Located in Carlsbad, California in San Diego county, LEGOLAND California is a destination all on its own! With a hotel on property (and another being built) along with a theme park, aquarium and water park, there’s enough here to build several days of fun. Our Day Trips Traveling Mom shares why you should consider LEGOLAND California as more than just a day trip park.
Visit LEGOLAND California for More Than a Day
As a San Diego local and the Day Trips TravelingMom, I have always taken on LEGOLAND California one day at a time. However, there have been recent expansions and more additions in the works. This means there’s more to do than ever at this resort! From the LEGOLAND Hotel, water park, Sea Life Aquarium and special holiday events, find out why I think you should plan several days exploring. Here’s how to build your own LEGO adventure!
1. Ninjago World
With the release of the LEGO Ninjago Movie, all kids will want to head straight for the immersive Ninjago World. There’s a rock climbing wall, spinners and a lightning fast drill to test reflexes. LEGO Ninjago The Ride allows guests to use Maestro hand gesture technology to control the 4D scenes. You’ll virtually throw fire balls, shock waves, ice and lightning to defeat villains in each scene.
TravelingMom Tip: LEGO Ninjago The Ride often posts a wait time over an hour. This should be your first attraction of the day. Or considering purchasing the Reserve ‘N’ Ride upgrade to significantly reduce the amount of wait time.
2. LEGOLAND California Water Park
There’s a lot to love about this expansive and fun filled water park! There’s about a hundred ways to get wet here, with play areas that satisfy everyone from the toddler to grandma. While my big kids twist down the Twin Chasers slide, I take my toddler to the Splash Zoo. And we all love floating on the Build-a-Raft River.
The water park is so large and has many different sections to explore. My family spends a few hours at each spot and then moves to a new location. Keep in mind that lounge chairs can be difficult to find, especially mid-day. But who needs a lounge chair where there’s so much water park to experience!
I say, rent a locker for the day and store your stuff inside. Then only grab a seat when you need to eat. There are several dining locations with seating available for diners. The tacos at Beach Street Tacos in the Surfers’ Cove area are authentically delicious!
To get to the water park, you’ll need to walk through LEGOLAND to the back of the Park. Unfortunately you can’t just visit the water park. The only entrance is inside LEGOLAND, so you’ll need a LEGOLAND Park ticket with a water park upgrade to get in. The water park does get extremely busy during the summer months.
TravelingMom Tip: Before you pack your swimsuit, be sure to check the LEGOLAND water park schedule to confirm that they’ll be open on the day of your visit. The water park is closed in the off-season and has limited weekend-only openings outside of summer.
3. Unique and Delicious Dining
There’s no reason to leave the park for a meal, as LEGOLAND California offers guests a great variety. As a theme-park regular, I appreciate when parks like LEGOLAND California go above and beyond to offer fresh and healthy alternatives to the usual fare. You can find items on the dining menus like Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwiches on steamed Bao Buns in Ninjago World. The Caprese Panini on whole grain wheat berry bread is the signature sandwich at the Garden Restaurant.
The Japanese-style stir-fry at Wok N Bowl Ramen was big enough for me to share with my kids. Of course, they do have locations with the usual burgers, nuggets and pizza.
And for a sweet treat don’t miss Granny’s Apple Fries served with whipped cream. At the Fun Town Urban Kitchen, guests can customize shake recipes at the Create-a-Shake counter. Or indulge in a Nutella crepe in LEGO Friends Heartlake City.
4. LEGOLAND California Brick-or-Treat Party Nights
This Halloween-themed special nighttime event is a LEGOLAND California tradition. My family and I have been attending for 9 years and the celebration just gets bigger each year. Dress in costume and trick-or-treat around the Park. Select rides and attractions are open for the event and there are special Halloween-themed shows. There is a costume contest with LEGO prizes as well. Brick-or-Treat Party Nights is a hard ticket event and requires a separate admission.
TravelingMom Tip: The Park is almost always at capacity during this nighttime event. Plan your evening by eating dinner before the party. Schedule what rides and attractions are can’t miss between trick-or-treating.
