View Full Version : Stay overnight in Winter Haven or just drive from Universal?

11-02-2011, 10:56 AM
We are visiting in Jan. 2012 for 3 nights - arriving in Orlando at 2:30 pm on the first day. Our plans are to spend one full day at Legoland (son's dream!) and then one full day at Universal.
I'm trying to decide if we should drive and stay in Winter Haven that first evening (reservation already made at Best Western) to be ready for Legoland the next day OR just add a night to our Hard Rock Hotel reservation (staying there the next 2 nights) and just driving to Winter Haven for the day.

I am mostly concerned that we will get to Winter Haven and have nothing to do between roughly 5 pm on...!! We definitely are not just hang out in the room kind of people...!! But I also know that we won't be out past 10 pm.. due to a busy park day planned and the ages of our children (8, 9).

Any thoughts? Hopefully someone can tell about what there is to do around Winter Haven - I can't find anything when I google it! Can we get into the Lego Store at the park without entry?

11-02-2011, 04:59 PM
Hi, good question!
We stay 3 months just south of Disney and I referee high school basketball and get to Winter Haven several times. Other than Legoland there is not much after 5PM. It is a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the Disney area and is full of snowbirds this time of year. In other words, do not plan on eating in the restaurants between 4:30 and 7PM!!!
I guess if you want evening action other than swimming in the pool, video games, and dinner, you might want to consider staying at the Hard Rock. I am sure it not the bargain price of Best Western though. You can google the driving distance but I am guessing about an hour from door to door.

Good Luck...Ted

11-02-2011, 09:59 PM
If it were me, I would definitely vote for staying at the Hard Rock Hotel an extra night. Nothing against Winter Haven but it is a bit in the middle of nowhere and probably doesn't have much to offer to the 8-9 year old age set in the early evening hours. In addition, having only seen the outside of the two hotels, I think the Hard Rock looks awesome while the Best Western looks a bit questionable. Finally, Legoland generally opens at 10am...so it's not like you'd have to leave the Hard Rock at 6am to get there at opening.

By the way, I took my 4-year old to Legoland last week and we really enjoyed it. Very different than Disney or Universal but I think that's what makes Central Florida such a great destination. There really is something for everyone. Hope your family enjoys your vacation.

11-02-2011, 10:26 PM
I just went to Legoland last week which has early closing times,usually 5pm and a late opening time of 10am,it took me 35 minutes from the Legoland parking lot to the Disney exits on I-4,so add another 10-15 minutes to Universal,not a bad drive at all.I had been a couple of years ago to Cypress Gardens and this time I did notice more new businesses in the area,with that said it still didn't look like the most entertaining place after dark so I would still just do the drive and stay at Hard Rock another night without even thinking about it.

11-02-2011, 11:05 PM
If in the budget I'd vote for Hard Rock because I hate packing and unpacking the stuff from the car. I'd rather make the drive in the AM to getting up and checking out of the BW.

11-03-2011, 09:09 AM
Thanks for the input! I am going to call Hard Rock and see if they can give me the same rate (GE Employee) that we already reserved the other 2 nights for.... I think that being at the Hard Rock to enjoy dinner and fun around City Walk would be more preferable than the limited activity near Legoland... (and maybe I'll add another day onto the Universal tix - we could enjoy them that first afternoon/evening... kids would love that!)

11-04-2011, 09:17 AM
I live in Winter Haven I agree there is nothing to do here once the park closes. Yet the peeps here who was looking for Legoland to bring in guests to our hotels an resturants don't understand WHY guest are going to legoland an back over by disney an universal......CAUSE THERE IS NOTHING ELSE FOR THEM TO DO HERE!!!!

11-04-2011, 02:20 PM
I soooo appreciate this site - so many helpful people when planning a WDW/Universal/et al vacation!

I ended up booking the first night at the Hard rock... the rate was a little higher than I had reserved for the next 2 nights... but since it is a Saturday night.. that is probably why (with a GE employee discount).

I'd much rather have something to do on our first night in Orlando than just be in a "dead zone" waiting for the next day's adventure at Legoland. We love the Hard Rock, so even with paying a little more for an extra night there - we will be able to hit a park for a few hours and then catch dinner and KNOW that we will be busy until we want to catch some shuteye!