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Orlando used to be all about Disney World for many families, but then Harry Potter reinvigorated the Universal Orlando theme parks, and now there are a variety of theme parks and attractions available so you could take a weeklong family vacation in Orlando without stepping foot on a Disney property. One of those newer theme park options in the greater Orlando area is Legoland Florida.
Legoland focuses on — you guessed it — all things Lego. If you’re wondering whether to include Legoland as part of your next Central Florida vacation, we’ve got all the information you need to plan a rock-star brick trip.
Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven, Florida, which is southwest of Orlando. When you consider the traffic that can frequently plague the Orlando area, you may want to budget a full hour to drive from Disney World to Legoland. Orlando International Airport (MCO) is a bit further, approximately a 75-minute ride. The ride from Tampa International Airport (TPA) is roughly the same distance, while a ride from Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB) is closer to two hours.
There are no meaningful public transportation options from Orlando to Legoland. However, the park does operate a shuttle from one of the parking garages at Universal Orlando to Legoland. The cost is minimal ($5), but the shuttle only runs once per day in each direction. You can make a reservation and read more about the shuttle schedule on the Legoland website.
Comparatively speaking, Legoland is a small theme park. It can easily be a one-day attraction, and two days is the maximum amount necessary to accomplish just about everything.
Rides, Shows and Characters
Attractions at Legoland theme park divide into three categories:
- Duplo Valley for younger kids, generally 5 and under
- A handful of “thrill rides” that younger kids aren’t big enough to tackle
- Rides everyone can enjoy
Legoland used to be exclusively a one-day park, even with the addition of some attractions in recent years, like Ninjago. This was especially true if you stayed at the on-site Legoland Hotel. Your kids could do most of what Legoland had to offer in one day and spend another half-day or so enjoying the included activities with a hotel stay.
But with the addition of its waterpark, Legoland can be worth taking two full days to enjoy. The waterpark is enough to occupy almost a full day. With a wave pool, lazy river, slides and interactive areas, there’s enough for most children to be occupied from late morning until dinnertime.
Along with rides, Legoland itself has a couple of shows and Miniland. Miniland is a gigantic Lego village that features massive Lego creations of space shuttles, Las Vegas, New York City and lots of Star Wars. Lego fans young and old will want to spend some time here, for sure.
Character meet-and-greets occur throughout Legoland. Key characters like Master Wu, Kai and Nya can be found in Ninjago land. There’s a dedicated meet-and-greet in the new Lego Movie World. You’ll also find some pop-up character meet-and-greet opportunities near some of the retail stores at the main entrance of the park.
In terms of ride height requirements for the more thrilling attractions, they are really all over the place ranging from 36 or 40 inches, up to 48 inches, with many attractions providing one height (or age) requirement to ride solo and another if you are riding with an adult.
Who Will Enjoy Legoland Florida?
Legoland is for all folks who love Lego. Full stop. Every ride in the park has a Lego theme. Pool toys are in the shape of Legos, as are kids’ lunch boxes, drink cups and just about everything else you can imagine. There aren’t very many thrill rides for older visitors. Legoland became a bit “hipper” for some kids after the Lego Movies came out, so that helps a bit if you have both younger kids and those approaching the tween years.
When to Visit Legoland Florida
Legoland Florida doesn’t see the same push of crowds as the other major theme parks in the Orlando area. Even on the busiest of holidays, you’re unlikely to find the sort of insane waits you might see at Disney World. (During slower months, Legoland Florida is not even open every day of the week, so you’ll want to check the calendar if you’re traveling on off-peak dates.)
If it’s spring break, Thanksgiving, Christmas or summer holiday weekends, an early start at Legoland is likely your best chance to ride the most popular rides easily. Some rides have higher occupancy (a typical car on the Ninjago ride holds a dozen riders), which helps keep lines from getting out of control. Miniland and the shows have virtually limitless capacity, along with a handful of large play areas throughout the park. Many folks will also want to stop to shop for Lego sets that can only be found at Legoland.
In short, Legoland is a “chill” of theme parks, relatively speaking. There’s no serious advance strategy or 180-day reservations necessary.
Admission and How to Save
With the addition of the waterpark, Legoland ticket types have gotten a bit more complex. Note that Legoland charges a premium to purchase tickets at the gate, so plan ahead to save a few bucks.
Buying Legoland Tickets: You will save some decent dough if you purchase tickets online at least seven days in advance of your trip. Kids under the age of 3 are free and everyone 3 or older pays the same price. Legoland currently offers the following ticket types:
- 1-day park ticket ($84.99)
- 1-day park ticket w/water park ($109.99)
- 2-day park ticket ($104.99)
- 2-day park ticket w/water park ($129.99)
The theme park also offers flexible tickets that can be used anytime. But they won’t represent a good deal for most visitors.
That said, Legoland runs frequent ticket promotions through a variety of outlets. For starters, Lego stores frequently have “Kids Visit Free” tickets when you purchase an adult ticket. The stores have also had 50% discount offers in the past as well. There’s also a yearlong free kids discount detailed here.
