Published: 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.