Last weekend we went to LEGOLAND in Winter Haven, FL and decided to give their Beach Retreat bungalows a try. Usually we stay at a lower priced nearby hotel, but the themed hotels seemed like a lot of fun and I’d been wanting to check them out. I’m glad we got to go, and it was definitely cute, but to sum up my review in one word: “Meh.”
The Legoland Beach Retreat is a beach themed villa of little bungalows adjacent to a fenced off lake. The rooms are bright and fun with LEGO characters displayed everywhere from the windows to the shower curtain. There’s even a giant wall mural and LEGO sculptures for decoration. There’s color everywhere except all the bedding, which is plain white. I thought that was an odd choice for a place mostly filled with messy kids. Maybe it makes it easy to bleach everything? I know we left a few orange Cheeto smears behind. Maybe a smudge of birthday cake too, because the only place to do anything in the room (like eat) is on the bed.
The rooms have TVs that have all the LEGO movies on demand, which was pretty cool. There’s also a small fridge, but no microwave or coffee maker. I repeat: No Coffee Maker. What do they think parents run on?? I can handle no microwave, but the absence of in-room coffee was disappointing.
The space is small overall, with bunk beds and a pull-out trundle bed off to the side in a closet-sized area covered with a small curtain. Not much space to sit your stuff if you have a larger family, but it was a decent size for me and my son. Kids get a little welcome package of LEGOs on their pillow, and each room has a box with maybe 15 Duplo blocks.
The rooms were decent but showing a little wear. I tried to use the clothesline in the bathroom to hang our wet stuff and it came out of the wall, screws and all. Also our TV mysteriously came on early in the morning, possibly when our neighbor in the connecting room turned on their TV. It was a bit of a shock to be woken up like that!
The bungalows are arranged villa style in little coves, with each group surrounding a very small playground. They really could have made it a little more beachy by adding some sand and a few more palm trees. The playground areas are just brown and filled with mulch. And no shade anywhere. Not over the play area or walk areas. And you’ll do a lot of walking! The villas are off to one side of the parking lot, while the restaurant and pool are on the other.
The website claims you will get “picturesque views of Lake Dexter from nearly every sun-kissed corner,” but only part of the villas are near the lake. The lake itself is all gated off and grown over and not much to look at.
There’s no front desk, so you check-in at the gate when you arrive. You get a free parking pass if you want to drive to LEGOLAND and park there, or you can take the free shuttle. After you park, you will probably have a long walk to get to your bungalow. I think we were in the farthest back corner. I thought it was nice they provided a little wagon to help with luggage since there’s no concierge or anyone to help you otherwise.
The good news is the free breakfast buffet is pretty good and there are nice big to-go cups for the coffee. We also had dinner at the restaurant and my quesadilla was surprisingly tasty with big chunks of veggies and chicken. Plus our waiter really went out of his way to help me get something my son would actually eat. There weren’t any noodles on the kids menu, so they made a kid-size portion of their bow tie pasta meal plain, with just a little butter. He ate it ALL! And I got to sit and enjoy a glass of wine so we were both happy with dinner.
They have a LEGO play area for the kids in the restaurant, and activities in the evening. They did some games and a little dance party, and then there was a shark encounter! My son wouldn’t get a pic with him so I did.
Outside the restaurant area, there’s a nice looking pool, but we never made it since we were tired from playing at the park all day. There is actually sand by the pool (another odd choice if you’ve ever tried to get sand OUT of a pool before) and a neat looking wooden playground structure that’s bigger than the ones in the villas.
I’ve never stayed in the main LEGO hotel, and still want to check that out. The Beach Retreat is a cheaper option, and it’s still a good choice if you want to try the full LEGO experience at a little lower cost. Just don’t go into it with big expectations. The rooms are cute and small, but everything seems just a little rough around the edges.