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We had an adventurous few days at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad, and I want to share our experience. At four and nearly-six, I felt like LEGOLAND was made just for them. The park is a great size to see everything in two days unless you want to try the water park (additional admission price, totally awesome!). Here are some tips on what to do, where to stay, and what to eat along with travel deals.
You can always save on LEGOLAND tickets when you purchase from our travel affiliate, Get Away Today. When you combine tickets with a LEGOLAND Resort Hotel stay, you can use the promo code 510FAM to save an additional $10.
Preschooler faves at LEGOLAND California
Since LEGOLAND was designed with kids ages 2 – 12 in mind, there are lots of options for younger kids, providing excellent first-time theme park experiences. I wouldn't bring older children unless they're still really into LEGO.
Milo's favorites, age four:
Lost Kingdom Adventure. Indiana Jones style cars where we all shot at targets for 30″ and taller
Orange Rush at the Water Park. The huge family-size inner tube water slide ride in the water park (in the wet, no pictures) for 42″ and taller.
All opportunities to build. Because this park is dedicated to all things LEGO, there are ample spots to build LEGO creations. Waiting in line? Here's a build table! Just finished a ride? Here, buy a thematic building kit! And additional stations to build and test various creations abound.
Holden's favorites, age nearly-six:
Hideaways Play Area. Best playground ever, featuring opportunities for little LEGO-lovers to climb ropes and ladders; slide; and swing with plenty of room to run around. Near the back entrance to the park, where your kids can find an extra surge of energy at the end of a tiring day.
Miniland. Small LEGO brick models of some of the most famous places in the world, including iconic cities such as New York, New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Diego and more. Miniland also includes landmarks like Griffith Park Observatory, the Hollywood Bowl and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. There is also a mini Star Wars exhibit where you can see famous scenes played out in LEGOs.
Skipper School. How much can you say about a little boat ride where kids grab the steering wheel and your floating vehicle looks like a LEGO set?
I loved that boys were tall enough to ride all of the cool rides (42″); there is a full-on DUPLO area if you're there with toddlers; and the rides with the longest lines included a Lego-building play area for kids to wait it out. The live-action and movie shows are a great respite from so much walking in the heat.
LEGOLAND – check your height before you drive down
Your visit is 100% impacted by what your child can ride, so here’s a look at the current rides and their height requirements:
No minimum height requirement:
- Adventurer’s Club
- Block of Fame
- Build & Test
- Pharaoh’s Revenge
- LEGO Factory Tour
- The LEGO Movie 2 Experience
34 inches and taller:
- Captain Cranky’s Challenge
- Fun Town Police & Fire Academy
36 inches and taller:
- Beetle Bounce
- Dune Raiders
40 inches and taller:
- Kid Power Tower
- Knight’s Tournament
- The Dragon
42 inches and taller:
- Bionicle Blaster
- Driving School
- LEGO Technic Coaster
There are also a few shows playing at any given time, and you can always check the official LEGOLAND app for a calendar of events: LEGO City 4D – Officer in Pursuit; LEGO NINJAGO – Master of the 4th Dimension; The LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure.
Fun fact: You can bring LEGO minifigures to trade at the park. If your kids have minifigs they’re willing to part with, be on the lookout for LEGOLAND Model Citizens (employees) or at a number of vendors throughout the park and you can make a trade.
LEGOLAND Park Food
The food was totally meh (not all the way blech, mind you) and very expensive. A typical lunch for four of us would be about $40. By the second day, I learned that I could order merely a kid's sandwich or hot dog with a cup of water and avoid the bundle up-charge. That saved us almost half. You can also bring in small outside snacks and water, but not a cooler or backpack full of sandwiches.
Where to stay in Carlsbad
Staying as close to LEGOLAND as possible is helpful because you can head back to the room for a midday break if you need it. Whether it’s nap time or just time to put your feet up, you won’t waste time shuttling to your hotel from LEGOLAND.
Sheraton Carlsbad Resort
We stayed at the adjacent Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa and got a decent rate for being in their frequent sleeper club (or whatever its called). The advantage to staying so close is that you pay $0 for parking each day and can walk in through a private entrance for super-LEGO-intense families like us. If you can pull your kids away from the Hideaways playground (which is at the back entrance), head straight for the dragon roller coaster because the lines get long as the day wears on.
LEGOLAND on-site hotels
LEGOLAND also offers two on-site hotels: The LEGOLAND Hotel and the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel. They each feature amazingly themed rooms with a miniature kids’ suite that includes bunk beds. The hotels offer perks for Get Away Today guests, including a huge breakfast every morning, LEGO-themed scavenger hunts, elevator dance parties and family-friendly events. Each hotel has a heated outdoor pool with floating LEGO bricks, providing hours of fun in the beautiful Carlsbad weather. The time we stayed at the LEGOLAND Hotel, we thought it was an amazing (and worthwhile) splurge for our family.
Save on hotels near LEGOLAND
You’ll always save more when you bundle theme park tickets with your hotel, and you can save an additional $10 booking Southern California vacation packages with Get Away Today. Mention 510 Families when you book and use promo code 510FAM for even more savings. Book online at www.getawaytoday.com, or by calling a travel specialist at 855-GET-AWAY.
+++Disclosure: The LEGOLAND folks treated my family to one day at the park… we paid for all the rest. Get Away Today helped with research and updates.