A 45-minute drive from the theme park center of the world in Orlando, Florida lays Legoland Florida Resort. Designed and marketed as a place where kids can “take the lead,” the 150-acre park is a welcomed break from the fast-paced frenzy of bigger destinations to the northeast. With over 50 rides, shows, and games, Legoland is a desirable alternative for families, especially families with kids 12 and younger. Even if plastic bricks aren’t your thing, you (and more importantly your kids) will leave Legoland happily planning your next trip.
Disclaimer: Before I go any further, I should note that two of my family’s one-day Legoland Florida tickets were provided by the media relations department of Legoland Florida. There was no agreement made about the review given. All opinions are my own.
Although the park is 45-minutes southwest of Orlando, the family and I made the 2.5 hour drive northeast from our winter getaway of Naples, Florida on the Gulf Coast. Leaving shortly after 7 am on a Friday would ensure our arrival when the gates opened at 10 am, even if we needed a pit stop or two. Much of the drive was scenic but progressively repetitive. These people can really grow some oranges, can’t they?
The directions to the park were simple enough, and signs clearly let you know fun is around the corner. As the rental car rolled up to the entrance a few minutes past 10am (there was a bathroom situation that doesn’t need repeated), plenty of cars were in queue, but our quick advancement maintained our spirits. At this point, our ticket booth lady advised against the upgraded parking, which was wonderful because the standard rate of $17 already felt a bit steep. A quick break to get organized and slathered in sunscreen, and off we went.
Leading up to last year’s Disney World endeavor, my wife became something of an amusement park wizard. Through the children’s distraction (I include myself as a child here), she reminded us of important tips like:
- Start in the back of the park.
- We can ride the carousel later.
- Don’t get distracted by the amazing Lego creations in Miniland, USA.
- Don’t waste your time taking videos of Star Wars speeder bikes in Miniland, USA.
- Stop taking selfies with the life-sized Darth Vader in Miniland, USA.
And my favorite:
- Kids, tell your dad we’re going to leave him in Miniland, USA.
There was no time to waste; we had to head to the rides.
Head to the Rides
Legoland has a nice selection of rides including coasters, spinners, boat rides, and go-carts. Our sunny Friday in February saw nearly universal short lines. Your satisfaction with these rides will be influenced heavily by your expectations. If speed and thrills are what you seek, you may be severely let down. By keeping in mind the target audience of this park (2-12), you’ll be left pleasantly surprised.
Here’s a selection of must-rides that became some of our favorites:
Ninjago – This is the ride that we raced to when the park opened. Some suckers might give in to the allure of the Star Wars section in Miniland, USA (cough, cough), but getting to Ninjago quickly is key. As one of the newest rides, it is a hot ticket. We bypassed the interactive Ninjago features that preceded the ride to hop in line. We sped through with no wait and loaded into the 4-seater car with our 3-D glasses adorning our faces.
Using your hands to break a beam of light on the car, you become a ninja capable of launching balls that damage a range of villains that present. The instructions weren’t very clear initially, but as a ninja-loving dad, I was able to figure it out to rack up top score. Every ninja for themselves.
Legoland takes you to school. There is Flying School, (Ford and Ford Jr.) Driving School, and Boating School. Linked by name, these rides vary greatly.
- Flying School is a suspended coaster with a shoulder harness that was tons of fun but left my head sore from getting banged around.
- Driving School. Our 5-year-old loved the freedom of cruising around the track in the mini go-cart at Ford Jr. Driving School as the 7-year-old had her license issued at Ford Driving School. The older kid track was a huge space for them to explore, as long as they follow the rules of the road, of course. Tip: Head up to the hill for a bird’s eye view of your little one’s embarrassment as you yell her name.
- Boating School. In a day of short lines, Boating School was the exception to the rule as it was short in quantity but long in time. Boating School was an exercise in not getting turned around or stuck while dodging the others that were not as fortunate. It’s better to take the control from the beginning and let the kids take in the scenery as they enjoy their ride.
The Grand Carousel. I’ve been on my fair share of carousels but never a double-decker. This unique twist (pun) was a welcomed change to the typical park ride. Adding another level was just enough to excite the four of us that may have skipped the standard otherwise.
Some other stops along the way through Legoland included Safari Trek, Quest For Chi, the kiddie rides at Duplo Valley, Merlin, and The Dragon, but there was one ride that cemented my love for Legoland: Rescue Academy. Rescue Academy puts the family into a fire truck responding to an emergency situation. It’s a race to put out a fire, but it’s also a race against three other teams.
Two people need to pump to move the engine, one needs to point the vehicle in the right direction, and the fourth person … well, they just need to sit there and look busy. Once you approach the building, you bail out of the truck and reposition with two people pumping the water and two aiming into the faux-flame structure. When you’re given the signal, rush back to your original places to race back to the start.
Look – I don’t put pressure on my family. They could be a lawyer, a thief, a banker, or a chief, and I would love them the same. I would love them until the end of time, just as long as they win me this race. I motivated. I expended all of my energy, and fortunately (for them), their performance destroyed the competition and permitted my love to continue. Go team!
Stay Tuned for Part Two for:
Get Some Food
Enjoy a Show (or Two)