I have a B.A. in History and Creative Writing and an M.A. in History. I enjoy politics, movies, television, poker, video games, and trivia.
About Legoland Florida
Like Disney World and Universal, the LEGOLAND theme park is quickly becoming a rite of passage for parents and their young children who visit the Orlando area. LEGOLAND has become part of the Florida destination vacation circuit. It is a great place to take your kids and they will love the park and all it has to offer.
We visited LEGOLAND for two days at the end of May 2014 as part of a larger vacation and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Our children, Tyler and Mason, were five years old and three years old respectively at the time. Interestingly, they mostly enjoyed the same things about the park. I should just note that while we were there for two days, we weren't able to completely engage with every part of the park, so I may not include those parts of the park in my review.
- Takes a good hour to drive there from Orlando. Plan ahead.
- Only open from 10-5 (10-6 on weekends)
- Consider an annual pass!
- 2-3 days to explore the whole park.
- Water option is a great break on a hot day.
- Stay nearby to shorten travel time.
- Discount tickets can be had. Lots of buy 1 adult, get 1 child ticket free offers out there. Check Amazon Local among others.
- Save a little money buying your parking passes online in advance.
Battle of Florida Theme Parks
There are certain things that are important to know prior to going to LEGOLAND and I've included some of them in the sidebar under "Quick Tips". If you're staying in Orlando, it does require about an hour drive to get to LEGOLAND. It's all highway driving and not at all hard to find. LEGOLAND is in the process of building an on-site hotel, which will greatly enhance one's ability to access the park.
As compared to Disney World and Universal, LEGOLAND is much less crowded. It's still crowded, but it's more enjoyable for children being with other children. Also, LEGOLAND is more obviously designed with children in mind. It's still very enjoyable for adults, but kids are the main focus of the park and ride design.
Any child who is capable of walking is likely to enjoy LEGOLAND, though I would say three-years-old is a good starting point for a child to visit the park and get the most out of it.
As it would indicate, The Beginning is the beginning of the park. We rode Island in the Sky, which is a fun way to see the whole park from way up in the air. The Market restaurant is one of LEGOLAND's many healthy restaurants, something of a rarity in theme parks. As a parent, I appreciated that LEGOLAND had so many options that weren't just junk food.
Everyone walks through Fun Town as it sits near the entrance of the park. It includes a carousel and many restaurants. We ate at the Pizza and Pasta Buffet, which had decent food and was a good value. We also watched the Chima 4-D show, which the kids really enjoyed. The audience gets sprayed with water during the show and it has other interesting, interactive elements like wind and fog.
Duplo Valley is LEGOLAND Florida's newest attraction and is meant for the park's youngest visitors. There are two train rides, a water feature, and Duplo Farm, which is an inside play area where kids can run around while parents relax in the air-conditioning.
Duplo Valley gives visitors a taste a special thing that makes LEGOLAND different than other theme parks and that is rides that allow young riders to ride by themselves. Both trains in Duplo Valley let young riders be by themselves. The smaller train is surrounded by buttons kids can push that make farm animals sounds. Upon first glance, Duplo Valley seems a bit simplistic, but it's a rare place in a theme park where kids can really do things on their own and it's a cute, attractive area that both my kids enjoyed.
World of Chima
The World of Chima is also a newer area in LEGOLAND and the one my oldest son, Tyler, was most excited about since he recently discovered Chima LEGOs and the television show "Legends of Chima".
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World of Chima is a small area compared to others in the park. It's comprised of one involved ride called The Quest for Chi, a Speedorz racing area, and Cragger's Swamp, which is a place to cool off.
I suspect LEGOLAND is still thinking a bit about this area as it's a little underdeveloped when compared to the other areas. The main attraction is the big ride, which is a kind of a water raft ride where riders sit in a boat and use their guns to spray LEGO figures with water as well as park guests who may unwittingly be standing within the reach of the water gun. There are also water guns outside the ride where park guests can fight back. The ride is a nice way to cool off during a hot day and both kids enjoyed it.
The LEGO Kingdoms area has the feel of a medieval carnival with games to play, an outdoor play area with slides and climbing stuff, a rollercoaster called "The Dragon", a horse ride called "The Royal Joust" and a spinning train ride called "Merlin's Challenge".
