LEGOLAND Florida Welcome Sign
LEGO blocks, first produced in 1949 and introduced in the United States in 1962, have been used to build just about everything, even an awesome theme park in LEGOLAND Florida
. Did you know that there are several LEGOLANDs across the world? I didn't. Yet it should make sense as the first LEGO store, in Sydney, Australia, opened in 1984. It was wonderful to visit LEGOLAND Florida, located just west of Orlando, even on my own, already imagining all there is to enjoy with my future grandchildren. Once you visit, you'll want to return.
Stop to take your photos with the big Welcome sign in front of LEGOLAND Florida's banner and then take a deep breath. You're in for quite a ride.
Pick up a physical map. Warning: it's jam-packed so it can be very confusing when you enter. Take your time. As one dad told his son who kept screaming and pulling towards the stores inside the entrance, "I just want to look!"… "We can shop on the way out"... though the boy wasn't happy about it, dad ultimately prevailed. Have a similar attitude with your day, just take it one step at a time and you can actually see it all.
Just past the shops to the left, there's a learning center to help you determine what kind of creative you are - do you like construction? You may be a designer. Are you a creative? You can combine it with thinking and change the world.
The space includes a giant globe with features like the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids, done in LEGOs, of course, but it may be difficult to find your own space on the globe. It's all about the orientation of the world.
Here are some favorite things to do at LEGOLAND Florida:
LEGOLAND Florida Double Decker Carousel
1. Explore the LEGO-themed rides:
There are over 50 rides, shows, and attractions at LEGOLAND Florida, including The Dragon roller coaster, LEGO NINJAGO The Ride, the Flying School coaster, and the new Pirate Quest.
The two-tiered carousel caught my eye first, reminding me of one from childhood. Colorful, brightly ornamented and musically gifted, this carousel was easily viewed from the apple fries area across the path. So if you're not riding, you can put the kids on and watch them from the seats as you enjoy the apple (if the kids let you get away with it).
My first ride of the day was on a triple decker sofa! Emmet's Triple Decker Flying Couch, a flying theater attraction that transports visitors on an action-packed journey with a full-dome virtual screen, creates the sensation of flying alongside familiar and new faces, such as Sweet Mayhem, who made her debut in the film THE LEGO MOVIE® 2: The Second Part. This unique attraction is the first in a major American theme park to incorporate a 180-degree turn into the ride experience.
The snug seat buckles became a topic of conversation with a family from Toronto.
You're flown into a world of LEGOs, starting with the Greek god like temple from one of the movies and going through rainbow bright sections, including the roller coaster, before succeeding in your mission along the pirate ships and returning safely to land. That's when Toronto dad had to help me release the seatbelt (after he had his family released).
Dad said he really enjoyed the "pirate part" of our triple-decker sofa ride but the rest of it, especially the roller coaster part, made him a bit nauseous so he ended up closing his eyes. The kids loved it, though. I did, too, but agree with Dad that your stomach can take a turn.
The immersion into the story and the world of LEGOs was great. If you haven't watched a LEGO movie recently, this is a great place to start.
Or head to the opposite side of the park for the new Pirate Quest ride, the best 20-minute canal cruise in the area.
LEGOLAND Florida Pirate's Quest
This is where long wait times happen. It's a new ride and an ambitious one. It's important to keep in mind that it is a 20-minute boat ride so the rate limiting step is how many boats are running. I timed it. It seems that a boat doesn't leave until they see another boat round the last corner - about 3 minutes from docking. There are only so many slips for boats with a typical seat holding 4 people per row and 4 rows per boat, so about 16 people per boat leaving every five minutes.
The captain of your ship shows you the empty treasure chest with them, explains that's what you're there to fill, and starts you on the way with your trusty parrot who stays with you at the front of your boat.
Watch as they encourage you to count the colorful "diamonds" or "rubies" along the side. Each section contains a different color and there will be a quiz at the end of each section. In the most difficult section, you'll get to count both coins and gems. It's hard to keep those straight so you may even want to assign one child to each or write it down on a piece of paper.
