A Trip to Legoland Florida: One Of Central Florida’s Best Kept Theme Park Secrets

Growing up in south Florida, where I lived until 2000, a trip to the central part of the state typically meant visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando. My family had nothing against what was then known as Cypress Gardens. But, with two young kids, there was just “more to do” at the other parks than walking around botanical gardens and watching water skiing shows.

However, when Cypress Gardens closed in 2009 and it was later announced that the park would become Legoland Florida, the United States’ second Legoland theme park, following the first park in southern California, which opened in 1999. Keep in mind, I was 20 years old when Merlin Entertainment announced they were building a Legoland in Central Florida. I had never visited any other Legoland parks around the world, but had grown up building with LEGOs as a child. But, I was fascinated. I was ready.

Despite my fascination, I could still never quite actually make it to Legoland. Trips to central Florida became fewer and farther between, and whenever I was in town, I again gravitated to the Orlando parks. However, during my recent visit to Orlando for the IAAPA Expo, I decided to finally take the time and drive the hour south to Winter Haven and experience Legoland Florida for the first time.

Knowing that the park was primarily geared toward families (as it should be), as a childless 30-year-old, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect going in. Would it be just a quick four coaster credits and back on the road for me, or would I have more than enough to do to make the two-hour round trip more than worth it? (Here’s a quick spoiler in case you’re already bored of reading: it was the latter.)

Visiting the park on a Monday in the tourist “off-season,” crowds were relatively sparse. Lots of families (again, Legoland is a family park — their social media hashtag is #BuiltForKids), and me, the nostalgic-for-his-childhood-of-LEGO-building 30-year-old. After entering the park, the first thing you notice is that everything feels “larger than life.” There are giant LEGO models constantly in your field of vision.

Vibrant colors are everywhere, and there is a constant LEGO motif around the park. Yes, I know it makes sense. It is LEGOland after all.

Holiday decorations were up, and from the branches, to the ornaments, to the “elves,” everything was constructed entirely out of LEGO and Duplo bricks. It was amazing to see the level of detail of each sculpture.

My first stop was the new-for-2019 LEGO Movie World.

Having never seen either LEGO Movie (childless 30-year-old strikes again), I wasn’t familiar with the concept of Bricksburg, but loved the attention to detail in the area. It was designed to look like everything, much like in the films, was built out of LEGO.

The LEGO Movie World houses three attractions. I didn’t get the chance to experience two: Battle for Bricksburg, a MACK Rides Splash Battle (it was a little chilly during my visit) and Uni-Kitty’s Disco Drop mini drop tower.

The one attraction that many people suggested I “make sure” to ride was “Masters of Flight,” a flying theater ride from Brogent Technologies, and the first flying theater in the world at a major theme park to embed a 180-degree turn in the experience.

Inside the ride, riders are taken on a journey on Emmett’s “triple-decker flying couch.” I thought Masters of Flight was really well done, and agree with everyone who told me that it’s one of the must-see attractions at Legoland Florida.

While the crowds remained low for most of the day (essentially every ride or attraction was a walk-on.) I loved the abilities for kids (or nostalgic adults — I’m not here to judge.) to “create” a masterpiece on the wall while waiting in the queue. This was a common theme throughout the park!

After Masters of Flight, it was time for my first coaster credit of the day, on The Dragon. The custom junior coaster from Vekoma (formerly known as Okeechobee Rampage during its Cypress Gardens years) began with a dark ride section where we were taken through a LEGO castle before the coaster portion started.

Of all the coasters at Legoland Florida, The Dragon is the hardest to photograph, building even more to the mystique. It was a fun family coaster, and there were plenty of “coaster enthusiasts in training” enjoying their rides!

Loved these monks and a knight, all sculpted carefully by LEGO master builders. The theming at Legoland Florida is top-notch around the park, evidenced especially in…


A major draw for Legoland Florida, and other Legoland parks around the world is the individual “Minilands” that highlight some major world landmarks, as well as some as some local flair!

There was constant motion, as the boats were rigged in a way to float on a track. The details in these sculptures were top notch, and I even managed to find a subtle nod to LEGO on this treasure hunter boat. (Turn 0937 upside down, if you’re not sure.) I know other parks will refer to these as “Easter Eggs” or over at Disney, they’re “Hidden Mickeys,” but I’m going to choose to call them “Hidden Brick-eys.”

There was a bit of everything in Miniland – The Wheel at ICON Park (along with SeaLife Aquarium and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, who like Legoland, are also owned by Merlin)

The Hollywood Bowl

The United States Capitol and Statue of Liberty

Along with a few scenes from Las Vegas.

Like another park about an hour north, Legoland Florida even has it’s own “Star Wars Land,” complete with full-scale replicas of famous characters, like Darth Maul, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader.

There were also “mini” scenes from the Star Wars franchise.

…including my favorite, the Cantina Band scene (and yes, there was an interactive element that played the song!)

For local flair, there was a replica NASA Vehicle Assembly Building, and space shuttle, paying homage to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitors complex was also represented, along with the “Rocket Garden”

The scale replica of a shuttle getting ready to launch “blasted off” every few minutes.

Rounding out the Florida landmarks were South Beach in Miami, and the Daytona International Speedway.

