This weekend, I was privileged to be among the first to visit the new LEGOLAND Florida theme park in Winter Haven, Florida, about an hour’s drive from Orlando and equally close to Tampa. This new theme park sits on familiar territory to those who visited Cypress Gardens in the past, and the botanical gardens, including the famed banyan tree, have been preserved.
While many will enjoy the historical aspect of the park, including the double-decker carousel, the real audience for Legoland California is the two- to twelve-year-old set. For these younger children, Legoland Florida offers more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions that will keep them busy for a full day or more.
The four roller coasters in the park are described as “pink-knuckle” attractions, and this scaredy-cat of a mom managed to ride all four of them, even going back for a second ride on The Dragon. Kids will love the Ford Driving School, where they can drive Lego-themed cars on miniature streets that include stop signs, traffic lights, and roundabouts. (Sorry, adults, as much fun as it looked, they wouldn’t let me try driving there.)
The park attempts to include interactive aspects to their attractions as well, such as the Technicycle ride that makes you pedal to keep your car up in the air instead of merely pushing a button as on similar rides in other places. The pirate-themed waterski show allows kids to get in on the action and help water-blast the pirates who attempt to overtake the ship.
Two live shows and three 4-D shows allow visitors to take a break from the rides for a while, and a stroll through the botanical gardens offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of the other park attractions.
The real star of Legoland, however, is Miniland, where 30 million Lego bricks have been used to recreate scaled versions of famed American landmarks such as the U.S. Capitol and nearby memorials, the New York City Skyline, Las Vegas hotels and attractions, and the beauty of San Francisco. Florida history has been included as well, from the Daytona raceway to the Kennedy Space Center. Kids and adults alike wandered through Miniland, trying to spot all of the 5258 “minilanders” who are a part of the scenes.
LEGOLAND Florida adds another element to the theme park destination of central Florida, and it does well in providing family fun for its young audience.
Photo credits: the author
Linda (minnemom) writes about family travel at Travels with Children.
Her trip to Legoland Florida was sponsored by the park, but all opinions are her own.