Annual Passes: As Legoland isn’t a weeklong theme park, the annual passes didn’t previously represent a great deal. However, with some changes, including the addition of the waterpark, these passes have become a better deal.
- Awesomer Pass ($169.99)
- Awesomest “Legoland Gold” Pass ($209.99)
Both passes include the following amenities:
- Unlimited admission to Legoland Florida theme park and waterpark
- Free Standard Parking (discount on Preferred)
- $25 discount on guest tickets
- 10% discount on dining and merchandise
- Legoland hotel discounts
The Awesomer Pass gives you access to a handful of other attractions in the Orlando area, whereas the Awesomest Pass includes admission to Legoland California and a bunch of other Merlin attractions, including Legoland Discovery Centers. If you happen to live near a Legoland Discovery Center, daily admission at those runs about $20 per person. A few visits to a Discovery Center or a repeat visit to Legoland within 12 months could make the annual pass worth it, depending on how the price compares to any discounts you can find for traditional park tickets.
Redeem Chase Points for Legoland Tickets: You can also purchase Legoland tickets at Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Pay cash and earn points or use your Ultimate Rewards points to redeem for tickets at a rate as high as 1.5 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
We searched for tickets for a September trip and were offered adult passes for $82.17 per person or 5,478 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and kids’ tickets (ages 3–12) for $77.89 each or 5,192 points. However, this may not be a great deal if you can score free kids tickets by buying elsewhere.
Buy a Go Orlando Card at Costco: If you’ve got a Costco membership, look into purchasing this two-day pass that offers admission to a variety of area attractions, including Legoland Florida, Kennedy Space Center, Madame Tussauds, Gatorland and more. Adults pay $118.99 and kids 3–12 pay $101.99.
Other Ways to Find Discounted Tickets: If you’re a T-Mobile customer, 50% off coupons have been featured on T-Mobile Tuesdays multiple times. Lego Life Magazine subscriptions are free for kids and frequently feature discounted Legoland tickets, as do the catalogs sent by the Lego store. Lastly, Undercover Tourist generally offers a 30% discount on Legoland Florida tickets.
Any true Lego fan will want to spend some time hanging out and enjoying the atmosphere in Miniland. Divided into nine distinct areas, the attraction consists of more than 32 million Lego bricks. It includes depictions of three US cities: New York, Las Vegas and Washington, DC — as well as the Daytona International Speedway, Kennedy Space Center, Pirate’s Shores and seven of the most famous “Star Wars” scenes.
Don’t miss the most popular area in Legoland — the new Lego Movie World, specifically The Lego Movie Masters of Flight. This flying theater is a “Lego-fied” replica of Soarin’, one of the most popular rides at Disney World, and it’s pretty darn awesome. You’ll join a master builder competition aboard a triple decker flying couch that will transport you through The Lego Movie universe. The immersive action comes complete with aromas that match the visuals and motions.
Another popular ride is the Flying School, a roller coaster that’s one of the biggest in Legoland. With their legs suspended in the air, kids and adults alike can experience the feel of flying, amped up by thrilling twists and drops.
Something different you won’t find in many other parks is the Great Lego Race, a virtual reality coaster. In this ride, you’re a racer in an action-packed road rally against a wizard, pirate, pharaoh and surfer Lego minifigures. (Note: The Legoland Florida’s website states that the Great Lego Race is operating without VR until further notice.)
Lego Ninjago The Ride, which features animated fireballs, lightning and other special effects is another hit with Lego fans. Team up with or compete against friends and families to score points with your ninja hand moves in this martial arts-themed attraction. Kids under 6 years of age and shorter than 48 inches must ride with a responsible person who is at least 14 years old and 48 inches tall or taller.
How to Minimize Lines
As with most theme parks, the early bird gets the worm. Legoland doesn’t generally have super early openings. The park often opens at 10am and closes between 6pm and 9pm. Even with a later opening, you shouldn’t find long lines when you first get to the park. Generally speaking, as the day goes on, lines for the most popular rides on the most popular dates can get into the 45 – 60 minute range. However, many lines are 20 minutes or less on an average date for all but the hottest rides.
That being said, there are two main options that allow you to pay extra to cut the line at Legoland Florida: Fastrack 3-Pack and Fastrack Unlimited.
Fastrack 3-Pack is exactly what it sounds like, a cut-the-line pass for three rides:
- The Great LEGO Race
- The Dragon
The price for the Fastrack 3-Pack varies from $23.99 to $28.99 per person. Most dates are $23.99, whereas a few peak dates around the holidays are more expensive. While that can be worth it, if I were to spend extra to avoid lines, I’d go ahead and get the Fastrack Unlimited option.
Fastrack Unlimited provides virtually unlimited access to all rides (although the brand-new Lego Movie Masters of Flight attraction can only be ridden once per hour). Pricing starts at $59.99 for most dates, rising as high as $84.99 on peak days around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.
If you’re really looking for the fastest experience possible, Legoland does offer a variety of VIP tour options. They start between $150 and $200 per hour with a four- or five-hour minimum. Some packages can climb to more than $2,000 per day.
