“This looks like the way we used to go to Cypress Gardens,” someone said.
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As I indicated in the previous post, we are in Orlando, Florida this week. While planning our trip, we researched all of the major theme parks, only to realize that the admissions prices for four people quickly totaled more than $600 for one day. For us, this was prohibitive. But we found a special admission opportunity online for LEGOLAND® and purchased the tickets online. And LEGOLAND® would be a new experience for all of us. On this adventure we also had our grandson Owen (8) in addition to Thomas (9) and Katie (6).
At this point we had no idea where or what LEGOLAND® really was, just that we had tickets. But as we got close to the park, following the GPS navigator’s directions, someone said, this look like how we used to go to Cypress Gardens. We had last been to Cypress Gardens in the late 1990s, and it never occurred to us that it no longer existed. But soon we were through the entrance to the park and were concentrating on all of the different LEGO® structures like the giant dragon that belched (well sprayed) water instead of fire.
Approaching the park we saw what we learned was called the “Eye in the Sky,” a ride that rose up over the park for a bird’s eye view. It was clear from this vantage point that LEGOLAND® had moved into what had been Cypress Gardens. We could see the beach and grandstands where we had once watched water skiers perform.The skiers are still there, but now the show is about pirates and LEGO® characters doing battle, supported by skiers doing flips off of the ski ramps and small version of the skier pyramid that we had seen years before.
There were some other features of Cypress Gardens that are preserved including an arch with a replica of a southern belle in a “Gone with The Wind” era ball gown.
But the mission of the park is an immersion in all things LEGO®. The park is organized into a number of sections such as Pirates Cove, Miniland, LEGO® Technic, etc., each with its own theme (and far more than can be included here). Each area features a central ride or other activity, including four impressive roller coasters. Also, there are several places where young people can work with LEGO® pieces.
Of course, where to go first is always a major decision, and with three youngsters, it is difficult to arrive at a decision!
LEGO®Technic “Project X” is a version of a ride we called the “wild mouse” (in the 1960s) that uses four-seat LEGO® cars that speed around the course, including a steep drop and a series of sharp serpentine curves across the top of the ride. It is a fast, high-G, sensation-generating ride.
In LEGO® City, youngsters get to earn their driver permits on a course driving, what else, LEGO® cars. About twenty cars are spread out over a suburban street scene with traffic signals, stop signs, etc., and they have to drive on the track with the rest of the drivers, follow the rules, obey signals and avoid accidents.In this section there are also a boating school and a flying school—the latter is a high energy steel frame modern roller coaster. While waiting in line, the ride seemed fast but smooth. Having flown some, it looked like it would sort of simulate fast, aggressive turns of real flight. Well, it did, but as if we were flying in turbulence—the ride was a little rough, but the kids loved it.
This set the pattern. We moved from area to area in search of the next thrilling ride, and there were two more. There was the Coastersaurus in the Land of Adventure and the Dragon in LEGO® Kingdom. Coastersaurus was sort of the dinosaur of the coasters—it was a wooden coaster reminiscent of earlier wooden coasters. Still, it was fun and fast with plenty of sensory stimulation.
Of course there is much more to the park than hair-on-fire thrill rides. There are many activities for kids of all ages—and the associated adults, too. A safari ride in a LEGO® safari vehicle through the African “continent” revealed all of the very realistic animals the LEGO® artists can make out of little plastic blocks: elephants, giraffes, ostriches, lions, and zebra to name but a few.
Not surprisingly, there are many opportunities to purchase all manner of LEGO products—both kits for specific projects and pieces in bulk, by the pound, for the true LEGO® creator.
Finally, LEGOLAND® is billed as a resort, and includes a hotel with pool and, I am told, luxury accommodations. There are at least 15 eating establishments with everything thing from prepared sandwiches to hamburgers and fries, and ice cream shops.
LEGOLAND® was an excellent value for our entertainment dollar. It is described as a park for ages 2 to 13, but we saw many older teens and young adults without children enjoying the park, in addition to families. And as great-grand parents, we had a good time too.
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort
Winter Park, Florida