May 19, 2024

We Loved the Legoland and Peppa Pig Theme Park Experience

  • My 15-year-old and I went to Legoland and Peppa Pig Theme Park even though the parks are for kids.
  • I invited him because it seemed like a good opportunity to hang out one-on-one and I was right.
  • According to a psychologist, parents who take solo trips with kids may see a different side of them.

As a mom of two and a journalist who covers theme parks, my kids are no strangers to exploring theme parks together as a family. When my travels take me out of town during the work and school week, my family often stays behind. But recently, as I planned a three-day, weekday visit to Legoland Florida and Peppa Pig Theme Park, I was surprised when my 15-year-old son said he wanted to tag along.

Legoland Florida is designed for kids ages 2 to 12, and Peppa Pig Theme Park is for preschool-aged children, so I wondered if he’d actually enjoy himself. Still, I welcomed him along for the ride. If nothing else, I figured it would be a nice opportunity to spend some quality time alone together.

Barbara Greenberg, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in adolescents and families, says taking just one child on a trip is a great idea, especially during the teenage years when communication can be more challenging. “You might learn a lot more about that one child when they’re alone,” she said. “When a child doesn’t have to compete for attention, you may see a different side of them — a child who’s more eager to talk.”

Hanging out with a kid one-on-one is not too different from spending time with a close friend or going on a date: it’s about creating memories together that kids can have as a touchpoint in your relationship, Greenberg said.

So my teen and I packed our Peppa Pig ears and Legoland t-shirts and headed out of town together for two nights. Here’s what it was like to experience a “little kid” theme park with my 15-year-old.

We enjoyed reminiscing about his childhood Lego themes 

Terri Peters on the right and her son on the left posing with a life-size Emmet Brickowski Lego figure in the middle. Terri has dyed blonde hair with dark roots that is pulled back and wears a pair of white sunglasses on her head, a light brown tank-top, grey shorts, and a white fanny pack hung around her neck and shoulder. She poses with her left hand on her hip. Her son has closely cropped dark brown hair and stands with his arm around the figure and his right arm by his side. He wears a long-sleeve light grey athletic top and red shorts. The Lego figure has dark brown short hair, a yellow face with a smile, and wears an orange safety outfit with a blue shirt underneath.

The author with her son and a character from The Lego Movie.

Photo courtesy of the author

Legoland Florida is full of thematic elements from familiar Lego themes, many of which no longer exist in stores. While we walked around the park, we were reminded of the Lego sets he loved to build when he was younger. We reminisced about rare Lego themes we used to buy online and assemble together. 

In “The Lego Movie” World area of the park, we talked about how much he used to love watching the film. The entire park felt like we were walking through his elementary school days together.

We focused on his favorite rides

A red dragon made out of Legos with its mouth open. It's posed against a fake brick wall so it looks like it's coming out of a cave. Above it is a disco ball and at it's feet is a chest, cups, and fake gold coins made out of Legos. To its right are Lego candelabras. The entire room is lit with red and purple lights.

Lego figure from The Dragon ride.

Photo courtesy of the author.

My son has never been a lover of aggressive amusement park rides, so I followed his lead and we focused on the rides he was interested in. We’ve visited Legoland Florida as a family several times over the years, but it was interesting to hear his thoughts on which rides he’d wait in line for and which he’d rather skip. His favorite coaster at Legoland Florida was The Dragon: a roller coaster that takes guests through a castle to look at ornate Lego displays before the thrill ride begins.

We spent a surprising amount of time in our hotel room

A photo of a bed taken diagonally at a hotel room at the Legoland Pirate Island Hotel. The bedspread has fake pirate flags stitched together and features a red and white striped flag with a skull and bones and a blue and white striped patch flag. The two square pillows on the bed have maps printed on them. Above the bed is a framed print of a fake pirate map that says Pirate Island Hotel and behind that wallpaper of jungle leaves made from Legos. To the left of the bed is a red Macaw parrot made from Legos. The curtains on the right side of the bed match the bedspread.

A room at the Legoland Pirate Island Hotel

Photo courtesy of the author.

We stayed at the Legoland Pirate Island Hotel, one of three hotels on the property. The brightly-colored room adorned with Lego minifigures and pirate decor would be any kid’s dream, but what we loved most was the ability to stream movies from my iPad to our hotel room TV.

