WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The world's largest Lego theme park is expanding again, this time with a water ride, a splash zone and an interactive play area — all welcome activities for vacationing families in the Florida heat.
The World of Chima opened Wednesday at Legoland Florida. It's a lushly landscaped area that immerses visitors in Chima, a swampy world populated by talking animal tribes that battle over Chi, or the world's life force. Main characters include Laval, a lion, and Cragger, a crocodile who has stolen the Chi.
There are three main attractions in the new area: a water ride called The Quest for Chi, a splash zone called Cragger's Swamp, and an area where kids can play with Speedorz, which are rip-cord Lego vehicles used by the characters in Chima.
“We're immersing families in a story line developed over years,” said Ethan Sack, senior director of marketing at the Lego Group.
Water is a huge theme in the new zone; the park wasn't kidding when it put up signs that read “You may get soaked” and “Soak Zone.”
Riders on The Quest for Chi board boats and use water cannons to soak other boats — and spray water and folks standing on the sidelines. The boats float gently past Mount Cavora, a floating waterfall looming over the new zone at 55 feet (17 meters) high. Then riders head into the jaws of Cragger the crocodile to experience more Chima worlds.
The ride was designed so practically the entire family can partake in the fun; only babies who can't walk are barred from the ride.
There is also a gift shop where fans can buy Chima-themed Lego block sets and gladiator-like costumes worn by the characters. Meet and greets with the characters will also be plentiful.
The storyline, and the new park area, is a marketer's dream. Chima was initially a Lego product line, and then a Cartoon Network show and the park addition followed. A 4-D movie based on the characters opened earlier this year at the Florida and California Lego parks.
“We want to make sure the show stays true to the toys, and the toys stay true to the show,” said Scott Thomas, vice president of consumer marketing for the Cartoon Network.
Legoland Florida is based on the building-block toys and has rides and attractions geared toward ages 2 to 12.
The Winter Haven location is one of five Lego-based theme parks in the world, and the company's largest. Since opening in October 2011, the Florida location has added hotels, a “Star Wars”-themed area and a water park.