Central Florida’s newest theme park continues to grow and offer new experiences for lovers of those tiny, locking blocks. The park is in the former location of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Fla. In its heyday, Cypress Gardens was a destination to see water ski shows on the shore of Lake Eloise and meet the famous Southern Belles who wandered among the flowerbeds and concession stands. The gardens are still there along with bleachers near the shore, but it’s now the largest LEGOLAND park in the world.
Rides and Play Areas
The impressive LEGO sculptures everywhere inside the park would be enough of a draw for die-hard fans of the toy, but there are dozens of interactive entertainment options from rides and shows to play areas to keep the family entertained. Fourteen distinct “Lands” feature a different aspect of the LEGO family. Parents with toddlers in tow should head directly to DUPLO Valley, where there is a contained, indoor playground (which also has an amazing baby care lounge with nursing rooms, changing stations and comfortable chairs), a train and DUPLO tractor rides for tots. The Land of Adventure and LEGO Technic are where most of the rides, suitable for kids 36 inches or taller, are located. For those 42 inches or taller, The Coastersaurus, a wooden rollercoaster, or the Project X coaster, made to look like a LEGO Technic toy, are some of the more thrilling rides at the park. The World of Chima from the Cartoon Network, which recently opened, features attractions aimed at getting you drenched: from the water guns on the Quest for Chi ride to the Cragger’s Swamp splash pad, no one will leave the area dry. For a fee, guests can stand in huge dryers that blast the entire body with air.
Water ski shows live on. During The Battle for Brickbeard’s Bounty, a live show with plenty of action takes place at Lake Eloise’s Pirate’s Cove. A fleet of water skis, jet skis and boats with the good guys on board battle pirates with all kinds of impressive water feats. At the Wells Fargo Fun Town 4-D Theater, guests watch films with plenty of special effects starring favorite LEGO characters battling dragons or exploring the world of Chima.
Miniland USA is where you can truly geek-out on amazing re-creations of famous cityscapes built entirely with LEGO bricks. The Washington Monument, The Golden Gate Bridge, the entire island of Manhattan and some of Florida’s iconic sites such as the Kennedy Space Center and St. Augustine are all represented in spectacular detail. There is also a special Star Wars section where battle scenes and characters have been rendered in bricks. Don’t miss taking a picture with the life-sized Darth Vader.
Throughout the park, enormous LEGO sculptures in the form of dinosaurs, farm animals, mythical creatures and more keep you gawking at their feats of engineering. In case you are wondering, the LEGOs in the sculptures are held together with glue and then sprayed with a UV-coating to protect their color from the bright Florida sun. Some of the sculptures have interactive features like the LEGO pigs (near the burger stand at LEGO Kingdoms), that oink when kids sit on them.
A New Hotel and a New Land Opening Soon
As the largest of seven LEGOLANDs in the world, it’s nearly impossible to take in the entire park in a day. Considering those who want to stay and play some more, a new hotel steps away from the front gate is currently under construction. Rest assured, it will be made of real bricks and mortar, but plenty of LEGO goodness will be represented throughout the property. Three LEGO themes (Kingdom, Pirate and Adventure) dictate the rooms’ décor and are designed with families in mind. With more people making LEGOLAND a destination holiday, the park continues to expand. Coming this summer is Heartlake City based on the LEGO Friends toy line. A horse-themed roller coaster, shopping and live shows will be part of the fun.
Seasonal Water Attractions
Yes, Florida is scorching during the summer months, but LEGOLAND offers plenty of ways to get soaked. During the warm months, the LEGOLAND Water Park, adjacent to the property but with an additional admission, is open for splashing. Toddlers will enjoy the DUPLO Splash Safari and bigger kids, 48 inches or taller, can go for the thrill slides at Splash Out.
Know Before You Go
LEGOLAND is closed several days a week during the winter months and certain shows and areas are seasonal. Check times and dates before you go. LEGOLAND is located about an hour from Orlando or 45 minutes from Walt Disney World. A new shuttle service will be available in May at the I-Drive 360 so that visitors can experience LEGOLAND along with its sister attractions, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquarium and the Orlando Eye.