In a ceremony full of LEGO bricks, LEGO sculptures, and VIPs, Merlin Entertainments officially announced the 2011 opening of LEGOland Florida. After spending a few years skulking around Central Florida considering various options, they settled on Cypress Gardens based on its rich history and the fact that it’s already got a lot of infrastructure, so time to opening could be kept as brief as possible.
That choice will bring over 1,000 jobs to Central Florida and potentially two million tourists to the Winter Haven area every year. All good things, and the fact that it will be opening in late 2011, means those economic benefits will be felt rather quickly.
Speaking of economics, Merlin is expecting to invest around $150 million upgrading the property. That may not seem like much for a theme park, but Merlin is planning to keep a lot of the existing infrastructure.
I’ve taken a map they handed out at the event and layered it over the existing Cypress Gardens property to see what it reveals. Keep in mind the Map is dated 2009, so some details may have changed. Click here to view the animated gif.
First, LEGOland isn’t following my suggestion of building in the existing parking lot. I understand their reasoning, cost savings, but they’re going to have to work to overcome some of the traffic flow problems the Cypress Garden property has.
LEGOland will be smaller than the previous Cypress Gardens Adventure Park was. However, when all the expansion areas are built out it would be approximately the same size.
It looks like they’ll be keeping the current park entrance and the current parking lots. The shops and restaurants just after the gate that was “craftsman village” will be the Town area. From there guests can proceed into the park. There is no access to the former zoo area. (Although that’s a good area to build their resort hotel in the future.)
There is a hub between Town, Imagination and Duplo Village. Again it looks like many of the same buildings will be kept. There were really no rides in these areas before. However, there was that theater. The map also shows they’ll keep the Butterfly Garden, the Mansion, and the mansion landscaping.
From Imagination you can proceed to Castle, Legoland Cabins, and Miniland (my favorite part of the CA park) – all the adjoining lands. I’m not sure if Miniland will stay where it is, as it currently overlays part of the existing gardens. However, that may not be the historic part. So, no problem in that case.
Miniland, aka the sculpture gardens, used to be one of the big traffic flow problems with Cypress Gardens. But it looks like LEGOland will solve that by allowing exit to the adjoining Legoland Cabins area and the ‘Extreme’ land, as well as the water ski stadium and botanical gardens.
From Legoland Cabins guests can navigate to Extreme and to Adventure. Both those lands have exits to Traffic land, which is the far end of the Legoland park. However, a walking path from Traffic will take guests to the Water Park. I’m hoping that LEGOland will be able to run the Water Park without forcing guests to walk-through the whole property. That is a huge problem of the current layout.
Now, on to what’s being saved. This is all based on the map. So things may change going forward. They announced they will be saving one of the wooden coasters and it looks like that will be Triple Hurricane. I don’t know if that means the Starliner was sold or if there are other problems with it. (It straddles two ‘lands’ on this map). If it hasn’t been sold, hopefully LEGOland will figure out some way to keep it, or to make sure it finds a good home in Florida.
The structures from the original Cypress Gardens park and water skiing show look like they’ll be kept too. One thing LEGOland has to do is totally renovate the interior of those buildings. They’re just disgusting, dark, dirty, and ugly. Other than that, no problems.
It looks like they’ll be keeping the Zamperla Spinning Wild Mouse coaster. This is nearly the identical coaster as Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They’re also keeping the water raft ride “Storm Surge.”
Looks like everything else will be new. They’re promising 50 shows and attractions. So LEGOland is going to be very packed with stuff.
LEGOland has previously announced a new park in Dubai, so this may actually be the company’s sixth location. However, so much of what was announced in Dubai has been put on hold, so maybe LEGOland has been too. That might be why they’re decided to make a move in Florida now.
(The map comes from here on Orlando United.)