Legoland Florida – To go or not to go
It’s not Disney World – Legoland is near Disney World but in no way is it like the whole family experience you get in Disney World. Many of the rides are only for kids so as a parent or grandparent, you’ll do a lot of standing around and waving from afar. Also, the rides aren’t as sophisticated or as smooth-riding so expect a few more jerks and swerves on the roller coasters. The lines are not as efficiently run but, as a bonus, there are places for your kids to hop out of line to play with Legos while they wait. You however, get to wait in line. The “model citizens” (staff) are helpful most of the time but don’t have as much pep as the average Disney cast member. Maybe it’s because they didn’t get to work at Disney.
Tickets can be pricey – The adult tickets are only a few dollars more than the child’s ticket – a full-price adult ticket is $89. Ouch. If you are planning at least 2 weeks ahead of time you can save at least $15/ticket, which adds up if you have a family of four. Sometimes you can find a coupon for discounts or a buy one adult ticket and get a child’s for free – a huge savings. Register with Lego and pray they send a coupon before your trip. Of course, you’ll also receive other “helpful” emails from time to time. Some Lego toys have a coupon on the back, a bonus if you don’t throw away your packaging. We also saw discounted tickets at Costco around the holidays and of course, I neglected to buy them at that time. I wish I had! I’ve even seen a Groupon offer so deals are out there if you search.
Lego fans rejoice! – If you or your child is a huge Lego fan, you/they will be in heaven. As you can imagine, there are life-sized Lego structures all over the park. We loved turning the corner and seeing the next amazing thing that they built out of Legos. One of our favorite features was that they included signs stating how many Legos it took to build each figure and how long it took to complete it. Five year old mind blown.
|In addition to Lego creations, they’ve organized the park in different themed “lands” so you can run right to your favorite theme or meander through and enjoy the changing scenery as you go from Lego City to World of Chima™. There’s even a Duplo Valley, for the younger crowd (2-4), which is nice because they are often not tall enough to ride the rides in other parts of the park. The Lego Friends are also represented in Heartlake City, but honestly we were a little disappointed in the entertainment here. There’s one ride and it is a crazy spinning horse, bringing back memories of the swinging pirate ship at the county fair. Or you can meet Stephanie at her newsroom. Fun! (Who is Stephanie again?) There are plenty of parts of the park that we enjoyed so I’ll get right to it.|
Rides you don’t want to miss – These are our favorite rides and experiences around the park. Keep in mind, my family members are not daredevils so we skipped the roller coasters and we’re glad we did because we heard that they were a little headache inducing.
- Lost Kingdom Adventure (Land of Adventure) – This ride is whole-family-friendly! Ride through an Egyptian-themed adventure and use laser guns to shoot at targets. It’s a little competitive, interactive, air-conditioned and a whole lot of fun.
- Pharoh’s Revenge (Land of Adventure) – This is a climbing structure for the kids with air guns that shoot bouncy balls. It was a huge hit with kids of all ages. We literally had to drag the kids out to ride something else.
- Driving School (Lego City) – They have two versions, a 5 and under and an over 6. Our 7-yr-old loved this ride. She watched a short video on the rules of driving and then got to drive her own Lego car (slowly) on a closed course, having to stop at stoplights and obey the rules of the road. Not hitting other drivers is a real challenge and at the end of the ride you can purchase your very own driver’s license with your photo. A really cute souvenir!
- Imagination Zone – Our favorite hands-on activity in the park (we wish they had more spots to create with Legos). Test your building skills and and race a Lego car to win the fastest time. See if your building can withstand constant movement, like in an earthquake. Learn more about the science behind building. Engineers rejoice, this is a really cool area of the park to have fun and use your brain.
- Fun Town Theater – Watch a 4-D movie and enjoy the surprise of engaging all of your senses while watching your favorite Lego characters – I’m talking about you Emmit and Wyldstyle. Bonus, air conditioning!
- Island in the Sky – Enjoy breathtaking views of the entire park as a carousel-type ride lifts you up 150 feet in the air. Listen to a history of the park and relax. Ahhh…
- Cypress Gardens – Enjoy a serene walk through the beautiful botanical gardens. Before it was a theme park, Legoland was a botanical garden with waterways and native and exotic plants. If you need a break from the hustle, this is a nice place to enjoy nature.
