By Debi Lander
I first encountered Peppa Pig, a children’s TV show, when visiting my son and his family in Baltimore. My three-year-old granddaughter was watching, so I joined her. The charm of the animated characters speaking with British accents captivated me: Peppa, her brother George, and Mommy and Daddy Pig.
Preschoolers adore the show, and their parents approve; thus, Peppa gained a following and rose to fame. Now, she stars in her own theme park located in Winter Haven, Florida, adjacent to Legoland. I checked out the preschooler’s playground, a Certified Autism Center, and found it “oinktastic,” as Peppa might say.
Rides and attractions are sized for children five and younger and handicapped accessible, but some require a minimum height. Daddy Pig’s Roller Coaster ranks as the most adventurous. Take a seat behind Daddy Pig’s red car — and you’re off. The caravan scoots participants up (not too high) and then rolls the vehicles down and around numerous swift curves. Once was enough for me, but Izzy Hough of Clermont, celebrating her fifth birthday, claimed the roller coaster as her favorite attraction in the park.
Grampy Rabbit’s Dinosaur Adventure (very tame) gently rocks a seated child and adult around the dino quest grounds. High Striker slides seated riders up and down a bench attached to a tower. You can ride in a boat or hot air balloon or let your kiddos pedal a tricycle (two sizes) within a confined path.
Allow time to explore the Fun Fair with traditional games, a playground with a giant sandbox, nature trail, maze, fort, and greenhouse.
Water’s always a winner. Muddy Puddles Splash Pad tickles the piggies with cooling spray via sprouting fountains and watery showers. Here, I found Izzy’s sister, Eden, sopping wet. Eden, celebrating her second birthday, was delighted. Eden’s mom, Christina, suggested visitors bring towels for drying off.
The park gets direct sun, so bring plenty of sunscreen and hats. If you get hot (and you will), take a break and head inside to watch some episodes of Peppa Pig on the big screen. Peppa and her family also perform live shows on a stage covered by a tent throughout the day. Check the schedule for Peppa’s personal meet and greet sessions.
You can save by purchasing single-day tickets online at $30.99 instead of the $35 price at the gate. Everyone two and older needs a ticket. I was pleased to hear you can bring food into the playspace, another way to keep costs down.
To avoid peak crowds (snort, snort), choose a weekday, arrive before the park opens at 10 a.m., or start your visit in the afternoon. Many families leave in the early afternoon.
I also spent a night in the Pirate Island section of the Legoland Hotel. Each room includes a king-size bed and a separate sleeping space (bunk beds with a trundle) for kids. Colorful pirate-themed murals cover the walls. Legos, of course — a container of them below the TV. The most fun thing about the room is following the treasure hunt that unlocks hidden treats.
While you might need to rob a treasure chest to afford the hotel rates, the facility offers many advantages: you can park and leave your car for free, walk only steps to Peppa Pig or Legoland theme parks, go back to your room for nap time, and extend the day at the hotel’s pool and waterpark. A mini-golf course and s’more fire pit are located on the property near the lake. Two restaurants await any hunger needs. The waiters serve complimentary breakfast at your table. The Shipwreck Restaurant serves bountiful family-style dinners — reservations suggested.
For a fun day and more information: VisitCentralFlorida.com.
Visit www.bylandersea.com to read more of local travel writer Debi Lander’s stories and travel tips.
Photo courtesy Debi Lander