|(c) 2011 Legoland Florida|
Sara K. Clarke, Orlando Sentinel, August 3, 2011
Aug. 03--WINTER HAVEN -- Construction is moving ahead briskly at Legoland Florida, with the rides and the main castle taking shape on the site of the former Cypress Gardens.
Work is progressing six days a week, with about 500 construction workers involved in getting the new theme park ready for its Oct. 15 opening. From the newly refurbished Island in the Sky, which takes riders 150 feet in the air for a bird's-eye view, visitors on Tuesday could already see Castle Hill, several of the park's roller coasters and an emerging "Miniland," which already includes a scale-model version of the New York City skyline built with Lego blocks.
"Right now, we're right on track and ready to open," said Craig Riebel, the park's construction manager. Going forward, he said, "We've got a considerable amount of hardscape to put in -- brick pavers, concrete."
The company said Tuesday that tickets, currently selling for a discount, will increase to $75 each for an adult and $65 for a child the day the park opens. Until then, tickets are selling for a $10 discount. Annual passes are available online starting at $99 each for children and $129 for adults.
The park is targeting families with children ages 2 to 12, and Orlando-area residents will begin to see advertising ahead of opening day, according to sales-and-marketing director Kim Isemann.
Preview days for annual passholders have been scheduled for Oct. 10, 12 and 13.
For now, the park is a dusty blend of new elements and those still under construction. Giant Lego models are sprinkled through the grounds, amid construction vehicles and workers laying out pavers or creating attractions such as the Forestman's Hideout, a multi-level tree-and-rope-climb adventure.
Some vestiges of the former Cypress Gardens remain, including the Island in the Sky, the famed botanical gardens and many of the original shops, which will be repurposed as "Fun Town," where guests will be able to take a Lego factory tour, see a 4-D movie, and taste Legoland's signature food item, Granny's Apple Fries.
"We were able to salvage the theater, and we were able to salvage some of the buildings in the town," Riebel said. "We salvaged both of the [water-]ski stadiums and, of course, the gardens."
Sentinel staff writer Dewayne Bevil contributed to this report. [email protected] or 407-420-5664