travel

Our Family’s Visit to Legoland

traveltheme parks & cruise vacations

How does one best rate theme parks? By the number or intensity of its thrill rides? By acreage or number of yearly visitors? By the length of its lines or the price of its tickets? By the quality of its food? While all of these things are certainly factors in any credible rating, I would argue that a truly comprehensive rating also takes into account the number and duration of the smiles on the faces of ones' family members after they leave the park. Therein lies the best measure of a theme park's effectiveness: the happy memories it creates. It is best expressed in this formula:

fun rides + short or fast lines + good value for the ticket price + quality food =

happy memories = Legoland

"Legoland?" you say. "Really? A theme park based entirely on a little children's toy?" To that I say wholeheartedly: "Yes! Legoland scores exceptionally well in all of those areas, which adds up to many happy memories for the families or friends of anyone who plays with Legos, or wants to see what can be done with them." I know this because I recently visited Legoland Florida during our trip to Orlando for the Family Forward conference. Let me explain how I would rate the park with that audience in mind, as a part of that audience.

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Score: Fun Rides: 10

Legoland Florida actually consists of three separate but large areas: the main park, the water park, and the Cypress Gardens Botanical Garden. The main park itself contains 50 rides, shows, and attractions, the newest of which is the World of Chima. This is an interactive water ride which proved memorable for us, as my husband and four-year-old son came out completely soaked, and as I tried to find my 10-year-old son, who had wandered away from us and was so wrapped up in the various attractions of that area that he was oblivious to the fact that he had no idea where his family was for more than 10 minutes. The rides are wonderfully suited for boys ages 2-12; if their parents are looking for super thrill rides here, they will not find them.

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Legoland's water park is large as well, with seven rides and attractions, including a lazy river for which swimmers can build their own unique LEGO vessels upon which to float it. The Cypress Gardens area is exciting in and of itself simply because of its long history and waterskiing fame. We barely had sufficient time to visit the attractions of the main park; a full exploration of all three areas would take at least two to three days easily.

Score: Speed or Shortness of Lines: 10

We visited the park on a Sunday, just a couple of weeks after the park had adjusted its closing hour to 6 p.m. Even at its peak summer hours, it only stays open until 7:00 in the evening, perhaps in consideration of its young audience and earlier bedtimes. The lines were all short, and we rarely waited longer than 15 minutes in any one line. This is an important factor for us in the rating of any park we visit; no matter how great the park, if the lines are too long, that necessitates riding fewer rides which means less value for our money. Speaking of which...

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Score: Value for the Money: 10

Regular adult admission for one day is $81 for the main park and Cypress Gardens; childrens' tickets are $74. For the main park, the Gardens, and the water park, admission is $96 and $89, respectively. If you are able to ride most or all of the rides and see most of the attractions, it is well worth the money, not only for the sheer quantity of them, but also for their uniqueness. There is an "Imagination Game Room," for instance, that we would not have discovered had it not been for a passing rainstorm deluge. To avoid the rain, we ducked inside what turned out to be a large room devoted entirely to the playing of many of the Lego video games. Since I am a great fan of all the Lego video games, and have finished every one that has been released, this was a great discovery for me, as well as my 10-year-old son, who also enjoys the games. Miniland, as well, is an amazing, unique area, full of re-creations of the Kennedy Space Center, the Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas, and all six of the Star Wars movie episodes, in millions of little Legos. Fascinating.

Score: Quality of Food: 10

While I already wax long and loquacious on the subject of Legoland, I would be neglectful if I did not mention the quality of the food at Legoland Florida. While the typical theme park fare of burgers and fries can be found there, you can as easily find such treats as green apple cinnamon fries, chicken noodle soup, and salmon. It makes for a much more pleasant theme park experience for us if we don't have to worry about the possible tummy problems that too much junk food tends to give us.

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Total Score: Happy Memories for a Lifetime: Priceless

Bottom line: if you are a person who in any way enjoys Legos or are related to someone who does, if you enjoy fun rides, short lines, getting good value for your money, and good food, you will enjoy Legoland. You will be able to create your own happy memories, and those, as you know, are priceless.

What are some of your favorite things to do at Legoland?

A frequent contributor to Mom It Forward, Jamie Moesser holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration. Before becoming a full-time mom she spent 10 years writing grants and fundraising for non-profit organizations. She now enjoys blogging at HobbyMamas.com, volunteering at her sons’ school, reading, writing fiction, and scrapbooking. And as if that wasn’t enough, her other hobbies include water skiing, r/c car driving, and dirt biking.

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