Girl Power is the name of the game as LEGOLAND Florida proudly debuts its new Heartlake City expansion, based on the massive popularity of the LEGO Friends construction kits that brought girl-appeal to the world of brick-building creativity.
We attended the Grand Opening of Heartlake City on 25 June, where one of the park’s iconic characters, Brickbeard the Pirate, welcomed BFFs Andrea, Mia, Olivia, Stephanie, and Emma to their new home, marking the moment with a gigantic LEGO cupcake. But something was missing. Cue the kiddies, who quite literally put the crowning cherry on top.
Larger-than-life mini-figure characters joined the fun, followed by a colourful dance party with a slew of local youngsters, and, with a burst of heart-shaped confetti, the area was declared open!
LEGOLAND Florida’s British General Manager, Adrian Jones, spoke with us after the grand opening event, sharing his excitement, and a few hints about the park’s future. “LEGOLAND Florida is the world’s largest LEGOLAND Park and we still have the most space to expand,” he said. “When we bought the park, we knew we would grow in steps. Our master plan was to add something new every year, and the fact it has done so well in the first few years has escalated that plan. We are the first LEGOLAND Park to launch a hotel and a new land in the same year. It has been a challenge but it has also been extremely exciting.”
There is no mistaking the girl-friendly atmosphere of Heartlake City, and LEGOLAND makes no excuses for providing an area aimed firmly at that particular target market. But that doesn’t mean there’s no guy-appeal here. “Heartlake City offers an interactive LEGO Friends experience for guests of all ages,” Jone said. “Mia’s Riding Adventure is a daring new attraction, for example, that we feel is the perfect addition to expand our park offering and, when combined with a stay in a LEGO Friends themed room or suite at the new hotel, it will allow guests to further immerse themselves in the world of LEGO Friends.”
So what does this pretty new expansion bring to the park? Here’s the breakdown:
Friends to the Rescue: Heartlake City’s signature show features the Friends in a high-energy, music-fueled celebration of being “best friends forever’, with young guests invited to join in the fun. Andrea is tasked with organising the Heartlake City concert, but in her eagerness to perfect the song she’ll be singing, she has missed some of the essentials. Her friends join together to make it the best concert-and-beach-party ever, with an overwhelmingly positive message that’s refreshing to see. Children have an up-front view from the space directly in front of the stage, and when the Friends came down into the audience to dance with them, the girls at our show went wild! Adults may find the show a bit saccharine (okay, a lot saccharine), boys might not find it overly captivating, but young girls absolutely love it. The show runs seven times daily and is blissfully air conditioned.
Mia’s Riding Adventure: Although Heartlake City is primarily aimed at girls, Mia’s Riding Adventure is a huge hit with boys, too. Based on Mia’s love of horses, the 40-passenger disc ride is undeniably thrilling, with its circular platform spinning in big looping circles as it glides back and forth on a U-shaped track. Riders board horse-shaped seats, facing outward, and as the ride’s twirling motion gains momentum, so do the screams. There is a 48” height requirement (4feet/121cm), and adults shouldn’t be shy about joining in. Some of the loudest (though not the shrillest) screams we heard were from the 40s and older crowd! Don’t want to ride? Don’t worry; the spectator value is high, and it’s easy to get a terrific picture from a cove near the Heartlake Hall theatre if you have little riders.
Stephanie’s Newsroom: Although it wasn’t open during our visit, it’s clear Stephanie’s Newsroom will be a terrific green-screen photo opportunity with some very special surprises. Guests will also have the chance to “show off their camera-ready skills as they take over for Stephanie at the Heartlake News Desk”.
Heartlake Stepping Tones Fountain: Step on icons on the ground around this heart-shaped, music-themed fountain and trigger some interactive surprises! There’s a lot of pink and purple here, of course, and the LEGO drum set, keyboard, guitar, microphone and speaker towers set an upbeat tone as soon as you enter Heartlake City. There are also various LEGO models nearby, including the Friends surrounding a bench where visitors can sit for a terrific photo op.
Heartlake Mall: You’ve met the Friends, you’ve braved the ride, you’ve shown your prowess behind the camera, and now it’s time for a little something to relive the memories at home. Heartlake Mall has all the Lego sets a fan could want, including (naturally!) the wildly popular Friends sets.
Surrounded by happy screams from the nearby horse-riders, we asked Adrian Jones what guests can expect to see at LEGOLAND in the coming years. “We are now working on things for 2018 and ’19, and beyond,” Jones told us. “The new LEGO Friends area was pretty much a done deal almost twelve months ago, so there is a lot more coming down the pipeline, you can be sure.
“We are also looking at Florida as a bit more of a central hub for Merlin Entertainments in general. As a company, we love the Florida location, which also shows with our new I-Drive 360 attractions. So now we are looking to put our customer care facilities here and have our senior marketing roles based in central Florida as well. Florida has become a behind-the-scenes hub very quickly, and it all adds up to a lot of a growth – and a lot more exciting possibilities in the years to come!”
Know a special LEGO Friends fan? They’ll find even more creative fun at http://www.lego.com/en-us/friends.
Eager to visit LEGOLAND and Heartlake City? Find ATD’s LEGOLAND ticket offerings here!