|Images: Top, Martin Palicki. Below, Legoland Florida.
The golden brick is in place- LEGOLAND florida is officially open!
Press release from Merlin Entertainments:
Less than two years after announcing the purchase of the Cypress Gardens site in Winter haven, Florida, this weekend Merlin Entertainments (“Merlin”), is relaunching it as LEGOLAND® Florida – the fifth LEGOLAND in the world, second in the USA, and first to open since Merlin acquired the Parks in 2005.
LEGOLAND Florida is the 8th new attraction Merlin has opened in 2011 alone, and according to the company is its biggest development project to date. The 150 acre Park has more than
50 rides and attractions in 10 exciting themed zones; as well as botanical gardens; a lake – the setting for LEGOLAND’s shows; and a 70 year old spreading banyan tree at its heart.
Based on the globally popular LEGO brick the unique LEGOLAND concept is designed specifically to meet the needs of families with younger children – 2-12 – offering opportunities for children and adults to play together in every area of the Park. Merlin reports that advance sales of tickets and annual passes have been very strong underlining its unique positioning. Merlin is also confident that word of mouth will continue to build numbers very fast – both from the USA, and amongst the vast number of international visitors Florida welcomes every year.
A unique concept already proven very successful in the USA as well as Europe, and a multi-million dollar investment in the biggest family tourist centre in the world, LEGOLAND Florida opens with many advantages. The botanical gardens have long been a popular location for millions of visitors, and its central Florida location is approx 45 minutes from both Orlando and Tampa. Merlin has also taken advantage of significant investment in infrastructure on the site by the previous owners as well as its own proven track record and development expertise to open this major theme park in what the operator says was half the time and a significantly lower cost, than any other.
The Park is said to be a significant catalyst for other investment into the Central Florida area creating more than 1,000 new jobs directly while boosting the Florida economy through the use of local contractors and suppliers.
In line with its resort growth strategy for all its theme parks (with LEGOLAND Florida as the 11th to date), Merlin also has a continuous investment programme planned for the Park – with a waterpark scheduled to open in 2012, and the addition of accommodations and other second gate attractions from the Merlin portfolio over time.
This can be seen in action at the other LEGOLAND Parks – in California Merlin has opened a SEA LIFE aquarium and a waterpark alongside the main theme park in the last two years, and a hotel is due to open in 2013. In the UK a hotel will open at LEGOLAND Windsor in time for the Olympics next year; Atlantis (a £5m ride development opened this year), allows visitors to explore the wonders of SEA LIFE from a ‘deep sea’ LEGO yellow submarine; LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark boasts a wonderful themed hotel, its own take on SEA LIFE and has just announced its biggest development ever…involving penguins and a ground breaking ‘pink knuckle’ ride…..; while in LEGOLAND Germany, Merlin has built not a hotel but a themed holiday village offering the kind of accommodation German visitors love but with a LEGOLAND twist.
Also in 2012, Merlin will be opening its 6th LEGOLAND Park – LEGOLAND® Malaysia – well under development and scheduled to opening just under 12 months. Projects are also under discussion in Dubai, Korea and at least two other major new markets for the Group.
Nick Varney, Chief Executive of Merlin Entertainments, said:
“LEGOLAND Florida is one of the most exciting and important projects Merlin has ever developed. It provides a unique opportunity for us; Florida is the biggest family tourist centre in the world; and as a result of this project we have already agreed to be part of a major new retail/leisure plan for Orlando bringing 3 more of our ‘midway’ brands to the area. Having spent some time here over the last few months I have witnessed the hard work and enthusiasm of everyone working on the Park, and I know the team here is as proud of what has been achieved as I am. It is quite a stunning Park – beautiful, exotic, colourful and above all fun! I have no doubt that visitors are going to be knocked out by what they see – I know I am! “
LEGOLAND Florida is Merlin’s twelfth attraction to open in the USA – with three more already in development for 2012.
1. LEGOLAND Florida
The Beginning – boasting Island in the Sky, a 30.5m rotating platform ride with a 360 view of the entire park, plus one of the biggest LEGO shops in the world where, uniquely, visitors can create their own ‘mini figures’ (now the best selling toy in the UK).
Fun Town – offering a first hand look at how LEGO bricks are made, plus a two-storey carousel with LEGO-themed horses and 4D movie theatre.
LEGO Kingdoms – a medieval area taking kids back to a time of knights, princesses and dragons – includes The Dragon steel rollercoaster and The Royal Joust where children can storm the castle riding LEGO-themed horses.
Miniland USA – a US version of the ever popular Minilands in Billund, Denmark and Windsor. Features famous landmarks from cities including Las Vegas, Washington DC., New York City and San Francisco.
Land of Adventure – a fun-filled zone to explore, with Coastersaurus, a wooden coaster running in and around a giant LEGO dinosaur, Lost Kingdom Adventure, an Egyptian-themed dark ride and Safari Trek with amazingly life-like LEGO animals.
LEGO Technic – the most ‘intense’ zone in the park, where courageous youngsters can brave the LEGO TECHNIC Test Track Coaster and zip in and out of waves on LEGO jet skis.
LEGO City – is a scaled down town complete with Driving School, Boating School, Flight School and the LEGO City Rescue Academy.
Imagination Zone – the most hands-on section of the park emphasising the product’s roots of exploration and play.
DUPLO Village – ideal for tots who get to fly a plane, drive a car or explore a whole town.
Pirates’ Cove rests on the picturesque shores of a lake, and stars swashbuckling LEGO ‘mini-fig’ pirates in a live-action stunt show.
2. Prices and Opening
Tickets will be priced at £144 for a family (2 adults / 2 children), children under 3 go free.
The park will be open 12 months a year with selected closure dates throughout peak period. Standard opening times will be from 10am to 5pm with longer opening hours operating during peak periods with closing time extended to 7pm
Shuttle services to the park will run from Orlando Premium Outlets
‘Bed and Brick’ packages are available offering family-friendly hotels in Central Florida and can be booked via www.legoland.com
3. MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, by the end of 2011 Merlin will operate 78 attractions, six hotels/two holiday villages in 17 countries and across four continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 44 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 16,000 employees. Merlin Entertainments operates the following attractions – SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The EDF Energy London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park, Earth Explorer, Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney, Sydney Tower Eye and SKYWALK, Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter Underwater World, Oceanworld Manly and Hamilton Island Wildlife Park. All brands which are distinctive, challenging and innovative – and which have great potential for growth in the future. Visit www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information
4. Merlin attractions in USA: LEGOLAND Florida; LEGOLAND California; SEA LIFE – Carlsbad, Minneapolis, Dallas Fort Worth, Phoenix; Madame Tussauds – New York, Hollywood, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.; LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago; Dallas Fort Worth. Opening 2012: SEA LIFE Kansas City; LEGOLAND Discovery Center – Atlanta; Kansas City.