If you are looking for a mom’s honest review of Legoland California and Legoland Hotel, you have landed at the right place.
I intend to share with you our experience, tips and tricks, the best age for Legoland visitors, and my thoughts related to the cost and whether the whole thing is worth it.
A Mom’s Honest Review of Legoland California and Legoland Hotel
It’s a sad world when I need to use “honest” in my title. If you don’t know me or my site, I want to assure you that what I do here is honest. I turn down opportunities daily to promote products or experiences I don’t believe in. Being genuine – not only about reviews but about my life – is part of my heartbeat for this blog.
I have shared honestly why, for our family, Disneyland was not the happiest place on the earth. You can expect the same truths here.
To be clear, I was NOT offered any free tickets or compensation from Legoland.
This trip was a special mom and son trip. My girls were at summer camp. My husband went on a mission trip with the youth from the church to build houses in Mexico. I chose to do something special with my youngest.
What is the Appropriate Age for Legoland California?
While Legoland California has a target audience of 2-12, I believe 3-10 might be a more appropriate estimate, although it depends on your kids.
When telling friends about my mother and son trip, I have been saying that I’m glad I took him now (at age 8) because in a year or two I’m not convinced he’d be that into it.
I have two girls, ages 12 and 10. I’m glad I didn’t take them. My ten year old is into Legos, especially Lego Friends, but she always seeks out the most scary rides possible. I’m only convinced two rides there would have appealed to her. The rides are very tame.
My 12 year old just doesn’t like rides, and I believe most of the Legoland park would not have been of interest.
All that said, I tried to talk to some older-looking kids at Legoland to get their experience. I talked to kids up to age 12, and they all said they were enjoying it. They were especially drawn to the three roller coasters and the water park.
The water park area definitely brings the age level up a bit. We had more fun in that section of the park.
I do know some families with kids age 10, 11 and 12 that would have zero interest in Legoland, even though they love Legos. A large part of the park is geared toward younger kids.
The rides I suggest for older and more thrill-driven kids include: Ninjago Ride, Technic Coaster, Bionicle Blaster, Kid Power Tower, Captain Cranky’s Challenge, Pirate Reef, Knight’s Tournament, the Dragon, and the Coastersaurus.
There are 60 rides at Legoland, so I estimate 1/6 of the rides appeal to kids and adults that want more of a thrill.
Various areas of the water park are super fun too and appeal to everyone.
Most younger kids (age 2-9) would love their experience at Legoland California.
How Tall Do You Have to Be to Ride Rides at Legoland California?
Kids over 48″ tall will be able to ride all of the rides alone.
Here is a height tracker to check height requirement for specific rides.
There are many rides available to kids 36″ and taller, but smaller kids will often need to be accompanied by an adult.
What are the Costs Associated with Legoland California and is it Worth It?
Because costs might change in the future, I thought it easiest to link to the Legoland ticket page.
We bought a hotel package, and I will speak more to that in the hotel section of this article.
For Legoland only, the ticket price is $89.99 right now. I believe that is a decent price for a day at an amusement park as involved as Legoland.
That said, here are some tips for getting in free to Legoland. First of all, we have found free tickets on Honest Kid juice box packages. There’s a free Legoland promo code you can get here.
Another way to get a child into Legoland free is to go on their birthday.
You might look at the Legoland options and see that you can get three different ticket packages: just the park, the Legoland park & the Sea Life Aquarium or Legoland Park, Sea Life Aquarium & the Water Park. If you are not considering the water park, I would not pay money for the aquarium.
In my opinion, the aquarium was pretty lame. We went to Sea World on this trip, so this aquarium pales in comparison. Even our local zoo has a better sea life experience. No need to spend any extra money.
That said, the water park is worth the extra money spent. If you are going on sunny days, definitely include that. If you want to do the water park, I would consider doing two days in Legoland. It would be challenging to get both the main park and the water park done in one day.
If you are local to the San Diego area, an annual pass might be the best way to go. Just evaluate whether you are an amusement park kind of family and how often you’d get your family out there.
If we lived locally, we would probably not buy annual passes because that’s just not how we spend our time. A once a year amusement park fix is just fine for us.
Something to note is that if you buy an annual pass, the water park is not available during the main summer months on the weekends. Lame!
One of the biggest rip-offs in the park, in my opinion is the Legoland driver license in the Fun Town Zone. My son had seen commercials for a driver license, and he was so excited. I, however, couldn’t cough up $16 for a fake driver license. People were doing it – just not my idea of how I want to spend money.
