Kids, Bring Your Parents!
Perhaps you’ve been debating whether to hit Jutland (Denmark), Gunzburg (Germany) or Windsor (UK) for that vacation with your kids. You’ll find a Legoland park at all of those fine places, but they can’t hold a brick to the Legoland California Resort, Carlsbad, for total vacation fun. It’s just the best, OK?
There, now that I’ve convinced my International friends to visit SoCal, let’s talk about Legoland California, one of the coolest places you’ll ever find for younger kids.
Legoland is a park that has been carefully designed to provide a very creative, interactive experience for little ones. It combines learning, humor wild action and variety to create an experience that will have a 5-year-old exhausted at the end of the day, but whose head will be filled with memories they’ll remember for years. With so many Southern California vacation activities and theme parks centered around older kids and adults, it could be that the youngest members of the family need to be made a priority for one day. Legoland is the place to do that; like at good Pixar cartoon, there’s enough going on that the whole family can enjoy a day there.
Being only 10 years old, Legoland California has not built up a following of multiple generations in this country. Also, being targeted towards kids from 2 to 10 years of age (some say 12 years) it is not a hangout for teenagers or adults.
But if you are looking for a fabulous destination for your younger children (with enough fun stuff to keep the older ones occupied without too much complaining) then you really want to plan on a day at Legoland California. In fact, there are beaches, resort hotels and other great vacation activities and destinations near the city of Carlsbad that might make that the place for you to settle down for the whole trip.
The park is nestled among the coastal hills on 128 acres. In 2008 the Sea Life Aquarium opened adjacent to the park entrance and that marine-oriented facility makes a great complement to Legoland. The parks are about a half-hour from downtown San Diego and the countless vacation opportunities down there. So with a day or two at Legoland and Sea Life Aquarium, a day or two at the great local beaches and a couple of day trips to San Diego, you could spend a week at one of the Carlsbad hotels.
We talk strategy on another page including whether this vacation is to include destinations up in Orange County or Los Angeles. Also, we will steer you to some websites that will give you terrific detailed information on the park itself. So let’s continue our brief overview discussion; understanding the layout will make those other details more helpful.
Background on Legoland Amusement Parks
The park is one of four in the whole world. It includes several themed Lands, not unlike Disneyland or Knottt’s Berry Farm. Interactive learning, hands-on activities and rides and entertaining shows form the basis for your fun day at Legoland California. Of course you’ll find buildings, animals and who-knows-what built out of Lego bricks throughout the place; there are something like 20 million Lego bricks in the Miniland USA land alone. The largest creation is the Bronte dinosaur who greets you at The Beginning (their name for the entrance area); he’s built of around 2 million bricks. Speaking of Miniland USA with its recreations of major US landmarks on a 20:1 scale, there are over 15,000 Minilanders “living” in this park.
Much of the Legoland experience is outdoorsy, in that there are play areas and outdoor attractions. Many of the activities provide the opportunity to get wet. The place is best experienced on a warm or hot day; in fact it closes down when the weather gets bad so keep an eye on that. Disneyland really emphasizes fantasy; the happiest place on earth.
Legoland California Specifics
Legoland California also emphasizes fantasy but more in the way of imagination and creativity. Remember, Disneyland came about from the success of Uncle Walt’s cartoons; Legoland came about from the success of little building blocks that seemingly let you construct just about anything. Inventions, being the hero, learning how something works, jumping around on some really cool piece of play equipment.
The ownership continues to invest in the park, with the fairly new Pirate Shores land having cost around $10 million. One of the newest attractions is the Lost Kingdom Adventure, a shoot-em-up dark ride for slightly older kids.
Don’t underestimate the scope of the place; 128 acres is a big layout, with something like 50 rides and attractions (not including shopping and dining; did you know that they have the largest Lego store in the country?). Here are the results of a poll taken of Legoland visitors where they rated various attractions; don’t put too much emphasis on those polls but you might find this one helpful
Legoland California is open 7 days a week in the summer months, but closes Tuesday and Wednesday during the off season. The hours are likely to be longer during the summer, with more shows and fireworks during prime vacation season. However, there’s still quite a bit going on the rest of the year, with Halloween and Holiday themes evident. Here is a page with important calendar information.
Getting To / From Legoland California
Legoland is located in north San Diego County, around a half-hour drive (in good traffic) north of downtown San Diego. It’s about an hour south of Orange County. Take I-5 to the Cannon Road offramp; take it east of the freeway and look for the signs. If you’re coming down I-15, take State Route 78 west to I-5.
It is also not unreasonable to reach the park by public transit. If you are staying in San Diego, for example, you could take the Coaster light rail up to the Carlsbad Village Station. From there the 321 bus (The Breeze) will take you to the park entrance on weekdays; there is a bus on the hour. You can also take a cab, as it’s only a couple of miles.
The Coaster is the San Diego county light rail line that runs north-south from the downtown Santa Fe depot up to Oceanside. This is not Amtrak. You can catch Amtrak at a few stations that also serve the Coaster line; one of those is at Oceanside. So if you are coming by train from another part of the continent, transfer at Oceanside. There you can take the Coaster or bus service to local destinations. There is the Sprint, a light rail line that runs east-west along the SR-78 corridor as well.
Finally, if you want to come down from Orange County or Los Angeles County, take either Metrolink or Amtrak to the Oceanside station and transfer for local destinations.
The bottom line is that you can get to Legoland California from anywhere. Public transit will do the job, although it may be kinda slow going. For example, you may wait up to an hour for a bus at the Carlsbad Village station. Consider taking a cab if you have the budget for it.
For a helpful map that shows the connectivity among Amtrak, the Coaster, the Breeze and the Sprint in north Sand Diego County Click Here. For more in-depth information, including trip planning and details about the various public transit options, here is your website.