May 26, 2012 marks the opening day of the water park at LEGOLAND Florida. Thursday Aaron and I drove the 1 hour and 45 minutes across the state to check out the park. We love LEGOs and we love water parks so we went in excited to see what LEGO had done to plus the old Cypress Gardens water park. Since we had been to the old water park in July of 2007, we knew the water park was small with only a few attractions. Unfortunately, other than a fresh coat of paint-in classic LEGO colors, and a few LEGO creations, nothing much had changed.
When you enter the water park on your right is the Surf Shop where you can buy a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen or anything else you may have forgotten to pack for your day at the park. Just past the Surf Shop is the Beach-n-Brick Grill, the only eatery in the water park which boasts that, “no menu item is priced higher than $10 (not including tax)”. On your left are the bathroom/changing facilities and lockers. When we were there they were using a very inefficient system for the lockers, which I truly hope was just because it was a media event and for that day the lockers were free. Lockers are available in 3 sizes small ($5) large ($7) and family ($12).
Once you pass the buildings there is a small beach with cabanas and beach chairs to your right, daily cabana rental prices range from $79-$199 based on season and include a mini-fridge stocked with 10 bottles of water, upgraded lounge chairs and two souvenir towels. Next is the cutest part of the park, DUPLO Safari Splash. This little play area is created just for your toddlers and includes a slide and some interactive DUPLO animals with water spouts.
To your left is the entrance to the attraction I was most excited about checking out, Build-a-Raft River. Unfortunately, the image I had in my mind since I heard the announcement last October, was way cooler than what this ride actually was. This attraction is a short (1000 foot) lazy river ride in regular old inner tubes with LEGO building platforms attached to the tubes. (You don’t really build a raft as the name implies). We waited in the relatively short line about 15 minutes. As we approached the loading area I read a sign that said you had to sit in the tube with your bottom in the middle and your legs hanging over the side. I have a bad back and this is a very uncomfortable position for me. I understand the whole “you must stay in your tube” rule but this seemed a bit much to me, but I complied. The tube even has an arrow on it telling you which part of the circle was the front so I sat in the tube as instructed and the handles were jabbing into the back of my legs. I was not comfortable at all. As I approached the lifeguard who launched you from the entry into the river I said, “This isn’t comfortable with the handles jabbing my thighs.” and his answer was, “Well, you are a bit large.” I whipped my head around so I could read his name tag but he succeeded in shoving me down the river before I could read his name. I am not a petite woman, I am a size 20, but I was no where near the largest person on the river! As I floated down the river I watched people of all ages building with their LEGO bricks only to hear 3 different lifeguards yell at them because you aren’t allowed to build anything taller than your head-remember, you must be seated in the uncomfortable butt in the middle of the raft with your legs hanging over the side position so for most kids that means you can’t build anything taller than 2-3 blocks tall, what fun is that? Next came the dismount. I am dreading this because of the position I am sitting in and I was hoping Aaron would be there to help me. Unfortunately about 8 kids had cut in line between us in the entry area and he was so far behind me I had to get out of the tube on my own, before I floated past the only exit and had to make another lap. In the end I just leaned backwards and flipped the tube to get out and got hit in the head by the LEGO building platform on one of the sides of the tube. My only souvenir of the day is the lump on my head!
In between the DUPLO area and the river is a bridge that takes you to the other four attractions. The LEGO wave pool has gentle waves and is fun for the whole family. The two thrill rides Splash Out and Twin Towers had very long, slow moving lines and we opted not to try them. I saved the best for last and that is The Joker Soaker. This water playground is truly the most fun in the park. It is full of ladders, levers, pumps and slides and your kids will want to spend a lot of time exploring all that it has to offer.
LEGOLAND and its water park are geared for 2-10 year old kids but what they need to remember is that young children don’t explore their parks alone. Parents and grandparents come in all shapes and sizes and if you want us to spend our hard earned money in your parks, you need to fit us all. LEGOLAND water park is the smallest water park in the central Florida area and the most expensive. You cannot buy just a ticket to the water park. It is a $12 add on to the $75 LEGOLAND ticket. So, that makes your water park ticket $87 while the other central Florida water parks range from $40-$60 for a one day ticket. Will you do the theme park and water park in one day? You can, but remember, you’ll be schlepping your water park stuff through the theme park and vice versa. Lockers are only available at The Beginning in LEGOLAND and in the water park which is located at the back of the theme park so even if you choose to pay for a locker it isn’t very convenient.
Should you add the LEGOLAND Water Park to your vacation plans this summer? That is a question only you can answer. IF your kids fit the demographic age and IF you have a rental car because the park is located about an hour from Orlando and Tampa and IF your kids are LEGO junkies then MAYBE it is worth the trip. If you really just want to see some awesome, huge LEGO creations and check out a great LEGO store, then I say, save your money and visit Downtown Disney. The LEGO sea serpent and other sculptures are amazing, the store is a lot of fun and admission is free!
Disclosure: We were invited to the media preview as guests of LEGOLAND all opinions are 100% my own.
Postscript, since I didn’t get the name of the “model citizen” who said I was a “bit large” I didn’t complain in park. I did reach out to them on Twitter and this is the response I received. Really? What are your thoughts?