Written by our fabulous guest blogger, Alicia Wozniak. Follow her @littlewoz.
Simply put, LEGOLAND Florida is way cool. It’s no Cedar Point or Disneyland, but there’s a lot to see and do with more than 50 rides, shows and attractions. The park hours are limited and they are closed some weekdays, but it was under a two hour drive from Tampa and my daughter, Weez, had the day off school. So, I took the day off work and we made a day of it. We stopped at Starbucks first, of course, for a mocha and a hot chocolate then hit the road.
“So cool!” That’s really all we could say when we walked into Miniland USA. You almost wish you were an inch tall so you could get the full effect, or maybe pretend you could be King Kong…just for a minute or two!
The cost of admission was a little high at $128 for me and my daughter even with an online purchase discount. Food prices were reasonable; what you would expect at a theme park. There is plenty of junk food, but also some decent venues for a burger and fries. It is most definitely geared towards kids and families and people really into LEGO®. I don’t recommend this for a first date unless you AND your date are REALLY into LEGO®.
Weez, wanted to hit the rides first. Heck yeah! There are 4 roller coasters and no, they aren’t anywhere near Magnum or Mean Streak heights and speeds, but I was pretty green by the end of the day regardless. “Coastersaurus” was our favorite coaster. It’s like the Blue Streak and Gemini had a baby. Three of the 4 coasters are one train and all of the coasters are quick rides so things do move kind of fast; lines were short given that it was a Monday so I’m sure if there’s a crowd wait times are much longer than what we were experiencing. There is one coaster that’s exactly like the Wildcat at Cedar Point and I’ll never ride that one again. Ugh. It pushed the Gaviscon limit for sure. I can’t handle spinny rides or ones with constant turns; I get sick riding in the backseat of cars.
While I got my sea legs back, Weez jumped on a few of the kid rides. I do have to say, she was very disappointed all the coasters required me to ride with her. She’s 48 inches tall and DYING to ride the big kid rides by herself, but rules are, anyone between the height of 40” and 52” must ride with an adult. Oy vey…I should have brought the Tums.
The last coaster we road was The Dragon. This coaster is based on a medieval themed area of the park called LEGO® Kingdoms. All the areas of LEGOLAND are based on their themed lines of LEGO® and everything looks like it made out of LEGO®. The Dragon is an indoor/outdoor steel roller coaster that features a hilarious, behind-the-scenes view of life within the enchanted LEGOLAND Castle. This is me taking one for the team on The Dragon… look at Weez, so happy. “Just tell me when it’s over,” I kept saying.
There is a FANTASTIC section called Imagination Zone. This area emphasizes exploring and creation, while showcasing seven of the most visually exciting LEGO® models in the world, including a replica of Albert Einstein’s head. Yes, that’s Weez picking his nose… Come on, she’s 8 and I’m her mom.
Imagination Zone is perfect for school outings and given that it was a Monday and only Pasco County schools were closed for the day, this area was closed to us for school group sessions. But, it did open around 4:30pm and Weez was able to design her own LEGO® car in the Build and Test zone. She was annoyed that another kid’s car turned and stopped hers from crossing the finish line in one run, but when I explained, “Honey, his veered. Yours went straight. Yours was engineered properly,” she was proud of her little car.
There is a section in Imagination Zone that is all about robotics called LEGO MINDSTORMS; build and program cutting-edge, computerized LEGO MINDSTORMS robots. Weez and I were at “that” point in the day though. Parents, you understand “that” point, right? Hot, tired, hungry for something not fried, broke, yeah “that” point. The next robotics class was scheduled for 5:00 and would have been 45 minutes long; emphasis on long. We “decided” that would be perfect for another day and we’d do that first thing next time. The park was closing at 6:00 anyway and I wanted to get a head start of rush hour traffic back to the Tampa area and beat the crowd leaving LEGOLAND.
All in all, LEGOLAND is a great park and perfect for a family outing. You will drop a bit of cash getting in and while you’re there, but that’s part and parcel to the whole theme park family outing anymore. Definitely, explore the website before you go and plan your day to make sure the park is open and to confirm hours. Given LEGOLAND’s small size compared to DisneyLand or even Busch Gardens, it was nice to be able to see most of the park and spend time talking about the LEGO® creations. Hearing Weez say, “Mommy, look! That’s so cool! How’d they do that?” was awesome; this park sparks kids’ imaginations for sure.
There are also plenty of shops as well to purchase LEGO® and though Weez wasn’t into them when we arrived, she was TOTALLY into LEGO® FRIENDS as we left. Weez’s real name is Olivia and she loves pink and purple, so this find on the way out was a treat.
About the Author
Alicia Wozniak was born and raised in Cleveland. “Woz” now lives in Tampa, with the rest of Ohio. This nearly 40 year old can be found teaching Zumba, promoting Body by Vi, all over Facebook, figuring out Twitter, blogging, and working her full time gig in a marketing division of a textbook publisher. She wonders how many jobs she really needs. If she isn’t moving, she’s unconscious. Life, which includes a Weez, is good and she’ll keep moving forward. Follow Alicia at @littlewoz.