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June 6, 2017

American Girl store in Orlando offers free and low-cost summer activities

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Orlando is one of the limited cities in the United States that is home to an American Girl store. For years, my daughter was enthralled with the dolls and the brand, and we spent many happy hours in the store. But before our store opened, we actually traveled to the Miami store on vacation, and I’m sure some visitors to Central Florida also will find our American Girl store a vacation must-do.

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The store itself offers many interactive experiences every day: The Bistro for dining with dolls; the Doll Salon, where new hairstyles and spa treatments can be purchased; the Creativ-Tees kiosk for designing matching T-shirts for girls and dolls; a photo opportunity with the American Girl Doll of the Year backdrop; and separate rooms for private parties.

But in addition to all that, the store at Florida Mall is hosting several special events this summer, and most are low-cost or free to the public. Some require reservations and pre-payment, which can be made by calling 877-247-5223. Choose from the following activities:

** Let’s Get Crafty: Join us on the first Wednesday of each month for a fun and free craft! Each month will feature a different craft and theme, including: Girl of the Year, Contemporary Characters, BeForever, and more. (June 7, July 5, August 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.) This activity is free and does not require advance registration.

** WellieWishers Friendship Tea Party: Put on your wellies and hop into American Girl for a special WellieWishers Friendship Tea Party! Parties will include a special menu, crafts, fun WellieWishers-inspired conversation cards, and a cupcake-decorating activity. (June 11 and 25, July 9 and 23, August 13 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.) This activity costs $13.50 per person, gratuity not included. Reservations required and prepaid event reservations are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. Girls must be at least 5 years old.

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** Father’s Day Brunch: What could be a better Father’s Day treat than a special outing with your girl? Together, you’ll savor a delicious meal in our restaurant, and you’ll make new memories both of you will cherish! When you check-in for your reservation, you’ll hand your girl a fresh-cut flower. Then, your together-time will fly by with a fun dice game, a make-your-own “memory board” craft, and lots of conversation. Plus, you’ll get a spiral book to record the best moments of your daddy/daughter outing, as well as a picture frame. (June 18 from 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.) The cost is $28 per person, gratuity not included. Reservations required and prepaid event reservations are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. Girls must be at least 8 years old.

** Summer Vacation & Beach Cupcake Decorating Event: Get ready to hit the road for a summer adventure with American Girl! Your girl can enjoy a fun-filled time playing games, creating cupcakes perfect for a beach picnic, and personalizing her own craft license plate. She’ll get to take her craft license plate home — and it’s the perfect décor to show off her wanderlust! Her doll will get to rock her own cute travel style, too, with a summery T-shirt. This event will get your girl ready for summer adventures, whether it’s a cross-country road trip, or fun set right in her backyard. June 25 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.; June 26 to 28 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.; July 2 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. This activity costs $10 per person. Reservations required and prepaid event reservations are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. Girls must be at least 8 years old.

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** Doll Hair Salon Spectacular at American Girl: Your girl can learn new tricks to style her doll’s tresses at our Doll Hair Salon Spectacular! At this hour-long session, girls will learn how to create two cute new ’dos and receive insider tips from our professional stylists, plus get hair accessories for their dolls. Afterward, each girl and her spruced-up companion can pose for a photo op. The event includes a goody bag with a Truly Me craft and tee, a recent issue of American Girl magazine, a set of Bright Highlights, and a $10 coupon for an upcoming visit to the Doll Hair Salon. July 23 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and August 18 from 6 to 7 p.m. This activity costs $20 per person. Reservations required and prepaid event reservations are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. Girls must be at least 8 years old. An Emergency Contact Release Form is required to attend this event.

If your girl is not going to be near an American Girl store, she can still kick off the start of summer at home with the release of a new American Girl movie. The Amazon Original Special “An American Girl Story: Summer Camp, Friends for Life” will premiere June 9 on Prime Video. The movie focuses on friends Z and Paz, who arrive at S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) camp excited about technology only to have the use of their devices restricted. But maybe the summer isn’t as doomed at they fear. Adults who are not already Prime members can sign up for a free trial at www.amazon.com/prime.


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December 29, 2016

Who is American Girl's 2017 Girl of the Year doll?

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She’s a mystery to thousands of girls who desperately want to know everything about her. What is her name and what does she look like? And equally as important: What makes her special and what are her talents? Her full identity is not unveiled until Jan. 1 each year, though American Girl teases its customers with clues leading up to the big reveal of its Girl of the Year doll each year.

