Make us your home page

Legoland Florida begins campaign to win over potential visitors

Legoland parks managing director John Jakobsen said Legoland Florida will “put kids in control” of its experiences.


Legoland parks managing director John Jakobsen said Legoland Florida will “put kids in control” of its experiences.

WINTER HAVEN — Legoland Florida officials hear one question more than any other from potential visitors.

What is Legoland?

More than just intricate models crafted from the popular plastic bricks, they assure questioners. Much more.

Think dozens of rides, shows and attractions, many of them hands on, some of them educational, and all of them geared toward 2- to 12-year-olds.

"This will be the ultimate family-friendly resort," said John Jakobsen, managing director of Legoland parks worldwide, who on Thursday unveiled video mockups of the park's coming attractions. "It's designed to put kids in control and take more than a day to see."

Spread over 150 acres that once were Cypress Gardens, Legoland Florida is slated to debut in October 2011, after a more than $200 million investment by a Danish toy giant and its majority-owned British partner Merlin Entertainments Group. A water park, hotels and possibly other attractions come later.

Construction is well under way, with more than 100 model artists at the four other Legolands in Europe and California stockpiling Lego dragons, castles and Bob the Builder figures. In about six months, on-site Lego building gets serious, and the park will ramp up hiring an operations staff of 1,000.

On Thursday, Legoland started selling tickets online priced similar to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Until Dec. 31, buyers can get a $10 discount on the daily $75 admission for adults, $65 for kids 3 through 12 and seniors 60 and up. There's also a $30 discount for the $129 adult annual pass, but not the $99 pass for kids.

Attraction highlights include a midget motorway where kids as young as 3 are awarded a personal driver's license, a build-your-own Lego robot lab, and a wide variety of tame amusement rides.

Of course, everything will be built from off-the-shelf Lego bricks — or look as if it is. And there will be scattered stores stocked with toys and videos from the vast Lego and Duplo arsenal. Anything left will be found in what's called the Big Store — the size of a small supermarket — at the exit gate.

The trademark centerpiece, Miniland, will be a 25 million Lego brick extravaganza that re-creates familiar sites from U.S. destinations, including Washington, Las Vegas, Manhattan and iconic spots around Florida — the Kennedy Space Center, Daytona Speedway, Bok Tower in Lake Wales and Mallory Square in Key West.

Two roller coasters and a few rides left from the old park will be rethemed, but park officials ensure the only thrills will be ones an entire family can share.

"We do pink knuckle rides, not white-knuckle rides," said Adrian Jones, park general manager.

Merlin Entertainments becomes the fifth owner trying to restore prosperity to an attraction taken off the beaten track by Walt Disney and the Interstate highway system. Three of the failures were steered by the biggest and most successful industry players.

Narrowing the appeal to families with young kids and seniors looking for passive experiences limits the audience.

But the formula has been successful enough at four other parks for Merlin to start building a sixth park in Malaysia, while a pint-size indoor Legoland in Chicago will be replicated in Dallas.

The original Cypress Gardens botanical gardens, widely regarded as the cornerstone of Florida's first theme park, are protected by a state conservation easement. The gardens will reopen intact, including the old Florida swimming pool featured in an Esther Williams movie.

Cypress Gardens' trademark southern belles in hoop skirts will be posing in the foliage, but designers have not decided how. Don't be surprised if they are built of Legos.

Legoland Florida begins campaign to win over potential visitors 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa International Airport morphing into a mini-city unto itself


    TAMPA — By the end of the 2026, Joe Lopano wants Tampa International Airport to function as its own little city.

    Artist rendering of phase two of the $1 billion construction expansion of Tampa International Airport. The airport is transforming 17 acres of airport property that will include at least one hotel, retail and office space and a gas station, among other things.
[Courtesy of Tampa International Airport]
  2. Lost Highway: As FHP struggles to recruit, speeding tickets plummet

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The number of speeding tickets written by Florida state troopers has plunged three straight years as the agency grapples with a personnel shortage and high turnover.

    State data shows FHP troopers are not writing violations for speeding or other infractions like they did back in 2011, even though there's 1 million more licensed drivers in Florida.
  3. Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey, squishy Slime craze


    Aletheia Venator and Berlyn Perdomo demonstrate the stretchiness of their slime. - Berlyn Perdomo and her friend, Aletheia Venator, both 13, make and sell slime which can be seen on their instagram site @the.real.slimeshadyy [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  4. The last farmer of Florida's prized Zellwood corn is thinking of packing it in


    MOUNT DORA — Hank Scott steps out of his pickup between the long rows and snaps off an ear that grows about bellybutton-high on the forehead-high stalks.

    Hank Scott, co-owner of Long and Scott Farms, shucks an ear of corn on the farm in Mount Dora, Fla., on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The farm specializes in Scott's Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Law firm's Russia ties prove nothing about Trump


    The statement

    "Law firm @POTUS used to show he has no ties to Russia was named Russia Law Firm of the Year for their extensive ties to Russia. Unreal."

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., stands during a media availability on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 20, 2016 in Washington. A divided Senate blocked rival election-year plans to curb guns on Monday, eight days after the horror of Orlando's mass shooting intensified pressure on lawmakers to act but knotted them in gridlock anyway — even over restricting firearms for terrorists. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)