If you're headed to the Tampa Bay area this summer, here's a destination you won't want to miss. LEGOLAND Florida in Winterhaven (55 miles east of Tampa, 50 miles southwest of Orlando) officially opened its water park Memorial Day weekend. If this park is anything like it's cousin in southern California, it will be a huge hit.
My son and I spent the day at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, California, and I found it to be one of the most kid-friendly theme parks I've ever encountered. What I liked is that it's actually geared to young children ages 2 to 12. My son was 12 at the time of our visit, but he had a ball. One of his favorite attractions was Driving School, where kids get behind the wheel of a Lego car and motor around a miniature city, complete with traffic lights, signs, and lanes. Another fun one was a kid-powered fire truck ride that encouraged teamwork. And we marveled at Miniland USA, where cities like New York and Las Vegas are built from these colorful blocks. It's amazing.
The new Florida park is on the grounds of the old Cypress Gardens and covers more than 150 acres. The main park opened in October 2011, and features more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions. The water park is it's newest attraction and boasts wave rides, tube slides, and a huge beach. It is at the back of the park and has an additional admission fee. The main park offers four rollercoasters, but there's also a section with rides for preschoolers, and a restful garden area that pays homage to Cypress Gardens. You'll be amazed by the many Lego sculptures that dot the park — a testiment to the creative designers employed here. Kids get to exercise their own imaginations at a host of Lego building stations as well as stores at the park. Just be sure to shop before the park closes, when it often becomes standing-room only.
One-day pass: $75/adults, $65/age 3-12. Water park admission: $12. Save when you purchase online: $68/adults, $60/ages 3-12. Two-day pass: $$90/adults, $80/ages 3-12. Parking; $12/day. If you have family in the area, consider an annual pass: $179/adults, $149/ages 3-12. The park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Look for deals in the LEGO magazine.