Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

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Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by lindavz on Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:11 pm

Merlin plans to build Legoland at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Our local LEGO club has been discussing this for some time. We are anxiously awaiting it - though it is a bit off the beaten path. I can't wait for it to open!!!

"Central Florida is about to add a new member to its theme-park club: Legoland.

A document surfaced Wednesday indicating that Merlin Entertainments Group, the British amusement operator that bought Cypress Gardens earlier this month, will announce tomorrow that it plans to convert the venerable Polk County attraction into a theme park based on Lego toy-building blocks.

The announcement would cap months of speculation that Merlin was scouting potential sites in Florida for a new Legoland on the East Coast to bookend an existing California park. The company also operates Legolands in Denmark, Germany and England.

Merlin has declined to discuss its plans for Cypress Gardens since news broke last week that it had purchased the site in early January for an estimated $22.3 million. It has said it will unveil details of its "future investment plans" at a news conference tomorrow morning at Cypress Gardens.

But an e-mail sent by a Polk County tourism official to county commissioners invited to tomorrow's announcement makes it clear that Merlin is planning a Legoland.

In the e-mail, which includes the warning "confidential until Thursday," Mark Jackson, a director with the Central Florida Visitors and Convention Bureau, tells commissioners that "Legoland Florida will be the fifth Legoland attraction worldwide" and that "Merlin's massive research in the area already indicated that the Legoland brand already has high recognition and a 90 percent intention to visit by families in their target market."

The tourism executive also reminded commissioners, should they be sought out for news-media interviews following the announcement, to trumpet positive points such as the fact that "Legoland is a family-oriented theme park, a great match for this area, the company's extensive knowledge and expertise in the attractions industry, and the team effort that it took to land this project."

The existence of the e-mail was first reported by the Lakeland Ledger. A spokeswoman for Merlin declined to comment on it.

Legoland is one of about a dozen brands owned by Merlin, whose other holdings include Madame Tussauds wax museums, Alton Towers, and the London Eye. The company is the second-busiest amusement-park operator in the world, behind Walt Disney Co., with combined attendance of roughly 35 million people.

Merlin is owned by the Blackstone Group, the private-equity giant that bought Orlando-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment last fall for about $2.5 billion. Blackstone also co-owns Universal Orlando alongside NBC Universal.

A number of high-profile business and civic leaders are expected to attend tomorrow's announcement, including Merlin Chief Executive Officer Nick Varney and Florida Gov. — and U.S. Senate candidate — Charlie Crist. Cypress Gardens, which originally opened in 1936, has been protected since 2004 by state-owned conservation easements that protect 30 acres of botanical gardens and leave 120 acres available for attractions and other tourism-related businesses.

For all the pageantry surrounding Legoland's arrival, its success is by no means assured.

In the tourism business, location is a crucial factor. And the former site of the botanical garden in Winter Haven is "somewhat of an odd place" to put a Legoland, said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, a Cincinnati-based consultant.

"This is not going to be a cakewalk, that's for sure," Speigel said.

Located in a county with a population of about 600,000, Legoland won't have a large pool of people in the immediate area from which to draw local traffic, though Merlin no doubt hopes it will be able to lure residents from Orlando and Tampa as well. Tapping into Orlando's tourist traffic is no sure thing, either, as the park is at least a 45-minute drive from Walt Disney World, and even further from Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando.

Its geography — along with a staid roster of attractions — is a big reason why Cypress Gardens was plagued with poor attendance for years. The historic park endured multiple closures and failed reinvention attempts over the past decade, shutting its doors most recently in September when its former owner declared it had "exhausted every possible approach" to keep it open.

"People who come to Orlando have a pretty full plate," Speigel said. "To jump in a car, drive a couple of hours, it has to be really special."

Like Cypress Gardens, Legoland's other U.S. park is not in a big city. But unlike Winter Haven, Carlsbad, Calif., is located directly off an interstate highway — and it is midway between two even larger metro markets, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Boosters are clearly hoping to put Cypress Gardens' troubles behind it. Jackson, the Polk County tourism official, urged commissioners in his e-mail to "avoid any comments about past ownership and/or problems at the park."

