When I made my first pilgrimage to Legoland Florida a couple of years ago, afterwards I wrote this HUGE blog post about all of the things that I liked as well as some of the things that stood out where I felt improvement was needed.
Well, yesterday we spent the afternoon there once more and from the minute I walked in, I knew that I’d be writing a follow-up post like this one the next day … but not necessarily in a great way.
- From a family fun perspective, I had a blast yesterday at Legoland and it was neat to see some of the new additions and things we hadn’t seen last time.
- From the theme park critic’s perspective, however, I think that for only being opened less than 3 years, Legoland Florida is already starting to go frighteningly downhill.
So where do we start???
The Water Park
Last time we didn’t get to go because although we paid to add the water park option to our tickets, by the time we got to the back corner of the park it had been closed due to inclement weather, so this time we sort of made a bee line straight for the water because we left pretty late and didn’t arrive until afternoon and it was already starting to heat up…
Star Wars Miniland Detour
Of course, my nephew is a Star Wars nut and had been looking forward to this part for who knows how long, so we ended up planning our route through the newest section of Miniland so that he (and I!) could check it out first and foremost!
This area was definitely a nice touch – I particularly liked the Millennium Falcon preparing for takeoff, though it would’ve been cool to somehow fit the Death Star into the scene, too!
I want to note that this particular portion was the only part of the day that really matched the same wow vibe as my first visit…
A Merchandising Opportunity Missed
Now upon our arrival at the water park … and boy is that walk all of the way through the park still a long one … my first call of duty was to pick myself up a towel. I purposely didn’t bring one because I wanted to get one with the Legoland logo on it to add to our collection back home for pool parties and whatnot. After a quick spin through their closet of a gift shop at the entrance to the park, I was a little bit taken aback that this was the closest I could get…
Not a single brick-laden towel to be found, or the Legoland Florida front gate logo, or anything! They had about eight equally bland designs of different colors and themes like pink and pirates, but none of them had any resemblance towards Legoland aside from having the word LEGOLAND in a random font that wasn’t the official one you see everywhere else.
One of the ladies working in the shop, listening to me complain even agreed, “Yeah, that would be a really good idea – I don’t know why we don’t have anything like that…” I don’t know if this is another stupid licensing agreement between Lego and Merlin where they couldn’t get it together to associate their logo with merchandise, but I was really disappointed a) because I couldn’t get the towel that I imagined getting, and b) because I had to waste $16 on that ugly thing that I didn’t want in the first place in order to have a way to dry myself when we were done!
Seriously, they managed to put the Legoland logo on the tag … how difficult is this?! Plain white towel with that logo to fill the entire thing … BAM!
You can have that marketing idea for free … or at least for the cost of a free towel to replace the one that I ended up having to buy instead!
Also, 10 minutes later I ended up buying a pair of flip-flops, too, because I hadn’t brought any and my feet were on fire, and those ended up breaking within a matter of hours … merch wasn’t a real positive feature of this visit, to say the least…
Of course, immediately after everyone got changed, the baby decided that it was time to eat, so Sara and I took a break and fed him while everyone else jumped in the lazy river. We joined them a short while later and had fun making a few laps around ourselves before most were ready for more adventurous waters. It’s definitely a lot shorter than either of Disney’s water parks … I read that Legoland’s river is only 1,000 feet long, whereas Typhoon Lagoon is over 2,000 (my favorite) and Blizzard Beach is upwards of 3,000! But it was still fun for what it was … definitely geared towards the little kids, though even I was able to amuse myself with the floating bricks by making a little “carrier” on my tube to hold my sandals (not yet broken) as we floated around…
We also noted by the end of this adventure that between the water parks and our pool at home, we could probably stand to invest in one of those waterproof cases for our cameras so that we can actually get some action photos in the water!
Eventually we made it over to the main part of the water park where there was a big play area for kids surrounded by wading-depth water that we ended up entertaining Christopher in while the other kids went on the slides. The giant bucket at the top that would dump every few minutes was kind of neat, although my perspective may be biased due to my ability to time not getting hit by it!
