It has been a big travel year for our family. When our first son was born, my husband reduced his travel for work as much as possible….but it still requires a lot of traveling. We have a two night max rule – meaning whenever possible, we don’t spend more than two nights apart. Sometimes The Hubbs is home late on the third night (READ: 3 nights doing dinner/dishes/bed/bath solo! Shout out to you- parents on solo duty!!) but we have only broken our rule twice in almost six years of parenting.
Because my husband travels a lot for work, he also accrues a lot of airline and hotel points which we use to join him on work trips (where his company pays for the hotel) and then stay an extra night, or to fund short family getaways here and there.
This spring we were in Orlando, Florida and we were lucky to find a deal on LEGOLAND Annual Passes there for $129. We bought three – one for each parent and one for big brother (little brother is free). We knew we would be in Southern California this summer with the hubbs’ work so we figured it would be worth it, and it has been!
Here are some tips to enjoy your time at LEGOLAND:
Tickets are pricey starting at $85/adult and $75/child (3-12 years). I don’t like that they don’t include the (big) Water Park and Sea Life Aquarium in the base price but rather charge as an upgrade. Annual passes are worth the cost if you visit more than once in the year. Other perks to annual passes include free parking ($10/day) and discounts on food (20%) and merchandise (10%) it adds up, from drink and snacks, to meals and ice cream!
If you want to save some cash, the Sea Life Aquarium is pretty small compared to others. It is still cute and a quick attraction for younger kids but not worth the upgrade charge in my opinion. (We have been spoiled by Aquarium of the Bay, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Long Beach Aquarium).
Also – the water park is fun but hardly relaxing unless you have two or more adults in your group. There are still many water features throughout the park to help you cool off!
Playtime in one of the many water features (not in the separate water park!) near Duplo Village
Where to Stay
You may know that LEGOLAND has it’s own LEGOLAND hotel with themed rooms!
Did you also know that the Sheraton Carlsbad has it’s own LEGOLAND private entrance? They essentially have a “back gate” straight into the park. These are two great options for kiddos who need a mid-day nap. We stayed in Del Mar where my husband was working nearby and made the 15 minute drive to/from LEGOLAND with ease (I loved the Marriott Del Mar). There was some notable traffic on I5 so one afternoon I hopped onto the 101 and the coastline was so gorgeous! Lots of great beach cafes, coffee shops and even a campsite at Cardiff By The Sea. There were also several RVs parked in the LEGOLAND parking lot – I’m not sure if anyone was making lunch in there or taking mid-day naps? 😉
What to Bring
Stroller: The park has a few hills that make the push on our Maclaren Twin Triumph a bit difficult, especially with both Big Brother and Baby Brother aboard, however it was doable. The most common strollers in the park, by far, are Baby Jogger City Minis and BOB joggers. Since we flew down to San Diego, we wanted the convenience of our Maclaren. It was easy to push with just Baby Brother aboard.
Your stroller will be a work-horse if you plan to go to the water park, or just let the kids play in the many water features (you don’t have to pay for the water park to get wet!) We loaded one side of the maclaren with towels and flip flops. My diaper bag is in the other side of the basket. Our swim bag is pictured here in the second seat.
Diaper Bag: Bring the usual plus extra diapers, swim diaper(s) and wipes (we used lots of wipes for food spills!)
Swim Bag: Swim suits for everyone plus dry underwear, water shoes (we love Pedipeds for Big Brother to wear all day) and lots and lots of waterproof sunscreen (our current favorite is ThinkSport). You will need a couple of towels to help get everyone dry. We love Big Brother’s ShowNo Towel not just for theme parks but also daily swim lessons (originally featured on Shark Tank – yep, we are Shark Tank addicts!). Everyone needs a big hat, the sun is brutal!
Tip: If you know you will visit the Water Park or your children will play in one of the many water features just inside the park, dress your boys in their swim trunks and pair it with a cotton T-shirt. This makes changing them to swim a lot easier! Girls in their swim suits (Mamas too) all day in the heat is not the healthiest option – I recommend changing in the Model Mom Room (aka Baby Care Room) in Fun Town with its own bathrooms and several baby care areas.
The changing rooms inside the water park are all outdoor. While I like that they are large and not separated by sex (i.e: I can take my boys into the same stall with me without my nearly 6-year old telling me “No! I’m a boy!”) they are a bit wet and often had full or overflowing garbage cans. The kind of stalls you tip-toe around and don’t want anything to touch the ground (eewwww).
Big Brother enjoying the driving school in Fun Town
This is a park where I feel like there is already TOO MUCH gear to haul, much less to add a family meal on top of that. I saw one Mom with a medium-size cooler who pulled out impressive divided ziploc containers (2) with lunch inside for her two kids. You go Mama! She also had her XL Graco stroller basket filled to an impressive degree!
If you are like me – the traveling Mama with limited cargo space, I suggest packing drinks and snacks and then buying your family meals. LEGOLAND has a nice selection of healthier options for both adults and kids. I really love that kids eat free after 5pm. We made good use of that discount at 5:01pm – saving about $8 per child’s meal (our boys currently share, the portions are large). Definitely check out Wok ‘n Bowl Ramen with Stir Fry offerings and orange or teriyaki chicken bowls for kids. I was also was intrigued by this sign for a family pizza meal including two salads and drinks for $34.00.
One of our favorite stops was Castle Ice Cream: real Dreyer’s ice cream, sundaes, and coffee drinks.
What do you enjoy most about LEGOLAND? Or, if you are planning a trip soon, what are you most looking forward to? Leave us a comment below!