As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
Last week, I started my series of Trip Reports on “the other Orlando” by sharing about our experience with Busch Gardens Tampa. Today, I’m moving on to the next day of our trip – Monday, March 2nd. My parents and my 2 girls went to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (be sure to check back next week when Ashley will be guest posting about their experience). Brian, Ian, and I were joined by my brother Jonathan, his wife Amy, and their son Grant for a day at Legoland. Ian has been begging to go to Legoland ever since we first heard they were building one in Florida. Up until now, it has never fit into our vacation schedule. The boys were SO excited!
A Bit About Our Day
The 6 of us piled into our van to head down the road from Davenport to Legoland. (I’m glad we all went in one car because the very day we went was the day they decided to raise their parking rates from $14/car – which is what I had on my itinerary – to $17/car.) We had a bit of an issue purchasing our tickets (I’ll share more on that at the end of this post). But, the boys’ excitement was contagious! So, we entered the park with high hopes for a fun day!
Our first stop was to ride the Island in the Sky. This was actually a really neat experience as you could see for miles around the park (and get a good look of the construction going on at the Legoland Hotel). The boys each got to trade a mini-figure with the park employee stationed at the entrance of this ride; so their day was off to a pleasant start. Next up, the Grand Carousel. Amy got in line with the boys while the rest of us waited and strolled through a nearby store. It didn’t take long for us to realize that the wait time was VERY LONG, yet the line was VERY SHORT. It didn’t seem to make sense until we realized that there wasn’t a very good method for loading the ride. There was ONE worker stationed at this ride to run the ride and to make sure kids were all seated and buckled in. Because the Carousel is a double-decker, this took a large amount of time. Also, there was no good method for loading the ride – kids all wanted to be up top, so they all went up, only to find it full, and had to come back down and find a seat on the lower level. I think Amy was frustrated when they finally got off the ride; but the boys were still excited and ready to explore more of the park.
We strolled through the Miniland USA exhibits next. We were excited to see creations based on some things we were familiar with – such as Kennedy Space Center (which we had plans to visit later in the week), the Daytona 500, and the White House. I was actually surprised, though, by the condition of some of these creations . . . considering that the park is fairly new, many of these creations seemed rather faded. (I realize that, in their defense, the hot sun pours down on them every day. I’ve just never noticed much fading on the Lego creations at Downtown Disney, so I was surprised.)
Over in the Lego Technic area, Jon was able to
force talk Ian into going on his first roller coaster – Project X. (I love the look on Ian’s face!) Ian also wanted to ride the Technicycle. At first, we found this ride amusing because it’s totally kid-powered. But, poor Ian had a lot of trouble getting his ride vehicle up in the air. And, again, like the Carousel, the wait time was LONG. Grant decided he wanted to ride too; so both boys got back in line for another 20 minute wait (even though they were in the first row), while we parents tried to find a tiny piece of shade in which to wait.
Next, we discovered what was probably the boys’ favorite part of the day – the Imagination Zone. In this area, they were able to Build & Test Lego vehicles for speed and accuracy. They could have literally spent hours in that building; and it was nice because there were benches for the parents to sit and relax (in the air conditioning). They also enjoyed the Lego Hero Factory area, where they were able to assemble their own Hero Factory character. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to keep any of these Lego creations. (I’d love to see them make them available for a small fee.) They also got to meet Emmit, which was pretty fun!
Finally, we were able to drag them away so we could grab some lunch at I-Zone Panini. I have to say that the signs outside made this “restaurant” sound pretty inviting. However, I think we were all rather disappointed. The paninis were pre-made and put on a panini press when you ordered. For $10 you got a sandwich and a bag of chips – drinks were extra. It certainly didn’t compare to the Disney food we are used to (or the good food we had the day before at Busch Gardens). But, it did allow us the opportunity to sit and relax for a few minutes, before heading out to find more to do.
Next up, the boys and their dads tried the Kid Power Towers. It was here that my brother joked that this park wasn’t build on the site of an old garden, but rather on the site of a diet camp for kids. (So many of the rides seem to be kid-powered!)
Ian really wanted to try out the Driving School in Lego City, but the lines were SUPER long so we decided to forego that. Boating School was also passed up due to the line. Jon and Ian did get to ride the Flying School roller coaster, though. I’m told it was pretty fun!
