If you’re in Carlsbad CA, there’s a new treat in store – the Legoland Hotel!
The hotel opened in April 2013, just as I was planning a family trip to California. And since the whole family, including our then seven year old twin boys enjoyed our visit to LEGOLAND®, Florida last winter, LEGOLAND® California was definitely on our agenda. When I found out about the hotel, I set aside my concerns about the room rate ($300 and up, per night!) and booked a night.
The kids knew we were going to spend a day at LEGOLAND®, but we kept our stay at the hotel a secret right until we pulled up at the entrance. And what an entrance it is! LEGO models everywhere, friendly staff to open car doors, take luggage and show you inside. The kids immediately went to the building station closest to the entrance – a large LEGO sculpture with open ‘pits’ with bricks at the base. There was a second play area near the reception desk, then a third towards the back of the lobby, which offers a huge walk-through pirate ship (look for the lever next to the dragon – it roars when you pull it!). The lobby is bustling with people and entertainment, but not particularly large, so it’s easy to give your kids some space as they gaze in wonder or dig into the bricks. There are LEGO models everywhere; you can’t blame them for being amazed as they look around!
As an adult, I found the staff to be incredibly helpful, kind and friendly. The reception staff, the wait staff in the restaurant, and even the engineers working to fix a mechanized LEGO sculpture outside of the hotel were genuinely happy to talk to the kids, engage them in conversation, or share a hint about something fun to do or see in the hotel or in LEGOLAND® itself.
After check in, we went upstairs to our Adventure-themed room. Don’t tell your kids, but there’s a whoopie cushion built into the floor by the first-floor elevator landing, and the elevators have disco lights and play disco music when the doors close! It’s hysterical to see both adults and kids in the elevator doing “The Hustle” as the song plays!
When booking a room, you have the choice of Kingdom, Pirate, or Adventure themes. We stayed in an Adventure Room, which is on the third floor. One note — the rooms are rated as ‘standard’ and ‘deluxe’. Deluxe rooms are more expensive and have some extra theme elements. We stayed in a standard room, the theme came through effortlessly and it’s not worth paying more for that alone. The room itself was small but well laid out, with the kids bunks/TV near the door, queen bed/TV/desk near the window and well-equipped bathroom in between. The bunks have reading lights, there are LEGO bricks to play with, the room has two peepholes – one high and one low – and the toilet has a smaller kids seat built into the regular one. What we noticed most of all was that almost everything was considered to make both kids and adults comfortable. My only complaint with the room was that there were no nightlights, nor a clock on the kids side of the room.
Food and Other Info
The option to pre-pay for meals comes up when booking online; there’s a discount over the price you’d pay at the restaurant itself. To maximize our time at the resort, I chose to book dinner (night of arrival) and breakfast the next day. Meals were at the lobby-level restaurant Bricks, and were served buffet style. There is a kids-height buffet in the middle of the space, with favorites like buttered noodles, chicken tenders, and hot dogs at dinner. The adult buffet is many times the size, stretching the perimeter of the room. The night we ate there, choices included a Chinese station with shrimp stir fry, Mexican station with enchiladas and carne asada, carving station with roast turkey and stuffing…. food as far as the eye could see. Dozens of choices, plus salads and soups, bread, fruit, dessert and a soft ice cream machine with toppings. Breakfast also had a huge selection, with an omelette station, pancakes, waffles, french toast, breakfast meats, oatmeal, lox, bread, fruit smoothies, and other beverages. The food was very good quality – not quite the finest, five-star establishment, but certainly better than one would expect from an average kid-centric resort. Kids can eat off the adult buffet (my boys enjoyed the carne asada and carrot-ginger soup), and adults can order alcoholic beverages from the wait staff.
In addition to Bricks, there are two other food outlets at the resort. One is the cocktail lounge across from Bricks, and the other is the Skyline cafe/coffee bar across from the enormous Pirate Ship. The main deck of the ship acts as a stage for some of the hotel activities (including the nightly LEGO building contest), and the comfortably furnished lounge is a nice touch for adults.
Other Hotel Features
- Kids are given a scavenger hunt at check-in. The response is numerical, and equates to a code on the (locked) in-room safe. When the kids get the code, they open it and find a Lego treat — Lego mini figures! I appreciated that there were two mini figures in the safe, so my kids didn’t have to share (or fight).
- LEGO games (like LEGO City Alarm) are available to borrow from the reception desk
- The pool has foam LEGO bricks that can be stacked into a float, and the night we were there, a movie was shown at 8:30pm!
Hotel guests have early access to LEGOLAND®. Several areas are open (not the whole park) for early admission. When we went into to the park at 9am, we were able to see the largest LEGO model in the world (Star Wars X-Wing), sign up for free robotics classes at LEGO Mindstorm, then ride Coastersaurus and Sky Cruisers multiple times with no wait! The rest of the park opened at 10am, and we were in the front of the group to get to the other rides. Our favorites were Dragon Coaster, Lost Kingdom Adventure, Technic Coaster, Driving School and Knights Tournament. The first three are roller coasters designed for kids – at 49 inches tall, my kids could ride all of the rides, and many of them by themselves. This was a huge departure from Disney and Universal, where the kids were not tall enough to ride the marquee rides, and the ones they were tall enough for were targeted as too young for our then seven-year olds.
Staying at the hotel was a major advantage when going to the park. Besides early admission, the hotel is right at the entrance to the park, saving us some walking. Park-goers also pay for parking, as hotel guests we had access to free self-parking or paid valet with our room. Going back to the hotel during the day would have been easy if we’d forgotten something or needed a break, and leaving at the end of the day was convenient.
If you have a Lego fan in your house, the LEGOLAND® Hotel is the place for your family to stay!
Photos courtesy of Jill Rabach.