Post image for Spring Break 2012: LEGOLAND, The Disney World Vacation Alternative

Spring Break 2012: LEGOLAND, The Disney World Vacation Alternative

by Brittany on February 11, 2012

in Lifestyle

UPDATE 3/7/2014 Can no longer recommend. Visited the park today with my family of five and it was such an expensive disappointment. Broken down, filthy and unfriendly. Maybe one day the park will turn around, but as of right now, it’s no longer worth the money. The hunt for a great family vacation continues on!

Going to Disney World is a dream come true, and with in-laws who relocated from Ohio to just 40 minutes shy of the maingate, it’s a luxury we get to partake in at least once a year.

But, I’m not gonna lie. The happiest place on earth? Is stupid expensive.

I have a 2, 4, and 5 year old, and while I love nothing more than dragging them around Disney in Florida heat, paying out the ass for food with ears, waiting in insane lines for dark rides depicting movies they’ve never even seen (hi, Pixar), I began to wonder if Disney World was more fun for me than it was for them.

LEGOLAND opened last October in Winter Haven, about 40 minutes outside of Orlando, and the buzz was intriguing.

While I, myself, had absolutely no interest in LEGOs, other than cussing them out at 3am as I stumble to the bathroom, the kids loved them, and my husband, by default, nerds out about almost anything, well… nerdy, so I thought, why not!?

Our Day at LEGOLAND Florida

We rolled up to LEGOLAND at about noon to find a completely empty parking lot. Having been burned by outrageous in park food prices before, I insisted we all have a thoroughly mediocre meal at Ruby Tuesday before heading over.

So, we paid to park ($12), schlepped our belongings across the barren lot to the unassuming entrance, at which I declared… let’s just skip this, okay guys?

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Because truly, it didn’t look like much. But, it turns out, looks can be utterly deceiving.

LEGOLAND was built into an existing park, Cypress Gardens, a park my parents remember visiting as they made the drive down south for their honeymoon 30 some years ago.

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There is something to be said for a company that works with the environment it is given instead of bulldozing a clean slate and plopping down a faux-world to explore. Sure, it’s spread out a bit more, but its mature trees and rolling hills add to its character and comfort.

The kids were in love from the moment they tore our tickets.

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Fun LEGO statues, a double carosel, a 4D theater, and worlds and worlds of LEGO themes that I was quickly worrying we wouldn’t have time to get through.

LEGOLAND Highlights

Miniland USA: There are no words to accurately describe how awesome this is. Cities so intricately recreated in LEGO form, including Las Vegas, New York City, Daytona, even the White House! We spent at least an hour wandering around the tiny towns.

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The Food: Eating offsite? Big mistake. Not only did LEGOLAND have some amazing food, it was cheap! From a Italian buffet (unlimited buffet $10.99 for adults) to Granny’s Fried Apples ($4.99), the food was fresh, delicious and cheaper than any other park I’ve been to.  Tip: keep some cash on hand, some of the smaller hand carts only take cash and a cold beverage is a must with all the walking!

DSC09788Fried apple sticks with whip cream frosting. Seriously amazing.

Rides: The beauty of LEGOLAND is not just that it’s a huge awesome park made of LEGOs, it’s also specifically geared to kids 2-12 years old. That means, unlike Disney where every ride was dark and/or a little scary, all three of my kids could ride nearly every single ride.

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The Pros

  • Everyone from the ticket takers to ride operators were friendly, and the park and restrooms were extremely clean and family friendly.
  • The food was affordable, I paid more to eat off site.
  • My kids (ages 2, 4, 5) could ride and participate in almost all the attractions.

The Cons

  • The park is normally only open from 10am-5pm, which makes it really difficult to get through all the attractions.
  • It’s hard to swallow a $12 parking fee when the park is only open seven hours. You also have an option to  pay extra for closer parking, which is a waste of money.
  • The areas are spread out, so there is a bit of walking involved, but we didn’t have to use our stroller once.
  • If your kids are over 11 or 12, they will probably be bored, unless they have a younger sibling they can help ride everything with.
  • Unlike Disney, where lines and attractions run like well oiled machines, things at LEGOLAND seem to run a bit slower. I think it’s due to the large population of retiree workers. While seems to be an alright match for families with small children, it’s nice to not always be rushed around.

The Verdict?

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We loved LEGOLAND. Our kids had a blast, and while any admission fee is hard to swallow, I loved knowing that we were getting our money’s worth, as evidence by snoring the moment their heads hit their car seats. We are headed back to Orlando in two weeks, and we’ve definitely worked a day at LEGOLAND into our agenda!

Disclosure: While I was provided entrance into the park for my family in exchange for sharing our experience, all opinions are my own.

Crystal February 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I wanna go just for the apple fries thingys

pgoodness February 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I can’t wait to go to LegoLand. Oh, and I bet the boys will like it, too. ;)

SwingCheese February 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

We have family in Orlando, too, and are planning a trip probably in a couple of years from now. I’ve been a little ambivalent about Disney, however, and this sounds like a great alternative. Plus I loved Legos as a kid, so there’s that. Those cities look amazing!

Sara February 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I would love to take my family there! Do you have any recommendations on where to stay? Do you think it’s possible to do Disney and Legoland in one trip??

Brittany February 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm

YES> In fact that is exactly what we did and are doing AGAIN in 11 days!

Legoland is in Winterhaven, about 40 minutes outside of Disney, so if you have a car, VERY easy to find, and they also provide shuttles I believe.

We are doing 3 days of Disney (on a hopper) and then a day at Legoland.

Tawny February 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm

If your in-laws claim Florida residency now they are eligible for deeply discounted park tickets. My parents live in the same area and that is the only way we will pay for Disney now. : )

Danielle February 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Just have to thank you for this post, as I used it to convince my husband to take a trip to FL in a few weeks :) We’re skipping Disney and doing Sea World and Legoland instead! SO excited!!!

kevin April 13, 2012 at 2:10 am

Legoland remind me too much of Disney World from the miniland USA remained me of Main Street USA. There rides seem like the rides at Disney World.

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