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Legoland Florida Discussion Thread

P. 31: Peppa Pig mini theme park coming in 2022!

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Central Florida will be home to the world's largest Legoland by the end of 2011, Merlin Entertainments said Thursday.


The park, which is planned for the former site of the historic Cypress Gardens, is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs. The historical gardens will stay intact, according to Nick Varney, Merlin's chief executive officer.


Varney announced the details of Florida's newest theme park at a news conference attended by government and tourism officials, including Florida Governor Charlie Crist.


Varney kicked off the event by calling Legoland Florida's "worst-kept secret," referring to the fact that details of today's announcement leaked out Wednesday, after an email surfaced confirming that it was indeed Legoland that was coming to Polk County.


Legoland, Varney said, "is without question one of the strongest brands in the world."


The Florida park is Legoland's second U.S. location, after Legoland California in Carlsbad, Calif. The Florida Park is part of a broader push into the U.S. for Merlin.


"We see it as a big development market for us," Varney said.


Merlin Entertainments said it plans to make a "substantial investment" in the Polk County attraction. Governor Charlie Crist went further, saying the company will put hundreds of millions of dollars into the project.


In exchange for building a Legoland in Winter Haven, Merlin Entertainments will receive $5 million in incentives from Polk County over a 10 year period, plus road improvements. The package includes $150,000 per year for job creation and $350,000 per year in marketing support, sources said.


"Obviously in these challenging economic times, these jobs are fabulous," said Florida Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales.




Merlin Entertainments (“Merlin”), Europe’s No 1 and the world’s second largest visitor attraction operator, announced today a multi-million dollar investment in the biggest family tourist centre in the world with the planned opening of LEGOLAND® Florida.


Merlin has purchased the historical Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven Florida from property investment company Land South Group and will open LEGOLAND Florida on the site at the end of 2011. The deal to buy the 145-acre site includes the freehold on the current theme park and waterpark as well as an operating lease in perpetuity on the historic botanical gardens. Merlin plans a significant multi-million dollar investment over a number of years, up to and beyond opening, in what will be the biggest LEGOLAND to date. In line with the group’s “resort” strategy for its theme parks this is likely to include both accommodation and the addition of further branded attractions from the Merlin portfolio. This will build on the $100m invested over the last few years in improved infrastructure on the site.


A proven concept


The Florida development will be Merlin’s second LEGOLAND Park in North America and will play an important role in the group’s continued growth in the US. It will provide a full-day, year round, theme park experience geared towards families with children between the ages of two and 12. Its design will mirror the successful concept of the four existing LEGOLAND Parks in Denmark, Germany, UK and California. However, as with the other four, it will also have its own unique “twist” reflecting its stunning location and adding a Florida flavour.


The decision to open a LEGOLAND Park in Florida follows considerable research in the area by Merlin over a number of years. This indicated a high recognition of the LEGOLAND Park brand and a 90%+ intention to visit by families in this target market. The issue therefore has been to find the ideal site. Cypress Gardens has long been a popular location for millions of visitors. Merlin believes its central Florida location, approx 30 minutes from Orlando and also close to Tampa, is the perfect site for a leisure brand as powerful and compelling as LEGOLAND.


The development follows the outstanding success of LEGOLAND® California which opened in 1999. LEGOLAND California was recently voted the country’s best children’s theme park by Amusement Today for the sixth year running. It is also recognised as the fastest growing theme park in the US, enjoying an increase in visitor numbers year-on-year, including 6% in 2009.


LEGOLAND Florida will be the biggest LEGOLAND Park ever opened and will offer a unique mix of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including spectacular LEGO models and other interactive elements for the whole family to enjoy together.


The Park is expected to create more than 1,000 new jobs by opening; as well as boosting the Florida economy through the use of local contractors for development.


