Legoland Announces Lego Star Wars Days

Lego fans can channel their inner Jedi at Legoland Florida Resort next month during the attraction’s Lego Star Wars Days.

The event, included in park admission, take place Sept. 10 and 11.

A Lego Star Wars Miniland Model Display will be in the park, featuring seven scenes from the movie series and a scene from the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The display is made out of 1.5 million Lego bricks.

The weekend also includes an session with Lego Star Wars set designer Jens Kronvold Frederiksen and Master Model Builders.

The littlest Star Wars fans are encouraged to dress as their favorite character and take part in a parade, a new feature to the weekend. Fans in costume have a chance to win a Lego Star Wars prize pack, Legoland officials said.

Legoland, located in Winter Haven, is a theme park designed for children, built for children ages 2-12. The park has updated every year since opening in 2011, including the water park was added in 2012, World of Chima opened in 2013 and Duplo Village, targeting young visitors, opened in 2014.

It transitioned to an overnight destination last year when a 152-room hotel opened. Future additions include a new Beach Resort and plans for a new theme-park land, Lego Ninjago World.

The World’s Largest Private Aircraft Collection Resides in Polk County

With more planes than the Cuban military, Fantasy of Flight displays a living history of manned flight with everything from small barnstormers to massive super-fortresses.

Owner and founder of Fantasy of Flight, Kermit Weeks, has amassed an armada of over 100 aircraft that visitors can see up close and, very often, in flight. Possibly the most remarkable feature of the huge airplane collection is that most of the craft are still operational. Given good weather conditions and available pilots, the attraction takes one of their vintage aircraft for a daily flight and answers questions about the ship upon landing.

The facility itself consists of a large main building that contains two hangars and a series of short and long runways for the constant plane traffic. A portion of the nearby lake is even owned by Fantasy of Flight to accommodate the water landings of seaplanes. The collection of aircraft has grown so much that the facility has expanded to a third hangar across the street.

While the opportunities to ride in the airplanes at Fantasy of Flight are slim due to the inherent liability issues, there are a number of decommissioned cockpits that visitors can explore and a zip line just across the street for anyone wanting to try out some unaided soaring.

ff-1

Check Out These Cool Florida Excursions You’ve Probably Never Heard About

Sure, you’ve come to know and love some of Florida’s most popular tourist traps, but how well versed are you with its off-the beaten paths excursions? Here’s a few things to do in Florida that even some locals have been missing!

1. Showcase of Citrus 4X4 Monster Truck Adventure, Clermont

Showcase of Citrus has “The World’s Largest Monster Truck Safari.” Visitors embark on a 45 minute excursion across an expansive 2500 acre property full of You-Pick citrus varieties, all from the vantage point of a massive 4×4 Monster Truck. Common sights are snapping turtles, alligators, snakes and more.

2. St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, St. Augustine

The wildlife shows, exhibits and educational offerings are enough to keep you occupied at At St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park for hours. However, the most adventurous part of the park is by far “Crocodile Crossing,” a zip line ride over the alligator and crocodile habitats.

3. Destin Pirate Cruise on the Buccaneer Pirate Ship, Destin

Be honest, everyone wonders how they’d cut it as a pirate. While pillaging and plundering isn’t on the menu at Destin’s Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, passengers get to the full experience with sword fights, water gun battles, treasure hunts and all sorts of one-of-a-kind activities.

4. Bob’s River Place, Branford

Rope swings, giant slides and the cool rivers of the Suwanee, you can’t get a more authentic Florida experience than this. Bob’s River Place is a real life “Redneck Water Park” like nothing you’ve ever seen.

5. Rising Star, Universal Orlando’s Citywalk

Who hasn’t imagined being center stage in front of a live audience? Imagine,  the spotlight shining down on you with a live band and backup dancers. This fantasy becomes a reality at this unique karaoke spot in Orlando’s Citywalk.

6. Camping at Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortuga’s National Park is one of the most secluded beaches in the U.S. Accessible only by boat or sea plane, you can pitch your tent on the same island as Fort Jefferson.

7. Richard Petty Driving Experience

They say all it takes is one ride, and you’re hooked. At Daytona Beach’s Richard Petty Driving Experience you’ll get the chance to experience what it’s like to get behind the wheel of a powerful Nascar Vehicle. The opportunity comes with instructional course on how to handle the machine, or you can just take a ride in the passenger seat with an experienced driver.

