Want to know what 50 million LEGO bricks looks like? LEGOLAND Florida, now open in Winter Haven, Fla., has that many bricks throughout the park, including 30 million LEGO bricks in Miniland, a small-scale replica of several cities and themes.
The interactive theme park is designed for families with children age 2-12, with more than 50 rides, shows and attractions spread across the 150-acre park. My four-year-old daughter and I were invited to attended the grand opening of LEGOLAND and explored the park on a sunny, summery day.
A Bounty of LEGO Bricks
Our first stop was Duplo Village, an area of the park geared toward toddlers. It didn’t take long for my daughter to find the bins of LEGO bricks tucked in among the slides and play equipment in the outdoor Playtown and indoor Duplo Farm, and she happily sat and built bridges and castles with the bright colored bricks.
Throughout the park, there are LEGO sculptures tucked away in hidden spots, as well as out in the open. Part of the fun – at least for the older set – is finding these little unexpected surprises, like an alligator in the grass.
Searching for a Princess in the Kingdom
Next we strolled through the Kingdoms, where rides like an indoor/outdoor steel roller coaster and a train ride are set around a castle. We didn’t find Princess Lily, but we did find a souvenir shop with plenty of crowns and other royal finery fit for a princess.
Taking a Ride in LEGOLAND
My daughter took the wheel – literally – in the next attraction, the Ford Jr. Driving School. Set for kids ages 3-5, the driving school lets kids control their own LEGO-themed car around a driving course. A similar Ford Driving School is located nearby and is set up for kids ages 6-13. After navigating the course, kids receive an official LEGOLAND driver’s license card.
A Walk Through the Jungle
After a quick lunch, we crossed the bridge to enter the historic Cypress Gardens. Cypress Gardens was Florida’s first theme park and is the former owner of the Legoland Florida site. The gardens, which closed in 2009, have been restored to their original lush splendor and a water ski show (something the gardens were known for) has been reintroduced – albeit with LEGO characters acting out a good pirate/bad pirate scene). Even the beautiful Southern belles are back, but in LEGO form.
The gardens provided a quiet and shady respite from the rush of the theme park and a chance to see exotic plants native to the region. My daughter loved the chance to run along the path and explore the “jungle.”
Miniland for Major Fun
Located in the center of LEGOLAND is Miniland USA, an attraction found in every LEGOLAND. This one included mini LEGO replicas of the state of Florida, with antebellum mansions, Kennedy Space Center, and an interactive Daytona International Speedway®; the Las Vegas strip, including a miniature wedding chapel, and real-life sounds recorded in Vegas; Washington, D.C., and all its historical sites; New York City, including taxi cabs, hot dog trucks and an ambulance tooling down the street and around the corner; and a Pirate-themed section with pirate ships battling it out on the high seas.
If You Go to LEGOLAND
LEGOLAND allows visitors to bring in bags; however, outside food and drinks are not allowed. For nursing mothers or those with small children, a baby care center is located inside the Duplo Farm, with baby changing stations, bottle warmers, high chairs, and comfortable seating for nursing. In addition, many family restrooms are located throughout the park, making it easier for single parents or those visiting with more than one child to use the facilities.
LEGOLAND also offers a Bed & Brick program with several family-friendly hotels located nearby. A shuttle service is also available to and from Orlando Premium Outlets.
Disclosure: LEGOLAND hosted our visit. All opinions expressed are my own.