Nick Varney, Chief Executive of Merlin Entertainments, said: “LEGOLAND Florida will be one of the most exciting and important projects Merlin has ever developed. It is a unique opportunity for us; Florida is the biggest family tourist centre in the world. We have been looking for the right site there for some time and in Winter Haven we plan to create one of the best and certainly most beautiful, theme parks in the world. LEGOLAND California has already proven how much US families love the unique LEGOLAND concept. Now we are bringing that fun and experience to a much wider audience - the millions of US and international visitors who come to Florida every year.”


John Jakobsen, Managing Director of Merlin’s LEGOLAND Parks Operating Group, said: “LEGOLAND Parks are based on the universally popular LEGO Toy products and offer families the opportunity to let their imaginations run free and become completely involved in LEGO Experiences. A LEGOLAND Park is the ultimate platform to showcase the LEGO Values and the endless possibilities of the LEGO idea. LEGOLAND Florida will add a completely unique, exciting dimension and experience for families visiting the area.”


Charlie Crist, Florida Governor, said: “We are delighted at this news. We are extremely happy that the future of Cypress Gardens is secure. LEGOLAND is one of the most exciting names in family attractions and a welcome new addition to Florida.”


Bob English, Chairman of Polk County Commissioners, said: ”We are looking forward to working closely with Merlin. Their record speaks for itself. All of us at both local and State level really welcome their exciting plans for the site, the jobs this project will create and their commitment to the County long term.”


Merlin Entertainments is firmly establishing itself in the important US market. When it opens, LEGOLAND Florida will be the company’s thirteenth attraction here. It joins LEGOLAND California; SEA LIFE Carlsbad; Madame Tussauds – New York, Hollywood, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.; LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Chicago; and the Underwater Adventures Aquarium in Minneapolis, all of which are already successfully operating. Four more attractions are also in development - SEA LIFE Phoenix; LEGOLAND Discovery Centres in Dallas Fort Worth and New Jersey and the Pepsi Globe observation wheel in New Jersey.


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Good call by "DenDen" on the Governor throwing money towards road improvements. Granted he did not give any specifics, but I think it will address at least some of the problems you guys fear exist due to poor road conditions.


Really exciting news for Florida! However, I hope this doesn't turn the California LegoLand into the ugly stepchild...

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The biggest LEGOLAND yet? Didn't quite expect that, but then again, it makes sense.


Merlin has the money, proven success with it's other Legoland properties, the opportunity to purchase great Central Florida property, and the commitment of local and state government to help enhance and promote it.....yeah, not much downside there.


I suppose if they had any thoughts of starting small in this market, it would be like trying to open a B&B on the Vegas Strip.


I'm very happy from all that I've read so far. And I'm especially happy that they seem to understand the importance of preserving the gardens.

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The biggest LEGOLAND yet? Didn't quite expect that, but then again, it makes sense.


Wow, I missed that whole "world's largest Legoland" bit and went right into counting bricks like an idiot.


With improved roads and big scale, this should do rather well. As Shane mentioned earlier, there are many lads who have zero interest in Disney but a huge interest in Legos.

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^^^^One article I read talked about how they just finished widening US-27 to six lanes- that should help...shouldn't it?


Yea, they spent the last couple of years on that. ...Though it's not all of US-27.



Was the Starliner ever officially removed after Cypruss closed?


It's still standing, along with the other woodie. Also, it seems some of the rides will remain, now which ones only Merlin knows at this time.

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^Like me


Seriously though, I can see this working out great for the market. I can see many families with small both boys and girls going to Disney for a week and taking one of those days to make a side trip to Legoland. I know if I was a young boy again and had to deal with going to Disney (sorry to all Disney fans out there, but I really don't like Disney and would gladly visit Universal Studios any day before going back to DisneyWorld) I would be fine if I got to have a day at Legoland.

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Even though this stretch of US 27 is far from the most ideal street to get to the park,it at least has some businesses and restaurants and is not a total country road.I've done the drive many times the whole way from Miami to Orlando on US 27 cause I get bored with the Turnpike and I-95 and in all honesty US 27 from Winter Haven to I-4 is "Magnificent" compared to the dilapidated towns and empty fields you'll see around Lake Okechobee until approximately Sebring which is probably the first decent town you'll see on the whole trip up US 27.

