September 25th, 2011 by Nik · No Comments
It is an exciting time for Winter Haven as LEGOLAND Florida is set to open in two weeks. Merlin Entertainment has taken the bold move of re-developing the former site of Cypress Gardens in a depressed economy and by what I have seen a depressed region. The Park looks amazing and I believe it will be a real Central Florida destination. For the under 12 year olds this should be a must visit. It really is not that far from Orlando or Tampa. However, the drive from the Magic Kingdom will be a real eye opener for some. It is difficult to explain how bleak some of the areas are. It certainly is not palm trees and boulevards. There are many shut down businesses and bleak strip malls. Inexplicably, the businesses that seem to thrive are Nail salons and Mattress shops?!! You cannot drive very far without seeing one or the other or both. On the extreme other end it is very far between Starbucks or other coffee houses. This obviously speaks to the spending ability in the region. LEGOLAND seems to have been very strategic in giving extreme discounts and passes to the local community. As we went out to a movie in the local theater on a Saturday night we were struck by how empty it was and deserted the neighbourhood was. It looks like the ‘modern’ theater was built 10 years ago and has not been maintained at all. The way it looked I can’t imagine it being open for many more years. It will then join the host of empty parking lots. All in all quite sad. I really do hope LEGOLAND at least perks up this region.