By Todd Carney:
You don’t have to be raising a family in Southern California to realize there are a lot of theme parks within driving distance, but it helps!
For my own little family of two boys, ages 5 and 10, one particular theme park has stood out, for it’s always the one they both ask for again and again: Legoland. Just off Interstate 5 in Carlsbad, 30 minutes north of San Diego, it’s become a regular stop for us whenever we’re heading to San Diego.
I’ve watched Legoland grow over the last 8 years, since we took our first son when he was two years old. It was immediately obvious this was a great theme park for smaller children, especially imaginative kids who like to build their own creations.
From that first visit, I remember appreciating how the park has areas especially for the wee ones that other theme parks seem to lack. Take for instance the DUPLO Playtown, which is a favorite for the tiniest in the family who really just want to run around and touch things. Too often they are denied that luxury in a theme park.
The staple of the park is the actual cities built out of Legos, which all other attractions seem to have grown up around. This is a unique experience for theme park visitors where both young and old migrate at their own pace through the different sections of Las Vegas, New York City, San Francisco and even the worlds of the Star Wars movies. The kids love looking at the model cities, occasionally pressing buttons for visual or sound effects. When they’re old enough for cameras, they start taking pictures of street scenes and cityscapes.
As the park grew, I saw more attractions for adults pop up, but the park is still very family friendly. Now the park has an attached Sea Life Aquarium and a seasonal Legoland Water Park, both of which you could spend all of your day inside.
When buying a ticket or pass, you’ll decide if you want to include the Aquarium and the Water Park in your visit for the day or 2-day pass. If you’re buying a ticket with one or both of the other attractions, be sure to check what time they close, as they occasionally differ from the main park. Watch the time and pace yourself; I’ve found if you try to save the Aquarium for the end of the day, you might not make it by the time it closes.
On our last visit, park attractions like Volvo Driving School and riding the Sky Patrol kept my oldest son’s interest, while my kindergartner enjoyed the Volvo Junior Driving School and playing with large foam Lego pieces in a play area in the Water Park. Both the boys love to spend time at Build and Test, where they compete with other kids building Lego cars to race down angled racetracks. Of course at the end of the day, we usually stop at the big store near the front gate to pick out a couple of Lego playsets to take home.