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Legoland in Kansas City? Would you go?

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Published: February 9, 2007 at 10:00 AM

Legoland has selected the Kansas City area as the site for its second U.S. theme park, and is in the process of trying to build public support for tax increment financing to help pay for the project.

The new Legoland would be built in Lees Summit, in the southeast suburbs of Kansas City. The development would include a Sea Life Aquarium (the first in the U.S.), as well as a hotel and shopping center.

Legoland and its development partner are seeking more than $180 million in subsidies to help pay for the estimated $540 million project. This week, Lego held an open house to try to sell local residents on the project, in advance of applying for the tax breaks.

What do you think? Would you go to a Legoland Kansas City? Is Kansas City the best location for a second U.S. Legoland? Should theme park companies get tax breaks to build new parks?

Readers' Opinions

From Erik Yates on February 9, 2007 at 7:23 PM
I dont know about Kansas. The first park is where? California? Seems a little close in proximity. With it being in Kansas would that make it a seasonal park? Seems like a lot of variables for a park that gets alot of good word of mouth. A park further east might have done better, or even Texas....a place where you can run it year round.
On the other question, is getting a tax break on a park any different than Major League sports getting tax breaks on a new stadium? Or better still, the government GIVES money to these teams to build new stadiums. Why? It generates revenue for the state, draws in tourists and creates jobs. Not only from the park, but the resturants hotels and other businesses it creates. So yeah, I support the tax break. Tax breaks on big businesses coming into the area...another story.
From David Kirby on February 9, 2007 at 7:28 PM
Kansas is an interesting choice to say the least. I guess the ultimate question is why Kansas? I would have preferred to see it built on the east coast, perhaps in Virginia like their original intentions for their first park.
From Derek Potter on February 9, 2007 at 7:55 PM
Interesting choice. Kansas City already has a Cedar Fair park, but it is still in a market thin with competition, and thin with population. I would have envisioned the next Legoland on the east coast, but hey...who am I? Walt Disney was an hour or two away from making a commitment to build Disney World in St. Louis...before Busch and his executives insulted him and he changed his mind. Personally I thought North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, somewhere like that, but I guess they know what they are doing.

A town giving financial assistance to a company to help build an amusement park isn't a bad idea. It generates all kinds of things...tourist dollars, jobs, tax revenue, exposure, so it's worth the money. The problem arrives when tourism becomes a crutch on which any certain city stands upon (cough Orlando cough). It's not a very steady one. Still, as long as the company is competent, it's a good idea to help.

From Robert OGrosky on February 9, 2007 at 8:18 PM
While I am going to Kansas City this summer, and visting Worlds of Fun while also going to a WWI museum and see Pres. Trumans home, I wouldnt make a special trip to go to a Lego Theme park. If I was in the area I might go see it if it wasnt that expensive, but since I dont have small kids anymore it doesnt mean that much and im not that much of a coaster credit monger to just go there and ride some kiddie coasters.
From Adrienne McDonald on February 10, 2007 at 3:55 PM
Well I think it'll be ok for them but as I was discussing w/my hubby last night, since Astroworld has disappeared (RIP) there's no other theme parks, even smaller family-owned type parks closeby (that I know of). It'd be nice if something else were put in around the Houston area. We have Kemah bdwalk but that's on the coast. Other parks are way far out of the way to get to. Too bad Legoland didn't come here to search for their next location, it would've been nice. KC already has Worlds of Fun but at least ppl will have a second park to visit there so I guess it won't be all bad. I'm happy for them I guess. It's nice to have a new park to goto but would've been nice to have it here or at least some other park if not LegoLand. There's really nothing to do here (theme park-wise anyway). :)
From Joseph Boone on February 10, 2007 at 4:02 PM
Cities give money to businesses in the form of tax breaks all the time, but I'm not sure this is a great deal for KC. If you think about most of the jobs you'll pick up at a theme park, they're pretty low paying and will not be a huge boost for your local economy. If we were talking about a Disney resort, then you could count on a lot of hotel nights and other tourism dollars getting added to the pot and I could see it being very worth while. But how many people will travel and stay in a hotel to see a Legoland park? I see it becoming a mostly local attraction.

