I made my first trip to LEGOLAND Florida Resort last March, and I can’t tell you how impressed I was; this clean, colorful, kid-centric haven was so much more than I expected.
From its very manageable size, to its adorably-themed Lands (DUPLO Valley for small fries and LEGO NINJAGO World for those ninjas-in-training, for example), to the onsite, “5-Gazillion Star” LEGOLAND Hotel, this resort truly feels like it was “built for kids.” ALL kids. Every shape, size, age, and ability. If you have followed by blog, you might know I have a deep passion for the differently-abled and a long relationship with Autism Speaks.
Autism Speaks began collaborating with this resort in Central Florida last year, and in my estimation, have made extraordinary progress in creating an optimal experience for families on the autism spectrum. Additionally, LEGOLAND Florida will donate $15 of each ticket sold during the upcoming Autism Awareness Month (April) to the North and Central Florida Autism Speaks chapters. I was touched that good friend Lori (@busydisneymom at Main Street Moms) forwarded me the remarkable work that this partnership has yielded. With her permission, I felt I must share their “Hero Pass” details with you.
LEGOLAND Florida Resort in Winter Haven, Fla., recently debuted a wide variety of services and initiatives to assist guests with autism spectrum disorders and their caregivers. They include a no-cost “Hero Pass” that allows groups to bypass the standby line at popular attractions; multiple “quiet rooms” equipped with noise-cancelling headphones, weighted blankets, squishy toys and tables where kids can build with LEGO bricks; “social stories” that offer illustrated, step-by-step walkthroughs of rides and shows to proactively alert guests to periods of darkness, loud noises, bright lights or other elements that often can be frightening or overwhelming. In addition, all newly hired employees (called Model Citizens) now receive specialized training to more effectively interact with guests on the autism spectrum, as well as their families or caregivers. Last spring, the Central Florida vacation destination partnered with the North and Central Florida chapter of Autism Speaks, the worlds leading autism science and advocacy organization, to better serve guests with autism spectrum disorders. Consultations include Dr. Craig Glaser, the resort’s medical director, who also serves as medical director of Winter Haven’s Urgent Care Cypress facility. (PHOTO: Benjamin Peacock/LEGOLAND Florida Resort)
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Adds ‘Quiet Rooms,’ No-Wait Passes and Employee Training to Assist Guests with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Vacation Destination #BuiltForKids to Donate Share of Every Ticket Purchased During Autism Awareness Month Promotion with Local Chapter of Autism Speaks
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (March 28, 2017) — In an ongoing effort to make LEGOLAND® Florida Resort a more welcoming place for all kids and families, the popular vacation destination has debuted a wide variety of services and initiatives to assist guests with autism spectrum disorders and their caregivers.
Last spring, the Central Florida resort partnered with the North and Central Florida chapter of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, to better serve guests on the autism spectrum. With the organization’s guidance, LEGOLAND Florida Resort is pleased to announce the following efforts happening at the place #BuiltForKids:
- To assist visitors who have difficulty waiting in line, a pass specifically for guests on the autism spectrum allows a group to bypass the standby line at popular attractions. The no-cost “Blue Hero Pass” is available at Guest Services inside the theme park.
- Specially equipped spaces in the resort’s Annual Pass, First Aid and Baby Care facilities now serve as designated “quiet rooms” where quests who are on the autism spectrum and their families can take a break. Noise-cancelling headphones, weighted blankets, squishy toys and LEGO® building tables are some of the complimentary resources available. A similar space also is available within Guest Services at LEGOLAND Water Park.
- The LEGOLAND Training & Development team has created “social stories” that offer an illustrated, step-by-step walkthrough of every ride and show, so guests won’t be surprised by periods of darkness, loud noises, bright lights or other elements that often can be frightening or overwhelming. They’re available for review at Guest Services.
- All newly hired resort employees (called “Model Citizens”) now receive specialized training to prepare them with skills and sensitivities to more effectively interact with guests on the autism spectrum, as well as their families or caregivers. Consultations include Dr. Craig Glaser, the resort’s medical director, who also serves as medical director of Winter Haven’s Urgent Care Cypress facility.
Through a special promotion during Autism Awareness Month in April, LEGOLAND Florida Resort will contribute $15 of the proceeds from each ticket sold to the North and Central Florida chapter of Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks supporters can purchase print-at-home theme park tickets at a discounted rate of $45 plus tax, a $48 savings off the price of an adult ticket purchased at the resort’s ticket windows. This offer will only be available online through Autism Speaks from April 1 through May 31, 2017.
On Saturday, April 22, LEGOLAND Florida Resort will host a hands-on building opportunity for kids during the Autism Speaks Walk at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., and on Saturday, Nov. 11 during the Autism Speaks Walk at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs, Fla. For more information, visit www.autismspeakswalk.org.
In honor of World Autism Awareness Day, observed annually on April 2, LEGOLAND Florida Resort will once again participate in the Autism Speaks “Light It Up Blue” campaign by shining blue spotlights on several miniature LEGO landmarks in MINILAND USA. Each year, iconic landmarks, skyscrapers, schools, businesses and homes across the globe unite by shining bright blue lights in honor of the millions of individuals and families affected by autism. For more information, visit www.autismspeaks.org/liub.
More than 50 rides, shows and attractions inspired by the LEGO and DUPLO® brands await at LEGOLAND Florida Resort, including experiences based on “The LEGO Movie™,” LEGO NINJAGO®, LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS™, LEGO City, LEGO Technic and LEGO Friends. Upcoming events included with park admission are KIDZ BOP Weekend (April 28-30), LEGO® Star Wars™ Days (May 6-7 and 13-14) and LEGOLAND Knight Lights (select dates in July).
LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, opening April 7, will more than double on-site accommodations and offer endless fun in the sun, plus a giant, hands-on activity station where kids can add their own creations to a giant sandcastle made out of thousands of LEGO bricks.
For more information about visiting LEGOLAND Florida Resort, including savings on advance purchase of admission tickets, on-site accommodations, multi-tier annual passes, special events, educational programs, services for guests with disabilities, VIP experiences, military discounts and much more, visit www.LEGOLAND.com/florida, or call (877) 350-5346.