By Greg Aragon
I never met a kid who didn’t love Legos. They are simple, durable and inspire creativity and imagination. So when Legoland California opened in 1999 as an entire theme park dedicated to the little, plastic building blocks it was exciting news. And now today, as the destination celebrates its 20th birthday, it is still welcoming families and exciting new attractions.
My family and I recently visited Legoland to check out the new Duplo Playtown area, the Sea Life Aquarium and a bunch of other cool rides and attractions. We also wanted to experience the park’s mystical Castle Hotel.
Our getaway began when we checked into a wizard themed room. The hotel, which opened in 2018, features 250 Lego Castle themed rooms with your choice of knights & dragons, royal princess, or magic wizard.
The entire hotel is decorated just like a medieval castle and offers many surprises for kids. There are talking portraits and musical seats located throughout, the lobby has a giant “Lego pond,” and there is a new themed restaurant called Dragon’s Den Restaurant & Bar, where the hotel serves free breakfast for registered guests each morning.
All rooms come with a separate kids’ area with bunk beds and Lego building tables, a treasure chest and scavenger hunt. They also boast a big TV, comfortable bed, coffee maker, refrigerator, free Wi-Fi, and a large bathroom with shower and tub. Just outside the hotel is an entertainment courtyard with play zones for kids of all ages, and a pool area.
But the hotel’s best feature is its location next to Legoland’s main entrance. This was a great feature, as we were able to have breakfast and then stroll into the park within five minutes.
Once in the park we were transported into a magical world of Legos. With more than 60 rides, shows and attractions celebrating the iconic toys, the park is an interactive, hands-on experience for families with children 2-12. The resort is also home to Sea Life Aquarium and the world’s first Legoland Water Park.
Our first adventure at the park was Ninjago the Ride, where guests encounter 3D imagery and high-tech sensors as they use hand movements in a striking motion to master their skills before battling a villain called The Great Devourer. We began the ride by climbing in a four-person car and putting on 3-D glasses. The lap bar senses hand movements, so kids can hurl fireballs, lightning, shockwaves and ice to help fight a host of menacing enemies on a 30-foot screen.
From here we entered Miniland USA, where roughly 32.5 million Lego bricks have been turned into incredible mini-recreations of some of America’s most beloved locations. Highlights include the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the capital building in Washington D.C., Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Grand Central Station in New York, the Las Vegas strip, and Griffith Park in Southern California.
Miniland also now includes a Star Wars section, featuring a floating Death Star and seven different Lego Star War scenes, made of more than 1.5 million Lego bricks, featuring one scene from each of the movies.
Another fun attraction is Coastersaurus, a roller coaster that takes guests through a prehistoric jungle of Lego brick dinosaurs. Riders circle around a 1,100-pound brachiosaurus and whiz by a 10-foot tall parasaurolophus scavenging for food.
The park’s newest adventure is Duplo Playtown, a colorful new Lego town geared towards children 5 and younger. The area features more than 10 whimsical playhouses with hands-on activities, slides and interactive elements that encourage kids to use their imagination and creativity while playing. Children can explore a barn, fire station, grocery store, hospital and maze complete with an interactive scarecrow.
One of the most colorful new attractions is the Sea Life Aquarium, a multi-level aquarium with over 350 different species and more than 6,000 real creatures swimming around in 16 different interactive zones. There are jellyfish, octopi, seahorses, sharks, rays, a hands-on touching pool, and lots more. Sea Life Aquarium admission is an extra $25 with a Legoland ticket.
With summer around the corner, the Legoland Water Park ($30 with a Legoland ticket) is now open, with a myriad of thrilling waters rides and slides, rafts, pools, a lagoon, and more.
Legoland California is located in Carlsbad, Calif. For more information and current ticket prices, visit Legoland.com or call (760) 918-LEGO.