All and all it was definitely clear that the entire park in general is built around younger guests, as there were really only a couple of things that older kids and their parents would be interested in going on without having little children in tow. Which is fine, but it really rang home why I don’t like how the water park’s pricing is structured because due to its location, you can’t only purchase admission to the Legoland Water Park … it’s only available as an add-on for the main park itself. I’ll talk more about this later, but essentially Sara and I ended up paying Legoland admission to spend maybe 20 minutes overall doing things in actual Legoland, and the rest of our day was spent in the water … which is a $15 add-on…
P.S. The wave pool was fun and is probably a little easier for smaller kids than the big one at Typhoon Lagoon … I even managed to get out in “the deep end,” which is something that I’d never do at Typhoon Lagoon!
Nice Slides, Poor Design
Nearing closing time for the park, I was informed that my niece wanted Aunt Sara and Uncle Scott to go on some of the bigger water slides with her - the dark and scary one, to be precise!
They basically have four or five slides tucked out of the way that are more grown-up than the ones at the play area … one with a pretty steep incline that I didn’t want any part of and another that seemed to open up just at the worst possible time, and also a couple of tube-based rides that were more my speed, and thankfully those were the ones that she actually wanted to do.
Unfortunately, I only got to ride once due to a really poor queue design because when I went to grab a tube, there weren’t any and all the park employee could tell me was that “I had to wait until another guest brought one back.” Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but there was nobody who was actually enforcing that, so whereas instead of like at Disney where you get in line, get a tube, ride down the slide, drop off your tube, and then get in line again if you want to ride again, I was probably passed by a couple of dozen people who just got right off the end of the slide and hopped in line again with their same tubes, so essentially I had to wait for someone to be done riding the slide before I could actually get a turn.
Really poor system and it gave me a lot of time to sit at the end of the slide fuming about all of the other operational issues that I had noticed around the park that day, but then came another blunder that was almost equally as bad in my book…
How NOT to Talk to Your Guests…
So I got up to the top for my second ride, and the employees at the top announced that they had to shut the ride down due to inclement weather.
Bummer, but it happens and as much as some people were protesting, you could see the sky getting dark in one direction quite distinctly and an hour later it was lightning’ing something fierce, so better safe than sorry when you’re standing on a giant metal tower in the middle of a pool of water, right?!
Well, one of the guests in line shouts out - “Do you have any idea how hard it is for these kids to climb all the way up here?!”
And then one of the lifeguards shouts back - “Do you have any idea how much it sucks to get hit by lightning?!”
Don’t get me wrong, I know where both were coming from, plus the second line was kind of funny and probably something that I myself would say - if I wasn’t an employee representing the park - which the guy totally was.
It was definitely a simple example about how young and inexperienced a lot of the park’s employees really are because there’s no way a Disney cast member would ever get away with talking to a guest like that. They’ve got standard blurbs like, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but the safety of our guests is our number one priority, so right now we just need to get everyone off the slide…” or whatever. You don’t remind the guest how much it would suck if they got fried for not taking the lightning seriously!!!
It also didn’t help that they clearly didn’t have a good process in place for clearing out the queue. At first they were going to let those at the very top ride down, then they made even those four get out of the water at the top. Myself and a couple of others asked if we could leave our tubes at the top instead of having to carry them back down again and it was no problem, but nobody offered the same to the rest of the line so instead of people handing their tubes up and then walking down, it took twice as long with people tripping over their tubes and grumbling the whole way.
Two Last Water Park Critiques
These are pretty simple, but #1 - they don’t have showers in the changing rooms, so even though you’re expected to continue your fun day in Legoland proper, there’s really no place to wash off the chlorine after you’re done.
And #2 … maybe this was kind of my fault because I wasn’t 100% honest with the employees I ran into, but after changing I wanted to go back and get a couple of photos of the water areas … you’ll notice that there really aren’t any photos here except for a few right around the entrance. Well, in crossing over the bridge I ran into an employee asking if I needed anything. Instead of telling him I wanted to take some quick pictures, I told him I was looking for somebody, to which he quite bluntly replied that this end of the park was clear and nobody was left, so anyone I’d be looking for would be in the other direction.
Granted, I shouldn’t have lied and maybe I’d have gotten a better response, but it still just seemed pretty rude and not the kind of treatment that I’m used to at theme parks. We encountered a few different employees who acted like this throughout our visit – like they had a job to do with little regard for the guests who actually made their job needed in the first place.