As I previously mentioned, Legoland Florida is located on what used to be known as Cypress Gardens, and aside from the southern belles and historic botanical gardens, the park was known for its water skiing exhibitions. It’s great to see Legoland Florida continue this tradition with Battle for Brickbeard’s Bounty.

In the show, we’re joined by Salty, a former pirate who is now a sailor in the imperial Navy, and Miss Miranda Valentina, the captain of said Navy. Their goal was to defend Brickbeard’s Bounty from being reclaimed by pirates.

They, of course, had help in defending the ship from the Imperial Navy.

There were some impressive stunts by the pirates, including some borderline reckless jet ski driving from Captain Brickbeard himself. After eventually defeating the pirates (spoiler alert), the Imperial Navy formed a pyramid to celebrate!


While I didn’t take time to walk through the historic Cypress Gardens themselves, it’s nice to see Legoland paying homage to its predecessor with some classic signage and even a “southern belle” (made from LEGO bricks!)

I’m not sure it would be a LEGO theme park without somewhere to actually build with LEGO bricks. The Imagination building gave you that opportunity.

The walls were covered with LEGO boards, and there were millions of bricks available inside to create whatever you wanted. Wanting to build, but not being an “Einstein” when it comes to creativity, I decided to keep it simple.

We’ll never know if this generated any traffic for us, as sadly it was taken down shortly after I left.

Continuing to wander around Legoland, I came across this full scale replica of a Ford Mustang. Yes, you read that correctly. Full. Scale.

It was time for my second roller coaster of the day, Flying School. A suspended coaster from Vekoma, Flying School features the same track layout as coasters like Kiddy Hawk at Carowinds and Flying Ace Aerial Chase at Kings Island. Another Cypress Gardens rethemed coaster, Flying School used to be known as Swamp Thing when it operated from 2004-2008.

It’s a great family ride that creates smiles for children and adults alike, as you can tell in the second photo. While it was a bit of a tight squeeze, I managed to fit into the restraint and get a ride in. Different from previous models of this coaster I’ve been on, the coaster train actually completed the ride layout twice during one cycle.

Up next was The Great Lego Race. Formerly known as Project X at Legoland Florida (and previously Jungle Coaster at Legoland Windsor), the MACK Wild Mouse underwent a re-theme in 2018, and added VR Goggles and a new backstory. Similar MACK Wild Mouse models can be found at Legoland parks around the world, and also at parks like Kings Dominion (Apple Zapple) and Knott’s Berry Farm (Coast Rider).

While the VR experience was not being offered during my visit, I can honestly say that The Great Lego Race had some of the best themed cars of any roller coasters I’ve ever seen. It looked like an oversized model of something I would build as a kid. It was another fantastic coaster for families to experience together. (Are you sensing a theme yet?)

To the folks in the back row: I promise I wasn’t following you around the park. You just happened to be in two of my coaster shots!

My fourth and final roller coaster ride of the day was on Coastersaurus. A junior wooden coaster from Martin and Vleminckx, Coastersaurus used to be known as Triple Hurricane during its time at Cypress Gardens, taking its name from the three Hurricanes that hit Florida (Charley, Frances and Jeanne) in its opening year, 2004.

For coaster nerds out there, Coastersaurus used to have trains built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters company, which were later replaced with GCI Millennium Flyer trains. Reaching heights of 40′, the enlongated figure-eight layout has plenty of dips and drops to remain exciting for young coaster enthusiasts, while not being too jostling for their parents.

My final ride of the day was LEGO Ninjago: The Ride. Originally opened in 2017, Ninjago: The Ride is an interactive dark ride from Triotech. However, instead of a traditional blaster like you would find on many similar riders move their arms to disable their enemies. The motion took some getting used to, and I still have no idea what I was doing, but somehow managed to get the top score in the park that day. I may or may not include that on my next resume under “Relevant Skills”

There was plenty that I didn’t get the chance to experience at Legoland during my visit, including the Zierer Aquazone Wave Racers, Double Decker Carousel, and a Sally Dark Ride. (Which I personallyt can’t believe I missed!) There is also a small water park, and multiple other dry attractions.

There’s so much to see around Legoland. Everywhere you turn, there are masterfully crafted LEGO sculptures.

After a late lunch/snack of Apple Fries, a Legoland Delicacy, it was time to make the journey back up I-4 to Orlando.

To borrow a line from the Academy Award-nominated song “Everything is Awesome” from the first LEGO Movie…

Even as a childless 30-year-old, at Legoland, Everything is Awesome. 

If I had younger kids, I wouldn’t hesitate to take a day during an Orlando vacation and take them to Legoland. There’s so much to see and do, and it is a fantastic family park. For coaster-credit counters, there are four fun credits that are perfect for younger riders and families to experience together.

With new additions and improvements every year for the last few years, including a new Pirate-themed hotel (Legoland Florida Resort’s second hotel) set to open in April 2020, it’s clear that Merlin Entertainment has no plans of slowing down anytime soon when it comes to Legoland Florida.

If you’re looking for a fun family experience that’s just a bit off the beaten path of Orlando’s tourist cooridor, Legoland Florida is the place to go!

For more information about Legoland Florida, be sure to visit the park’s website, and follow the park on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram