Forget Mickey and Minnie - Florida’s greatest family attraction is Legoland. Everything is awesome for Josie Clarke and her family
Lego is enormously popular again and it’s a rare parent who doesn’t spend silly amounts of time helping their little darlings put it together - and asking them to tidy it up again.
So imagine the joy my six-year-old daughter Eliza felt, when she learnt she would be staying at a hotel pretty much made of the stuff and where there was no chance whatsoever that anyone - even her mum - would be stifling her creative genius with housekeeping banalities.
Throw into the mix that this hotel is on the doorstep of Legoland in Florida - a place we were reliably informed has the biggest ice creams in the world, temperatures just hot enough to really feel like you’re on holiday and a water park to boot, and suddenly life’s looking pretty rosy indeed.
Legoland Florida has just opened its first on-site hotel on the banks of Lake Eloise at Winter Haven.
It’s an idyllic location on and around what was Cypress Gardens, the original Florida theme park established more than 75 years ago.
Merlin Entertainments has big plans for expanding Legoland Florida itself too, and is banking on the expectation that the strength of the brand and its focus on younger children will encourage families to make the 45-minute drive out of Orlando to visit - and hopefully stay a night or two.
A Lego Friends Heartlake City section opens this summer, but Merlin has made a point of carefully restoring some of the loveliest original features of the park, where Southern Belles once paraded in the botanical gardens, with its vast and stunning Banyan tree, and on the lake’s boardwalk.
But first things first and we’re checking in to the hotel, where Lego Minifigures are displayed behind the desk. The boring wait while parents complete the formalities is enlivened considerably by an enormous pit of Lego bricks just begging to be dived into.
Look a little further and a multi-level adventure playground, complete with rubber swords, is the perfect place to burn off energy pent up during the flight and drive.
The only thing that could possibly lure children away from this paradise is a Lego-themed room complete with a nightly treasure hunt, and even the journey there is via a lift with feet-activated music and a disco ball.
This is clearly a hotel that has been designed very much for children - and as we all know, happy children make for happy parents.
There’s just one thing left to do before we head to the airport and that’s track down that enormous ice cream of legend - cue a stop-off at Ben & Jerry’s for a double scoop.
As first trips to the US go, it doesn’t get much better than this.