Legoland California

Who hasn't snapped a pair of Lego blocks together? In that sense, this park is exactly what you expect. You have plenty of areas all over the park where the young -- and the young at heart -- can build structures using the famous colored plastic bricks. The park also employs a few master Lego builders who turn those very blocks into artistic landscape. From mini-sized versions of New York City to Miami this park, just North of San Diego, has all the multicolored eye candy one would expect.

But you also have plenty of rides and attractions here as well. From a dinosaur-themed family coaster that passes outdoor displays of prehistoric Lego creations to a refreshing water ride that has Lego-topped powerboats spinning in a circle, even the non-building types will have plenty to do. Yes, the park is geared mostly towards family rides. Kids can drive cars around faux city streets. A leisurely family boat ride glides across the water. Many of the attractions -- like the firehouse themed addition in 2004 that has families racing to put out a fire -- are as unique as they are interactive and immersive. You might even catch a teen breaking a smile, though much of the park is geared towards those with little Lego grabbing hands.

Pros: Get your film ready. From picturesque photo spots to great opportunities to catch your kids productive and happy, you will burn through more shots than you think. One-of-a-kind attractions (like Wave Racers) and some unique rides where you actually have to exert some effort (like a tower ride where you have to work a pulley to determine how far you go) blends exercise to what is usually a brainless lazy day at other parks.

Cons: Wait times can be long, even on weekdays if you happen to hit the park during school field trips. The park's limited operating schedule should be checked to make sure you don't show up too late. Sunscreen! Bring it because a lot of time at the park under the warm Carlsbad sun will be spent outside.

3 Tips

-- The lines can get long, especially on Saturdays, given that many of the rides have low rider capacities. However, this may be the only park in the country that doesn't encourage the entire family to wait. A parent can go into the queue while the children play with Legos at a nearby building station on some of the more popular rides until it is their time to ride.

-- What to eat? Admittedly, the collection of food is simple foodstuffs, geared to young undiscriminating taste buds. However, you have one unique snack you have to try -- Granny's Apple Fries. Apples, cut in the shape of potato fries, fried and then topped with cinnamon sugar are served with caramel dipping sauce. Yes, it's as good as it sounds.

-- Note the park's operating hours. While the park routinely opens at 10am the closing time can vary from 5pm to 6pm to 8pm. In other words, the park doesn't stay open too late so arrive early and head off to the popular low-capacity rides first.

- Reviewed by Rick Munarriz

Official Park Link - Legoland

Nearest Hotels with online booking discounts:
 -- Courtyard Carlsbad
 -- Fairfield Inn Legoland
 -- Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort

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