LEGOLAND California has a lot to offer children under 12, but there are several cornerstones, “bricks” so to speak, that go into building a perfect day at LEGOLAND. Whether you are entertaining an 8- to 12-year-old or a toddler or preschooler in the park, knowing when to arrive, what to bring and the right touring plan can make your magical day seem effortless.
Tips for the Perfect Day at LEGOLAND California
This is true for any amusement park. Hotel guests get early access to the park, which can be huge in getting that most popular ride out of the way and getting a head start on your fun. But even if you stay off property, you can enter the turnstile 30 minutes early and walk part way in the general direction of your first attractions. Once they open the park you will be hitting several rides with no lines in the first 30 to 60 minutes of the park opening.
Make a Plan
Determine what rides or attractions are the most important to your family. If your kids are older, they may be most interested in the coasters and larger thrill rides, which are mostly to the right and back of the park once you enter the gates. Smaller children will find more excitement that is the right size and speed for them to the left. The new LEGO Movie World is to the left (and has something for everyone). Remain flexible if your kids discover other fun things to do along the way, because there really are a lot of extra things to explore like playground areas, LEGO and DUPLO building areas, LEGO creations, and photo opportunities throughout the park.
Chances are that your tadpole's age and height will be a determining factor in what attractions they can ride. We have a hopful post on LEGOLAND height requirements so you can plan. It also covers Parent Swap in case you have kids of varying ages and heights. With Parent Swap, your whole family can wait together, but when you reach the front of the line, just inform the ride operator that you want to use Parent Swap. When the first riders' turn ends, the parents may switch places and then the other parent can ride with the older child. That saves your family from waiting in line twice, and your older kid may get to ride twice!
Bring a Swim Suit and Towel
The water park (which requires an additional ticket) is open some weekends in cooler months and more often in hotter seasons—check the calendar. But even if you do not plan to hit the water park, there are many water play areas (such as Pirate Shores and LEGO Movie World) where your tadpoles will have an amazing time splashing about. Plus, you can wear swimsuits on some of the water rides that are guaranteed to soak you. There are changing rooms and family-size dryers outside of Pirate Shores. If you forget your suit or towel, they sell almost everything you could ever need for water play in the park.
You can access the LEGOLAND Water Park from inside the LEGOLAND theme park. You'll need a hopper ticket to enter. You can save and time money by purchasing a LEGOLAND hopper ticket in advance.
Our LEGOLAND California Touring Plan for Older and More Daring Kids
If your kids like thrills, then we recommend heading to the right toward LEGO Technic: Project X first, then Knight’s Tournament and the Dragon. The Lost Kingdom Adventure is slow moving but will thrill sharp shooters who enjoy aiming at targets. Back track to Bionicle Blaster and Aquazone Wave Racer. If your froglets like water rides and the weather allows, you might have them hike up through Miniland USA and toward Pirate Shores and Pirate Reef where they can change into swimsuits and play in the water, hit the Pirate Reef Big Wave Ride, and go to war with the land-loving guests aiming sprayers at boats in Splash Battle.
Kids 13 and under can earn their driver’s license at Driving School, test their climbing strength at Kid’s Power Towers, and go for a ride on a flying couch on Emmet's Flying Adventure Ride in LEGO Movie World then and check out Coastersaurus. After all these activities the lines will be at their peak, so set your kids free in several of the LEGO-building areas throughout the park (such as the Build and Test Area in Imagination Zone). This is a great time to sit down, take a rest and let them create. Your family may also enjoy playing together at the Xbox WB Games Family GameSpace. Plus, you know the kids won’t let you out of the park without at least walking through the Big Shop Gift Store.
Our LEGOLAND California Touring Plan for Younger Guests
If you have toddlers and preschoolers, head to your left when you enter the park. Your little ones will enjoy gentle rides such as Fairy Tale Brook, a boat ride where they can point out the fairy tale scenes, and they will love to help you scout out LEGO animals on Safari Trek. Stop and play at the DUPLO playground area (don’t miss the mini train ride) and take a ride on a pony at Mia’s Riding Camp at the Heartlake Stables Carousal. The Duplo Splash Safari water area is a fun and gentler way to cool off on a hot day than the more intense Pirate Shores, although the Pirate Shores area has a splash zone that is safe for little ones too. Pirate Shores has more action and is definitely better for families with different age groups to entertain.
Kids as young as 3 to 5 can earn their drivers license at Junior Driving School and hop in a rescue vehicle at Sky Patrol. They will enjoy setting sail at Skipper School, where they can drive a boat and also play with large LEGO bricks. The line at Skipper School is shortest early in the day and at the end of the day. Be sure to take a photo in the LEGO shark’s mouth!
Over at the Royal Joust, your little one can ride a LEGO horse, and he or she will enjoy flying in a plane at Cargo Ace, but many of the rides on that side of the park are geared toward older kids. There are some LEGO building areas for all ages on that side as well plus The Hideaways playground. On your way back to the entrance, you can take a boat ride on Coast Cruise and visit Miniland, where kids can build a LEGO boat and send it downstream. Look for other DUPLO play areas around the park. If you have time, take your budding archeologists to dig for fossils in sand pits at Dino Island.
If you have tadpoles of multiple ages as so many of us do, ask about Parent Swap and take advantage of the many LEGO play areas adjacent to most lines, where you can entertain a little one, while a bigger kid rides. There are so many more things to do at LEGOLAND California, but if you hit these highlights you will leave feeling like you accomplished quite a lot in your day.
See a Show
With a toddler and a tween, we did not have time to see a live show, but you can check the schedule for the shows, meet and greets, and demonstrations in the park. There is a 4D Chima movie experience as well as a LEGO Movie experience that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at making the movie.
Depending on the season you visit there may be more or fewer attractions open. Our family loves to participate in the Fire Rescue in Fun Town Police and Fire Academy when it's open because it is toadally worth putting the family to the test.
If you are visiting near a holiday and wait times are more than you can stand, you can pay extra to reserve ride times with Reserve ‘N’ Ride. There are different packages that range in price. If you arrive early and hit your favorite rides first you should not feel the need to pay more money.
Keep in mind that following a touring plan, while remaining flexible and being prepared for water fun, is the best blueprint for helping your family build some “hoppy” family memories at LEGOLAND California. If you are in the San Diego area, be sure to check out SeaWorld San Diego, which also provides some water-based fun as well as more hands-on exhibits and activities for kids.