Just 45 minutes from Orlando and downtown Tampa sits a sweet summer gem nestled snug in Central Florida. LEGOLAND® Florida in Winter Haven opened its gates just shy of two years ago and has already proven to be a worthy contender for family-friendly fun. The 150-acre theme park offers an imaginative range of LEGO-themed rides, shows and attractions. LEGOLAND has six locations worldwide, but Florida boasts the largest of them all. It’s time to grab the kids, pack the car and hit the road, because this is a summer must-do!
More than 50 million LEGOs were used in the creation of this theme park – but don’t worry, you won’t find any underfoot on the well-maintained paths of LEGOLAND. The park is comprised of 10 “zones” including Fun Town, Miniland USA, LEGO Kingdoms, DUPLO® Village and the Imagination Zone. Even more exciting, this month marks the opening of an 11th zone, “World of Chima.” This new area will feature an interactive splash battle ride called “Quest for Chi,” pitting riders against guests on the shoreline as well as other boats on the ride. Each of the zones is designed with a unique theme and attractions or rides to match.
One thing that sets LEGOLAND apart from the rest is its educational component. Although the rides and shows offer requisite adrenaline rushes, each zone also presents a little something to get the creative juices flowing. For example, Fun Town features a Wells Fargo 4D Theater that seats more than 700, but there is also a LEGO Factory Tour where kids learn how LEGO bricks are made. In Miniland USA, guests can check out seven famous scenes from the Star Wars series in 1:20 scale and even pose with life-size LEGO models of Darth Vader, Chewbacca and R2-D2. They also get a lesson in geography with scale models of Florida favorites like the Daytona Speedway and Mallory Square in Key West as well as Kennedy Space Center. A shuttle poised for launch offers a great teaching moment for a new generation of children who will miss out on the awe of a shuttle launch, as the US’s space program ended in 2011. Other national landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge and even the White House reinforce the importance of America’s monuments and landmarks.
LEGOLAND caters to ages 2-12 and is incredibly family-friendly, with zones designed to accommodate children of different ages. This is particularly appealing to families with kids a few years apart. One of the drawbacks to excursions with small children ages 2-5 is that they can become easily overstimulated by all the sights and sounds. LEGOLAND overcomes this with a variety of options. First off, areas of play specific to toddlers are set apart from areas suitable for older children. DUPLO® Village was designed with toddler size and safety in mind. One of its main attractions is the DUPLO® Barn, an indoor playground area with a soft deck and friendly farm animals, along with a separate room for quiet play or reading. This building also has an area for infant care, with high chairs and microwaves available as well as curtained alcoves with rocking chairs for nursing mothers.
Another anti-meltdown getaway at the park can be found at historic Cypress Gardens, a restored version of the 75-year-old original grounds. With peaceful, winding paths displaying flowering plants, this area offers the perfect counter balance to the exuberant energy in the rest of the park. The stately original 150’ diameter Banyan tree still stands at its center and LEGOLAND has even put its own spin on the costumed southern belles that formerly walked the grounds by creating LEGO versions of these ladies along the pathways.
Older children are sure to enjoy the Land of Adventure zone, which features the interactive ride “Lost Kingdom Adventure,” an indoor ride where riders score points for hitting targets. “Pharaoh’s Revenge” is also a park favorite, especially for families, as it involves launching foam balls in a play area with a myriad of sections to climb on, slide down or swing across. And of course, LEGOLAND Water Park – described as a “park within a park” – is a guaranteed no-fail for older kids, with its huge wave pool, lazy river and multiple tube and body slides.
LEGOLAND has so much to offer – much more than can be mentioned here and definitely enough to please family members of all ages. It’s perfect for moms and dads looking to encourage educational development as well as good, clean fun.
Life is short – parent well!
LEGOLAND® Florida is located at One LEGOLAND Way in Winter Haven. For more information, call (877) 350-LEGO or visit florida.legoland.com.
Sidebar: SUMMER SAVINGS
Right now, LEGOLAND is offering a Florida Resident Pass for just $99 (same price for adults and children ages 3 and up). This pass includes park admission, parking, access to the water park, and 10% off dining and retail.