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Front Gate_Peppa Pig Theme Park Florida

‘Oinktastic’ accessible experiences at the first Peppa Pig Theme Park

New park designed for preschoolers and their families includes a wheelchair friendly ride & will be a Certified Autism Center

The world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park will open as a Certified Autism Center when it debuts in 2022, next door to LEGOLAND Florida. The new park shared this commitment at the recent IAAPA Expo in Florida, along with a reveal of its newly designed ride vehicle, which allows for increased accessibility for children with wheelchairs.

Rex Jackson_Merlin

Rex Jackson, park president & managing director, Peppa Pig Theme Park & LEGOLAND Resorts North America, talked to blooloop about the world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park. Featuring six rides and playscapes, a water play area and various experiences, the attraction is due to open on February 24, 2022, in Florida.

A much-loved IP around the world, Peppa Pig is a popular British preschool television series, by Astley Baker Davies. Merlin Entertainments partners with Hasbro, which acquired the brand in 2019, to offer Peppa Pig experiences to fans across the globe. For instance, at its Peppa Pig World of Play locations. But Merlin’s new attraction in Winter Haven, adjacent to LEGOLAND Florida, will be the first time Peppa and friends have a dedicated theme park.

Fun for all at Peppa Pig Theme Park

Attractions include Peppa Pig’s Treehouse, where guests can enjoy a tea party with Peppa before sliding down to the bottom, and Rebecca Rabbit’s Playground, where visitors can jump, hop, crawl and climb. Meanwhile, the Muddy Puddles Splash Pad lets them join in with one of Peppa’s favourite activities, with spouting fountains, slides and more.

peppa pig theme park florida legoland
Rebecca Rabbit’s Playground

Nature lovers can explore Madame Gazelle’s Nature Trail. Or, those wanting to take five can watch some of their favourite episodes of Peppa Pig at the indoor cinema. There’s also Fun Fair, George’s Fort, George’s Tricycle Trail and a Showtime Arena for live shows.

In terms of rides, these have been designed for the whole family to enjoy, from Daddy Pig’s Roller Coaster and Grampy Rabbit’s Dinosaur Adventure to Grandad Dog’s Pirate Boat Ride and Mr Bull’s High Striker. Guests can also cycle through an icy mountain and pine woodland in Peppa’s Pedal Bike Tour. Plus, they can enjoy sky-high views in the wheelchair-accessible Peppa Pig’s Balloon Ride. 

Meet Peppa

“We’ve crafted the park with preschoolers in mind,” says Jackson. “The attractions range from the very first roller coasters they can experience with their parents and free fair games for the whole family, through an obstacle course where they will pedal tricycles through a sensory-rich trail, to a colourful splash pad for jumping fun that celebrates Muddy Puddles. It is a complete park experience which includes rides, a signature show, and various attractions.”

A perfect park for this age group would not be complete without the opportunity to meet Peppa and her friends.

peppa pig theme park construction
Peppa taking a tour during the park’s construction earlier this year

“Character meet and greets will be part of that park experience.”

He is confident the challenges inherent in post-COVID interactions can be overcome easily:

“We’ve been operating at LEGOLAND Florida resorts since 1 June 2020. We have been able to navigate through the COVID environment and have a range of procedures in place. This means we are still able to provide character meet and greet experiences. 

“Certainly, as we look to 24 February 2022, we’ll continue to evaluate what procedures need to be in place versus which ones do not. But we are comfortable with the character meet and greets in the environment that we’ve already been operating within.”

A second gate for LEGOLAND Florida

The new park will work both as an adjunct to LEGOLAND Florida and as a standalone:

“This will be LEGOLAND Florida’s first second gate,” says Jackson. “It’s a standalone park, obviously tied to a very strong global IP with Peppa Pig. Our guests will have the opportunity to visit Peppa Pig as a standalone gate. Or, they can complete the resort experience, and take part in everything that LEGOLAND has to offer.”

peppa pig theme park florida legoland
Peppa’s Pedal Bike Tour

Despite the disruption of COVID, the operator has maintained construction timelines. The project is progressing rapidly and is on schedule for its grand opening in less than three months.

Peppa Pig is an IP that originated in the UK and then went on to become a global phenomenon. It was first screened in 2004.

“In preparation for this launch, we did research here in the US. We know that Peppa is extremely popular. When we have made announcements for the theme park, the response from families with preschool kids has been overwhelmingly positive. She’s a very popular character and has a vast following here in the United States, as well as globally.”

Dedicated experiences for preschoolers and their families

This will be one of the first theme parks where the entire experience has been developed for preschool children and their families:

“This is something that Merlin Entertainments has invested in. Both because we’ve seen the strength of the IP and because we understand the strength of this market. These are families that are looking for an opportunity to create memorable experiences with their younger children. This is going to be an environment where every detail has been planned and built with that demographic in mind.”

The park has been designed around creating the perfect mix of play and interaction with plenty of low tech, hands-on experiences.

peppa pig theme park florida legoland
Daddy Pig’s Roller Coaster

“The Peppa Pig theme park gives kids the opportunity to ride their very first roller coaster. And it’s not just any roller coaster, it’s Daddy Pig’s Roller Coaster. It’s not a thrill coaster that you would find at other theme parks. It’s one that is specifically for that preschool market.

