As the snow piled up last winter here in the Boston area, we plotted our first winter get-away in many years. For many families with elementary school age kids, Disney is the destination that draws them to Florida. But we built our plans around visiting the new Legoland Florida based on the interests of our 6 year old Lego maven.
After a drive of just under an hour from our place outside Orlando, our excitement built as we approached the Legoland Florida gate, with its fun Lego characters on the sign and lively music playing. The newness of the park, which just opened this past October, created a palpable buzz of excitement among the families in line. Once inside, B. spotted Preston Stormer, one of his favorite Hero Factory characters. We were off to a good start!
Close to the entrance, Miniland showcases the amazing things that can be done with Legos, and was a big highlight for us. Built with over 20 million Lego bricks, Miniland features models of New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and several Florida destinations. The skyscrapers of New York, Washington attractions and the Kennedy Space Center portions of Miniland were especially impressive. Each display had vehicles and other components that move, some with the help of young visitors eager to press buttons.
The safari ride also gives a chance to view some great Lego brickwork. We climbed into the little safari cars for a tour of African animals built with Legos, including a lions, elephants and zebras. I was especially impressed with the long sloping neck of the giraffe.
We were drawn to Legoland by B’s strong interest in Legos, but the park could be enjoyed by any family with children under 12. Legoland features a wide variety of rides, including roller coasters and other such options for the more adventurous, but plenty for those like us that seek more moderate entertainment. One of B’s favorite activities was steering monster trucks via remote control at a small attraction behind the Rescue Academy . I’m not sure of the Lego connection on this one, but that didn’t stop our Lego fan from having a great time with it. His favorite ride was Lost Kindgom Adventure, which entails a moderate ride through an a pyramid themed attraction and firing a laser gun at targets.
Legoland definitely lived up to our expectations as a fun family destination. My one critique is that I’d anticipated more opportunities for hands-on building, so that our son could create with fellow Lego aficionados. There is an Imagination Zone area, with an awesome Einstein sculpture at the entrance, that appears to have such activities. However, it was reserved for school groups when we were there. I can see that the park will have broader appeal with most activities not requiring one to be a hard core Lego enthusiast to enjoy it. Our lad was able to satisfy his Lego building instincts with a few purchases at the gift shop that were quickly assembled back at our place.
Here are six tips gleaned from our recent visit to get the most out of your visit:
1) Buy electronic tickets: Purchasing tickets online in advance of your trips saves a bit of money ($7 per adult, $5 per child based on current promotion). You can also skip the ticket line at the park and go straight to the turnstiles. Printing out the e-tickets in advance will save you a bit of time, too; they can key it in from your phone but that slows the process a bit.
2) Consider two days: Legoland was a big reason we went to Florida, so the two day option was a no-brainer for us. There was plenty to do and see to keep us busy for two days, and I suspect many families would find the same to be true. Four hours or so is about the right length visit for us to a park like Legoland, so that definitely left more things we wanted to come back for the second day. We were able to add the second day for just a fraction of the day one ticket; I believe that option was presented as we were checking out…it’s not readily apparent to me as I look back at the Legoland website.
3) Walk Cypress Gardens: Located near Pirate’s Cove, these gardens have a few Lego sculptures. It makes for a pleasant stroll showing off beautiful Florida fauna, and makes for a peaceful break from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the park. We were fascinated by some of the old trees with their multiple gnarly old trunks–very different from anything we’d see near home.
4) Check out some shows: There are a variety of shows happening throughout the day, so it’s worth looking at the schedule as you enter the park and planning what you might like to see. We especially liked the Pirate’s Cove show, featuring Captain Brickbeard and some nifty water skiing.
5) Pack snacks and drinks: The park officially prohibits outside food and drink, but leaves open an option for those with special dietary needs or health issues. Our son has serious multiple food allergies, so packing a lunch is always a good option for us. They never actually checked or enforced this rule; they probably figure correctly that we were going to spend enough money in the park one way or the other. But packing at least some of what you might eat and drink can curb your expenses for the day a bit.
6) Check days park is closed: I just noticed in checking prices to share that the park is typically closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, though they keep it open for certain vacation periods. Check the Legoland website before planning your trip!
7) Don’t shoot lasers at other people: I asked my son if he had any tips to share, and this was his! This from his favorite ride, Lost Kingdom Adventure. Good point, safety first!
This Two Kids and a Map post is a good read for additional suggestions on Legoland rides and activities. Our family gives Legoland three thumbs up, and we’d love to hear about your experience if you go.