Legoland: Theme Park for Adults?

by on July 29, 2014 9 Comments

Filed under: Adults, Attractions, Beyond the Parks

Legoland, Florida’s latest theme park, bills itself as “geared to families with children ages 2 to 12”. The park sports attractions, including four beginner coasters, but all are specifically for kids and their parents, so what were a couple of forty-somethings doing there without kids in tow?

Lego-built truck welcomes you to Miniland at Legoland Florida.  Photo by Thomas Cook

Lego-built truck welcomes you to Miniland at Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

I’m glad you asked.

Legoland was developed on the grounds of Cypress Gardens, a park that opened in 1936. Often called Florida’s first theme park, Cypress Gardens was a large botanical garden to which water ski shows were added during World War II. Comprising 150 acres, it’s one of the larger botanical gardens in the United States.

Legoland has kept the gardens looking the way they did for decades. This part of the park is truly wonderful. There are superb examples of native and exotic plants, a series of charming canals and one of the largest banyan trees in the world. There are curving pathways that lead to surprise vistas such as the shore of Lake Eloise, an audience with a large golden Buddha, sloping and sculpted lawns, even an historic swimming pool in the shape of the Sunshine State.

Old Cypress Gardens landscape with Lake Eloise in the background at Legoland Florida.  Photo by Thomas Cook

Old Cypress Gardens landscape with Lake Eloise in the background at Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

Guests regularly come across striking flowers, fascinating sculptures and attractive bridges over the canals. A patient guest can spot native wild animals in the gardens as well. In the time we spent there we spotted numerous bird species, as well as turtles, squirrels, lizards, butterflies, dragonflies and even a local cat friendly enough to pet.

The best thing about the hour and a half we spent in the gardens was the lack of other guests. While the rest of the park was bustling with kids, in this area we saw at most twenty other guests. My friend and I both had cameras clicking because we love to photograph nature. We really enjoyed our time there.

I also like that Legoland has chosen not to put Lego structures or figures in the gardens. At the entrance are full-sized Lego southern belles which recall the local young ladies clothed in antebellum dresses that were a long-time fixture of Cypress Gardens. Truthfully, I wish Legoland would bring back the southern belles as they were always a highlight of my visit to the park, but Legoland said recently they have no plans to do so.

As for the rest of the park there are a number of interesting attractions that adults will enjoy. Obviously, if you’re an AFOL (Adult Fan of Legos), you’ve probably already planned for your first visit, but what if you think you’ve outgrown the classic building toy?

The first thing we did is ride Island in the Sky. This is a large saucer-shaped structure on the end of a long arm. Guests sit in a circle around its edge and the arm peacefully lifts into the air. It rises 150 feet and rotates leisurely to give excellent views of the park and the surrounding area. It’s a fun ride, especially since the attraction doesn’t lock guests in a sealed car. The opportunity to feel the breeze and hear the sounds of the park while riding is very refreshing. I’d suggest doing it more than once on a humid day.

Island in the Sky attraction at Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

Island in the Sky attraction at Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

We then wandered over to the shore of Lake Eloise and entered the Fresh from Florida Greenhouse, an interesting exhibit that gives a lighthearted but informative look at food production from farm to table. Along with water features and plants, Lego figures, including a full-sized Lego cow with “working” udders, keep the attention of older as well as younger explorers. The area next to the greenhouse is a broad grassy area that is also pleasant to explore.

The most iconic area in all Legoland theme parks is called Miniland. This is the area in each park that contains 1/20 scale dioramas of real cities and other locations, real and fantasy. At Legoland Florida, there are models of the downtowns of several Florida cities, including Miami, Key West, Tampa, St. Augustine and Tallahassee. There are also prominent Florida locations such as nearby Bok Tower and Kennedy Space Center. Miniland also features views of the cities of New York, Washington, San Francisco and Las Vegas, a pirate village and the newly completed Star Wars Land (embracing scenes from all six movies). There are interactive aspects to Miniland: buttons to press that move vehicles, spray water and even launch the Space Shuttle. Of course, this area is chock-full of kids, but it’s hard to believe that adults won’t find all the Lego structures captivating. There is certainly plenty to view in just this one area.

