BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — It is one of the most frequently asked questions among the mommy-and-daddy crowd throughout Boca. “Is Legoland really worth the trip for a 3 or 4-year old?”
We selflessly (thanks to a couple of free tickets from the media team at Legoland) endeavored to find the answer, and can report without any reservation: yes!
Legloand is a 150-acre themepark, based on Legos, in Winter Haven. We tacked it on an Orlando-area visit — from where it’s a 45 mintue drive — but would expect a drive just under three hours from Boca Raton.
Unlike Disney or Universal, Legoland is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The area is ripe for development (think Lake Buena Vista 50 years ago), but right now is a few miles from the future site of a mega-chuch, and across the street from what is probably one of the most profitable Ruby Tuesday’s in the country.
The park is clean. Extremely clean. And has shiny “newness” all over. Our visit — with a 15-month old and an almost four year old — was unfortunately on a 90-degree day in late August. Hot in Boca is super-duper hot in very Central Florida.
Legoland, however, was intelligently designed. Mister Mister isn’t just an 80s pop group in the world of Legoland. “Misters” are placed in most lines and in public areas to make sure a cool, damp breeze is never more than a few yards away.
The thoroughfares are wide making family walking with a stroller an easy accomplishment, as opposed to Disney’s outdated Main Street which requires curb-hopping, fluency in four languages, and tourist-avoiding maneauvers more appropriate for the Grand Prix.
And the park’s layout is smart. Whether intentional or not, toddler rides are available in seemingly all sections of the park, not just in a quasi-fenced in area like Sea World.
While we realize that we hit the park after big kids in Florida were already back in school, lines were non-existant — the longest running a five minute wait. Even on peak days, we don’t imagine lines being anywhere near what is commonplace at Disney or Universal. Give it a few years, but for now, you can accomplish a lot in a short period of time.
When there are waits, parents rejoice: Legoland is set-up so kids can play with — wait for it — Legos while a grownup holds their place. It’s a very smart move.
Food is the one area where Legoland needs to improve, or possibly overhaul. Unlike the other major parks, Legoland has specific “restaurants” that only serve the theme of the restaurant. Want pizza? You better be near the pizza place, because it seems that’s the only place you’ll get it. Same thing with the kid-friendly chicken tenders. While other theme parks have realized that there are certain kid foods you need everywhere, Legoland is somewhat out to lunch on this issue.
And in a move that some may say clearly comes from its German headqarters, Legoland actually has a panini restaurant that serves everything with ham. This is Florida. That’s the equivalent of opening up a ham restaurant in Brooklyn. Can you do it? Sure. Will it make money? Unlikely. Case in point: the restaurant was empty when we walked in — if for no other reason than little kids don’t tend to scream, “Mommy, Daddy, I want a ham panini!”
As you would expect, there is no lack of Legos at Legoland. What you might not expect, however, is that there’s an indoor play station for kids to play with legos. It’s a brilliant idea that gives everyone an indoor, air conditioned break. Also in a stroke of brilliance, Legoland teamed up with an area medical center to sponsor an ultra-clean baby station, where parents can change diapers, feed babies (high-chairs and bottle feeding chairs are clean and plentiful) and bring your baby inside for a little cool air. Think “walk in clinic.” It’s very smart marketing, and free.
No Nickel and Diming
While there is a certain expectation that you’re going to pay a premium in a park for food and water, Legoland tends to fall in the “reasonable” category. A bottle of water will set you back $1.50 or so — not much worse than a convenience store. And the aforementioned chicken tenders come as a value meal for just slightly more than you’d pay in an airport. Cheap? No. But not outrageous either.
Things To Know If You Go
Parking: At the risk of a phone call from Legoland’s media department, we advise not paying for premium parking which is offered as a surcharge to the normal rates. The upside/downside of Legoland being so new is that crowds aren’t crazy, and even “far away” parking isn’t all that far from the entrance — the designers got it right.
Food: As mentioned, it’s hit or miss. We suspect that will change as more reviews are written, but for now, bring snacks and sneakers — what you want may be on the other side of the park.
Kids: It would be weird to leave them at home, so bring them with you! Legoland — at least from our experience — was perfect for a three year old, adequate for a 15-month old who loves to run and play with legos — and we suspect offers enough ‘fun’ for kids through age 12. While there are definitely some “real” rides, our three year old was thrilled with the rides he could ride by himself. Legoland got this right, too.
Hotels: This may change at some point, but there’s really nothing of note near Legoland. We added it on to a trip to Orlando, and it’s under three hours from Boca, so we advise either using it as an add-on, or a very long day trip.
Waterpark: Legoland’s waterpark is supposed to be great, although we did not get to try it due to time constraints.
Pricing: Like all Florida themeparks, how much you pay really depends on where you buy your tickets. As we mention from time to time, BocaNewsNow.com gets a small commission when our readers buy items through our site. We are pleased to offer discounted Legoland tickets by clicking here. There are many other places to purchase tickets as well.
Overall: Have young kids? Definitely visit Legoland. It’s fun. It’s well designed. And a few idiosyncrasies aside, Legoland is a perfect way to spend a day or two of family fun without breaking the bank.
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