Category Archives: Merlin Entertainments

Looking ahead to more ways we’ll make LEGOLAND® Florida Resort an even more inclusive destination for all guests

For the past few weeks we’ve been spotlighting the many ways we’re making LEGOLAND® Florida Resort more inclusive for guests with autism spectrum disorders. As Autism Awareness Month continues, let’s turn our attention to the future for a moment.

We believe we’ll always be in a state of continuous improvement, building on existing efforts and learning new and better ways to deliver outstanding service.

Hero Pass

Guest Experience Manager Autum Bassham said the resort will remain open to new insights and feedback from guests about ways to improve the services we have in place today.

“Our resort should be constantly changing,” she said. “With any cognitive disability, there are always new findings. Understanding these will help us develop better training for our Model Citizens and upgrade our offerings for guests.”

For Katy Formella, a senior manager in Autism Speaks’ southeastern regional office, the opportunity to work with LEGOLAND Florida Resort was a welcome one.

“We are so excited to see all the great things LEGOLAND is doing to help spread awareness, acceptance and understanding,” she said. “It’s so incredible when organizations like yours take on the big task and commitment to be autism friendly. You are leading the way for others and it’s a wonderful example to the world of inclusion. Thanks for making a difference for our families.”

Quiet roomAccording to LEGOLAND Health Services supervisor Ken Flanders, we’re just getting started. He said he envisions an expanded slate of services in the future, including more Model Citizens trained to recognize and respond to the needs of guests on the autism spectrum, and greater awareness about how we can make the resort more enjoyable for an even greater number of guests.

Got an idea about how we can make our resort even more awesome? Leave a reply and tell us!

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Meet the team working to improve LEGOLAND® Florida Resort for guests on the autism spectrum

Making LEGOLAND® Florida Resort more welcoming to guests with autism spectrum disorders has required the teamwork of multiple departments over the past year, which is why our “Hero Action Team” is comprised of Model Citizens from many different areas.

Over the past year, a team made up of representatives from many different LEGOLAND Florida Resort departments has been working together to make the resort more enjoyable for guests on the autism spectrum.

During Autism Awareness Month in April, we’ll offer a glimpse at the personal commitments made by many of our leaders to create a more inclusive environment for everyone.

“No child or person should feel as if they cannot do something due to any disability they may have,” said Nick Parham, a member of the resort’s Education team. “I’m extremely passionate about creating an environment that reaches out to all people, no matter the circumstances.”

Amanda Becerra, a manager within Food & Beverage Operations, agrees.

“I really love the opportunity for families to be able to enjoy their vacation knowing that their child is going to feel safe, and most importantly, have fun,” she said.

Creating an environment that’s both safe and fun starts with the orientation program every new Model Citizen attends, explained Adriana Eraso, who leads the resort’s Admissions team.

“We have department-specific training that provides information about how to interact with guests on the autism spectrum,” she said, adding that the resort’s HR department also devotes a portion of training for all new hires that helps them better recognize and understand the unique needs of those guests and their families.

Within the Public Safety department, Security supervisor Benjamin Peacock has implemented bi-weekly meetings and monthly updates so that his team will better understand guests on the autism spectrum and the challenges theme parks often present for their enjoyment.

Addressing those challenges led to the creation of “social stories,” illustrated, step-by-guides to attractions and shows that prepare LEGOLAND guests for what to expect, whether it be periods of darkness, loud noises or other elements that can be frightening or overwhelming.

“As a department, my team has worked very hard to meticulously create every social story for the park,” said Haley Travis, a coordinator within Training and Development, “as well as a quick reference guide that explains what each ride and show has to offer.” The goal, she explained, was to help families more efficiently plan their day.

“We continuously teach our team to, above all, be patient with each guest and treat everyone with the respect they deserve,” she said.

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LEGOLAND® Beach Retreat NOW OPEN at LEGOLAND Florida Resort!

Under a beautiful blue sky on a morning filled with the state’s abundant sunshine, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort officially opened LEGOLAND Beach Retreat today, giving guests great new reasons to play — and stay — at the place #BuiltForKids. Here’s the beachy grand opening ceremony as it streamed live on Facebook, direct from #BrickBeach:

Filled with creative LEGO® theming inside and out, the village-style vacation resort features brightly colored bungalows grouped into 13 horseshoe-shaped “coves” named after popular LEGO Minifigures. The fun begins almost immediately, thanks to a drive-through check-in process that takes you from your car to your cove in minutes.