From there, we walked back through part of Miniland USA and the boys were most impressed with the Star Wars area. (The parents thought it was pretty cool too!)
Our next area to visit was the Land of Adventure. Here, Jon and the boys rode the Safari Trek. And the boys and men rode Coastersaurus too. We all rode Lost Kingdom Adventure, which is a laser shooting game (think: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin).
By this time, we were all hot and tired and – I might admit – slightly grumpy. We made our way to Lego Kingdoms where the boys rode Royal Joust and Merlin’s Challenge.
We checked out the Chima area, but weren’t willing to get that soaked, so we decided it was time to head out of the park. Of course, we had to stop and shop at The Big Shop on our way out. Oh, and let’s not forget – we also stopped for some Apple Fries (which were the highlight of my day!)
What We Liked
The Lego theming was great. All the different “lands” based on various Lego kits had great kid-appeal.
The Imagination Zone was fun for the boys.
Trading Lego figures was a lot of fun! (And both boys left with some fun new characters to add to their collections.)
The stores were nice and well-stocked with a wide assortment of Lego products. (Of course, the frugal part of me especially enjoyed the Extreme Brick Bargains shop, where Ian found the 2nd Lego Harry Potter game for only $7 and I found a Yoda keychain for $1.50!)
The Apple Fries were a big positive!
What We Didn’t Like
We all felt like the park was overpriced for the experience. (Regular park admission is $87/adults and $80 for kids.) We have a similar kid-themed park here in PA – Dutch Wonderland – admission to that park is only $29.99 (and, to me, that park is cleaner and much more efficiently run).
We were disappointed by all the fading Legos.
We couldn’t find enough shade to catch a break from the hot Florida sun (and there were very few benches to sit and relax).
The ride lines were short, yet the wait times were long. WHY? There was only one worker at each ride. That worker had to put kids on and off, and run the actual ride. Many of the rides required some sort of key to unlock the seat belts. If they would have had 2-3 workers placed at each ride, it would have significantly cut down on the wait times and made the experience more pleasant for guests.
The food (with the exception of the Apple Fries) was disappointing and overpriced.
Will We Visit Again?
The boys would say “yes” but the parents say “no”.
Toward the end of 2014, when I was making our plans for this trip, I visited the Legoland website on several occasions, trying to find out about the scheduled homeschool days for 2015. They weren’t posted – even in December. So, I used the “contact us” feature to try to get answers to my questions, since the website wasn’t informative at all. I wrote back and forth with a nice representative from the Legoland Florida Call Center (Rachael). She told me which days would be best for us to visit, that I would need to show proof of homeschooling, and what the ticket prices would be with the discount (for adults $25 plus tax, after tax it comes to $26.70, children after tax are $10.70 each for a total of $$128.40).
We arrived at Legoland with proof of homeschooling in hand. However, I was told at the ticket booth that I needed to reserve homeschool tickets at least 2 days in advance and that their systems couldn’t handle the discounts that day. They were nice enough to offer me a discount (because they could clearly tell that I was frustrated) – $45 per person for a total of $288.90. Needless to say, we were less than thrilled.
Upon arriving home, I e-mailed Rachael to share my frustration. There wasn’t anything she could do, but she nicely admitted that she should have shared that information with me, and gave me another e-mail address to contact for help. I wrote to them on March 12th and got a generic reply saying that I would hear something back within 5 business days.
I still had not heard anything by the 24th. SO, I e-mailed again. Again, I got the generic response. (That day, I also posted about our day at Busch Gardens and tweeted a note that Legoland would be next. I tweeted back and forth with someone from Legoland, and shared a bit of my frustration. They offered to help if the situation didn’t get resolved. I’m not sure if they had anything to do with the eventual resolution or not, but I do appreciate the positive help from them.)
Finally, on March 27th, I heard back from Amanda, a Guest Experience Liason for the park. She was able to offer me a refund for the difference in price from what we were quoted and what we had to pay.
I’m sharing this experience for two reasons:
#1 – If you’re a homeschooler and you’re planning to visit Legoland, please make your reservations in advance! If you learn nothing else from this post learn that!
#2 – Don’t expect quick customer service from Legoland, but be persistent.
In the end, I’m happy with the resolution and feel much better about Legoland in general.