Miniland street scene at Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

Miniland street scene at Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

When we visited, there were Lego characters in parts of the park. Maybe hanging with pirates or a “star” of the recent Lego movie isn’t your idea of adult fun, but I’ve found that interacting with characters, regardless of the theme park, can be a fun diversion. Go ahead, play around.

Legoland pirates are always ready to shiver your timbers. Photo by Thomas Cook

Legoland pirates are always ready to shiver your timbers. Photo by Thomas Cook

Cypress Gardens was once known as the Water Ski Capital of the World, and rightly so. Dozens of records were set over a forty year period; the 1950 and 1957 world championships were held there; and Cypress Garden’s legendary founder, Dick Pope was one of the first inductees in the U.S. Water Skiing Hall of Fame. Over the years, millions of guests were thrilled as skilled professionals did the extraordinary. Legoland continues that tradition with the Pirates Cove Live Action Water Stunt Show and as in the past skiing on water is fun for all ages.

Dining options tend to be child-friendly, which is to be expected, however Christopher Jones, a spokesperson for Legoland says: “Legoland Florida offers…food options inside the park that adults will enjoy, ranging not just from sandwiches and salads but also Asian Fusion (The Market Restaurant), Pizza (Pizza/Pasta Buffet) and Chicken (Fried Chicken Restaurant)”. We also saw the following menu items: rotisserie chicken, grilled salmon, soups as well as panini of chicken Florentine, roast beef and havarti cheese and Panzanella (a vegetarian option).

Rosebud, Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

Rosebud, Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

At this point, don’t expect a fine dining option, but Jones mentioned that Legoland is “always evaluating its options to provide the best for its guest”. With the new Legoland Hotel expected to open in 2015, we might see a more upscale dining experience there.

So the nuts and bolts of Legoland Florida:

Legoland’s website offers discounts on some pre-purchased tickets. They offer tickets with a pre-chosen date (Pick-a-Date) and a more expensive “Flexible Date” ticket, with or without same-day water park admission.

Legoland only:

Pick-a-Date: Adult (13+)  1 Day from $69; 2 Day from $84 – Child (3-12)/Senior (60+)  1 Day from $62; 2 Day from $77

Flexible Date Ticket: Adult (13+)  1 Day $84; 2 Day $99 – Child (3-12)/Senior (60+)  1 Day $77; 2 Day $92

It appears that if you order Pick-a-Date tickets online for a day within a week of the date of your order, the price is higher ($74 instead of $69 for a 1 day park ticket). The website also says that tickets booked on the wrong date require a $20 re-booking fee to change.

Old Cypress Gardens still exists at Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

Old Cypress Gardens still exists at Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

Legoland/Water Park Combo Tickets (same day admission):

Pick-a-Date: Adult (13+) 1 Day from $84; 2 Day from $99 – Child (3-12)/Senior (60+) 1 Day from $77; 2 Day from $92

There isn’t an online option for flexible date tickets for combo tickets.

Parking:  At park – $14; online – $12

Legoland Shuttle – $5 per person: Round trip bus transportation Universal Blvd in Orlando. Pick up time is 9:00 am. They ask guests to arrive thirty minutes prior to departure. It leaves Legoland at park close. Reservations must be made before 11:30 am the day before.

All prices are valid as of July 15, 2014

 

Park address: One Legoland Way, Winter Haven Fl, 33884.

Park website: florida.legoland.com

The website states Legoland is open seven days a week, but can be closed on some Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The website’s calendar shows that closed dates are at non-peak times but check before you plan your visit.

For a look at a basic Touring Plan for Legoland check out this 2012 post.

Star Wars - yet another reason to love Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

Star Wars – yet another reason to love Legoland Florida. Photo by Thomas Cook

All in all, is Legoland worth the 35 mile trip from Walt Disney World for child-free adults? I’d say a qualified yes. It’s certainly something different, so if you are an AFOL or love gardens and nature you’re going to see some great things.