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure’s Newest Ride, Skull Island: Reign of Kong

The old lady was yelling at nobody in particular. She stood alone in the dark, waving her arms around and ranting indecipherably, as a transfixed crowd looked on. Many pulled out cameras and started snapping away as her tirade continued, her face a mix of awe, fear and confusion. Eventually she started to repeat herself, but even if the sounds became familiar the words remained foreign. All except one, a word she repeated more than any other, and which was occasionally echoed by chanting voices from an unseen choir, joining together with the old lady in a solemn mantra. “KONG!” the lady would say, the voices responding “KONG! KONG! KONG!”

Skull Island: Reign of Kong’s queue is as important to the overall experience as the ride itself. The new attraction at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando is an impressive combination of theming, set design, 3D screens and animatronics, with a massive, intricately designed temple for a show building and a show-stopping face-to-face with Kong himself that’s surprisingly powerful. The high-capacity attraction might be too slow to be a genuine thrill ride, but it’s still a thrilling experience because of the attention to detail seen throughout the entire project. And it all starts with that robotic old lady in the waiting area.

SIRoK 16 Cue line Grand Opening announcement Islands of Adventure Kong

Skull Island’s cavernous line area will keep you entertained during the wait and introduce you to the world of the ride, which takes place before the first King Kong film from 1933. (It also has no connection to next year’s Kong: Skull Island movie.) The centerpiece of the queue is that old lady, an animatronic native of Skull Island who holds court in the queue’s largest chamber. The lifelike quality of her weathered skin and matted hair are matched by the natural grace of her motions. She looks like a real person, and her threats and warnings combine with the ominous choir and the room’s skull-heavy detailing to prepare us for something more frightening than what actually awaits. That horror movie feeling is reinforced further in the line by mummified corpses and live actors in masks who randomly pop out of holes in the walls around you, like they’re part of a Halloween Horror Night street experience.

After making it through the line, you’ll approach the loading bay for the ride’s vehicles, which are massive trucks that hold 72 riders apiece. Behind the wheel, in a closed-off cab, sits one of five animatronic drivers. Their heads and shoulders move around as gracefully as that old woman in the queue chamber, as they look back at their passengers and briefly give their backstory as the ride begins. During one recent press event the truck was driven by Doc, an African-American working on a PhD who joined the expedition to Skull Island to study the dinosaurs that still live there. Doc explained the attraction’s story for his passengers at the start of the ride, and later interacted with the characters that appeared on screen. The other four drivers serve the same role, but with different stories and dialogue, offering a small variety of slightly different experiences for repeat riders.

Kong Skull Island

After the truck pulls out of the loading dock, it heads outside into the Florida heat, and approaches a massive temple that looks like a skull. The voices chanting “KONG!” return, the doors slowly open, and Doc tries to reassure us while struggling to hide his own trepidation. It all combines to feel like a real moment and not a carefully stage-managed theme park highlight. That immersion is increased by the trackless ride system, which makes the vehicles look and feel like real trucks out for a ride instead of show vehicles locked into a fixed rail.

Once inside the cave-like temple, Doc instructs us to put on our 3D glasses as the truck passes oversized animatronic bats and massive bones from long dead creatures. On a screen we meet an adventurer named Kate, who hails the driver and chats briefly about the archeological mission before being attacked by flying monsters. The truck peels out into another cavern, where we see Kate fight off a swarm of creatures before ordering us to leave. The truck pulls into a room that’s effectively a treadmill surrounded by a massive, horseshoe-shaped screen that fills almost our entire field of vision. On the screen we see that we’re now outside and trying to drive over a rickety bridge when dinosaurs start to attack us. From our right we finally see the ride’s star, King Kong, as he comes barreling into view and bludgeons the dinosaurs. As the 3D screens and treadmill give the illusion of movement, we feel our truck fall through the bridge and onto a rockslide that threatens to kill us all. Fortunately Kong helps to steady our vehicle, keeping us alive after he disposes of the dinosaurs.

After that centerpiece, which is based on the King Kong: 360 3D attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, the truck moves into the ride’s final showroom. It turns a corner and pauses as the driver sees the massive ape who just rescued us. In the ride’s highlight, we come face to face with Kong himself, in the form of a massive animatronic of his scarred and bloodied face. He stares us down warily as we feel the air from his nostrils upon our faces, and his eyes, lips, nostril and head move about without any hint of the animatronic’s robotic nature. It’s a powerful moment that’s more exciting than the action-packed motion simulation that comes before it.

