10 Tips for Visiting LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND California

Our family has had a few opportunities to visit LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad, California over the past few years, but we always put it off in favor of other theme parks in the area. This past Spring Break, we finally had a LEGO lover in the family and it seemed like the perfect time to bump LEGOLAND to the top of the list.

Are you wondering what to expect from a visit to LEGOLAND California Resort?

Here are our Top 10 LEGOLAND tips:

1. You don’t have to be a LEGO fanatic to enjoy LEGOLAND California Resort.

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.

LEGOLAND tips

2. LEGOLAND’s target audience is 5-12 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.

LEGOLAND California Resort coupons are not difficult to come by if you’re looking for them. We used two “buy one adult pass, get a free child’s pass” coupons from two recent LEGO Club magazines (not LEGO Club Jr) we obtained from friends. You can join the LEGO Club yourself for no charge here. Use the name of a child over the age of 7 to get LEGO Club instead of LEGO Club Jr Magazine. Subscribe well before your trip because it may take weeks for your first magazine to arrive.

Buying online from LEGOLAND in advance will yield more bang for your buck than buying at the ticket window. I found several other coupons for LEGOLAND California Resort through www.mousesavers.com. If you are staying at a hotel near LEGOLAND, discount tickets will probably be sold at the front desk.

LEGOLAND tips, Carlsbad, California

4. LEGOLAND California Resort also has a water park and aquarium.

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.

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.

LEGOLAND tips, Carlsbad, California

Why we arrive early – no lines!

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.

LEGOLAND tips, Carlsbad, California

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. Thank you, LEGOLAND.

By lunchtime, I was frustrated and tired of waiting in line. That was when 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.

LEGOLAND tips, Carlsbad, California

Inside the Adventurers’ Club

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 Chima 4D Movie X-Perience was my son’s favorite part of LEGOLAND California Resort. If you’ve seen 4D movies at other parks, this one is not groundbreaking, and of course, it’s an ad for the Chima 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. I ate a delicious $9 sandwich (it really was delicious), and gazed over Miniland with my family.

LEGOLAND tips, Carlsbad, California

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!”

LEGOLAND tips, Carlsbad, California

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.

LEGOLAND tips, Carlsbad, California

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!

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!

LEGOLAND Tips

Would you like more LEGOLAND and San Diego tips?

Follow us on Pinterest or check out the San Diego section on our California page for more tips for destinations like these:

Need a place to stay near LEGOLAND?

We recommend

We recommend booking your San Diego vacation through Get Away Today Vacations. Save $10 on your LEGOLAND trip when you use our promo code: FamilyTrips

47 comments

  • Wait…what?! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Lego polar bear in the Adventurer’s Club before! And I’ve been to Legoland A LOT. A LOT. A LOT. I am excited to see something new!

  • Thanks so much, Allison. We are going to Legoland this summer so this article was perfect for us.

  • that darth maul photo is AWESOME and enough to make me want to fly cross-country!

  • We took our two girls who are ambivalent about Lego to Legoland a couple of years ago and had a fun day – we thought that MiniLand was the absolute best part – those miniature buildings are so cool!

  • Great tips and so glad your family had a fantastic trip. Living near Legoland, I admit we’ve taken some of these attractions for granted. It’s wonderful to see them from someone else’s perspective. We haven’t seen Chima 4D Movie X-Perience yet. We can never get enough of Miniland, it’s most of the family members’ favorite.

  • Pingback: Review of San Diego Zoo Safari Park

  • Thanks for the tips we’ll be going in a few days and it’s nice to know the “lay of the land” first :)

  • I’m going next week and can’t wait to try out the apple fries. These are just the kind of tips that I appreciate. Thanks!

  • Pingback: 5 fun things to do in Carlsbad, California

  • Pingback: The best hotel amenities for families | Tips For Family Trips

  • Pingback: Find fun and relaxation at the Catamaran Resort | Tips For Family Trips

  • Thank you for the tips! We are starting to plan our legoland vacation & your helpful hints are going to steer us in the right direction! We will be there June 2014 with our 5 & 9 year old boys who cannot get enough playtime in the day with their Legos.

  • Thank you for these tips. How gracious of you to share this worthwhile info for others.

  • Thanks Allison, your tips are excellent. I’m going to LA with my 8 yr old son and he’ll turn 9 there. He is super LEGO fan and we live in Mexico so it’s not easy that we’ll return soon, now I’m wondering if it is worth to save one day and go to Legoland. Is one day enough? Can we see the Water park too? Is it too far away to go and return from Anaheim on the same day? I have hotel reservations in Anaheim, Disneyland, but I know Legoland will be the best for his 9th birthday.

    • Thank you, Maika. LEGOLAND is about an hour from Anaheim by car, so it is reasonable to spend one day of your trip at LEGOLAND. One day was just enough for us to enjoy LEGOLAND on its own, without visiting the water park. I think that you could do both in one day, but it might be challenging to do everything you want to do in both.

      Is it worthwhile to sacrifice a Disneyland day for LEGOLAND? Some say yes and others say no. I know some kids who like LEGOLAND more than Disneyland. Other families – usually those who really love the Disney experience – think that LEGOLAND isn’t worth it. I think that both are great parks, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions as best I can to help you decide if it’s a good decision for your family.

      • GRACIAS!!!! Thank you for your quick and kind response Allison. We’re definitely going to LEGOLAND, It’s not that far. And it won’t be a sacrifice either. We’ll have almost a week in Anaheim so we’ll spend his birthday in LEGOLAND!!! He’ll be thrilled. I was when I saw your photos… I’m going to look for the tickets online right now and for any options they might have to avoid the lines. Like that VIP bracelet you can get at Magic Kingdom. I hope I find something similar. Thanks a lot!!

