My normal Sunday schedule is to lie on the couch all day clearing my DVR and pretending I am about to start writing at any second. Before I know it I am watching John Walsh on CNN and then TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” It is amazing how fast those precious hours fly by especially in contrast to the ones I spent at work all week.
So if I am going to go out on Sunday and brake away from this most treasured ritual it has to be worth it. I need to know it is for something fun, interesting, blog worthy (which apparently it is), and with people I love. Lucky for me such was the case last weekend.
For a few months now I have been promising my nephew and niece that I would go with them and their mom (my bff) to LEGOLAND in Yonkers, N.Y. We had inadvertently stumbled upon this treasure while hanging out playing around on an I-Pad. Somehow my genius nephew at only age five and who can’t read yet finds a hotel that just opened up in Winter Haven Orlando, Florida which is supporting a LEGO theme. I took the I-Pad to see it for myself. It sounds amazing. Just the pool alone is reason to go as it is filled with pool floats, can you guess in what shape?
Winter Haven is about an hour away from Orlando, FL and this hotel has shuttles back and forth daily. They are some smart cookies. The hotel has taken this theme and really run with it. You can pick which LEGO theme room you want to stay in. The choices are between Pirate, Adventure, Kingdom and LEGO Friends. Each room has LEGOS in it for the kids to play with. Each room sleeps two adults and up to three children. If the actual hotel isn’t enough reason to go then consider the activities they have there. There is a LEGOLAND theme park as well as a water park featuring you know what. The activities seem to go on and on. This hotel seems as if a child dreamed it up. There is no end to what you can do there or to the amount of fun you can have. Needless to say my nephew and I are saving our dollars hoping to make the trip next year.
Now that we are done with our Florida talk, I can return to my home state. After we read up on the hotel there was a link for a LEGOLAND land we could visit anytime. It resides in a gorgeous shopping center in Ridge Hills Park, in Yonkers New York. It is about an hour or so outside of the city. There is PLENTY of cheap parking garages nearby and more than enough places to eat. I had no preconceived notions going in so what I discovered was more than we could have hoped for.
Prior to visiting we purchased our tickets online with entry for first hours it would open. There are timed entries but you are guaranteed to get in once you have a ticket. They are very effectively managing the crowd so that there aren’t too many children in the exhibits at the same time. We arrived a few minutes before it opened. We stood in line as our excitement built.
We were let in right on time and instantly I knew this was going to be some great day. The LEGOs are in everything, literally. There are characters in different poses all over. The cash registers spell out phrases with these little gems. The creativity cannot be overstated. Even in the bathroom the doors were sporting different themed characters. I even saw a caution cone that looked so real it wasn’t until I was up close that I noticed it was not made of plain, boring plastic.
When you first enter you will be led to a ride that sets the scene. After a few minutes when it’s over you enter the main exhibit room where all of the really big fun happens. There is a raceway set up and kids make cars to race against one another. It was a great way to start though it took some prodding to get them out.
From there, there was the ball pit. Once sneakers were removed (but not socks, they will cost you three dollars if you have to buy there) kids that measured up went in. There were countless things to explore and climb on. It was like a huge dog cage but you know happy. The best part about that was until your parent came to the entrance no kids were let out. In a place like this on a weekend it gave me great comfort even though we were standing by watching. Another plus that I wish I saw in more places was the way this particular activity was cleaned. After an hour or so of being open it closes briefly. It is wiped down with antibacterials and then let to dry.
Next up it was movie time. That was a highlight for me. I was sorry it only took a few minutes. The chairs in that theater is amongst the best most comfortable ones I have ever sat in. I didn’t want to leave but leave I did. There was another ride and a few other exhibits including a hurricane center that you can make shake to see if the buildings you create will fall. That was an enormous hit with my crowd. There was also a place for Friends LEGO fans and another that had a barnyard slide and LEGOs in the shapes of animals for younger kids. I of course have photo-shoots everywhere.
Besides the cleanliness and crowd control I need to point out how helpful and friend their workers were. I could have not been more please. Everything was so well done that I was getting more excited than the kids.
My absolutely favorite room was where the city models were. I could not believe that they had replicas of my favorite places complete with action figures. I felt like I was in an architect’s office rather than a discovery center for kids. It reminded me of the Holiday Train Show (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/12/for-holiday-train-show.html) that the New York City Botanical Gardens puts on every year. They manage this same feat but with plants. I haven’t been in a while so I think the four of us will be going this year. I love having fun things to look forward to.
If you are not in New York fear not there are many LEGOLANDs that I wasn’t even aware of prior to this visit. They can be found in: Arizona, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/ Fort Worth, Kansas City, and Michigan. For those who resident outside of the U.S. these are your sites: Toronto, Berlin, Oberhausen, Istanbul, Manchester, Osaka, and Tokyo.
If you haven’t had LEGO overload yet there are two more related things I found during my research this week. This first link is a way to make LEGOS edible in Jell-O (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/27/lego-jello-bricks-snack-edible-legos_n_7453382.html) and this next link is a way to use leftover LEGOs to help organize your life (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lego-hacks-messy-life_55e08c72e4b0aec9f352fff5?ir=HuffPost%2BHome§ion=huffpost-home&utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home). Both sound good and are more imaginative than I could ever be.
I am going to let my kids have the last word. They were very eager to share their thoughts and make sure everyone knows what a marvelous day we had.
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