Regardless of which LEGOLAND Florida Hotel that you choose, you’re going to have a GREAT time! There’s no doubt about it. But with so many Legoland hotel options, you might be wondering if the original hotel is best…or if the LEGOLAND Pirate Island Hotel or LEGOLAND Beach Retreat is better. Here’s what to keep in mind so you can make the best decision for your family.
TL;DR: In my humble opinion the Beach Retreat is better suited for younger kids. That’s a theme you’ll see reiterated and supported in the tips below. With that said, we didn’t know that when we visited but my boys (far beyond young children but not quite tweens at the the time) still enjoyed our stay at the Retreat – but preferred the Hotels.
Bunk beds for three (with different arrangements)
In all three hotels, our boys adored the guest rooms with bunk beds (including a trundle, which makes it great for three!)
The original and Pirate Island Hotel rooms were arranged in such a way that there was a wall between the bunks and the main bed, and the boys enjoyed a TV just for them.
At the Beach Retreat, the bunks were tucked into a nook, separated from the main bed area by a decorated curtain. It did not include a TV or outlets for their iPads (no building block tables and legos meant more screen time in the evening – ugh.) Re: Safe for younger children.
I should also point out here that the Hotel rooms are themed (The Pirate Hotel with an all-Pirate theme…and the original Hotel with themes based on popular LEGO lines Pirate, Kingdom, Adventure or LEGO friends), they include a fun treasure hunt and access to a free Master Builder class, but the Beach Resort rooms do not. (No worries, though – the Beach Retreat rooms are still fully themed out!)
Plenty of space to spread out
Both Hotels and the Retreat offer plenty of space within the rooms, but you have to remember that the Legoland Hotels are in fact, hotels. When it’s time for the kids to go to bed, you are “stuck” there with them in the room for the remainder of the night.
That’s not a big deal for us; we let the kids stay up late when we vacation…and then we all go to bed together. But that’s not the case for everyone, especially if your little one is on a schedule.
We talked to another set of parents at the Retreat that LOVED the bungalows just for this reason. Their kids were 2 and 5. They put the 2 yo to bed early with the baby monitor, and sat out on the patio with a glass of wine while the 5 yo played on the playground only a few feet away.
“We never could have enjoyed our night like this from the hotel. And since the 2 yo is getting a good night’s sleep, we know she won’t be cranky at the park tomorrow.” Genius, LEGOLAND!
The pace is faster at the Legoland Hotels
The pace at the Retreat is much slower. The crowds are thinner. The vibe is quieter. It felt more like a retreat.
While that slower pace was right up my alley, my kids preferred building with other kids in the lobby play areas of the Hotels, seeing the interactive Lego feature characters roam around (pre-COVID), playing the games and feeling the high level of ENERGY that comes from the Hotel.
That being said, a younger kiddo (or a child with sensory issues) could easily become overwhelmed at the Hotel, and would greatly appreciate the relaxed atmosphere of the Beach Retreat.
Breakfast is FREE at all accommodations
Legoland is unique because it is the only Orlando resort that offers free breakfast to Legoland hotel guests, and that extends to the Hotels and Retreat.
There is a buffet at the Beach Retreat and the original Hotel, but in my opinion, the one at the Hotel is head and shoulders better than the Retreat. There were considerably MORE options…and it tasted a little better, too. To be fair, we visited during the first week the Retreat opened….but the difference was epic.
Those staying at the Pirate Hotel will enjoy an alternative to the buffet, with family-style servings at their Shipwreck Restaurant. All the buffet options are available to you – and it is delicious! (See our Pirate Island Hotel post for a photo of dinner served family-style here, to get an idea of what I mean)
When we talked to the staff about eating at the Hotel rather than the Retreat, they were accommodating but indicated that they did not know how long they would extend that opportunity so ask when you make your reservation.
Dinner is also available at both locations (not for free,) but I offer the same advice: head to the Hotel for dinner (or eat off-site.) The Shipwreck Restaurant food blows away all the other options!
All accommodations offer a zero-entry pool with lifeguards
But, once again, it’s different.
The pool at the original Legoland Hotel includes a splash ground. There is also more activity and lots more [older] kids. Plus, that view of the lake at sunset…to die for! (Yes, there is a lake view at the Retreat, but when we were there it was obfuscated by a chain link fence.)
At the Pirate Hotel there were fewer kids…no splashpad, etc…but it was easy to scoot through the lobby to the other pool area.
At the Retreat you’ll find sand for building sandcastles, and a really cool playground…fewer crowds and less “chaos.”
Also, in my opinion, Skyline Lounge at the original Hotel is a better bar for adults , with more drink options and some light food selections. There is also a great bar at the Pirate Hotel, where they make a mean Pina-colada, but it currently does not open until 4pm.
Why do I say this about the Retreat, for example, they couldn’t make us a Long Island Ice Tea, but the Legoland Hotel had no issues. (#Don’tJudge) Again, that may or may not have been about it being the first week of opening.
Speaking of drinks, Legoland never forgets the kiddos. At Skyline Lounge the kids can order Mocktails, too. These alcohol-free treats will make them feel super special. My boys indulged on Shirley Temples with handfuls of sweet cherries.
Location is everything
Both hotels are 130 kid-steps to the theme park. This means that you can easily come and go between the park, your room, the restaurant, Master Builder classes, the pool and more. No worries about hauling the entire contents of your room into the park with you each day. No concerns about heading back to the room to change into swimsuits if you want to visit the Legoland Water Park or take a nap.
The Beach Retreat is still super close….just over Cypress Gardens Blvd. But, you’ll need to take your vehicle or use their shuttle service.
Don’t forget – regardless of which of the three accommodations you stay in, you are able to gain early access to Legoland! Hooray!
More Hotels Outside of Florida
The information in this post is just about the Legoland Hotel options in Central Florida. You may have heard about the LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel, but that is only in California…alongside the LEGOLAND® California Resort (which includes cool Lego Ninjago rooms not available in Florida.) These hotels are located about 30 minutes north of San Diego.
Additionally – we are stoked to visit the newest Legoland hotel opening, in 2021 (delayed due to COVID.) LEGOLAND® New York Resort (in Hudson Valley) will include room theme with the themes from Pirate, Kingdom, Friends and Ninjago.
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Disclosure: 365 Atlanta Traveler is proud to serve as a Visit Florida Digital Marketing Program Partner for LEGOLAND®. ® indicate trademarks of the LEGO Group. These and LEGOLAND® are trademarks of the LEGO Group. Thank you to Legoland, Central Florida and Visit Florida for hosting us. Opinions here are all our own.