A day trip to LEGOLAND Florida, in Winter Haven, is a mere 45 miles from Orlando’s International Drive. The world’s largest LEGOLAND is THE theme park for families with young children.
You may not even have to drive there. Depending on the season, morning shuttle buses depart from the I-Drive 360 attraction for a modest fee. Shuttle reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance.
Most of the park’s 50 kid-friendly rides, shows and attractions are intended for children aged 3-10, although adults and some teens may enjoy the roller coasters.
At LEGOLAND Florida, children are less likely to feel overwhelmed by large crowds, and ride wait times are typically short. At midday, though, seats on some rides can get uncomfortably warm. Fortunately, the park offers numerous areas out of the sun. Grab a shaded bench when you spot one. LEGOLAND’s many different attraction areas are put into context with this map. A popular park activity? Trading LEGO mini-figures for free new ones with designated park employees.
The original LEGO movie was such a hit that a new movie recently debuted here. “The LEGO Movie™ 4D A New Adventure” combines 3-D computer animation with real-world effects such as wind, water and fog. The 12.5 minute film plays multiple times daily in the Wells Fargo Fun Town Theater.
Ride height restrictions: LEGOLAND has minimum and maximum requirements so teens and adults cannot ride together sometimes. Most range from 30” to 34” with a few advanced rides requiring a 36” or 42” height. Age range requirements of 3-5 or 6-13 are in effect on several rides. Parents can’t attend driving school, but they can watch their 3- to 5-year old behind a wheel. Viewing their antics is fun, and will let you see how well your child remembers driving instructions.
LEGOLAND Florida also includes a water park in the regular admission. Families design and build vessels with Legos and then float them on a 1,000-foot long lazy river at the Build-A-Raft River attraction. Toddlers have their own water play area.
The 150-acre LEGOLAND Florida is located on the former Cypress Gardens botanical gardens, Florida’s first theme operating from 1936 to 2009. But competition from Orlando’s high-tech theme parks made Cypress Gardens obsolete.
The Winter Haven site was chosen for LEGOLAND Florida because of its gardens. And while Cyprus Garden’s famous Southern Belles in hoop dresses have been replaced by LEGO figures, the water ski show is back with a pirate adventure theme.
Dining options are not numerous but they are adequate for most young picky eaters. The main restaurant is located near the main entrance, a distance from the main park area. Snack bars offering hamburgers, fried chicken and chicken salads and drinks are scattered throughout.
Despite the worldwide popularity of LEGO toys, LEGOLAND theme parks are uncommon. They are found in California, England, Denmark, Germany and Malaysia. LEGO originated in Denmark in 1932 with first creations made of wood. Today, plastic LEGO bricks have a strong, international appeal because the bricks are interchangeable and may be used to create anything a child imagines. LEGOLAND Florida includes one of the world’s largest Lego stores.
A theme park appealing primarily to young children has certain perils — like parents visit mostly when their kids are out of school. LEGOLAND Florida was not planned as a seasonal theme park but has evolved into one. LEGOLAND Florida is open daily during spring break, summer and certain holiday periods, such as Christmas. Always check the park schedule for other dates.
Hours: LEGOLAND Florida opens later and closes earlier than most Orlando theme parks. It has extended hours on Saturdays and Sundays and during selected summer months and holidays.
Tickets: The water park, included in the ticket price, opens later and closes earlier than the main park. Legoland offers one day tickets, a 2-day flexible ticket and some tickets with special perks. Ticket prices are less than Orlando-based theme parks. Florida resident tickets and season passes are a bargain.
It’s easy to turn an Orlando day trip to LEGOLAND Florida into a multi-night vacation stay.