Miniland – Miniland needs its own section because it was the favorite part of the park for everyone in our party from ages 5 to 70. Somehow they’ve recreated entire cities in Legos. You get to walk around like Gulliver and tower over the expanse of Miniland. It’s so impressive that you just have to slow down and enjoy every detail. Count down and watch a launch of a space ship at Kennedy Space Center, Race cars at Daytona International Speedway. Marvel at the detail as you look inside Penn Station in NYC. Even watch a pirate battle, all made out of Legos! A few of the exhibits have buttons you can push to make the Legos interactive. It really is an impressive work of art. And, Star Wars aficionados will love the recreation of each of the Star Wars movies including the life-size Darth Vader and R2D2.
Food – Generally, food was pretty standard kid fare; burgers, fries, pizza. They serve Pepsi products so if you just can’t go there, bring your own drinks. Our favorite food option were the apple “fries” – little fried pieces of Granny Smith apples served in a french fry container. They weren’t too sweet and hit the spot when we needed a little after-lunch treat. Ask for a side of caramel dipping sauce. The best deal in all the park was the single scoop of ice cream for $2.45.
Shopping – Let’s face it, you really aren’t going to be able to make it out of the park without buying some Legos. And, why would you when all of the selection is right in front of you? There are shops throughout the park but, the one near the entrance, the Big Shop, was our favorite because it had all of the different kinds and is conveniently located near the exit, so you don’t have to lug around your bags all day. You aren’t going to find discounted prices but the selection is excellent.
Legoland Hotel – We didn’t actually stay at the Legoland Hotel but we checked it out after our visit to the park. The hotel can be a little pricy but, there isn’t much else around so if you don’t want to drive back to Orlando, it is a great pit stop. It definitely looks like a great place to spend the night to fully immerse your family in the Lego experience. Our favorite feature was the giant play structure indoors with bins of Legos. Kids could literally spend hours just digging and creating to their heart’s content. Conveniently, the bar is located next to the play structure so you can sit back and enjoy watching your child occupy themselves for hours while sipping on a cold one. Genius.
The hotel also has an impressive pool with plenty of life jackets to keep little ones safe. They’ve also got floating Lego blocks to play with in the pool.
Some of our other favorite features were the reception desk with thousands of Lego miniatures lined up at your service.
And, the disco elevator is not to be missed. We rode it to every floor to check out each theme, dancing all the way (sorry other passengers). We didn’t get to check out the rooms but they are decorated either in a pirate, adventure, kingdom or Lego Friends theme.
Despite some of my critical reviews, I’m not the target market of Legoland. If you asked the under 10 crowd in our party what they thought they’d say, “Everything was AWESOME” and that’s what we sang all the way home…you better get your tickets.
Tips for busy moms:
1. Pack your own food if you have picky eaters. If you are able, bring a backpack with water as the water in the park is pricy and the park gets hot!
2. Don’t spring for the preferred parking. It’s $5 more and doesn’t get you much closer than the regular parking – priced at $17.
3. Bring a stroller if your little ones don’t like to walk. It’s an over 10,000 step day, at least.
4. If you are staying in Orlando, Legoland is about a 45 min drive (in the middle of nowhere) from Walt Disney World. Most of the hotels have a shuttle that will save you money for parking and allow for a nice nap on the way home. You just have to travel on their schedule.
5. If you can, plan a trip at an off-season time. We went on a Saturday in January and it was delightful! The weather wasn’t sweltering and there weren’t many lines anywhere.
6. They do not serve alcohol in the park, but they do next door at the hotel so if you need to take the edge off of a long day, stop there on the way out.
7. They also have a water park. We didn’t use it because it was chilly but, if you go during warmer weather, bring your bathing suit!
8. In my opinion, you can knock out Legoland in one day. It’s a great day-trip if you are heading to Orlando for a week and want a break from one of the other theme parks. If you are really-really into Legos, go for 2 and take your time.
9. Bring your Minifigures. You can trade them with Model Citizens while you are at the park and if you don’t have any, don’t worry, they are are for sale in the shops.
10. When in Florida, don’t forget your sunscreen!