Designed to look like larger-than-life LEGO sets, 83 bungalows offer 166 separate rooms that sleep up to five, including a cozy area just for kids with a bunk bed, trundle bed and privacy curtain.

LEGOLAND Beach Retreat

They’re an ideal solution for families and groups traveling together, or for those seeking a fun new way to vacation at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. Each cove has its own outdoor play area within view of the bungalows’ shaded patios, where mom and dad can relax while kids romp and run.

Along with picturesque lake views and a giant LEGO lighthouse that really lights up, highlights include:

  • A giant swimming pool next to The Lighthouse, with an adjacent sandy area perfect for building sandcastles and the resort’s biggest outdoor play structure for kids.

  • Sandy’s Castle Restaurant, featuring a bountiful menu of entrees, sides and desserts designed to please the palates of kids and grownups alike. A delicious breakfast buffet is included with each night’s stay.

  • Bricks Beach Bar, offering an eclectic menu of made-to-order food, drinks and creative cocktails served both poolside and indoors.
  • Palm Tree Traders, a large retail shop stocked with LEGO building sets and Minifigures, apparel, toys, swimwear, snacks and sundries.

  • A hands-on LEGO building station where kids can contribute their original creations to a giant sandcastle made out of thousands of LEGO bricks.

  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the site.
  • Complimentary transportation to the theme park entrance, as well as complimentary parking in LEGOLAND Florida Resort’s main parking lot for guests who choose to drive.
  • Early access to the LEGOLAND Florida theme park, with exclusive use of some of the most popular attractions, including the all-new LEGO NINJAGO® World and LEGO NINJAGO The Ride.

Located three-quarters of a mile from the theme park entrance on the tranquil shores of Lake Dexter, LEGOLAND Beach Retreat represents the latest milestone in the largest period of growth and expansion in the five-year history of LEGOLAND Florida Resort, with theming and architecture unique among the eight LEGOLAND resorts worldwide. The Florida site is the first LEGOLAND resort in North America to offer a second accommodation type for overnight and multi-day stays, and more than doubles accommodations at the resort.

Nightly room rates start at $135 (plus tax and resort fee) and vary by season, date and availability. Packages including theme park tickets also are available, and Awesomer and Awesomest Annual Pass Members receive a 10 percent discount year-round. To book a stay, visit www.LEGOLAND.com/florida or call (877) 350-5346 daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern.

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All aboard to LEGOLAND® Japan!

LEGOLAND® Japan will be the eighth theme park to celebrate the creativity of LEGO® building sets when it opens in Nagoya on April 1. Everything’s right on track for our sister park’s grand opening, with lots of fun activities taking place to spread the word.

Earlier today, a commuter train decorated inside and out with bold graphics inspired by four LEGOLAND Japan attractions began daily service on the Nagoya Rinkai Rapid Transit’s Aonami Line, which travels from central Nagoya to the new theme park. The attractions are Lost Kingdom Adventure, The Dragon Coaster, Rescue Academy and Submarine Adventure.

On March 26, local officials joined Buddy, LEGOLAND Japan’s mascot, and Aotetsu-kun, mascot for the Aonami Line, for a special “departure” ceremony commemorating the launch of the “LEGOLAND Train.”

“Today, I am extremely honored to be able to introduce the LEGOLAND Train, the only one of its kind in the world in Nagoya, after plans for it were put into motion nearly three years ago,” said Torben Jensen, divisional director of LEGOLAND Japan, who added that the special train was made possible by the support of the city of Nagoya and the Aonami Line.

LEGOLAND Japan will offer more than 40 rides, shows and attractions. For more information, visit www.LEGOLAND.jp.

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We’re hiring! LEGOLAND® Water Park is seeking lifeguards for Spring 2017

Winter is almost here but the sun is never far when you visit LEGOLAND® Florida Resort! LEGOLAND Water Park is just a few short months away from opening and we’re looking for new Model Citizens to become LEGOLAND lifeguards.

2011.10.14_LEGOLANDWATERPARK_001.jpgOur lifeguards at LEGOLAND work at all the pools that our guests enjoy, from attractions in the water park to the LEGOLAND Hotel pool, and even the cool new pool opening soon at LEGOLAND Beach Retreat.

3-build-a-raft_920What’s awesome about this opportunity is that you don’t need an existing certification to apply. Can you swim? Are you good with kids? Do you enjoy being part of a team? Then you might have what it takes to work here! Plus, if you’re not already a certified lifeguard, our instructors will give you the training and certifications you need to become a professional rescuer at the place #BuiltForKids.

