LEGOLAND Florida Opens This Saturday At Renovated Cypress Gardens Amusement Park
Posted by Staff on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
On October 15, 2011, the fifth LEGOLAND worldwide will open in Winter Haven, Florida. This new LEGO theme park, designed for children ages two through twelve, has taken over the former site of the historic theme park, Cypress Gardens. Rather than completely demolish the theme park that operated from 1936 until 2009, LEGOLAND has incorporated many of Cypress Garden’s iconic features into their largest park to date. The park that opens in just a few days, pays homage both to Florida’s cultural heritage and the infamous Danish toy building brick.
By incorporating the pre-existing infrastructure of Cypress Gardens, LEGOLAND was able to complete construction in less than two years. This was one of the reasons Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments Group, decided on Winter Haven, rather than a more popular destination like Orlando: “If we’d gone anywhere else it would have taken 4 or 5 years,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. Some of the leftover structures from Cypress Gardens that have been renovated for LEGOLAND include the Magnolia Mansion, the observation wheel ride, the water ski show pavilions, and roller coasters, such as the “Triple Hurricane” and a small family coaster by Vekoma. Also included in the new LEGOLAND park, are the “Southern Belles” that once strolled around Cypress Gardens in their ruffled gowns and carried elegant parasols: only, this time they are LEGO sculptures.
All together, the park features more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions designed for young children. A central attraction, as it is at every LEGOLAND, is Miniland USA. In addition to classic LEGO recreations such as the White House and the Statue of Library, this Miniland USA features a LEGO replica of the entire state of Florida, including extra sections for the Daytona Speedway and Kennedy Space Center. For kids, and probably adults too, it’s the sensation of being a giant amidst a miniature world that makes Miniland so appealing: that, and the texture of the millions of Lego’s that were used to create these replicas.
Another impressive Lego creation on site is the life-size Ford Explorer on display in front of the Ford Driving School (check out a time-lapse video if its assembly here). At the Ford Driving School, children get behind the wheel of a mini-ford built to look like a LEGO car. Unlike many other miniature automobile rides for children, this one does not have a track that guides the car. Of course, the cars aren’t very powerful, but the point is to introduce young children to the rules of the road in a safe and fun environment; and it’s never too early to instill courtesy in our potential drivers. If they do well on the course, they’ll receive their own LEGOLAND drivers license.
While there are plenty of fun rides and shows at LEGOLAND, there is one area of the park in particular that we really appreciate: the Imagination Zone. In the Imagination Zone, there are lots of opportunities to play and create with some of LEGO’s most cutting-edge products, such as the LEGO MINDSTORMS robots. Children can also build their own LEGO cars and race them against other’s designs on a digitally timed track. It’s here, with a pile of colored plastic bricks, that LEGO’s appeal to the imagination begins. So while LEGO-themed rides are momentarily thrilling, it is the appeal to every child’s creative side that has made LEGOLAND so successful the world over.