Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Comparing Stays at Legoland Florida

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Comparing Stays at Legoland Florida

Article excerpt

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - When Legoland Florida opened on the former site of Cypress Gardens in 2011 it didn't have a hotel. Now it has two.

The Legoland Hotel opened in 2015 and new for this summer there's Legoland Beach Retreat.

Which is the better choice? It depends on what you're willing to spend (Legoland Hotel is more expensive and located at the theme park entrance), and how much convenience you're willing to sacrifice (the less expensive Legoland Beach Retreat is a short drive from the theme park behind the husk of an abandoned K-Mart store).

Staying at either location includes a free buffet breakfast - the buffet at Legoland Hotel had more options - and both hotels have pools, but Beach Retreat's pool appeared to be larger with more oversize Lego bricks floating in the water for children to build with.

Legoland Hotel

A raucous-for-kids atmosphere courses through the lobby of the Legoland Hotel, especially at 8 p.m. when it's time for the nightly pajama party that winds kids up just before bedtime.

But it's a pretty sweet location for Lego-obsessed kids anytime of day thanks to giant pits filled with Legos in several lobby locations that are available for free-building. Lego characters also show up from time-to- time to meet and greet guests.

Hotel guests get the opportunity to sign up for a Master Model Builder Workshop (spots in the class are limited; first come, first serve), where a Legoland employee walks students through building a small Lego creation they get to keep (on our visit, everyone built a small Lego race car).

The elevator turns into a party zone, too, with a disco ball, light projections and music that activates as the elevator makes its journey to and from guest room floors.

Each room in the hotel has one of four themes - pirate, kingdom (knights), adventure (Egyptian archaeology) and friends (purple and pink predominate) - and each room is decked out in style to match that theme, including Lego creations that decorate the walls.

Our kingdom room had a crown-wearing rat, snail, frog, butterfly and ladybug made out of Lego bricks adorning walls wallpapered to resemble the interior of a stone castle.

Each room also includes a treasure hunt with a small bag of Lego toys at its conclusion inside a safe. Our kids loved the treasure hunt.

Legoland Beach Retreat

A quieter setting on the shore of Lake Dexter - fencing between the resort and lake is in place to keep alligators out, but posted alligator warning signs are also present - the Beach Retreat is made up of about a dozen coves, each with four-to- eight duplex bungalows surrounding a small playground at the cove's center.

The rooms at Beach Retreat seem smaller and cheaper - more wallpapered images of Lego Minifigs, fewer actual Lego creations decorating the walls. …

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