Off the Beaten Path: A first look at LEGOLAND Florida
By Ryan Seeloff
I was fortunately able to attend Media Day prior to the official opening of Florida's newest theme park, LEGOLAND and here is a peek at what you can expect.
Location- LEGOLAND is located smack dab in the middle of the Sunshine State just off of US 27 in Winter Haven. If you are coming from anywhere in Brevard County you can count on at least a two hour drive whether you take the I-95 to SR 60 route or head west on 192 or 528 and then down I-4.
Visit http://florida.legoland.com/en/Plan/directions/ for directions.
Hours and cost of admission- LEGOLAND opens at 10 a.m. and the closing times vary from 5 - 9 p.m. depending on the time of year. Visit http://florida.legoland.com/Documents/pdf/20032_LLF_OPs%20Cal%202012_r0.pdf for their complete calendar of operating hours.
Ticket prices as of 1/1/12 are:
Buy Online to Save!
Save up to $7 per ticket, when you buy online.
Choose print @ home to go straight through the gates when you arrive at the park.
Ticket Regular vs. Price Online Price
1- Day Ticket Adult (13+)- Ticket Regular Price- $75, Online Price- $68
1- Day Ticket Child (3-12)- Ticket Regular Price- $65 Online Price- $60
1- Day Ticket Senior (60+)- Ticket Regular- $65, Price Online Price- $60
Visit http://florida.legoland.com/en/buy_tickets/Admission-Tickets1/ for current ticket prices as well as information on annual passes. There are coupons to be found if you search online including free admission for children if a ticket for an adult is purchased.
**You do have to pay for parking when you arrive at LEGOLAND**
What to expect- The first area of the park you will visit upon entering is simply called The Beginning. Here park guests will find The Big Shop (pay a visit when you get there, but don't buy anything until you are leaving), Guest Services, Stoller/Wheelchair Rentals, Lockers, the Pet Kennel, the Market Restaurant and the Island in the Sky ride.
Then guests will enter Fun Town and here is where the fun literally begins. Attractions include; The Grand Carousel, the Funtown 4D Theater and the Lego Factory Tour. There are several places to scratch that shopping itch in Fun Town and there are four places to quiet your grumbling tummy (or tumbling grumbly if you prefer) including the Fun Town Pizza & Pasta Buffet which has some pretty tasty food.
You have two choices when exiting Fun Town. You can head over to DUPLO Village and let your smaller children have some fun designed just for the little ones or you can dive right into Miniland USA and see what the creative minds at Lego have put together as you walk through seven themed areas that include displays of; Kennedy Space Center, the Daytona Speedway, Bok Tower, Mallory Square as well as miniature versions of landmarks in California, New York, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas.
After walking through DUPLO Village you will enter LEGO Kingdoms which is home to the Dragon roller coaster as well as Merlin's Challenge (hold on to your lunch), the Royal Joust and the Forestmen's Hideout (a very fun playground for the kids). If you need to pick up a bite to eat then stop by Castle Burger.
The Land of Adventure boasts the oldie, but updated goodie (renamed for LEGOLAND) Coastersaurus wooden roller coaster whose cars can be a tight fit for larger adults. Other attractions include; Safari Trek, Beetle Bounce, Lost Kingdom Adventure (think Buzz Lightyear at the Magic Kingdom) and Pharoh's Revenge.
The LEGO Technic area of the park hosts the third roller coaster, Test Track, as well as the AQUAZONE Wave Racers and Technicycle. Oh, if you are trying to video your experience on Test Track you had better hold on to whatever you are recording with because the g-forces you experience around some of the turns can get pretty crazy. Stop by the Lakeside Sandwich Co. or Robot Pit Stop if you need a bite to eat.
Pirates Cove is home to the redone water ski and stunt show now called The Battle for Brickbeard’s Bounty and is still a great show for the entire family to watch.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the designers of LEGOLAND spared a portion of the old gardens from Cypress Gardens. Having never been to the old park I was very glad to be able to walk along some of those old pathways.
The Imagination Zone really lets your kids explore with their hands as well as their minds. This interactive part of the park has four attractions; LEGO Mindstorms, Build and Test, Hero Factory and the Kid Power Towers. You can also find some yummy fried chicken at (where else) The Fried Chicken Co.
LEGO City is located at the back end of the park and several of the best attractions in the park are located here. The biggest and baddest is the Flying School inverted roller coaster. The words inverted paired with roller coaster might send you running away, but this is a very family friendly steel beast.
Other rides include the FORD Driving School (super cool for kids ages 6-13) and the FORD Jr. Driving School (for kids ages 3-5) along with the Boating School and the Rescue Academy. There is the Big Test Live Show for when you need to take a break from walking around the park.
Visit http://florida.legoland.com/en/Park-Map/Park-Map/ for a map of the entire park.
Visit http://florida.legoland.com/en/Park-Map/Park-Video/ for official videos from LEGOLAND and you can see my little video production at the bottom of this page.
First thoughts- LEGOLAND is ideally suited for kids up to about the age of 12, but those older will find more than enough to do if you are looking to spend a day mixing some old (the attractions remaining from Cypress Gardens) with a whole lot of new. All four roller coasters are fun and can be ridden by just about anyone that meets the height requirements (and this is coming from someone that typically doesn't do roller coasters).
If you live in Brevard County, LEGOLAND is a perfect (if lengthy) day trip and if you start out early enough in the day there should be no problem getting to everything in the park before they close.
Look for more photos and video from LEGOLAND on Destination Brevard in 2012.