5. Sea Life Aquarium
LEGO touches are seen throughout the 14 kid-friendly interactive zones at the Sea Life Aquarium. This aquarium is particularly geared to preschoolers or younger elementary ages (see this TravelingMom post about taking preschoolers to LEGOLAND for more information). Kids will like the domes where they can literally pop their head into the tanks! I like that there are windows down low for little ones to peek into the tanks so I’m not constantly lifting my toddler to see the fish. Check the schedule to plan your visit during a live talk or feeding.
Visitors may choose to purchase a ticket for the Sea Life Aquarium only. Or purchase a combo ticket that allows entry to LEGOLAND California as well. Allow about 60-90 minutes to properly explore the aquarium. Note that the only restroom is located at the end of the aquarium. You’ll have to walk all the way through each exhibit to get to it!
TravelingMom Tip: During summertime and other peak times of the year, strollers are not allowed inside the Sea Life Aquarium. If you have a baby with you, consider bringing a front carrier.
6. The “Rainy Day Promise”
Hoping that spring showers don’t rain on your LEGO day? While it’s usually sunny in San Diego, it does still rain on occasion. The “Rainy Day Promise” goes into effect if inclement weather closes a portion of the attractions for longer than 2 hours. All paid guests already in the Park can return later in the season. If you’re staying on-site, retreat back to the hotel for scheduled activities indoors.
7. LEGOLAND Resort Hotel
Wanting to indulge in the full LEGO experience? The LEGOLAND Resort Hotel is just steps away from the front entrance! The themed rooms (Adventure, Pirate, Kingdom and LEGO Friends) now feature Ninjago as well. Each room includes a collection of LEGO bricks to build with at your leisure.
Complimentary breakfast buffet is included with your overnight stay. Check the hotel entertainment guide to learn more about LEGO building competitions, character meetings, and a pajama dance party. This hotel is regularly booked to capacity so be sure to get your reservation far in advance, especially during busier seasons.
8. Holidays at LEGOLAND
The season comes to life during the Holidays at LEGOLAND event. “Snow” falls nightly in Heartlake City. Guests can enjoy a photo op with LEGO brick Santa and his reindeer under a whimsical LEGO Christmas tree!
During the LEGOLAND Kids’ New Years Eve, families can celebrate at a time-sensitive 6 p.m. There’s a replica of the Times Square ball drop (in LEGO form, of course!). Included are complimentary party hats, fireworks and special glasses for viewing the pyrotechnics.
9. LEGOLAND Expansions
LEGO Star Wars Miniland welcomed a new addition earlier this year. The 16-foot long LEGO Star Destroyer Finalizer from LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens is another brick buster in this area.
The LEGOLAND Castle Hotel is coming as well, slated to open in Spring 2018. The fully themed 250-room hotel will immerse guests into a world of knights, dragons, princesses and wizards! And the hotel pool area will feature fountains, slides and play features.
News has just been released about the LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride, expected to open next summer. This true underwater adventure will feature 2,000 real sea animals, including marine tropical fish, several species of stingrays and a variety of exotic sharks.
10. Magic Memories Made at LEGOLAND
Do you love to buy theme park photos? You know the ones, like this one I have of my son riding Technic Coaster. It was his first time and this expression tells the story, doesn’t it? You can’t take these ride photos yourself so it’s great to be able to purchase these on the Magic Memories unlimited digital photo pass at LEGOLAND.
A single day Unlimited Digital Photo Pass costs around $35. One adult in each party is given a wristband that allows you to “upload” digital images from each of the participating attractions onto your account. Don’t forget to upload at the screens after the rides!
My son has always wanted to buy one of these LEGOLAND Driving School licenses, laminated with his name and picture. He has proudly been wearing it everywhere! Unfortunately on the day of our visit the LEGO Brick Wall photo printer wasn’t working. This turns one of your day’s photos into a LEGO brick mosaic. The Model Citizen (employee) said they would be able to order and ship it to me once the machine was working again.
I’d highly recommend purchasing the unlimited digital photo pass for your LEGOLAND California visit. Simply purchase online and then pick up your wristband at photo services inside the Park. After you’ve been visiting all day, taking photos and scanning your wristbands, stop by photo services again to redeem and purchase the photo products with your chosen images.