“During the shows, kids can see Peppa and her friends and family singing songs from the television show. These create an environment for these families. They are very specific to the preschool market. They’re specific to these storylines and characters that the kids know and love.”

Pent-up demand for entertainment post-COVID

Speaking of the post-COVID US and international attractions markets, Jackson predicts a pent-up demand effect:

“LEGOLAND Florida has been open now since the beginning of June 2020. We saw some slow growth in visitation initially. But a step-change occurred last March, in spring break season. This carried through the summer, and then through into the fall.”

peppa pig theme park florida legoland
Grandad Dog’s Pirate Island Boat Ride

“We’ve seen the pent-up demand from the US market. Plus, we know from our research and our trade partners that there is a lot of pent-up demand in our international markets now. For instance, from the UK, from Canada, from Brazil. We’re very happy to be able to open those markets back up and welcome those guests back into our parks and, in 2022, to Peppa Pig Theme Park, as well.”

Accessibility at Peppa Pig Theme Park

Kelly Hornick, Communications and Strategy at LEGOLAND Florida, joins the conversation to talk about the accessibility built into the design:

“As we gear up for the opening, our teams are already creating a comprehensive accessibility guide. This will be available as a pre-planning tool for families through our website. It will also be available as a physical tool when they visit the park. So, whether they want to do their research in advance and kind of prepare and choose the options that are best for their family, with their specific needs, or want to decide on the fly when they get here, we’ll have it ready for them.”

Grampy Rabbit's Dinosaur Adventure
Grampy Rabbit’s Dinosaur Adventure

The team made two announcements at IAAPA:

“The first is that we are partnering with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to become a Certified Autism Center, which involves our whole staff undergoing a rigorous training schedule to become aware of, and comfortable in working with families who have a child or even an adult with autism. 

“It will look at the way that we handle our current operations across the LEGOLAND Florida theme park, waterpark, and our three onsite hotels, in addition to the Peppa Pig Theme Park. When we open the Peppa Pig Theme Park on 24 February, our entire resort will be a Certified Autism Center. We’re thrilled about that.”

A Sensory Guide

In addition to the training that both staff and leadership will go through, a sensory guide will be created:

“It will be similar to our accessibility guide, but this one is specific to sensory spectrum needs. It will create a ranking system across the five senses for each of our attractions throughout the park. Autism parents are mega planners in what their child’s needs may be.”

Grandpa Pig's Greenhouse
Grandpa Pig’s Greenhouse

“These tools will be available in the pre-planning phase for the vacation to help make that planning easier. This will give each family the confidence that our team is with you throughout the planning and your day at the park. So, you can focus on having a great time as a family. We’ll also then have some of those sensory rankings on in-park signage throughout the park.”

Wheelchair accessible ride

Secondly, the Peppa Pig Theme Park team also did an accessible ride reveal at IAAPA. Peppa Pig’s Balloon Ride will be accessible to children in wheelchairs:

“Peppa Pig’s Balloon Ride is an adorable balloon basket in bright colours. It looks like a hot air balloon, and soars to the skies,” says Hornick. “What makes it great is that it’s one of the rides that families can ride together.” 

“Our teams at Merlin Magic Making and the vendor, Technical Park, have worked together to redesign the ride vehicle. It now allows for a child in a wheelchair to roll themself onto the ride without requiring a transfer. This is huge for us: to be able to fit that child within a wheelchair on the ride and still have enough room for an adult companion or parent to ride alongside.”

Attractions for all guests

This is just one part of a larger commitment from Merlin Entertainments to develop attractions that all guests, of every ability, can enjoy.

Jackson adds: “The original designs of some of the playscapes that we are adding into Peppa Pig were altered as we did an accessibility review to ensure that those children in wheelchairs would be able to access and partake in the interactives that are part of these playscape environments.”

peppa pig theme park florida legoland
Peppa Pig’s Balloon Ride & the Fun Fair

The grounding has been designed to be wheelchair accessible. Furthermore, the spacing conforms to American Disability Act (ADA) guidelines:

“This allows for manoeuvrability of wheelchairs across some of the greenery-covered mazes and things of that nature. There is also Peppa Pig’s pedal bike tour, an attraction where children can ride on pedal bikes. If a child in a wheelchair would like to experience that attraction, we’re developing an SOP process to allow them to experience that attraction from the comfort of their own chair. Other rides will have transfer tools that have been crafted specifically for them.”

Fun for all heights and abilities at Peppa Pig Theme Park

The Muddy Puddles Splash Pad also has specific water features designed for children of all heights and abilities to enjoy:

“Again, children in wheelchairs can navigate through the grounding, which is specifically designed in that water play area. There is also a tunnel of vibrant hoops, like giant water hula hoop tubes, that children in chairs can navigate through. These have been designed to fit those children’s needs.” 

muddy puddles splash pad
Muddy Puddles Splash Pad

Interactive splash play features are at a variety of heights to accommodate children in wheelchairs.

In addition to the full Accessibility Guide, longer-term plans are also in development for all the park’s ‘oinktastic’ experiences. This includes its six rides, six themed playscapes and water play area. 

Tickets, Annual Passes and Vacation Packages are now available on the Peppa Pig Theme Park website.

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Lalla Merlin

Lead Features Writer Lalla studied English at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford University. A writer and film-maker, she lives in rural Devon with husband, children, and an assortment of badly-behaved animals, including an enormous but friendly wolf.

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