I’d normally be skeptical about another theme park opening in Florida. Does the state really need another one? But, when I saw the announcement from Merlin Entertainments, I changed my mind very quickly. After all, every city should have a LEGOLAND®. By the end of 2011, Winter Haven, Florida will open in this new attraction, which will sit on 145 acres that is currently home to Cypress Gardens. The development will involve a “significant multi-million dollar investment over a number of years” and eventually will include accommodations and other branded attractions along with the theme park. When the project is finished, this will be the world’s largest LEGOLAND.
The park is intended to mirror the LEGOLAND Parks already up and running in Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom and California. But, like the others, it won’t be a mere copy. The Winter Haven park will have its own “twist” that reflects its Florida home. The theme park will be only 30 minutes from Orlando, making it easy to integrate into a vacation that includes the usual theme parks, and it’s also close to Tampa. Preliminary research showed that vacationers were extremely likely to visit the park. And, the track record of the California park, which has been voted the best children’s theme park by Amusement Today for six years in a row, making this a smart move for Merlin.
%Gallery-83789%Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, calls LEGOLAND Florida “one of the most exciting and important projects Merlin ahs ever developed.” He explains, “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.”
The new LEGOLAND park will have more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including LEGO models and interactive experiences. It’ll also bring more than 1,000 new jobs to the area by the time it opens. This is music to the ears of the state’s governor, Charlie Crist, who says, “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.”