After completing a skilled swim test, all lifeguards at LEGOLAND Florida Resort are certified in CPR, first aid, lifeguard skills and water park skills through the American Red Cross training program. In addition, LEGOLAND lifeguards receive hours of specialized training to operate all of our water park attractions.

2011.10.14_LEGOLANDWATERPARK_001.jpgBeing a lifeguard at LEGOLAND Water Park means having fun in the sun and enjoying the many benefits and perks all LEGOLAND Model Citizens receive — this includes complimentary admission tickets to many popular Central Florida attractions, including The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando, SEA LIFE Aquarium and many more.

Interested? Apply online. Join our team and play a vital part in keeping our guests safe!

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Celebrate #GivingTuesday with Merlin’s Magic Wand

Join the five-year-old #GivingTuesday movement today with the #unSELFIE toolkit. Download the toolkit and share why you’re giving back this year!

It’s simple:

Step 1: Hold up an #unSELFIE sign and snap a selfless selfie!

Step 2: Share it on social media and encourage others to give.

LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and other Merlin Entertainments attractions have made it their mission to deliver memorable experiences to children all over the world, including kids unable to travel due to circumstances or illness.

Merlin’s Magic Wand is a global children’s charity whose mission is putting magic back into the lives of seriously ill, disabled and disadvantaged children. To date, the organization has helped more than 260,000 kids and their families enjoy a magical day out at the more than 100 Merlin attractions worldwide. For those unable to visit a Merlin attraction, Merlin’s Magic Spaces projects bring the magic directly to kids.

Here’s a challenge for today and every day: Instead of clouding your social media with things about you, help make a difference in the life of a child!

Apply for a day out here: www.merlinsmagicwand.org/USA.

Happy #GivingTuesday!

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Happy birthday… to us!

Five years ago today, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort welcomed guests to explore a 150-acre playground #BuiltForKids, a colorful wonderland of rides, shows and attractions inspired by the unlimited creative potential of LEGO® bricks.

Since then, millions of guests from around the world have enjoyed its many charms, from iconic attractions like The Dragon and Ford Driving School to dazzling shows like “Battle for Brickbeard’s Bounty” and “Friends to the Rescue” to popular events like Christmas Bricktacular and Brick or Treat Presented by Shutterfly, which continues this weekend.

It’s been a whirlwind five years, a busy period of growth and expansion that has included the debut of LEGOLAND Water Park (May 2012), LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Model Display (November 2012), LEGO World of Chima™ (July 2013), DUPLO® Valley (May 2014), LEGOLAND Hotel (May 2015), Heartlake City (June 2015), and phased restorations of the historic Cypress Gardens, which celebrated its 80th anniversary earlier this year.

And even more fun is on the way!

Last March, we kicked off the largest period of expansion in the history of LEGOLAND Florida Resort, which includes LEGO NINJAGO® World, a whole new theme park land and an awesome attraction opening Jan. 12, 2017, and LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, which will more than double our on-site accommodations when its whimsically themed bungalows open in mid-2017.

Thanks to you, our fans, we’ve enjoyed five years of awesomeness — and we’re just getting started!

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Help us ‘fill the bus’ Aug. 19-21 with school supplies for Polk County students

It’s back-to-school time for local students, but not every child begins the year with the items they need to succeed. This month, we’re asking brick fans to help us support our community by donating school supplies.

IMG_8049Items will be distributed to elementary and middle-school students in the Polk County School Board’s homeless education program.  The HEARTH Project and Polk County Public Schools work to ensure that homeless children throughout the county have equal opportunities for educational success.

On Aug. 19-21 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., LEGOLAND® Model Citizens will accept donations at one of our colorfully decorated shuttle buses near the archway as you enter the park. Help us “fill the bus” with items for needy students!

 

All supplies are welcome, but these are the items needed most:

IMG_8087

  • Full-size spiral notebooks
  • Composition notebooks
  • Calculators
  • Pocket folders (with brads)
  • Pencils (minimum 12-pack)
  • Pens (blue, black and red packs)
  • Markers (minimum 12-pack)
  • Crayons (minimum 12-pack)
  • Colored pencils (minimum 12-pack)
  • Highlighters (assorted packs)
  • Rulers
  • Blunt-tip school scissors
  • Pencil sharpeners
  • Large pink erasers
  • Glue sticks (minimum 2-pack)

Everyone who donates 10 items or more from the most-needed list will receive a LEGO® NINJAGO® Sky Pirate building toy with exclusive Minifigure (subject to change while supplies last). NINJAGOGiveaway

The drive is part of a global campaign called Being a Force for Good by Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of LEGOLAND Florida Resort, and represents the latest in a long line of LEGOLAND efforts to support the community and its children. Our goal is to collect at least 7,000 school supplies during the donation period.

