Legoland Florida confirmed
Polk County (Florida) tourism officials
e-mailed a county commissioner in advance of tomorrow's announcement, confirming that Merlin would convert the old Cypress Gardens amusement park that it bought into a Legoland theme park.
E-mails to public officials in Florida are public records, so The Ledger newspaper in Lakeland (just up the road from Cypress Gardens) got a copy:
Helpful Facts: Confidential until Thursday.
1. LEGOLAND Florida will be the fifth LEGOLAND attraction worldwide (CA, Denmark, England, and Germany).
2. Merlin is the second largest attraction company in the world, second only behind Disney.
3. Merlin's massive research in the area already indicated that; the LEGOLAND brand already has high recognition and a 90% intention to visit by families in their target market.
4. LEGOLAND, CA, is the fastest growing theme park in the U.S., realizing an astounding 6% growth in 2009. The park was also recognized by Amusement Today as the country's best theme park for children for the sixth consecutive year.
5. Check out Merlin's website (www.merlinentertainments.biz.) for a broad overview of their operations.
Okay, let's break this down. Will Legoland Florida succeed in a location where so many other park management teams and concepts have failed?
Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.
Update: Reminder to new Theme Park Insider readers that you can visit our Legoland California page to get a feel for what types of attractions might be coming to Legoland Florida.
Update 2, Jan. 21: Live coverage of the press conference, in the comments. Photos to come.
Update 3: Who wins, and who loses, with Legoland in Florida?
This is a FANTASTIC addition! Winter Haven is a PERFECT fit for a Legoland park!
I'm voting "success," but with great hesitation. While Carlsbad (Legoland California's location) is situated between the San Diego and Los Angeles/Orange County areas, it is right on Interstate 5, with a beach and outlet mall at the same exit.
Doesn't Cypress Gardens already have a water park?
And Mr. Niles, could you explain your statement "The gardens will have to be retained?"
I think this will be good for that section of FL - new hotels, restaurants, etc. I've lived in Orlando for 5 years now and never had much desire to check out Cypress, Legoland has a bigger draw for me. At least, I can't see this doing any worse than CG did.
I can't imagine Merlin wanting the PR disaster that would come from bulldozing the gardens. (Frankly, I think that an awesome "Enchanted Walk" could be built through that area.)
While I respect Robert's (I think I'm gonna just call him "Robert" from now on) opinion regarding the demolition of the existing gardens, I believe use of the phrase "PR disaster" is a bit of an overstatement. As long as they keep the trees and the natural lakeside setting, I believe Merlin can change the landscaping as they see fit. When he wrote: "The gardens will have to be retained," I thought there was some statutes regarding CG being a historic landmark or something.
I think the downfall of Cypress Gardens had to do with its location which is why I think Legoland will not do well unless Floridians really want to go.
Just a correction: The e-mail to the county commissioner wasn't from Merlin Entertainments.
I'm not sure which way this is going to go yet, so I'll refrain from voting.
Over on the discussion page, Robert estiated that a Legoland park cn welcome about 2 million visitors annually.
Great, so instead of never-ever-ever planning on going to Cypress Gardens I'll just plan to never go to Legoland. I'm from south Orlando and even if they included admission on my SeaWorld annual pass at no additional charge I don't think I'd make the drive to see it.
Ironically, I think the biggest danger facing this park is getting
Legoland Carlsbad is a great park, and is successful even though it is located in an inconvenient place. Part of what has made it a success is their post-opening investment, with multiple gates and resort accommodations. If they do the same thing in Florida, then it's likely they can attract tourists for an overnight stay before or after an Orlando vacation. When you add this potential market to the Orlando/Tampa family market, their prospects for success increase. Merlin has one thing none of the previous owners had: deep pockets.
I vote for success, and plan to visit it a few times due to I know they will have to work the bugs out in the beginning. I just hope they do the flex pay since as a Orlando native for over 36 years (top that anyone lol) I've watched all the parks/attractions come(and go). I'm sure Legoland/Merlin knows what it's doing, again being the 2nd largest theme company, it doesn't get there with failed ideas. And honestly it's not that far of a drive, about 40 minutes from Disney. (mapquest if if you don't believe me or drive faster lol)
there is no way that legoland florida makes it more than 5 years after it opens. The location is horrendous, and there will not be enough appeal for tourist with older kids. Tourist are already forking over a G just to go and stay at disney for a couple days, they are not going to drive 20 mins to an inferior childrens park no matter what its called. The few people who do go will only go once, and without local repeat business i dont see the park making to much money.