So Back in the Main Park…
We’re making our way back to the front because it’s clearly about to start storming and the park is about to close anyways. We made a few stops along the way to get some pictures of Christopher with the various Lego models, and by far the most disappointing part of my visit was that I couldn’t help but notice that the models are starting to look VERY OLD AND WORN. I got this impression even on our way through with some of the first ones we’d past and even throughout Miniland, but by now it was clear as day. Most of them were dirty and hadn’t been cleaned recently, and so many of them were badly sun-damaged … it’s like they’d gone from looking professional from our last trip to looking like something a kid had built and left out in the backyard this time around.
It was very embarrassing and proved to be a sizable nail in the coffin for me…
One Saving Grace, a la Curiosity!
By the time we’d reached the front, thunder struck and we spent a lot of time hanging out in the big gift shop … at one point the employees were encouraging people to just stay put instead of trying to walk to the parking lot in the thunder & lightning, which I thought was nice … albeit ironic because they were also selling ponchos and umbrellas, which we had just bought thinking we were going to make a run for it.
Nonetheless, as I’m going to checkout with a small handful of goodies … noting that Lego VIP still isn’t honored there, just like I found last time … and all of a sudden I notice a small display of Lego Cuusoo sets (now Lego Ideas) behind the cashier, including the new Ghostbusters Ecto-1, but more importantly, the set that I’ve wanted to get ever since it’s been sold out everywhere … the Mars Rover, Curiosity!
I actually asked the cashier, “Are those for sale???” to which he gave me kind of a weird look as he said yes. I ended up buying both of the ones that they had (they had a posted limit of 5/customer, but only two in the display), and was surprised/grateful to find that they were marked for their original $29.99 sale price and not the double or triple that I’ve been seeing them going for on eBay ever since they sold out.
So In Review…
- I’m sad to say, but this was a pretty disappointing trip … not from a fun perspective, but more from a standards/should I bring people here again perspective.
- Their employees desperately need some training as far as interacting with guests on multiple levels. This felt like a park run by a bunch of kids out of school, which a lot of Disney World is, too, but the cast members there would’ve never acted the way I saw cast members act at Legoland yesterday. They were rude, they weren’t helpful, and only a couple actually made our experience positive rather than negative.
- And granted, a lot of this comparison is with Disney because that’s the market Legoland is in now. Sorry, but if you’re going to charge as much as the big guys, you’re going to get graded like the big guys and standard park admission to Legoland Florida by itself at the gate is now $84/day for an adult. SeaWorld is $80, Universal is $96, and Disney is $94-$99 for a single day. It’s not a “new” park anymore and these are the types of details that determine the parks that I want to frequent and which ones I avoid.
- I’m really curious now to go back and look at the Lego models along the store at Downtown Disney to see how those have aged because although I don’t remember them being nearly this bad, I’m curious.
- That said, whereas in my first trip I was clearly wow’ed by all of the models and Miniland as a long-time Lego fan, aside from the new Star Wars section (which is much newer than everything else), I wasn’t anywhere near as blown away, and I don’t necessarily think that it was because I’d seen it all before as much as because so much of it now just looked plain trashy to me. Anything with white in it almost looked yellow and there were clearly all sorts of different tones of the same bricks in models that were supposed to be solid colors. I remember reading once that the other Legoland parks cleaned their models by actually sandblasting a thin layer of plastic off of the models every so often so that the colors would remain bright and consistent, and then essentially when they ran out of model to sandblast, it was time to replace it altogether. Are they doing that sort of thing at Legoland Florida or does just nobody care???
…because the thing is, two years ago when I visited Legoland, while I wasn’t ready to rush back myself the next day, I would’ve been more than happy to return with any fellow Lego fanatics who happened to be in town to visit. Now? There are a lot of caveats that I’d need to throw out that I didn’t feel obligated to before, to the point where I think I’d rather spring the difference to just take them to Disney World instead of going here and potentially being let down. Which sucks because the park is filled with possibilities, but if Merlin Entertainment isn’t going to execute on them the way that Lego deserves, then it makes me wonder if the place is even going to be around in another 10 years or if it’s going to go the way of Cypress Gardens and just eventually fade into broken down obscurity.
