Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Legoland Florida to Open October 15

Tampa Bay Online: Legoland Florida has named Oct. 15 as the opening day for its kid-focused amusement park in Polk County.

The 150-acre theme park will cater to kids of ages 2 to 12 with more than 50 rides, from roller coasters to race cars, as well as family-focused shows and attractions. The park is being built southeast of Winter Haven on the former site of longtime Florida attraction Cypress Gardens.

Legoland Florida is the second park in the U.S. built by the Danish-owned company known for its signature plastic building blocks and stubby action figures. The first park is in Carlsbad, Calif., and there are also Legolands in Great Britain, Germany and Denmark, where parent company Lego Group is based. Another Legoland is under development in Malaysia.

Among the features of the Florida attraction are rides geared toward younger children, for instance, a merry-go-round over the water where kids and parents sit on jet-ski-like mounts, armed with sprayers to soak anyone nearby.

Some former Cypress Gardens features will remain, including the historic water-ski show area, now remade into a "Pirate's Cove." Park staff members are now test-driving special wetsuits for skiers that make them look like actual Lego action figures, yet let them jump and fly around.

"So far, it looks really cool, like pirates in mini-figure costumes," said Jill Swidler, marketing manager for Legoland. "It's completely different than it was before with Cypress Gardens."

There are also Lego building areas, miniature Lego versions of famous buildings and streetscapes, and a birthday pavilion. Kids can also tour a factory where they'll see automated machines punch out interlocking Lego blocks and stubby action figures. Building the Lego landscapes will probably take more than 50 million bricks, Swidler said.

There's also a "Castle Hill" area with an indoor/outdoor roller coaster and an area where kids can compete in simulated horseback jousts. A Duplo area focuses on the youngest of park visitors, with toys to fly and drive through a mini town built to their size.

One-day admission to the park is $65 for ages 13 to 59 and $55 for ages 3 to 12 and 60 and older. A standard annual pass for all ages is $99. A premium annual pass, which includes parking and discounts on food and merchandise, is $159 for adults, and $129 for children and seniors. Parking will cost $12.

The park also unveiled a new online reservations system to make the vacation booking experience easier. Travelers can now book tickets, accommodations, airlines and rental cars through the Legoland Florida website.

For instance, the online system now offers a two-bedroom suite at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort on the weekend of Nov. 5 for $139 per night and a two-bedroom at the Holiday Inn Winter Haven for $126 per night.

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