It’s hard to say who enjoys Legoland more: the little ones running around in a magical world created by 60 million Lego plastic bricks, or their parents who get a kick out of it too. Walk through Miniland USA for a visual and structural jaw-dropper: expansive miniaturized recreations of Washington D.C., New York, and San Francisco, as well as scenes from Star Wars. There’s also a chance to go behind-the-scenes to look at the soundstage and models used during the The Lego Movie. While the focus here leans towards making little ones smile, there’s plenty to entertain older visitors too: the park has more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions, including three rollercoasters.
Walking through this star attraction, which recreates—in ultra-miniature—seven iconic American regions—and you’ll likely find yourself pointing, gasping, and shaking your head in amazement. Here, skilled teams used 20 million tiny Lego blocks to create incredibly detailed dioramas—stretch limos pulling up in front of a Hollywood movie premier, tiny tourists lining up in front of the Capitol Building. Take your time here—the more you look, the more you see. Kids love the recreated scenes from the Star Wars movies, including an underwater scene from the planet of Noboo.
The name of the game at Legoland California is discovery and wonder. Everywhere you look, there is a playful use of Legos, whether it’s at Driving School, where kids learn the ways of the road in Lego-esque mini-cars, or Safari Trek, where riders drive animal-striped Jeeps to wind around a world of life-size giraffes, elephants, and tigers (all made of—you guessed it--Legos). At Fairy Tale Brook, climb aboard a whimsical boat shaped like a giant leaf to float past recreated scenes from classic stories such as The Three Little Pigs (the brick house is made of, yes, plastic bricks).
For your child’s first roller-coaster experience, take a spin on tot-friendly Coastersaurus, billed as a “pink-knuckle” ride—enough for a thrill but not white-knuckle, I-want-to-go-home-now-mommy scary. Expect to get wet on rides like the Aquazone Wave Racer, which not only zooms through a chute, but gets bombed by surprise water blasts triggered by spectators. For quieter downtime, take the behind-the-scenes factory tour, which shows how Legos are made, or let your little builders get creative in hands-on Duplo Play. Sky Cruiser is always a crowd-pleaser (and crowds it often has), but who wouldn’t want to pedal colorful Lego-themed cars on tracks overlooking the park? For shortest lines, aim to get to the park early, head straight for furthest-away rides and attractions, then work your way back towards the entrance.
Long before perfectly average Emmet had to save the world, Legos were just a bunch of really cool building blocks. But ever since 2014’s The Lego Movie became a 3-D animated blockbuster, Legos have taken on new star power—and Legoland California knows it. Now, an expansive, interactive attraction, The Lego Movie Experience, lets you get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. Kids get all star struck seeing their favorite mini-characters and scenes and peer in at the movie’s soundstage and models, including pirates, robots, flying ice cream trucks, school bus tanks, and the movie’s stunningly self-centered Batman.
Lego animals. Lego T-shirts. Lego lunch boxes. And even Lego wedding cake toppers. Shops scattered around the park, from ready-to-build kits to The Lego Movie memorabilia. Many stores reflect nearby rides and attractions, so if your child pines for a knight in shining armor (albeit one built out of plastic bricks), head for the King’s Market, adjacent to the Knights’ Tournament ride. You’ll also find Medieval-era costumes if that dress-up box at home needs new items. For kids into dinosaurs, go straight to Dino Island, where the shop displays (and sells) plenty of ways to build your own prehistoric beasts. Cool tip: buy some bricks (sold by the pound at the Lego Club House) and build a few mini-figures, then look for the park’s “Model Citizens” (a.k.a. employees). If there’s a mini-figure dangling from their name badge, kids can use their own mini-figure to trade for it.
When it comes to mealtime and snacks, Legoland definitely knows its audience. All over the park you’ll find restaurants and stands serving kid-friendly fare—lots of hamburgers, hot dogs, and an all-you-can-eat buffet at the Pizza & Pasta Buffet (for a welcome dose of greenery, there are also salads). No matter what, save room for Granny’s Apple Fries, a Legoland creation of Granny Smith apple slices cooked until tender and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Dip them in the accompanying vanilla cream sauce for an extra treat. The fruit fries are available at Castle Hill.
Dietary restrictions in your family? Kids with nut allergies can find options at Burger Stop, Castle Burger or Fun Town Hot Dog, while gluten-intolerant tummies can find options at Garden Restaurant, or stir-fries at Wok ‘N’ Bowl Ramen.
Now you no longer just visit fantasyland, you live in it. This temple to everything Lego has nailed every detail down to the themed rooms (pirates, kingdoms, and cowboy adventures) and a lobby featuring a giant mosh pit full of plastic blocks, so kids can build away while grown-ups check in. And you can’t walk around a corner without stumbling across larger-than-life Lego sculptures, made with more than 3 million blocks: Head into the Skyline Café, and the mini cityscape has Spider-Man scaling a building and a wizard reading a book by a rooftop pool. Industrial-strength glue holds the sculptures together, so go ahead and touch. Or, better yet, use them as inspiration--there’s a Lego box in every guest room. And those rooms have a unique family-friendly approach too: separate sleeping areas for grown-ups and kids (up to 3 youngsters can sleep in bunk beds or a pullout trundle bed). The kids’ quarters are more fun, with walls painted with Lego themes and characters, including snarky signs including “Ye Olde Adults Keep Out!” Guests can also enjoy poolside movies and early entry time into the park.
Chill out at this lively water park jazzed up with the lions, crocodiles, and other talking-beast characters from the Lego-inspired Cartoon Network show, Legends of Chima. Slip into your bathing suits to jump into the ultra-cool Lion Temple Wave Pool, where walking under the Lego lion archway could get you doused by 400 gallons of water every minute from 30 feet/9 meters above the wave pool. There are plenty of hands-on toys, including water cannons and giant squirt guns. Climb up the pool’s 40-foot/12-meter-high floating mountain to watch the endless water wars below. Help the kids build their own boats to take on the water slide, or just let them go and it while you retire to a poolside cabana, a worthwhile splurge for the day; it includes lounge chairs, a mini fridge, complimentary drinks, and the most important commodity of the day—shade.
Legoland California keeps things lively on special holidays. For Halloween, the goal is to entertain—not frighten—the smaller set. There’s a “Brick-Or-Treat” party every Saturday night (and some Fridays) in October, with special entertainment, costume contests, giant Lego Halloween models, fireworks, and of course plenty of sweet treats. At Christmastime, the park brings snow—yes, real snow—to Southern California, using it to dress up various sites around the park, including the world’s largest all-Lego Christmas tree (a cool fact, but how much competition does it have?). Build a snowman using Lego bricks, sing carols with the Jingle Jammers, and stock up on Lego gifts too. On special nights in December, add holiday fireworks and light shows to the mix.
With up-close experiences, touch pools, and extraordinary walk-through tanks, this sister site to Legoland California helps kids (and grown ups) learning about all kinds of aquatic life. More than 5,000 creatures, including sharks, rays, seahorses, octopi, and tropical fish (including entertaining “hey, that’s Nemo!” clownfish) swim, crawl, and slither through their underwater environments here, with plenty of ways for us landlubbers to enjoy them. Walk through a 35-foot/11-metre-long ocean tunnel to experience a submerged Lost City of Atlantis, a 200,000-gallon/757,082-litre display featuring swirling schools of brightly colored fish (and a few toothy sharks). Check the schedule for feeding time in this huge tank. You can also watch seahorses get their daily fill of brine shrimp, or learn how aquarists use food to enrich the mind of the aquarium’s surprisingly savvy giant Pacific octopus.