For the first time since it opened this fall, Legoland reached its limit on Wednesday. The park saw so many guests in one day it started turning people away.
Read more and see video from WFTS/Tampa.
When we went for our first visit back in November you could see the writing on the wall about the problems they were going to encounter over the holidays.
The upside is that they did some creative work with their parking lot to get cars in off of Cypress Gardens Road. (And they have a separate entrance for bus drop off...which was smart.)
The downside is that they have three lanes of traffice that filter into what I think are six toll lanes. But, two of the lanes lead directly into two of the toll booths and the third lane has the option of expanding into the other four toll lanes. So, that lane moves significantly faster than the other two and it becomes apparent pretty quick so you have folks in the first two lanes trying to jockey over to the third. It is a real mess.
The October opening also hurt a bit. My guess is you have a lot of season pass holders that were coming for the first time during the holidays which would lead to larger lines at the ticket booths. Not much they could do about that short of opening earlier in the year...and they weren't ready for that.
There is a lack of food locations so even on a slower day there were long lines for food.
There are only a handful of rides that I would safely call "high capacity". If this park were anywhere else I doubt it would be a problem. But, as I've been saying for some time now, I don't think the Winter Haven location is going to deter Orlando visitors and I suspect the crowds will continue to come...particularly during the peak travel times of Christmas, Spring Break, and the Summer.
As far as I know there are no blackout dates for pass holders and while I've heard no numbers I'd be willing to bet that their pass sales far exceeded their projections. There were so many good deals on those that it would have been foolish not to buy them...particularly if you live in Central Florida. And, many of those passholders are going to be weekend and holiday warriors.
Also, the front midway is pretty tight from the front gates back to the carrousel until it starts branching out. (I'd call this the Magic Kingdom effect. I always feel a little claustrophobic in the Kingdom heading down Main Street until you get to the hub and people start branching out to the lands.) There are a lot of great photo opportunities in this area of the park too so people are slow to walk in, they stop to take pictures, etc. (One of the storefronts has a lego Darth Vadar and R2D2 out front and everyone wants a picture there.) It is a significant bottleneck.
I think they have some work ahead of them to get some of the foot traffic flowing through the park better.
Of course, all of these issues are bad for the visitor in the short term but great for the park in the long term. They are issues that CAN be fixed...or at least alleviated...and at least we aren't talking about a dismal start for the park.
I had the chance to go with my family the week before Christmas, and it was busy, but not overly so. We even commented about a nice break from the large Disney crowds of the same week. My wife and kids were able to go back on Wednesday after Christmas, and she said it was packed. The lines were easily 4 times as long, and I don't even want to think about the food lines.
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