ragout on the side. From Siro Urban Italian Kitchen in the Marriott World Center was cooked to ordered temperature and the flavorful dish received plenty of happy nods. Enjoy on the current Siro menu.

Hemingways Crab Cakes Magical Dining

“Cayo Hueso” crab cakes from Hemingway’s in the The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, a generous portion of blue crab with little filler, made this entree a winner for me. Happily, this signature dish is available year round at Hemingway’s.

Bananas Foster flambéed tableside over brown butter cake, served with butter pecan ice cream. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood offered Magical Dining guests a wonderful meal, interactive flaming dessert and a spectacular lakeside view.

Magical Dining Month dining ends with dinner service on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 and will return again next September. Over 70 restaurants participated in Visit Orlando’s the 2014 Magical Dining Month and preview week, with $1 from each meal served being donated to charity. I’m already looking forward to the creative offerings for next year’s Magical Dining Menu. For updates and future details on this annual event, check back here at

Two Orlando Fathers Create STEM Teaching Robot

Play Smarter Meet TROBO—THE FIRST huggable, interactive, story-telling robot that promotes science and learning!

Give the gift of fun and exciting learning all wrapped up in a cuddly toy!  Purchase a TROBO Storytelling Robot and give a toy that not only makes a great companion, but encourages curiosity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)!

TROBOs are amazing, interactive robots that actually read to children out loud and have the potential for a virtually endless story library.  Compatible with iPads and iPhones and incorporating their own TROBO app, TROBO allows children to build their own avatar, include their name in the stories, and participate in interactive puzzles every few pages—a welcome relief from the mindless and zombie-creating tech activities usually available. Plus, arriving ready to go with five included stories such as “How honey is made”, “What is lightning?”,“How does a train work?” and more, TROBO creates an early love of learning through fun and personalized technology.

Companions first and teachers second, TROBOs are incredibly soft and feature no hard parts, making them perfect for cuddling, hugging and as snuggly sleeping pals.  Innovative and one-of-a-kind, TROBO makes a loveable and engaging friend creating a special bond between curious children and science.  It’s no wonder they took 2nd place at Startup Weekend, were accepted into one of six slots in the Starter Studio accelerator; invited into CANVS, a brand new tech sector co-working space; and won 2 “Maker of Merit” awards at the 2014 Maker Faire in Orlando, Florida.

Like most parents, TROBO Creators, Chris Harden and Jeremy Scheinberg found their children playing with mindless apps and watching TV more and more.  Disappointed with the lack of educational value, Jeremy and Chris set out to create a toy and app that would not only be entertaining and fun, but that they could also feel good about giving to their kids.  As engineers in the theme park and gaming industries, they realized there was a lack of quality STEM education available for young children. They put the incredible storytelling ability they learned while working with Disney, Lego and Electronic Arts to use in a fun and engaging way—TROBO was born.

Now with a campaign on Kickstarter, Chris and Jeremy are working to bring compelling stories to kids with questions about the world around them and to create a lifelong learning of science and engineering! Be one of the first to purchase your own TROBO on Kickstarter, give one to an underserved program, or make a donation of any amount and help build smarter toys!

Watch how it works here: