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Legoland Florida Rides Won’t Be Regulated By State

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LEGOLAND Florida officially opened Oct. 15, 2011.  (Source: Merlin Entertainments Group)

LEGOLAND Florida officially opened Oct. 15, 2011. (Source: Merlin Entertainments Group)

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ORLANDO (CBS4) – Rollercoasters and rides at Legoland Florida, which is opening next month, will not have to undergo state safety inspections.

It’s because the Winter Haven theme park qualifies for an exemption written into Florida law for Walt Disney World and other large theme parks more than two decades ago.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that to qualify for the state’s exemption from inspection and permitting requirement, a park must have at least 1,000 employees.

As of Tuesday, Legoland spokeswoman Jackie Wallace said the park has had hired 994 workers, with offers out to six others.

If the park’s employment falls below 1,000, it would be subject Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulation.

The move makes Legoland parent company Merlin Entertainments Group the fourth park owner in Florida to operate free of state ride-safety regulation. The others are the Walt Disney Co.; NBC Universal, which owns Universal Orlando and Wet ‘n Wild; and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which owns SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

The law does require the park to employ full-time, in-house safety inspectors.

Legoland will have about two dozen rides ranging from mild rides for toddlers to a full-sized roller coaster.

Legoland Florida will open its doors on Oct. 15.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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