Family Vacation at Legoland Hotel in Orlando, Florida
In December 2016, our family decided to take our first family vacation to Legoland in Orlando, Florida. My boys were three and five at them time. Due to the increased popularity of Legos in the past few years, and to also celebrate the new Lego Ninjago movie, I thought now might be a good time to share our vacation experience. I hope this is useful for anyone who is looking to take a family vacation of their own. Legoland was much more affordable than Disney or Universal and offered many more options for small children than most other theme parks we have visited. The hotel is also completely tailored to kids, which actually helps relieve a lot of stress that comes with traveling with kids.
It took me awhile to write this article, because while on vacation in Florida my phone fell in a pool and I lost many pictures. Recently, while looking through the photos I did have and the ones my husband took I realized—though I may not have detailed shots of the room or hotel—we still had enough between us to share our experience there. I also shared some photos on Instagram and Google Maps during our stay so I was able to pull from those sources as well.
If you are interested to learn more, please continue. In this article I will walk you through the booking process and what to expect at the park. This review does not include information on the waterpark, the beach resort, the Cypress Gardens, or the Ninjago area. The waterpark was closed for the season when we went, the beach resort and Ninjago area were under construction, and I could not convince my family to go and visit the Cypress Gardens (I will get them next time though!).
Booking Your Stay at Legoland
All bookings can be made online through the Legoland website. Before booking, I would strongly recommend taking a look at the Park Hours, and making sure the park will be open during the dates you plan to take your vacation. It should be open for most of the summer, but if you're weirdos like us and like to travel during off-times it would be in your best interest to make sure accommodations can be made.
When you book your room you will be give options to either book a room at the Legoland Resort, the Legoland Beach Resort, or one of the surrounding hotels. If you have small children I would highly recommend you book at the Legoland Resort—it is literally right next to theme park. To go to the park all you have to do is walk out of the resort and go next door. No painful car rides. No "are we there yets?" You. Are. There. The beach resort I believe is still on the property but a short walk from the park. Everything else you will have to either drive or be shuttled to go to the park.
The other perk of booking at the hotel is it feels like you are in Legoland the entire duration of your stay. Our boys didn't mind at all when we had to leave the park because they found the hotel just as fun. In my opinion, you really get your money's worth.
As for adding meals to the package, the food at Bricks Restaurant wasn't too bad. I believe you can add this to your package later if you do not want to do it at booking. You can also pay as you would at a restaurant when you get there if you aren't certain you want to add it to your package at all.
Your booking should come with two days worth of tickets for the park, but water park tickets are sold separately.
Paying for Your Stay
We booked our trip several months in advance and paid it off over time. This was probably the most frustrating part about it because I had to call in to them to make payments. They did not have an online portal to track what I owed or make payments. I found this a bit frustrating and hope that they have or will improve this system. That being said, the attendents were always very helpful and kind. They have great customer service.
When you check in at the hotel, anything that remainds on your balance will be due at that time plus the usual resort fees and incidentals.
The lobby of the hotel is filled with lego and lego things. There are huge lego pits your kids can play in, within view of you, while you check-in. You will all receive badges from the front desk and if you'd like, you can request to see the dragon blow off some steam. The reception desk is also your first opportunity to trade mini figures with model citizens (Legoland employees). My boys enjoyed trading minis with the model citizens and even some other kids as well. They didn't really care what the minis looked like, they really just enjoyed the opportunity to trade and interact with others.
In the Lobby you will find the Bricks Restaurant, the buffet style family restaurant. Mini figure mascots and Lego Friends stop by and chat with the kids here. Additionally you can order food and drinks (mocktails and cocktails included) at the Skyline Lounge.
There is also the pirate ship/castle which includes tons of Legos to build with, a chalkboard, and at certain times of the day characters stop by and put on shows that the kids have an opportunity to be a part of. There are master building competitions here open to kids of all ages and at the end of the day a pajama dance party. My boys loved the pajama dance party—and to be honest, my husband and I really enjoyed it too.
