New attractions and activities will greet visitors to Legoland New York this summer.
There is also a new approach to inclusivity which will help serve guests with autism as well as their families.
Beginning Memorial Day weekend, Legoland New York Resort will kick off summer with the highly anticipated Lego City Water Playground.
After a day spent riding, driving, climbing and building under the summer sun, guests can head over to the Water Playground to be doused by a 318-gallon water bucket.
There are also water slides to enjoy, and guests can build and race a Lego boat.
Park officials said that a changing area is provided so people can quickly dry off and enjoy the rest of their day exploring the park’s seven Lego-themed lands and other attractions.
One big additional draw at Legoland New York is that the 2023 season is the park’s first as a Certified Autism Center.
The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards trained all resort staff in best practices to serve guests with autism and their families.
New this year, according to a park spokesperson, is every ride has a posted Sensory Guide indicating any bright lights, loud sounds or other features that guests might need to plan around.
And, as it has in the past, Legoland New York offers a quiet room designed for children with varying sensory needs.
Becoming a certified autism center is a big deal, according to Eliza Bozenski, the chief development officer for the Anderson Center for Autism in Staatsburg, Dutchess County.
“What it really means and why it’s a big deal,” she told Patch, “is that for people [with autism] and their caregivers is the sense of isolation that they experience.”
That isolation can lead to the decision to not go out to dinner or engage in one’s own community, Bozenski said.
She said a person who may exhibit challenging behavior can be made to feel that they are not welcome.
“It’s a stigmatizing thing,” Bozenski said.
With the staff trained in best practices, Legoland is building a culture of inclusivity within the amusement park.
“It allows the family to have a lot of fun without the worry or fear they might have to leave,” Bozenski said.
She said the sensory guides that tell what is in store on a ride for someone on the spectrum is extremely helpful, especially for someone who might need to make a plan ahead of time.
“Having that public and right there,” Bozenski said, “means they don’t have to go up and ask for anything extra.”
The best practices are not only beneficial to the person on the autism spectrum. It benefits their entire family in places like Legoland.
“It provides opportunities for siblings to experience things together,” Bozenski said, “which is a gift to the entire family.
“It sends a signal that all are welcome,” she said.
Legoland New York Resort is located at 1 Legoland Blvd. in Goshen, Orange County.