We attended the resort’s grand opening on 6 April, with an overnight stay that began with a hearty “Ahoy” at the most family-friendly check-in we’ve ever seen. Instead of a front desk that Legoland’s target market (ages 2-12) can’t even see over, check-in happened in our car. Guests simply tell their last name to the booth attendant as they drive into the resort, and they’re given a room key and directions to their bungalow. Easy-peasy!
From the car park at the front of the resort, we took a pathway back to our “cove”, one of 13 horseshoe-shaped sections around which 5-8 bungalows are grouped. Each single-storey bungalow houses 2 units, which accommodate 2 separate families, like mini-cottages made of Lego bricks. And each room has a King-sized bed, 2 bunk beds and a trundle bed, a rare commodity in the Central Florida scene where most standard rooms only sleep up to 4 guests.
Although all rooms are “standard” rooms, a curtain between the kid’s bedroom and the adults offers plenty of privacy and the bunk bed room has some terrific extras to keep youngsters happy, including multiple USB ports on an in-wall panel and a box of Lego building bricks to tempt them away from technology.
As you would expect from a Legoland hotel, everything is heavily themed, including the wallpaper, curtains, room divider and shower curtain, which feature Minifigures having fun in the sun. The beach motif extends to the wall art, with a bright red crab and a pair of swim fins made of Lego bricks.
Even the coves get in on the action, with names like Shark Suit Guy’s Cove, Island Warrior’s Cove and Mermaid Cove. And did we mention each bungalow has its own Lego parrot perched outside? Super cute!
As whimsical as the rooms are, Beach Retreat’s primary aim is to get guests outdoors having real fun in the sun. Each cove is centered around a small play structure in full view of every bungalow so that adults can sit at the table on the porch – ideally with a beverage – and watch their young ’uns play.
“What’s up with the beach theme?” we hear you ask. Although the resort is set along Lake Dexter, all water activities take place at the huge free-form pool, with its zero-depth entry and hundreds of floating Lego bricks. Along with sun loungers and an extensive play structure, the pool area also has a white-sand beach where kids can build sandcastles, play volleyball or the beanbag tossing game called Cornhole, or take part in a hula-hoop contest.
There are lots of games and competitions around the pool, but when the weather turns inclement some of them can be moved into The Lighthouse building just off the pool area. There is a gift shop in The Lighthouse, and a giant Lego sandcastle with loads of bricks kids can build with and add their own creations to the structure. Sharp eyes will notice a bit of kid-style humour just below the seagull perched on top of the sandcastle. We won’t tell you what it is, but if you’ve ever been around seagulls…well…you can probably guess!
Sandy’s Castle Restaurant is also located inside The Lighthouse, and in another departure from many of Orlando’s hotels, a big buffet breakfast is included in your room rate. Each morning’s buffet features scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos, roasted potatoes, asparagus, cooked tomatoes, streaky bacon, sausage and turkey links, biscuits (savoury scones) with sausage gravy, pancakes, French toast sticks, tater tots, oatmeal, grits, fresh fruit, yoghurt, cold cereals, juice, tea and coffee. Phew! That’s a lot of food!
An ample Caribbean-inspired dinner buffet is also on offer in Sandy’s Castle each evening (at an additional $20 for 13 and up, $13 ages 7-12 and $8 for 3-6s). What’s on the menu? How about mahi mahi, jerk chicken, beef kebobs, rosemary potatoes, rice and beans, plantain tostones (sort of like firm American pancakes, but made from starchy, banana-like plantains), Caribbean bean soup, vegetables with pesto, beef and chicken fajitas, barbecue chicken, bay scallops, peel-and-eat shrimp, Asian noodle salad, watermelon salad, salad bar, grilled chicken tenders, pigs in a blanket (mini sausages wrapped in pastry), steamed broccoli, and macaroni and cheese and desserts. We dare you to be hungry after that lot!
Most guests head out to the Legoland park during the day, but for those who choose to take a day off and spend it around the pool, a limited lunch menu is available at Bricks Beach Bar (we’ll get to the “bar” part in a moment!), featuring chicken wings, nachos, chips and guacamole, burgers, fish sandwich, Portobello mushroom sandwich, flatbreads, and take-away pizza. A kids menu includes hamburgers, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, and quesadillas.
With all that high-energy kid stuff going on, adults will welcome a libation or two at Bricks – or on a poolside lounger via an indoor/outdoor window – but even though they might feel like they’re 102 years old after a long day in the park, the cocktail menu has some cute reminders we’re all still kids at heart. The signature drink here is Fish in a Bag, and it looks a lot like the sort of thing you get when you win a goldfish at the county fair. The cocktail (Malibu rum, orange Pinnacle vodka and Sprite, garnished with mint leaves and an orange peel) comes in a zip-top bag with a straw poking out of it, and the orange peel is shaped exactly like a goldfish in its final moments of life (as they always were when you won them at the fair). It’s cute, it’s quirky, and it’s surprisingly refreshing.
Beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages and a selection of quirky cocktails are available, but in keeping with the family-friendly atmosphere the bar closes at 9.30pm. This isn’t the sort of resort that caters to late-night revelry or dancing ʼtill dawn, but it is the sort of resort that ensures you make the most of family time and are fully engaged with the little ones you brought with you on your holiday of a lifetime. We love its quirky side, we love its unapologetic ‘everything is awesome’ vibe, and we love the way we feel like kids again when we’re there. We think you will, too.
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