My five-year-old rode the roller coaster (with me) and "The Royal Joust" (by himself). The three-year-old wasn't tall enough for either. I really liked the roller coaster as a coaster experience for my five-year-old. As we had just ridden "Flight of the Hippogriff" at Universal, I found this coaster smoother and more kid-friendly. Even though he was a little frightened, my five-year-old had a good time.
While Tyler was riding The Royal Joust, my three-year-old was playing with LEGOs in the line. This is one of the things I liked best about LEGOLAND - the fact that it's designed for kids and there's always something to occupy their time. Even though we had to wait for my oldest, my youngest was happy playing in the shade and building things.
Land of Adventure
Looking at the interactive map, I now really regret not getting over to this part of the park because there's a lot to do and some good rides. Not surprisingly, this is also the easiest part of the park to miss. When we go back to LEGOLAND, we're going to this part of the park first.
Miniland was a huge hit with our kids and one of the reasons we never got over to Land of Adventure. Depending on which way you walk, you hit Miniland in one of a couple of ways and it's hard not to be pulled over to the LEGO creations that took 50 master builders eighteen months to complete.
Miniland features New York City, San Francisco, Cape Canaveral, and a wide variety of other places. There's also a section devoted solely to Star Wars. Everything is rendered in amazing detail. In a few places there are buttons to push which shoot water or activate little electronics. It was fun to see how much kids would battle over who got to push the button. It's pretty fun as far as a three-year-old is concerned to be the one controlling some water that shoots out of one of these things.
At scheduled times, master builders will appear and take questions about the process of putting Miniland together. My five-year-old son got to grill a master builder for a good twenty minutes in a fairly intimate setting.
As Tyler would say: "Miniland is huge!"
After LEGO Chima, LEGO City is probably my five-year-old's favorite LEGO building activity. He owns the fire station, police station, and a bunch of trucks and people. My three-year-old loves trucks in general and worker people and LEGO City is full of them. So obviously LEGO City was a big hit with both of my children.
LEGO City includes the driving school, flying school, boating school and rescue academy. There's also a regular show called The Big Test.
My kids both got in the boats for the boating school and we all did the rescue academy. Although we went with our kids in the boats, kids can drive the boats themselves and experiment with driving them around. The rescue academy was fun because it's something the entire family can do and involves some physical effort to put out a pretend fire. My youngest loved being in the fire truck.
The Big Test is one of a number of shows where the audience can get wet. Those seats are marked in blue and it was clear from our show that not everyone was aware of that. Both kids really enjoyed the show.
The Imagination Zone is another part of the park that we didn't get to. It is sort of a do-it-yourself part of the park where kids can build their own racers and race them, play with LEGO Mindstorm products, and other LEGO building-type activities.
We walked through LEGO Technic, but did little there, but not because we didn't want to. Sometimes circumstances dictate one's activities and that was the case here. In fact, I was just about to ride the Project X coaster with my eldest son when we left for the day. He didn't want to ride it at first and then changed his mind a few minutes later. It looked like a lot of fun, but we just didn't get to it.
We were also just about to ride the AQUAZONE wave racers when they closed the ride due to lightning.
As somebody who has great respect for lightning, I really liked LEGOLAND's rules for closing attractions regarding lightning. They don't take any chances.
LEGOLAND Water Park
The LEGOLAND water park is the farthest attraction from the front entrance. We had tickets there the first day, but not the second, and I'd probably recommend spending at least a half day there normally. It's a nice water park with good attractions for all ages. We probably got about two hours in there before the clouds darkened and they closed the park due to lightning.
As a way to relax, the Build-a-Raft river was my favorite. You just grab your kid and float around on a tube while grabbing rubber LEGOs and adding them to your raft. The DUPLO splash safari was the area most appropriate for my three-year-old. Given that, I would say the area overall is more appropriate for children ages five and up. The Joker Soaker was good for all of us, but that's where we got shut down for the day.
The park has a couple of good rides for adults too along with a wave pool.
LEGOLAND Florida is a fantastic place. Both of my kids enjoyed it thoroughly and we'll be going back in the near future. There are numerous attractions for kids of all ages and just walking around the park is a blast. Compared to other parks, LEGOLAND is quite affordable and has good, healthy food. It's a great theme park and kids are their focus and it shows.
© 2014 Allen Donald