Located in Winter Haven, Florida, the LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is a 150-acre theme park specifically designed for families with young children, featuring more than 50 rides and attractions, a water park, a botanical garden, and a 152-room resort hotel. The site of the LEGOLAND® Florida Resort was the former home of the Cypress Gardens theme park, which operated from 1936 until 2009 and was one of the state’s leading tourist attractions during the mid 20th century.
Originally opened as a botanical garden by owners Dick and Julie Pope, the park became known for its water skiing shows, earning it the title of “Water Ski Capital of the World.” Declining attendance at the park following the opening of the nearby Walt Disney World Resort led to a series of ownership changes, closings, and reopenings throughout the late 20th century, including an acquisition by Anheuser-Busch in 1989. In September 2009, the park officially ceased its operations as Cypress Gardens, and three months later, the property was acquired by Merlin Entertainments, for conversion into the company’s fifth international LEGOLAND® park and resort.
Rides and Attractions
In homage to the original Cypress Gardens park, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort has fully preserved and restored the park’s historic Botanical Gardens, which are centered around a Banyan tree originally planted as a seedling by the Popes in 1939. The Popes’ original native plant collection, which includes plantings of camellias and azaleas, has been combined with a variety of exotic plant species. Though admission to the gardens is included with LEGOLAND® park admission, the gardens are officially under the care of Polk County and are recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
The park’s attractions are divided into 11 themed areas, featuring rides, children’s activities, and LEGO® displays. The park’s entrance is located at The Beginning, which features the Island in the Sky, a 150-foot rotating panoramic view platform, along with a number of shopping and dining options. Other themed areas include Miniland USA, which features miniature LEGO® recreations of major United States city landmarks such as Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the White House, the Las Vegas Strip, and the Kennedy Space Center, and the Imagination Zone, which contains a variety of themed LEGO® building spaces.
Several rides located throughout the park have been preserved and renovated from Cypress Gardens rides, including the Flying School Vekoma suspended family coaster, the Coastersaurus wooden roller coaster, and the Dragon, a family steel coaster with an indoor dark ride portion. Other thrill rides for young riders include the Project X TECHNIC- vehicle-themed wild mouse coaster, the spinning disc Mia’s Riding Adventure coaster, and the Merlin’s Challenge miniature Himalaya flat ride. A number of interactive rides allow for competition, such as Rescue Academy, which challenges participants to put out imaginary firehouse blazes, the Royal Joust, which allows children to ride LEGO® horses through a Medieval-themed forest area, and the Lost Kingdom Adventure dark ride, which encourages riders to battle mummies and skeletons in pursuit of lost treasure. Two junior driving areas, the Ford Driving School and the Ford Jr. Driving School, offer children introductory driving experiences, while a Boating School area allows children to steer LEGO®-themed boats. Other rides include the Beetle Bounce miniature drop towers, a Grand Carousel, and the new LEGO® NINJAGO® The Ride experience area.
In addition to the main park area, several water rides are offered at the LEGOLAND® Water Park, including the Twin Chasers water slides, the Build-a-Raft River lazy river, and the Lego Wave Pool. Shows offered at the park include the Battle for Brickbeard's Bounty: A Pirates' Cove Ski Adventure, inspired by the Cypress Gardens water skiing shows on Eloise Lake. Dining options throughout the park focus on traditional American fare, including the LEGO® City Burger Kitchen, the Fun Town Pizza and Pasta Buffet, and the Panini Grill. Retail stores within the park’s themed areas offer a wide variety of LEGO® toys and merchandise.
Nearby, the five-story LEGOLAND® Florida Hotel is adorned with more than 2,000 LEGO® models made of more than two million toy bricks. Guests may choose from room suites themed around the company’s Pirate, Adventure, Kingdom, or LEGO® Friends product lines. Children’s activities and entertainment are offered, including workshop sessions with Master Model Builders and nightly LEGO® building competitions. Complimentary buffet breakfast is offered at the Bricks Family Restaurant, and organic local fare is offered at the Skyline Lounge. Accommodations are also provided at the LEGOLAND® Beach Retreat, which offers 166 rooms inside 83 beach-style bungalows.
Ongoing Programs and Education
Several VIP Experience packages offer priority access to rides and attractions, as well as exclusive themed activities and hotel benefits. Educational packages for school and scouting groups are also offered, tailoring park experiences to school curriculum and scout badge requirements. A number of special events are hosted at the park throughout the year, including the Brick-or-Treat Halloween festival, the Christmas Bricktacular event, and a Kids’ New Year’s Eve celebration.
1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884, Phone: 1-888-690-5346