Located in the sleepy town of Winter Haven, LEGOLAND Florida ((http://florida.legoland.com) is a unique themed attraction based on the little interlocking plastic bricks that every child loves, and most parents dread stepping on in the middle of the night! Built on the site of the former Cypress Gardens, the park is roughly 45 minutes from most of the major attractions in the Orlando area, and was founded to provide kids with a place to play without all the hustle and bustle sometimes associated with larger attractions.
“LEGOLAND Florida is an AWESOME place to take families consisting of children ages 2-12,” added Chris Jones, PR Representative. “From the youngest ones, featuring the brand-new expansion DUPLO Valley aimed at toddlers, to fans of the Cartoon Network hit World of Chima and our interactive water ride Quest for Chi, LEGOLAND Florida has something for everyone! This isn’t just limited to just the theme park either, as LEGOLAND Florida also has an exciting Water Park, with areas for children of all ages.”
If you had the opportunity to visit the original Cypress Gardens, you will recognize some things, but other attractions and restaurants are brand new, or have been re-themed in such a way that they are virtually unrecognizable.
LEGOLAND Florida is divided into 12 sections, each of which offer their own taste of family fun, served LEGO style. Although a great number of the rides and shows are geared towards the younger set, those who are a bit older can still enjoy the theming and imagination involved in one of the newest theme parks in the state.
It all begins in The Beginning, which includes one of several re-themed attractions from the previous tenant. The Island in the Sky offers visitors a commanding view of the park, as well as the surrounding countryside of Polk County. The area also includes the largest gift shop in the park, called quite simply the big shop, as well as the market restaurant and guest services, pass center, lost and found, stroller rentals, package pickup, and a pet kennel.
The next section of the park, known as Pirate’s Cove, is the home of the world famous water-ski show, named the Battle for Brickbeard’s Bounty. This reworked holdover from Cypress Gardens is a fun and interactive affair that is a must-see for every visitor. Located nearby, you will also find a small restaurant called Captain Brickbeard’s Burgers, where they serve above average hamburgers and fries as well as offer a commanding view of Lake Eloise.
From Pirate’s Cove, it is barely a hop, skip, and jump to the heart of the original attraction, Cypress Gardens. The garden paths meander through cypress trees, well-manicured gardens, and a beautiful banyan tree that began as a seedling nearly 80 years ago.
The Miniland section of the park also features something that everyone in your party will enjoy. Miniland is made up of LEGO recreations of some of Florida’s most famous attractions, as well as representations of New York, California, Washington, DC, and Las Vegas, a pirate themed area, and a large section devoted to the Star Wars universe.
The Fun Town section of the park includes a factory tour, which simplifies (some may say over simplifies) the LEGO making process, as well as several dining, shopping, and other attractions.
The newly renovated DUPLO Valley is definitely for the younger set, and includes several rides as well as baby and toddler services.
Adjacent to DUPLO Valley is the LEGO® World of Chima presented by Cartoon Network. This highly-themed area is anchored by The Quest for CHI, which features an interactive water ride where guests set off on an otherworldly and super-wet adventure. Those interested in even more splash and water fun can experience Cragger’s Swamp play area that features playful bubbles, intermittent water spouts and interactive elements that trigger swamp water effects.
At the Speedorz Arena, kids can enjoy a super-charged, super-fast competition where multiple players battle against each other using rip cord-powered LEGO vehicles.
The World of Chima also features a character meet and greet and a merchandise location that carries the latest LEGO Legends of Chima building sets. All of these areas are complemented by the park’s 4-D movie experience, The LEGO Chima Movie Experience.
Next is LEGO Kingdoms, one of the great architectural gems of the park. This area includes the Dragon roller coaster, as well as other rides, shows, dining, and shopping.
The Land of Adventure section includes Coastersaurus, which was born as the Triple Hurricane during the Cypress Gardens days. It may seem to be relatively tame, but once you’re onboard, you’ll realize the coaster is more thrilling than it looks!
The area also includes the Lost Kingdom adventure, which is located inside of a LEGO replica of an ancient Egyptian temple. It is another great example of LEGO architecture, and a fun way to escape the heat, and try to outscore your family and friends while battling evil (at least as evil as LEGOs get!)
