LEGOLAND Florida Resort is currently located in Polk County and will annex into the City of Winter Haven
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2015) – LEGOLAND® Florida Resort will begin the process to annex its Polk County property into the City of Winter Haven, Fla., a decision the resort considers a key step in the evolution of the area into a world-class destination for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.
Located on the historic site of the former Cypress Gardens attraction, considered Florida’s first theme park, LEGOLAND Florida Resort opened with its iconic, 150-acre theme park on Oct. 15, 2011, and has evolved into a multi-day vacation destination with expansions such as LEGOLAND Water Park in 2012 and the 152-room LEGOLAND Hotel in 2015, all designed for and inspired by the creativity of children.
“This transition into the city is the next logical step in our evolution as a resort,” said General Manager Adrian Jones, “and underscores our commitment to fulfill the vision of the Cypress Gardens Boulevard study.”
Research commissioned by the Winter Haven Economic Development Council concluded that with a coordinated approach to planning and design, the Cypress Gardens Boulevard corridor and surrounding land could support additional hotels, restaurants and entertainment options.
Owned by UK-based Merlin Entertainments, the world’s No. 2 visitor attractions operator, LEGOLAND Florida Resort incorporates the world-famous botanical gardens opened in 1936 by Dick and Julie Pope
on the shores of Lake Eloise, a treasure that has been preserved for future generations under Merlin’s stewardship in partnership with the state of Florida.
“Since it opened four years ago, LEGOLAND Florida Resort has not only been a wonderful destination for vacationers but also a valued partner to our city,” said Winter Haven City Manager Deric C. Feacher. “I look forward to working with the LEGOLAND team during the annexation process and beyond as we continue improving the quality of life for Winter Haven residents, businesses and visitors.”
In a Sept. 22 editorial, The Ledger newspaper observed:
LEGOLAND Florida Resort “could be an anchor for real growth in Winter Haven and surrounding communities. The city seeks the [Polk] County Commission’s help in furthering that, and the board should explore more deeply how to make that happen. Merlin Entertainments gambled on the old Cypress Gardens in the darkest days of the recession, and apparently prospered. Now, as more people than ever flock to Florida, it’s time to see how the company and the community can both benefit.”
Merle Bishop, Winter Haven’s growth management director, said he welcomes the opportunity to work closely with one of the region’s largest employers to explore the many opportunities identified by the Cypress Gardens Boulevard study.
“I want to officially welcome LEGOLAND Florida Resort into the City of Winter Haven,” he said. “Working together, we’ll identify smart solutions to best serve the needs of our growing community.”
According to Feacher, the annexation process is expected to take approximately two months, which will include creation of the required ordinance and documentation, plus two public hearings by the City Commission.
“Becoming part of Winter Haven will bring responsive, local municipal services such as police, fire and expedited permitting closer,” Feacher said. “Annexing the LEGOLAND property will help the city guide future development along the Cypress Gardens Boulevard corridor to complement the resort’s mission and enhance the experience of LEGOLAND visitors.”