Haines City Business Leaders Prepare For Legoland Visitors To Florida

Legoland is coming to Winter Haven in Polk County, and like a minifig on a Lego pirate ship, Haines City is hoping to share in the booty that  its new neighbor is likely to attract. So city leaders are laying plans to lure tourists traveling between Disney and the new attraction.

"We're extending a leg to trip them on their way to a park," says Jane Patton, president of the Haines City-Northeast Polk County Regional Chamber. "We sit at the beginning of the Scenic Highway 17, a beautiful drive through orange groves, past lakes and some undeveloped land between Haines City and Frostproof."

Allison Beeman, deputy director of the Haines City Economic Development Council, is working on getting the word out to hotel chains, developers and investors. "Our location is perfect for business coming to and from Disney and Legoland. We are just off I-4 and along US 27. We have property owners who are willing to work with investment folks and/or developers. They are willing to work out a deal."

Patton likens the arrival of Legoland and its impact on her community to the impact Disney had on Orlando and Kissimmee, and wants to see deliberate planning take place. "We are holding a tourism forum to raise awareness, identify people interested in participating on a task force and develop an action plan."

Beeman sees it as an opportunity for Haines City residents who currently commute to the Disney Resort for work to find employment closer to home. "If you look at our county, we're positioned northeast of Orlando," she says. "There are lots of people who live in Haines City and work in Orlando. Hopefully the new park will bring lots of opportunities for people to work closer to home."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Sources: Jane Patton, Haines City-Northeast Polk County Regional Chamber; Allison Beeman, Haines City Economic Development Council

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