A few years ago, as part of a larger trip to Florida to visit family and Disney World for the first time, we planned a side trip to Legoland as my son was five and in the throes of a Lego obsession. To our surprise, Legoland ended up being the most enjoyable day of our long weekend visit to Orlando and I look forward to heading back some day with our younger son!
Legoland is approximately one hour away from Orlando and thus, many people opt to forgo Legoland when they’re in Orlando because there’s plenty to do with just the Disney theme parks, not to mention Universal Studios and the other activities all based in Orlando. None of us having been to Legoland previously, however, we decided to make the trip down to check it out.
The drive south was easy and I had pre-purchased tickets so there was absolutely no delay in getting into the park. I did experience a twinge of regret that we had limited ourselves to a day trip, however, when we drove past the Legoland Hotel, which looked like just an amazingly fun place to stay!
Once inside the Park, we quickly proceeded to enjoy the roller coasters and rides and we were happy to take advantage of the shorter lines and minimal crowds. We visited over a long weekend in early October so although temperatures were still warm and somewhat humid, they were certainly not stifling and the crowds were sufficiently moderate that the longest wait time we experienced was 20 minutes.
One of the more surprising treats at Legoland was Cypress Gardens, which was in existence until September 2009, when it closed to be re-built into Legoland. Cypress Gardens was a historical botanical garden along a lake that featured water-skiing shows and women in antebellum dress. Cypress Gardens pre-dated the Disney theme parks and was once a very popular attraction before it was deemed “too quaint.” There are some vestiges of the old park that remain, including the old Cypress Gardens sign, located near the lake. It wasn’t until we wandered upon this sign that it hit my father-in-law: he had been to Cypress Gardens as a young child with HIS parents!
Legoland still makes use of the lake to hold a water ski show, but as you might expect, the characters are legos!
This was my son’s first “live action” show and he thought it was highly amusing. After the water ski show, we took a walk through Miniland, our favorite part of the experience. Billed as a miniature “land,” Miniland contains structures from all over the United States, including Washington, DC!
My son, having attended preschool in downtown DC, got a kick out of seeing many familiar sights in Lego form! All told, we spent about six hours wandering around Legoland, enjoying the rides with minimal crowds and just taking in the Lego architecture. It was definitely a nice change of pace from Disney World, where we had spent the two previous days. Our trip to Legoland was so pleasant, in fact, that my husband commented that if we lived nearby, we would be annual pass holders and just visit on weekends for “something to do.” That’s saying a lot coming from someone who despises theme parks!
A few Legoland tips if you’re planning a trip:
- The optimal age for Legoland is somewhere between 3-7. There are some rides that are tame enough for the 3 year old crowd and there is enough to entertain a child of 7. My oldest is now 8, and I think he would be bored at Legoland if we were to plan to spend a whole day there as his taste in roller coasters has definitely taken off in the past two years.
- Legoland, unlike any of the Disney theme parks, does not have fine dining. You will stand in line and wait for mediocre food and be disappointed. We spent a lot of money on mediocre fried chicken and burgers and wished that there had been more, better options.
- If you know that you are visiting Legoland, please research ticket prices online before your trip. Even if you purchase tickets two days in advance from the Legoland website, they are cheaper than purchasing day of at the Park. Indeed, the current gate price is $93.99/adult, but drops down to $79.99/adult if you purchase two days in advance. If you have more time to plan, google around for “Legoland theme park coupon” and variations of that search. I googled and found a number of “buy one adult, get one child free” coupon codes, which helped defray the cost of our trip significantly.
- Legoland is an ideal theme park for visiting with grandparents and young children. We visited with my in laws, but even my grandmother would do fine at Legoland as there is not as much walking as at Disney and the crowds are manageable enough that she would not feel overwhelmed. By that same token, my youngest was only 10 months old when we took this trip and he happily hung out in his stroller and we had no issues maneuvering around the Park.
- There’s also a water park at Legoland, but it was closed when we visited. If you find yourself planning a trip in the summer, definitely consider spending two days and visiting the water park on one of the days! It’s such an easy drive back to Orlando that if you only wanted to spend one night at Legoland or nearby, leaving to drive back to Orlando after a day at the Park would not be a problem at all.