Welcome to THE BIG 5, a definitive top five list of various Orlando related, uh, stuff. THE BIG 5 is wide ranging, and runs the gamut from the top five gift shops at Universal to the top five reasons to go to Downtown Disney, and everything in between.
To view all of THE BIG 5 posts so far, click here.
This week’s list is the Top Five reasons to go to Legoland Florida. Many theme park visitors coming to enjoy Disney or Universal also know about SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, but there’s another kid-friendly theme park located not too far away. That’s right — Legoland Florida is only a 45 minute drive from the attractions in Orlando, and here are the best reasons you should include it in your vacation plans…
#5 – Mini-land USA
There might be a teenager or adult out there that’s thinking “there’s nothing at Legoland for me.” Stop right there. Mini-land USA is one of the most unbelievable attractions at any theme park in Florida, and that includes the big boys.
Mini-land USA has small scale reproductions of America’s most recognizable cities and landmarks. You can see a LEGO version of Las Vegas, with stunning versions of the Luxor, Mirage and MGM hotels. There’s Washington DC with all the major monuments and recognizable buildings, like the White House (including the first family at the front). The skyscrapers and Times Square of New York City are here, as well as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Words can not describe the intricate detail that has been put into this area. It’s awe inspiring and has to be seen to be believed.
As a resident of Florida, I had a blast going around Mini-land USA and checking out the large area dedicated to my home state. The Kennedy Space Center, the Daytona speedway, Bok Tower, Key West, Downtown Tampa and even the antebellum mansions in the Panhandle are represented. I think this area may be my favorite part of any theme park, it’s that good.
And the topper? Now there’s a Star Wars area with one section dedicated to each individual Star Wars movie and another for the Clone Wars series. You want to see Tatooine, the ice planet Hoth, or Endor? It’s all here.
#4 – Apple Fries!
Universal Orlando’s butterbeer changed everything. From the minute that delicious drink was served to the first guests at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, getting food and drink at a theme park became less of a chore and more of an experience to look forward to. Disney gave us LeFou’s Brew and a new roasted Pork Shank when it opened Gaston’s Tavern in New Fantastyland. When Transformers: The Ride 3D opens at Universal Studios Florida in the coming months it will bring with it the Engeron drink, and the Simpsons expansion promises a fully realized Krusty Burger.
Legoland Florida has their own sweet treat that is exclusive to their park: Granny’s Apple Fries.
It’s Granny Smith apples, cut and cooked into a French fry shape, then dusted with cinnamon and sugar and served with a vanilla cream dipping sauce. I was skeptical at first, but was quickly going back for a second helping once I finished my first order! These little guys are very addicting, and because it’s based around a fruit we can all pretend it’s a healthy snack.
#3 – 4D Lego Movies
I’m a sucker for film-based rides in theme parks. Whether it’s Mickey’s Philharmagic at the Magic Kingdom, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Florida, or even the incredible IMAX movies at the Kennedy Space Center, there’s just something relaxing about being able to sit down in a dark, air conditioned room and watch a movie during a hectic visit to the parks. Throughout the day, at the Wells Fargo Fun Town Theater, Legoland Florida airs several 4D films.
We happened to catch a movie staring Clutch Powers, one of Lego’s signature characters who is very similar to Indiana Jones. Another film was set in a Lord Of The Rings-like period and based around an epic battle between our heroes and a skeleton army led by an evil wizard — basically every young boy’s dream world. I was surprised how well the story was told with almost zero dialogue.
#2 – All the details that create the Legoland world
One of my favorite things at both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando are all the hidden details throughout their parks. It’s this immersive world-building that allows the guest to leave the “real world” at the front gate and step into something entirely fantastical.
Legoland Florida is filled with these building blocks of theming that add so much to the experience. It’s one thing to walk through Mini-land USA and see the gigantic reproductions of the Vegas hotels or Times Square, but it’s another to see posters for the LEGO version of the Blue Man Group or the Broadway play Wicked.
Near one of the restrooms there is a full size replica of a plumber holding a toilet who makes jokes as guests walk by. There is another Lego person set up as an artist painting a picture titled “Legoland at Night” that is just a canvas painted black. Legoland is full of these little touches and defining experiences. (And Downtown Disney fans will find an old friend on a park bench.)
#1 – The most bricktacular photo collectible in any theme park
Guests love to take pictures, but only Legoland has the option of getting your family picture printed directly onto Lego bricks! Using technology exclusive to the Florida theme park, a Legoland photographer can get your family’s picture taken in front of several different areas in the park. Then you can pick which picture you want recreated in brick form. The collectable is purchased fully assembled and with another park exclusive, a Legoland Florida photographer mini-fig. After you get home the picture can be taken apart and reassembled to your heart’s content. This is definitely one of the most original pieces of merchandise I have come across in a theme park.
Another great option for guests who enjoy pictures is an Unlimited USB photo deal for $34.95. This gets you a USB drive that you can then load up with as many pictures as you want, including all five of the attractions that take your picture during the ride.
Honorable mention – dining options & pricing
The food selection is varied and quite enjoyable for a theme park setting, and they are very well priced. We thought the Fun Town Pizza and Pasta Buffet was a steal at $10.99 for adults and $6.99 for children. This included several types of pizza, pasta, bread sticks, and a full salad bar. You can’t go wrong here and it might be one of the best dining values on your Florida vacation.
That’s it for this edition of The Big 5. We’ll see you again soon!
Oh, by the way, if you like this post then you’ll really want to read OI Share: Lori shares her touring plan & insights with us after a fun-filled day at Legoland Florida.
Legoland Florida – photo gallery
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