Thanks to LEGOLAND Florida for providing complimentary park tickets. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
We recently visited LEGOLAND Florida for the first time, and since we were attempting to have some official homeschool days while we were on our vacation, I planned for our day at LEGOLAND to count. So how, exactly, does one count a day filled with fun rides as an educational experience? Well, at LEGOLAND, it’s actually quite easy! Here are my top tips for filling your day with learning opportunities at LEGOLAND Florida.
The Imagination Zone
My very top recommendation for families who want their LEGOLAND experience to be educational is to head straight to Imagination Zone (here’s a link to the park map so you can see where it is in the park). In this area you can head to a help desk where you can get signed up for a LEGO Mindstorm experience. This was one of our favorite things that we did all day! During our hour long experience, our girls were taught how to build and program prototypes for Mars rovers. The instructor was completely in character as a nerdy and exciting space engineer and he quickly got all the kids to take their missions very seriously. He counseled them throughout the process and also helped them feel confident in their own abilities to work through challenges. I thought this experience was top notch and I would strongly suggest that you not miss it. My understanding is that you do need to head over to this area early in the day to get signed up for an available spot, as sessions happen throughout the day and slots do fill up quickly on higher crowd days. I believe the minimum recommended age for this experience is 6.
2. Communication Skills Through Trading Minifigs
Every single employee at the park has a minifig attached to his or her name tag, and that minifig is available to trade for one you have. All you have to do is ask! I would encourage you to bring around 10 minifigs at a minimum (I ordered some through eBay!), and to give your kids plenty of practice throughout the day approaching someone, making eye contact, and initiating a conversation. Being able to speak to someone is a critical life skill, and one that so many kids (and let’s be honest, young adults) seem to struggle with since we do so much of our communicating via the internet and text messages. But trading minifigs requires some old fashioned one-on-one talking, and it’s a great confidence builder for kids. My girls were initially quite nervous about having to do this, but the desire to trade minifigs outweighed the fear, and by the end of the day, they were quite comfortable approaching someone! Pro tip: we found that LEGOLAND employees at cash registers inside shops often had larger assortments of minifigs that they could trade!
3. Marvel at the Master Builders
LEGOLAND Florida has the most incredible sculptures that master builders have created, and they are pretty much everywhere you look throughout the park. Give your kids time and space to sit back and admire these works of art that came together, brick by brick. Then talk with them about the power of combining creative ideas with construction know how, and how much hard work and dedication went into each and every piece. Perhaps one of the best places to talk about the power of hard work and determination is by walking through LEGO Miniland, which showcases several different cityscapes, not to mention insanely awesome replicas of many different Star Wars locations and scenes. Take your kids to this area and really let it sink in for them that ultimately, they are only limited by their imaginations and by how hard they are willing to work for their dreams!
4. Driving School
If your kids are 9 and younger, I would also really recommend the driving schools available (the junior school is for ages 3-5, I believe, and the other driving school is for ages 6 and up). Both of my girls really enjoyed getting to experience the independence of fully driving a car themselves (no tracks!) and my older child seemed to enjoy the challenge of needing to obey traffic rules, too. What a great learning experience!
5. Go on a Monday During the School Year
My final tip has to do with WHEN you should go to LEGOLAND, because the crowd size is definitely going to affect just how many things you can do. We went to LEGOLAND Florida on the Monday after Thanksgiving and while I know this is going to sound like hyperbole, it honestly was the most amazing theme park day I have ever had in my entire life. The reason (other than the fact that LEGOLAND is super fun, obviously) is that the crowd size was SUPER low. We were told that their estimated crowd for the day was 1,500. I don’t know if they hit that or not, but I can’t imagine that it was more. We never (no, not even once!) waited in line to ride anything!!! It honestly was like getting to live out the fantasy of having a theme park entirely to yourself, only there were enough other people around so that it didn’t feel downright spooky. I asked an employee if this was a bizarre fluke that just happens right after a big holiday, and that employee told me that pretty much any Monday that schools are in session is a pretty good day to come to LEGOLAND. So definitely go on a Monday during the school year if at all possible, because it is going to allow you so much more time to hit all the “pure fun” rides and experiences, and also leave you plenty of time for learning (and time for building in the Imagination Zone!). We made some really great memories at LEGOLAND Florida and we hope to travel back there sometime in 2018 to do more playing and more building with the folks there! It was a homeschool day for the books!