As it stands today, Legoland Florida is overpriced at the gate prices it charges for the quality it delivers through the turnstiles. I would argue that even the park itself realizes this – when we were coming in, the people at the gates were reminding guests of their Buy 3, Get 4 Tickets Free promotion to get people to bring their friends back with them. Apparently the deal only applied to people who paid full price and most didn’t, but in a way you can learn about a park’s true popularity by the types of discounts it offers. Let’s face it – Legoland is constantly offering discounted pricing … we ended up going on a corporate rate that was buy 1, get 1 and made our admission about $50/adult, and you can still get buy 1 adult, get a child free publicly today. That tells me that Legoland’s standard pricing in general is too high if they have to consistently offer such deep discounts to get people in the door … as compared to Disney that offers very slight discounts unless you’re buying multi-day tickets as a Florida resident.
And back to the water park admission, consider that we basically stayed there the entire time, we essentially paid $50/day to solely visit the water park, whereas $53 gets you into Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach for longer hours and more park to enjoy. Sure, we paid it this time because that’s where everyone was going, but the next time when we’re asked where we want to spend the day???
So much potential, but so much sorely needing improvement that it really shouldn’t this early into its life cycle … it’s almost enough to make me worried about what I’m going to find in another couple of years when Christopher gets a little older and actually starts playing with Legos himself. I really hope they get their act together by then because I want his first trip then to be as fun and exciting and awesome as my first trip was, but they’re not there right now…
And we’re done!
Ok, so admittedly this series was probably one of my quickest to complete … I think I only ended up buying around 16 and I was able to trade away just about all of my doubles 1-for-1 on Reddit for the half dozen I was missing when it was all over. Probably all for the best because as much as I love The Simpsons, I still think that $3.99 is kind of pushing it as a price point for these things.
Curious to see what the next series is at this point – wondering if they’ll go back to unlicensed themes (and prices) or if they’ll continue with more tie-ins.
In the meantime - where’s the rest of my Lego Springfield?!
I’ve basically conceded to seeing The Lego Movie when it comes out on DVD because I never got around to seeing it in the theater, but I am a bit excited to see tonight’s all Lego episode of The Simpsons!
Admittedly I do find it a little odd in watching the trailer that they didn’t make either the heads in the episode match up with the heads in the Collectible Minifig line that just came out, or vice versa, although granted there’s a bit of controversy about those heads not being authentic anyways.
But at the end of the day, or at least around 8:00pm EDT tonight, I don’t really care! It’s Legos, it’s The Simpsons - should be fun!!!
Here I’ve been reading on Reddit that people are starting to find them popping up at random Walgreens and other stores, which kind of irritates me that stores aren’t respecting the release dates because it results in collectors swooping in and buying an entire case at a time … though admittedly I’m mostly just bitter because the Walgreens IN MY AREA didn’t have any when I looked at two different stores!
But then on a very random whim this afternoon at Target, after checking the actual Lego aisle and coming up empty-handed as usual, I walked around the corner and caught a glimpse of an end-cap display with clouds on it, and upon closer inspection I found an almost already completely empty display of the minifigs that aren’t supposed to be released for another two weeks!
I ended up buying 10 packs – partially showing restraint because I would’ve felt a little bad clearing the shelves entirely the day before Easter when they make pretty good treats to stow inside of Easter eggs, and also partially because they’re marked at $3.99/each which personally feels a bit pricey for a single minifig and I hope isn’t a trend that’s going to continue much more into the future…
Anyways, overall I’m pretty pleased with my initial take – only 2 duplicates out of the 10, so that’s cool. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do about displaying them just yet because Marge’s hair is considerably higher than anyone else, and Scratchy’s tail isn’t exactly doing him any favors, either. It might be time to revisit that whole display anyways because after filling almost five base plates at this point, there are a number of the bigger figs that I’ve had to separate from the rest of their series … which bugs me for reasons.
That said, I like these ones so far – even though their heads don’t fit with the usual minifig design, I think being The Simpsons gains them a lot of ground in my book, so hopefully it won’t take me nearly as long to complete the full series, and I’m also getting pretty curious to see how the Lego episode of the show itself turns out coming up here on May 4th.
The list is finally out – so how did my predictions do???
7 out of 16 for pass #1, and pretty much just Itchy and Scratchy from #2. And it doesn’t really surprise me that they ended up including the full family as the first five minifigs, either. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to lead the series with a $200 set – as much as I want it myself, I haven’t exactly dropped the change on it yet, either, but every time that I look at the minifigs included with that set, all I can do is shake my head at their stoned eyes.