You'll be thrilled by the colorful birds overhead or frightened by the spiders, enjoy the Kraken, or be worried for the survival of the Lego legends as you witness the shipwrecked along the coast. You'll participate in searching for the gold bricks (there are three - check the trees and the mouths of the scary animals) before you exit the canals and are back in Lake Dexter for a pleasant view of some lakeside homes and part of the course you've traversed.
The cypress trees are abundant here but not too many cypress knees along the shores. Perhaps the water is higher than expected and they're there, just hidden. Exiting the ride, head back into Cypress Gardens, up into the Imagination section where you can play, ride, eat your picnic lunch, or exit to the face of Albert Einstein done completely in LEGOs, spot a young giraffe ready for a soccer game, or a gangly giraffe who needs support to keep his head "above water" or, in this case, above you.
I landed in the Ninjada section and experienced the LEGO NINJAGO The Ride. It's important to keep your hands positioned in the very narrow window above the sensors to score well. Once you get the hang of it, you'll likely enjoy being able to score well without needing to handle even a pretend gun.
As expected, there are amazing LEGO structures built throughout the area. Not far from a rock-climbing wall for kids sits a stunning pagoda.
Walking towards the left, you'll land in Safari land and, perhaps, choose to join the zebra-colored jeeps along the path to see the animals you'd visit during an African safari. They have hippos and elephants, giraffes, gazelles, lions, rhinos, zebras, and one partially hidden hyena. It was a much smoother ride than the bumpy trucks in real-life Tanzania.
From there, I continue your walk toward ancient Egypt at the Pharoah's Escape. It's a shoot 'em up game where you simply have to fire your laser against the green or red diamonds along your route. There's an interesting scent piped in with the cool air, not quite a Juicy Fruit gum freshness but similar.
2. Build with LEGO bricks:
LEGOLAND Florida LEGO Einstein
LEGOLAND Orlando has numerous building areas and workshops where you can build with LEGO bricks, such as the LEGO Friends Heartlake City area, DUPLO Valley, and the Imagination Zone.
LEGOLAND Florida Hotel
They're also available for building within the LEGOLAND Hotel. Check in and let the kids play in a pile of bricks. It's a great way to spend their wait time. You may not be able to pull them away.
If you have littles that love LEGOs, these are definitely stops you won't want to miss.
3. Visit the water park:
LEGOLAND Florida Water Park
LEGOLAND Orlando has a water park with attractions like a wave pool, water slides, and a lazy river. Keep in mind, there's no entrance from the parking lot directly into the water park.
From the LEGOLAND section with the Ford truck and muscle car, wind up a surprisingly unmarked path and around and you'll land where the fire department is with all the decorations, fountains, and places to eat, there's an area for driving for young versus older kids and the amazing life size models of the Ford 150 and (type of car). Both in the deep royal blue, which may be my favorite LEGO build of the day away from the MiniLand.
It's here that you can go up to find the water park. Included in some entries, you can add it to your day pass for another $25. They have several water slides and beach-y areas. Cross the bridge to find the wave pool - and they have bathrooms there, but not lockers or showers, so remember those are in the restroom section before the bridge.
ProTip 2: take your swimsuit and towel with you into the park. Get your locker early at the first set of lockers inside the water park area … that's where the showers are. You must be "properly attired" to return to LEGOLAND before you can exit the park.
Across the bridge, you can race down the waterslide against your spouse or sibling. Or relax in a beachside chair. The water park closes when the ambient temperature is 15.5C (60F) but the water is kept to a balmy 29.4C (85F).
4. See the Miniland USA:
LEGOLAND Florida MiniLand Kennedy Space Center
Miniland USA features over 32 million LEGO bricks used to create miniature scenes of famous cities and landmarks in the US.
A truly impressive site, this collection from favorite places around the world includes a tremendous section for the Kennedy Space Center as well as Paris, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Miami Beach.
LEGOLAND Florida The Pirate's Cove Live Water Ski Show
5. Enjoy the shows and entertainment:
Florida offers daily live shows, such as "LEGO Friends to the Rescue," "Pirate's Cove Live Water Ski Show," and "The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure."
