Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Legoland Florida looks to be building a massive hotel in Winter Haven

Posted By on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 at 6:10 AM

click to enlarge 1000w_legolandhotel.jpg
Legoland Florida continues to add new attractions to help entice an ever increasing number of guests to the park in Winter Haven.

While the location is surely off the beaten path for many tourists, the steady stream of new offerings are keeping the resort fresh, including recently uncovered plans that look to confirm the interactive Ninjago ride from California is making its way to Florida.

The first resort hotel at Legoland Florida opened in May 2015 at the front gate of the park. Now, a new land purchase by Legoland’s parent company Merlin looks to confirm a second hotel is the works.

A 58-acre piece of property purchased by Merlin is across the street from Legoland and is not connected to the pre-existing property. Paperwork filed with the South Florida Water Management District includes details of a 166 unit duplex style development that Merlin intends to build on the waterfront property sitting on the shores of Lake Dexter.

Along with the 83 duplexes, the resort, currently known as “Project Oasis,” will also include a 12,000 sq. ft. clubhouse, a pool and on-site ponds, and walking paths that crisscross the property. The former owner of the property, Republican state representative from Winter Haven John Wood, confirmed to the Lakeland Ledger that the deed for the property showing Merlin buying it for $4.6 million, is indeed valid. According to the Polk County Property Appraiser, Wood’s family purchased the property in 1969 for $120,000. The permits filled with the water management district show no type of docks or other structures built over any part of the lake. The wetlands on the southern end of the property would also be undisturbed. Lake Dexter is not connected to the famed Winter Haven Chain of Lakes that Legoland sits on. There have been various plans over the years to include Legoland in a chain of lakes water taxi system that would link the resort to other commercial developments in Winter Haven. None of those plans seems to be moving forward at this time.

Merlin is a U.K. based company, an important fact to remember when looking at this particular project. Polk County has long been a popular spot for foreign tourists, who, unlike most Americans, get lengthy vacation time. With Merlin being such a familiar brand to these U.K. visitors, it’s not out of the question that this resort, with its multiple parking areas, apartment style layout and non-traditional tourist region location might be a long term vacation rental resort marketed at foreigners. The clubhouse doesn’t include a traditional check-in area that you would find at most resorts either. The close proximity to services required by long term vacationers, like the walkability to a grocery store and numerous dining options, could be major selling points for the resort if it is a vacation rental community.

Merlin has been very bullish on Florida with major investments over the past few years at both its Legoland park and at its I-Drive 360 attractions, including the Orlando Eye. Currently, a bus offers daily service from I-Drive 360 to Legoland, but there isn’t any type of similar daily service for Legoland Hotel guests looking to take day trips into Orlando. A small shelter is featured in the plans near the entrance of the resort but there is no confirmation that will be for buses or for another use.

The new resort is very early in the planning stages and still has numerous approvals necessary even before a basic groundbreaking can begin. 

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