My son became perfectly content getting the free one at the end of the driving “test.” I assured him we would go home, add a picture to it and laminate it. Below you can see the results of my homemade option with the card they were handed for free.
There are many extra ways to spend money at Legoland. I’m not a huge souvenir person, so I mostly try and avoid stores. Some rides wisely spit you right out into them.
In general, I will give my kids a reasonable budget – $20-$40 – when we are on vacation. I tell them we can take pictures of what they see that they are interested in at the park. We make the final purchase decisions on the last day toward the end of the day. They can also choose to pocket the money.
My son bought Ninjago minifigures with his budget.
If you are looking at ways to spend money, you can also do reserve ‘n’ ride, VIP experiences and digital photo passes. I’m too frugal for these things.
What are the Food Options and Costs in Legoland?
The food costs in Legoland can vary. For kids, $8.99 will get you a kids meal, which includes a main dish, chips (potato chip varieties mostly), an Honest Kids juice, an apple and a treat. It comes in a Legoland bag. I thought this was a pretty good deal.
In general, I would plan for $10-15 per meal per adult.
One disappointment for me, loving food, is that some of the food options I wanted were never open. I never saw the Ninja Kitchen in Ninjagoland with Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwiches on fresh baked baguette or steamed Bao Buns. Both filled with crispy pork belly, lemongrass chicken or baked sweet chili tofu open. I really wanted to try that restaurant.
The Creperie was another restaurant I wanted to dine at because I adore a good crepe. I never saw it open either.
I love to get a churro at amusement parks or Costco. Legoland had, hands down, the best churro I have ever tasted.
Many rave about Granny’s Apple Fries. I didn’t get a chance to taste those, even though I wanted to. I just couldn’t justify the amount of food I wanted to eat. However, two people in the long, but worth it, chocolate and churro line said the churros were the way to go, even though the apple fries are fabulous.
Other options at Legoland include pizza, burgers, BBQ, pasta, rice or noodle bowls, sandwiches, ice cream, coffees, pastries and more.
As with any amusement park, taking in your own snacks and food will save on expenses at the park. It’s a simple tip, especially if you live locally.
There is an all day food pass for $85 per person, which seems exorbitant to me. I wouldn’t go this route. It is also only available for guests staying at the Legoland hotel.
I will address the food at Legoland Hotel in that section.
How to Navigate Legoland – What are the different Areas of Legoland and what will you find there?
As with my tips on visiting Disneyland, I believe the best way to navigate Legoland is circling around the park in a logical manner.
We chose to save all water rides for day 2. Neither of our days there were super sunny, so we needed to gear up and be prepared for the water. I loved doing the park one day and then water rides and water park the next.
There is a Legoland California map given at the park and an app available for your phone.
The app provides wait times for various rides. While these are semi-helpful, I don’t believe darting across the park on a 10 minute walk to catch a shorter line is the best approach.
In general, the most popular rides will always have a longer wait.
As with Disneyland, Legoland California is laid out in sections. When entering the park, we went to the right and straight to Ninjagoland, my son’s priority.
The Ninjago ride remains his favorite. Being a huge fan of the Ninjago Legos and shows helps, but it’s a pretty cool ride. It is 3-D, and you use your hands to aim and fire at all the enemies on the screen as you are whisked around in a cart from place to place.
The rest of the options in Ninjagoland were pretty lame in our opinion.
From there we kept moving to the right in a circle. We hit the Imagination Zone with the Technic Coaster (best thrill ride), Bionicle Blaster, & Aquazone for rides.
This area also houses the 4D movie experience. Look for show times on the app or outside the theatre. These shows were just OK. The only real 4th-D effects are air and smoke from a fog machine. I have had much cooler 4D experiences where your chair is spraying water, poking you, etc.
Also in the Imagination Zone you will find other indoor experiences, great especially in the heat of the days – these include the video game space, Hero Factory, Mind Storms, and Duplo play. Most of these areas are great for building and creating.
The next section to visit, by following our circular pattern, is the Land of Adventure which has the Cargo Ace, Beetle Bounce, Dune Raiders (didn’t open until noon, which I didn’t understand), Pharoah’s Revenge (also doesn’t open until noon) and the Lost Kingdom Adventure – our favorite in this section.
