Just when you thought Lego had stamped its brand on every kid-oriented craze - Harry Potter, Star Wars, Batman - the Danish toy company has added another brick to its colorful empire: A theme park in Florida.
Just when you thought Lego had stamped its brand on every kid-oriented craze - Harry Potter, Star Wars, Batman - the Danish toy company has added another brick to its colorful empire: A theme park in Florida. My kids were eager to check out the park during our November trip to the Sunshine State to visit Grandma. Much to my surprise, Grandma was excited, too. She always liked visiting Cypress Gardens, the former botanical garden that is now home to LEGOLAND Florida. She also has tagged along with us to various displays and enjoys the ingenuity of Lego aficionados. We knew we were in for a treat as soon as we arrived. The park's welcome sign and some nearby statues were fantastic Lego creations. We also were amazed by what Lego builders accomplished in Miniland USA, a series of displays replicating American cities. From the White House to the Las Vegas Strip to Pier 39 in
San Francisco, the details were stunning. We all agreed that the sprawling, outdoordisplay was the highlight of the trip. The whole family - including Grandma - also liked the shows. The "4-D" presentations bring Legos to life in an entertaining way. These are 3-D movies with a bit of sensory stimulation. (Think cool breezes and squirts of water.) The movies also are a nice chance to cool off on a hot day. The boys also enjoyed checking out the park's many rides. They really liked the Police and Fire Academy where, as a family, we had to "drive" a fire a truck to a "burning" building, hop out and pump water into a sprayer to extinguish the "fire." My husband and I were slightly less enthused as the ride was one of many in the park that operates on people power - meaning my husband and I made the vehicle go by pumping a lever. Other rides were powered by pedaling or tugging on a pulley. The park is clearly trying to set itself apart from Disney World and other theme parks with its interactive rides. The restaurants and eateries also have many healthy food options, which were a nice change to the fried fare you find at many amusement parks. I think that message went over the heads of my 5- and 7-year-old. But there was one difference between Disney and LEGOLAND they did appreciate - water. Several of LEGOLAND's rides involve shooting or spraying water. Those were a big hit with the boys and seemed ideal for Florida's sunny skies and warm weather. There also was a water ski show on the lake. While we're comparing the two parks, it's worth noting that when we visited less than a month after the park opened, LEGOLAND employees, unlike those at Disney, did not quickly move park guests on and off rides. The wait time was often longer than it should have been because the ride attendants did not fill all of the seats or took too long loading and unloading kids. One ride even required guests exiting the attraction to walk through the line of people waiting to get on. But, overall, we had a good experience at the park and the whole family is eager to go back.