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March 24, 2011
Four roller coasters, a pirate ski show, a factory that shows how Legos are made, and a school for young boating enthusiasts.
From the looks of a new map released Wednesday, the 52-acre, $100 million Legoland theme park has it all.
But there is still a long way to go before the park opens in October.
Top officials from Legoland Florida spoke Wednesday in front of Lego City, one of 10 areas at the park. Behind them, construction crews worked on the Skipper's School, a ride that will allow kids to drive battery-operated boats.
Few remnants of Cypress Gardens remain.
"Ninety-percent of the park has changed," said Craig Riebel, construction manager of Legoland. "But some will recognize old trees, the botanical gardens and a couple of rides."
One of those rides is Island in the Sky, a viewing platform that allows visitors to climb 117 feet for an aerial view of the park.
"We revamped it and incorporated it into the main entrance," said Adrian Jones, general manager of Legoland Florida.
Merlin Entertainments Group, Legoland's corporate owner, bought the former Cypress Gardens property last January for a reported $22.3 million, designating it to be the world's fifth Legoland park.
Last August, Legoland selected PCL Construction Services as lead contractor. PCL, headquartered in Denver with an office in Orlando, has overseen construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort and the Jungala exhibit at Busch Gardens.
Construction workers could be seen Wednesday building the Skipper's School and the driving school, which allows children ages 6 to 13 to drive and receive an official Legoland driver license. Also in Lego City is a suspended metal roller coaster named Flying School. It is one of two roller coasters Legoland kept. The second is the wooden roller coaster named Coastersaurus.
ANNUAL PASS SALES UP, HIRING TO BEGIN
Sales of annual passes already have exceeded what the company expected, said Jill Swidler, marketing manager for Legoland Florida.
Swidler declined to release how many annual passes have been sold, but said about 80 percent are from the Central Florida area, while about 20 percent are from out of state.
"Sales are through the roof," Swidler said.
Swidler said a deal for a 15-month annual pass ends April 30. Annual passes for adults and children ages 3 to 12 cost $99, while daily tickets are $75 for adults and $65 for children. Children under 3 get in free.
Legoland will begin offering vacation packages that include park tickets, airfare, hotel and a rental car by the end of the month, Swidler said.
Currently, there are about 325 people working at Legoland. Of those, 225 are in construction, while about 100 are in administration and operation jobs. The company expects to hire 1,000 people
Legoland will begin hiring for other positions June 1. Swidler said people should go towww.legoland.com to apply for positions.
RACE TO OCTOBER
Riebel, the construction manager, said in the coming weeks three shifts will be added for employees to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet the October deadline.
A specific opening day should be announced in several weeks.
Officials said they were reluctant to release a date with seven months to go because the weather could set workers back.
Jones, the general manager, said, at times, it's been difficult to retain and renovate some of the buildings from Cypress Gardens. Roofs have been repaired in old buildings that have in many cases been completely gutted.
There also have been drainage problems at the park.
In addition to a few rides and the botanical gardens, Jones said Legoland is keeping another mainstay with a twist: water-skiing shows with a pirate theme.
The shows will take place in the Pirate's Cove area of the park on Lake Eloise.
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