Five years ago we took our three kids (we’re up to four now) to Disney World. We had a five-day park pass but we only ended up using four of those five days and decided to goof off and relax on day five since we were burned out on Disney. My wife and I were of a “Never again!” opinion after that Disney trip. Surprisingly, the kids weren’t too wild about it either, perhaps on account of the time spent waiting in line.
While we were in Orlando our Lego-obsessed son, then five, noticed a Legoland billboard and he has been asking to visit there ever since. Everything I’ve read about Legoland Florida says that the target age is kids less than twelve years, and all of our kids are under that age AND none of them are currently wearing diapers, plus I’d been wanting to do a couple of days in north Florida as well, so we decided to capitalize on this window of opportunity and do a Florida road trip.
To my surprise, in light of our previous Florida theme park trip, everybody had a great time in Legoland! There were a few factors working in our favor: we visited in the first week of December and the weather was absolutely perfect. Temperatures were in the high 70s and there was no rain. Also, since we visited in the offseason, the crowds were sparse. We didn’t have to wait more than 10-15 minutes for any ride, and on some rides there was no line whatsoever. Apart from a few attractions being closed, it was pretty close to an ideal theme park experience.
The rides were perfect for our family–nothing there is too scary or intense for the kids. The advice about the park being best for age 12 and under is right on; I think teens might get bored but our kids loved it. And the adults (my wife, mother-in-law, and me) loved it too on account of the great weather, lack of lines, and happy, non-cranky, non-melting-down kids.
All of which is to say, if your kids are that age and you can get away during an off-peak time, go for it. The rides certainly aren’t as nice as the Disney rides but given the cost and crowd factors I prefer my Legoland experience to my Disney experience. Obviously, your mileage may vary, especially if you’re a Disney loyalist. One nice thing Legoland has that Disney doesn’t is a smattering of playground areas where the kids can just run around and do kid stuff for a bit. I recall there being a play area in the line for the Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom but that’s the only one I can remember.
So how much do Legoland tickets cost? A two-day ticket goes for $100 on the Legoland site but there are deals to be had from resellers. Leana from Miles for Family (read her Legoland review here) recommended dealsea.com, and while that’s an improvement over the official prices I wasn’t seeing good deals on two-day ticket. I ended up buying tickets from a reseller called 365 Tickets USA which I hadn’t heard of but which turns out to be a reputable outfit. The tickets were 14-day passes (we only used two of the days) and the cost was only $42 per person! So all seven of us spent two days there for under $300 which was a tremendous value.
How much time do you need to see the park? On uncrowded days like the ones we had, you can ride everything in the park in a single day, though your kids will want more. Two days worked great for us: we hit just about everything on day one, then repeated their favorites multiple times on day two. Keep in mind this does not include the water park, which is closed at this time of year.
Where should you stay? I looked into staying at the Legoland Resort but it was more money than I was willing to pay so we paid 30K points per night per room to stay at the WInter Haven Hampton Inn, which is about two miles away. That worked out just fine as staying onsite isn’t as big of a deal here vs Disney. The hotel itself was decent; it’s a typical Hampton Inn, although the rooms had been recently renovated. I’d been hoarding Hilton points for a stay at our favorite Managua hotel, the Hilton Princess, but there ended up being a Pointsbreak opportunity that we pounced on so it was time to burn those Hilton points. There aren’t a ton of great per-point values to be had in Hilton’s program these days so I don’t feel as bad spending them on a Hampton Inn as I might have a few years ago.