From Legoland's perspective, Kansas City is nowhere near Souther California in terms of population and I have to wonder if the new park can draw anywhere near the same attendance in such a small market. This is especially true because there is so little else going on in KC that would help the park draw tourists to the area. It seems to me that if they could have located near another family oriented park like Dollywood, it would have been a much stronger choice. Those two parks seem like they would draw similar crowds and could really help feed each other.

Hopefully all involved have done their homework and already thought through all of these issues and the park will be a success. I certainly with them luck with it.

From Robert Niles on February 11, 2007 at 1:44 PM
I wonder if Legoland is not more comfortable in slightly-off-the-beaten-path locations. Legoland California could have been in Garden Grove, down the street from Disneyland. Or near downtown San Diego, close to SeaWorld. But instead, Lego chose Carlsbad, in between San Diego and Orange County. It's a lovely place, but not one with a massive number of nearby residents and tourists, as the other locations would have delivered.

If Legoland wants to be in the U.S. Midwest, I'd think that Chicago would make a far more lucrtive choice, with a much larger local population and a major airport.

If Legoland wants slightly better weather and less competition, Indianapolis has been trying to land a theme park for the White River State Park downtown for nearly 20 years. With plenty of hotels and a couple other family friedly attractions in the same area (the zoo and the NCAA hall of fame), Legoland would fit in well in downtown Indy.

In either case, the new Legoland would be located within a 2-4 hour drive of many other major metro areas. In Kansas City, there's St. Louis down the road and... well, nothing. It's the western outpost of the Midwest.

Looking within the park, Legoland's attractions are built for individual kids' play, not for putting through 2,000 guests per hour. So perhaps Legoland wants their parks to be a little incovenient to visit. That helps keep the guest count reasonable while ensuring that the families who come really want to be there, as opposed to people who dropped in only because they were in the area and it seemed like the tourist thing to do.

A Legoland in Universal Orlando would draw five million guests a year; I don't think that a Legoland's yet been designed that could handle that.

The site selected in K.C. seems to be a ritzy exurb -- the sort of place with wealthy parents who'd shell out the bucks for Legoland visits. And the sort of place that wealthy exurbanites from other areas would find comfortable. But there would not be an existing base of tourists in the area that would overwhelm Legoland's capacity.

From David Renteria on February 12, 2007 at 9:21 AM
I lived in Kansas for a while before coming down to FL. The weather there in the winter is horrible, summer heat will hit the triple digits often, and KC is just an ugly city with not a whole lot to do. I could not imagine taking a vacation there. But then, if Worlds of Fun does fine business in that area, I don't see why Legoland wouldn't survive. I just think that there are better places for it than Kansas City.
From Christina Horwitz on February 12, 2007 at 9:51 AM
Wow, Kansas City? That seems a bit odd. And honestly, coming from the East coast, I probably would not go to Kansas City. If I am going to fly to go to parks then I would just assume go back to California...at least there, we can do Disney, Sea World, San Diego Zoo, etc. We really loved Legoland so we wish them well, but you won't see us making a trip to Kansas just to see the second park.
From Robert Niles on February 12, 2007 at 4:16 PM
Just to clarify, especially for those outside the U.S., Kansas City and the suburb where Legoland would be located are in the state of Missouri.

Avg. daily high temperatures for Kansas City, MO (1971-2000):
Jan 35.7 Feb 42.4 Mar 53.9 Apr 64.6 May 74.3 Jun 83.3 Jul 88.7 Aug 86.8 Sep 78.6 Oct 67.0 Nov 51.6 Dec 39.4

Avg. daily low temperatures:
Jan 17.9 Feb 23.5 Mar 33.3 Apr 43.5 May 54.0 Jun 63.1 Jul 68.4 Aug 66.3 Sep 57.1 Oct 45.8 Nov 33.3 Dec 22.3

To me, that says you could operate the park from late April to Halloween. Which would be a pretty typical seasonal operational calendar. Given the curtailed calendar and the location, I'd guess the park would really have to hustle to do one million visitors a year. About 750K would be more likely.

From James Thrombley on February 12, 2007 at 10:09 PM
Perhaps the whole Kansas City pitch is some attempt to get land prices down or better tax breaks etc from another more fruitfall alternative location(s)

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