Some people hear a theme park ride is built around screens and immediately want to discredit it. The 3D elements are central to Skull Island: Reign of Kong, but so are the practical effects, from the world-class animatronics to the immaculate set design. It also lacks the hyperkinetic movements of screen-based rides like The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man or Transformers: The Ride, so it shouldn’t be as much of a strain for those who struggle with motion sickness. Despite its state-of-the-art trackless ride system and reliance on 3D screens, Skull Island is, at heart, a fairly traditional dark ride. It immerses us in a fantastic and heavily detailed environment, includes a story that hints at a broader world than what the ride exposes us to, and then introduces us to the impressively realized characters of King Kong and the native woman from the queue. Its use of animatronics might be limited, but in terms of creating a tangible world and filling it full of details, Skull Island has as much in common with Disney’s Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean as it does screen-based motion simulators. It may not become a timeless classic like those two Disney staples, but it’s a welcome addition to Islands of Adventure, and one of the best attractions at the park.

Family Fun & New Attractions at LEGOLAND This Summer

One of the new additions to LEGOLAND for 2016 is the newly reimagined Imagination Zone.  In this new area, kids can participate in a variety of hands-on LEGO building activities in a variety of themes, has debuted several all-new areas where kids can unleash the power of their imagination in fun new ways.

The area went under an extensive refurbishment and now offers new experiences such as the Creation Zone, Water Zone, Wheels Zone, Building Zone and Flight Zone.

Also new at LEGOLAND Florida is the new “LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS: The Book of Creativity” 4D film.  The 12½-minute film follows five young knights in their quest to defeat Jestro, the Book of Monsters and their Lava Monster Army. Led by heroic Clay Moorington, the band of knights join forces with the great digital wizard, Merlok 2.0, to vanquish the enemy and stop him from getting his devious hands on a powerful book of magic.

After the show is over, kids can get their parents to download the LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS Merlok 2.0 mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices for even more fun!

When the sun goes down at LEGOLAND Florida, the skies light up with LEGOLAND Night Lights!  This new experience at LEGOLAND Florida features  meet-and-greet opportunities with favorite LEGO characters, including some making their first appearance at LEGOLAND Florida Resort; exclusive opportunities to build alongside LEGO Master Model Builders; and a spectacular, brick-tacular LEGO NINJAGO fireworks display.  This new event will take place every Saturday and Sunday from June 18 through July 31.

Creative Cove is a new expansion area at LEGOLAND Water Park that adds a fun, hands-on attraction, Build-A-Boat, where kids can create and race LEGO watercraft through fast-flowing rivers alongside cheering crowds in a setting inspired by the popular LEGO City Coast Guard sets.

Additional dining offerings, increased seating capacity and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the entire water park round out the all-new offerings for 2016.

New Build-A-Boat Attraction Docks at LEGOLAND Water Park

A new area recently opened at the LEGOLAND Florida water park where kids can build their very own LEGO boat and then put it to the test down a river of flowing water.

This area is part of the new Creative Cove area at the water park that also features a DUPLO play area called the The Imagination Station, where kids can create dams and other creations out of DUPLO blocks.

Other recent enhancements to the LEGOLAND Florida water park include better WiFi coverage and new food options.

Legoland Is Adding Two Lego-Themed Movies This Year

Building on Lego’s growing line of toys, toy-based cartoons and a movie, Legoland is adding several features with characters and story lines that are already familiar to fans — including a new Ninjago land coming in 2017 — and is introducing more characters for meet-and-greets.

Already added this year was The Lego Movie 4D: A New Adventure, a sequel of sorts to 2014’s The Lego Movie. Coming May 26 is Lego Nexo Knights: The Book of Creativity, based on a line of Lego building sets and a show on the Cartoon Network. Both are 12  1/2-minute animated movies and are in 3D (complete with 3D glasses), but add a fourth, sensory “D” with special effects like wind and rain — blasts of air and squirts of water, said David Brady, a Legoland spokesman.

Nexo Knights has an additional element, a free mobile app and shields within the park that give game players access to special powers — available only in the park — for their knights.

Summer brings Legoland Night Lights, with a Ninjago-themed fireworks show and characters Kai, the Red Ninja of Fire, and his sister Nya greeting visitors and taking photos with them. Special glasses will be available that make the bursts of fireworks look like Lego bricks exploding in the sky.