Off to the side there are party rooms and a mini building room/theater that played the Lego Movie on repeat while we were there. Now that there are a few other Lego movies I'm sure there is a bit more variety in the showings.
The bathrooms are solid proof of how dedicated the designers were to making this a resort for kids. Next to the standard adult sized sinks there are kid sized sinks as well.
The lobby leads out to the pool, fire pit, and boardwalk on Lake Eloise. It is also where you catch the disco elevator to get to your room.
The castle has a stage for daily story times and shows for the kids, all of which the children get to actively participate in.
It has plenty of Lego pools that the kids can build and play in and things for them to climb on. It also includes a huge chalkboard for drawing.
It is surrounded by the Skyline Lounge and Bricks Restaurant so parents and guardians who are eating can keep an eye on their kids while they dine or at least sit nearby.
We started and ended our days at Bricks. The selection was decent for adult and child picky eaters alike. There are lots of kid favorites like mac and cheese, quesadillas, chicken nuggets, french fries, and pizza, but there are also some adult choices like steak, salmon, and a salad bar. The chefs may also be able to make more custom orders for you if you ask nicely.
Mini figures and friends often stop by to say hello to the kids and will actually take time to sit down and chat with you while you eat if you like. Everyone is so friendly! The service here is the best.
We opted for the pirate themed room for our stay. All rooms come with a scavenger hunt for the kids to unlock the special treasure chest. I won't spoil the surprise inside, but they make for entertaining souvenirs to take home. There are also complimentary juices and waters in the room (restocked daily) as well as a Lego box to keep the kids occupied while in the room. Everything is decorated beautifully on theme. The amenities are pretty standard, but everything is clean and well maintained. My favorite feature of the room is the divided space between the grown up area and kids area. It's basically two rooms in one.
The kids space has a bunk bed, with a rollout bed underneath. Beside each of the bunk beds is a personal night light the kids can control. The kids also have their own TV where they can watch a variety of kids programming, the Lego movie(s), and Lego Mini Figure Mascots running amok on the security cameras.
In the adult space there is King sized bed, TV, dresser, outlets, and personal lighting. It is all very comfortable and clean. I have stayed at many hotels over the years and this was one of the nicest rooms I've ever had.
The rooms come in a variety of themes, Lego Friends, pirates, adventure (think Indiana Jones), and kingdom. Then of course there are the beach themed rooms at the beach resort.
Pool/Fire Pit/Lake Eloise
The pool is located outside behind the hotel. It is extremely kid-friendly. Along the side of the pool are stacks of life vests in every size you may need for your little ones to swim safely and independently in the pool. There are also loads of huge floating Lego bricks that can be built into floaties, fortresses, or anything else your little master builder can imagine. To the right of the pool is a sprinkler area and on the left is the fire pit where you can roast marshmallows at sunset and make s'mores.
Along the back and side of the pool you can walk on the boardwalk set on Lake Eloise. It is beautiful! A nice little break for grown-ups who feel a bit Lego'd out. I'm sorry to say I lost most of my pictures of it because I dropped my phone in the swimming pool during the second day there and not all my photos were backed up. Fortunately I did post some on Google Maps before then that I can still share, haha.
The hotel offers boat rides on the lake for anyone who would like to sign up. We were so exhausted from running around during our stay there we never made it to the boat ride, but I think it is something we will make time for next time we visit.
Since the park is right behind the pool you can also catch a glimpse of Legoland's Island in the Sky ride.
Your reservation should grant you two day tickets for the park. In our experience, two days was enough time to see most of the park. We had to deal with some size limitations, the Ninjago area wasn't open yet, the water park was closed for the season, the lines were not long/nonexistent when we went, and no one but I wanted to visit the Cypress Gardens—so that saved us some time. Even still, we had enough time between the two days to do what we wanted to and then revisit the rides and places we liked best a few times.