That said, you might find that your kids (OK, maybe even you) won’t complain much about the lines. Legoland has a pretty unique, low-tech solution to waiting in line. Most rides have a communal Lego table in the queue. Legoland has designed the line to wrap around the table multiple times so you can keep an eye on your children while they build a creation. Newer rides have more interactive versions. It’s a great feature that helps burn the time away so you don’t need to blow tons of extra cash on line-cutting extras.
Where to Stay
Legoland learned well from Disney World and has invested heavily in hotels that match various Lego themes. There are currently two themed hotels on-site now with a third on the way in 2020.
The original Legoland Hotel is a dream for children. There are two huge Lego play areas in the lobby. The hotel conducts frequent (and free) activities in the lobby, such as a builder’s workshop. The elevators light up like a disco — complete with music — for your kids to get their dance groove on. You’ll also find a decent-sized pool outside with plenty of rubber Lego bricks to build your own water fort.
This hotel is connected directly to the Legoland theme park with a private security entrance just outside the doors. Upstairs, the hotel rooms have a variety of themes to please even the pickiest kids:
- Lego Friends
- Lego Movie
As you can imagine, hotel rates vary widely based on the season. Rates for a standard room range from $150 per night up to more than $1,000 per night during the holidays (but includes hot buffet breakfast and parking). Depending on what type of room you want, a typical spring break family vacation week will set you back $300 to $400 per night.
Virtually all of the rooms at Legoland Hotel have a separate bunk/trundle bed area for the kiddos so parents can get a little more space and privacy. There are also safes in the room that are locked upon arrival. Your kids will need to successfully complete a scavenger hunt to get the combination to the safe and the goodies hidden inside.
If you’re really into Lego creations, you can pay for a premium-themed room that contain more Lego creations. As the popularity of the hotel has risen, the premium on these rooms is now $170 a night.
Legoland Beach Retreat is located across the street from the main Legoland complex. Designed as small beach cottages, the hotel is spread out over a large, flat area. There is no “beach” in the traditional sense, though the pool is somewhat beach-themed. Each cluster of cottages has a small play area outside.
The cottages are smaller than the rooms at Legoland Hotel. They still have a Lego theme, but it is not as intricate once inside as the Legoland Hotel. Separate bunk beds are included, though there’s less separation/privacy than at the main hotel.
Legoland Beach Retreat has its own breakfast restaurant as well. Other than the pool and restaurant (and a gift shop, of course), you’ll need to head over to the main hotel for most other services. Rates for Legoland Beach Retreat tend to run $100 to $150 per night less than Legoland Hotel during peak season, and about $50 less per night during the slower times of year. To use Disney-speak, this is Legoland’s version of a “value” or “moderate” hotel while Legoland Hotel is a “deluxe” option.
Legoland also offers some package deals where you can combine your hotel room with park tickets. However, given how many discounted ticket options there are out there for Legoland, we’d generally advise against purchasing the hotel room/ticket combo packages unless you are sure it saves you money. That said, we whole-heartedly recommend staying at a Legoland Hotel at least for a night, if you can swing the cost, as the hotel experience is (at least) as fun as the park.
Use Points to Stay Near Legoland
If you’re looking to use hotel points to stay near Legoland to keep costs down, there are a variety of options nearby including:
- Courtyard by Marriott Winter Haven: Category 3, from 17,500 Marriott points per night (room with two queen beds, free Wi-Fi and there’s a pool)
- Holiday Inn Winter Haven: from 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night (room with two queen beds; up to four kids ages 11 and under can eat for free at the on-site restaurant with a paying adult )
- Hampton Inn Winter Haven: 30,000 Hilton Honors points per night (room with two queen beds plus free hot breakfast daily, a pool, and Wi-Fi for Hilton Honors members)
The Courtyard is the newest and closest off-site hotel option, less than a five-minute drive from the entrance to Legoland. Note that while this Category 3 property starts from 17,500 Marriott points for a free night, I see plenty of nights where the hotel costs less than $150 per night, so make sure rates justify using points on your nights.
Legoland Florida currently hosts a few seasonal events each year: Brick or Treat takes place on select days in October and involves special characters and trick-or-treating. Happy Holidays at Legoland starts in late November and runs through the end of the year with special shows and decorations. There’s also a Kid’s New Year party. During the summer, the park hosts Red, White and Boom around the Fourth of July with fireworks, a flag building activity and more.
Legoland has variable pricing depending on what day you’re attending, but you won’t need a separate ticket for these events like some of the Disney World special events. Most annual pass holders get complimentary access to these events as well.
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Why should you take the drive from Orlando down to Winter Haven? The obvious answers are Legos, Legos and more Legos. If you or your children love Lego or the Lego movies, there’s no place in the world that’s more focused on the colorful bricks. What was once a bit of a sleepy theme park has really upped its game by adding some new attractions, multiple themed hotels and a waterpark. The frequent discounts on park tickets make it a much more affordable day than both Disney World and Universal Studios. At least for now, the lack of a fever pitch of crowds also makes a day at Legoland a lot less stressful.
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