        Felices vacaciones to you too!!!

  • Thank you so much. Such useful info. We are going tomorrow – Good Friday. We are staying at Omni La Costa resort which is 6 miles away. I love that resort because it has an AMAZING resort pool for kids. A shallow pool with mini slide for little kids and a deeper pool with a big slide for older kids. Also an adult pool, GREAT kids club, free kids buffet in restaurant, etc. etc

  • Great post!! I’m planning to take my 5 year old son!! He’s been looking fwd to this about six months now!! We’re planning for end of May! Thanks for the tips much appreciated.

  • Thanks for the info! Did you happen to have any advice for parking? I know you said the shuttle, but we wont be staying in those hotels nearby. Anything you may have to add would be fab!

  • melissa medina

    Thank you soo much for your tips on how to save we are going tomorrow for my sons 11th bday

  • Hi Allison, my family is planning a trip to Legoland next week after our Disneyland trip. I found a buy 1 adult 1 day ticket get a free child ticket. Do you think I can upgrade the tickets to a 2 day ticket for $20 each even though the kid ticket is free?

    • I would contact LEGOLAND directly with this question. When we used a similar coupon from LEGO Club Magazine, we were told at the gate that we could return a second day to visit ONLY the Aquarium, which was included in our ticket. I’m not sure if they will allow you to combine the upgrade and coupon for two days in LEGOLAND, but it never hurts to ask.

  • Thank you so much for the tips! We went to legoland for the first time last month and stayed at the west inn and suites like you recommended. First best hotel service ever! The 2 king size bed was perfect to accommodate our 5 girls. Breakfast was awesome! The milk n cookies at night were a real treat and the 5 minute shuttle ride to the park was convenient. Legoland does not have that mAny rides and the lines are ridiculous for a 2 minute ride but I’m glad I read your tips before going. I sat and enjoyed the scenery and Lego sculptures as you recommended and it really made my day. I appreciated what the park had to offer more than my rampage of trying to hit up every rides in a day like I was use to doing at amusement parks. Never will I do that again lol. Thank you thank you!!! It was relaxing and my kids had a great time!

  • Appreciate if you could recommend a nice hotel that is not pricey near Legoland.

    • I have also stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn in Carlsbad and liked it. It is across the street from the beach and has a free shuttle to LEGOLAND. To find other hotels in your price range near LEGOLAND, try searching the cities of Carlsbad or Oceanside. There are many hotels to choose from in the area.

      If your family is large enough to need more than one hotel room, you might want to consider a vacation rental. Renting a home or condo with a kitchen can be a great way to keep costs down. Here are some of Katie’s tips for renting a vacation home: http://tipsforfamilytrips.com/travel-tips/5-reasons-for-renting-a-vacation-home/

  • Our family went there for the first time last year. Looking forward to going again this weekend and trying new things we may have missed last time. Particularly the APPLE FRIES! Thanks for all the great info. :0)

  • Hi Allison, you are awesome in your advice, it helped me a lot. Whats your suggestion of buying the Premium Play Pass. I am planning to visit LEGOLAND
    + SEA LIFE + Water Park. Can we make it in 2 Days on July 4th and 5th Longweekend covering all three parks. Please advise.

    Thank you

    • Hello. I have not used the Premium Play Pass, so I cannot share my experience with it. My friend, Amy Whitley has reviewed it on her blog, Pit Stops for Kids. Here is the link to her post: http://pitstopsforkids.com/2010/09/travel-tip-legolands-premium-play-pass/

      One full day was plenty for us in LEGOLAND and we spent about 2 hours at SEA LIFE. That leaves you most of your second day for the water park, which I haven’t yet visited. With the Premium Play Pass front-of-line privileges, I am guessing that 2 days would be enough time to visit all three attractions, even on a busy holiday weekend. Have fun!

  • Thank you soooo much :)

  • I found it extremely strange that you didn’t mention specific prices, which would obviously be the #1 consideration for many people/families…is that because you are getting compensation from Legoland or other hotels etc that ask you not to quote prices ?

    • LEGOLAND has a complex pricing system, with multiple-day and multiple-attraction options for each age group. It just seemed simpler to include a link where readers could find updated pricing anytime. We do occasionally receive free or discounted admission to places we review, but when we do, we will always disclose it clearly in the post. We paid our own way to LEGOLAND, using LEGO Club Magazine coupons.

  • Great tips, very insightful, we can’t wait to go this week! I wondered how to navigate the place and now I feel like I have the inside scoop! Thanks for sharing!

  • When I purchase a ticket to LEGOLAND does that include the water rides or are those separate?

    • A few water rides and a water playground are included in the basic LEGOLAND ticket. They are located in Pirate Shores and range from slight splashers to soakers. These are separate from the water park, which will cost extra.

  • Hi– thanks so much for this info. My big question is can you do Legoland in ONE day?? My son is beyond enthusiastic to go to Legoland. We live in NYC and we are actually traveling to LA for my husband’s work so accommodations and car are covered. BUT, the key question is one day… If we stay one day, we can drive back to LA and not pay the outrageously expensive Carslbad hotel prices for one night…. My son is 6 1/2. He just wants Chima waterpark and Legoland… He doesn’t even know about Sea World and other parks.. what do you think?

  • Oh, I mean aquarium etc.. Sea World I think is in San Diego… I’m in NY…. kinda clueless on all the parks out there except for Legoland itself

    • One full day in LEGOLAND was just right for us, without the aquarium or water park. We returned to the aquarium the second day. We have not been to the water park. The entrance to the water park is inside LEGOLAND, so it would be easy enough to go back and forth between the two, but you would probably not be able to see all of both in one day.

  • Pingback: Legoland California Review from a 7-Year Old & His Mama

Leave a Reply