by Kimberly Davis Guerra
I can think of only one word to describe LegoLand California—AMAZING!
Just 45 minutes outside San Diego lives the home of all things Lego. Last month, my son and I took a trip to California for the grand opening of the new LegoLand Resort attached to the LegoLand amusement park. For those of you who love Legos like my son does, this was THE ultimate adventure! I was a little worried it would not live up to the hype, but I had nothing to fear!
We arrived the day prior to the grand opening, which allowed us plenty of time to explore. It was like we had the hotel all to ourselves. It was the best way to get acquainted with everything and gave us the opportunity to take the best pictures!
From the moment we arrived, the staff could not have been more pleasant. Bodhi was absolutely in heaven from the second he jumped out of the car. It could have been the dragon blowing smoke from his nose in the tower at the front door. Or maybe it was the wall of 5,000 mini figures behind the check-in desk. Or maybe the castle where we spent literally hours playing with the vats of Legos, running in and out of the pirate ship or making our mark on the chalk wall. This was all in the lobby! With more than 3,500 Lego models located throughout the hotel, there is a lot to see!
Then it was down the hall to check into our room. Lego statues, stickers and drawings are everywhere. This is truly a Lego lover’s dream hotel. When the elevator arrives the party gets kicked up to a whole new level,tripping the light fantastic with disco ball and strobe lights and a disco ball. We were serenaded by the Village People, Abba and the Bee Gees as we ascended to and from our floor. A friend of mine texted back after I sent out a video of Bodhi dancing in the elevator, “Everyone’s morning should start out with a disco elevator. Rock on!” I couldn’t agree more!
Don’t think it can get better than this? Wrong! The 250 rooms are themed. You can choose from Adventure, Pirates or Kingdom themes. We chose Adventure and again were not disappointed. Equipped to accommodate a family of four to six, the room was very comfortable. Broken up into two areas separated by the bathroom, the kids enjoyed a bunk bed with a trundle and their own TV and small play area. On the other side of the bathroom, a queen-size bed, refrigerator and TV awaited me, providing just enough space between the kids and me the kids after a long day at the park.
We never made it to the pool, but it looked amazing. We did make it to the restaurant. Bricks Family restaurant is buffet-style, serving quite tasty, family-friendly fare. There is everything you could want for all ages and palates– even a chocolate milk station to fill up your glass as often as you like! Everything is kid-level, so they can serve themselves as they like. And the food is tasty and reasonably priced. You definitely want to check it out.
We stopped in the hotel’s coffee bar, Mini’s Lounge. They did not serve chai tea lattes, which was a disappointment, but their vanilla latte was a nice substitute and gave me just the charge I needed before we headed out to the park(which, by the way, is literally located out the back door of the hotel! Talk about convenient!!).
LegoLand is incredible. Growing up in south Florida, my family went to Disney World every year. I thought it was unlike anyplace on Earth like it. I was wrong. LegoLand is the Disney World for Lego fans. The grounds are spectacular, with lush greenery, luscious flowers and flowing pools of water interspersed throughout all of the rides and massive displays of Lego models.
The first park to open outside of Europe, this 128-acre park greeted its first guests in 1999. With 75 rides and specialty attractions in LegoLand Park, I recommend planning at least two to three days if you want to see it all. After all, you have to factor in breaks of 30-60 minutes at Lego building stations located throughout. That really eats into ride time (not to mention the full-blown water park and Sea Life Aquarium attached to the park, each of which can consume a day all by themselves)!
Our favorite rides were the Dragon rollercoaster and the Lost Kingdom adventure. Well, maybe the 4d Chima Experience. Or maybe the Bionicle Blaster! There were so many, I don’t think that I can choose just one. I do know that the Build-Your-Own-Mini-Figure store was a definite hit. We spent quite some time choosing just the right pieces to build new additions to our own LegoLand living in Bodhi’s room at home.
Now, there are other things to do outside of LegoLand in Carlsbad. You will even find hotels other than the LegoLand resort attached to the LegoLand park. We stayed at the Sheraton, which is also connected to the park. It is a little bit of a hike to the entrance from the hotel, but definitely convenient. We almost felt like we were sneaking into the park because is the building is located on the backside of LegoLand. Good for us, though because it dumped us right into Castle Hill, where we discovered the Dragon roller coaster!
While there are no disco elevators or castles located in the lobby of the Sheraton, the resort is lovely. If you are looking for a balance between LegoLand and the real world, this is the perfect lodging accommodation you. As Bodhi put it, “There is the pretty hotel and the fun hotel.”He enjoyed them both!
So, if you are looking to make the trek to the Land of Legos, here are my suggestions:
1. Be sure to check the weather the day before you go; the temps dropped drastically the day before we left, and I was not prepared!
2. Comfy shoes and a change of clothes are a must. It is a long day, and there are several rides where you will get wet.
3. Don’t forget a large SD card for your camera. There are so many great photo opps, and you want to make sure your card doesn’t fill up.
4. Be sure to plan on at least three days at the park, if you can. This will allow you to take your time, and the kids can play in the Lego building areas as long as their minds allow.
5. Buy the annual passes if you plan on going for more than one day. A day pass runs $97 for an adult or $179 for an annual pass. This can be used at the Lego Discovery Center in Dallas, too, so you can get your money’s worth.
Things to see in Carlsbad/San Diego:
• San Diego Zoo: www.sandiegozoo.org
• LegoLand California: www.legoland.com
• Museum of Making Music: www.museumofmakingmusic.com
• Batiquitos Lagoon: www.batiquitosfoundation.org
• Leo Carrillo Ranch Historical Park: www.carlsbadca.gov/services/departments/parksandrec/parks-facilities/parks/pages/leo-carrillo-ranch-main.aspx
• Agua Hedionda Discover Center: www.aguahedionda.org
• Ocean Spa at Sheraton Carlsbad: www.oceanpearlspa.com
• Carlsbad Village & Beach for great swimming, surfing, shopping, dining and sunset watching