Ok, Tom fell asleep at 8:30 last night, and I wasn't long for the world after him. Seven hours at Legoland on a gorgeously sunny day will take you down, people. Awesomely but truly. Forewarned is forearmed. As such, I'm gonna recap our wonderful visit with a bunch of tips that helped us max out the experience in the most strategic way possible. Tips
- Don't buy your admission tickets in advance! Rather, if you're in the area a while before you go, look for coupons (McDonald's, local PTA groups, etc) or if you have friends or family nearby, have them do that for you. Amy scored us two fabulous BOGO coupons, so we saved a full HALF off the rack rate ticket price. Huge! Also, you can go in and out of the park during the day if you wish. Just be sure to get your hand stamped before leaving the first time.
- On a related note, do arrive early, like right when the gates open at 9. Not only will you get a great parking spot in the regular rate lot ($15 versus the $25 preferred lot which is literally next to it), but also you'll be able to walk around, familiarizing yourself with the park in person and getting in line at the first area/ride in which you're interested.
- On that note, it's worth looking at a Legoland map online before you go to plan out which areas you most want to visit. You can do the whole park in a day (excluding the Waterpark and the Aquarium), but you will tire towards the end, so it's good to have a strategy of sorts.
- Everyone who works at Legoland is SO nice so don't hesitate to ask for assistance or guidance at any time. If you don't see an employee, you can email or text: Help@LEGOLAND.com and someone will come assist you. Also, you'll notice that park employees wear minifigures on their nametags. If you buy a minifigure ($3.49) in one of the gift shops, you can, if you're not thrilled with yours, ask any employee whose minifigure you like to switch with you. This is fun for the kids and hey, what a great way to practice observation skills. There are also minifigure trading stations throughout the park.
- You can bring in your own food and drinks (though no coolers). I recommend doing this because the Legoland food is overpriced and not very good. At least bring a big water bottle, some snacks and some wet wipes or the like. You'll be glad you did.
- Bring: sunglasses; sunscreen; sunhats or caps for the kiddos (I hate hats but if you like wearing them, it's not a bad idea at the park); and a camera.
- Wear: comfortable, sweat/water-resistant clothing that breathes well AND is easy enough to remove so that you can quickly pee if need be. No one wants to spend time in a crowded bathroom, mashed in a tiny small, trying to get a onesie or some bizarrely fastened outfit off, of yourself or your kids.
- In the Imagination Zone, the Lego Mindstorms exhibit offers a daily class. I think it's called Master Tutorial or something like that; they run about 45 minutes. Anyway, you have to sign up (which is all the more reason to go to the park early) and you have to be in 3rd grade and/or 9 years old (we enthusiastically white-lied about this with Jack since he's been Lego engineering for 80% of his life; hey, in this calendar year he'll be in 3rd grade). Jack and Tom enrolled in yesterday's class which involved programming robots. Each team got a computer and a robot and had to program the bot to retrieve the treasure from a clamshell. There were obstacles and traps all along the way. Both T and J raved about the class as one of the best parts of the day.
- Lego Technic Coaster
- Aquazone Wave Racers
Land of Adventure
- Beetle Bounce (this is so much fun)
- Lost Kingdom Adventure (family laser tag while riding in a car through a "kingdom")
- Pharoah's Revenge (for kids 12 and under; think clean and cooler Chuck E Cheese: plastic balls; cannons; stairs; tubes; generalized mayhem)
- Dune Raiders (you get a big chunk of cloth and race down wavy slides)
- Fun Town Police and Fire Academy (great family activity; you get in a fire truck and must pump and steer to drive your truck down to a "burning building." Then you have to work together to put out a fire, get back in your truck and pump and steer back. The pumping really takes some elbow grease so get ready and enjoy your cardio.
- We were on our way to the Sky Cruiser (you pedal cars around a track well above ground) when it encountered technical difficulties. This ride looked neat and I wish we'd gotten to do it.
Castle Hill was OK. I wanted to ride The Dragon coaster but no one wanted to wait in line. CH is good for smaller kids. The Joust was cute but the kids wouldn't have done it twice.
We did not do Dino Island or Duplo Village as the kids have always had an odd aversion to Duplo blocks. Pirate Shores looked fun but you're definitely going to get wet (there are family dryers which are hilarious to watch; $5) and we didn't feel like it.
Do Not Miss
Miniland USA is so extremely cool! In addition to an extensive, mind-boggling complex and cool Star Wars miniland (complete with all the major battle scenes or locales -Hoth, Naboo, Endor, etc- there are also many of the most popular SW characters. Then you've got an enormous array of "towns" to walk through and famous icons to see; NYC; Las Vegas; New Orleans; DC; the Taj Mahal; the Sydney Opera House... They're really magnificent, have incredible detail, moving parts, sounds, etc. We spent a lot of time in Miniland!
The gift shop Legos are NOT marked up so if you or your child really loves one, don't fear you're being ripped off. Channel your inner child and have a blast!.