IAAPA News Sails on a Pirate River Quest
On the morning of Jan. 11, the IAAPA News team made the journey to Winter Haven, Florida, for a swashbuckling first look at Legoland Florida’s new boat ride, Pirate River Quest. Our team was greeted by welcoming Model Citizens—the title Legoland Florida bestows upon its employees—and, amusingly, a Lego monkey that foreshadowed the experience to come.
As a Sunshine State transplant who had yet to visit, I was enchanted by the park’s strikingly beautiful location along Lake Eloise. I was also delighted to discover that the ride traverses the canals of Cypress Gardens, botanical gardens that were beloved to central Florida residents and visitors from 1938 to 2003. Thankfully, the canals and the boats that once navigated them have been returned to the public—this time, with Lego creatures featured at every turn!
Once it was time to ride, event attendees were guided through a wooden queue, which featured the primary Lego figures found throughout the ride. Screens displayed messages detailing the ride’s story, along with pirate-themed games accessible to guests of all ages as they wait to board the vessels.
All forms of accessibility were a central consideration in the development of this attraction, from age to physical mobility. There are 10 total boats, two of which are ADA accessible—allowing visitors in wheelchairs to enjoy the attraction. Safety has been addressed as well, with guests under age six required to wear a provided life vest.
As the boat departs from the boarding dock, guests are drawn into the story of a notorious pirate named Captain Redbeard. His treasure has been stolen by a troop of mischievous monkeys, and the riders—playing the role of honorary buccaneers—are encouraged to count all the gems, coins, and golden bricks hidden along the route.
While the story was immersive and engaging, the lush surroundings of Cypress Gardens were what elevated the experience. It was obvious that the Legoland Florida team approached the ride’s design with respect and intention, carefully integrating props into the historic environmental landmark that preceded it.
I would argue that this was the right approach, as my team and I enjoyed watching the live birds flying overhead as much as the Lego ones looming over us!
Pirate River Quest has set an impressive precedent for creativity in the year ahead, and we encourage adventurers of all kinds to experience the fun for themselves at Legoland Florida.