Build family memories with your very own hands using Legos and a sense of humor.
California is a popular destination. But families can look forward to more than mouse ears in the sunshine state. Conveniently located in the coastal community of Carlsbad is Legoland only one hour from San Diego.
No Thrill Park
Legoland is a theme park designed for families with kids between the ages of 2 and 12. Kids can drive, pedal, squirt, climb, jump, slide, pull, push and build all day long. There’s water play for little ones and creative building opportunities for older ones (adults included). The rides and attractions are tame, but comfy shoes, water and dry clothes are needed for an active day.
Almost everything is made of tiny Lego bricks. Statues of Dora the Explorer and R2D2 of Star Wars fame invite shutterbugs and little hugs. The park is sparkly clean with wide wandering pathways exuding fun. Little touches, like the mural of a water-cup bearing Dad stumbling toward Junior over a Lego-strewn bedroom floor. Peer into a steam-spewing well beside a cackling, life-size witch figure. Boulders sing, “We will rock you!” Even the bathroom signs are playful. Play tables flank ride lines to avoid boredom. Onlookers take aim and squirt friends on water rides.
Other kid-thoughtful amenities include kid-sized sinks, changing tables, water fountains and a Model Mom Baby Care Center with quiet rockers, highchairs, a nursing and soft-play tot area, plus complimentary Legos. Wheelchair and stroller accessibility is commendable. There’s even pet day care available.
Left or Right?
Pick up a “What to do when you’re two” flyer and head left from the entrance toward Explore Village for young park-goers. Dig for dinos, ride a joust, drive a Volvo Lego car, writhe through the gigantic “Hideaways” fortress or solve the mysteries of an Egyptian pyramid.
Older kids can choose to turn right and find a kid-powered pulley tower and mild rollercoasters, program a robot or build a one-of-a-kind creation to take home. Compete in the Fire Academy educational physical challenge. Watch real Legos be factory-made and get a free souvenir. Learn road rules and drive an actual car on mock-up city streets – watch little drivers get amazingly serious! Open in May, a new Knights’ Tournament ride promises one-of-a-kind thrills with rider-chosen intensity and medieval-themed interaction.
In the 4D movie, a hero uses his brain, friends, and newly learned humility to win an exciting race. It’s not all boy-centric; girls can enjoy princess costumes, face painting, hair braiding, the Fairy Tale Brook and creating custom Clikits.
Snacking food at the park is reasonable and delicious – good thing, since outside food is not allowed. A juicy cheeseburger meal for $6.25 includes a treat, drink and chips. Gourmet sandwiches from the Garden Restaurant had us licking our fingers. Salads, hot dogs, PB&J and fresh fruit are also available. “Fool Scoops” has $3 ice-cream-filled waffle cones. And don’t miss the park specialty – hot cinnamon apple fries with vanilla dipping sauce. Get LOTS of napkins.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online. Or, with two months advance planning, buy a $40 Brickmaster Club membership at lego.com and get a “free” child’s ticket, Lego-designing computer software and cool bimonthly magazines, Bionicle comic books and Lego sets.
Upcoming special events include Star Wars III-themed Lego sets and a presentation of a new film (a short movie with “animated” Legos) April 30 – May 1. A Renaissance Faire takes place June 11 – 26. July and August feature a brand new “Sparks in the Knight” fireworks spectacular set to music.
Note that a “two-day” Legoland ticket can be used any two days within one week, so stay awhile. Carlsbad has nice beaches and the family fun of nearby San Diego – the zoo, Wild Animal Park, SeaWorld and Mexican culture. Fill up on authentic burritos and fresh tortillas to induce siestas for the long airplane trip home!
Operating hours and days vary
(generally daily from 10 a.m. until 5 – 8 p.m.)
One- and two-day tickets are $45 – $53 for adults, $38 – $46 for ages 3 – 5, ages 2 and younger are free
Parking costs $8
Jen Smith is a mother of two and a freelance writer.