Ah LEGO…. Is there any house you don’t reside in? From DUPLO farm animals to the basic LEGO blocks to the $100+ Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle, it seems like LEGO makes a product for every kid. And for true fans, the magic of LEGOs can come to life with a visit to LEGOLAND. I recently had the chance to visit LEGOLAND in San Diego with my family and found lots to like, a few things that were a little lame and loads and loads of LEGOs!
Here’s the nitty gritty.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Three adults. Five boys ages 5 years, 4 years, 3.5 years, 18 months and 11 months.
LEGOLAND San Diego. Midweek. Summertime. 10am-6pm.
As you can imagine, LEGOLAND fills kids with the wonder and awe that a visit to any amusement park can do. Here are some of the highlights of our visit.
Volvo Driving School. Corporate sponsorship aside, my kids had a blast on this one. Unlike other driving courses where the car is set on a track, at the Volvo Driving School, your child – yes, your 4-year-old – is steering a car around a track. They have one track for kids 6-13 years and another for kids 3-5 years. I have to admit it was hilarious to watch the younger group get their first taste of freedom/fear behind the wheel. Mark this one down as fun for kids and adults.
Splash Battle. Over at Pirate Shores, Splash Battle scored big points. The only thing I can’t figure out is who had more fun – the kids or the adults. Teams of 4-6 people load into pirate boats equipped with squirting hoses. As the ship “sails” through the seas, the ship patrons squirt the heck out of the other boats and innocent bystanders. Men, women, child, adult – everyone had fun on this one.
Garden Restaurant. I cannot speak to the quality of the other restaurants in the park, but our lunch at the Garden Restaurant was a) delicious, b) fresh, c) healthy and d) cheaper than I expected (keeping in mind how amusement parks tend to mark up their food). Their selection of sandwiches, soups and salads was appealing to kids and adults, and the place had a great location overlooking parts of Miniland USA. Highly recommend.
Build & Test. Over in Imagination Zone, the Build & Test lab hooks your kid up with a pair of LEGO wheels and then lets them into a room filled with boxes of LEGOs. Kids construct their perfect racing mobile and then put it on the track to race against other inventors. This may have been my kids favorite part of the day. The three oldest boys spent at least an hour building and racing, rebuilding and re-racing until we finally pulled them out of there to move on. The room also has a DUPLO building portion for younger kids, tables for adult to grab a quick rest and best of all, air-conditioning!
Soak-N-Sail. There is a separate LEGOLAND Water Park which I hear is wonderful, but inside the LEGOLAND in Pirate Shores, there is a large water play area with water attractions for tots to teens. A friend had wisely told us to pack an extra pair of clothes and a towel – both of which I’d highly recommend. The play area is meant to get you WET, not lightly sprinkled with water. A great midday break to cool off and have a chance of pace.
There is lots to do, but it’s still doable in one day. LEGOLAND offers lots of rides, activities and shows, but unlike some other amusement parks (I’m looking at you Disney), it’s totally doable in one day.
Variety. From rides and games to shows and hands-on activities, there are activities to suit every interest.
THE NOT SO GOOD
Of course no trip is perfect. Here are the parts that we weren’t thrilled with.
Height restrictions. I know that most amusement parks have height restrictions for some rides, but overall in our experience, we found the height restrictions at LEGOLAND to be confusing and not consistent. Some restrictions were not clearly posted outside of rides, and so only after waiting in a line for 30 minutes were we turned away when we reached the front of the line. Or other places said one height limit at the entrance to the ride but then had a different (sometimes higher, sometime lower) when you actually made it to the front of the line. It was frustrating not always knowing what rides our kids could get on.
Dirty bathrooms. I know LEGOLAND has hundreds of babies, kids and adults making their way through their facilities every day, but the rides seemed so well staffed and yet the bathrooms so untended. I wasn’t expecting perfumed TP and cloth towels to dry my hands. But not having urine-covered floors would have been nice.
One parent, one child. Many rides require a child to ride with a parent if they don’t meet a height requirement. But a parent can only ride with one child at a time. We are a family of 5 which meant that when I sat out with my infant son, my husband was not able to take my other two on a ride together. He’d have to take one and then come back and take the other son. A HUGE pain.
The price-height-age-interest equation. I had been told by a few people who had already visited LEGOLAND that we needed to go before our kids were 7 or 8 because by then, many kids were over a lot of the rides and activities. So I figured that 5-6 years old would be the perfect age to go. But it wasn’t. My 5YO wasn’t tall enough to ride most of the rides by himself and with the one parent/one child rule it made it a tricky day of taking turns, swapping places and really not spending the day together as a family.
As you can imagine, there are LEGOS everywhere which amused the kids. They loved wandering around Miniland USA with its replicates of Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans and more. And though my kids weren’t quite old enough to appreciate it, LEGOLAND has done an impressive job of recreating 7 scenes from the Star Wars saga.
Overall, I wish we had waited until the kids were a little bit older to visit LEGOLAND, but I can’t deny that the three oldest boys still had a blast. After spending most of the day at LEGOLAND, we also headed over to the next-door SeaLife Aquarium which was a nice change of pace though we missed out on the LEGOLAND Water Park which I’ve heard is fabulous. All in all, it was a fun adventure and one that inspired the boys to get creative with their LEGOS in the weeks since.
Disclaimer: LEGOLAND provided a 4-pack of tickets for my family to attend.