Saturday, May 26, 2012, LEGOLAND Florida officially opened its new Water Park to the public. Earlier in the week, Adventures by Daddy was invited to a media preview of the park, and Orlando resident J.L. Knopp attended on our behalf. Want to know if Central Florida’s newest theme park attraction is worth your family’s vacation dollar? Continue reading for J.L.’s thoughts and impressions.
Editor’s Note: “Adventures by Daddy” is pleased to welcome J.L. Knopp to the site. J.L. is an Orlando, FL resident, a writer, Disney lover, and mom. This is her first post for “Adventures by Daddy,” and hopefully not the last. Please see her bio below.
Article and Photos by J.L. Knopp
Brick by brick…not only was Rome built this way but LEGOLAND Florida was as well. The difference is that in LEGOLAND the bricks are small and plastic with circular protrusions on top of them. It’s probably also safe to say that–for an irrational reason–most Americans find anything made with these little building blocks a tad more fascinating than conventionally-built stuff. Sorry, Rome. I confess. I am one of those people.
The most recent addition to LEGOLAND Florida is its water park, having opened its gates this past week to welcome happy parents and young children into a brightly-colored water world. When I was invited to go to the LEGO media event, it took me a whole 3 seconds to decide this was an invitation that I would accept. I mean . . . who doesn’t want to slip and slide with a brand that is unquestionably an American staple?
As the mother of a 10 year-old LEGO die-hard and his two siblings, I was all a flutter about “testing the waters.” I made the hour-long trek down I-4, and I fantasized about how I might immerse my brood in LEGO H2O while I drove. I envisioned splashing playfully with my 1st grader in the 583,000-gallon wave pool. I imagined engaging in aqua warfare with my LEGO-obsessed son in the Joker Soaker playground. I daydreamed about floating in 1,000-foot lazy river with my cool pre-teen. My anticipation was great, and my expectations were high. Apparently, they were too high.
Don’t cringe. This is not going to become a LEGO-bashing banquet. It is hard to go wrong with water, slides and sunshine. I am certain that my children and I would return from such an excursion with tanned cheeks and smiling faces, for the water park was enjoyable. However, there is one glaring reason that my family’s hydro-frolicking fancies will not ever take place there. It is not worth its price.
A parent has to purchase a LEGOLAND Florida theme park ticket and upgrade it with the water park option for entrance to the water park. There is no separate ticket for the water park itself. You get the theme park AND the water park, or you get no water park at all. This forces the parental hand to give-up $87/adult and $77/kid (ages 3-12) for a single-day experience. That’s a hefty price to pay, especially for large families, and–in this instance–I take issue with it. Here is why:
The theme park and water park combination essentially requires a two-day ticket which brings your expense up to $97/adult and $87/kid (ages 3-12).
This isn’t because there is “so much to do.” I imagine a very rigid itinerary with efficient timing of attractions could possibly squeeze both parks into a single day. But packing for a day in a theme park is a far cry different than packing for a day in a water park. One has to prepare for two very different types of experiences, and that changes mommy into a pack mule. I don’t know about you, but this mommy doesn’t like “packing” like a mule because then she eventually displays other mule-like characteristics (like braying at her children).
I’ll admit that there is a way around this. Lockers can be rented at the water park, ranging in price from $5-$12, but that is on top of your already jacked ticket price [and I haven’t even mentioned typical theme park food prices, towel rental fees, and the cost of a reserved cabana if you want your liquid LEGO to be luxurious]. My wallet feels squeezed at the mere thought of it for my family of five. That being said, I concede that I am willing to put down the almighty dollar for my kiddos should the occasion prove to be unforgettable. Therein lies the rub–there was no such proof. This brings me to my next point.
I was expecting an experience that was uniquely LEGO.
This was not that experience. Possibly the greatest area in which the park was lacking was theming. I expected to see great LEGO monuments towering over me, making me feel as if I had entered a world where LEGO had breathed life into everything. After all, in Downtown Disney the huge LEGO statues clog the streets with the crowds they draw. But this is LEGOLAND! Shouldn’t I feel more awe-inspired by architectural LEGO feats here than I do when I visit the LEGO sea serpent in Downtown Disney? Sadly, there was nothing akin to a distinctly gigantic LEGO-built sea serpent in LEGOLAND water park. The closest the park came to creating that was with it’s Joker Soaker play area which caught the eye and had a few LEGO creations interjected amongst the chutes and ladders. I kept asking myself, “Why only this?”
Rather than a LEGO-inspired Atlantis that you would expect for $87, I was placated by signs with LEGO references and an occasional knee-high LEGO citizen placed on a walkway. Honestly, that might have sufficed if I had been able to engage in activities that were LEGO in nature. However, this only panned out minimally.
I did find a water table located near the wave pool. It was colorful. It was cute. It had a cascading waterfall, and it had LEGO pieces. The three children who happened to notice it seemed to really enjoy it. It was distinctly LEGO. There should have been more.
The most LEGO-esque attraction was the Build-a-Raft River. The tubes came equipped with a LEGO base on each side and LEGO pieces floated in the current. The idea was to grab large LEGO bricks as they drifted to create a LEGO watercraft. It is true that I nearly capsized every time I reached for said bricks, practically defeating the purpose of laziness, but no matter! Credit shall be given where credit is due. When I stepped into that waterway, I appreciated the concept. Someone had succeeded in finding a fun way to combine the LEGO experience with a water-themed attraction. They need to do it again.
All of this is not to say that the LEGOLAND water park was a bad experience. It was a great experience. I just don’t feel it was a very unique experience. There are other water parks with water slides and wave pools which my kids would equally enjoy at a much lower cost. If I am going to pay that kind of money to interact with the LEGO brand, I need to feel like I died and went to LEGO heaven. Adversely, the most rapturous feeling I had came from the cold water which made me want to jump out of my skin.
Bio: J.L. Knopp is an Orlando, Florida resident, theme park expert, mom, and creator of The Disney Driven Life (DDL). DDL is a blog commandeered by J.L. for fans who want to learn and find solidarity with others who incorporate Disney into their lifestyle.
Editor: Thanks to J.L. Knopp for this review. Disclosure – J.L. Knopp received complimentary admission from LEGOLAND to cover this media preview for Adventures by Daddy, but all opinions expressed are her own. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.