While Cypress Gardens' location was a big factor in its downfall, Cypress Gardens didn't have the brand name recognition of Legoland. And with Legoland's smaller park capacity, this is a great location for them. If you put Legoland right in the middle of Theme Park alley, a LOT more people would go. More people than the park could possibly handle. A small park like Legoland needs to be more out of the way, and I think they've found the perfect location. they've seen the property, so they know it will fit what they need. It'll do just fine.
Sweet Deal! And Im sure it will be a hit!...I ve always been a fan of this place. And have stated a few times it can work. As for the Gardens sorry all they need to stay as is the registered as a Historic land mark. I also think the Satrliner and Triple hurricane will remain as well. One being a clasic Robert Allen. And the other fairly new. And I dont think Merlin would waste thier money to bulldoze them. Just give them a lego Theme and let the guest enjoy.
With all due respect, Mr. Luis Gonzalez ... Worst ... post ... EVER!
I say "fail." What's the first rule of real estate? Location, location, location. Cypress Gardens learned this the hard way -- the site is just too far off the beaten path.
I vote success, but sadly I fear my boys will be "too cool" for Legoland by the time it is built. However, I am setting such a great example of being a kid for life that "too cool" may never come. =)
Cypress Gardens was by no means a failure. It lasted many decades. It was at one time a destination park in itself. I believe Legoland will rely heavily on season passes and do quite well in that area as did Cypress for years. And a Legoland theme park should do a better job of selling season passes then Cypress ever did. I don't know the answer to this question, maybe Mr. Niles would know? What percentage of Disney vacationers stay on property versus off, mainly the area around the original entrance off 192 and south toward 27? From that side of the Disney property it is not that far of a ride. I believe many off property guest will make the trip for a day at Legoland. It's the crowd on the Universal side of Disney that may hesitate to make that trip. The addition of Legoland may also help those hotels along 192 attract visitors that want to go to Legoland during their Disney trip because of its proximity to Legoland? To take it one step further, maybe Legoland takes one of the many run down pieces of property in the area right outside the Disney Main gate? They would win all around. They could shuttle the guest to Legoland. I would venture to guess that a Lego themed hotel just outside Disney would have one of the highest occupancy rates.
Cypress Gardens has been in business since the 1930's and while is true that the park has gone through different ownerships since mid 80's, I have noted that the problem is not about the distance between Disney World and Cypress Gardens. Is just the lack of interest from the prior owners to give the park a good promotion effort like other smaller parks like Gatorland, which to this day remains open, despite the low attendance compared to big theme parks like Universal and Disney. Another thing is that because the new Legoland will be managed by Merlin, who also has other powerful attractions in Europe and the US, most likely will start driving a massive advertisement campaign which will involve the use of siblings Universal Orlando and Sea World all together. Those of you that say that Legoland will not survive in Florida, need to have a read in the next 2 or 3 years to see if I was right or wrong about it.
To TH Creative, part of the deal with the state of florida and polk county to help buy the original gardens back from a developer who was going to build condos on it was that the gardens had to stay in the original form that they are in and cannot be changed without state approval.I think the park can be a success if it is developed and built as a one of a kind park for florida. Merlin entertainment has deep pockets and can advertise very well. The park will be designed to appeal to younger kids and people who cannot afford $75-$80 tickets like the orlando parks charge. The other park owners did not have deep pockets and they could not advertise as well as needed. I know i will support it.
Four solid reasons it will succeed.
An anonymous poster writes: "To TH Creative, part of the deal with the state of florida and polk county to help buy the original gardens back from a developer who was going to build condos on it was that the gardens had to stay in the original form that they are in and cannot be changed without state approval."
A good product will be found by the people. It doesn't really matter if Legoland isn't in a place like Orlando. As long as they spend the money to make it high quality and market it well, Legoland will be just fine. If they can make it fly in Carlsbad, they can make it work in Winter Haven. All the sudden there's a little competition for the young children in Florida.
