Disney Theme Parks will always have a special place in families’ hearts around the world. But in the past 20 years the visitor experience has changed dramatically. Prices have skyrocketed, crowds have exploded, and you’ll need a Disney Doctorate to navigate a day in the park with their different ride reservation systems. For many families, the cost is out of reach. It all adds up to an experience that is less than magical for many.
We’ve Done Both Parks During Spring Break
Our family spent the last two Spring Breaks in Orlando, the most visited destination in America, but we had two very different experiences. In 2022, we had a typical Orlando family vacation visiting Disney theme parks. Then, in 2023, we went to non-Disney theme parks, including Legoland Florida, and it was a night-and-day experience.
Families and Their Wallets Prefer Legoland
After these two trips, our family prefers Legoland Florida to Disney World. And it turns out we’re not the only ones. After interviewing 25 other families who feel the same, here’s why people are opting for days with Emmet, Lloyd, and Master Wu instead of Elsa, Luke, and Mickey Mouse.
Everything is Indeed Awesome at Legoland Florida
While Legoland Florida is 45 minutes from the Disney parks, many feel it hits all the high notes and is worth the additional driving time.
“Before our kids were teenagers, Legoland, hands down, was the first choice of which park to visit,” said Michelle of Love and Traveling. “And now we are taking our grandkids, who also enjoy Legoland best.”
“Overall, Legoland Florida is a clear winner with younger children due to price, experience, and ease; Disney is just harder,” said Richard Campbell of 10Adventures.
A Fraction of the Crowds
One of the things that hit you as soon as you start exploring Legoland Florida is how dramatically less crowded it is. If you’ve ever been to Magic Kingdom, the number of people there is overwhelming. Magic Kingdom’s 100 acres have a maximum capacity of 100,000. Even though Legoland Florida is 50% larger at 150 acres, their maximum capacity is 12,000 or 12% of Magic Kingdom.
“If you were to ask my kids, they would say that Disney may have some cooler rides, but Legoland is so much less crowded, which makes it more fun,” said Katie Clark, Founder of Magical Family Travel Guide.
So You Spend the Day Riding, Not Waiting
Our days at Disney were spent waiting in lines for rides, often for 1 hour or more at a time. That means that we didn’t ride many rides. We spent a lot of time walking around slowly due to the heave crowds or standing in very long lines.
Over our two days at Legoland, we rode many more rides, sometimes not waiting in line at all.
Legoland Florida is Significantly Less Expensive
According to a LendingTree analysis, a one-day, one-park base ticket for Disney World costs $141.74 on average. And if you want to go during peak travel times, park hop, or reserve ride times to skip the crowds, it could be almost twice that amount.
While Disney World advertises one-day, one-park ticket prices for as low as $109, this low price is only available for 20 days a year. Our per-person average daily ticket rate during our Spring Break trip was almost double that at $205.75.
Even Disney’s CEO Thinks Their Prices Are Too High
“I always believed that Disney was a brand that needs to be accessible,” said Bog Iger, CEO of Disney, at a March Morgan Stanley media conference. “And I think that in our zeal to grow profits, we may have been a little bit too aggressive about some of our pricing.”
We Paid Through the Nose For Our Tickets
“Our Spring Break Disney World tickets were $1,646 for two days of park hopper passes and ride reservations for two adults and two kids,” says Daniel, a dad from New Jersey. “Our per-person cost was almost double the average ticket price at $205.75. Given the exorbitant cost, huge crowds, and chaotic park experience, I don’t see our family returning to Disney anytime soon.”
Legoland Florida Does Put Their Tickets on Sale
One of the many ways Legoland makes its parks accessible to a broad range of families is their ticket price. On their website, one-day base Legoland Florida tickets start at $84, with only $5 more to visit the waterpark when bought in advance. AAA, Undercover Tourist, and Working Advantage also offer discounted tickets in the ballpark of 35% off.
For those who plan, take advantage of their best sale of the year to save big. During Black Friday, you can save up to 50% off tickets and vacation packages to stay and play for a fraction of the regular price.
It’s A Place for Kids to Be Kids
“Over the last 15 years, we have visited Disney and Legoland numerous times. When the kids were younger, ten and under, Legoland was the first choice by all,” said Michelle Sweet of Love and Traveling. “Both Disney World and Legoland share a level of magic. Yet Legoland lets the kids be kids.”
