Magic, NBA Top Shot bring Candyland to life

LONGWOOD, Fla. — Less than 24 hours earlier, Orlando Magic small forward Franz Wagner boarded a plane and departed Europe, where he has been playing with Team Germany all summer.

“Not so bad,” Wagner said. “Slept well and came in yesterday.”

Jet lag time as you return to the magical world of Candyland, the renovated park in Longwood. Orlando Magic, NBA Top Shot and Project Backboard have all contributed to making this vision a reality.

what you need to know

  • The Candyland Sports Complex has been upgraded as part of the Longwood Park renovation
  • Orlando Magic, NBA Top Shot, and Project Backboard helped make the changes possible
  • Colorful designs and board game patterns line the appropriately named park
  • The basketball courts have been improved and pickleball and futsal courts have been added

“It’s huge because in our community we say it starts with the parks,” Longwood Mayor Matt Morgan said. “It’s not a hackneyed cliché or a hashtag or a slogan. We really believe in it and we’ve proven it with this park.”

Project backboard artist Hannah Hunter, who painted the basketball court, said: “It’s amazing, I get goosebumps. It’s so nice to see everyone out here playing, coming together, getting healthy and staying active. It’s really great.”

As a basketball player, bringing her backyard space to life meant even more to her.

“Basketball and art are definitely my two loves and definitely the areas where I excel best as myself,” Hunter said. “So I’m definitely grateful to be able to combine all of that into one thing.”

The town of Longwood was grant-funded, and magic got it over with.

With the mayor’s life tied to sport, the urge to upgrade Candyland Park was even greater.

“Everyone just knows me as a former wrestler… yadda yadda yadda,” Morgan said. “I played Division I basketball and was very passionate about it. Forget the skills – the life lessons you learn through sport are something I will always find very important to our youth.”

The Candyland Sports Complex renovation also added pickleball and futsal pitches. Basketball courts remain the star, as colorful designs and board game patterns line the appropriately named park, named after the Candy Land board game.

“There aren’t many places like this back home in Europe, at least not where I play,” said Wagner. “There’s a lot more football and stuff like that. Having that opportunity to go outside and have a space that has everything you need is important.”

The board game theme reminds everyone of the joys of basketball.

“Also not to forget the fun of it,” said Wagner. “I think just going out and playing with my friends is how I fell in love with the game.”

“This design is obviously the great kid’s game we all played growing up,” Morgan said. “Although I’d say I’m more of a chutes and ladders type. But Candy Land…everyone played Candy Land, right? Going as far as combining something that suits our youth, this is a fun, safe place and everyone’s welcome. I don’t care what shape, size, brand or model you are, you are more than welcome to come here at the beautiful Candyland Sports Complex. We want you to come.

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