After driving from Las Vegas to Orange County (to see Rich's dad), we hauled okole over to San Diego so we could check in to our hotel. We're spending three nights in Carlsbad, since we'll be spending two days at Legoland (gotta let the island boy squeeze in his annual fill of theme park fun).
Having spent a full day at the park, here's my two cents review of the park:
- It's no where near as crowded as Disneyland...which means no waiting in lines or having to take a shuttle to your car (ours was parked just a minute or two away from the front entrance).
- It's no where near as polished as Disneyland...I saw rust, peeling paint, standing water in tree wells, rotting green waste and aging bathrooms throughout the park all day. This doesn't negatively affect your overall park experience, but its definitely the most rundown large-scale theme park I've ever seen.
- Along those lines, the Legoland staff were not the bright, shiny fresh faces you see of the Disney cast. Half of the Legoland employees looked grumpy, tired, and bored (which is exactly how I would look if I had to stand around screaming, over-stimulated toddlers all day long). :-)
- Miniland USA needs some serious capital infusion/improvements. The Lego-built buildings are over 10 years old and they look it. They're faded, neglected, dirty and half the mechanized stuff appears to be broken. The area is so sadly neglected that you have to wonder about the financial solvency of the park. Outside developers have added an aquarium, water park and now a hotel to the property, but day to day maintenance/standards appear to be sorely neglected.
- The opening hours are way too short. Opening from 10-5 (seven hours passes by like the snap of a finger) and charging most visitors roughly $80 for the experience is a little high in my book. Our guess is that a toddler-focused park has found over time that opening later isn't cost efficient, but again- it just isn't enough time to experience the whole park in a single day, even without lines.
- If you have a child under the age of ten, the park offers PLENTY to do all day. We hit nearly every ride and barely squeezed them all in...forget about having time to play in the water features or two large parks. It's awesome having a park geared toward this age group!
- We added on the aquarium visit to our park entrance, and while it was definitely a nice place, it's nothing I would highly recommend if you've recently been to a few other aquariums. Nothing about it really stood out (though again, it's great if you have young children who don't regularly have access to ocean life). I was very disappointed that they had closed the Octopus Garden the night before, as that would have been a great, unique feature to see. :-( Even for us Hawaiians.
- The bottom line- would I go back? With a younger child- absolutely. Ryan adored it, and the lack of crowds made it the most pleasant theme park experience I've ever had.
Here are a few photos from our first day at the park (by ourselves):
|Without a doubt, the absolute most boring ride of the park (seen above) was Ryan's hands down favorite. So guess who got to ride it three times? Painful...very painful.|
|Ryan leading his air squadron through drills|
|He loved the log ride (& especially seeing daddy get wet).|
|My winning shot of the day! Whoo-hoo!!!|
|Our little daredevil went on his first roller coaster and 'dropping' ride (thank you Legoland for making the 'big kids' rides safe for ankle biters like Ryan) that day! He absolutely loved them!|
|Someone was over all the picture taking by the end of the day (hence this winning smile), but we *had* to get a shot to remember the park's famous Granny apple fries smothered in whipped cream by! De-li-cious.|
|It was pretty cool seeing the Vegas hotel we had just left (made out of Lego) at Legoland!|
|While on the lamest ride on Earth (for the third time that day), it broke down! Here we are walking off- Ryan was dismayed, I was...not.|
|Getting ready to enter the aquarium!|
|Ryan and I have sparkly, glow in the dark eyes! Sort of like fish...so appropriate, right? Apparently Microsoft Picture's red-eye corrector really only corrects red-eye and not sparkly, glow in the dark fish eyes...|
|We left Legoland at 5pm right it closed, and about 2 minutes later...this is what we saw in the backseat. :-)|