The Pirate's Cove Live Water Ski Show was available at 12 noon. It's important to look at the schedule to know what your "must dos" are ... and how to fit it all into your day.
The ski show, with both stadium bleacher and grass seating, led by Captain Brickbeard and Lucy (aka Wyldstyle) with two cast members dressed as pirates leading their "pirate school" training with the launches only being used a few times for leaps but most of the action happening barefoot or with stunts on wave boards, before the finale of the human pyramid using all six skiers.
There is a wet section in the stadium, where the hosts can squirt visitors with water guns, but no one sat there during my visit... that's how low the crowds were on a rainy overcast Florida day.
Or go to the movies. The 4D Magic was playing so enter thru LEGO-style Oscars after photographing the red carpet, just in time to watch the 20 minute show with water misting and air blowing on the crowd to add the fourth dimension. It's a sweet storyline that doesn't tax your brain too much.
While it was tempting to stay for the next three shows (four movies rotate here), it was time to either get moving and catch a second wind to do more at LEGOLAND or get over to Peppa Pig.
That's when I made my way back out of the park, stopped at the stores, went over to the LEGOLAND hotel, and then to Peppa Pig.
6. Meet the characters:
Kids can meet and take photos with LEGO characters, such as Emmet, Wyldstyle, and LEGO Batman.
7. Enjoy the food:
LEGOLAND Florida Granny's Apple Fries
LEGOLAND Orlando has several dining options, including the Fun Town Pizza & Pasta Buffet, the LEGO Clubhouse, and Granny's Apple Fries.
As mentioned previously, the carousel, easily viewed from the apple fries area across the path, is a pretty view while you're eating. I asked the server for the "fries", and she asked, "with whipped cream"? I asked what she recommended, and she said "with ice cream" so, even if as a $3 upsell, I agreed. She takes obvious pride in her craft and served the apple fries with vanilla soft serve and caramel syrup topping with a flourish. What a nice lady. She even consented to my taking her photo for this article.
While not as warm as expected, the apple "fries" were tasty and nicely complemented by the surprisingly fresh soft-serve vanilla ice cream. The caramel syrup added the just right amount of sweet to top the dish. It didn't even take as long as one carousel ride to finish the treat and I'd definitely recommend it to others. These really are apples, don't forget, so you can justify it as "healthy" or at least healthy-adjacent, despite being fried, with fiber and vitamins with the additional cream accoutrements.
There are so many areas in the park to stroll and enjoy the natural beauty of this part of Florida.
While waiting for the Pirate Quest show, you'll have time to visit the Cypress Gardens. The lovely LEGO lady out front is so inviting, it makes you wonder whose mother she became. Along that path, there are sculptures (eagle) and benches, signs to help you understand the foliage and, if you walk far enough, a gazebo atop a beautifully manicured lawn down to the water.
There's a play area for kids above the show and the LEGO build of Einstein and fun-loving giraffes.
In addition to a festive, colorful, looming LEGOLAND Hotel, festively painted to look not only like a pirate ship but bountiful with its stores, and inside, has a restaurant, lounge, and area with Lego bricks where the kids can start to play as the parents check in, just outside the doors to the patio, is a pool with a slide that rivals that in the parks and a miniature golf course. if you're going to stay for two nights, this may be your best option to save yourself the drive with traffic and construction as bad as it is on I-4 towards Tampa and 27-S.
Parking is the typical $35/day, typical for theme parks in the area.
Overall, there's something for everyone at LEGOLAND Orlando, whether you're a fan of LEGO, rides, or water attractions. The smell of the air drifting across your skin as the sun beams down upon you and the sight of the colorful LEGO bricks as you feel the kiss of your loving child thanking you for a wonderful day. It's a wonderful thing to use your six senses to bring up a child so well.
The day wasn't so much growing to a close as my energy was. It's a long, tiring day so that much more reason to stay locally "just 150 kid size steps from the entrance" but worth it to include at least once in your visit to the Orlando area and remember ... if you live anywhere close or think you'll visit at least twice, the cost of the annual pass isn't that much more than a single day pass (check pricing).