Merlin Announces Legoland Florida-Full Photo Report


Ever since the rumor of Merlin Entertainment buying Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida began to float around, I knew something great would become of it. The rumor was true. Merlin did infact purchase Cypress Gardens, and today they annouced Cypress Gardens would become LegoLand Florida.

Dick and Julie Polk built Cypress Gardens, which opened as botanical gardens in 1936, making the park 74 years old.

Olee Christiansan, a construction worker who worked on homes, left to make children’s toys and later invented the Lego. Thus, the future birth of LegoLand.

LegoLand will hopefully be very successful and will carry on the work of Dick and Julie Polk. Below I have summed up the press conference to bring you information about what will be happening with the park and its attractions.

What is LegoLand?
LegoLand is a park where children and their parents can come out to the park and interact with other guests. It’s a unique concept that gives children the “hands on” and “minds on” engagement. Families will be immersed in a park themed to the famous Lego. Each LegoLand park contains a “mini land”, which contains recreations of famous buildings (made of Legos) of the surrounding area. LegoLand is geared toward Children giving them a hands on learning experience. The age group LegoLand aims for is between two and twelve. There are a total of five LegoLand parks in the world, Florida being the fifth. Other parks are located in Denmark, The United Kingdom, Germany, and California.

Who is Merlin Entertainment?
Merlin Entertainment is a UK based company which owns 60 theme parks in 13 countries on 3 continents. They also own 29 SeaLife centers. Manatee Swords, a famous wax exhibitions, one of which opened over 200 years ago is also owned by Merlin. In the United States, Merlin currently owns LegoLand California, Indoor version of LegoLand in Chicago, Manatee Swords located in New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and Washington DC, SeaLife Aquariums located in Minnesota and California. They have four more attractions under development in the US (Gasp!). Merlin is rapidly expanding in the US.

What are Merlin Entertainments plans for Cypress Gardens?
Merlin will be keeping the gardens that already exsist in the park. Many of the rides that are geared towards teenagers and adults have been sold to other parks, and will sooner or later be removed. Other rides like the “out of the box” standard rides have also been sold off to other parks, as they do not fit in with the LegoLand brand. Between the two wooden roller coasters that already exist in the park, they have not made a definite decision, but may remove one and keep the other. We were not told which would be removed, if any are removed, but my guess is The Starliner will be removed, as it is much bigger and much more intense. It will be the biggest LegoLand between all of the LegoLand parks. LegoLand will create over 1,000 jobs from the construction aspect to the operation aspect of the park. They hope to have the park open by the end of 2011. LegoLand has hopes to turn the park into a resort so families may stay for two or three days rather than just one day. At this point, everything is up in the air and nothing is guaranteed to stay, with the exception of the gardens, including the Southern Belles, and the Ski Show. Cypress Gardens will be renamed LegoLand Florida, however the gardens themselves may be turned into some sort of attraction with a name along the lines of “Cypress Gardens at LegoLand Florida”.

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Overall, the park looked like it was in pretty good condition (if anyone thinks otherwise, I apologize. I’ve never been to Cypress Gardens before), considering the park has been closed for some time. The gardens looked extremely well kept, as if they never missed a day of tender loving care. I was parked by the amiptheater, where I entered the park from there and headed straight toward the Magnolia Plantation building. The pathways accessing the other areas of the park were blocked off from public access. After I left the press conference, I drove around the roads surrounding, hoping to get a good view of some of the coasters (that I’ll probably never get to ride). Here’s a few pictures of the gardens and the park from the surrounding shopping centers.

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We’re excited about LegoLand Florida and can’t wait until the park opens!