At least it looks like they got it right for the CMF series, though. Now it’s just a matter of when these will actually start appearing in stores … because not for nothing, but I’ve had some terrible luck lately with my own local Walmart and Target stores keeping them on the shelves, and when they do have them, they’ve clearly been picked over something fierce on account of all the duplicates that I’ve been experiencing as of late.
Not that having duplicates of The Simpsons would be the worst thing in the world, mind you, but still, money doesn’t grow on trees and I don’t exactly have a trillion dollar bill handy to drop in order to complete a full set!
I haven’t gotten my set yet because, “Ooof! $200!!!” … but this still makes me look forward not only to the minifig series that should be coming out before long, but also the all-Lego episode of the show that’s supposed to be airing at the beginning of May!
It’s a spring filled with the folks from Springfield!
I just can’t even… How do they…
Fox News is a spoof of actual news programming – that’s the only explanation that makes any sense in the world anymore.
…because this is a kids movie that they’re targeting for being anti-business THAT WAS SOLELY CREATED FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELLING KIDS TOYS…
Seriously – the name of the product being sold is in the title of the movie.
*facepalm times infinity*
They did it two years ago with the Muppets, now they’ve done it again with Legos…
Fox News is dead to me.
So it looks like the second set of The Simpsons Legos rumors are true as well, and everything seems to be coming up Milhouse lately!
I’m kind of curious to see what they end up doing with the characters for this series … will they tie them in as a supplement to the house and not include the core family 5+Ned, or will we see those 6 as kind of the core default characters with then only another 10 from The Simpsons universe to fill out the rest of the series???
I can see it going both ways, although the display picture above seems to imply that Homer will be at least one of them (because he has normal eyes and not sleepy/stoned eyes like in the house set). That’s a tough cut to make – I could easily fill a 16-character run without doubling up on anyone else from the fab five!
- Chief Wiggum
- Principal Skinner
- Reverend Lovejoy
- Dr. Hibbert
- Mr. Burns
- Comic Book Guy
And mind you, I also ended up making this list while I was trying to cull the herd for the list above…
- Duff Man
- Bumblebee Man
- Kang and/or Kodos
- Mayor Quimby
- Professor Frink
- Kent Brockman
- Itchy & Scratchy
- Fat Tony
- Mrs. Krabappel (in memoriam?)
Ok, so that’s two seasons worth of minifigs right there - who else did I forget?!
One of the things that I wanted to do while we were up here for my Grandpa’s funeral was go through my exceedingly large collection of childhood Legos and see if I could pick out a few of the ones that I used to play with at his house. Probably one of my fondest early memories of my Grandpa was when he would play Defender of the Crown on the Amiga, and before I was old enough to actually learn how to play myself, I would sit on the floor in the bedroom and act out the scenes with my medieval Legos as he fought to conquer England there in the game.
It’s funny because only this weekend I learned that the game was very much a family thing because not only are my cousins also super nostalgic for playing that game with our Grandpa, but we all always played as the noble swordsman, Geoffrey Longsword, too!
I’m getting ready to get on the plane back home here in a few minutes, and as much as the iOS port kinda sucks, I think I might play a little bit on my way back home anyways…
Well, I guess we know which Lego set I’m going to be getting next!
I was actually a bit skeptical of this set when I first saw the Homer and Flanders minifigs leaked a month ago because the oversized heads looked a little weird, and now having seen the official photos … I still think that they look weird, both just because of the heads themselves not to mention the eyes that make half the characters look like they’re either stoned or at the very least, up to no good…
In a way, they remind me of those horrible plastic head cases that they did for some of the DVDs that were a pain in the ass to fit on a shelf that I bought one of, ordered the free cardboard replacement case, and then avoided like the plague after that!
But still, it’s The Simpsons and I’m totally getting this set when it comes out, as well as any of the others if they do end up making it a product line after all. Apparently right now this $199 set is the only one they have planned, although rumors also have it that the next series of Collectible Minifigs will be themed after The Simpsons, so that would be kind of cool – especially if they got sneaky about it and made it all of the minifigs except for these six to steer people towards buying the house.
Here’s a cool, little walkthrough video from Lego themselves going through the set as well as showing off some of the earlier prototypes for the individual minifigs, too…