aquazone2All summer, my 15-year-old daughter, Megan, asked me to bring her and her BFF to LEGOLAND in Carlsbad (barring traffic, about a two-hour drive from L.A.). We hadn’t been there in a few years, so we went to see what’s new at the park, which has apparently grown right along with my three kids.

Young children may be LEGOLAND’s target audience but teens Megan and Kristin give the park’s rides and new attractions a thumbs up. The onsite, recently opened LEGOLAND Water Park (separate admission required) is squeaky clean and has several fun slides (including a family tube slide), a water play area and two sandy beaches. Our favorite: Build-A-Raft River. Customize your (free) raft with soft Lego bricks as you float along the lazy river (nice water temp!). Kids and parents of all ages flocked to this ride. Fortunately, the line moved quickly.

18475-sealifer1While I soaked up sun, the girls ran back to the main park to enjoy their favorite rides over and over. Their top picks: Knights’ Tournament (where they dangled upside down), The Dragon (our all-time favorite), Lost Kingdom Adventure (an interactive ride), LEGO TECHNIC Coaster and AQUAZONE Wave Racers. Guess I’m still a kid at heart because I couldn’t resist joining them for a few spins myself. But we didn’t need an adrenaline rush to make us happy. We also enjoyed the classic Sky Cruisers and Skipper School in Fun Town.

We worked our way around the park to SEA LIFE Aquarium (separate admission required), located near the entrance. I was pleasantly surprised that the girls were immersed in the interactive exhibits, habitats and touch tanks. But no wonder. The cleverly designed tanks allow visitors to feel like they are standing inside with the fish. Megan and Kristin knelt under windows carved into the tanks for close-up views of the fish.

18475-waterparkWe had such a good time together that my older kids said they can’t wait to visit the expanded LEGOLAND. I’m game to go since we didn’t see everything. The Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Xbox 360 videogame also made its debut this summer in the Xbox 360 Family GameSpace, located in the Imagination Zone. Recommended ages: 10 and older.

Time saving tips: Arrive when the park opens; from the entrance, walk counter-clockwise.  On the day we went, the park seemed noticeably less crowded by mid-to-late afternoon (naptime for tots). Now’s the time to hoof it to popular rides (see Megan and Kristin’s top picks above).

Ticket prices vary, depending on how much of the park you plan to visit. To see it all, buy a hopper ticket – well worth it, especially if you haven’t seen the water park and aquarium. Online specials offer two-day hopper tickets for one price; $87 adults, $77 kids. For information, visit www.legoland.com. For more travel stories and tips, follow Los Angeles Traveling Mom on Twitter @mimitravelz.