My son loves movies, so we bought snacks at a nearby grocery store and chose a film to watch together in the room each night. We also found a TV channel that played non-stop episodes of “Shark Tank” and fell asleep guessing which entrepreneurs would be successful and which wouldn’t.

We ventured out for his favorite meal

Close up of a cheeseburger with a toothpick stuck through the middle. To the left are crinkle fries with a fork laying on top.

The author’s son’s favorite meal.

Photo courtesy of the author.

While I’ve always stuck close to the Legoland Florida property on my visits, because I had our car with us, I researched what else is in Winter Haven, Florida, where the park is located that we might want to visit this time. My son’s favorite meal is a good cheeseburger, so I found a historic burger joint, Andy’s Igloo, that’s been operating for over 65 years. I took him there for dinner.

He’s a quiet kid, so one-on-one dinners with him can be awkward at times. The key is to talk to kids about their interests, not friends or relationships, said Greenberg, “You talk about their interests — and then, from what you learn about them on the trip, you can plan more activities together based on those interests. Don’t make it about your world, make it about theirs … but at the same time, don’t overdo it or you’ll get nothing.” 

On our second fairly quiet dinner, a word search was handed out at Legoland Pirate Island Hotel’s Shipwreck Restaurant. I challenged my son to a competition to see who could find all the words first, and things got competitive. He ended up beating me by about a minute and had bragging rights to his dad and sister in our family group text.

We explored his love of movies and found a new tradition

A photo taken from below of the Ritz Theatre sign. It is red with "Ritz" written vertically and "Theatre" written at the bottom horizontally. The edge is framed in yellow with orange framing the bottom and top. The letters and edges have neon lighting and the sign is attached to the side of a tan building with a window that has a white frame with a repeated pattern of red circles with a dot inside of each of them.

The Ritz Theatre.

Photo courtesy of the author.

While I can’t always get on board with my son’s love of video games, movies are something we can agree on. While researching things to do in the area around Legoland Florida, I found a historic theater and was excited to find out there was a showing of the 1964 film “Godzilla vs. Mothra” one of the nights we were in town. Seeing a movie together gave us a less chatty way to bond, and he suggested that whenever we visit a new town, we check to see if they have a historic theater and see a film there.

We bonded over taking silly photos

The author's son laying in a pit of Lego pieces. His eyes are closed and he wears a bright blue t-shirt, grey shorts, and tan sneakers. There are two pillars in the ball pit on the left edge and right edge that have Legos built up around the pillars that stop halfway through. The pit has a navy blue padded edge. The floor outside it is navy with grey spots, and a pattern of colored Legos throughout.

The author’s son in the Lego pit.

Photo courtesy of the author

I was really able to see my son’s witty sense of humor in some of the photos he asked me to snap of him on the trip. From his willingness to pose with Peppa Pig to his noticing how the giant Lego pit in the lobby of Legoland Hotel was empty (a rarity, as it’s always filled with kids) then jumping in for a photo, it was fun to document our trip in ways that he found amusing.

We rode a rollercoaster at a preschool theme park, and loved it

A selfie photo of Terri and her son on the Daddy Pig’s Roller Coaster at the Peppa Pig Theme Park. They both wear headbands that have pink pig ears on them. Terri's are pointed and she wears a dusty orange V-neck tank top. She smiles slightly and has dark brown eyes, blonde hair with dark roots and holds the camera with her right hand. Her son's pig ears are round and he smiles with his left eye closed. He has dark brown closely-cropped hair, freckles all over his face and hazel eyes. He wears a blue V-neck t-shirt. Behind them the red rollercoaster seats are empty,

On the Daddy Pig’s Roller Coaster ride.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Since Peppa Pig Theme Park opened at Legoland Florida in February 2022, my son has made jokes about wanting to ride Daddy Pig’s Roller Coaster. On this trip, he finally had the opportunity, and although it’s definitely geared toward little ones, we had a great time joking about how “scary” it was and how “brave” he was for conquering it. In fact, he enjoyed our time at Peppa Pig Theme Park so much that he asked me to buy him a t-shirt. 

Greenberg said these natural bonding experiences are the way to go with teens, especially quiet ones. “Don’t pressure them [to talk],” she said. “Let them get comfortable being just with you and let them sort of orchestrate a conversation. My bias is always less is more. Sometimes if you leave space, the kids will fill it up.”

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