When my boys found out that our family would be taking a trip to southern California this summer, they immediately begged to go to LEGOLAND. They apparently had read about this amusement park and the new Chima Water Park in their complimentary LEGO Club Magazine that arrives in the mail for them. It is an understatement to say that my boys are LEGO fanatics. Almost all play all day includes building LEGO creations. So I was thrilled when I realized that we were staying near enough to Carlsbad, CA (just north of San Diego) to make their dreams come true with a visit to this LEGO-lovers mecca.
In 1999, this California location was the first LEGOLAND to open outside of Europe. In addition to the LEGOLAND park, this site also includes a Sea Life Aquarium and a LEGOLAND Water Park (including the newer Chima-themed section) which requires separate admission or ‘park-hopper’ tickets.
We found ourselves struggling with that nasty southern California traffic that we’d been warned about, and that meant that we did not arrive to the park before it opened, as we were originally aiming for. Instead we arrived around 10am, when the park opens, only to find ourselves in a very, very long line to get into the parking lot. While it wasn’t an ideal way to get started, we didn’t let the long lines bother us from the start. We decided to “embrace the lines” and just go with it. The parking lot wait was only the beginning, and we found that lines in general were just slow and long within the park, too. That is something you can’t really avoid in the middle of summer, I suppose.
One of the first notable things about LEGOLAND is that the target audience skews a lot younger than your average theme park. My eight-year-old is the biggest LEGO fan in our house, but I was surprised to see that it was my four-year-old who seemed to be the most joyful with all aspects of the LEGOLAND park. Most of the rides would appeal to kids ages 3-10 years old. Some rides have a minimum height requirement of 34-42 inches, but some have a maximum age of 12 years old. Thrill-seeking adults and teens won’t find seriously adventurous rides at LEGOLAND, but there are still many attractions to appeal to those of all ages. The brick sculptures throughout the park will no doubt fascinate visitors of all ages!
The kids gave me notes about their absolute favorite things about LEGOLAND, and what’s a better way to share than with photos? Check out our favorite highlights below:
Miniland, USA: This extremely impressive section of the park includes reproductions of seven areas of the United States, all constructed with 20 million LEGO bricks in 1:20 scale. Tip: Give yourself plenty of time to walk around and look at the details of Miniland.
LEGO Star Wars Miniland: Check out seven of the most famous scenes from the live-action Star Wars movies made out of 1.5 million LEGO bricks. And don’t pass up the chance to pose with life-size LEGO models of Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Darth Vader.
Lost Kingdom Adventure: This was surely one of the boys’ favorite rides. You attempt to recover stolen treasure by blasting targets with laser guns.
The LEGO Movie Experience: Here you can get a behind-the-scenes look at a real movie set. When you step onto the soundstage, you can can explore some of the brick models that helped inspire The LEGO Movie.
Safari Trek: My kids loved riding in the little jeeps and spying life-size gorillas, giraffes, elephants, and crocodiles made of LEGOs.
Fairy Tale Brook: My four-year-old was a big fan of these little leaf-shaped boats that sail through different fairy tale scenes created from LEGO brick characters.
Royal Joust: Little visitors can ride their own horse through an enchanted forest, complete with jousting LEGO knights.
Captain Cranky’s Challenge: Sway back and forth on a pirate ship that sits on a “U-shaped” track and rotates in two directions. Ahoy!
Splash Battle: Ride in your own pirate ship and shoot your water “canon” at other ships or passersby.
Driving School: The kids enjoyed putting themselves in the driver’s seat in real electric cars to drive around.
Chima Water Park: With a Rhino beach, Cragger slides, Lion Temple wave pool and more, the kids went bananas over this Chima-themed area!
We put in a full day at the LEGOLAND parks — from the time they opened until the time they closed. We were exhausted, but the kids had the BEST time! My youngest couldn’t decide which ride he loved most and enjoyed this day even better than our visit to Disneyland. It was a little challenging to try to fit in the Water Park on the same day as the LEGOLAND park, but we powered through with no regrets and all smiles. Of course, we had to make a stop into the enormous LEGO store on our way out where we splurged on just a few souvenirs. But after so much inspiration from the park, we needed just a few special LEGO bricks to take home and make some of our own creative masterpieces.
One LEGOLAND Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Want to hear more about traveling to southern California with kids? Check out my tips for visiting Disneyland and California Adventure Park.