It’s hard to think that Legos weren’t always around. But, according to Lego history, this most popular and beloved toy was first introduced in 1958 which means, it’s just reached its 65-year mark. The “interlocking system” of building blocks drew so many visitors to its Denmark factory to view Lego creations that the increasing crowds forced the exhibits outdoors, and so the first Legoland park was born.
Legoland’s setting in Orange County
In addition to that first Legoland, there are eight across the world, with a few under construction in China, South Korea, and Belgium, with more in the works. For the purpose of this story, we’re concentrating on the newest entry into the Lego family of theme parks: in Goshen, New York – just about 90 minutes north of Manhattan, and smack dab in the middle of Orange County’s green rolling hills.
Legoland Resort New York opened its doors in 2022, complete with its themed hotel, located just a few minutes from the park’s entrance; the entire site encompasses 500 acres, making it the largest Legoland built by owner Merlin Entertainments Group. However, while all this is well and good, the only ones that need to be impressed are the kids – from those in strollers, up to senior citizens who were included in many family groups on a recent Saturday visit. Though rainy skies prevailed, there were enough bits of sun to encourage a healthy crowd to the park to enjoy the rides, water park, gift shops, eateries, and carnival games. The park has been divided up into a variety of themed areas like Lego Castle, Lego Ninjago World, Bricktopia, Lego Pirates, and one called Lego City. There are stages throughout for live shows throughout the day.
One of the critters
The spot to be on this warm and humid afternoon was the water rides section with its cool splashes inside the Legos Pirates area. There, you’ll find the boat rides, the mushroom waterspouts, and a water playground, with changing rooms available, and body dryers (for a fee). Every area featured dining choices like Showtime Snacks, Wizard’s Frozen Wonders, Ninja Kitchen, Smokey’s Brick-B-Que, and lots more to choose from.
Madison Square Garden
As the family meanders along the rolling paths getting from place to place, there’s one spot sure to please – perhaps more for the adults in tow: the MiniLand section featuring ten Legoland recreations of global cities and their iconic designs. Hours upon hours, and thousands of Lego blocks were spent building the highlights of Manhattan, the Bronx, Las Vegas, even the host town of Goshen, complete with a replica of the Goshen Historic Track, opened in 1838 and which still operates today. In the section called, “da Bronx,” we could see a spinning pizza in a mini recreation of Little Italy.
The Legoland Hotel is the perfect partner for this Lego-themed adventure allowing families to hunker down after a full day of play in a Lego-themed room. With separate sleeping areas for kids which can include bunk bed, pull-out trundle bed, and “a treasure chest of Lego goodies,” parents may actually get a bit of rest.
Make your plans ahead of time by visiting legoland.com/new-york for time and money-saving tips and ideas. There you can pre-purchase a parking pass online ($30, or for preferred parking $45). Daily tickets are $69 (age three and up). There’s a “reserve ‘n’ ride” feature where guests can book ride reservations to avoid the wait and get the most out of their day. Legoland is a cashless resort and will only accept credit cards, debit cards, and Apple Pay. “Cash to card” machines are located in the park to turn cash into pre-paid currency. There are minimum height restrictions at some activities, with some rides requiring a “supervising companion.”
Legoland Resort New York is located at exit 125 of Route 17. Take a left off the exit, then follow signs to Harriman Drive. Take the second left (at the traffic light) onto Legoland Way. Follow signs to parking.
If you’re visiting for longer than a day or weekend, consider visiting orangetourism.org for more ideas for family adventures. Just a few minutes’ drive from Legoland is The Castle Fun Center which includes mini-golf, laser tag, go kart tracks, and rock-climbing wall.
Photos by MJ Hanley-Goff