UPDATED FEBRUARY 2016
If you’re planning a trip to LEGOLAND, you’re in for a treat! We visited LEGOLAND California twice in the same year because our LEGO loving son loved it so much. The rest of us are not quite as excited about LEGOS, but we all had a lot of fun at this colorful and innovative theme park near San Diego, California.
Wondering what you need to know to make your trip to LEGOLAND awesome? Here you go.
1. You don’t have to be a LEGO fanatic to enjoy LEGOLAND.
I have a 6-year-old son who is passionate about LEGOS and an 8-year-old daughter who isn’t. Both children had a great day at LEGOLAND. The rides are perfect for their ages, and even visitors with a casual interest in the iconic bricks will be delighted and fascinated by LEGO sculptures throughout the park.
2. LEGOLAND’s target audience is 2-12 years old.
Teens and adults will find no serious thrill rides at LEGOLAND. Most of the rides are built for guests of all ages, and some require adults to ride with young children. Some rides have minimum height requirements of 34-42 inches. However, even the roller coasters are tame by most theme park standards. My kids loved them.
3. Don’t pay full price.
There is no good reason to pay full price at the gate for your tickets at LEGOLAND California! There are several easy ways to get discounted and even FREE tickets.
4. LEGOLAND California Resort also has a water park, aquarium and hotel.
Despite Spring Break crowds, one day was enough to get our fill of LEGOLAND, but we didn’t have time to ride every ride or set foot inside either LEGOLAND Water Park or SEA LIFE Aquarium. The 1-Day pass we purchased included a visit to the aquarium, and allowed us to come back to only the aquarium the next day.
The LEGOLAND Hotel is located next to the park’s front gate, and is like no other hotel you’ve ever seen. Imagine disco balls in the elevators, bunk beds in the rooms, and colorful LEGO play everywhere!
5. Arrive early.
During the busy seasons, the park officially opens at 10:00 a.m., but the turnstiles open at 9:00 a.m. and some of the rides open at 9:30 a.m. We arrived at the ticket window before 9:00, bought our tickets and walked into the park without waiting in line. Guests who arrived a couple of hours later were not so lucky.
Here is a link to LEGOLAND California’s Opening Days and Hours calendar. Find out what time the park opens on the day you will be there.
We had 30 minutes to browse the gift shop, which is the biggest and best in the park (see Tip #6), and then rode the Coastersaurus and Safari Trek while wait times were relatively low.
If you are not near the front of a line at 9:55 a.m., walk directly to the back of the park and hit the headliners in Pirate Shores, where several water rides are located, or Castle Hill, or scurry to another of your top priority rides. You will not see shorter lines for the rest of the day.
6. Use the Package Pick-up service for souvenirs
Who wants to carry a bag full of souvenirs around the park all day? Nobody, that’s who. Use LEGOLAND’s Package Pick-up service. The souvenirs you buy early in the day will be transported to the park exit for you to pick up before you leave.
7. Don’t focus on the headline rides.
After the first hour, the long waits for major attractions were the only thing about LEGOLAND California Resort that disappointed me. The lines didn’t look so long, but they moved surprisingly slowly. I think that Disneyland could have moved twice as many people through the lines in the same amount of time.
LEGOLAND California Resort does provide play areas full of LEGOS near the lines of their most popular rides so children can play while parents wait in line. They also provide pagers for some rides, so you don’t have to stand in line. Thank you, LEGOLAND.
By lunchtime, I decided that I didn’t care how many rides we rode and I started enjoying the things that make LEGOLAND different from other theme parks.
8. Consider these attractions instead:
An area of the park we particularly enjoyed was Fun Town. There are no major rides in Fun Town, so it was less crowded, but completely charming.
At the Fun Town Police and Fire Academy, families can compete against each other by moving their hand-powered fire trucks down a lane, shooting a target with water guns and powering back to the finish line. This was perhaps my favorite “ride” in the park.
The LEGO Factory Tour and the Adventurer’s Club in Fun Town were interesting and creative walkthrough experiences. At the nearby LEGO Club, LEGO lovers can build with LEGOs and purchase bricks by the pound.
My children also enjoyed the XBOX Family Game Space. My son loves playing LEGO video games at home, and in the Game Space he was able to try out games that we don’t own. We didn’t spend much time here, but it was a fun diversion while my husband held our place in the Chima 4D Movie X-Perience line next door.
The 4D Movie was my son’s favorite part of LEGOLAND California Resort. If you’ve seen 4D movies at other parks, this will probably be similar, and of course, it’s an ad for the LEGO kits that are sold in the gift shop. However, it was the only high-priority attraction on my son’s list and he was not disappointed.
There are also several playgrounds in the park where children can run and play freely. I wish we’d taken more time to enjoy these.
One of the nicest parts of my day was relaxing at a patio table at the Garden Restaurant. This is a counter-service restaurant that offers fresh, healthy fare and great views of Miniland.
Speaking of which…
9. Don’t miss Miniland.
When we finally walked into Miniland in the mid-afternoon, my LEGOLAND experience changed from “It’s okay” to “Wow, this is cool!”
Imagine the landmarks of Washington D.C., New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New Orleans made of LEGOS. Nearby, you’ll find LEGO busts of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth II, William Shakespeare and other famous faces. Around the corner, every major planet from the Star Wars movies is depicted in LEGOS.
As parents, we had to divide and conquer in Miniland. My son would not be torn away from examining the Star Wars worlds he knows well, while my daughter was fascinated by the cities.
10. Try the Apple Fries.
These are a LEGOLAND speciality. Apple fries are french-fry sliced apples, deep fried and tossed in cinnamon sugar. Vanilla whipped cream is provided for dipping. Find this sweet treat at Granny’s Apple Fries in Castle Hill. One order was not enough for our family of four, but two was plenty.
Tip: Granny’s Apple Fries is located next to a castle-themed playground. This is your chance to take a snack break and let the kids play!
11. Bring a minifigure to trade
This one is just for kids. Many LEGOLAND employees wear LEGO minifigures on their badges, and they will trade if you give them one of your minifigures. If you can’t assemble a minifigure from the LEGO pieces between your couch cushions at home, there is a shop where you can build custom minifigures just inside the entrance to LEGOLAND California.
At most theme parks, riding as many rides as possible is usually my top priority. That’s what we paid for, right? The rides at LEGOLAND are fun, but I enjoyed our day a lot more when I allowed myself to experience the whole park, instead of just one aspect of it.
We had hoped that this visit to LEGOLAND would be timed perfectly for the ages of our children, and it was. We had a fun day, and hope that these LEGOLAND tips will help you make the most of your visit to LEGOLAND!
Planning a trip to LEGOLAND?
Save $25 on any San Diego vacation package of 2 nights or more that includes 2 tickets (San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, etc) when you use the coupon code SDFamily.