Another great example of LEGO artistry is the Safari Trek, where you board a small truck and travel through the wilds of Africa. If it reminds you of some of the other Central Florida attractions, as they say, “imitation is the highest form of flattery!” There are also a few more rides in the area, as well as a barbeque restaurant and something called waffle spears.
LEGO City is one of the primary sections of the park that leans much more towards the younger set. It includes the rescue academy, Ford driving school, and boating school. The area also features a show sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Academy, as well as a hot dog stand and driving school store.
However, for those of us who are more adventurous, there is Flying School. Another holdout from the Cypress Gardens days, Flying School is a suspended flying coaster where you zoom from side to side, up and down, and all around. Though there are no inversions, once you are on the ride, you’ll definitely experience a feeling of flight!
The Imagination Zone will be familiar to anyone who has visited LEGOLAND in Georgia, and includes a few rides, as well as the opportunity to test your LEGO skills against other park visitors. It also includes a Panini restaurant.
Located adjacent to LEGO City, the LEGOLAND Water park features 5 tall water slides, 5 shorter slides located within the Joker soaker, as well as a lazy river and wave pool.
It is no ordinary lazy river, however. It is the build-a-raft river, where you have the chance to add numerous Lego bricks to create the tallest, most original, and most colorful raft imaginable as you glide along in 3 feet of water. The water park also has a small food area, surf shop, locker and towel rental, and it’s own guest services section. Although the water park is a separately ticketed section, it should be on your must-do list, especially during the unrelenting summer heat.
No theme park visit would be complete without at least one souvenir, and at LEGOLAND Florida, they have a good selection. Of course, if you’re visiting a theme park made of legos, there is no better keepsake than having your likeness recreated on LEGO bricks. I’d highly recommend shelling out the $29.95 for at least one of these amazing creations, where your picture is emblazoned on a LEGO set!
If you’re looking for a safe way to celebrate Halloween this year, you might want to check out Brick-or-Treat, their kid-friendly Halloween event.
“We are incredibly excited to have Brick-or-Treat here at LEGOLAND Florida this Fall,” Jones continued. “It is an experience not seen anywhere else, giving park guests an opportunity to take part in LEGO model builds, scavenger hunts, costume contests and much more!”
This spooky event takes place weekends in October, when ghouls, ghosts and goblins descend on Miniland USA transforming it into a fun, haunted scavenger hunt. The whole family will be able to search for scary LEGO® creatures hidden within the 30 million LEGO bricks that make up Miniland USA.
This kooky celebration also features trick-or-treating, a brick-or-treat trail, a kids’ four category costume contest with brick-tastic prizes and a build your own Halloween themed LEGO model activity station. New in 2014, costumed childen might be lucky enough to receive a special commemorative LEGO brick!
Following the success of the LEGO Movie, the event will feature Emmet’s Everything is Awesome Costume Contest, where the LEGO® Movie’s own Emmet will make a special appearance at the Wells Fargo 4D Theater for each contest. The LEGOLAND Costume Contest is grouped into four different categories based on your age, and one winner from each group will win a LEGO Prize Pack.
After eating tons of candy and treats all day, visitors will also be able to work off their sugar high in a new dance party, taking place at the end of each night of the event. You’d be missing out if you didn’t check out the world’s largest LEGO Jack-O-Lantern that can only be found at LEGOLAND Florida.
In addition to Brick-or-Treat, the park offers several events throughout the year celebrating the holidays with a LEGO spin, including the Christmas Bricktacular, Kids’ New Year’s Eve Celebration and much more.
LEGOLAND Florida (http://florida.legoland.com) boasts the lowest price for any theme park in Central Florida, and offers a wide variety of admission packages, some of which grant unlimited admission for 12 months to LEGOLAND Florida as well as the LEGOLAND Water Park. Other packages include free parking, discounts on food and merchandise and a complimentary subscription to LEGO Club Magazine.
Next year, the park will expand even more with the opening of the 152 room LEGOLAND Hotel. The resort will feature LEGO décor, interactive play areas, a pool and a restaurant. This hotel, combined with the Orlando Eye, Madam Tussaud’s, and the Sea Life aquarium, will will help make LEGOLAND Florida a major player in the highly competitive world of themed attractions.