written by Sara Toerner, Travel Specialist
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical at the idea of an entire Lego theme park. I envisioned towering pixelated statues constructed entirely of little plastic bricks; which is cool for a moment — but a whole theme park?
A friend of mine got a group together so we could take part in the discounted rate of $25 per person (read: amazing deal) so my crew of four decided to check it out.
Legoland Florida is just 45 minutes from Orlando in the city of Winter Haven. It’s the largest of the global Legoland theme parks where “guests experience kid-friendly themed rollercoasters, a variety of rides, hands-on building activities, oversized LEGO creations and a toddler attractions area,” according to the website. It was built on the same grounds as Cypress Gardens (famous for their water skiing shows) and they’ve preserved the nostalgia of the former theme park by continuing to offer action-packed water acrobatics shows on their rather large lake. So basically Merlin Entertainment, who owns and operates Legoland, “repurposed” a closed-down theme park.
So what’s it like? Well — everything is awesome!
Most rides have a height requirement under 36” which meant my 5-year-old girl could experience nearly every one. She loved the good-sized indoor playground because let’s face it – it gets hot down here. My 6-month-old enjoyed exploring a separate playroom dedicated to kids his age where he could interact with other littles.
The best part about this place: the Lego folks really considered the needs of families when they designed the park. I was impressed by the spacious (a
nd clean!) baby care room complete with rocking chairs, private nursing stations, a kitchenette, high chairs, and an attendant who was there just in case I needed anything. The restaurants impressed me, too; we opted for the Marketplace cafeteria over the pizza/pasta buffet. I was relieved to discover a variety of healthy options for kids and adults that weren’t astronomically priced. They played music that appealed to the adults (trust me – I didn’t miss the kid tunes. I had major concerns that they’d have “Everything is Awesome” from the LEGO movie soundtrack playing on repeat).
Bonus: Our zany/somewhat loud family managed to win the coveted “Family of the Day” award so we were showered with fancy ice cream treats. As a result, we will make it our goal to achieve this every single time we return.
- If you’re lucky enough to visit in the fall, be sure to pack a simple costume to toss on your kiddos. The annual “Brick or Treat” celebration begins each day in late-afternoon and is free with park admission. We loved the spooky-but-not-scary decorations, costumed characters, and of course Trick-or-Treating!
- The outdoor tree-top playground is top-notch; just don’t make the mistake of burning two hours of your day there like we did.
- Resist the temptation to take a photo of every single Lego construction as that’s a real time-burner, too.
- The Island in the Sky ride is a great calm-down, slow-moving experience that provides impressive 360-degree views of the surrounding area. It was a nice break and a short line.
- The adjoining Legoland water park is an additional $15 and just might be a bigger part of your day if you’re visiting in the spring/summer months.
- If you’re traveling with older kids (say…over 10) they probably won’t enjoy this park as much. Assign them the role of “family photographer” for the day and encourage them to hunt for beautiful scenery and masterful handiwork. It’s everywhere.
- The fireworks at the end of the night are worth sticking around for. They’re only around 10 minutes long but if you pick up a pair of special 3D glasses in the park then the starbursts look like Lego bricks! Luckily the post-fireworks mass exodus wasn’t nearly as bad as in other theme parks.
- Also don’t skip the Quest for CHI water ride because you just might enjoy the free opportunity to spray your kids in the face with a gentle water cannon. Of course I’d never do that. I sprayed the passers-by instead.
I’d strongly suggest an add-on day trip to Legoland during your next visit to Central Florida/Disney World. Why — because kids love it AND parents love it. It won’t break the bank and you’ll find just about everything you need here for a day of fun in the sun, including stops for a few air-conditioned breaks. Though the park isn’t nearly as massive as Disney Parks, Legoland offers plenty of rides and attractions to keep the younger ones entertained for a day or more.
Group prices start at around $25 for a 1-Day ticket which is a savings of over $60. Several families in our group paid the extra $75 that day to buy annual passes and my little family was so pleasantly surprised with our experience that we’re considering passes as well. We didn’t have time to do everything we wanted, but I decided that’s a good thing; we have more fun to look forward to on our next visit. Living in Florida certainly has its perks.
So was my vision of towering pixelated-plastic Lego statues accurate? Yes, you’ll find them here. In fact you’ll find an entire “MiniCity USA” with reproductions of major/historical cities like New York, Washington DC, and even Vegas. Plan to skip it if you don’t think it’ll impress you, but trust me it’s so awesome that your junior “family photographer” is going to snap a picture of every single display. By the way, watch out for the fire engine in the NYC skyline – it’ll spray you with its water hose. But then again, you may deserve it after that stunt you pulled with the water cannons…
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