Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On Location: Away We Go to Legoland Florida!

By: Anne M. Raso

We recently were lucky enough to get to visit Legoland in Winter Haven, Florida--about two hours from West Palm Beach and even less from Disney World. (Let's note here that it's just minutes from Cypress Gardens in case you want to combine two theme parks in one day.) We took Jet Blue from LaGuardia to West Palm Beach because not only do they offer the most flights out of the NYC area to West Palm, but they have many flights under $300 and give you one piece of checked luggage complimentary. The planes always seem to be newer than the other airlines and they have almost as many cable TV networks on their in-flight TVs as most folks do in their homes!
Legoland's pricey at $75 per day for adults and $65 for kids and seniors but you can easily spend 12 hours there and not repeat any of the rides or exhibits! Adults actually do have enough activities to keep them busy including the LEGO Factory Tour which shows you just how those little plastic things are made and the food is surprisingly good. When we went to the Pizza & Pasta Buffet we were not expecting much, especially since we are used to New York Pizza but it was surprisingly good and there were pizzas to choose from with more than a dozen toppings including pineapple and ham. The crust was thick but delicious (and we're fussy); the salad bar had numerous dressings and there were pre-made pies with more than two dozen toppings to choose from (but we have one question--where are the onions)? Not surprisingly, the pizza maker who greets you outside the front door is made entirely out of Legos and is just too cute. For snacks, the favored stand was definitely Granny’s Apple Fries—an uncommon snack for a theme park that beats out funnel cakes anyday.
Pizza & Pasta Buffet
The Grand Carousel is stunning and perfect for kids of all ages! It is a new carousel that features a few vintage horses and a few new ones, and you can climb on a horse or sit down in one of the fancy stationery love seats. Surprisingly, there was not a horse or seat made out of Legos (we were kind of expecting them)!
The Grand Carousel
As an adult, it's hard not to be impressed by the numerous mini cities made out of Legos in Miniland USA. We were especially impressed with Las Vegas, which featured many real hotels and the attractions in front of the hotels such as the "pirate show" in front of Treasure Island. New York City features not only skyscrapers but also police and fire trucks that really move and make noise. All the towns featured that had bodies of water had moving boats--all visitors have to do is push a button to make them sail. Los Angeles features the Legowood sign and Griffith Observatory--not to mention beautiful Beverly Hills homes--made of out Legos of all sizes and colors.
Miniland - New York City!
All through the park, there are items out of Legos and the most impressive is a Ford Excursion SUV made to scale out of 285,000 Legos! Dozens of people worked on it for a couple of months--you would swear if were a real car even close up. The giveaway is that you cannot see inside the dark windows! We also fell in love with the Lego pirates in Pirates Cove. There are also plenty of games that let kids win stuffed animals and other prizes including water gum games and "lucky ducks," and the general price is $3 per try, but they cut a deal at four tries for $10 (although those tries have to be all by one park guest).
Formula One Race Track
For those wanting souvenirs, we found that discounts on Lego products are not really offered in the numerous gift shops, but there are wonderful spots in many stores where you can put together three mini Lego people (aka “minifigures”) for $10. There are thousands of mix and match parts in different cupboards for kids to choose from. This is tremendously fun but your kids might want to make a few dozen mini Lego people. It becomes addicting after awhile. If mini Legos are your passion, we suggest a visit to the Minifigure Market, which has more minifigure parts guests can mix, match and take home than anywhere in the universe.
Legoland is open seven days per week and the official site where you can get info and buy tickets is The Legoland Water Park will be opening on May 26th will all sorts of special guest appearances and giveaways, and you can learn more about it on the site. You can also get a gander at the park map before you go. There will be plenty of driving tracks, boats and fire trucks for your kids to ride in all through the park, so be sure to make time to do those--there is often a half hour wait (still better than the waits at Disney World) for the different vehicle that kids get to steer themselves!
Lego Ford SUV
Long live Legoland--even if it does tire out your legs if you are older or out of shape. There are plenty of benches to rest on--more than we've seen in any other theme parks--and plenty of stands selling bottled water. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and wear sunscreen! It’s geared to kids two to 12 but as we said before, adults will have a blast, too!

Photos: Anne Raso

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