My wife, 6-year-old son and I recently returned from a 4-day, 3-night trip to Legoland Florida, which included a stay at the Legoland Hotel. It was an extraordinary experience for the most part, and my little boy had a terrific time. Still, there are things you should know about the place before you commit to a stay as lengthy as we did. Pleasantly, we’re locals, so it’s just a car ride up and back; the rigors of air travel, with the attendant expenses, frustrations, travel time, and potential for physical assault weren’t concerns for us.
- Kids: It’s awful for me to say so, but I don’t have a great love of children other than my own. I don’t hate them, and as a parent I understand them more than I used to, but I could take or leave other kids. Other parents are much easier with other children, and I envy them that skill. Anyway, Legoland is specifically aimed at little kids. So naturally they’re everywhere and into everything and you can’t get anywhere, especially when it’s crowded. Which is fine. You’ll see unacceptable public behavior that you thought only your kids did, which is a relief. You’ll see parenting styles that will make you feel like Mom of the Year. You’ll see tantrums and shrieking and laughing and oblivious cutting in line and uncovered sneezes and deliberate cutting in line and uncovered coughing and demands for this and that and everything else. Get used to it.
- Service: Mostly good, mostly friendly. If you’re waiting in line for food, there’s a southern slowness that makes everything take about ten minutes longer than it should. Combine that with a small child’s natural impatience, and it’s a pain. The ride attendants are all quite nice and patient. If you eat at the hotel buffet (Bricks Restaurant), the servers tend to hover, waiting to snatch up your empty plate so you can go back to the buffet and fill up again right quick.
- Food: The best thing I can say of the food is that your kid will probably love it. For me it was an epic fail. For dinner, the Bricks buffet cuisine is about as bad as you’d expect for a buffet mostly catering to small children, with trays of mac ‘n’ cheese and baby corn dogs for the kids and fajita-style chicken and vegetarian fried rice for the adults. The breakfast buffet was typical for a hotel breakfast buffet. The Skyline Cafe sit-down restaurant wasn’t a whole lot different from the buffet, quality-wise. At the park, the Fun Town Pizza & Pasta Buffet is mediocre, the fried chicken restaurant is okay, and the Panini Grill is inedible. Avoid it and its partially-toasted sandwiches at all costs. Do get the Apple Fries, though. If you’re just doing a day trip, bring your own lunch: your stomach (and wallet) will thank you for it. I was nourished mostly on sunlight, dinner buffet petit fours, and Apple Fries during our trip.
- Rides and Lines: If you’re horrible like us and go during the week when school’s in session, thereby robbing your child of precious education days, you’ll have so much fun that you’ll get tired of having fun. The lines for rides were short to nonexistent, so we could just do any ride we wanted with little waiting time. Lego Ninjago was terrific, with playground-style stuff outside and a 3-D ride inside. My son liked Beetle Bounce so much he did it six times in one day. The Island in the Sky was broken this week, but we’d been there on a previous visit. Driving School was fun, as were the Royal Joust and the Lost Kingdom Adventure. Basically, all the rides are great. You will get soaking wet on the Lego Chima ride (my son did, and as it was a cool morning, got super-pissed at the cold and shivered and grumbled his way through the whole ride). Wait for a warm day to do the water park, but do the water park. Make Lego boats to sail on the track, swim in the wave pool, go down the enormous water slides. The $10.00 for a locker rental is worth it. Bring your own towels.
- The Hotel: We got an adventure room, so it was decorated in the style of ancient Egypt. With Legos. My son loved the bunk bed and his own TV. The room’s quite cramped. If you swim in the pool or go to the water park, your stuff won’t get dry overnight unless you’ve got a balcony room, so bring extra towels/suits. The lobby has a big pool of Legos by the columns, where kids build stuff. To the left of the front desk is another play area, half castle and half pirate ship. This also has pits of Legos. I was heartened to see that the number one thing that the boys built with these loaner Legos was guns. So we haven’t beaten healthy aggression out of children just yet. All of them built guns or short swords and chased each other around the area, shrieking like banshees. The hotel pool was warm, with plenty of chairs around. You need to go through the pool area to get to the fire pit if you want to do s’mores after 7:00 PM. The front desk has s’mores packages for sale, complete with wet wipes.
The park is great, the hotel is good. For day-trippers, save money on food and buy Legos instead.