Less Chaos, More Fun
Vacation is supposed to be fun, right? That was one of the most common things fan families said about Legoland Florida. Compared to a day at Disney, Legoland Florida is much more enjoyable day.
“Overall, it’s just a lot more relaxed and low-key. We actually went to Legoland Florida first before Disney World, and we all felt like it spoiled us,” said Shelley Marmor, a travel blogger. “The huge crowds and lines at Disney compared to Legoland were not fun.”
“Disney World is usually bustling with people, making navigating the parks and enjoying the attractions challenging. Conversely, Legoland is less crowded, giving us more time and space to enjoy our vacation truly. It’s so much more relaxing and enjoyable for our family to walk around without constantly bumping into people,” said Amy Smith of Amy and Rose.
Unique Attractions In a Special, Historical Setting
Did you know that Legoland Florida was built on the site of Florida’s first theme park, Cypress Gardens? Considered Florida’s first tourist attraction, it opened to the public on January 2, 1936, and operated until 2003. Boats began taking guests on tours through the canals of Cypress Gardens in 1938 and would become an iconic element of the gardens until closing in 2003.
The space reopened as Cypress Gardens Adventure Park from 2004 until 2009. Then, in 2010, Legoland Florida announced its purchase of the property, completing the park almost two years later.
That Tradition Lives on in a Brand New Boat Tour Ride
Twenty years after closing, the historical canal boats returned with a LEGO twist. The park’s newest ride, Pirate River Quest, uses much of the same canal route as the original attraction, with the finale taking guests out onto Lake Eloise for a view of the gardens not often seen.
It’s a Ride For All Age Groups
Pirate River Quest is a one-of-a-kind ride in a unique location and natural setting. Guests will experience the beauty of the natural foliage and even get a potential glimpse of Florida wildlife while onboard, like our alligator spotting! As you embark on the 30-minute slow-moving boat adventure to locate Captain Redbeard and the treasure, there are fun interactive moments and a great ending!
All boats are free-floating vessels driven by trained boat captains with extensive experience navigating narrow canals and a natural lake. Pirate River Quest is accessible to guests of all ages. There are ten total boats including two ADA-accessible boats that allow guests in wheelchairs to ride securely.
While Legoland Florida is known for its short wait times, this new ride will have the longest line in the park due to its popularity. The best time of day to catch a short queue is during the neighboring Watersports Stunt Show.
Parents and Grandparents Can Walk Through the Stunning Gardens, Part of Legoland Florida
While the thought of taking a relaxing stroll isn’t what comes to mind for a theme park day, you can do precisely that at Legoland Florida. Stop in the historic gazebo, see the same stunning tropical plants that drew the Pope to visit generations ago, and take a family photo with the iconic Banyan Tree.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to walk with a napping kid in a stroller, this is it.
The Cypress Gardens Ski Show Lives on In Blackbeard’s Watersports Stunt Show
Kids and adults who loved the world-renowned Cypress Gardens Ski Show will get a kick out of the new Lego-theme show in the same waters. This 20-minute water stunt show occurs at noon, 2 pm, and 4 pm. Come a little bit before show time to secure a seat in the shade.
It’s a Park Focused on Rides for Kids
After spending two days in Disney parks with a kid who didn’t enjoy the rides, our time at Legoland was the opposite. And it seems like other kids feel the same way too.
“Overall, the rides may not be as impressive as Disney’s, but that is mainly from an adult’s point of view,” said Daina Cohen, Editor of Worldly Known. “Legoland’s rides are amazing for children, especially those under ten.”
Bye Bye Meltdowns in Ride Lines
“I prefer taking my kiddos to Legoland because the park tends to be less crowded than Disney World. I’m sure I’m not the only parent whose kids aren’t exactly superstars when it comes to waiting in line, especially when it’s hot out,” said Larry Snider of Redwood Vacation Rentals. “This is a huge advantage because we enjoy the park without spending half our time in lines. “
Their Kid Focused Ride Lines are Something Special
Have you ever seen an amusement create a space so that it’s easier for kids to wait in line? Yes, Disney rides have things to look at while you wait an hour or more, but do they encourage kids to get out of line to play with toys?
