$300M Legoland Clears Another Hurdle

Florida is on tap for another vacation destination. Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet have approved the use of state lands for Merlin Entertainments to build a Legoland family theme park on 150 acres of land at the 145-acre Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven.

March 24, 2010
By Allison Landa, News Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user eyeliam

Florida is on tap for another vacation destination. Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet have approved the use of state lands for Merlin Entertainments to build a Legoland family theme park on 150 acres of land at the 145-acre Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven.

The new park is scheduled to open in 2011 and bring an estimated 1,000 new jobs to Polk County with a $300 million projected investment over the next five years. It will be the fifth Legoland worldwide and only the second in North America; the first is Legoland California in Carlsbad, Calif.

“The addition of Legoland Florida to our state’s already impressive list of attractions will serve only to enhance the Sunshine State as a travel destination,” Crist said while announcing the news. “The beauty and splendor of the historic Cypress Gardens site will once again fascinate visitors and residents alike.”

Best known for its botanical gardens, Cypress Gardens was also home to the Splash Island Waterpark until it closed in September 2009.

“Cypress Gardens is known as Florida’s first theme park and has been an integral part of Central Florida’s history since it opened in 1936,” state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael W. Sole said in a statement. “The purpose of this agreement is to both create jobs and maintain the cultural integrity of the land and ensure it retains its scenic and historical value.”

Merlin Entertainments operates more than 50 attractions and hotels which serve more than 30 million visitors in 12 different countries across three continents – Europe, North America and Asia – and employ more than 13,000 staff members.