Central Florida’s newest theme park may play a key role in the arch rivalry between Universal Studios and Disney World. Scheduled to open in the fall, Legoland will replace one of Florida’s oldest theme parks, Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven.
Geared toward a much younger audience than Cypress Gardens, Legoland will feature over 50 rides, shows and attractions, including spectacular LEGO® models. Legoland’s owner, Merlin Entertainment, just purchased new property in its surrounding area for improved roads to be built around the park to avoid traffic issues.
Legoland is indirectly tied to two of Disney’s biggest rivals- SeaWorld and Universal Studious, because it is co-owned by Blackstone, through the private-equity firm’s stake in Merlin Entertainment Group. When asked about the possible inclusion of Legoland in a flex ticket package, SeaWorld Parks Chief Atchison said the addition is still just a speculation and Universal Studios representative didn’t comment on the possibility of adding the third major park. Legoland’s spokesperson Julie Estrada said that the park is exploring opportunities for partnerships to benefit vistitors, but she didn’t disclose any specific figures or plans.
Adding Legoland to the flex ticket could be an effective way for Universal and Sea World to lure families away from the more expensive choice of a Disney Resort. Universal suffered a dropoff in visitors last year, with a 10% drop in attendance. Despite the drop in attendance, Universal still beat SeaWorld in Flex Ticket sales revenue, claiming $28 million to SeaWorld’s $25 million and $7 million for SeaWorld. By adding Legoland, the flex ticket would add year-round appeal, which could compensate for the winter attendance dropoff at Wet N Wild. LegoLand is expected to generate millions of dollars for central Florida and create 1,000 jobs for its staff.