Well, that’s exactly what we encountered at Legoland Florida – truly a place designed for kids and family fun. It’s just another detail that adds up to an enjoyable day out.
You Can Also Get Your Roller Coaster Fix
And for younger kids who do love thrill rides, Legoland Florida has four roller coasters, just as many as Magic Kingdom. My kindergartener set out to ride every single one during our two-day visit, and it was fantastic that she was tall enough experience them all.
Or, if you’re looking to balance a day out with younger and older kids, the Legoland roller coasters will give older kids the thrills they might be looking for.
Ride a Historic Wooden Roller Coaster
My daughter picked the wooden Coastersaurus as her favorite ride in the park. What she didn’t know is it’s the same ride layout as Triple Hurricane from the Cypress Gardens Adventure Park days. Ten years ago, Legoland Florida refurbished the iconic ride with a new train and trackwork for new generations of kids to have a wooden rollercoaster experience.
It’s For Kids Who Aren’t in Disney Characters or Movies
My oldest son didn’t like Disney as he doesn’t watch any of the shows or properties and couldn’t find things in the park to connect to. Besides the firework show at the end of the day, he enjoyed very few things. It turns out that he’s not the only one.
“We find that our kids don’t really connect with Disney characters as much. They’re at the ages to enjoy the Lego movies, so our preference is Legoland,” said Adam of Adam And Celine. “The cost and crowd levels are important to us, but at the end of the day, if our boys meet Emmet and get to enjoy references from the Lego movies, then everything is awesome. And they could care less about standing in line to meet the mouse.”
Legoland Florida Also Has an On-Site Water Park
Unlike Disney’s separate water parks, which require a $50 or more ticket, Legoland Florida’s water park is connected, and the additional cost is nominal, especially if you purchase it in advance.
With over 12 waterslides for kids of all ages, a wave pool, The Joker Soaker complex for elementary-aged kids, and a lazy river to float the hours away, we spent most of our first day in the water park And in true Legoland fashion, they have water-based Lego building activities, including a boat version of Build and Test, my son’s top pick for the park’s best attraction.
Children Who Don’t Enjoy Thrill Rides Will Still Have a Great Theme Park Day
If you have kids afraid of heights, a family day at an amusement park is usually met with more complaints than joy. As a mom of one of those kids, what is supposed to be fun is draining. Legoland Florida brilliantly balances rides and a whole day’s worth of activities for kids who are builders and doers but not thrill seekers.
Enough Building Activities For A Whole Day or Two
If we had let him, my son would have spent two entire days in the Imagination Zone. For those who have been to other Legoland parks, it’s an expanded version of Build and Test plus a restaurant in the same building. Kids can build tall towers and shake them to see if they stand, make their own LEGO cars and race them on a timed track, explore Lego City Space, or build a Mindstorms robot in a 45-minute class.
Designed with families in mind, a parent could sit at the tables and eat while still keeping an eye on playing children. It’s just another example of how a day at Legoland is enjoyable and low-stress for parents and kids alike.
“As a family that prefers Legoland Florida over Disney World, we enjoy the park’s focus on creativity and imagination, as well as its family-friendly atmosphere and affordability. Legoland’s interactive exhibits and attractions encourage kids to use their imaginations and engage in hands-on play, making it a great choice for families with younger children,” said
Adeel Khan, Business Class.
Environment Designed to be Welcoming to a Broad Range of Guests
If you visit a Legoland Park in North America in 2023, you’ll notice the new sensory signs throughout the park and in front of attractions. That is because these parks are Certified Autism Centers as of Spring 2023. Additionally, they offer a Hero Pass for guests with disabilities who cannot wait in lines.
Nina Clapperton, who travels full-time with her service dog, remarked, “When I visited Legoland with Theo, I noticed we had more space for navigating and enjoying the park without feeling overwhelmed by the crowds of people.”
It is Vacation Ease
Disney theme parks remain a bucket-list trip for most families around the world, but I don’t think parents would use the word ease to describe it. Legoland Florida offers an all-in-one experience without needing a bus, monorail, gondola, or taxi.
