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Legoland California: Strategies for a Great Day
Calling All Future Legoland California Fans!
I am going to offer priceless advice on how to optimize your Legoland experience. This wonderful park has big kid thrill rides, little kid rides, hands on activities, amazing Lego exhibits, a water park, playgrounds and yummy food. Where to start?
My son has been visiting Legoland for 10 years. His little sisters are also fans. Grandma lived nearby, so we were frequent visitors (members) of this amazing park.
Over the years, I've cooked up strategies on how to best use Legoland time regardless of weather or crowds.
Have you been to Legoland?
The Map. - Quick Overview
First things first.
The entrance is at the bottom of the map. The membership office is right outside the turnstiles. After entering, a big gift shop is on the right. The best coffee shop is on the left. After entering the park, you can choose to turn right or left. (I'll recommend to turn left after entering to go straight to the Sky Cruiser. Read more below.)
Notice that the water park and water rides are at the opposite end, way at the top of the map. When the water park is closed during the winter season, just cross that part out. Admission to the Water Park is not included with all day passes.
Also notice that the Sea Life Life Aquarium is not in the park. Admission to the aquarium is extra too...unless you buy one of the premium memberships. Check out the Legoland ticket information below.
Legoland Sky Cruiser
The park gates open at 9 am on certain days, like Saturdays and some holidays. You may ask, why go into the park when the rides haven't opened? The answer: The Skycruiser.
The Sky Cruiser Ride is not really a roller coaster, but yet it is on a track like a roller coaster. Young toddlers are allowed to ride with an adult...but don't worry, it isn't a "little kid ride". Adults and teens love this ride too.
What's the appeal?
Pedal power. The view. The quiet and peaceful airy experience. The small car- it only holds 3 people so it feels intimate with your friends and family.
There is a terrible wait for those tiny cars. This ride is so popular, that an hour wait is not unusual. The line doesn't look like it will take an hour, because Legoland has strategically placed a Lego play space in the middle of the "line up corral" to entertain all the little kids (who would normally be taking up lots of space in line.) Even on rainy days and non-holidays, there seems to be a wait for this ride. It just doesn't accommodate very many riders at a time.
Arrive at the park as it opens at 9am. Turn left at the entrance. Walk right past those first rides (Dino Island and Duplo City). Walk past those enticing squirt guns and past the charming Legoland band. Head up the hill until you reach The Sky Cruiser. Go ahead and get in the front of the line. By the time you walk to that part of the park, you will not have to wait long for the ride to open. Remember, kids can play with Legos in the adjacent play area while you wait.
After the Sky Cruiser, you will be next to the Driving Schools. There won't be a long line, because most people are still at the front of the park. The helicopter ride is also great fun- right around the corner. Finally, hit the show "The Big Test" before leaving that part of the park.
Legoland Driving School - Get a License before Age 13!
This is a great ride which kids just love. When there are no lines, my kids drove these cars again and again. Get your video camera ready, because it is like watching comedy central. You will laugh until you cry.
They have smaller cars for 3-5 year olds. Those kids just drive in a big circle, trying to stay on the road and pass their fellow drivers. Cute.
The big driving school for 6-13 year old kids has working traffic lights, intersections, and two way traffic.
After completing the driving course, every child gets a Legoland Driver's License, which they treasure for months after returning home.
If the Sky Cruiser doesn't sound appealing, walk directly to the Driver's School instead to avoid the lines. You'll be so glad you did.
Kids of all ages love building cars.
Duplos for the younger crowd.
Lego model building, for your budding Lego creator.
Put the Wet Stuff on the Hot Stuff! - -A Firefighter Show that the Whole Family Will LOVE!
This show has rocked for the last 10 years that we have visited Legoland. Kids sing, dance, climb, and do flips while telling a cute story... even including a couple of fire safety tips. Yep, you will get wet in the first 6 rows as promised. And snacks are allowed...or lunch, if you need a break.
Notice that the 2008 show is pretty good.
This 2012 show is a tiny bit better. This year, 2013, they added the song "What Does the Fox Say?" and it was a hoot. Love it.
Lego Firetruck to the Rescue!
The fire truck arrives on the Lego scene to save the day.
Of course the Water Park is only open in the summer. And of course there are separate tickets. We loved the Water Park. When it was crowded, I didn't love it as much. I had a hard time keeping track of my kids. Even though my kids were swimmers, I had a "Mommy Moment" when I couldn't see them. They had life jackets to rent, which I recommend. The Water Park is large, so we only went if we planned a two day Legoland visit. We needed at least a couple of hours to really enjoy the slides and lazy river.
