1 Legoland Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Happy campers at Legoland waterpark!
For a full day (or two or three) of fun, food, and excitement, gather up the kiddos and head to Legoland in Carlsbad in Northern San Diego county. Legoland, based on the world famous building blocks, invites visitors through its gates with more Lego sculptures than one can fully appreciate in one visit. The park now defines itself in terms of three distinct properties: the park, the waterpark, and the aquarium. They now, like Disneyland, designate ticket status with Hopper tickets, which enable visitors to traverse between the three attractions.
We started with the park. A great place to start is the boat ride located near the entrance, where families can take a narrated tour of the small lake that mini-land is built around, with close up views of the Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Mt. Rushmore, and the Sydney Concert Hall, all made from hundreds of thousands of Legos. On foot, one can marvel at the intricate Lego reproductions of Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
A new section of mini-land re-creates several instantly recognizable scenes from the Star Wars films. Lining the walkway are life-sized sculptures of favorite Star Wars characters. Other sculptures dot the park and costumed actors bring some to life. Completing the Star Wars collection is a full-scale model of an X-wing fighter, large enough to take up its own hangar.
The Star Wars X-wing is Legoland's latest masterpiece, the largest Lego model ever constructed
Other themes occupy certain areas of the park, such as high tech, castles and dragons, pirates, transportation, and exploration. Many live shows and 4D movies are also available throughout the day. Acrobatic fire persons jump around the stage to some fun music in one of the live shows. A 4D movie featured popular Lego figures on a large screen with some 3D visuals and a few added gusts of wind and even a little water to make the experience 4D. The movies and shows are only about 15 minutes each, so one is not required to plan a lot of time around them, but they are worth seeing and should not be missed.
The rides encompass the themes of the area they are in, so in High Tech land, the tea-cup style ride is a robotic looking speedster that twirls with vigor. The car rollercoaster next to it has one of the park’s best thrills, with a loop around the track on a “runaway” test car and a pretty serious drop along with some whipping turns make the ride a must visit, but perhaps later in the day when the lines die down. Frequent visitors find they are able to hop on more rides in the final hour the park is open than all the rides they stood in line for the rest of the day. Also in the High Tech area are Lego laboratories where visitors can see how Lego sculptures are constructed and even play with some Legos themselves!
The Raiders of the Lost Ark themed area has an imaginative ride on a jeep armed with a laser gun and a multitude of targets to shoot at, with each person’s score rising with each hit. Next door in the land of castles and dragons, one of the park’s other roller coasters takes riders on a swift but enjoyable spin through the castle and then onto the sweeping turns amid some of the park’s nicest clusters of trees. Another ride involves spinning in circles at different angles according to a pre-programmed “journey.” For younger jousters, mechanical horses complete with lances circle a track, with the aroma of apple fries and the smoke from wood fired barbeques in the air. Kids can spend hours in the elaborate maze of ship’s rigging and plank bridges to be found in the area’s play structure, which is completely dry, unlike the one next door in the land of the pirates.
Pirates typically are found at sea, and the Pirates section of Legoland includes a boat ride where spectators can plunk down a coin to give the passengers in the small ships a good drenching with water cannons. A swinging, rocking adventure on a pirate ship that seems to be caught in a cyclone or some other impediment to navigation whisks passengers back and forth and this way and that to many screams of delight. A large play structure has enough water for several good soaks and provides a small taste of the water activities to be found in Legoland’s additional fee water park. Special packages and memberships can be found, so be certain to see what is available.
My kids cooled off in the aquarium and loved gazing at the sea creatures, including sea stars, jellyfish, sharks, and stingrays
A nice transition between pirates and the world of transportation is a boat ride where riders navigate their own small craft through a course on a large pond. Helicopters go up and down and airplanes soar around the park. A fire truck challenge allows visitors to compete with other guests to see who can knock down the “flames” with large hoses first. Another ride provides riders with some of the park’s best views as one self propels around a track, stopping and starting at will. This ride is a complete shift for anyone not fond of the faster rides, and provides an opportunity to enjoy the scenery. A driving course allows young ones to obtain Legoland driver’s licenses and drive cars independently around a track, avoiding other cars and obeying traffic signals in one of the closest experiences most will have with driving until they are 16.
Another water play area marks the transition to the park’s final area, the Adventure section, which includes a safari, an archeological dig, and a ride on the back of a dinosaur for the park’s last roller coaster, a quick turn through some loops that is over too soon, but the ride operators allow passengers to make a second loop. For those looking for a quieter, more mellow time, the Fairy Tale boats are always there to deliver, with a shady, meandering trip down a small river surrounded by fairy tale characters.
With a good combination of quick, thrilling rides and slow, easy going attractions, Legoland is sure to have rides for everyone in your group. And when you have had enough rides to last a while? Legoland has many fine restaurants throughout the park, serving up pizza, pasta, chicken, ribs, salads, hot dogs, and chicken bowls with either noodles or rice. Of course, treats abound, and the apple fries should not be missed, especially with the cinnamon whipped cream.
Mini-land features impressive Star Wars scenes, including the Battle of Kashyyyk
After the rides, mini-land and the aquarium, it's time to cool off at the waterpark!
Legoland’s waterpark, a $12 million addition completed in July, 2010, is simply dubbed the Waterpark. Pirate Shores is the latest addition added in 2013. It is Legoland's cute version of a log-ride that ascends and then drops while watchers can squirt water sprays at the riders. As you would expect, Lego-made pirates and mermaids lace the ride.
At first glance, the colorful structures of this waterpark, like Splash Out, the 240-foot open body Slide, and Orange Rush, a family slide, appear to be a thrill-seeker’s paradise. Upon closer examination, however, the waterpark, like Legoland itself, caters to the comforts and likings of the pre-school-elementary aged set and their moms. For families seeking safe and relaxing vacation day, this is an awesome and unique feature for a waterpark!
The setup and structure of the park are also appropriately geared for this younger set. The centerpiece of the waterpark is a 45-foot tall Lego-themed tower loosely resembling a castle with slowly corkscrewing tentacles. Legoland has always been graced by ocean breezes from the nearby coast. The heated water pumped into this waterpark keeps the little kids from getting chilled by these breezes. The park is packed with watchful lifeguards. The most memorable aspect for my kids was the Build-a-Raft River, a languid river that wraps around the park, allowing the kids—and parents-- to hang out and just float. Kids can customize their own rafts with giant Legos and even attach their raft to a friend’s prior to floating. Again, while this may not be a 16 year-old’s cup-of-tea, it is quite appealing to moms and their little ones. There are several "beach" areas with authentic-feeling sand where families can relax.
The Duplo Splash Safari is geared for the youngest visitors (and their parents)
Kids also enjoy the Joker-soaker, a water play platform with water cannons periodically shooting down, and the Duplo Splash Safari, a smaller water park for preschoolers, with slides leading to a shallow play area, all decorated with elephants and other safari animals. There is also a stand up heater that kids can up off in afterwards for $5.00. My young kids had a great time at this waterpark! It is refreshing to know that a waterpark, like Legoland itself was designed especially with their age-group in mind.
Families can relax on the Legoland beach
Pirate Shores is the latest and greatest attraction at the waterpark
Wow, what a fun day at Legoland!