Whether you live in Florida and are looking for a fun and easy family staycation, or traveling to the Sunshine State from another location, Visit Florida knows the best spots to go. Do you have LEGO-loving kids? Have they ever wanted to stay in a LEGO house just like the sets they build? Enter LEGOLAND Beach Retreat!
In early April, my friend Vicky and I had a priceless opportunity to take our families to visit the new LEGOLAND Beach Retreat and explore it with them before the grand opening. Not only was LEGOLAND perfect for my kids’ ages ( 3 and 7), but since the Beach Retreat was built with families in mind, it made staying away from home with kids so easy. Based on our stupendous experience with our families, here are 5 reasons why you should include the LEGOLAND Beach Retreat in your family’s vacation bucket list:
1) It’s Built for Kids
Built with kids in mind, the LEGOLAND park and resort, located in Winter Haven, FL, is an easy 45 – minute drive from both Orlando and Tampa. There is enough to do to for you to make it your sole destination, or you can wrap it into a longer family vacation if you plan to visit either of these areas.
Check-in at the Beach Retreat is a breeze! Rather than getting out of the car and dragging your kids into a hotel lobby, you just drive right up to the gate, give them your info, and receive your key and the map to your bungalow.
Family vacations can fast become pricey, but when it comes to accommodations, amenities, and entertainment, LEGOLAND is definitely a bargain as compared with other entertainment parks. They even offer an annual pass that’s basically the same price as daily admission, so it’s more than worthwhile to purchase one if you plan a return visit within a year. In addition, annual pass – holders get 10% off the Beach Retreat and Resort Hotel and other fun perks.
The Beach Retreat’s room rates begin at $135 per night (plus tax and resort fee, varying by season, date, and availability) and they include breakfast at Sandy’s Castle Restaurant. The resort fee includes parking at LEGOLAND Beach Retreat for the duration of your stay, parking in the main LEGOLAND Florida Resort parking lot (a $17-per-day fee for most vehicles), Wi-Fi, and the unique LEGOLAND Times newspaper for kids.
If you want to stay on property, the nightly dinner buffet is available at Sandy’s Castle Restaurant for $19.99 (plus tax) for guests age 13 and older; $12.99 (plus tax) for children ages 7-12; and $7.99 (plus tax) for children ages 3-6 , with no charge for children under 3. Many restaurants are located nearby, along with a convenient Publix if you want to pick up a few items to keep in your mini – fridge.
Designed to look like larger-than-life LEGO sets, 83 brightly colored beach-themed bungalows are grouped in 13 horseshoe-shaped “coves” and named after popular LEGO mini-figures. Since each bungalow allows for two separate accommodations, as many as 166 families can stay on the property. With LEGO theming inside and out, the bungalows can sleep up to five, with a cozy area just for the kids separated by a privacy curtain that includes a bunk bed and trundle, within the main area, a king-size bed for parents located in the main area. Each cove has its own outdoor play area for the kids to run around while parents can relax on the outdoor patio.
4) The Pool Is a Favorite for Kids
The pool area was by far my children’s favorite spot. Each pool is heated year round and includes a sandy beach area perfect for building sandcastles. A large play structure is also available adjacent to the swimming pool, all of which is located in an enclosed area with lifeguards on duty–so parents can really relax and enjoy the pool, knowing that their children are in a safe zone (while keeping an eye on them, of course!).
In addition, kids can build with LEGO bricks on a giant sandcastle-themed play area conveniently located near Sandy’s Castle Restaurant in The Lighthouse–supplying a perfect opportunity for entertainment when the kids quickly finish eating, and you still want to finish your meal.
Around the pool, regular activities include dance parties, bean-bag toss, hula-hoop contests, volleyball, Red Light-Green Light, Hot Potato, chalk art competitions, sandcastle build show-and-tell, and “Master Builder” competitions using large LEGO soft bricks. My kids loved playing with all the floating bricks, using them to build structures in and around the pool. Guests can roast marshmallows and make s’mores at a fire pit adjacent to the pool.
Bricks Beach Bar offers made-to-order lunch items daily from noon-4 p.m., and a full-service bar with signature cocktails, draft beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. Vicky and I really enjoyed the Fish in Bag Cocktail! Food and beverages are available inside The Lighthouse and on the pool deck. You can also get takeout pizza from the Bricks Beach Bar for an easy dinner.
One of the many perks of staying at the Beach Retreat is that you get to enter the park 30 minutes early. The Beach Retreat is located a little less than a mile across the street from the park, but the Resort offers free shuttle service. Or you may also receive free parking at the Park if you prefer to drive your own vehicle. The Park includes more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions perfect for 2 to 12-year-olds.
The new LEGO NINJAGO ride was a big hit with Vicky’s kids. My 7-year-old daughter Kingsley was dying to go on the Project X ride and was a total trooper, but the big drop definitely scared her: her reaction was a mix of tears and laughter, but it was also her first “big” roller – coaster experience. My 3-year-old tractor-obsessed son could have ridden the DUPLO tractor and train and Merlin’s Challenge all day long. DUPLO Farm offered a nice reprieve from the heat for my little guy. It’s an indoor air-conditioned play area with slides and structures for kids to climb on. Overall, we loved that there tended to be fewer long lines at LEGOLAND and more to do with the little ones.
LEGOLAND also has an enticing water park that can really take up half the day, so plan accordingly. If you’re staying more than a day at the Resort, you might want to spend one whole day at the water park and one day in the primary Park.
My daughter summed it up best when she declared, “Why would anyone ever take their kids to another hotel when they can take them to LEGOLAND’s Beach Retreat!? It’s the coolest place I’ve ever been in my whole life!”