Legoland makes park autism-friendly

By Ashley Carter, Attractions Insider
Last Updated: Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 9:13 PM EDT

Legoland Florida has taken major steps to become more inclusive for visitors with autism.

In the past year, the Winter Haven theme park teamed up with the North and Central Florida chapter of Autism Speaks. New employees (known as “model citizens”) now undergo training to help them interact with visitors on the autism spectrum.

Other efforts include quiet rooms in the park, a special pass for visitors with autism who have difficulty waiting in line and creating social stories.

The specially equipped quiet rooms are located in Legoland’s Annual Pass, First Aid and Baby Care facilities. Inside each location, visitors will find noise-canceling headphones, weighted blankets, sensory-friendly toys and Lego building tables. There’s also a similar space inside Guest Services.

Autistic visitors will be able to use the park’s new “Blue Hero Pass,” a free pass that allows those with autism to bypass the line at popular attractions.

The park has also created social stories. The illustrated stories are designed to guide visitors through rides and shows at the park so they know what to expect. “Social stories” will let autistic visitors if a ride or show features loud sounds or bright lights.

"We've marketed ourselves for several years as built for kids," said David Brady, senior public relations manager Legoland Florida. "And we really took a hard look at that and said, if we really mean that, we have to be built for all kids."

With April being World Autism Awareness Month, Legoland is participating in local autism events. On April 22, the park will host a hands-on building opportunity for children during the Autism Speaks Walk at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. In the fall, Legoland will host a similar opportunity during a walk at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs.

Legoland is also donating $15 from each park ticket sold to the North and Central Florida chapter of Autism Speaks, which will offer discounted tickets to its supporters.

The park recently opened a new beach-style resort called Legoland Beach Retreat. Located across the street from the park's entrance, the resort features 83 bungalows grouped into 13 community-style coves.