LEGOLAND® California Resort in Carlsbad is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with the unveiling of several new theme park attractions: DUPLO®Playtown, LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure Submarine ride and The LEGO® Movie 2 Experience. Parentology was there to check out the new offerings, and dine with a shark or two.
But First… SEA LIFE® Aquarium
To kick things off, on Friday night LEGOLAND® welcomed media to their SEA LIFE® Aquarium. Meandering through the aquarium was rewarded with sightings of its 5,000 marine life residents including zebra sharks, giant Pacific octopus, moon jellies and cownose rays.
One of our favorite attractions was getting hands-on at the Southern California Tide Pool exhibit that allowed for touching starfish and sea anemones. Based on their reactions, pretty sure the anemones are ticklish. A bit later, it was feeding time for some discerning diners, among them spotted eagle rays and blacktip reef sharks. Afterwards, we bid the sea creatures a good night and headed back to our room.
Sleeping in Character
There are two hotels (each have 250 rooms) in the park to choose from: LEGOLAND® Hotel and LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel. Opened just last year, the Castle Hotel’s theme brings with it plenty of knights, royalty, dragons and a wizard. As for us, we were in the original LEGOLAND® Hotel with pirates, adventure seekers, LEGO NINJAGO and LEGO Friends.
A beloved spot for this particular editor – the whoopee cushion next to the main level’s elevator doors. Nary an opportunity was missed to activate its exuberant sound effects. A close second favorite spot was inside the disco elevators, where strangers can’t help but bust out their best dances moves and groove together between floors. Bring on the tunes from Abba, Sister Sledge and the Bee Gees!
A themed Adventure Room (think Indiana Jones) spoke to our inner explorer hearts. The suite has bunk beds in one room and a king-sized bed in another. A balcony let in ocean breezes from the nearby Pacific. To be discovered in the room: a hat-wearing parrot, a cheeky monkey, several exotic insects… yes, a veritable LEGO scavenger hunt that kept late night yawns at bay. There’s also a resort-wide scavenger hunt that reveals the combination to in-suite treasure chests filled with… Hey, it’s your treasure to be discovered; we’re not going to ruin the surprise.
Included in room rates is breakfast at Bricks Family Restaurant. Something to keep in mind: if you’re on a tight schedule, the line to get in to breakfast can take a while, as do the food lines. That being said, the food ranges from pancakes to customized omelets; lots of variety and not lacking in flavor. Kids have personalized buffet fare of their own.
The food inside the park is surprisingly affordable, unique and delicious. We opted for Ninja fare that consisted of Bao Buns and Banh Mi.
Entering the Park
Parking, whether self-park or valet, is fairly priced and, at the time of this writing, under $30 per vehicle.
As for park hours, you’ll definitely want to check the website’s schedule to ensure the days and hours, as they do vary. For the general public, most days, the park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Guests at the hotels are allowed to enter prior to 10 a.m.. Again, you’ll want to check the schedule.
The park is geared towards families with children between the ages of two and 12. There’s a lot to take in with includes 60 rides, shows and a list of attractions that keeps expanding. See tips at the end of this article for other pertinent information.
This new area (a similar themed area moved to make way for a LEGOLAND® attraction being unveiled in 2020) is geared towards kids five and under, but big kids (and adults) will love it, too, for Playtown’s 10 playhouses (including a barn, fire station, grocery store and hospital), slides, maze and new LEGOLAND®Express Train Ride.
What’s easily missed due to DUPLO® Playtown’s interactive elements are sweeping views overlooking various areas of the park, including Miniland. Taking time out to soak in these vistas is a must. Bird’s-eye views can be had from the Kid Power towers. These three towers involve self-hoisting (not as hard as it sounds) up a dual chairs then “free-falling” back to the ground level.
LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure Submarine Ride
Next stop, the new LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride. We boarded a true submarine to float amongst 2,000 sea animals, including real sharks, rays and tropical fish. Type pads with a list of items to find were posted near viewing windows, leading us to have our eyes peeled for LEGO® treasures buried at sea. Hey, we were gearing up to be pirates later in the day, this was important business.
The LEGO® Movie 2 Experience
Getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what the sets were like for “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part” is what this exhibit is all about. Head to the right to see what “construction areas” were like. On the left is a bedroom set that’s human-sized.
And All the Rest We’ve Loved for 20 Years and Counting
The rest of the park beckoned, so we hopped on a Birthday Cruise lauding the park’s big 2-0. It’s remarkable to see what’s been constructed, learn how many bricks were required and what’s needed to maintain pieces like the Eiffel Tower and a life-sized Brahma Bull.
Other boats that called our name were those at Pirate Shores. Squeals could be heard from those aboard the ride, as well as observers “on shore.” Between land- and seagoers, a battle ensued with bursts of H20 exchanged between water cannons.
Speaking of water… Additional tickets can be purchased for the LEGOLAND and CHIMA Water Park. From water slides to inner tubing and building one’s own LEGO raft, this area already has kids flocking to it in California’s fairly nippy May weather. Currently, it’s only open weekends. Check the park schedule for updates as the summer season gets underway.
With water in mind, make sure to pack an extra set of clothes for kids, even if not visiting the water park. Several of the rides can get pretty wet, which is great fun, but can get chilly. You’ll want to pack swim gear for the water park, too, though a store on site allows for last-minute water gear purchases.
Save time on schedules for The Dragon, an indoor/outdoor roller coaster, topping a long list of not-to-miss rides.
True LEGO aficionados wax poetic over the Miniland area. These structures reflect many favorite destinations in the United States with lots of detail and fun movements, some which guests can trigger. From San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to Washington D.C.’s The Smithsonian Museum, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Another fan favorite is the Star Wars area.
If you’re visiting soon, we’d like to direct you to the New Orleans portion of Miniland. It’s here that a mother duck and her eight ducklings have claimed as their current home. There’s nothing like watching them stop “traffic” during a nap, or swimming amongst riverboats. Yes, apparently nature is as charmed by LEGOLAND as we humans. And who can blame them. There’s nothing like those colorful bricks to set imaginations humming. Happy 20th, LEGOLAND California!
Stay tuned for 2020. Yet to be disclosed attraction to open in the park next spring. And, in Goshen, New York, a new LEGOLAND® will make its debut. You’ll also want to check out our news story re: LEGO Braille Bricks here.
*Things to note – have extra cash on hand for certain games and amusements. Bring changes or clothes, or swim gear for the water park attractions. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and hats.
For more information, visit www.LEGOLAND.com or call (760) 918-LEGO (5346).