Last week was Spring break so for a family vacation we went to Legoland in Carlsbad, California. The trip was a combined Christmas gift for the kids from me, my wife, and our parents. By about mid February the kids started counting down the days and by about March 20th it was all they could think about.
We had a bit of a scare two days before our trip when my wife called the hotel to ask a question about the pool and the hotel informed her our reservation had been canceled. Two stress filled hours later it was all fixed. It turns out the company that books the reservations for the resort chain had made a mistake but the resort came through and booked us into a sister resort a few minutes down the road. This worked out really well for us as the sister resort overlooks the ocean and is a short walk from the beach.
If you have kids between the ages of 4 and 12 Legoland is a great destination for a family vacation. The rides are geared towards younger kids and most have a minimum height of 42 inches with kids over 48 inches able to ride on their own. The park is super family friendly with lots to do including rides, activities, shows, a water park, and Miniland. Miniland is a recreation of various locations like the Manhattan skyline, San Francisco, the Las Vegas Strip, and Washington DC all made from Legos. All in all they said Miniland is made of something like 44 million Lego bricks.
I am a bit of a Lego nerd so this trip was fun for me on several levels. One thing I was very excited for was the new Star Wars exhibit being installed in Miniland. As it turned out the opening was the same week as our trip and we were able to attend the premiere. Legoland pulled out all the stops for the opening day. There were tons of costumers from the 501st Legion, a massive sand sculpture (to be featured on the Travel Channel), and other Star Wars themed activities. We had perfect weather, smooth travels, and a wonderful time.
Here are a few pro-tips if you decide to go to Legoland.
1) Fly into Santa Ana (aka John Wayne or Orange County). This is a regional airport about 5o miles North of Carlsbad. Because it’s a regional airport it’s not as busy as San Diego which is an international airport.
2) Join the Lego Club Jr. (get one for each of your kids). This is a free magazine for kids that often has discount coupons for Legoland. We got two coupons for a free kid entry with a paying adult. This saved us about $120 getting in.
3) Plan on at least two days. The park is big enough that you can see it all in one day, plus you can upgrade your ticket to a second day for $10 each at guest services (within 9 days of your first day).
4) Pack you own lunch. We bought a small cooler backpack at REI that kept stuff cool for hours. There are tons of picnic spots around the park and you can rent a locker at the park entrance for $5 if you don’t want to lug extra bags around.
5) Bring swim suits and towels. The big water park costs extra (and is worth going to for a half a day) but if you just need to cool off, in the pirate section of the park is a pretty awesome water play area that is no extra charge enjoy. If you go to the big waterpark there are rental lockers available there. We had a nice lady give us her RF ID bracelet for her rental as she was leaving, very kind of her.
6) Start at the back of the park and work forward. Everyone walks into the park and queues in the first line they see so if you walk a little further back you’ll find shorter lines until the crowds disperse throughout the park.
7) Put an ID bracelet on your kids. It should have your name and cell phone number on it (Guest Services will give you one you can write on with a sharpie). Teach them who to look for if they get lost (all park employees have a special Lego name badge they wear).
Here are some pictures from the trip.