“We love staying at the Legoland Hotel. It’s fun, has a great breakfast, and it’s so close to the park, you walk right in,” said Katie Clark of Magical Family Travel Guide. “When you go to Disney, most resorts are far from the park. It is nice to go back and forth with a child who still takes naps so easily.
It’s Steps from The Hotel To The Park Entrance
Located 130 kid-steps away from the Theme Park’s front gate, Pirate Island Hotel offers nightly entertainment, a heated outdoor pool, as well as restaurants and bars with built-in LEGO play places.
The lobby is a kid’s dream, no matter the time of day. In the morning, kids in their pajamas play with LEGOs while parents enjoy coffee. Throughout the day, kids will bound through the play structure, snap pictures with appearing characters or take a Master Model Builder workshop.
Vacation Like a LEGO Pirate
As three-year season pass holders to Legoland New York, and super fans of Legoland Theme Parks, we were excited when Legoland Florida invited us down for a visit while we were vacationing in Orlando. And since our New York theme park doesn’t have a pirate-themed hotel, it was an extra special hotel stay.
Designed to feel like a pirate adventure, Pirate Island Hotel has 150 themed rooms, each filled with a LEGO crab, monkey, and parrot made of 6,600 real LEGO bricks. Kids can go on a treasure hunt inside their room to unlock a chest filled with LEGO toy surprises each night of their stay.
Staying Over at Legoland is Special Family Experience
Pirate Island Hotel rooms sleep five; a king-size bed and a separate sleeping area for kids complete with a bunk bed, pullout trundle, and television. Complimentary family-style breakfast at Shipwreck Restaurant is included with each overnight stay, and it’s beyond your typical hotel breakfast.
Shipwreck Restaurant also features the resort’s first family-style dining option and serves bountiful platters that surprised us in all the best ways. Traveling families have gotten used to the level of typical hotel food. However, Shipwreck restaurant, while themed for kids and has a playroom, is a much more elevated food experience than you’d expect for the setting.
It’s a very popular restaurant choice for overnight guests, so make sure to make a reservation before your trip.
More Legoland Theme Park Locations Across the World
Did you know that there are more Legoland Theme Parks around the world? They can be found in:
- Billund, Denmark
- Windsor, England
- San Diego California
- Goshen, New York
Legoland NY: 35 Reasons Everything is Awesome at Their Largest Amusement Park
Legoland New York is the largest Lego amusement park in the world! Located in scenic Lower Hudson Valley, 60 miles northwest of New York City, you can ride, climb, splash, explore, and build in seven themed lands across 150 acres. As season pass holders for three years straight, my kids can’t get enough and ask to return repeatedly.
Disney’s No Longer the Top Park – The Tropical Oasis Experience Voted Orlando’s Best Theme Park
What if I told you about a place in Orlando near it all, but feels like you’ve been whisked to a tropical island? A day destination that’s nestled in between resorts and iconic theme parks but feels worlds away from the crowds and long lines of America’s vacation capital.
A place where you can relax and explore rocky lagoons, and reefs teeming with fish, float down winding rivers with birds flying overhead, and stick your feet into soft white sandy beaches amidst lush island-like landscaping. You genuinely feel like you’re on a Caribbean vacation right in the heart of Orlando.
Move Over Theme Parks: 17 Thrilling Orlando Golf Courses (Starting at $16 a Round)
Did you know that Orlando is also The Happiest Place on Earth for golfers?
From world-renowned championship courses to breathtaking resort layouts and family-friendly par 3s, there’s something for everyone and every budget. Whether you’re an experienced golfer, just starting, or looking for a course to take your kids, choosing from the over 200 Orlando golf courses can be daunting.
25 Day Trips from Orlando When You’re Over Theme Parks
Odds are you’re planning or thinking about a trip to Orlando. The most visited tourist destination in America draws 75 million people a year. Despite being known as the theme park capital of the world, there are many other things to do in Florida in and around Orlando.
So whether you’re completely over theme parks or looking to add variety to your next Orlando vacation, consider one of these 25 day trips to Florida’s beaches, parks, historical sites, museums, and nearby towns.
The 3 Best Days to Visit Walt Disney World Revealed
If you’re planning a trip to Disney, it’s essential to think about when you can avoid the crowds and the summer heat. Well, new research reveals the three best days to visit based on a crowds-to-weather score.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.