Summer is almost upon us. Is already upon us? Who can keep track. It’s hot. To keep the heat at bay, the Central Florida area has no shortage of theme park options to splish and splash away the summer doldrums. Before you finalize which water park is best for you and your family, I’d like to make the case for LEGOLAND Florida Water Park in fabulous Winter Park…I mean Garden…I mean Haven? Winter Haven.
The LEGOLAND Florida Resort bills itself as a two-day experience and their water park certainly makes a good case for that. It’s a decent-size park. It’s maybe not a full 8-hour experience but you can definitely enjoy the majority of a day there. If you are a first time visitor to the LEGOLAND Florida Resort, I would definitely advise against trying to squeeze both parks into the same day.
Shall we dive, pun intended–but seriously–don’t dive, into some useful, and I hope, hugely entertaining information about LEGOLAND Florida Water Park?
All right. You’ve made the 40-minute (let’s be honest, 1 hour) drive from Tampa or Orlando. You’re all parked in the general lot. You’ve double checked your supplies: towels, sunscreen, small cooler (very small), change of clothes, snacks, dirigibles, air hockey table; wait, that’s an old moving list.
The point is, you are now ready to get soaked and relax under an umbrella. Well, you may want to make sure you have some sneakers to go with your flip-flops because you are now about to embark on a march that would make a penguin go, “Man, that’s a long march.”
There is no dedicated parking area for the water park so you must enter through the front gate of the main LEGOLAND park and make your way to the back right of the park—the WAY back right. There are multiple routes but I’d suggesting sticking to your left and either cutting diagonally through Miniland/Star Wars or going past Miniland on the left and then cutting through the Lego Technic area. Don’t make the mistake of going right and trudging through Duplo, Lego Kingdoms, Land of Adventure, Mount. Doom, the Florida Everglades, and then, finally, Lego City.
Like any theme park visit, being at gate opening is a wise decision. The water park generally opens a half-hour after the main park. There is actually a pretty decent amount of shaded seating but why leave it to chance? Arrive early, plant your flag Tom Cruise-style from the movie Far Away, and get in some early, crowd free enjoyment.
In my mind, the water park is broken into three areas that get gradually more grown-up oriented as you make your way deeper into the park. When you first enter and get past the lockers and burger restaurant, you’ll come to the most family friendly area of the water park.
On the right is a shallow Duplo pool area with two very tame slides. Any child under 10 should have fun in this area but it’s especially nice for the toddlers.
There is, at least to me, an odd little sandy area of beach chairs and cabanas carved out next to the Duplo splash pool. I don’t think I’ve ever once stepped in to this sand. I’ll save the amazingly abrasive and fun experience of hot sand between my toes for when it’s absolutely necessary, like going to an actual beach.
Across from the Duplo area is the entrance to Build-a-Raft lazy river. The rafts come in singles and doubles and are appointed with areas to attach large, heavy rubber Legos. The large Legos don’t fit as well as their smaller, traditional brethren but they mostly get the job done.
Done floating around like a Hobbit in a wine barrel (double bonus points to author for second LOTR reference), it’s time to take a trip over the Bridge of Sore Feet Sighs, aka, the arched bridge over the lazy river, to get to the rest of the water park.
After surviving the bridge, you’ll see the majority of the seating options before you. If you are going to focus on the wave pool for the day, this will be a good area to set up. If you plan on spending most of the time chasing your little ones around the Joker Soaker, I’d recommend the seating to the left. Seating actually wraps around the Joker Soaker area so don’t give up on finding a shaded area.
The wave pool is gentle as these things go. The waves come every 20 minutes or so and unless you go all the way into the deep end, they are very manageable, even novice swimmers. Plenty of life jackets are available for children and if you are at all anxious about your child, I’d wrap them up in one. Plenty of lifeguards are surveying the wave pool at all times as well.
The newly opened Coast Guard themed, Build-a-Boat is a fun little area in front of the wave pool. Children, or ultra-competitive parents, can grab a boat shell, build it up with Duplo bricks, and launch it down the meandering race course to see whose boat reigns supreme. The Build-a-Boat area is under a nice canopy of shade as well. The canopy is painted like an upside down Coast Guard boat, which is amusing if not also a little alarming. I guess they hit some rough seas.
Before venturing further in my tour, let’s stop for some food. And by stop, I mean trudging back over the bridge towards the entrance where their main quick service restaurant is stationed. Here you’ll find a pretty traditional fare of burgers and chicken strips. I’d recommend eating before noon as the line can get quite long. There are other stations for snacks here and there but their hours and menus vary.
Done with lunch? Shall we go back over the bridge? Yes? Yay! The Joker Soaker splash pool is what I consider the heart of the park. From the center of the pool arises a structure with multiple slides, waterspouts, water cannons, and the named-for Joker waiting for you atop the stairs.
The slide exits can be a bit confusing so make sure to keep a close eye on your children as they may go in one way and come out in a different area. Also, enter the structure at your own peril. Don’t think you can escort your kids through the different levels without getting completely soaked yourself. Even if you study the devilish water sprays for hours, you can never account for the 6-year-old waiting to spray you from above as you wait in line for a slide.
Past the Joker Soaker area are the more traditional slides you might be used to seeing at a bigger water park like Typhoon Lagoon or Wet-n-Wild. The first staircase leads up to a pair of raft slides that twist down into a small pool. One of the slides is open air and the other is enclosed. These are very family-friendly; if you don’t count the heart attack dad will have climbing the stairs. I think these are a great introduction to “bigger” slides for an anxious child. Make sure to check height requirements.
Finally, at the end of the water park is their tallest structure that houses the three steepest slides at the park. None of the slides are going to give you the ultimate wedgy but they will definitely be intimidating for the less adventurous.
Overall, LEGOLAND Florida Water Park is a great mid-tier park. It doesn’t really measure up to the all day experiences that Walt Disney Disney and SeaWorld offer but, then again, it is going for the younger crowd. Keep your expectations in check, put on your walking shoes, and your family should have a pretty amazing day of watery fun in the summer sun.
Have you been to the LEGOLAND Florida Water Park? Tell us what you liked and didn’t like about it in the comments below.