Legoland Florida is located in the theme park capital of the world of Orlando, Florida, about 45 minutes away from the likes of Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando. Legoland has plenty of competition, but by catering to families with pre-teens, it has carved out a niche from the other theme attractions options in the area.
Set across 150-acres and with over 50 attractions, live shows, and other activities, Legoland is a perfect outing for the younger set that isn't quite ready for more high-velocity rides. The addition of options geared towards babies and toddlers means that no one in the family is left out of the fun.
The sophisticated 4D ride, which opened in 2017, rivals the most innovative attractions at Disney and Universal. In a theme park first, the interactive ride interprets passengers’ karate chops and other hand gestures and converts them into virtual orbs to battle evil forces and rack up points. The ride is based on Lego’s Ninjago line of toys, and allow kids and their parents to have a blast (figuratively and literally) experiencing the martial arts world.
The attraction is part of the park’s Ninjago World, a land which also includes a climbing wall and games to explore.
The center of Legoland is Miniland USA, which includes dioramas of famous American destinations all fashioned out of Lego blocks. The artistry and scale of the exhibits are quite impressive and need to be seen in person to truly be appreciated. Represented places include Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas, New York City, and Washington D.C.
Based on the popular The Lego Movie and its spinoffs, the Legoland show channels the same kind of offbeat, but charming sensibility. Like the films, the attraction appeals on two different levels so young children and their parents can both enjoy. Kids love the zippy and silly action. Adults love the pop culture references and the absurd situations. The Lego Movie 4D is considered one of the funniest shows at any theme park.
Wander the Cypress Gardens
AddressCypress Gardens, FL, USA
Before it was Legoland, the park was Cypress Gardens, a beloved Florida tourist spot that predated Disney World by many years. Remnants of the original park remain, including the lovely botanical gardens that Legoland has preserved and renamed "Cypress Gardens." Paths meander along Lake Eloise and through formal gardens filled with flowers, plants, and trees, including namesake cypress trees and an enormous banyan tree. It is a delightful and tranquil place to escape from the rest of the park’s hubbub.
It’s not enormous, but Legoland’s water park provides enough slides and other wet fun to provide relief from Florida’s heat and humidity. The Lego theme is cleverly incorporated with attractions such as Build-a-Raft River. It allows passengers to design their own tubes using oversized Lego blocks and then float down the lazy river in them.
Note: Admission to the water park requires an extra fee, and visitors cannot purchase water park-only tickets.
There aren’t any major thrill rides at the park (it is designed for pre-teens after all), but The Dragon is among the more wild rides. The outdoor steel roller coaster includes some indoor dark ride sequences. Riders need to be 40 inches tall. Other roller coasters include the wooden Coastersaurus and the inverted Flying School.
In 2018, Legoland modified its Project X coaster with a virtual reality overlay. Passengers wear VR goggles and experience a Lego-themed race via the computer-animated visuals. The VR action mimics the coaster’s movements. The Wild Mouse track layout, with its characteristic hairpin turns, may prove unsettling for more squeamish visitors—especially since the VR goggles would obscure their view, and they won’t be able to anticipate the turns and elements.
Legoland offers two “driving schools,” one for ages 6 to 13, and a junior version for 3- to 5-year-olds. In both cases, kids can get behind the wheels of their own cars, learn the rules of the road, and earn “licenses.”
Another holdover from Cypress Gardens’ heyday, Legoland puts its own spin on the classic water ski show. Instead of glamorous gals and buff boys, swashbuckling pirates in Lego gear hang on to tow ropes and ply the waters of Lake Eloise.
As with Universal and Disney, you can stay where you play at Legoland Florida. There are two options: The Legoland Hotel, which is adjacent to the park, and Legoland Beach Retreat, which is a few blocks away but connected via frequent shuttle buses. Both hotels feature the kid-centric and whimsical look, feel, and focus of the park. Each of the hotels offers bountiful breakfasts as part of the room rates as well as plenty of complimentary activities. They also provide their guests exclusive early access to the park.
The food at Legoland is a step above a typical amusement park. In addition to pizza, burgers, chicken fingers, and the usual suspects, some more interesting (and slightly healthier, perhaps) options include paninis, a pasta buffet, and a grilled chicken salad. One of the park's signature treats can be found at Granny's Apple Fries. It serves—you guessed it—fried apple pieces. They are served with cinnamon, sugar, and whipped cream. A version with ice cream is also available.
If you are coming to the park with little ones, many of the rides and attractions may be a bit too advanced for them to partake, but Legoland has you covered. The Duplo Valley is specifically designed for younger visitors. For toddlers, there is is a train and driveable tractor rides, while for children under age two, the Tot Spot area has slides, a playhouse, and blocks.
New parents will especially appreciate the Baby Care Center with a changing and nursing area, plus the option for warming baby bottles.
There are plenty of other things to do at the park that may not hit the top of your list but are still worth a look. The Island in the Sky is an interesting take on an observation tower. The Imagination Zone, which is located indoors, has lots of hands-on activities with Legos. The park also has some great interactive, passenger-operated attractions, including the Kid Power Towers, the Technicycle, and the Rescue Academy.