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Merlin’s Magic Wand unveils latest ‘Magic Spaces’ project at Orlando facility for kids and families

Merlin's Magic WandMerlin’s Magic Wand, the global charity run by the parent company of LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, recently helped put some magic into the lives of kids who need it most.

Three therapy rooms at The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families near downtown Orlando, Fla., were given magical makeovers as part of the Merlin’s Magic Spaces initiative, turning the formerly ordinary spaces into extraordinary examples of Merlin Entertainments’ creativity and compassion.

 

LEGOLAND1The whimsical new décor was inspired by Merlin’s Central Florida attractions — LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and SEA LIFE Aquarium — and created in collaboration with Merlin Magic Making, Edd Musgrove Creative and Attraction & Entertainment Solutions.

The rooms are used for therapy and other services offered at the center, which helps kids and families who face overwhelming challenges like child abuse, developmental disabilities and lack of access to medical care.

Merlin's Magic Spaces“These rooms have been dramatically transformed into magical, inviting spaces to the delight of the children and families we serve,” said Marie Martinez, operations manager at The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families. “Our therapists have been using these rooms for about three weeks now and everyone just loves them.”

Madame TussaudsFor more information about Merlin’s Magic Wand efforts in the United States, visit www.merlinsmagicwand.org/usa, or follow its social media channels at facebook.com/MMWUSAtwitter.com/MMWUSA (hashtag #MMWUSA) and instagram.com/mmwusa.

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Make-A-Wish kid claims victory against NASCAR great Casey Mears in MINILAND 400

Earlier today, 10-year-old Layla Popoff of Orlando, Fla., zoomed to victory in the MINILAND 400 against veteran NASCAR driver Casey Mears, during a special event #BuiltForKids to celebrate the giant new Daytona International Speedway model at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort.

MINILAND 400

NASCAR driver Casey Mears, left, races 10-year-old Layla Popoff of Orlando, Fla., in the MINILAND 400.

Driving the No. 00 car in honor of the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola, which returns to the “World Center of Racing” on July 2, Layla was a tough competitor for Casey, who drove a kid-sized version of his No. 13 GEICO car for Germain Racing.

MINILAND 400After taking off from between LEGO® models of the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol in MINILAND USA, Layla and Casey quickly reached a top speed of nearly four miles per hour in the electric vehicles borrowed from our popular Driving School attraction.

MINILAND 400

Casey’s dreams of a MINILAND 400 victory came to abrupt end when he crashed into a wall of giant LEGO bricks near the finish line.

Neck-and-neck they zoomed past the New York City skyline, remaining close as they barreled down the Las Vegas Strip.  With the finish line in sight at the new Daytona display, Casey suddenly plowed into a pile of giant LEGO bricks near Kennedy Space Center while Layla raced ahead to claim victory.  Her prize? A giant LEGO trophy accepted with a triumphant smile. Take a look:

Layla was selected for the one-of-a-kind race with the assistance of Merlin’s Magic Wand, a global charity that has helped nearly 300,000 children and their families enjoy a magical day out at more than 100 attractions operated around the world by Merlin Entertainments, parent company of LEGOLAND. Earlier this year, Layla’s dream of a huge backyard playhouse was fulfilled by Make-A-Wish Central and Northern Florida.

MINILAND 400Afterward, the friendly competitors headed to the theme park’s new Imagination Zone.  Let me tell you, this place is what your LEGO dreams are made of.  It’s filled with hands-on LEGO building activities where kids can put their imaginations into overdrive.

Imagination Zone

After the MINILAND 400 race, Casey and Layla headed to the new Wheels Zone inside Imagination Zone, where they built and tested LEGO race cars.

Since Casey is a racing expert (even if he did get beat by a 10-year-old) he gave several young fans great tips for building creative LEGO vehicles to race down timed ramps in the new Wheels Zone. I wonder who had more fun, Casey or the kids?

MINILAND 400

Layla helped Casey and Chip Wile, president of Daytona International Speedway, place Minilander likenesses of the two men into the giant new LEGO model of the “World Center of Racing.”

2016.06.20_LEGOLANDFLORIDA_DIS_0064Casey’s fans can watch him in the Coke Zero 400 at the real Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 2. Good luck, Casey!

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