The first two video hints posted on AmericanGirl.com this week revealed that the 2017 Girl of the Year doll is from Philadelphia and that she loves to dance. And the official American Girl website has confirmed the new doll is named Gabriela McBride.

Resourceful American Girl fans, however, have collected much more information from leaks. Several websites dedicated to American Girl news have confirmed the new doll is African American and they have photos of what they believe to be Gabriela’s outfits that will be sold initially. These unofficial images show different outfits for dancing –- teal and purple practice clothes, pink and black practice clothes and a sparkly recital outfit -- dance accessories that include a boom box, and her pet cat named Maya after the famous poet. Additional video hints will be posted on AmericanGirl.com this week.

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Each American Girl of the Year doll comes with a book that tells her story. For Gabriela McBride, it’s simply titled “Gabriela” by Teresa E. Harris. The summary on the back cover of the paperback posted on book sellers’ websites gives us insight into the doll’s story: “Gabby loves expressing herself - especially in the dance studio - but lately, poetry is becoming her art choice, and for a good reason: Gabby struggles with stuttering, and spoken word poetry helps her speech flow more freely. Still, compared to how confident she feels on the dance floor, speaking can be scary. When the city threatens to close her beloved community arts center, Gabby is determined to find a way to help. Can she harness the power of her words and rally her community to save Liberty Arts?”

Want to get your hands on the first batch of Gabriela McBride dolls? They will be for sale online and in stores on New Year’s Day. The advantage of going to a store to make your purchase is that participating stores, such as the one in Orlando, will have themed activities and crafts and a Gabriela McBride giveaway only available during the debut events. Orlando’s American Girl store is located at Florida Mall, close to the theme parks and other tourist attractions. The Girl of the Year events are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 1 and 2 and are free and open to the public.

Here is the official description of the launch events: “Gabriela is passionate about the arts, and her favorite forms of self-expression are dance and poetry. In the spirit of Gabriela, girls will have an opportunity to watch and learn as spoken-word poets share their techniques as they perform at the store. While supplies last, attendees will receive a free giveaway and a sweet treat. Girls can also take part in a fun “marquee sign” craft, in a nod to Gabriela’s love of the performing arts.”

The Orlando American Girl store opens at 10 a.m. each day, which is when the Girl of the Year sales begin. Managers do expect customers to line up outside the store before it opens, but they do not anticipate shortages of the doll, they said. Before you shop, be sure to sign up for the new American Girl rewards program.

Are you planning to attend or have you attended a Girl of the Year welcoming party at the American Girl store in your city? Tell us about it in the comments.



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August 2, 2016

American Girl launches rewards program for frequent shoppers and visitors

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The American Girl brand recently announced it has launched a loyalty program, meaning frequent shoppers now can earn rewards for their purchases. Orlando is home to one of only about two dozen American Girl stores in the United States, and visitors there can take advantage of this program.

As the parent of a tween girl who has thoroughly enjoyed American Girl dolls and products for years, I’m excited to hear about American Girl Rewards. The brand was established in 1986, so it’s been a long time coming.

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Here’s how American Girl Rewards works: For every $1 you spend, you earn 1 point. When you reach 200 points, you receive $10 in rewards. Points can be earned through purchases or “play” (dining or activities in store restaurants). Customers can earn up to $50 per month and $500 per year. Each $10 reward certificate does have an expiration date, so it must be redeemed before it expires.

Additional rewards accumulate with the number of points earned. Silver rewards (0-349 points) also include a birthday gift for your girl and members-only surprises. Gold rewards (350-699 points) include all Silver benefits plus early access to elect sales and events, and exclusive members-only experiences and events. Berry rewards (700 or more points) include all Silver and Gold benefits plus a VIP surprise and bonus benefits.

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Points will remain active as long as one qualifying purchase is made during a 12-month period. This means you won’t lose points that you are accumulating toward a reward certificate. However, the tier of rewards (Silver, Gold, Berry) you have achieved for additional benefits is only good for one year and must be established again in each 12-month period.

All regular, sale and clearance merchandise purchased at americangirl.com, by phone or in American Girl retail stores qualifies for rewards points. In-store American Girl restaurant purchases also qualify for points. Sales tax, shipping charges, gift cards and bulk sales for commercial purposes or resale are not eligible.