Apple Fries - A Legoland Specialty
I have never eaten Apple Fries anywhere else. Apple Fries are the best food in Legoland or any other theme park (in my humble opinion). Imagine the warm inside of an apple pie. Imagine whipped cream. Now take that thought and imagine something even yummier. Simply Incredible Food.
You can find the Apple Fries at Castle Hill, between the Putt Putt and the Castle Hill playground, across from the Lego witch at the wishing well.
The whole area around this booth smells like warm apples and cinnamon.
I think there is one Legoland attraction which appeals to everyone- Miniland. Toddlers, grandparents and everyone in between are wowed. Also, you can enjoy Minlland at any time of the year, in any weather, even when it is crowded.
Star Wars, Washington D.C, New York, Vegas, San Francisco....all in miniature with tiny moving parts. My thirteen year old son kept mumbling "This is amazing." Every year, the Legoland master builders add another brilliant Miniland destination.
I'm not sure which I liked best, the "Star Wars" exhibit, or the Washington D.C. city model.
Build and Test - Rain or shine, crowded or not- "Build and Test" is a hit!
This video was shot at the Legoland Florida venue, but the set is exactly the same in California. Kids are given a set of lego wheels when they walk in the door. The object is to build a fast car using the thousands of legobricks set out on the tables. The racetrack has room for five cars. They start with a release button and shoot down a hill. An electric timer displays the time of the winner. All ages (parents too) and genders love love love this hands on exhibit. It is a unique building experience to the Legoland parks.
If the park was crowded, we left this activity for the end of a long day.
Got wheels? - The Race Continues- At Home!
At Legoland, they only give kids 4 small wheels. Watch what happens when kids build with many wheels.
Every wheel a child could ever want.
Little kids race too!
Got to have a driver.
My 13 year old still loves this park for the coasters- and he is a roller coaster fanatic. Sure, they don't do loopy loops. They may not be as tall as other famous thrill rides, but they are big enough and fast enough to get "that feeling" in your belly. My son says the best Legoland rollercoaster is the Technic Lego Coaster. Get there fast by turning right at the entrance. Walk past the "Build and Test" and veer to the right after passing the movie theater. Pass the Lego imitation "Teacup" ride, and the coaster is straight ahead.
These coasters all have had lines every time we visited. If you have a coaster loving crowd in your family, make a bee line to the coaster of your choice immediately after entering the park.
Wow. It is So Crowded. What Do We Do First?
Sometimes, despite best intentions, the park is already packed when your family finally gets in. No worries. Legoland has a huge selection of activities which never require waiting. My family had that experience the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We still had a great time, because we knew what to do.
1. "The Big Test" firetruck show is an open amphitheater. Every seat is great. Get there 10 minutes early. Go ahead and get lunch at the hotdog shop or cafe around the corner. Bring lunch in, and eat while you watch.
2. "Miniland" is a huge open walking area. Even when crowded, it is easy to see the exhibits.
3. Castle Hill Playground- Right next to the famous Apple Fries Shop, there is a marvelous natural looking tree house type playground with ropes, slides, and ladders. Parents will want to accompany toddlers. The playground has one entrance, so I felt comfortable sitting on one of the many benches knowing that my kids couldn't leave without me noticing.
4. Duplo Village- if you have toddlers, plan to sit down and relax while watching the little ones giggle and play in small, safe structures with duplo steering wheels, small club houses, little slides, and kid sized Lego houses, shops, and barns. The toddler train ride sometimes has a short wait, but it is worth it. This area is gated, and it is easy to watch your kids from many seated positions.
The Cleanest Bathrooms Ever.
(even when the park is crowded)
Whether changing baby diapers, escorting newly potty trained toddlers, or suffering from "too much coffee syndrome"- clean bathrooms just make everyone happy. The restrooms are big, strategically located, and have mini sinks for great hygiene practice. Did I mention, they are REALLY clean? Gotta love it.
Our Membership Paid for Itself in Two Days!
Don't pay full price.
This park always has some kind of deal. Just Google "Legoland Discounts". We have always found some kind of "Buy One Get One Free" deal.
Ticket and Membership Information
Go ahead and read the small print. You'll save big bucks.
Some memberships include discounts on food and parking. Depending on your stay and number of people in your group, a membership might save a bunch of money. Also, if you are staying at the Legoland Hotel or an adjacent resort, you might receive an