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One article I read talked about how they just finished widening US-27 to six lanes- that should help...shouldn't it?

If they were to do something like make a couple lanes "express" lanes or something, almost how the Jersey Turnpike is for part of it or the express lanes on I-91 here in So Cal that goes to Riverside County, that would help a lot.


Of course I know nothing about road works projects and can only make suggestions based on what I've seen other places.


The biggest issue, IMO, getting out to Cypress Gardens is all those little towns with stoplights you have to go through.


It's like having to get to Kennywood from the I-376 Swissvale Exit, but instead of it being 3.6 miles of that crap, it's 22 miles.


Anyone who has driven to Kennywood knows exactly what I'm talking about.


US 27 from Winter Haven to I-4 is "Magnificent" compared to the dilapidated towns and empty fields you'll see around Lake Okechobee

Right. But most of the tourists that will flock to the area will only know of I-4 and how insanely easy it is to get to Disney, Universal, and Sea World from that interstate. Your comparison is moot unless the park assumes that only Florida locals will be visiting Legoland.



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I never went to Cypress Gardens but another Legoland couldn't hurt. Merlin are putting on a really good show at present. I wonder if this could end up as the new home for the Jungle Coaster from Legoland Windsor which I think is being taken apart either this off season or the next.

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Two side comments: I was just reading an article at Yesterland.com where Disney offered bus tours to Cypress Gardens back in the 1970's. Also in regards to US 27- when I worked at Disney back in the mid-1990's I lived at US 27 and 192 and all that was there was my apartment complex. When I was looking up Cypress Gardens on Google Maps earlier I looked at that area as well and was surprised how built up it is!

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Well Central Florida is now a Duopoly:



Now Disney will have to keep its game up, because it now only has to worry about one competitor now.


But this is great news! As opposed to my previous post, I now actually think that it will be a great way to keep the gardens around. (and Starliner).


What I thought was bizarre was this though:




I dont know what the deals are between this store and Disney, but im sure Disney does not want their Lego store to go away, leaving a gap over in marketplace...

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LA Times 11:40am EST: "Merlin plans a multimillion-dollar expansion of the Florida property to turn the shuttered site into a multiday resort, promising to add hotels and attractions from its other holdings, which include the SeaLife Aquarium, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the London Eye Ferris wheel."


Okay...a Ferris Wheel the height of the London Eye out in the middle of "nowhere," makes about as much sense as the Giant Wheel at Darien Lake.


I don't read that as "they will be adding a giant Ferris wheel." But, having been to Cypress Gardens, the best part of which (even after they added all the coasters) was the flying island, I will say that there's plenty to look at there from up in the air, and I do hope they have something "observational" in the park.

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I am very confident with Merlin taking over, I just hope everything turns up well. This is a very unique park coming to Florida since there is nothing like it here. Legoland will have Tampa/St Pete Orlando and Winter Haven supporting it so that should be good. What keeps the other Orlando parks and BGA alive during the not so busy season are the Brazilian, Argentinian and British tourist. The Brazilians and Argentinians go in a group that is much older and prefer thrill rides. I think that is one of the problems that legoland may have. How to attract people during off peak season. I have confident in them, it seems that with them, CG will finally be securely open for a long time

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Does anybody know if they actually started to dismantle Starliner? I looked on RCDB and it said defunct !!! I saw that John Peck had found the liquidation of the other rides, but not Starliner. I really hope someone gives this little coaster a new home or at least Legoland should keep it, but only as a land mark attraction, no themeing needed.

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The article said they will be keeping one of the two wood coasters,so it's looking like the Starliner is probably the one going away since I've heard nothing of a sale of the Triple Hurricane.Too bad since my last visit to Cypress Gardens was pre-Starliner so I might never get a chance to ride it.The Triple Hurricane was pretty decent though,small but a fun little ride.

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