We went in mid-December, right before the holiday rush. We experienced basically no lines. The longest line we waited on probably had 10 people ahead of us. As this park becomes more popular that may change in the future, but we were able to move around very comfortably when we went.
My oldest just made 42 inches at that time, but even so, my little guys were able to go on most of the rides in the park. There were very few rides that they were too small for which was a relief for my husband and I who are used to consoling upset little boys who are too small to ride the fair and carnival rides. In the areas that did have rides they were too small for, there was always some sort of kiddie attraction to distract them from the ride they couldn't go on. As my oldest went on the Project X roller coaster with my husband and I stayed with my little one in a kiddie playground to the side, I couldn't help but feel like they designed it this way specifically for families that may have kids a range of sizes and ages. It would still be hard for families with one adult and multiple kids, but I still appreciated the way the park was designed to make everyone feel engaged at all times.
The Beginning/Heartlake City/Duplo Valley
When you first enter the park you are greeted by a dinosaur who has a mischievous little mini figure on his head. If you aren't interested in getting wet, you may want to stay close as you can to the dinosaur's feet.
We pretty much side stepped everything, except the holiday display until we reached the carousel. The carousel has two levels! Of course my little guys needed to try the top and bottom levels to make sure they weren't missing out.
To the left of the carousel is the Lego Friends area. They were too small for Mia's Riding Adventure, but they had fun playing in the car and by the rock and roll fountain, before we headed through Duplo Valley.
Duplo blocks are for the youngest Lego enthusiasts so this entire area is dedicated to the little ones. There is an indoor play area where kids and parents can get out of the sun for awhile (or alternatively, escape a sudden shower!), a sprinkler attraction for kids to play in, a tractor ride, a train ride, and all sorts of adorable Lego figures all around for kids to play in and pose by.
World of CHIMA
After going through the Duplo Valley, we reached the World of CHIMA, our favorite area in the park. Though, when we first reached it we were told that particular area was not open yet. We were making use of our extended brick time and had arrived in the park as early as we could at 9am. Since World of CHIMA is mostly a water play area, it strictly did not open until 10am.
The area itself doesn't have too many attractions. There are some places to play with Legos, a few retail booths that were not open at the time we went, a giant sprinkler attraction, and—what we decided—the best ride in the whole park; Quest for CHI. There is a chance, that if you go on this ride on a day where there aren't many people and most of the people who are around are very polite, that you will not get wet. However, chances are, if you get on this ride you will be drenched. There are waterfalls on the ride and various splashes and sprinklers—BUT, most of the water in this ride comes from kids in other boats shooting you with their water guns and bystanders spraying you from the sidelines (rest assured your water guns reach them too).
If you get too wet there are blow drying machines near the exit of the ride to help you not feel so soggy afterwards. These do cost extra, but they're pretty fun.
We are a troublesome crew, so we loved the chaos, but if you do not want to partake in such festivities—it may be best to head straight to the Lego Kingdom.
If you opted out of the dryer in the World of CHIMA you can hop on Merlin's Challenge to dry off. This is one of those typical spinning rides that go super fast around. I knew it as the Himalaya growing up, but similar rides are found at carnivals and fairs with various other names.
The Kingdom had a few rides my boys were just too short for including a jousting ride and the dragon roller coaster, but all four of us enjoyed playing together in the Forestman's Hideout. This is one of the many playground areas you can find in the park. It includes oversized Lego blocks to build with, slides, obstacle courses, and plenty of room to run around. We spent quite a lot of time playing here, it was actually pretty hard to convince the boys to move on.
From the Lego Kingdom, you can either head to the Land of Adventure or Miniland USA. We were drawn to all the miniature monuments so we decided to go there first. We did not expect to spend as much time in this area as we ended up spending. Each monument has interactive features to engage the audience. My boys were particularly fond of the Nascar drag race. In addition to the real monuments in Miniland, such as New York City and Vegas, Miniland also includes some fictional worlds such as various places found in Star Wars. The Star Wars section was particularly cool because it included life size Lego Darth Vader, R2D2, and Darth Maul.
