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. You'll find bricks pieced together for fantastic photo-ops, assembled in models throughout the park and oversized LEGO bricks on rides. Miniland 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 the park is geared for ages 2 to 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 or the new LEGO Movie World. With thrills, bricks, characters, climbing structures, water play and yummy treats, why would they ever want to leave? Let them go at their own pace and enjoy the sights and attractions! You can always come back a second day.
LEGOLAND California Tips for an Awesome Trip
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. In fact, during the LEGOLAND California reopening period, you'll need to purchase in advance and make a reservation to visit. When you purchase through Undercover Tourist, you will select your date to visit before purchasing. If you want to park hop into the water park and/or the Sea Life Aquarium, definitely 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 summertime 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. Check out our Crowd Calendar to see a day-by-day breakdown of park hours and anticipated crowd levels! Of course, with a reservation system in place, the park capacity is managed so that you will not likely encounter huge crowds at this time.
3. Stay on-site.
LEGOLAND has two on-site hotels. 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. The LEGOLAND Castle Hotel has exciting room themes such as Knights & Dragons, Royal Princess or Magic Wizard. It also has a zero-entry pool and water features. Plus, all hotel guests get early admission into the park! You can get a jump on savings and book through Undercover Tourist.
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 grown-up. Also, know that a handful of rides — Emmet's Flying Adventure Ride, Junior Driving School, Driving School, Knights' Tournament, LEGO Technic Coaster, Bionicle Blaster, Cargo Ace and Lego Mindstorms — have age requirements. Hop over to our hopful guide to LEGOLAND height 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. We like saving money on snacks for little ones.
7. Try the Food.
Of course, we also love the locally sourced food at LEGOLAND. Did you know LEGOLAND makes its own pasta fresh every day? And we also leap with joy for options you don't normally find in other theme parks such as ramen, apple fries and crepes. Don't worry, LEGOLAND has all the kid favorites for even the pickiest eaters too!
8. 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.
9. Head to the water park early.
You can 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 usually 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. Note that hors may vary and experiences may be limited duirng the reopening period.
10. Download the LEGOLAND California app.
You can use the app to check wait times (that feature only works once you’ve entered the park), make dinner reservations at hotel restaurants, purchase Reserve ‘n’ Ride and get more LEGOLAND California tips and information.
11. 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 LEGOLAND's 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.
12. Never Underestimate the Thrill of Free Play
We parents all feel the need to press on when in a theme park, but we are giving you permission to just accept a slower pace and let your tadpoles take the lead at LEGOLAND. A toddler can spend a really long time in DUPLO Play Area. Your older LEGO fan will be in brick heaven at Build & Test and other building experiences (such as the all-new Build Whatevra You Wa'Na Build zone). Let them play and build until they have had their fill before pushing them to move on. This is toadally one of the Legoland California tips our kids agree on.
13. Start in the back.
If you arrive early, start in the back or right side of the park and work your way back to the front. Lines build early for LEGO Movie World rides, but there is usually less of a wait in the afternoon.
14. 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.
15. Parent Swap.
If you have tadpoles with you who do not meet the height requirements for a ride that you 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!
16. 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.
17. 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 MINDSTORMS building on the right (in Imagination Zone). Be sure to sign up as early as possible, as spaces are limited.
18. Push those buttons!
When you are in Miniland U.S.A., you may notice some buttons about toddler height. Push them to make things move or to create sound. So fun! Lily cannot get enough of exploring Miniland.
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!