Like most children the girls love Lego and when we heard that there was a Legoland in California, Chloe (9) and Holly (7) made sure it was on our itinerary when we visited San Diego. In fact it was just as important to them as visiting Disneyland, especially as there were lots of rides and a Lego themed waterpark which you wouldn’t find in the UK.
The reason why as a family we have loved visiting Legoland so much since the girls were little is because it offers such an assortment of rides for all ages, sizes and thrill levels, and the Californian theme park is no different.
Our hotel the Hilton Cape Rey Carlsbad was perfectly located for visiting Legoland and within 10 minutes we had arrived at the car park with two very excited little girls.
The benefit of arriving early apart from the theme park being quieter is that the regular parking car park ($20 per car) was virtually deserted so we were able to park close to the entrance, so there was no need to pay extra for preferred parking parking ($30 per car)
Tip – Set aside a full day for visiting Legoland – ideally 2 days. We read before our visit that the Californian park is smaller than the UK version, but we thought it was bigger especially when you factor in its waterpark.
With 60 rides, shows and attractions many of which are different to what you would find at Legoland Windsor in the UK, we were all so excited to visit the Californian version of one of our favourite theme parks.
There are ten Lego themed lands to explore including Land of Adventure, Castle Hill, Pirate Shores, Lego Ninjago World, Miniland USA, Fun Town and Lego friends Heartlake city.
Tip- Access the free wifi and use the Legoland mobile app . This was perfect to find our ride wait times, planning our route and to check show times. Alternatively pick up a park map as you enter the park
On arrival we set off to the World of Lego Ninjago which like the Windsor Park is a relatively new addition to the park.
In the courtyard there were plenty of ninja training opportunities to keep the girls occupied from trying out their climbing skills on Cole’s climbing wall to practicing their fire spins on the spinning poles of Kai’s Spinners.
With our Ninja moves ready we set off to try the Ninjago 4D ride which involved zapping baddies on the giant video screens by throwing virtual ice and lightning along with fireballs by making ninja hand movements which was so much fun.
This is one of the most popular areas of Legoland so expect some queues, so it’s well worth visiting as soon as the park opens to minimise wait times.
Along with Ninjago the undoubted favourites for us were the coasters The Dragon, Coastersaurus and Lego Technic coaster.
The soaking we had on Splash Battle came a close second, but it was difficult to choose a favourite part of the day as there was so much to keep the girls entertained.
At 9 and 7, I felt the girls were the perfect age to visit Legoland as they could access all of the attractions without height or age restrictions whilst meeting the Lego friends characters was an unexpected surprise.
What added an extra level of excitement were the rides which you can’t experience in the UK (Dune Raiders, Knights Tournament, Kid Power Tower, Mia’s Riding Camp, Royal Joust, Splash Battle and taking a Coast Cruise to view the sights including Big Ben, Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower made from Lego.
There were also the old favourites that you would find at Legoland Windsor Resort with some renamed and offering a slightly different experience such as the Driving School, Fire Academy, Skipper School (Coastguard HQ), Bionicle Blaster – (Spinning Spider), Sky Patrol- (Duplo Valley Airport), Pharaoh’s Revenge (Laser Raiders) and Aquazone Maze Racer – (S.Q.U.I.D surfer).
Tip – Don’t forget your sunscreen, hat & sunglasses for everyone! Whilst there are several shaded areas there’s a lot of walking in between attractions in the Southern Californian sunshine.
I loved the layout of the park because often there were rides for different heights nearby each other, which is perfect for families with different size riders.
When Holly didn’t want to ride some of the more thrill-seeking rides with her bigger sister there were lots of other rides to keep her happy such as Beetlebounce and Cargo Ace.
Tip – Before you go make sure you remember to bring along a Lego minifigure to trade or buy one in the park. This was such a cool idea, where we could get a new Lego figure to take home as a souvenir after trading with staff around the park.
Reserve ‘N’ Ride
We visited during the week and the majority of the American schoolkids were back at school but during peak times I would recommend that you look at paying the extra for the Reserve ‘N’ Ride as it literally does make a huge difference to your enjoyment of the park.
Using this little hand-held device, we could make ride reservations in advance and cuts down on the wait time for the parks top 14 rides.
Cooling off at the Legoland and Chima Waterparks
Legoland California is also home to a great waterpark, which is one of only four Lego themed water parks in the world (the others are in Florida, Dubai and Malaysia) – a new Lego Chima waterpark opens here this summer. Open seasonally, it’s the perfect introduction to water parks for younger children.
With the midday Californian sun beating down on us it offered us the perfect opportunity to cool off. Changing areas and lockers to store your belongings are available $10 for a small locker and $14 for a large locker.
The waterpark has a fantastic fun Lego theme which you wouldn’t find at any other water park including building your own Lego rafts before setting off down the lazy river and collecting Lego bricks as we floated along.
Like the theme park itself the water park offered the perfect mix of water slides for children and adults especially Twin Chasers and Splash Out.
We could have spent hours in the water park. There was so much fun to be had here and it was difficult to coax the girls out of the water so we could explore the rest of the park.
We were really impressed with the variety of eateries the park had to offer and the quality of food was surprisingly good. Around the Dragon coaster proved to be a great spot to stop off and enjoy an ice cream from Castle Ice Cream.
Tip- You have to try the Legoland California speciality – Granny’s Apple Fries. They sound disgusting but they are actually quite moorish!
We were intrigued by some of the unique eating options such as Granny’s Apple Fries and Knights Smokehouse BBQ with some delicious traditional British sausages and fresh corn on the cob.
A personal favourite was Miniland USA. It was so cool to be able to see so many US landmarks expertly recreated from Lego, and was great fun for the girls as they spotted well-known attractions including the statue of liberty and the golden gate bridge.
Miniland at the UK park has recently opened an American inspired section this year but at Legoland California Miniland is on another scale with cities including Las Vegas, New York, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and more.
Close by was the Lego Star Wars Miniland area with scenes from the films created from millions of Lego bricks. This was a real highlight for Holly especially when she found out that many of the exhibits were interactive.
Throughout the park are zones where the girls could get their hands on Lego and Duplo bricks inspired by some of the amazing 30,000 Lego creations on display throughout Legoland ranging from a giant Brontosaurus made from two million bricks to the Queen of England.
The best of which was at the Imagination zone which was packed with Lego building zones and Lego Xbox games which was a hit with the kids.
Tip – Make sure you visit the Lego Factory – it’s a great place to escape the heat plus you get to find out how Lego bricks are made and how sets are put together.
We finished our visit with a boat trip around the enchanting Fairy Tale Brook. This is a family favourite as we spotted the different fairy tale characters on our journey.
The lure of the gift shop was too hard to resist and we left with bags of Lego toys and two very happy girls after a fun filled day at Legoland California.
Overall – Is Legoland California worth visiting:
Definitely yes! With so much to see and do you could easily fill two days at Legoland its waterparks and at the Sea Life Aquarium.
Located in Carlsbad it’s well worth making the journey to Legoland from San Diego or Los Angeles as it’s the perfect place to visit with primary school aged children.
We had such a brilliant time at Legoland, the weather was gorgeous coupled with the fact that there were so many rides and attractions that were unique to this park compared to the flagship Legoland Windsor park in the UK.
For the latest ticket prices, special offers and more information please visit the Legoland California website
We were guests of Legoland California for the purposes of this review, but our views are our own