To join, create a free online account here. You must have an email address to do so.

The American Girl store in Orlando is located at Florida Mall, which is not far from the theme parks and is a destination for many tourists.

At the end of this month, the store will be hosting Melody’s Summer Block Party! to celebrate the arrival of Melody Ellison. This event for girls ages 8 and older will give girls a glimpse into Melody’s world in 1964 Detroit, where she learns to lift her voice for fairness and justice. Girls will be immersed in her world through the music that inspired Melody and fun ’60s-themed decor. Plus, each girl will take home a special Melody-inspired doll tee (while supplies last) and enjoy some fun crafts.

Melody’s Summer Block Party! takes place at 10 a.m. Aug. 26 and 27, and noon Aug. 28.

Learn more about American Girl in my other blogs posts!



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December 29, 2015

What you need to know about American Girl's 2016 Girl of the Year Lea Clark

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She’s a mystery to thousands of girls who desperately want to know everything about her. What is her name and what does she look like? And equally as important: What makes her special and what are her talents? Her full identity is not unveiled until Jan. 1 each year, though American Girl teases its customers with clues leading up to the big reveal of its Girl of the Year doll each year.

The first video hint was posted on AmericanGirl.com on Sunday, and it showed Agoverseasfan (the YouTube handle for an unnamed girl who features all aspects of the dolls on her popular channel that has almost 1 million views). The hint revealed the doll’s name – Lea Clark – and her image. This hint confirmed what fans have speculated about since details about the doll leaked a month ago.

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Each American Girl of the Year comes with a book that tells her story. For Lea Clark, it’s “Lea Dives In” by Lisa Yee. The summary on the back cover of the paperback posted on Amazon.com gives us insight in the doll’s story: “Lea is ready for adventure on a family trip to Brazil, where her big brother Zac is studying the rainforest. She can’t wait to see the ocean – but quickly realizes she’d rather take photos of it than swim in it. Disappointed in herself, Lea longs to show Zac that she’s as bold and brave as he is. She finds inspiration in a new friend, who encourages her to embrace the excitement and beauty that Brazil offers. But when the fun turns to danger during a hike, Lea must prove to Zac – and herself – that she has what it takes to face adventure head on.”

From the images on the book cover, it appears that turtles play a big part in Lea’s beach adventures. Another promotional video for the 2016 Girl of the year shows a tween squealing her excitement while holding a snorkel and a camera in each hand – presumably more clues about what happens in the story and merchandise that could be offered. And websites dedicated to American Girl news have posted what they claim are photos of Lea’s outfits that will be sold initially. These unofficial images show clothes with a tropical flair, including an outfit specifically for hiking in the rainforest. Additional video hints will be posted on AmericanGirl.com this week.

Want to get your hands on the first batch of Lea Clark dolls? They will be for sale online and in stores on New Year’s Day. The advantage of going to a store to make your purchase is that participating stores, such as the one in Orlando, will have themed activities and crafts and a Lea Clark giveaway only available during the debut events. Orlando’s American Girl store is located at Florida Mall, close to the theme parks and other tourist attractions. The Girl of the Year events are from noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 1, 2 and 3 and are free and open to the public.

The Orlando American Girl store opens at 10 a.m. each day, which is when the Girl of the Year sales begin. Last year, there was an unprecedented number of customers at the Orlando location, and the dolls were sold out within a couple hours each day, according to store employees who had worked at other Girl of the Year launch events. This year, the store is better prepared for such crowds, managers told me. They do expect customers to line up outside the store before it opens, but they do not anticipate shortages of the doll, they said.

Are you planning to attend or have you attended a Girl of the Year welcoming party at the American Girl store in your city? Tell us about it in the comments.



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September 3, 2015

Orlando American Girl store offers 'Cinderella' package

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Two of my daughter’s favorite brands – Disney and American Girl -- are part of a special day in November in Orlando. If your child enjoys the same things, you may want to act now because tickets went on sale this week, and this event has not been announced on the American Girl website.

On Nov. 15, girls and their favorite adults can experience a modern twist on the beloved classic, “Cinderella,” with a trip to see “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” at the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts.

