If the number of parents forgoing shoes in the lobby of LEGOLAND Florida's whimsical new hotel is any indication, its designers should be very pleased.
They've created an atmosphere so carefree and inviting, everyone seems to have forgotten the potential peril of mingling bricks and bare feet.
Brick-tastic! The LEGOLAND Florida hotel entrance is about a minute's walk from the park entrance — Photo courtesy of Chip Litherland Photography / LEGOLAND Florida
Even on approach, the property (roughly a half-hour's ride from Orlando's most famous theme park) is a riot of fun and color, with the friendly, familiar hues that have been delighting and inspiring us since 1958.
The work of the company’s famed Master Builders is everywhere – in the towering dragon that greets guests on approach; in the playful sculptures that you’ll find around the 152-room property; and potentially in the creations of its guests, both young and old, as they conceive and fashion sculptures and structures of their own.
The entire first floor is something of a playroom, one that covers guests of all ages. In fact, they have your kids at hello.
Just off the concierge desk, cushioned benches corral a large, arm-deep trough of bricks.
At nearly all hours, you’ll find kids (parents, too) working diligently on covering the columns or concentrating their efforts on an original creation, perhaps one to showcase on the hotel's own lobby shelves.
The hotel lobby is a literal LEGO wonderland — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
The children appear to outnumber adults in zombie apocalyptic proportions here, but fear not: they planned for it.
The open first-floor layout has great sight lines, few barriers to conceal kids tempted at every turn to run, climb, build, explore.
Its centerpiece: a towering play-on structure that's part castle, part pirate ship, part Lego workshop; its moat teems with bricks, where the youngest guests climb, pose and revel.
It sits between the restaurants and – to the delight of park-weary parents – the lounge.
A full bar serves as an oasis in the shadow of the bricked bastion-bow; grown-ups can enjoy a beverage or two while kids play. They can snap photos, check e-mail (free Wi-Fi!), unwind and plan what’s next on the family itinerary.
If it's the park, then you're set. The entrance sits, quite literally, just steps from the hotel's Lego-laden porte-cochère. So whether you're heading in or out, the commute is a weary vacationer's dream come true.
On site, events are scheduled throughout the day – character meet-and-greets, model-building competitions and pajama parties – and make filling the off-park hours easier.
The pool and splash pad work well during daytime hours, and an on-site workshop with actual LEGO Master Builders is offered daily.
Theming is exceptional; in Adventure Rooms, kids follow in the footsteps of mini LEGO hero Johnny Thunder — Photo courtesy of Chip Litherland Photography / LEGOLAND Florida
The rooms? Kid paradise.
Theming moves past extensive to immersive. LEGO torches light the way in corridors to enclaves awash in themes including pirate, adventure and kingdom.
Once inside, fun games allow kids to seek treat-and-toy-laden treasure in their temporary digs and even offer scavenger hunt lists for use inside the park. And, of course, more LEGOs.
Other fun hotel touches include carpeted “whoopee cushions” (The adults seem equally amused, if not more.) and disco elevators that, with the help of artists like Abba and Rose Royce and seriously funky lighting, turn every ride into a dance party – and a great way to make friends with fellow guests.
Park admission specials abound during summer. Hotel guests who purchase the full resort package (room plus park tickets) receive free park admission on their second day.
For Independence Day, LEGOLAND's Red, Brick and Boom event runs July 3 to 5 this year. On tap: a brick flag build and special viewing glasses to turn celebratory fireworks into millions of exploding bricks.
In-room entertainment: Kids follow the instructions to unlock hidden treasures — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson