LEGOLAND New York on Track for 2021 Opening
Mary Prenon | September 2020
In early March, when the Coronavirus began to shutter almost everything in its path, the LEGOLAND New York Resort under construction in Goshen was also forced to push back its planned July 4, 2020 opening date until 2021. LEGOLAND New York and its parent company, Merlin Entertainments, made the decision to postpone the Grand Opening to ensure the health and safety of all of its guests and employees.
But now, construction is back on track with expectations that the hotel and theme park will be finished by early next year. “It’s a thrill to see our team back together, working full steam ahead to build this amazing resort,” said LEGOLAND New York Resort Divisional Director Stephanie Johnson. “As a parent raising a family here in Orange County, it gives me such pride to see our theme park taking shape, and we can’t wait to welcome families from all over in 2021.”
While no specific Grand Opening date has yet been set, LEOGLAND New York Public Relations Manager Matt Besterman hinted that it could be open by next spring or summer. “All of the buildings are up, and we’re getting ready to start work on the interiors,” he said. “We just finished the fourth and final floor of the hotel and the rides are also going in.”
The $350-million resort is being developed on 150 acres of a 500-acre site, providing enough natural buffer around the hotel and theme park to keep it secluded from the highway and local neighborhoods. “It’s like having a park within a park,” said Besterman.
The 250-room hotel will be 100% “LEGO-themed,” featuring a LEGO castle, pirates, friends and Ninjago, which are LEGO ninjas. Restaurants will also cater to children’s tastes and feature tables that are lower for them. “Everything is built for kids—they direct the experience,” added Besterman.
Slated for children aged 2 to 12, the LEOGLAND Resort theme park’s 50 rides and attractions are designed for the whole family to enjoy together. Merlin Entertainment’s newest ride, the Lego Factory Adventure, is debuting at LEGOLAND New York. It will feature “Professor Brick” giving a history of the LEGO brick, along with a factory tour and some surprises.
“We actually take things to the next level so that riders feel like they’re shrunk down to the size of a LEGO character, then shipped out and sent to a child’s bedroom,” explained Besterman. “The best part is when riders see themselves transformed into a LEGO character!”
Other popular rides include a roller coaster, carousel, LEGO Driving School, where children can drive a small car and get a “driver’s license,” plus the LEGO Rescue Academy, which simulates firefighters putting out a blaze. “No matter what your age, this place will definitely make you feel like a kid again,” said Besterman.
In fact, one of the most asked questions on its social media feeds is ‘Do I need to have children to attend?” “The answer, of course, is no. Our goal is to create a memorable experience for anyone walking through the gate,” he added.
When complete, the Goshen location will be the only LEGOLAND theme park in the Northeast. There are two others currently in the U.S., in Florida and California. Worldwide, this will be ninth theme park, with others in England, Germany, Japan, Dubai, Malaysia, and the original park in Denmark, built in 1968. There are also two more theme parks under construction in Korea and China.
Created in Denmark in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, LEGO is actually an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt,” meaning “play well”. The company has since passed from father to son and is now owned by Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, a grandchild of the founder.
“We expect to have visitors from all over the U.S. and internationally, especially since the Hudson Valley is already a destination spot,” said Besterman. “Plus, Orange County is such a natural fit because of its location along Route 17, proximity to Stewart (New York International) Airport, and it’s just a 60-mile drive from New York City.”
Orange County Executive Steven Newhaus believes LEGOLAND will be a major economic draw for the region. “The project will create jobs and, like the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, attract tourists from around the world to Orange County,” he said. “I look forward to seeing LEGOLAND succeed and appreciate the investment that it has made in Orange County.”
Maureen Halahan, president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership, echoed those sentiments. “LEGOLAND, like so many other projects, has experienced delays due to COVID, but the promise of a Grand Opening in 2021 brings monumental revenue and job creation to Orange County and the Hudson Valley,” she said. “Thankfully, during the best of times, we teed up opportunities that will strengthen us during the worst of times.”
The resort expects to hire more than 1,000 people, who will be known as “Model Citizens” instead of “employees.” They will begin recruiting as they get closer to an opening date. All of their senior leadership and management teams are already in place.
The LEGOLAND theme park will operate seasonally, from the early spring through late fall, while the hotel will be open year-round. As for safety regulations, Besterman said they will follow all federal, state and local guidelines and take any necessary precautions, should COVID still be an issue in 2021. “I’m just so excited to finally see this come to fruition, right in my backyard,” he said.
As for the actual LEGO bricks, there will be more than 30 million of them displayed in more than 15,000 LEGO models at the resort.