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Though almost all young girls are familiar with Disney’s film version of the Cinderella story, this production is the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that is on tour nationwide. The official description states: “This lush production features an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping transformations and all the moments you love —the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more — plus some surprising new twists! Be transported back to your childhood as you rediscover some of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s most beloved songs, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” in this hilarious and romantic Broadway experience for anyone who’s ever had a wish, a dream... or a really great pair of shoes.”

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The American Girl package begins with participants meeting at the Florida Mall store at 10 a.m. for a brunch in the Bistro. Guests will order from a special menu just for this event because the Orlando restaurant does not normally serve breakfast.

At 11:45 a.m., they will board a bus for the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando. Once there, attendees will have reserved seating in the Walt Disney Theatre in rows V, W and X in sections Orchestra Right and Left. “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” runs from 1 to 3:15 p.m. Buses will take participants back to the store with a return time of 4 p.m.

Reservations are required for this event. Tickets for the American Girl Goes To Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella package are $95 per person and are nonrefundable. To purchase tickets, call American Girl reservations at 877-247-5223.

My 10-year-old daughter and I attended the VIP advance screening of “Grace Stirs Up Success” this summer through the Orlando American Girl store and were very impressed with the outing. That event required us to board buses to another location, as well, and everything was well-organized and on time. In addition, there were many complimentary activities at the location before the movie, such as crafts, giveaways and photo opportunities. We certainly would attend another such event.

Although American Girl is only offering one date for its package, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” will be on stage in Orlando for six dates: Nov. 10 through 15.

And here’s a fairy godmother’s tip: Though neither Disney nor American Girl really offer distinct Cinderella-themed dresses for girls’ dolls, that doesn’t mean the dolls can’t Disney-bound as many young girls no doubt will choose to do for the performances. Online craft sites such as Etsy offer a variety of Cinderella-themed dresses and costumes.

The magical pumpkin carriage, however, might be something you’ll have to bibbidi bobbidi build yourself.



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June 4, 2015

Orlando's American Girl store to host red-carpet movie screenings for 'Grace Stirs Up Success"

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Like so many other girls, my 10-year-old daughter loves just about everything about the American Girl brand. She reads the magazines and books, creates crafts, and, of course, plays with the dolls she owns. Having a much-anticipated American Girl store open in November in Orlando – there are only about two dozen total in the United States – was a dream come true and has increased opportunities for her and like-minded girls to participate in local experiences with their dolls.

The store at Florida Mall is hosting several special events this summer, which would be cause enough to celebrate, but many are low-cost and free to the public, too. When we stopped in the Orlando store last week, we found out about a fabulous event that is taking place this month to celebrate the release of the newest American Girl movie.

It has become a tradition during the past several summers for a new American Girl movie to be shown on television and released for purchase. This summer, the movie is “Grace Stirs Up Success,” which is based on the Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas, and her adventures in a trilogy of books. (The third in the series, “Grace Makes It Great,” was just released for summer.) In the books and the upcoming movie, Grace takes on the start of a baking business, an unexpected trip to Paris, an out-of-control dog and the desire to help her family out of a jam.

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Our local American Girl store is hosting two VIP screenings of the movie on June 19, one at 11:30 a.m. and one at 2:30 p.m. The event begins by checking in at the store, where each person receives a goody bag. (In past years at similar events at other stores, the goody bag contained a doll-size popcorn, a movie poster and a take-home craft. No word yet on what this year’s goody bag will contain.) Then guests board a bus to the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel, where they will walk a red carpet and pose for photos. They will have about an hour to an hour and a half to enjoy themed activities and crafts. Upon entering the theater, each guest will receive a small popcorn and drink. And the best part: Tickets to this event are just $10 apiece!

To attend one of the VIP movie screenings, you must make a reservation by calling 1-877-247-5223 and pre-pay for your party. The reservations are non-refundable and non-exchangable.

If you can’t make one of the screenings. “Grace Stirs Up Success” will be available on Digital HD on June 9 and for sale on Blu-ray and DVD formats on June 23.

American Girl stores also are promoting reading this summer with their new “Truly Me” events that will be held three times in each city. For those in Orlando, mark your calendars for June 11, July 9 and August 13. Girls are invited to stop in the store anytime between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on those dates to make a bookmark, sign an inspirational poster, and explore the titles for summer reading. All participants will receive a doll-sized Truly Me tee (while supplies last). This event is free and open to the public.



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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the American Girl category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

AMC Downtown Disney 24 is the previous category.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.