Managing Director of Legoland Parks John Jakobsen spoke to the crowd
Today Legoland Florida hosted a community preview and the community came out. An estimated 6 to 7 thousand members of the public came to the Orange Dome in Winter Haven throughout the course of the evening. Everyone was happily surprised. There was also a gaggle of media and many members of the local business community there to welcome the folks from Legoland. At times it seemed like one big networking event.
Attendees were able to pick up some information on jobs that Legoland Florida will bring in the future (and estimated 1,000 once it opens and about half that during construction), look at concept art for new attractions and remodeled buildings, see some of the LEGO sculpture Legoland is so famous for, and play with some LEGOs, even helping to build a giant mural out of LEGOs.
The mural took about an hour to finish. They had expected it would take 3 hours.
Executives on scene included Managing Director of Legoland Parks John Jakobsen and General Manager of Legoland Development John Ussher. About every hour the two Johns gave a little pep talk to the assembled crowd and answered some popular questions.
First, the world famous and historic Botanical Gardens will return, and much the same way they were enjoyed before. One section, the less historic Topiary Garden will be expanded to include the miniland LEGO sculpture elements. Many Topiary will remain in that section. No word on if they’ll fix the Florida pool.
With three minutes until the event wrapped up, there was still a sizable crowd.
Second, the Water Skiing show will be a part of the new park. It will be LEGO themed, which might just actually work. They’re actually considering ideas for the new show this week.
Third, the first bit of sad news was that the Starliner Wooden Roller Coaster will be removed from the park and placed into preservation storage until such time as a buyer can be found. The other wooden coaster will remain a part of the park. The Starliner would make a great headliner for any amusement attraction in Florida. Heck, even SeaWorld could use it.
Fourth, the Water Park will not open until some point after the main LEGOLAND park opens (which is late fall 2011). They want a water park, but want to concentrate on making the 145 acre theme park everything it can be first. There was some speculation that previous owners may have neglected the water park, but I think it just has to do with a lack of parking near the water park. After all, Splash Island was one of the few profitable areas of Cypress Gardens Adventure Park.
Fifth, Helena road will be realigned so that residents have a separate entrance to their neighborhood and won’t have to share the road with tourist traffic. Not coincidentally this will also allow Legoland Florida to join the paved and dirt parking lots into one giant lot. They’re going to need it if the 3-4 million visitors a year they’re projecting appear.
The White House is the first sculpture completed for Legoland Florida.
Lastly, design for the park is finished and demolition has already begun at the property. Coaster parts litter the parking lot and the Starliner has already started to come down. In a couple of weeks they should have the contractor hired and serious work of getting ready for opening day can begin.
President Obama and his family are depicted on the White House steps.
I ended my trip with a visit to Hardee’s restaurant on Highway 27 (a treat for me since I miss Carl’s Jr from when I lived out west). All the roads leading to LEGOLAND Florida from the I-4 are getting an upgrade to handle the expected new traffic. I’m sure the businesses will appreciate the return of visitors too.
Lots more to discuss, so I hope you’ll return over the next few days as we dig into everything that was revealed. I’ll have an interview with John Ussher and a lot more pictures coming up.