Skift Take

Universal is the only park to get close to challenging Disney's crown and they're, honestly, nowhere close to doing so. But Disney's rising tide raises all ships.

Legoland Florida is set to announce details of another park expansion Tuesday, one possibly based on Lego’s Legends of Chima franchise.

The Winter Haven theme park said the new area will include a ride and an interactive play area. The park has billed the project as a “major expansion” of the park’s current lineup of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions. Since opening in October 2011, the park has slowly made additions. It opened a small water park in May 2012 and added elaborate Star Wars Lego models to its Miniland in November.

Legoland has hinted the expansion may have a Legends of Chima theme. Legends of Chima involves tribes of animal warriors that compete for a mystical energy source. Earlier this month, the park released a construction-update video titled “Energy Source At Legoland Florida Construction Site”; it ends with a giant flash of light coming out of the ground. Legoland California, which features many of the same attractions as Legoland Florida, debuted a Legends of Chima 4D movie on March 8.

Orlando ranks for family hotels

The International Drive hotel Floridays Resort has been ranked the top U.S. family hotel — and fifth best in the world — by TripAdvisor Inc. in the travel-review website’s annual Travelers’ Choice Awards.

The all-suite hotel, managed by Paramount Hospitality Management, has long ranked among the top hotels locally on the TripAdvisor site.

Tammy Bateman, Floridays general manager, said the hotel’s two- and three-bedroom suites, which include a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a washer and dryer, make families “feel more at home while on vacation.”

Orlando’s hospitality industry was well-represented on the annual TripAdvisor family-hotel list, taking six of the top 10 spots in the U.S. In addition to Floridays, winners included WorldQuest Orlando Resort (No. 3), Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (No. 6), Disney’s Beach Club Resort (No. 7), Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa (No. 9), and Marriott’s Harbour Lake (No. 10).

Each of those hotels also ranked among the Top 25 Hotels for Families worldwide, according to TripAdvisor.

Outside capital behind expansion

Walt Disney World’s plans to expand Downtown Disney and re-theme the shopping complex as “Disney Springs” shouldn’t add too much to its balance sheet.

That’s because more than half of the capital investment will be borne by third-party tenants, according to Walt Disney Co. Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs.

The executive, who was in town last week for the expansion announcement, also said that the “vast majority” of additional retail space will be occupied by third parties.

Staggs also didn’t hide his disdain for “Hyperion Wharf,” the previous concept announced by Disney for the former Pleasure Island section of Downtown Disney. That idea has since been abandoned.

“We stepped back … [and] concluded that we could do better,” Staggs said of the decision to jettison Hyperion Wharf. “We took a little more time.”


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Tags: disney, theme parks

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