Just 45 minutes south of Orlando, this resort has a lot to offer.
Legoland Entrance in Winter Haven, FL
Credit: Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

For most Southerners, the words “Florida” and “amusement park” mean one thing: Disney. But if you have done Disney World, there are other Florida resorts that kids will love and don’t require putting on mouse ears. Case in point: Legoland.

Legoland, which is located about 45 minutes south of Orlando in Winter Haven, is an ode to everyone’s favorite little building blocks. The amusement park and resort feels a bit like you’ve moved into the Lego movies with life-sized Lego characters roaming around and buildings made to look like they are constructed out of oversized Lego bricks. There’s two water parks, several on-site hotels, and rides for the whole family. In short, as The Lego Movie says at Legoland, “Everything is awesome!”

While Legoland was inspired by those ubiquitous plastic bricks, you don’t have to be a budding Lego Masterbuilder, an aspiring architect, or amateur construction contractor to enjoy the park. Like the best amusement parks, there is truly something for everyone.

Dragon Coaster at Legoland Resort Florida
Credit: Courtesy of Legoland Resort Florida
The Great LEGO Race Ride at Legoland Florida
Credit: Courtesy of Legoland Resort Florida

First, the rides. Younger kids will love the Coastersaurus, driving Lego cars around a track, flying Lego planes, and getting wet at the Duplo Splash Safari. Older kids will ride the indoor-outdoor coaster known as The Dragon, the kid-powered Technicycle, Ninjago’s The Ride, and Unikitty’s Disco Drop. Real thrillseekers will line up multiple times for the suspended coaster known as Flight School, the Lego Movie Masters of Flight, and the Great Lego Race with an optional virtual reality experience (in case reality isn’t terrifying enough).

Legoland Waterpark in Florida
Credit: Chip Litherland for LEGOLAND Florida

Florida is known for its warm weather, but If it’s a real scorcher, head to the Battle of Bricksburg and get completely soaked fending off Duplo invaders or spring for tickets to either of Legoland’s water parks.  While you do have to pay extra, if you’re in Florida in summer, it’s worth it float down the lazy river, get drenched by the Joker Soaker slide tower, or cool off in the Lego Wave Pool.

Miniland USA at Legoland Resort in Florida
Credit: Chip Litherland/Legoland Resort Florida

If you need to take a break from the rides before eating lunch at one of the park’s many, many restaurants, take a tour of Miniland to see impressive LEGO versions of classic landmarks. There are miniature New York skyscrapers, the Las Vegas strip, monuments from Washington DC, and even a Lego version of the Daytona Speedway. If looking at the work of the Lego masters inspires you to build your own, there are plenty of places throughout the park for Lego enthusiasts to construct their own Lego masterpieces.

Even the most ardent Lego fanatic may need a break from all those bricks, and the park is more than happy to provide a respite to those in need. You’ll find it in the park’s botanical garden, which date back to 1938. The old Cypress Gardens were a Florida institution and when they bought the property, Legoland did its best to preserve their beauty and history. The centerpiece of the horticultural masterpiece is a Banyan tree that was planted as a seedling back in 1939.

Legoland Hotel in Florida
Credit: Courtesy of Legoland Resort Florida

If you want to make a long weekend, there are three options for sleeping in Lego heaven. There’s the Legoland Hotel with its themed rooms and Lego décor and the Legoland Beach Retreat made up of bungalows that look like they were made out Lego bricks and filled with Lego-themed decorations. The Pirate Island Hotel is opening in April 2020 and promises swashbuckling adventures throughout the hotel, including the pirate-themed rooms, in-room treasure hunts, and plenty of places to walk the plank directly into the pool.

Legoland Hotel in Florida
Credit: Elaine Litherland/Legoland Resort Florida

While Legoland isn’t nearly as big as Disney or Universal that means it is easier to hit all the highlights in one day. Plus, the lines tend to be shorter, which is good news for anyone, but especially folks visiting with small kids.