It is hard to believe that as far as grandkids go, summer is over. School crept up as me like E.E. Cummings poem, “The fog came on little cats feet”.
First it was Memorial Day, then 4th of July, then back to school. I must say I mourned it a bit, the freedom to load them up and go is gone. However, we did take a family trip, an end of the summer, a blast to LEGOLAND in Florida, and it was delightful. My six-year-old grandson Cade is a LEGO expert. He takes the little kits and puts them together with engineering precision and little help from the grownups. Lilly, my soon to be eight-year-old granddaughter likes the movies and characters so it seemed the perfect grandkid getaway.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what my take on LEGOLAND would be, but I was blown away by the creativity and architectural details and imagination that went into the sculptures at the park. LEGOLAND was clean, and offered an array of activities from rides, a waterpark, to a Discovery center and games.
I always appreciated the fact that LEGO’s kept kids off of the electronics and offered a chance to perform hand and eye coordination in a wonderful way and the park offers these same benefits. While at the park, I murmured a comment about wondering how LEGO’s came about. Cade had read a book in kindergarten about the man that had developed them. He already knew what I had to look up to learn.
I found that a man by the name of Ole Kirk Christiansen was the founder of the Danish construction toy company the LEGO Group. Born in 1891 he was the 10th son of a poor family in Jutland, Denmark. A carpenter that lost his job during the Depression, he started creating wooden toys in 1932 to make a living. According to the LEGOLAND time line, in 1932, “Ole Kirk Kristiansen, master carpenter and joiner, establishes his business in the village of Billund, Denmark. His firm manufactures stepladders, ironing boards, stools and wooden toys. His son, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, starts working in the business at the age of 12.”
In 1934, LEGO adopted the name LEGO, formed from the Danish words “LEg GOdt” (“play well”). Later, it is realized that in Latin the word means “I put together”.
It didn’t take long for LEGO’s to take off and today they are worldwide and have moved into the theme park business!
When making our travel plans, we decided to fly on Frontier, which is a good choice, but all the extras (baggage check, seat selection, food, drink) are truly EXTRA, so be aware when you make arrangement to fly with them. It was the kids first time flying and Carrie was prepared with things to keep them occupied during flight. We rented a car rather than try an hour long taxi ride from Orlando to Winterhaven. This was a great way to go, it gave us flexibility if we needed it. I travel all the time, but Carrie is so organized, patient and fun that it made the trip smooth and enjoyable for all of us.
We stayed at the newly opened in April LEGOLAND Beach Resort. I was able to secure a media rate and tickets to LEGOLAND so that helped with the cost of the trip. Thanks to Brittany Williams, the public relations Manager for the Florida park for her assistance!
We loved the Beach Resort with its kid friendly environment, it was made with kids in mind and it was perfect for my grandchildren’s ages. We stayed in “cottages” that offer a big room for adults and a connected small room with bunk beds. There was a neat little porch with a table and chairs to hang out on. We ate a pizza there our second night. There was a playground in the center of our themed cottage group. Our theme was the Hula Girl, one of the LEGO characters.
The circles of cottages are all like planets rotating around the sun, they circle the pool, restaurant and communal building where all activities are centered. The cottages actually look like little LEGO blocks and even have a LEGO mural inside.
The Oasis Pool was a huge hit with the kids. With huge LEGO blocks floating in the pool, the kids created an array of LEGO structures while splashing and swimming around. The area also offers a gaming area with a spot area to build a sand castle, a huge playground and some interactive games. There is a diner inside that even offers some healthy choices. Free breakfast with a lot of choices also were a wonderful option!
We loved sitting around the pool soaking up the sun while the kids played. There were also several life guards on hand that were very attentive to the children. Later in early evening, they even played games with the kids pushing bedtime back to enjoy the comradery.
We spent our first day after arriving at the Beach Retreat and then drove to the park the next day. The park opened October 15, 2011. Designed for families with children ages 2 to 12, the park has more than 45 rides, shows, attractions, restaurants, shops; and a botanical garden and a water park. Besides the Beach Retreat we stayed in, there is also the LEGOLAND hotel which opened on the property on May 15, 2015. Leaving from the Beach Retreat hotel, guests have two choices, they can ride a trolley, or do like we did and drive the short distance. Those staying at the LEGOLAND Beach Resort or the LEGOLAND Hotel all get premier parking.
The LEGOLAND park is located on the former Cypress Gardens and walking around and viewing some of the large trees and the water ski show you can still see some of the remainders of this former site. They preserved the botanical park and redecorated the water park and roller coasters along a LEGO theme. LEGOLAND Florida covers 145 acres, making it the second-largest LEGOLAND park after LEGOLAND Windsor in the UK.
The grounds are lovely and the LEGO characters are quite astounding. We all had our favorite things from a dragon roller coaster, to movies, to the architecturally astounding LEGOLAND City and the pirate ski show. The grandkids posed with LEGO characters, played on a splash
pad, rode rides, fought villains while on rides, ate, laughed and learned!
The best part of the trip though, was having a bit of time with my daughter and grandkids before school claimed them and they became immersed in homework, sports and all the fall activities. LEGOLAND is a place where a kid can be a kid and an adult can be a kid too.
If you get the chance to go, I’d advise it, it was quite magical. Read more about our trip in the next issue of Senior News & Times!
This trip was also made a bit more affordable because I was allowed free tickets for us under a media pass. While I am writing about the trip, all my opinions are my own and not influenced by that.