Let me start off by saying that I am a die hard Disney fan. I’ve been vacationing at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida since the very first year of my life so when my 3 young boys begged to go to Legoland®, I was hesitant. I am spoiled by the cleanliness, the imagination and the immersive stories of Disney. In my mind, no one does it better.
With all of that said, Legos® are the number one toy in our home. Our boys are 10, 8 and 6 years old and we are overrun by Star Wars®, Lord of the Rings® and Hobbit® scenes. There are Lego® mini-figure heads stuck in every vacuum cleaner we own and random Lego® pieces hide just beneath the surface of any carpet…especially when you have bare feet! We LOVE Legos®!! They are our toy of choice because they inspire creativity and imagination. They help with gross motor and fine motor skills. They can take you anywhere your mind wants to go and they provide healthy, interactive entertainment for our family.
So, in the middle of our Disney vacation, we carved out a day to spend at Legoland®. It took us around an hour to get from our Disney home at Saratoga Springs Resort to the front gate at Legoland®. We rented a movie from our resort for the drive – thank you to the team that invented car DVD players! As we pulled up, parking was $14 per vehicle. If you purchase it on-line prior to your visit, it is only $12. With our boys being such huge Lego® fans, we subscribe to the free Lego® Club magazine. Inside of each magazine, there is typically a coupon for a “free child’s admission with the purchase of an adult admission”. The adult admission was $84 and had we not clipped the Lego® Club coupons, each child (aged 3-12) would have been an additional $77. Thank goodness for the magazine coupons! If you are not currently a member, you can easily register here http://club.lego.com/en-us/join on-line to receive the free magazine. Definitely check the Legoland® website because they occasionally offer “special deals” on admission. Legoland® also has a water park but it was closed when we visited.
The entrance to the park was very inviting with its brightly colored “Welcome” sign made entirely of … you guessed it, Legos®! Just inside the gates we met our first Lego® character. His name is Laval and he is from the Lego® Chima series. What a great way to start the day! Throughout the park, there were so many amazing Lego® creations. There were dinosaurs, pigs, wolves, dragons and even a life-sized Lego® Darth Maul!
Legoland® is divided into 11 different sections. As you might imagine, several of these “sections” are named after popular Lego® series like “World of Chima”, “Lego® Kingdoms”, “Pirates’ Cove”, “Duplo Village”, “Land of Adventure” & “Lego® City”. Each section contains Rides and Attractions and sometimes even Shows, Dining and Shopping. One of the most unique sections of the park is called “Miniland”. Miniland is comprised of small scale Lego® models of things like the Kennedy Space Center, Daytona International Speedway, Pirates’ Shores, Florida, California, New York, Washington D.C., Las Vegas and my personal favorite…Star Wars! They have a scene from every Episode plus The Clone Wars! This area can take as little or as long as you’d like it to take as the details are captivating.
The rides at Legoland® are built to accommodate kids. My husband is a big 6’4” guy and had a difficult time physically fitting into some of the rides. I am 5’9” and it was difficult for me to get my legs into certain rides which made them a bit uncomfortable. While this was not always a plus for us, our boys absolutely loved the smaller rides! One of the most unique things about the rides at Legoland® is the independence they offer to kids. There are 15 rides that they can ride alone once they reach a certain height. A few are 42” and most are 48” and within thost 15 rides, “Ford’s Driving School” offers independent driving for kids ages 3-13! My 5 year old was able to drive his own car around by himself with his brothers who are 8 and 10. He was so proud and although we did not purchase it, we had the opportunity to purchase a “driver’s license” with his picture on it at the exit of the ride. He thought he was big stuff!
Two other things that we really enjoyed about Legoland® Florida were the Minifigure trading with the “Model Citizens” (a.k.a. Legoland employees) and the queue offerings. While Disney offers Pin Trading, Legoland® offers Minifigure trading. When you come for a visit, simply bring along one of your Minifigures with its original parts and extras (sword, ski poles, goblet, etc.) and ask one of the Model Citizens to trade with you. They will never say “no”. Our boys walked away with 6 new (to us) Minifigures that have offered endless hours of play so far. We even traded for a few characters from the Lego Movie!
Legoland® understands that waiting in line for rides isn’t super exciting for kids. They have combated that with a “kid zone” in each queue where kids can actually step out of the line and play with Legos while their parents hold their spot. When the parent(s) reach the ride, the kids simply step forward out of the play area and board the ride. In my opinion and experience….brilliant!
The industry standard is clearly Walt Disney World® and Legoland®, while it is appealing to those 12 and under, lacked some of the luster to the adults in our party. I’ve mentioned the smallness of the rides but in addition to that, it was difficult to find a Model Citizen when we had a question. We had some friends who purchased Legoland’s photo package and were very disappointed that they could never locate anyone to take their picture! While Legos are not meant for the Florida sun, there were pieces missing on most of the figures around the park and some of them were alarmingly dirty. The food was way overpriced (but that’s standard at theme parks right?). Our boys had saved money for months to shop at Legoland®, anticipating a huge Lego store. When we went to make our purchases, we were quite disappointed because the stores were very small and did not have the selection that we had imagined. Our boys ended up spending their money at the huge Downtown Disney® Lego Store instead.
In my opinion, the positives of Legoland® outweigh the negatives. It is not a park that I feel the need to visit over and over but if your kids are bugging you and asking to go, it is well worth your time. Don’t wait too long though because once they hit age 10, they may just outgrow the kid sized rides and themes! Happy Legoland® adventuring!