Please share any Legoland experiences you’ve had in the comments. We all want to hear more.

Posted on July 29, 2014

9 Responses to “Legoland: Theme Park for Adults?”

  • Great blog. Sadly I have never been to the Florida one; only the UK one. You see my Dad (and all of us) were massive Cypress Gardens fans and he was so mad with Polk County and all the subsidies they gave the new owners he has refused to take us!

    I do miss Cypress Gardens though. Some of the attractions are now at Fun Spot and one has even made it back to the UK in Thorpe Park.

    The UK Legoland, near Windsor Castle is good fun. But I’m not allowed to the Florida one any time soon.

    • Hi there!

      Thank for your comments. Sorry you’ll not be visiting Legoland anytime soon, but I understand your dad’s feelings. At least Legoland has done right with the history/gardens of Cypress Gardens.

      Take care.

  • Thank you for a well-written, richly-detailed blog. It was interesting to read even if I never make plans to visit. Thorough and informative!

  • We took our 7 year old to Legoland in January. My son loved all the rides, but there were a lot of line cutters when we were there. Huge groups would cut in front us right before it was our turn. There would be one “mom” holding the place for, like, 5 or 6 people who would show up at the last minute, and staff didn’t do anything about it. Also: most of the food carts were closed when we were there, so be aware of that if you go there in winter. The gardens were lovely, although my kid was completely bored by them. We went to the Magic Kingdom the next day, and realized how much nicer and better managed Disney is than other theme parks.

  • I’m sorry to hear about your less-than perfect experience at Legoland. People associated with the park will likely read your comments. Hopefully they’ll work to improve the situations.

    Thanks for your comments!

  • Thank you for the useful information!our kindergarten is organizing a trip next month to Legoland , hopefully it will be as good and fun as you described.

  • We went to Disney from May 10-17, 2014. We have two boys aged 7 and 9 that are pretty big Lego fans so we decided to do a side excursion to Legoland. We still regret it. We had initially planned to go on that Tuesday only to learn later on that the park was closed that day. This should have been our first clue. But we rearranged all of our WDW reservations and made plans to go to Legoland on Thursday instead.

    We had paid for the Legoland shuttle that runs between WDW and Legoland. We had to catch a cab from our resort to an outlet mall and be there by 8:30. The bus left around 9 and we were at the park around 10 AM. So far, so good. We had also gotten some vouchers from Amazon that basically made the kids’ admissions free.

    After we got the vouchers converted to tickets, we made our way into the park. We first went on the “Island in the Sky” ride. Maybe it should have been called the “Island in the midst of a stagnant pool of garbage-filled water” ride? The area around the ride was filled with litter, and the water was mostly green and nasty. When the ride lifted off we got a sinking feeling. Not because of the height, but because we could see just how little there was to the park and the fact that we were committed to stay there an entire day. Ugh.

    At this point I should mention that the park closed at 5, but we were told the shuttle didn’t leave until 5:30-5:45. We were feeling trapped at this park but decided to press on.

    The first “coaster” was a Knight themed ride… but the scale was tiny. Really, really tiny. Not much in the way of thrills to be had there. We tried another ride or two and quickly realized that the suggested age ranges were pretty far off. My kids were bored and we (parents) felt sick that we had wasted our money and limited vacation time on this place. So much so that we decided to cut our losses and call for a cab. Only a cab wouldn’t come that far to pick us up so we ended up ordering a Town Car service to come get us. We got picked up around 12:30 and were back at our resort by 1:30 or so. So thankfully we were able to salvage the day with some fun at Epcot for the evening. Had we stayed at Legoland until the shuttle brought us back we would have missed out on an entire day of our vacation. So the $150 Town Car ride was a real bargain in the grand scheme of things.

    Sorry for the novel, but I felt compelled to warn others to think twice before leaving “The Bubble” for this place. I felt embarrassed for the Lego company to have their good name associated with this location.

    • I’m sorry you had such a bad experience.

      This is why TouringPlans writes articles and we share our personal experiences as well as the information (such as the bus details and closed days) that people should know before they plan a trip.