LEGOLAND Florida held its grand opening over the weekend, drawing thousands of guests to experience the new Winter Haven theme park. But while the park’s Miniland, featuring miniature LEGO recreations of familiar US cities, is a highlight, kids of all ages are drawn to the new LEGO-themed rides offered throughout.
On opening day, LEGOLAND Florida offered 19 different rides. (It would have been an even 20, but Junior Fire Academy was not operational.) During his opening remarks, the park’s general manager Adrian Jones promised many more rides to come in the future. But as LEGOLAND Florida stands now, the $75 admission ticket ($65 for kids ages 3-12) grants access to a variety of roller coasters, dark rides, and plenty of interactive attractions that move in all directions.
Take a quick look inside and around these rides in the video below, followed by thoughts, details and full rides on a few of the best – and featuring a special LEGOLAND Florida opening day message from a talking bird.
Video: Highlights of all LEGOLAND Florida opening day rides
In the beginning of LEGOLAND Florida, there is The Beginning, the aptly-named front area that features shops, dining, and a pair of rides that the park kept when replacing Cypress Gardens.
A great place to start the day at LEGOLAND Florida is in riding the Island in the Sky, a rotating platform that ascends more than 100 feet into the air courtesy of a giant arm, offering astounding views of the entire theme park and its surrounding area.
Video: Island in the Sky overview of LEGOLAND Florida
While the ride is relatively short, the Island in the Sky lets guests see all corners of the park, from the entrance to LEGO City and the Land of Adventure, tucked safely inside by railings and nets. But a long zoom lens or a pair of binoculars can offer great aerial views of attractions.
Nearby, the two-story Grand Carousel is set in a traditional park-like atmosphere, with very little LEGO to be found nearby. With the rest of the park filled with colorful LEGO bricks forming incredible sculptures, this area offers a more “home park” feeling absent from most of Central Florida’s theme parks. LEGOLAND employees also take pictures of guests aboard the carousel, available for purchase later.
Land of Adventure
LEGOLAND Florida features the Land of Adventure – not to be confused with Disney’s Adventureland. Guests won’t find Jungle Cruise or Pirates of the Caribbean here, but instead the Land of Adventure is home to one of the park’s best rides: Lost Kingdom Adventure. This interactive dark ride is similar to Disney’s Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or Universal Orlando’s Men in Black in that guests are armed with laser guns, shooting at targets to earn points. The ride follows the story of classic LEGO character Johnny Thunder in his battle against Sam Sinister amidst an egyptian tomb environment.
Video: Lost Kingdom Adventure interactive dark ride at LEGOLAND Florida
The ride is colorful, featuring larger-than-life LEGO Minifigs along with cartoonish snakes, spiders, skeletons. It’s never scary, but offers a few minutes of interactive fun for all ages. Targets are easy to hit, with the laser guns blasting a wide circle of red light upon each pull of the trigger. Not only are points awarded for hitting illuminated targets, but each successful shot also triggers an animation or effect, many of which are quite comedic, some surprising. Of all the rides at LEGOLAND Florida, Lost Kingdom Adventure is the one theme park fans will likely enjoy the most.
Next to Lost Kingdom Adventure is the Beetle Bounce, which nicely keeps with the Egyptian theme, but offers little to no excitement for anyone over the age of 6, featuring very little movement or speed. But kids who are too small to try bigger drop towers will enjoy the same thrill on a smaller scale.
Originally called Triple Hurricane in its Cypress Garden days, the Coastersaurus at LEGOLAND Florida is a wooden roller coaster that now sports a dinosaur theme. The entrance and queue feature large LEGO dinosaur sculptures and the ride itself features a brief encounter with one large LEGO dino.
Video: Coastersaurus roller coaster at LEGOLAND Florida
Coastersaurus offers the thrill of a wooden coaster without feeling too rickety or shaky. It’s a surprisingly smooth ride – until the abrupt stop at the end which sends riders jolting forward, adult knees banging the car’s front wall. Be careful. Like most of LEGOLAND Florida’s rides, Coastersaurus is intended for kids and adults to ride, which means the individual seats are rather tiny for bigger guests.
Far from the thrills of Coastersaurus is Safari Trek, in which LEGOLAND Florida sends guests through an African safari, spotting wildlife along the way. But unlike the safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Busch Gardens, these animals are not real – they’re made of LEGO bricks.
Video: Safari Trek jeep ride at LEGOLAND Florida
The LEGO creatures offer a fun twist to the classic slow-moving safari ride, with highlights including a LEGO hippo opening its mouth and growling and an LEGO elephant squirting water just after the LEGO jeep has passed by – a close call. It’s a slow moving ride that, again, has a rather tiny vehicle to travel in. Guests that can fit will have fun, particularly the younger ones.
