Every family has a different approach to vacations, so it's hard to put a stake in the ground and tell you if something is worth the money or not, but I will try. Spoiler alert, I would come just for the hotel and skip LEGOLAND altogether.
When we sat outdoors eating the included breakfast at the LEGOLAND Hotel, my husband made the smart observation, “If you are thinking that the bacon isn't very good, you're focused on the wrong thing. This hotel is for the kids.”
That's an accurate assessment, and if your kids love LEGOs, it's a pretty special experience. In the lobby, a pit of LEGO bricks invites children to begin building the moment they walk in the door. An oversized LEGO castle stretches up into the raised ceiling, so there are things to explore before even checking in.
There are three flavors of rooms to choose from: a Knight/Castle theme; an Adventure theme (think Indiana Jones); and a Pirate theme. Each floor of the hotel is one of these themes, and the rooms are completely decked out accordingly.
The rooms have two sleeping areas: a double bed for parents in the main room and a small alcove for kids with bunk beds and a trundle. A sign in the kids' bunk space read “Ye Olde Adults, KEEP OUT!” My children loved that. A family of four or five has plenty of room to sleep, though the rooms themselves are pretty small.
There is a mini-fridge in the room, and a microwave is set up in a common area in the hallway. The room comes with a tub of LEGO bricks for you to enjoy during your stay.
A treasure box in the room is locked with a code, and the kids are given a simple scavenger hunt upon check-in.
After solving all the clues, the children have acquired the code to unlock the box in the room, and — another spoiler alert — inside, there was a small LEGO toy for each of them, two chocolate gold coins aka gelt, and a LEGO magazine.
The rates can be steep, but they include a hearty breakfast for all guests in the cafeteria-style restaurant. The kids LOVED eating there. There was a buffet for them set at exactly their heights in the center of the cafeteria. The surrounding spread included an omelet bar, an oatmeal bar, smoothies, and more. Plus, costumed staff members are walking around offering balloon animals and conversation.
We stayed two nights and ate at “Bricks”, the aforementioned restaurant, one night and ordered room service the other night, after a long day at the park because I was too tired for anything else. (My kids thought getting room service was crazy awesome.)
From about 6.30-9 pm, there is entertainment in the lobby. Imagine a LEGO-themed cruise ship. That's what it felt like — in a good way. The back wall was a well-lit bar with tables where parents could order drinks and snacks and the kids all sat up near the stage. Performers did an interactive show where kids teamed up based on the type of room they were staying in — Pirates, Kingdom, or Adventure. Then, there was a LEGO creation contest, and finally a pajama dance party.
While we stuck to the on-site restaurants for our food, I could see that some other savvy parents had sent one partner out for take-out. They were eating sushi or salads from a natural food deli or market. Smart.
The swimming pool is kid-centric with a zero-depth entry area for toddlers and a hanger system well-stocked with life jackets for pre-swimmers. Oversized LEGO bricks are floating around the pool for fun.
Being a guest of the hotel entitles you to enter LEGOLAND one hour earlier than the general public. The walk to the theme park from the hotel is less than a minute. Parking is included in the price of the room, while staying elsewhere means paying $15 to park in the theme park lot. There is a Sheraton next door that much less expensive and also offers walking access to LEGOLAND. But I don't think the hallways look like this.
There is also a Hilton Grand Vacations resort called Marbrisa very close by, that doesn't have the LEGOLAND feel, and whose pricing model is more the condo rental style. For those looking to enjoy the beach and weather in Carlsbad and make LEGOLAND just one part of a longer trip, you might look into that luxury resort. Search VRBO for “Marbrisa”.
My family's strategy was to arrive at the hotel mid-day to enjoy the fun there without having paid park admission for that first day. You can get two days worth of LEGO-branded excitement and only visit the park for one day. But we are a one-day-only theme park family. We never go to Disneyland two days in a row.
In the end, I was glad we stayed there, though we probably won't do it again. I think the magic is in the novelty, and it really was tons of fun. To me, it was worth paying the premium price for the “wow” factor. We had a special family experience discovering all the details of the hotel together.
Since our original visits, LEGOLAND offers a second on-site hotel: The LEGOLAND Hotel (reviewed above) and the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel (probably also incredible). 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.
Deal from our affiliate, Get Away Today on LEGOLAND on-site hotels
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.