Updated June 1, 2017
So, you’re straying from your Disney trip (it’s OK!) to head south for a bit to beautiful San Diego. About 70 miles away sits LEGOLAND, which is a unique park with lots to offer to young children. I recommend it for kids up to age 12, as many of the rides may seem ‘babyish’ to those any older.
The trip from Disneyland to LEGOLAND can be painless if you drive early to avoid traffic and take advantage of the carpool lanes. Once you drive through Camp Pendleton, you’ll travel to Oceanside and into Carlsbad, where LEGOLAND is. Camp Pendleton is a Marine base and is a beautiful route that will add interest to your trip. You’ll stay on I-5 and won’t stop at the actual base. If you don’t leave early, leave after 10:00am to ensure traffic has died down.
Here’s my brief summary of the park: It’s a special place filled with unique creations and is fun to enjoy once or twice. There are things at LL that you won’t see it DLR and there is a charm there unlike any other place.
While planning, use their interactive park map to see the attractions up close.
In this article
- Tickets – Many options to consider, depending on the time you’re allowing for your visit. You can really enjoy all LEGOLAND has to offer in a single day. If you decide to visit all three parts of LEGOLAND (main park, water park and aquarium) go for two days. Dedicate one to the main park and the other to the aquarium and water park. Get Away Today sells discounted tickets. Find those here.
- Hours – Most days include hours from 10am-5pm. During off season, some mid-week days are closed. Hours are not always consistent for all three parks. Be sure to check before you go. More popular days have later hours.
- Hotel – LEGOLAND Hotel is a whimsically designed property that children will love. Pirate, Kingdom or Adventure themed rooms are available. Hotel guests enjoy a 30 minute head-start to their day with early entrance into the park. Nightly entertainment is available on-site, too. Note: If you’re happy with your DLR area hotel, you can skip the LEGOLAND hotel. Drive down for the day and return to Anaheim in the evening.
- Parking – $17/day
The 3 Parts of LEGOLAND
- LEGOLAND – The main park, the first idea and what you shouldn’t miss. Rides, shows, splash pads, and MiniLand are here. The park includes around 60 shows, attractions, rides and exhibits.
- SEALIFE Aquarium – This is a creatively designed aquarium intending to pull childred into the world of sea life with inviting ways to learn.
- LEGOLAND Water Park – Geared for kids ages 2-12. The LEGOLAND Water Park is creative and fun with large foam LEGOS floating through the lazy river, a huge water play structure made to look like it was built with LEGOS and more. The LEGOLAND Chima Water Park is included in the admission cost of the LEGOLAND Water Park.
Dining at LEGOLAND
- Options are very limited in comparison to Disneyland, so know what to expect.
- Fun Town Market is the best for a variety of options, hot and cold, with healthy selections.
- Granny’s Apple Fries are the “churro” of this park and are delicious!
- Because the options are limited, I recommend eating breakfast prior to entering, enjoying a lunch on-site and then leaving at close (5pm many days) to dine offsite. Later in this post, I give you two options for nearby dining in and around Carlsbad.
Don’t miss these attractions at LEGOLAND
- Fairy Tale Brook – A slow boat cruise through an ode to classic fairy tales. Good for all ages. My absolute favorite!
- Coast Cruise – A slow boat cruise that sails through the main part of the park and allows you to see some LEGO structures less visible from other parts of the park.
- Sky Cruiser – A unique ‘sky coaster’ that provides great views of the parks.
- Driving School – Who could resist driving a life-size LEGO car? Two age options, so nearly everyone can enjoy this attraction. Don’t forget to get your license upon leaving! (cute, free souvenir!)
- Hideaways – My children are big fans of this part. A huge play structure lets kids get lost and explore. Settle in by the exit and take a deep breath.
- MiniLand – The premier attraction at the park and good for all ages. It includes LEGO creations taller than you of many large cities and Star Wars, too!
How to Tour
While those are my favorite atttacions to visit, I recommend starting at the right side of the park. The Dragon Coaster, Technic Coaster, Lost Kingdom Adventure and Ninjago are popular attractions that will include the longest lines later in the day. Tend to those first.
My kids also love the Robotic Arm, which is slow loading and includes only a few riders at a time. Include that in your morning.
I recommend starting right, then moving to the middle of the park to enjoy the Coast Cruise and other iconic LEGOLAND attractions, then over to drive the LEGO cars, and finally to fill in with walk through attractions (including MiniLand) and playscapes.
Consider water rides, too. Enjoy those early on hot days.
Reserve ‘N’ Ride is available for an additional cost. Check out what your options are before you visit.
LEGOLAND has a Photo Pass, too. See what that’s all about, too, before arriving.
- Consider putting children in swim suits under their clothes so they can take advantage of the splash pads and other water-filled rides.
- Follow these suggestions for attractions appropriate for all ages and specifically young children.
- Don’t forget the sunblock. There are less options for indoor activity at LL compared to DLR. You’ll need protection from the sun.
- Food and beverages are technically not allowed in the park unless they’re needed for dietary restrictions. Bottled water is allowed. From my experience, bags are never checked.
- The entrance to the LEGOLAND Water Park is only accessible through LEGOLAND, so you must walk through LEGOLAND to get to the water park. This isn’t a ton of fun if you’re carrying lots of gear, so consider that when packing.
- Water Park admission and Aquarium admission is only available as an add-on to the LEGOLAND ticket. You may visit only the water park or aquarium, but you’ll pay for a LEGOLAND + Hopper ticket.
- Parent Swap is available to avoid standing in line twice for rides.
Traveling by train from Disneyland to LEGOLAND
Consider taking the train from Anaheim to LEGOLAND. The drive along the sea is breathtaking, you’ll avoid traffic and the ride itself is an adventure for kids! Board the Metrolink at the Anaheim Station, about a mile from Disneyland. The one way trip will take a little over an hour due to stops along the way. Get off at the Oceanside Station and take a cab to LEGOLAND, which will cost around $20.
Food and drinks are allowed on the double decker train. Sit on the second level for the best views. Ticket prices vary per age. An adult one-way ticket costs $13. Three children (ages 5 and under) ride free with a paid adult. Children age 6 and older are considered “Youth” and pay the same as an adult fare. Use the price finder to calculate your costs. Amtrak has travel options, too, but those tickets are more expensive.
While you’re in San Diego County
- The Flower Fields – Typically open from March 1 through mid-May, these fields are a sight to see. Ride a tractor through, take pictures and enjoy the views. The Flower Fields are located in Carlsbad, just a few moments from LEGOLAND.
- Carlsbad Village – Eat dinner here and walk the quaint downtown shops before strolling to the beach prior to sunset. This area is just a few miles from LEGOLAND.
- Oceanside Harbor – Drive north out of Carlsbad and into Oceanside on your way back to Anaheim. The Oceanside Harbor is filled with dining, shops and ships. Sea lions live there, too! The beach is steps away from the harbor, as well, if you want to add that to your trip, too. Our favorite local place to dine is Harbor Fish and Chips.
- San Diego Zoo – Drive 45 minutes south of LEGOLAND to enjoy the world famous San Diego Zoo. It’s as amazing as everyone tells you and is worth the trip if you have the time.
Final thoughts: I do love this park for several reasons and I think it’s unique in many ways. Disneyland fans tend to not like the limited park hours when considering the cost of admission.
If you have young children in your group, I recommend trying it out for a day. I’ve never seen a young child not totally fall in love with it. We were passholders for a year, so I know more than can be contained in a single post. Enjoy!