Another favorite attraction at LEGOLAND Florida is The Dragon, contained within the elaborately themed Kingdoms area of the park. The ride appears to be a simple roller coaster from the outside, placing guests inside a LEGO dragon coaster car. But that’s only half of the attraction, which begins with a dark ride through several medieval castle scenes filled with LEGO sculptures and props, culminating in a close encounter with a giant LEGO dragon in his dungeon (with realistic, life-sized LEGO skeletons!) and a wizard who saves the day.
Video: The Dragon roller coaster / dark ride at LEGOLAND Florida
The roller coaster portion is barely thrilling for adults, but children will thoroughly enjoy a chance to take to the track. It’s the initial dark ride area that is filled with details that will entertain adults and theme park fans.
Across from The Dragon, Merlin’s Challenge is a common carnival ride that spins riders wildly in circles, over a few humps. In the center is Merlin in LEGO form.
It’s worth noting that Merlin is an important name to LEGOLAND Florida, not only because he’s a wizard, but also because Merlin Entertainments Group is the company that created the park.
LEGO City offers distinct experiences that give kids a chance to go to “school” for driving, boating, and flying, often giving them control.
Boating School provides complete freedom on the water, where a giant LEGO boat moves forward via a foot pedal and is steered by a wheel – without riding on a track. No matter the age, guests have complete control over these water vehicles.
Video: Boating School ride at LEGOLAND Florida
For an attraction with the word “school” in its name, there’s surprisingly little instruction given to young ones when climbing into the LEGO boats. Press the pedal. Steer the wheel. Go. The result is kids often not moving at all, confused on how to move, or just driving in circles or into a wall. But ultimately everyone gets the hang of it and happily motorboats through the course, spotting LEGO gags along the way. Watch out for the squirting water!
For those not old enough to drive a real car, Driving School (sponsored by Ford) puts kids at the wheel on large LEGO city streets. After a short training session where kids learn the rules of the road (stay to the right, stop at stop signs, etc.), a group is let loose to hop into a vehicle and drive away. Unlike many other theme park driving experiences, no tracks limit motion here, though kids are strongly encouraged to drive safely and not crash into each other – which seems to work most of the time. Of all the experiences at LEGOLAND Florida, Driving School is likely to be one of the most memorable for kids eager to set out on their own for a while.
For those not quite old enough for the bigger course, a Junior Driving School still provides freedom on the open road – but on a smaller scale, with closer supervision.
Formerly known as Swamp Thing at Cypress Gardens, the suspended Flying School roller coaster doesn’t hand over flight controls to its passengers, but instead takes guests on a wild ride around a steel track. But unlike most steel coasters, which often offer a smooth riding experience, Flying School jostles guests around quite a bit. Perhaps this pilot needs a bit more training.
Video: Flying School roller coaster at LEGOLAND Florida
Also in LEGO City, Rescue Academy is part ride, part fire fighting. It begins with frantic pumping, making the large LEGO fire truck move toward the “burning” building. After reaching the end of a short track, all aboard hop off and douse LEGO fires with real water. Onlookers may get wet too!
The LEGO Technic area of the park is home to some of the most kinetic rides that are even entertaining to watch. The most exciting is AquaZone Water Racers, which in its simplest description is a spinning ride. But this ride spins inward, over water, with giant vertical water cannons triggered by onlookers’ button presses. With side-by-side carousels over a giant pool of bright aqua blue water, the combination of fast-spinning vehicles and loud water blasts create an astoundingly good time for those on the ride and those simply watching it.
The Project X Technic Test Site is a wild mouse coaster that rapidly crosses a winding track, up, down, and side to side. Unlike many wild mouse coasters, this one doesn’t spin, but still features relatively fast speeds and tight turns that surprise riders. This and the rest of the rides within the Technic section are accessible and fun for guests of all ages.
Imagination, Duplo, and Other Rides
The rides mentioned above are the highlights of LEGOLAND Florida, most of which will fit and entertain adults as well as kids. But a handful of other attractions exist throughout the park, mostly targeted toward the younger generations. From a self-powered drop tower to small, slow-moving carnival-style vehicles on tracks, parents will find themselves waiting and watching as kids have fun.
Of the 19 (or 20) rides at LEGOLAND Florida, about a third are thoroughly enjoyable by adults as well as kids. Other than Lost Kingdom Adventure, none of the new LEGOLAND Florida attractions are quite as big or elaborate as those found in Central Florida’s other theme parks, but when combined with the LEGO brand theme and enjoyed together as a whole, the new park does offer a solid day’s worth of entertainment. But LEGOLAND Florida will completely be enjoyed by any child that is taken there, given the chance to not only ride roller coasters and shoot at spiders and snakes, but also to fulfill fantasies of piloting LEGO creations they may have built at home, driving LEGO cars around streets and steering a LEGO boat through a winding canal. LEGOLAND Florida is truly targeted toward children’s entertainment and fully delivers on that promise, but still manages to involve “big kids” in enough experiences for all to leave after having a full day of fun.
More photos from LEGOLAND Florida rides:
(Photos by Darcie Vance, Michael Gavin, and Ricky Brigante)