legolandLuckily, our 10-year old had no idea that LEGOLAND was voted the Best Children’s Park for the 3rd year in a row by trade magazine, Amusement Today.  As a pre- pre-teen who is too cautious to venture on most carnival rides, he had a great time at LEGOLAND and left there, pride in tact.

At the end of our trip to California this year, we spent two nights in Carlsbad to visit LEGOLAND.  We stayed at the Inns of America Suites, which I would not recommend.  I tried to get a suite at a luxury hotel in the area (Grand Pacific Palisades and La Costa Resort were high on my list) but they were booked.  Our loss. 

 We suffered through a very arrogant front desk clerk (more than once), and the rooms were very unspectacular.  We booked the room through the LEGOLAND travel company, which I think was a mistake.  I had asked for a 2 bedroom suite and what we got was a 2 room suite (one bedroom, 2 beds).  When I asked our friend at the front desk how much the room cost (to see if we could figure out where the mistake was), she said I should know that and she could not help me since the reservation was made through the agency.  It was late when we arrived, and we were hungry.  She told us that there was no place to eat within 2miles; she wouldn’t give directions unless we went down to the front desk and that the only place that delivered was Domino’s (another fiasco).  In Carlsbad, we did not find any of the relaxed-happy-to-help-you attitude we usually experience in California.  We did, however, enjoy LEGOLAND.  It is clean, geared for younger kids and feels safe.

All of the CA amusement parks will set you back a few hundred dollars when you travel with a family of 5.  However, there are always various “deals” that can save you money.  The best one for LEGOLAND is a AAA membership.  We saved $10 per ticket and we did not have to scour the town for coupons.

The rides are for kids ages 2-12 (12 might be a stretch).  My 10 year old is not the adventurous amusement park type so LEGOLAND suited him fine.  My 6 & 8- year olds, who will ride anything (the faster the better), also enjoyed the park, especially the Volvo Driving School where kids learn the rules of the road and finish with a Volvo driver’s license.  There were plenty of water rides, shows, a couple of roller coasters, lots of LEGO stations and family bathrooms.  If your kids like to get wet, pack a swimsuit – you’ll get plenty of use out of it!  I noticed a lot of attention to safety by all of the employees.  Getting on and off rides took a bit longer but it was worth it.

I especially liked the kiddie play areas set up in the waiting lines.  We waited as long as 45 minutes for some of the 2 minute rides but there was usually something to do or see while in line.  Volvo had a very cool SUV parked in the Volvo Driving School waiting line, accompanied by a safety video that you naturally watched (over and over) to pass the time.

A favorite attraction for the whole family was Miniland USA with miniature landmarks from New York City, San Francisco, Southern California, Florida and Washington DC built with standard LEGO pieces.  It stretched our ideas of LEGO building possibilities.

Another discovery was The Hideaways, a three-level play structure tucked back in the knights-themed corner of the park. Full of rope bridges, ladders, slides and hidey holes, it was a great energy-burner – useful in particular for kids who are mobile, but too little for the more exciting rides.

An interesting feature for moms with kids 4 and under:  Model Mom Club.  It is designed  to provide a gathering place for parents of young children.  It is weekly activity group that explores a variety of child development themes and offers support including interactive play, fitness programs and child specialist chats that address specific challenges for children and their caregivers.

Moms, Dads, Grandparents and caregivers with children 4-years of age and under qualify to purchase a $57.00 Model Mom Pass, a special one-year pass to LEGOLAND California valid only on Thursdays.  An official birth certificate to prove the child’s age is required at the time of purchase.  Children ages 3 and 4 will need a standard season pass or one-day ticket for admission.  Children 2 and under get in free to LEGOLAND every day the park is open.

I think I could squeeze one more visit out of my 10- year- old, maybe to try out the beginner roller coasters, but my 2 younger kids definitely have a couple of years left to enjoy here.