Disclosure: The #TampaTrio and I received admission to LEGOLAND Florida and LEGOLAND Florida Water Park for our honest review.
LEGOLAND Florida opened in late 2011. I honestly can't believe that it's taken us nearly 3 years to get up to the park for our first visit. I had heard from friends that it was very babyish and since my kids were used to Busch Gardens that they weren't likely to enjoy LEGOLAND. Well, at 8, 9, and 10 years old, I can tell you without a doubt that they LOVED LEGOLAND!!
Busch Gardens is an autism friendly park. We are provided with a special pass which allows us to either bypass the lines, or we are given a time to return later in the day. Those of you with special needs kids know how challenging navigating a theme park can be.
I wasn't sure if LegoLand Florida offered a special needs pass, but when we arrived I went to guest services and asked, and I'm happy to say that YES they do offer a special needs pass. The pass worked identical to what we're used to experiencing at Busch Gardens, so there were no hidden surprises for us. Whew.
Here are my top five reasons why LegoLand Florida is an Autism friendly theme park.
1. Special Needs Pass. This pass is reserved for individuals with disabilities and allows visitors to obtain a “return time” for rides with long waits. While I always bring a note from Ronin's doctor describing how living with ASD and SPD makes it hard for him to wait in crowded lines for extended periods of time, the note was not needed. This pass/card is a real “plus” for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Waiting in line with lots of crowds is downright impossible some days. During our day at LEGOLAND, we simply went through the exit gate for rides with our card, received our return time from the ride attendant, and were able to explore around the park until our assigned time. ALL of the LEGOLAND ride attendants were super accommodating and very nice.
2. Dietary Needs. Unlike Lowry Park Zoo (which we love, so don't get me wrong, but eating there is a challenge) LegoLand allows you to bring in your own food. They also had several gluten free options scattered throughout the park.
3. LEGOS. This one pretty much doesn't need to be stated, but I will. If you have a child that enjoys Legos, then they will enjoy LEGOLAND, autistic or not.
While Ronin enjoys the idea of Lego's, he doesn't have the attention span to put together more than just a few pieces. But he enjoys the final product when his sister's or I do it. So he LOVED seeing all the displays of Lego's. From Chima to Einstein, Ronin was in awe of the marvelous Lego structures.
4. PLAYGROUND. My guy gets easily overwhelmed, so its nice to have a shady spot where he can just play and chill. LEGOLAND had a nice playground area, that was not busy at all, where he could do just that. And he really liked that it said "Wolves Rule" since he just completed his Cub Scout year as a Wolf.
5. WATERPARK. The waterpark admission is NOT included with your regular daily ticket, but I highly recommend it. It gave our family the perfect opportunity to cool down and decompress. The special needs pass is not available in the waterpark, but we didn't need it. Ronin and the girls preferred to lounge about in the lazy river: Build A Raft, and it was nice for me to be able to float along with them. I liked that it was MANDATORY for the kids (well, actually mandatory for everyone!!) to remain in the inner tubes at all times. No running through the lazy river here!!
We spent a full day at LEGOLAND Florida, having been one of the first families through the turnstiles at 10am, and we were one of the last to leave when the park closed at 7pm. There was A LOT that we didn't get to see and do, but we were all so very happy with what we did get to experience.
The kids got to go on every roller coaster, we saw the mini Lego village, Duplo Land (I know I am hacking these names up, but this is what they kids called them, so they are sticking with me!) I wish we had been able to go through the older Cypress Gardens area, but we just didn't have time. I guess we'll have to make a return trip!
Have you been to LEGOLAND Florida?? What did you think??