WINTER HAVEN — A dried-up water park is just so wrong and sad. It has no splash, lacks panache.
Legoland Florida is in the process of turning Splash Island, the old Cypress Gardens water park, into a happy place again. But first, the wave pool, lazy river and assorted slides had to be drained to check their condition.
"The condition of the infrastructure has actually surprised us how good it is considering it's been idle for two years," says general manager Adrian Jones. The water park was in better shape than Cypress Gardens proper, Jones says.
That gave Legoland a jump-start on creating the water park, which is scheduled to open before the summertime crush. An exact opening date is expected in the next few weeks.
Between now and then, the leftover attractions will receive the "veneer of Lego" and elements will be added to make it even more friendly to Legoland's coveted demographic: 2- to 12-year-olds and their families.
For instance, the Lego Wave Pool will be a kind, gentle experience.
"You're not going to see massive tidal waves. It will be rolling, gentle waves just right for our guests," says Jackie Wallace, Legoland Florida spokeswoman. Because the pool is zero-entry, "even the tiniest kids can sit at the edge and play in the water and enjoy," she says.
The back of the wave pool will be retiled in the bright Lego color palette and flanked by 3-foot-tall Lego figures.
Along the front edge of the pool will be the new Lego Imagination Station, where kids can test their construction skills of water-related structures such as bridges and dams with oversize, spongy Lego blocks.
Near the entrance of the water-park area will be the new Duplo Splash Safari. It's designed for kids age 5 and younger, and it features a shallow pool, giant Duplo animals and a shade structure.
It's adjacent to a refurbished restaurant, retail outlet and changing rooms. Legoland guests will enter at an entrance near the Flying School coaster in the Lego City section of the park. The new water park does not have a separate entrance.
"We're a water-park attraction within Legoland Florida. So in order to get into this park, you've got to get into Legoland Florida first," says Kim Isemann, sales and marketing director.
That means purchasing the water-park option on top of regular park admission. It's an extra $12 for ages 3 and older and $3 for 2-year-olds and younger. (Regular admission is $75 general, $65 ages 3-12.) The water park is also included with Legoland's premium annual pass, which is $179 ($159 ages 3-12).
The water park will only be available on days that Legoland is open. Remember, the park tends to be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays except during peak periods.
Also, the water park will be not be open year-round. "Summer through fall, we'll be open," Isemann says.
Other revamped attractions include the Joker Soaker, a watery jungle gym that includes regular drenchings from a 300-gallon bucket overhead, and the Build-A-Raft River that allows folks to trick out their tube with oversize Lego bricks while floating around the water park.
More harrowing will be Twin Chasers, an enclosed, dueling tube ride, and Splash Out, a trio of slides with 60-foot drops. Those look to be on the older end of Legoland's target audience, but they were already constructed so they remain, Jones says.
"We'll see how it goes. And who's to say? We also have space to expand. We will look to invest in the future and expand the water park," he says.
Jones would not share how much investment is being made in the water-park section or give attendance figures for the park, which opened Oct. 15.
"We've been extremely busy over the past three months. We had a great start," Jones says. "The annual pass sales have been so robust and so strong that it gives us confidence to move forward."
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