Everyone who loves theme parks or amusement parks has a favorite park. You may enjoy many different parks or want to get out into the world and see new ones when you can, but many of us probably find ourselves returning to our favorite spot again and again. For me, this place is Disneyland Resort.
But I do cover theme parks for a livingso when I had a few days to myself recently, I decided to take the opportunity to visit a different place: Legoland California Resort. I hadn’t been there for years and had never been there with children or made it the focus of my vacation, only an “extra day”.
When I went there last week, I learned several very interesting things, apart from the fact that some of the Legoland rides gave off strong Disneyland vibes. Some of what surprised me was good, some was less so, but all of this will probably come in handy if you’re planning on going there yourself soon.
Legoland hotels are incredibly convenient, even more so than Disneyland
While many theme parks have their own hotels, the fact is that I very rarely pay to stay there. To use the aforementioned Disneyland Resort as an example, while the the on-site hotels, like the Grand Californian Resort & Spa, are amazing, there are other places to stay within walking distance that are cheaper, so it’s hard to justify the cost. Many are in fact closer to the parks than two of the three Disney Resorts.
Legoland has two hotels: the Legoland California Hotel and the Legoland Castle Hotel, where I stayed. They are, of course, a bit pricey, just like most theme park hotels. However, since there aren’t many other hotels just outside the park gate, staying there is much more worthwhile. They are also both literally steps from the park gate. You can leave your room and be inside Legoland in less than five minutes, or if you have a tired child later in the day, do the opposite. This makes it much easier to travel between the park and the hotel and actually use your expensive hotel.
Free breakfast requires reservations
If you book a room at one of the hotels, one of the coolest perks is that you won’t have to pay for breakfast. Like many hotels, although unlike many others that cost this much, breakfast is included with your stay each morning. It’s a standard breakfast buffet and nothing impressive, but who says no to free food?
That said, be aware that if you’re expecting to drop by and eat, it won’t work. Although the meal is free, you still need to make reservations like any popular restaurant. Reservations are also required for lunch and dinner.
It’s just for crowd control; Obviously you don’t want to show up and wait for a table, but I didn’t discover the need to book until I read the hotel information on my room TV. I’m sure this information was available when I booked the room, but it wasn’t prominent enough for me to notice. Fortunately, reserving a table even the day before was not a problem.
Early access to the park is limited and annoying, but still useful
One of the other perks of staying at a Legoland California hotel is that you get early access to the park. While the website said you had 30 minutes early access when I booked, when I was there we had a full hour. However, what the website doesn’t say ahead of time is that early access is limited to the front portion of the park, and most of it is still locked until standard opening. So if you wanted to ride the Dragon Coaster or the LEGO Technic Coaster early on, you’re out of luck.
Anyone with valid Legoland tickets can enter through the main gate even in the early hours of the day, so to access the attractions you must show that you are a hotel guest. If you’ve already checked in, that just means flashing your room key, which is easy. If, however, you are going to the park on the first day of your trip, especially in the morning before you plan to check in, that means you need to have your hotel confirmation with you. I had to search through my emails on my phone to find proof. Print it or prepare it on your phone to save time.
Still, once you have access to the attractions, having that extra hour helps. Even the limited park access gave us the chance to ride both LEGO Ninjago: The Ride and the Coastersaurus with little to no wait. Both rides tended to have some of the longest wait times on the days we were there, so eliminating them early helped manage time.
There are three different options for skipping lines, and you probably don’t need them
Much has been said about the different options that different theme parks have to save time in line. Almost all of them cost money, with Disney’s Genie+ replaces free FastPass, one of the last free options. But Legoland California is going a little wild with the idea, because its Reserve and ride The option is actually three different options with three different price points. It claims it will save you 25% of your time for $35 per person, 50% of your time for $55 per person, or give you your “near instant access” for $99 per person.
Thing is, I’m not sure you really need it. There are only a handful of rides that tend to have wait times over 30 minutes, even at the busiest times of the year, and two of those are the Ninjago Ride and Coastersaurus that I mentioned earlier.
On our main day at the park, we met these two during early access to the hotel. Then we were ready to enter LEGO Movie Land when the park fully opened, and we were closer to it due to hotel access. We went straight to the queue for Emmett’s Flying Adventure. With that eliminated, most rides that tend to have longer waits. Even if you end up in a few long lines, it’s nothing compared to what the lines at Disneyland can do.
Children can do many things by themselves
Legoland California is designed to be a family theme park. The most intense thrill ride you’ll find pales in comparison to your average roller coaster. It’s meant to be a place where adults and children ride together, but it’s also a place where even small children can be independent.
My daughter is five years old and just over 42 inches tall, and while she was old enough and tall enough to do anything in the park (at least with me), she was also old enough and tall enough to do a lot of things alone. One tour, the Royal Joust, is forbidden to everyone older over 12 years old, so only children can ride it. Another simple but fun ride, the Cargo Ace, seats about four people, but she wanted to do it alone, and she could. It’s a great place for kids to have fun in a theme park without the need for adults to be too close.
For the most part, Legoland California Resort won’t surprise too many people who have visited a theme park before. But every theme park works a little differently, and these are just a few of the nuances of how that park works that might help you navigate it on your first trip, and it’s a trip well worth it. sadness.