We were thrilled to have some time over Christmas break where the kids didn't have school and we were off work, so we headed down to Legoland, Florida! We wanted a fun outing that our kids, aged 3 and 5 would enjoy and we ended up having a great day at the park. Since we had no idea what to expect or what to do when we got there, and we've seen many families asking about Legoland, we put together this blog with tips and tricks for visiting Legoland with family. We hope you enjoy as much as we did!
It definitely pays to plan. Get your tickets online for discounted entry before you visit, purchasing at least two days in advance. Also, if you are a Florida resident and plan to visit regularly, you can get an annual Florida Resident park pass right now for $106 per person and return as many times as you'd like. Don't forget that parking is $17/vehicle. You can get preferred parking at $27, but we opted to save that $10 as no walk to the entry was far from any spot. We did LOVE the shaded preferred parking areas, however, because they were shaded with solar panels. Kudos to Legoland for energy conservation, and for the water treatment swales that capture stormwater runoff from the parking area before it enters the beautiful Lake Eloise!
For hotel discounts, we turned to Groupon for a hotel in Orlando closer to other attractions we visited. Since Legoland is another 50 minutes south of Orlando, we stopped in Orlando on our way down from Jacksonville, visited two attractions, then woke up and drove down that morning.
Fun for Little Kids
There is plenty of fun for little kids ages one - three years old at Legoland! When you enter the park, there is a two story carousel and to the right is Duplo Valley. In here they have little kid rides like a farm tractor and farm train. They also have a big red barn called the Duplo Farm with farm themed climbing gyms and slides. Our 3 year old stayed in this space most of the day! If you visit during the summer, this is a great place for little kids because it was covered and air conditioned. It also had an amazing baby area for parents with changing tables, five private areas with rocking chairs and curtains to nurse or feed babies, and a kitchen with mini fridge, sink and microwave to fix baby food. Other baby areas are marked throughout the park for easy access for parents.
Our son walked in and asked, "Does this place have a playground?" We thought he was crazy because, gosh, we were in Legoland, the whole place is a playground! But not only were there parks, there were great ones! Along with the Duplo Farm in Duplo Valley, a bit to the east in LEGO Kingdoms was a wooden park that looked like a castle. He also loved Mini Land with the mini New York, LEGO Star Wars with the ship that went up and down, buses and boats that were moving, and Kennedy Space Center with the rocket launch!
Don't forget the Junior Driving School in LEGO City where kids aged 3 - 5 can drive their own mini LEGO cars all by themselves! There is a larger track for older kids right next door. My son's favorite was driving the boat with his dad at Boating School. We apologize for all the other boats he bumped in to!!
During summer kids can enjoy the Legoland Water Park, which is key for the many hot summer months of Florida (water park fee extra). Bring an extra change of clothes to enjoy all areas of the park!
Fun for Older Kids
For ages 5 and up there are plenty of activities. Our daughter, who is 5, loved the carousel, driving school, and Mini Land. She also enjoyed making LEGO squares and adding them to the mosaic that kids were contributing to that created a nifty LEGO portrait. She enjoyed some of the smaller rides and even video taping her experiences. For older kids, there are plenty of roller coasters like Coastersaurus in Land of Adventure, a spinning ride at Mia's Riding Adventure in Heartlake City, and The Dragon in LEGO Kingdoms.
Legoland lets you bring in food and drink, which is awesome! Bring in plenty of water and snacks and bring in sandwiches if you can. Directly across the street from the entrance to Legoland is a Publix. If you're from Florida, you know how amazing their subs are. If you're not from here, then be sure to make a stop before you enter the gate for an inexpensive lunch! If you didn't have a chance to bring in anything, like us that day (I know, epic fail!!), try the Fun Town Pizza and Pasta Buffet. For $10.99 for kids and $16.99 for adults (under 3 FREE) we enjoyed all kinds of pizza, enjoyed two heaping helpings of the baked pasta, parents enjoyed the unlimited salad bar, and they had dessert pizzas and unlimited drinks. It was perfect because everyone actually ate the food, which is key for meltdown prevention at a theme park, and everyone was happy!
They also have Panini Grill, two burger places, a fried chicken joint, and plenty of places to get ice cream. If you purchase a slushee, you get $3.50 refills all day, but we opted for plenty of water to limit the sugar highs. We also read many blogs about how you had to try the Granny's Apple Fries, but that when they did they weren't crazy good, so we didn't try those. Thank you to the tourist that let us take a photo - they sure did look good! And now we're rethinking our decision...
Let's Talk Strategy
So, what's the best strategy for visiting Legoland? Besides bringing lots of sunscreen and plenty of water (it was December and still warm and beautifully sunny!), here is what we found: Since Legoland doesn't open until 10:00am and it takes awhile to park (we arrived at 11:00am and waited 30 minutes in line to pay for parking, to get to our parking spot, unload, and walk in) that puts you dangerously close to nap/meltdown time. I'd say get there at 9:30am to get a good spot in line, but not have to wait too long before the park opens, get in right after 10:00am, and head straight back to the rides with longer wait times like Junior Driving School, Boating School, and roller coasters (we had 30 - 45 minute waits due to being the high volume time of December with holidays and one of the only 2 months of cool weather in Florida). Stop and enjoy Mini Land along the way back. Afterwards, head south through Kingdom Lands and enjoy more rides, the playground, and explore the castle or riding The Dragon. Parents can decide where to eat, or enjoy a picnic on the picnic tables in Kingdom Lands.
After eating enjoy one of the shows at the park, like the Pirates' Cove Live Water Ski Show or one in the Wells Fargo 4D Theatre and enjoy a rest while you digest.
Later enjoy Duplo Valley or more roller coasters, some of the other attraction lands, or shopping and another show. You can also bring mini figures for trading with staff of you have some at home, or purchase cheap at Walmart before you go.
In all we had a great time as a family exploring Legoland! We did split up some of the day so my daughter could enjoy things she wanted to do and so my son could play on playgrounds longer, but we enjoyed reuniting as a family at the end and playing together some more. As a mom, I especially loved the all you can eat buffet, and watching as my kids enjoyed fun around every turn! We'd recommend the park to any family.
For more information on Legoland and to get passes, visit the Legoland Florida website!
For more family fun in Jacksonville and on location, visit Fun4FirstCoastKids.com!
Thank you to Legoland for providing our media passes to research this blog! The free passes did not influence our opinions in any way.