A few weeks ago, we went to LEGOLAND Florida again for Spring Break. We’ve gone the past 3 years and enjoyed it every single time. This year, though, we decided to splurge and purchase one of the annual Awesomer Passes. This also allowed us to come back and get into the LEGOLAND Water Park a few days later. It was an interesting experience (and a bit underwhelming), but a little backstory first…
How Did LEGOLAND Water Park in Orlando Come to Be
Probably not well known, the LEGOLAND parks are not actually completely owned by the LEGO Group. It is a park owned by Merlin Entertainments, a British theme park company that owns 127 attractions, 19 hotels and 7 holiday villages in 24 countries. Among those attractions, are all of the LEGOLAND theme parks worldwide.
Now, the really interesting thing about the LEGOLAND Florida theme park, is that it wasn’t originally built as a LEGOLAND. It used to be Cypress Gardens.
If like me, you grew up in Florida, you remember Cypress Gardens. It was the total opposite of Disney World. Where Disney had tons of rides and attractions, Cypress Gardens was all about flowers, foliage and well… the amazing center piece, an ancient banyan tree that stood in the center of one of the sections of Cypress Gardens. Oh, and of course, there was the water-skiing show and southern belles (that’s a different post, but you can Google it.) Other than that, there wasn’t much else to entertain young kids.
In 2001, the park opened the Wacky Water Park expansion (later renamed to Splash Island), but with the September 11th terrorist attacks, it wasn’t enough to keep the park open. Several years (and several sales) later, in comes Merlin Entertainments…
Once Merlin Entertainments purchased the failing theme park, they revamped it into the LEGOLAND you know and love today.
How to Get to the LEGOLAND Water Park
If you haven’t been to the LEGOLAND theme park, I won’t spoil it for you. So let’s just talk about the LEGOLAND Water Park and why it’s not all up to the hype.
If you want to go to the LEGOLAND Water Park, you’ll need to purchase a ticket for LEGOLAND and add on the Water Park for an additional $20. You can’t buy just a ticket for the waterpark by itself. The original separate entrance to the waterpark was closed off when LEGOLAND was built. This means you must walk through the length of the amusement park just to get to the entrance of the water park. Which is why you get charged for a full ticket to the LEGOLAND theme park and only $20 to add on the waterpark.
This ensures you’re nice and hot by the time you get to the actual waterpark, but for people like myself who have knee issues, this is the last thing I wanted to do to start my day.
The most direct route is straight through the main entrance and crossing through Fun Town, Miniland, LEGO Technic and skirting the left side of LEGO City. Once you hit the LEGO driving area, take a left into what looks like a path into the gardens. Up a hill past a last roller coaster and you will be greeted by the mermaid (be careful with your electronics, her shells shoot streams of water):
And the sign map of the LEGOLAND Water Park:
Once you pass that, you’ll cross over the bridge for the Build-A-Raft river, to finally be greeted with the entrance to the theme park:
What You Can Expect in the LEGOLAND Water Park
The water park generally opens about an hour after the main park and the main park tends to open at 10am (9:30 if you have early entrance privileges), so we got there just shortly after 11 am. As you can see, there weren’t many people waiting to get in. The traffic for the day at the park was rather light and it was funny to find out later, most people at the park that day were from Atlanta. (This from an impromptu poll done by the cafe workers that day.) Shame we didn’t run into anyone we knew.
So this is where you will start seeing why the park may not be up to the hype.
To get a better idea of how the park is laid out, here’s a close up of the LEGOLAND Water Park map (courtesy of legolandphotos.com):
There are exactly 7 areas of entertainment in the park:
- DUPLO Splash Safari (D)
- Build-A-Raft River (F)
- Imagination Station (H)
- LEGO Wave Pool (I)
- Joker Soaker (J)
- Splash Out (K)
- Twin Chasers (L)
Only one of these areas was changed from the original park. The beach volleyball area in the Cypress Gardens version of the park was replaced with a DUPLO Splash Safari.
After you provide your tickets and walk in, to the right you’ll see the DUPLO Splash Safari:
And to the left, you’ll see the entrance to the Build-A-Raft lazy river:
(At this point, I put my camera away in a locker. With all the misting areas around the park, the last thing I wanted was to get my camera wet, so off it went.) But here are a few more photos of the other park rides and attractions, again, courtesy of legolandphotos.com:
My Beef with the LEGOLAND Water Park
So now that you’ve seen the park (minus a few amenities) in its entirety, here’s my beef:
It’s not just $20 to go to the waterpark, it’s actually $120!
The attendees at the main gate sell you what they park likes to call an “upgrade” for the water park to add onto your ticket. But what if all you wanted to do was go to the water park? That’s just not possible without paying for a full day LEGOLAND theme park ticket. This shouldn’t be advertised as a $20 ticket. It really isn’t.
For the price paid, there should be more rides.
As you can see there are a total of seven attractions. For two of those attractions, The Little Brick could definitely not use them. She was two big for one and two short for the other. This just left us with five attractions we could actually use. After three hours at the park, we had finished everything… and gone back to each ride a few more times. At this point, we decided it was time to pack up and head back home. There just wasn’t enough to keep us there all day and to warrant the $120 ticket price.
For the price paid, more of the smaller dining areas should be open.
While we were there, the only dining area open was the main one near the gate. All the other smaller dining areas were closed. So there were no snacks nor ice cream near the wave pool and beyond. If you wanted something to eat or drink, you had to go back to the main gate to get it. This meant trekking back past all the rides just to refuel.
There is no other way to get to the waterpark, but by walking through the regular park.
I cannot tell you how long the walk feels to get from the main gate of LEGOLAND to the entrance of the LEGOLAND Water Park. I saw somewhere on the Internet there were plans for a tram in 2012 that would take you from the entrance of the main park to the door of the waterpark. I wish they had gone through with those plans. My knees would have thanked them.
I certainly understand why the water park is not in high use. However, in their defense, it could also have been we visited during the park’s off season. Maybe it wasn’t hot enough for the nearby Florida residents to actually use the park. Because honestly, if I lived nearby, I would not hesitate to purchase an annual pass to take my kid to the waterpark for a few hours a day during the summer.
Yet, if you were visiting and had to pay the $120 to use the waterpark, I just don’t see it as a worthwhile investment. You’d be better off just visiting the main LEGOLAND park and then taking your kids to Wet ‘n Wild at $40 a pop. You would save money and have more to do!
Now don’t get me wrong. I really want to love the water park. It is LEGO-related after all! However, I just can’t get past the ticket price and the limited access. You’re asked to pay the full price of admission to the main theme park in order to get to a lesser section of it. Yes, you could try and do both parks in the same day, but in all honesty, if you don’t go during the off season, there’s no possible way you would be able to do both the waterpark and the regular theme park in one day.
Let’s be honest… a ticket to Disney, with its numerous attractions, costs you less than the ticket to go to the LEGOLAND Water Park. I just don’t see the value in it.
How about you? What do you think of the Legoland waterpark?