I can not stress this enough. It is going to definetly fail. THis is because you have disney already and it can be somtimes to close to california. You need one on the eastcoast like newyofk. THey want to redevelope coneyisland so put one down on the old Astroland site this would be a great money maker
Start spreading the news,
I like TH's reasons, but the main question is: Will folks come out?
I think it will be a success. They have been looking into another park in the U.S. for a while (Missouri & Kansas area) and have done their research. Combining a classic themed area with all that the Lego brand offers (and has done well with) has to be successful. They have continued to add greatly in Carlsbad with the most incredible aquarium I have ever seen and are adding a water park now, too.
The naysayers acting as armchair-quarterbacks on this thread seem to be ignoring some salient facts.
Not that I have any faith that they WON'T do this, they'll need good sign-age and advertising ON I-4 in order for people to find it. I drive I-4 weekly between Orlando and Tampa and not ONCE have I seen a sign for an exit to Cypress Gardens (even when it was open).
Hi my name is Nick,
I think this park will succeed mainly because of Merlin. They already know the industry and know how to run a successful park. I doubt Merlin would be taking a risk like this without extensive market research. Their money supply also isn't about to dry up. This isn't Hard Rock.
I've already said it will be a success prior and people will go. I'm a local and we will have passes like we do with all the other parks. It just gives me one more option for a park to do when I(we) want to go to one. And for all those that say fail, why not look again at the voting, as you can see over 70% are behind it.
Not sure if it will be a success or a failure. One thing I do know is that out of all the times (40ish) we have driven North to Disney and Universal not once did we stop at Cypress Gardens. I'm not sure I really ever understood what it was exactly. Nonetheless we will definetely try Legoland because it will be new and something completely different.
My family and I flew specifically to California to visit legoland, because both of my kids wanted to go. The rest of CA, Hollywood etc was merely an added attraction. I have to believe that there are more people like us out there who will fly the 2.5 hours to Central florida and drive the 45 minutes to get to Legoland, FL. Its a combined 3.5 hour trip for northeasters vs flying clear across the country then driving to Legoland in Carlsbad.
Park announcement on right now local news station in Orlando (News 13) They stated they plan to have it open by end of 2011 and WILL put lots of $$$$ into this park. Also stated by Nick Varney, CEO, that they believe this will be the best Legoland and largest.
Orlando SentineL: Central Florida will be home to the world's largest Legoland by the end of 2011, Merlin Entertainments said Thursday.
The sweetest four words of the report: "More than 1,000 jobs."
TH already touched on what I forgot 1000 jobs. In the start of the annoucement was Varney used Walt Disney in his speach. How Disney started with a mouse, Legoland started with a single lego. I personally liked that touch, and they really did from the speach do their homework for Legoland Florida. Can't wait til 2011 to see what all they have planned.
Robert Niles is looking AWFULLY GOOD
I would make the effort to travel there and I am sure many other people would. Despite being difficult to get to I am sure that Transportation companies would provide transport there if it proved popular enough, which I think it would
As someone who lives in Norway, my family and I have discussed plans of making the trip to Denmark just for Legoland(The Original). However, we do frequent Orlando often and would happily make the trip out there as long as they had good hotels (hopefully themed) in the area. Polk may not be "an attractive area" NOW, but Legoland has the power to turn it into some place worth the time. It will not be any competition to Orlando, rather it will make the trip to that area of Fl more worth it. Congrats to FL!
worst comment ever!!!!!!!!!! LOL
As a Florida mother of three boys, we have often talked about flying to California just for Lego Land. We are excited to have it in our "back yard" just 2 hours away. Have you ever been to the Lego Store in downtown Disney? Even in the off season, it is a complete mad house crawling with both children and adults who love the Lego brand. I think the park will be a success drawing crowds of people who love Legos to an area that is just enough off the beaten path to be enjoyable and relaxing.
Let's see here. Legoland is going to lure people from Orlando, where they already have a half-dozen fabulous Disney and Universal Parks, to the middle of nowhere to a park that appeals mostly to boys 10 years old and under? Hmmm, let me think for a minute...you know, I believe I'm going to have to predict it fails.
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