Coming in 2017: Ninjago World, an Asian-inspired ninja land based on another line of Lego building sets and the TV show Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu. The new land’s centerpiece will be a ride during which guests battle villains as their cars pass by 3D computer animation screens, sort of a high-tech version of Disney’s Toy Story Mania!

The ride, which has already had a soft opening at Legoland in Southern California, uses a new technology so that a calculated flick of the hand triggers a weapons blast or a shock wave, Brady said. A separate but related attraction will be ninja training, where guests will hone their skills, including how to use their hands, in preparation for the ride.

Hotel: The park, which opened the 152-room Legoland Hotel last May, is building a second hotel. Legoland Beach Retreat, with 83 colorful Lego-style duplexes, each with two units of accommodations, is scheduled to open in mid-2017.

Legoland Announces Beach Retreat, New Ninjago World

Some might call this awesome news: Legoland Florida is expanding.

The Winter Haven theme park announced Tuesday it is adding a beach retreat and a new world based on Ninjago, a martial arts-themed Lego set. Both are scheduled to open by 2017.

LegoLand officials also announced a new 4D movie, a summer nighttime fireworks show and a build-a-boat workshop at the park’s water park. This is the largest expansion to the theme park since it opened in 2011.

Here are the details:

 – LegoLand Beach Retreat (opening 2017) – Built across the street from LegoLand on Lake Dexter, the beach retreat will feature 83 single-story duplex units and 166 separate accommodations. There will also be a Lego-theme lighthouse, a pool and a sandy beach area.

 – Lego Ninjago World (opening 2017) – The fully immersive 4-D Ninjago World, located near the back of the theme park, is based on the popular building sets and the long-running TV show “LEGO NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu.” The ride will seat up to four guests per vehicle and allow guests to “blast animated fireballs, lightning, shockwaves and ice using nothing more than their hands as they travel through dojos.”

– “Lego Nexo Knights 4D: The Book of Creativity” (Opening May 26) – Set in the  Kingdom of Knighton, the new film tells the story of five young knights battling against the evil Jestro and his sidekick, the Book of Monsters. Based on the new TV show, the 12-minute movie combines 3D computer animation with “4D,” real-world effects.

–  LegoLand Night Lights (Summer 2016) – A celebration of the summer, Night Lights features extended park hours, meet-and-greet opportunities with Lego characters and a Ninjago fireworks display above Lake Eloise. The fireworks are included with park admission every every Saturday and Sunday from June 18 to July 31.

– Build-a-Boat (Open now) – An addition to the LegoLand Water Park, Build-a-Boat is an attraction where kids can create and race Lego watercraft through water features inspired by the popular LEGO City Coast Guard sets.

Star Wars Land to Break Ground Next Month at Walt Disney World

During the 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders today in Chicago, Disney made the announcement that Star Wars Land will be breaking ground at both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World next month.

Disney has not yet announced a definitive opening date for either section.

Iger also announced that Star War: The Force Awakens will be available digitally beginning April 1 and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 5.

Is Legoland Florida Planning Expansion?

Legoland Florida wants visitors to stick around for a little while longer.

The Lakeland Ledger reported the Winter Haven-based theme park is planning to build an extended stay resort nearby.

Owner Merlin Entertainments’ plans for “Project Oasis” have been revealed just months after Legoland Florida celebrated the grand opening of a brand new on-site hotel.

While there’s currently no timetable for construction on the extended stay project, a spokesman for the resort said details are coming.

“We are not prepared to make an official announcement today,” public relations manager David Brady told the Ledger. “But in the very near future we will be making multiple announcements about the future of Legoland Florida Resort. So stay tuned.”

What to Expect

Although details surrounding the extended stay resort remain somewhat scarce, the Ledger reported it’s expected to feature 83 single-story duplexes comprising 166 units. And planned amenities include a pool, a 12,000-square-foot clubhouse and at least two ponds.

If approved, the new resort will be built on Lake Dexter. It would span more than 57 acres and signal the resort’s first expansion beyond the boundaries of Cypress Gardens.

Who Benefits?

Legoland Florida’s expansion would not only be good news for travelers, but for the local economy.

The new resort will create additional jobs of course, but will also continue driving foot traffic in Winter Haven, leading to increased spending.

“More jobs creates more disposable income, which creates a better quality of life for the individuals who live here,” Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce CEO Katie Worthington told Fox 13.

If the project ultimately comes to fruition, visitors to Legoland Florida will have another option for nearby accommodations as the extended stay resort would join the recently-opened five-story, 152-room Legoland Hotel.