When my youngest child was 7, I promised I'd take him to the Legoland Resort and then I didn't.
We have travelled to more than 30 countries around the world together. We have sailed the Nile and climbed the Eiffel Tower. He has walked into King Tut's tomb and been within arm's length of Joe Jonas.
And yet, my failure to take him to the theme park and hotel in central Florida is what he remembers most. It would be less annoying if I weren't certain he learned the behaviour from me.
I was about 13 when my mother ruined my life forever. At a time when, one could argue, I likely should've been focused on other things, I became fixated with the Smurfs. It was love at first theme song. Step aside, Care Bears, move over, Monchhichi, stay in your lane, Garbage Pail Kid stickers – I'm in love. I begged her for the blue plush and she promised she'd buy me one. It never happened. Mom likely calculated the cost of the plush, the likelihood that I'd be over it within a week and hoped I'd forget.
More than 30 years later, it is still the topic of conversation when she's in earshot and the focus of a national newspaper column when she's not.
Legoland had the potential of becoming Cameron's Smurf.
So last week, we went and, to borrow a phrase, "Everything was awesome."
Got a Legomaniac kid? Here's how to make sure your trip lives up to the anticipation.
Stay at the resort
From the moment you pull in under the giant mist-breathing Lego dragon, you know this is going to be a blast. A life-size surfer built out of Lego riding a bicycle behind the front desk confirms it. This isn't a hotel that has simply slapped up a few Lego posters and called it a day; they are all in. With younger kids, you could very well skip the theme park altogether and wow them with the hotel stay alone. The zero-entry heated pool, wandering Lego characters, Lego-filled play pits and full-sized castle play area in the middle of the lobby (and right next to the licensed Skyline Lounge) offer plenty to keep them busy. Also, if you haven't partied in the lobby in your pyjamas or shaken your groove thang in the disco elevator, it's like you never really visited. Regular prices on rooms rival luxury stays with prices that currently start at $280 (U.S.) a night, but they include a hearty buffet breakfast and parking, along with activities on site. Also, you can cut that price almost in half with deals online including Kids Stay/Play Free offers.
Pick the right room
The resort offers a choice from one of four themed rooms – Pirate, Adventure, Kingdom and Lego Friends. From the moment you step off the elevator, you're immersed in that theme. On our pirate floor, we're greeted by a giant Lego pirate, walk past Lego lanterns and down hallways meant to resemble the inside of a ship. Inside the room, there's a surprise and delight around every corner, from Lego cannonballs coming out of the walls to a Lego toucan peering out over the beds. (Kids with fears of spiders or snakes may want to steer clear of the pirate and adventure rooms.) Rooms are spacious with a bunk-bed/trundle-bed combo on one side and a king-sized bed on the other. An in-room scavenger hunt leads to an in-room treasure chest with prizes to keep. Little touches make a difference: A tiny toilet seat is built into the regular one, there are lower hooks in the bathroom, drawer fronts hinge down so no tiptoes are required to get inside and there's an extra peephole on the door so kids can peer out, too.
Book time with a master builder
There are five master builders on site and they are responsible for more than 2,000 creations throughout the property. Each day, they run several classes at no extra cost. Your child can work with them to create a souvenir to take home. There's no extra cost, but slots fill quickly so book in as soon as you arrive.
Have a park plan
It's a three-minute jaunt to the park from the hotel, so you'll be able to return to your room for naps or breaks. Still, start at the back so you're that much closer to the hotel when you hit your limit. Grab a show schedule as you enter so you don't miss the 4-D movies or water shows. Also, pack snacks to keep costs down. We had no problem carrying in bottles of water and mini-bags of popcorn, which kept us fuelled between rides.
Kids of ages 5 to 10 are going to get the most bang for your buck at both the resort and the park. Older and younger kids will find things to do, but it's members of that younger sweet spot that'll be blown away by it all.
The writer travelled to Florida as a guest of Visit Orlando and Legoland, neither of which reviewed or approved this article. For more information, see legoland.com/florida.