The next logical section is Castle Hill. here you will find Hideaways (a large climbing playground), Knight’s Tournament (one of the scarier rides where you are strapped in to a large robot arm that whizzes you about), Deep Sea Adventures, Royal Joust, and the Dragon Coaster.
Miniland USA was a fun place to walk through as you appreciate some of the United States and other world landmarks built with LEGOS. The only ride here is a peaceful boat cruise among the sites.
Also in this sections is the Star Wars area. I was surprised that there was no ride associated with this section. It simply had a variety of scenes, characters and vehicles from the movies.
Keep walking in a logical fashion, and you will hit Fun Town. Here kids can enjoy driving school (see my money section to note the crazy price of a fake driver’s license), Duplo Playtown, Police and Fire academy, the Legoland Express, Sky Patrol, Skipper School, and Kid Power Tower.
The next section is the Legoland Friends area. More of this area will be developed next year, so there wasn’t a ton there. The oversized-Lego horse merry-go-round was cute.
The final area was the Explore Island. The Coastersaurus, Dinosaur Dig, Fairy Tale Brook, and Safari Trek are all located in this area.
For us, Day 2 was our water day.
We loved this area. Day lockers make it convenient to store your stuff. Make sure to bring your own towels (mom fail) because there are none to check-out.
Smaller kids will wear a mandatory life jacket.
This section has rides for all sizes. There are smaller pools and smaller slides for smaller children. There are more thrilling rides. There is a great wave pool in the Chima section and a beautiful lazy river.
The water areas are great, and my son had a blast. That said, don’t be expecting rides as thrilling as the bigger ones at Great Wolf Lodge.
My son had a fabulous time engineering and re-engineering a boat to go down the small river in the building section. He probably spent an hour trying to get the correct balance and design.
Pirate Shores is a section of the park we also reserved for our water day. Rides include Captain Cranky’s Challenge, Pirate’s Reef, Splash Battle and Swabbies Deck.
Wait Times for Rides
The wait times for rides weren’t awful.
The first day (a Wednesday) we were there, we didn’t wait longer than 15 minutes to get onto a ride. Like any park, there are more popular ones that tend to have more of a wait.
The second day the wait times seemed longer. First of all, as noted below, getting in early to the park meant longer wait lines because so few rides were open. My experience was that wait times actually seemed worse at the beginning of the day and then eased up.
Looking at the app on Thursday, I noticed that some rides had a 45 minute wait. Eek! I was glad we were doing the water park that day.
Paying attention to wait times on the app can give an indication of when to break for a show, food, the building sections or Legoland or a visit to Miniland USA.
I imagine the lines on the weekends are longer, but I didn’t experience weekend traffic.
To avoid all wait times you can purchase “Reserve ‘N’ Ride.” Looks like you can purchase this for $35-$100 per person depending on how much you want to reduce your wait. I wouldn’t purchase this ahead of time. Rather, if this is of interest, I would wait until you get there and experience the wait time. The longest wait we experienced was 15 minutes, which I imagine varies throughout the year.
OVERALL LEGOLAND CALIFORNIA REVIEW FOR US
Legoland is a beautiful park and is great for kids, especially those with kids aging from age 3-10.
There are a variety of opportunities in Legoland – to build, to view, to ride, to eat, to see characters and watch shows.
The sites and figures all built out of Legos was pretty darn cool. There was much to appreciate in the construction of it all.
Every family is different. For us, we did only the dry Legoland park day 1. Before the end of the day, we were ready to be done. When I asked him what he would like to do again, he just kind of shrugged.
Many of the rides seemed small for my 8 year old. That said, he isn’t a fan of of roller coasters, so the bigger rides that potentially could have appealed to both of us and kept us there longer, didn’t.
If the water park wasn’t there, one day would have been enough for us. With the water park, two days was perfect. We wouldn’t have needed to have 3 days at Legoland.
I liked that the park didn’t feel too crowded nor were the lines too long. That said, we weren’t there on a weekend, so we may have been lucky.
My son is an optimist, and has nothing but great things to say about our time together.
This will probably be our only visit to Legoland, but it was fun and the perfect one on one trip for me and my 8 year old.
Don’t Miss Out on the Minifigure Trade
Like Disneyland, where staff trade collector pins with visitors to the park, Legoland has a minifigure trade option.
Bring your own unwanted minigure from home and then look for either the trade stations or employees wanting to trade the figures on their name tag.
