Just a hop, skip and a jump from San Diego in beautiful Carlsbad, LEGOLAND California is a budding brick-builder's paradise. The whole park is themed around the colorful LEGO bricks, which you'll find oversized on rides, pieced together for fantastic photo ops and assembled in models throughout the park, as well as the entire section of Miniland, which offers LEGO reproductions of seven areas of the United States. That's 20 million LEGO bricks in that one section alone!
If you're always stepping on stray LEGOs around the house, then you already know this is a place you should go. But even if your little ones aren't yet hardcore LEGO devotees, they will still have a blast because everything in the park is geared for ages 2-12. The park is the ultimate little playground, but it can get very crowded, especially during the summer months. We've put together these LEGOLAND California tips so that you can make the most of your day in the park. Now, we are talking about making the most of your time, but be prepared for your kids to find at least one place in the park they love and don't want to leave, such as the Land of Adventure. Let them go at their own pace and enjoy the sights and attractions! You can always come back a second day.
Our Top LEGOLAND California Tips to Make the Most of Your Time
1. Buy your tickets in advance.
You will save money and time if you purchase your tickets in advance, since you can find great discounts and you won't have to stand in line at Will Call. If you want to park hop into the water park and/or the Sea Life Aquarium, purchase a park hopper ticket in advance to save money and time compared to adding them on at the gate.
2. Pick the best times to visit.
LEGOLAND California is busiest during the summer time and the holidays. Basically, whenever the kids are out of school, you can expect major crowds. At off-peak times, the crowds are usually not bad at all. LEGOLAND turns 20 in 2019! If you are able to visit during your tadpole’s birthday now through December 31, 2019, kids turning 3-12 get free admission on their birthday this year. Be sure to bring a birth certificate or passport with you.
3. Stay on-site.
The LEGOLAND Hotel is just as well-themed as the park, and it's located right there inside the resort. It offers fantastically themed rooms (Ninjago! Adventure! Kingdom! Pirates! LEGO Friends!), plenty of hands-on LEGO activities and a zero-entry heated pool for year-round play. Plus, hotel guests get early admission into the park! You can get a jump on savings and book through Undercover Tourist for as low as $191 a night.
4. Measure up the little ones before you hit the park.
All of the rides in the park are geared toward tadpoles between 2 and 12 years old, but more than half of the attractions have height requirements of some kind. It helps to know in advance which rides your little one will be able to ride, and especially which ones they will be able to ride without a grownup. Also know that a handful of rides — Junior Driving School, Driving School, Knights' Tournament, LEGO Technic Coaster, Bionicle Blaster, Cargo Ace and Lego Mindstorms — have age requirements.
5. Pack an extra set of clothes or have the kids wear their bathing suits.
Even if you aren't headed to the water park, there are a few splash and play areas. If you have little ones who love to play in the water, but don't like walking around soggy, you'll want something they can change into. You can find the most inexpensive lockers in the park, as well as dryers, at Pirate Shores.
6. Bring your own water and snacks.
Coolers are not allowed, but guests can bring in their own water, small snacks and any food or beverages required for specific dietary needs.
7. Go early!
The early bird gets the LEGO! The turnstiles open a half hour to an hour ahead of the park's opening depending on the season, with select rides open early. For the lowest crowds, arrive ahead of the park's opening and you'll be in in no time.
8. Head to the water park early.
You'll avoid the biggest lines to get into LEGOLAND California's Water Park if you arrive before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. The Water Park opens mid-March in time for Spring Break and runs through early November. It may be open weekends only during the school year except for breaks.
9. Download the LEGOLAND California app.
You can use the app to check wait times (that feature only works once you’ve entered the park), order food to skip the lines, make dinner reservations at hotel restaurants, purchase Reserve ‘n’ Ride and get more LEGOLAND California tips and information.
10. Consider using Reserve ‘n’ Ride to skip the lines.
If you find yourself at LEGOLAND and it’s busier than you’d hoped, you might consider getting Reserve ‘n’ Ride to shorten your wait times. You can use their handheld device to make ride selections or use your phone for the mobile option. There are different levels of Reserve ‘n’ Ride that vary in price and benefits — basically, the more you pay, the shorter the wait. Online prices may vary from walk-up prices.
11. Start in the back.
If you arrive early, start in the back of the park and work your way back to the front. Lines build early for Coastersaurus, Safari Trek and Fairy Tale Brook, but there is usually less of a wait in the afternoon.
12. Don't skip the aquarium!
LEGOLAND California is home to the Sea Life Aquarium, where you can see jellyfish, rays, sharks and octopuses up close! There is a touch pool for little hands to reach out and touch sea stars and crabs, and feeding times are posted so you can watch and learn from the animal experts.
13. Parent Swap.
If you have tadpoles with you who do not meet the height requirements for a ride that the parents can ride, you can all wait in line together and when you reach the front, let the operator know you want to do Parent Swap. The first parent will ride with an older child while the other parent waits with the other child, and then the parents will, well, swap!
14. Use Package Pick-Up.
We all know how big and bulky some of those LEGO boxes can be. Even though there are many stores at the front of the park where you can souvenir shop before exiting, if you find that perfect item elsewhere in the park, you can use Package Pick-Up service to send your items to the exit so you can pick it up on your way home without having to schlep it through the park.
15. Sign up early for LEGO Mindstorms lab.
If you have froglets 9 and older who want to build a programmable robot, you can make a reservation in the Imagination Zone. Be sure to sign up as early as possible as spaces are limited. The lab may not always be available due to school groups.
For your little ones, you can't go wrong with a visit to LEGOLAND California! We hope you've enjoyed our LEGOLAND California tips to help you make the most of your time at the park. Have a tip we didn't mention? Share it in comments below!