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There’s More To Florida Than Disney

One of the many, many perks of living in Florida is that you’re close to all sorts of entertainment options. And no other place in Florida packs it all in like the Orlando area. But it’s not all about Disney. There are lots of theme park options that are a little more affordable.

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Legoland Florida was kind enough to give my family passes so we could find out everything they have to offer. And it is a lot. If you or your kids love legos, this is the place for you. And if you and your kids don’t love legos, this place could still be for you.

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Money Matters

Ticket Prices

Obviously I’m going to start with money. That’s kinda my thing. 😉  A basic one day pass to LegoLand Florida (including access to the water park) is $93 for kids and $99 for adults. You’ll save $20 if you want to go bare bones and only visit the park and not the water park.

For a one day basic pass to DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom you’ll pay a minimum of $101 for kids and $107 for adults. The tricky part with Disney is that those prices quickly get higher if you’re going during ‘regular’ or ‘peak’ times, which is much of the summer and spring break times.

The best part about LegoLand Florida’s prices is that if you live close enough, you would be silly not to get the annual pass, which is only $99. Yep, you read that right. An annual pass is basically the same price as a one day ticket. And there are no blackout dates!

So even if you don’t live close to the park but plan on visiting for more than one day, you could get the annual pass and after your first day, it’s pretty much free.

Food

Another big money saver about LegoLand Florida (which was also true for Disney) is that you are allowed to bring in your own food and bottled water. The rules say snacks and small meals that don’t require heating are ok. You just can’t bring in anything glass. So as we did at Disney, we packed bagels, peanut butter, fruit, granola bars and bottled water for lunch and grabbed dinner outside the park after it closed.

LegoLand does not stay open super late like Disney parks. It closes anywhere from 5pm to 7pm depending on the time of year so check before you go. I personally loved this. At Disney we feel like we have to stay all day and night to get our money’s worth and end up wrecked at the end of the day. After LegoLand closed we could get some dinner and relax a little.

Parking

If you pay in advance parking is just $15. If you pay at the park the price is $17. That’s compared to Disney’s $20 parking.

Awesome Things About LegoLand Florida

FREE Lego Minifigures

My kids (who aren’t even giant lego fans) loved this. You can bring minifigures from home and trade them with park staff. There are a few employees who walk around with minifigures all over their uniform, ready to trade with kids. My kids came home with 6 brand new minifigures. That’s basically free souvenirs. Boom.

Awesome Water Park

This was actually our favorite part. The water park has stuff for young and old. The spot for younger kids is the coolest I’ve ever seen. It has several smaller slides, but still big enough to challenge them to be brave. There’s also a giant wave pool, lazy river and giant slides for bigger kids and adults.

You’ll need to pay for a locker to put your stuff in while you enjoy the water park. My husband and I each had backpacks so we paid for a jumbo sized locker at $13 for the day.

Next Door Resort

With Disney and other mega theme park resorts, you’ll need to take a shuttle to the theme park and it can take a while to get inside. But at LegoLand Resort, you literally just walk next door and go through one gate. And they have extended hours for resort hotel guests, so you can spend much more time inside and in a few minutes crash in your bed.

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Overall we were really happy with our experience at LegoLand Florida. The giant Lego creations were neat to see. They had several Star Wars worlds, Daytona Speedway (my son’s favorite), New York City and lots more. The rides were my daughter’s favorite part, as she gets more and more courageous. 🙂 They have lots of options for little kids to big kids.

We probably spent the most time inside the Imagination Zone where the kids (and the parents) got to get their hands on the legos to build art, cars and gliders and play lego video games. A big plus for parents is that the Imagination Zone is your place to relax in the air conditioning!

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As I said, the water park was the collective favorite for the family. We’re considering an annual pass to frequent the water park over the hot Florida summer.

And what I really loved was the money we spent.. or didn’t spend. In total, including parking, a few souvenirs and water park locker rental, we spent just $55 the whole day.


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I was fortunate to get two free passes and half off a third pass so my family and I could check out Busch Gardens in Tampa, which is just about an hour from Orlando. And I will say this park was so much more than I even imagined it would be. I have some friends who have annual passes and I can totally see why. We might join them in the near future.

You might not know that you’ve been searching all your life for a world-class zoo combined with a thrill ride theme park. But you have. Trust me. And this is it.

Money Matters

Ticket Prices

Busch Gardens ticket prices are the best of the theme parks we’ve visited in Florida at just $90 for a basic one day pass. That’s when you buy in advance online, which you want to do. At the gate you’ll pay around $107 for kids and $114 for adults.

The annual pass is affordable too at $168, which has no blackout dates and includes free general parking. So the pass has more than paid for itself after just two visits.

Food

I was a little disappointed that Busch Gardens does not allow any outside food or drink except water bottles. Packing our own lunch is usually a big way we save money at theme parks. So we bought pretzels and smoothies for a snack mid-morning and ate at a restaurant for a late lunch so we could sit down, relax and cool off. In total we spent around $113 on food and drinks. Which was still comparable to what we’ve spent during a day at Disney. You could also skip the snack and eat a lighter lunch to save money.

But if you’re going to be there all day and don’t want to skimp on food, the dining deal is a great option. For $20 for kids and $35 for adults you get to eat all day at several of the restaurants in the park.

Parking

General parking was $20, comparable to other major parks. After parking you take a short tram ride to get to the main gate, much faster than getting into Disney.

Awesome things about Busch Gardens

Your kids will actually learn something! (But shhh, don’t tell them.)

I am much happier paying a lot of money for a theme park where my kids will actually learn something on top of having a ton of fun. And that’s the great combination with Busch Gardens.

Throughout the day you can get inside information from the park staff about how they take care of the animals. There are also opportunities to learn about conservation and efforts to protect endangered species.

Close Encounters

You can get closer to zebras, rhinos and giraffes than anywhere else on the Serengeti Safari. It’s a 30 minute ride around their 65-acre habitat. It’s about $30 per person.

Treetop Trails

There’s a giant area called the Treetop Trails, which was my favorite part of the whole park. It’s full of rope bridges and areas to climb in. I’ve never seen a climbing area that’s as big and interesting as this one. It can keep the kids entertained for hours so the parents can actually sit down for a while.

Rockin’ Rides

If you or someone in your family likes roller coasters, this park is for you. Busch Gardens has five giant roller coasters. I’m personally not a fan of coasters, just don’t have the stomach for it. Just watching some of them go by made me a little queezy.

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Overall we really loved our day at Busch Gardens. It’s definitely not your average theme park. And there is literally something for everyone. I was pulling the family towards the animal exhibits and trainer sessions while the kids spent their time running around the Treetop Trails and riding rides.

And I highly encourage you to slow down a bit and ride the train and Skyride to get amazing views of the whole park.

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These are just a few of the awesome theme parks and attractions in Florida. If you’re planning a visit to this wonderful state, check out these resources on other theme parks and attractions:

Major Theme Parks

Water Parks

Zoos

Aquariums

Family Friendly Beaches


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