This area alone shows why Legoland is so unique. It would've been impressive enough just to have the sculptures themselves, but to add movement and interactive features shows that the theme park creators want to go above and beyond to engage their audience. Kids love it, but any adult who has tried to put together a complicated Lego set will appreciate the work and craftsmanship that has gone into creating all the various Lego sculptures found around the park—in this area especially.
Lego Technic & Imagination Zone
These two areas sort of blended together in our experience.
The Lego Technic area was pretty fun. We enjoyed all the rides there, especially the Kid Power Tower and Technicycle which are rides that are mostly controlled by the riders. The AQUAZONE racers were really fun to ride and just as fun to set off water bombs to splash other riders as we were passing by.
Right next to Lego Technic is the Imagination Zone which features an oversized head of Albert Einstein. In the Imagination Zone visitors can create Lego racers, Lego flyers, and complete various other challenges to test creativity and the patron's understand of engineering and physics using play. My kids (and my husband) had a blast designing the most aerodynamic Lego cars they could to race against other visitors.
Within the Imagination Zone there is also a section that allows visitors to create digital Lego fish and play Lego video games. My husband and I tried not to spend too much time on those things because our boys spend a lot of time playing video games already and we didn't want to spend time on them during vacation. However, this area is a good place to escape a sudden shower or cool off for awhile if it is very hot outside.
By the time we reached Lego City on the first day, we were pretty tired and hungry after a full day of the park. We took a ride at the Boating School and got some super delicious ice cream from Firehouse Ice Cream and headed back to the hotel to have dinner and go for a nighttime swim.
On our second day at the park, we raced through, only stopping at the rides we love and wanted another go at, and officially started our park day at Lego City. That being said, this area is mostly for older park visitors. I have a feeling the park is designed with the attractions for younger patrons set closer to the front of the park for a reason. Our kids were definitely spent by the time we reached Lego City on the first day and if we had a one day park ticket that would have been a day well spent in our opinion.
In Lego city they were able to go on the Boating School ride, which is a boat ride around a tiny manmade lake with Lego statues all around determined to spray you. I did not have a drivers license at this time and was terrible at steering. Ha. We went on this ride a couple of times and my sons were always upset when they had to get stuck with me since I was so bad at driving the boat.
They also got to take a ride at the Ford Junior Driving School which is set right next to the Ford Driving School. Both are go kart tracks that appeal to two different age groups. The Ford Junior Driving School featured toddler sized cars in various styles; taxi, police car, fire truck. This gave me the impression of a tiny city filled with children. So adorable. After the ride concludes all the riders receive their junior driver licenses. My sons were very amused that they received their licenses before I had received mine (I grew up in NYC, don't judge me).
The last ride we went on in Lego City was the NFPA Rescue Academy which is more of a competition than a ride. I'm not sure I would recommend this for small children unless you have some really strong people on your team. You have to pump to push your truck from start to a "burning building." Pump to spray the fire and rescue the people inside. Then pump to push your truck back to start before the other teams do. It's an adrenaline filled workout. I didn't enjoy it very much but my husband and boys seemed to, although my youngest quit halfway through and had the rest of us pick up the slack for him.
Land of Adventure
Since Lego Ninjago World wasn't open yet when we visited Legoland, our last stop in the park was the Land of Adventure.
The boys were a bit too small for the Coastersaurus, but they enjoyed the Safari Trek so much we went on twice in a row.
My oldest son had a tiny meltdown on the Beetle Bounce ride, but felt a lot better after playing with the ball cannons in the Pharoah's Revenge. We spent a LOT of time playing in there!
We were all so preoccupied looking for targets in the Lost Kingdom Adventure we didn't even realize when they were taking our picture! To be honest, none of us really knew what was going on in that ride, but we had a lot of fun trying to figure it out. My youngest ended up being the one to get the most points out of all of us!
Shows at the Park
There are a few shows at the park that run at various times. We saw The Lego Movie 4D Adventure and the Pirate's Cove Live Water Ski Show.
The Lego Movie 4D Adventure is a sequel to The Lego Movie. The heroes from the movie reprise their roles to defeat the evil Risky Business. At the end of the show, kids have an opportunity to take pictures with one of the characters from the movie. In addition to the Lego Movie adventure, there is al a Lexo Knights show which plays in the same theatre.
The Pirate's Cove show was a bit cheesy in terms of acting in the typical made for young audiences sort of way. The kids don't mind of course, but the ski stunts made up for it for me as an adult viewer. It was very cute and a lot of fun.
December Weather at Legoland Orlando
We went to Legoland Orlando during the second week of December in 2016. I'm not sure how helpful our experience will be since the weather has been so unpredictable lately, but it was hot. I wore jeans the first day out to the park and regretted it terribly. I wore nothing but shorts and sandals for the rest of our time there.
After sunset the temperature dropped considerably so sweat pants and hoodies were useful when we went out after dark. The pool was heated but I wouldn't recommend a night swim. My husband ended up catching a cold from swimming after the dark (although he has the immune system of an infant).
There is a special Christmas event that goes on at Legoland around this time, but I purposely planned our trip around the holiday rush so we didn't get to experience it. I thought maybe the park would be too crowded at that time, but when I asked a model citizen about it he said the park was never very crowded. This may change in the coming years as the park gains popularity, but it seems even during on-seasons there isn't a huge crowd at the park.
Will Adults Without Children Enjoy Legoland?
If you are a Lego enthusiast I think you will love it here whether you have children or not. I am not sure a stay at the hotel would be very comfortable for you as kids are always running around everyone and the hotel really does cater to them specifically. However, if you are someone who loves kids and has a childlike sense of wonder, the hotel might be enjoyable for you as well. The place emanates fun. I have never experienced anything quit like it before.
The park is full of expertly crafted Lego sculptures any enthusiast would love and appreciate and want to take pictures with. I am not sure all the rides would appeal to an adult park visitor, but the Safari Trek and Boating School rides are ones I would recommend to adult guests. The Coastersaurus, Project X, The Dragon, Flying School, and Mia's Riding Adventure have higher height restrictions and should be fun for adults (my husband underestimated how frightening a "kid coaster" like Project X could be). Lego City, Imagination Zone, Cypress Gardens, and Miniland USA are all areas where adults would probably enjoy themselves most in the park. The water acrobatic show at Pirates Cove might have some cheesy acting, but the stunts are pretty cool and the show overall is fun.
I can't speak on what is available in the shops as we came to play and not shop and my boys are still in the Duplo/Juniors/simple Lego kit stages of their fandom. However, from what I read, the stores tend to only carry newer Lego kits, so if you are looking for something shiny or rare you probably won't get it here. Apparently there are some Legoland exclusives though.
I, for one, enjoyed this experience so much I wanted to go home and remodel my son's room into a Lego themed room. My impression of it was so good and the price was so fair that I even thought we should stay at the hotel every time we visit Florida—whether we intended to go to the theme park or not. You hear a lot of places call themselves "family-friendly," the Legoland hotel completely redefines what that means.
Legoland encourages kids to be KIDS! Get messy, have fun, be wild, be crazy, create, be curious. There are so many things hidden all around the park that only wide-eyed kids seem to be pick on. There is such a great attention to detail that even if the lines had been longer than 10 people, kids would still be entertained while waiting.
There is something for everyone here. I can't imagine that anyone who visits will feel as though they completely missed out on a good time. Not only is the park filled with rides and attractions to entertain, it is also filled with opportunities to learn new things, be creative, and explore.