Still, Merlin has a lengthy track record. And Legoland is a coveted property because of its appeal to families with young children.

"No question, knowing Merlin as we do, … they've considered all of these factors," Speigel said. "They know what they're dealing with in terms of the location."

by Jason Garcia "

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/os-legoland-cypress-gardens-20100120,0,3263083.story


Last edited by lindavz on Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:25 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Boxcargirl on Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:14 pm

Sounds great! Thanks for posting this Very Happy

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Roxtus on Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:56 am

Awesome! Steelersrule will be close to LEGOland! Very Happy I've also heard that they are going to make a LEGOland in Malaysia.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by RacerXtreme5000 on Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:45 am

Seriously lego have to think about other countries aswell, not just america. I mean come one, USA gets:
nearly every type of lego product which comes out each year,
4 of the LU pods,
brickmaster magazine,
and now they get another legoland.
Come on lego, you have lego fans in other countries aswell!

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Iconox on Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:53 pm

Yes! Finally, a legoland not on the other side of the country ;P

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Tommy_60 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:33 pm

I can't wait! I live in Ohio, so I might get there from time to time!

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Uncooked Chicken on Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:37 pm

Cool, although I won't be anticipating it much since I'm in, like, the farthest spot from Orlando on the contiguous 48 states.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Tommy_60 on Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:38 pm

*Laughs at Beeky.* Wait, doesn't that mean you are close to Legoland California? Mad Grr...

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Uncooked Chicken on Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:39 pm

Yup, and I went last summer.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Uncooked Chicken on Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:43 pm

'Twas fun. I went on the dragon coaster like five times.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Jdg50legomaster on Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:14 pm

Lucky. We have like 5 MLNteam users in florida. Razz
I live in Texas. Maybe One day I'll move close enough to a lego land.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by ₮H€MAN44217∞ on Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:22 pm

Oh my garnet, dude, when will LEGO think about other countries?!? :O :O :O
I mean come on, really? America is getting literally EVERYTHING that is LEGO and other countries get a few sets, thats it. 0_0

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LEGOLAND FLORIDA

Post by steelersrule12 on Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:47 pm

Finally! A new legoland. It's only 3 hours away from where i live and there working on it. Half of it is a water park. I am so exited to go there when it comes out.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Uncooked Chicken on Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:05 am

Well, seeing as I'm about as far away as you can get from Flordia without leaving the contiguous 48 states, I don't think I'll be going. It's good to have one over there, though, so people on the east coast don't have to cross the country to go to a Legoland.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by steelersrule12 on Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:17 pm

Yeah! There is only 1 lego store in florida so i am very exited.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by zipster16 on Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:03 pm

Wow! A Legoland florida! I'd go there because california is too far from where I live.
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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Iconox on Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:51 pm

Duplicate topic, *merging.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by steelersrule12 on Wed Jan 27, 2010 10:45 pm

Umm thanks i guess.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by zac11th on Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:36 pm

OMG! i must go! finally a legoland near me! Very Happy

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by lindavz on Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:45 pm

They just had an open house last week to showcase some of their things.

"Later today, Thursday, July 8, LEGOLAND Florida invites anyone interested to learn about the upcoming theme park, ask questions, and even hear about new job opportunities.

The open house-style event is intended to acquaint local residents with LEGOLAND Florida and how it will impact Central Florida. In addition to theme park concepts, LEGO models will be available for viewing, including models of of Darth Vader, Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, and a miniature version of the White House, which will be the Florida park’s first permanent model. Guests will also have a chance to help build a giant LEGO mural depicting the front entrance of LEGOLAND Florida. When complete, the mural will be 9 feet wide and 5 feet tall created out of 35,000 LEGO bricks.

LEGOLAND Florida is scheduled to open in Fall 2011 in the former location of Cypress Gardens. Find out more information about the new theme park on their web site, legolandfloridaresort.com."

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by steelersrule12 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:18 am

Awesome,i will probably go on my birthday next year,(when it opens) it will be awesome.

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Re: Legoland to open at Cypress Gardens (Orlando)

Post by Teddy_R1 on Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:17 am

Yes. I'm probaly going to go cause I live in GA.

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