We’re just back and rested up from our awesome California spring break adventure and we had a great time. We spent a week in San Diego and five days in Anaheim and managed to hit all the major theme parks as well as quite a few other sights. One of the major highlights for us was the first stop on our trip, Legoland California in Carlsbad, just north of San Diego.
It felt like the perfect time for us to visit this park. We had spent a day in Legoland on our previous trip to San Diego when the kids were two and three, but they didn’t really remember it. We figured that five and six would be the perfect age for a repeat visit, especially since our son is a complete Lego fanatic right now. As an added treat we booked a night at the Legoland hotel, which is right beside the theme park and continues the Lego theme throughout the hotel. As a Lego loving family, we weren’t disappointed.
When we pulled up to the hotel, we were greeted with giant Lego models and a large play area in the lobby. We arrived a couple of hours before our room was ready, so we had lunch in one of the restaurants with a huge wall of Lego models to entertain the kids and then spent a couple of hours relaxing by the pool. At about three pm we got our room keys and headed up to the pirate floor to check out the room. One really neat touch is the “disco” elevators. As soon as the doors close a disco ball lights up and dance music plays while you go to your floor. We never missed the chance to dance along.
The rooms are very cleverly laid out with a separate sleeping area for kids with bunk beds and lots of cool Lego details. The kids loved being able to hang out and watch Lego movies on the television in their own little area. Even the carpet had the pattern of planks from a pirate ship and the ice bucket was a yellow Lego head. We had the most basic room but we were more than happy with it. I’m not sure exactly what the extra $50 for the “fully themed” room would have included, but there was more than enough theming for us.
As for the downsides? Well, it was a bit of a splurge. Our room cost us about $350 US for one night and even though it included breakfast and parking it was quite a bit more than I’d usually pay for a hotel room. The hotel was also a bit underwhelming in scale. While 250 rooms may sound like a lot, for comparison, the Disney Art of Animation hotel where we stayed in January had over 2000 rooms and that was one of over a dozen separate resorts on property. So while the Legoland hotel had lots of extras and was beautifully themed, it could still be explored in about an hour or so. I suppose, though, that many people would consider the more human scale of things at Legoland to be a plus and not a minus!
Another perk that is offered with a stay at the Legoland hotel is early entry to the park for hotel guests, but I felt that this was a bit of a disappointment. While we did get in an hour earlier than the rest of the crowd, only two lands with about five rides were open for that hour. So basically the hotel guests all went in a big herd through the five rides that were open in that first hour and it didn’t really feel like you got the park to “yourself” like you get with early entry at Disney. But still, it was nice to get a bit of a jump on the crowds, especially since the park was only open from 10am-5pm on the day we were there.
As for Legoland itself, I really did feel like five and six was the ideal age for a visit. You will read everywhere that Legoland is a park geared towards younger kids and I have to agree with this assessment. While the Lego models in Miniland and the neat little details are appealing to adults, the rides themselves are pretty tame. There were really only two roller coasters in the whole park that got my thrill seeker six year old excited and my timid five year old rode everything but those two coasters without any issues.
Still, there are plenty of unique and interesting things to fill your day. My kids spent a huge amount of time in one area where they could build Lego cars and race them down a ramp over and over again and many lines for the rides had a central play area where kids could play with Lego as their parents shuffled through the line. One ride that was really unique was the Volvo Driving School, where kids aged 6 and up could drive a little Lego car around a little town complete with lanes, stop signs and traffic lights. There were no tracks to keep the cars on a route; it was all 100% up to the kids to decide where they wanted to go. My six year old had a great time but I shudder to think that she’ll be eligible for her learner’s permit in 10 years!
Legoland also has a large water park attached to it that’s open on the weekends in winter and all week the rest of the year. You need a theme park ticket plus a water park supplement to access the water park and we decided to skip it this time since we only had one day. It looks really nice, though, and it would be a great option when they have their frequent multi-day ticket specials.
Overall, we had a blast at Legoland California. Our kids loved all the Lego details and they were just the right age for a visit. The hotel was a lot of fun as well, even if it was probably a one time splurge. It did give us a bit of a glimpse of things to come, though, as our kids were just starting to get a bit too big for some of the tamer rides. If you have young kids who love Lego, don’t wait too long to take them!