You’d never know that Legoland Florida just opened in the Fall of 2011. Located in Winter Haven, it’s a nice looking theme park with its picture-esque lake and lush green foliage everywhere. It was formerly Cypress Gardens, but has since been transformed with fun and adventurous Lego theming throughout.
While it was a pretty park from a landscaping and foliage standpoint, of course the most impressive sights were all of the Lego characters and sets. The center piece is the Miniland USA area. It’s an outdoor area with a number of miniature versions of notable places like New York City, Las Vegas, and The Kennedy Space Center. The Washington D.C. area was so cool that it made me a little homesick.
Some of the sets are interactive. For example, guests could activate the dragsters in the Daytona area. There was also a Pirate-themed area that was the only fictional Miniland that I remember. Speaking of which, Legoland just announced a Star Wars-themed area for 2013. Read more about the new Star Wars Miniland. I noticed people were lingering and really examining the different scenes for quite a while. It’s not what you typically come to a theme park for, but it was definitely worth some of your time. Aside from Miniland, there were also life-size and LEGO characters around the park.
A Unique Collection of Family & Children’s Rides
Legoland Florida has a large collection of fun and unique family and childrens’ rides. If you have young kids, they’d have a blast. Rides like Rescue Academy, a family race ride (in the video to the right) get everyone involved. There’s something funny and ironic about making guests propel themselves through a ride. Rescue Academy might be as fun to watch as it is to ride.
Along side traditional rides like a two-story carousel, there was a jousting ride, battery-powered car ride, a pedal-powered flying ride of sorts, a boat ride, and a number of other rides. Everything seemed nicely themed and well-run.
There were a number of rides I’d never seen before like Island in the Sky, a 150-foot tall arm that slowly lifts a rotating UFO-like observation deck. It’s a little difficult to describe, but you can see it at the end of the video below. The variety of rides was quite impressive.
Legoland Florida’s Junior Roller Coasters
Legoland Florida has four smaller roller coasters. None of them really fall into the ‘extreme’ or even ‘thrill category’, but they do fit the park’s target audience. My 4 year-old daughter enjoyed Coastersaurus. It was her first roller coaster taller than twenty or so feet. Luckily, it was a pretty smooth wooden coaster that was short, but definitely satisfying. It had a light Jurassic Park-esque theme with some cool Lego dinos. Read my Coastersaurus Review
Coastersaurus was the only roller coaster we rode. My daughter wasn’t up to the challenge when it came to the others, but they’re all pretty tame and look fun. Technic (pics) is a wild mouse featuring lots of hair pin turns and a few drops. It’s similar to Kings Dominion’s or Carowinds’ Ricochet.
Flying School (images) is a suspended coaster. Riders are seated below the track on this steel coaster. There are no loops though, just a few fun turns. It’s similar to Carowinds and Kings Island’s Flying Ace Aerial Chase.
Dragon (images) combines a dark ride and a family roller coaster. It begins with the train moving passed knights and other medieval characters. There’s even a huge lego dragon at the end. As the dark ride portion ends, the coaster then exits the castle and heads up a lift hill. From there on, it’s a standard small steel coaster ride. See a video of Dragon.
Again, all of the roller coasters are smaller and are geared towards coaster beginners or kids, but they really hit the spot for younger riders. Anyone looking for thrill rides would probably be dissapointed, but for families there’s a surprising amount of things to do, see, and ride.
Since my visit, Legoland Florida opened their new water park in style by setting a Guinness World Record. The park has the record for the most beach balls in the air at the same time. Read more about the record and the park gearing up for the water park’s opening: here. Also, visit the official Legoland Florida Water Park site.
Legoland Florida is a great-looking park and I could tell that the company really knows what their doing. I can only imagine that Legoland California and the other more established parks are just as good if not better. I’d say kids that are pre-teen and younger should have a great time at this park. Heck, I had fun checking out all of the lego displays and riding the unique family rides myself. Legoland Florida is definitely worth the 45 minute trip from Orlando for families that are looking for something fresh and new.
What’s your take? Have you taken your family to Legoland Florida? What’d you think? Leave a comment below. Image 1 via CC Flickr User NathanF