Some kids really enjoy this option of looking around for the perfect trade.
Bring multiple minifigures to collect more favorites.
Legoland Hotel Review – Was it Worth It?
It is magical to drive up to the Legoland California Hotel. I think the same is true for the Legoland Castle Hotel, which we explored.
My own child heart leapt for joy as we entered.
The lobby has places to play and explore. The halls and restaurants are decorated with the Lego theme, and I was impressed by the design. The free breakfast buffet is fabulous. Legoland characters visit meal times.
One of my favorite little elements was the dance party in the elevator. You get into the elevator and everyone enters and stands normally. Everything changes once the doors close. A disco ball starts spinning and music starts playing. Time for a dance party. Once the elevator opens again, everything stops and hotel guests stand there like nothing just happened.
Make sure to visit the whoopee cushion corner near the elevator on the first floor also.
On arrival, you are given clues to discover a 4 digit code to open a treasure box in your room. This is an easy and fun little exercise. A little Lego prize rewards the explorers.
This treasure hunt is no-where near as cool and expansive as Great Wolf Lodge. I think Legoland could develop the idea more, although it is a fun little touch.
The room was fabulously themed. I chose a pirate themed room. I explored the Ninjago possibility, but that room was going to cost us $500 EXTRA – choke – for the two nights. I couldn’t justify it.
If you do want a Ninjago room, request it early. These can be booked over a month in advance.
The pool at Legoland was fine. It wasn’t anything fancy to write home about. We were there on colder days, so I wished they had a hot tub too. There is a shallow, walk-in section for younger kids and a five foot section for swimmers.
The staff seemed friendly but it wasn’t a stand-out experience.
I used the iron in my hotel and pushed the steam button. Some rust shot out of the iron, ruining my shirt. I try to be a kind, laid back guest, but I wanted to report this so the iron could be replaced to so this experience wouldn’t happen to other guests. An on-top-of-it marketing and hospitality team would have made efforts to compensate me for my ruined shirt, which they didn’t.
Biggest Disappointment in Staying at the Legoland Hotel
Part of the draw to staying at the hotel is having the early morning access. This was the biggest rip-off I experienced at the park.
Early morning access is a joke – and not a funny one.
Early morning means you get into the park at 9:00 AM. However, I would estimate that less than 10% of the entire park is open at this time. Every direction you go, you are blocked off.
Luckily, the most appealing ride to my son, the Ninjago ride, was still open…for part of the time and then it closed for some reason.
The small handful of rides that were available had longer lines than usual because they were the only things open. It was ridiculous.
Do not stay in the hotel to get early access! I was so annoyed.
Food Reviews for the Legoland Hotel
The included breakfast buffet was convenient and nice. Prepare for your child to come back to the table with a waffle, a chocolate chip pancake, bacon, Fruit Loops in chocolate milk and a bowl of ice cream if you aren’t watching carefully.
Adults or kids with healthier appetites can enjoy an omelette made fresh, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, smoothies, pastries, hash browns, yogurt parfaits and more. There are enough options to satisfy all.
We only did dinner at the hotel one night. I splurged, not paying attention to the prices before the credit card was rung, and spent $27.50 on my adult buffet. $12.50 (I believe) was the cost of the child’s plate. Neither of us can really eat the amount a buffet offers. Personally, I wish I hadn’t chosen this route.
That said, there were good options, including salmon, clams, mussels, a variety of carved meats, sides galore and more. However, if I were to do it again, I probably wouldn’t fork out the money for the buffet.
There is another restaurant available in the hotel, but we didn’t eat there.
The second night we ordered pizza to our room. Paradise Pizza of Carlsbad will deliver straight to your room with a minimum order of $20. I found this a very economical and tasty way to go.
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF LEGOLAND HOTEL
If this is an affordable option for your family, I say go for it. The experience and environment adds to the whimsical adventure of a Legoland vacation.
There are more affordable accommodation options with shuttles in the area, so you should explore those if money is a concern.
Overall we had a fun time staying in the hotel, and the convenience could not be matched. There were times we would run back to the hotel to grab things or take a break.
DO NOT stay at Legoland for the early morning access. It is not worth it.
A Mom’s Honest Review of Legoland California and Legoland Hotel
I hope this review was helpful as you consider your own Legoland vacation. The pros and cons have been presented. We had a fabulous time on our trip, and for me, I’m glad I seized this opportunity while my son was still young.