Parents of toddlers know that a lot of theme parks don’t much cater to the youngest set. Most of the rides and attractions at the major parks are geared toward older kids and adults, leaving the dilemma of what to do with the toddler in the group while everyone else is having fun.
It’s a little bit farther to drive from the LA. Area, but Carlsbad’s Legoland is a nice alternative for parents trying to address the problem mentioned above. While there are plenty of roller coasters and other big-kid rides to keep the older ones busy, Legoland also has lots of great stuff for the littlest ones, as well as rides and attractions for everyone to enjoy.
True to its name, Legoland is themed heavily on the Lego brand of building blocks. Nowhere is this more evident than in its amazing Miniland attraction, a sprawling array of meticulously constructed replicas of famous cities and buildings. All built of Legos (of course), the outdoor exhibit includes everything from San Francisco’s Chinatown and the New York skyline to the Taj Mahal and the Sydney Opera House. This area fascinated all members of our family, and visitors to the park can get a great view of it all from the Coast Cruise, a boat ride around the small lake at the heart of Miniland.
Legoland is laid out in a big loop, with five different themed areas. In addition to Miniland, there’s Castle Hill with its knights-and-dragons theme. Along with a great rollercoaster, the highlight here for our family was the Hideaways, a wonderful wooden fort play area with stairs, bridges, climbing nets, tunnels, etc. Like all theme parks, Legoland has its share of waiting in line, but The Hideaways is one attraction with no waiting, and kids can spend up to an hour playing there while parents recuperate with a coffee and a box of Granny’s Apple Fries.
Another area to explore is the Imagination Zone. It, too, has a roller coaster and some other rides, and it also has several places for kids to spend building with Legos. Circle around to the back of the park and you’ll get to the aptly named Funtown, with its go-kart rides, Lego factory tour, little kids airplane and helicopter rides and Sky Cruiser and Sky Patrol rides. Finally, there’s Explore Village, with a mini choo-choo, Water Works play area great for hot days and Safari Trek ride.
Each area at Legoland has its own dining establishments, ranging from simple burgers and pizza to full-service sit-down establishments and a sports café. There’s no shortage of gift and souvenir shops in each area as well, with the usual branded goods joined by a lot of fun Lego products. I usually approach this aspect of theme parks by giving each child a set amount at the gate and letting them decide what to do with it. It may not always work out, but it is at least fair.
Only a few years old, Legoland is a well-planned park in a beautiful setting. The grounds are meticulously kept and the park is getting ready to add yet another five attractions in the first half of 2004. For more on this and other information on Legoland California, go to www.lego.com/legoland. If you’re traveling abroad, you can also visit Legoland parks in Germany, Denmark and Great Britain.