the ultimate san diego family getaway part 3: LEGOLAND® California Resort

Our correspondent MJ packed her family, their bags and their passports and headed to San Diego for the ultimate family getaway. This is Part Three of a series feature on some of the many family-friendly adventures available in the coastal city. In this post, MJ shares highlights from their fun-filled day at LEGOLAND® California Resort. Read part one here (all about Sea World) and part two here (all about kid-friendly tours).

Our five-year-old daughter Olivia is a LEGO® fanatic and has been since Dave (also a fanatic) introduced her to her first Duplo set. Needless to say, my daughter and husband were super stoked when the day finally came to visit LEGOLAND® California.


LEGOLAND® California is a pretty large park, boasting over 60 rides, attractions and shows. From the moment you enter, you literally feel like a Minifigure in a gigantic LEGO® playset. There are approximately 10 main “zones” with different LEGO® themes ranging from “Ninjago” and “Pirate Shores” to “Fun Town” and “Castle Hill.”


Given Olivia’s current obsession with LEGO® Friends, we started our day off in Heartlake City. We really felt like we stepped into Heartlake City – she met the “real-life” LEGO Friends who stopped to chat with her, and even saw the “Lego Friends to the Rescue” show. After riding the “Mia’s Riding Camp” carousel, she hung out in the Heartlake Stables and built a few of her own creations.

DUPLO® Playtown was conveniently located beside Heartlake City, which was perfect for our 18-month-old Charlie, who loves playing with Duplo. A great little playspot for tots, he enjoyed running around and climbing in and out of the Duplo play homes, cars and slides.


There are plenty of yummy food options to choose from, and when lunch came around, we had decided to eat like a medieval warrior at the Knights’ Smokehouse BBQ in Castle Hill. After feasting on Texas-style BBQ, we ran around in Hideaways, a gigantic jungle gym in Castle Hill full of climbing, running, sliding and exploring. This gave us some time to burn off enough calories and dive into Granny’s Apple Fries; invented at LEGOLAND®, these infamous delicious treats are covered in cinnamon, sugar and vanilla whipping cream (double yum)!


Olivia had fun driving around a LEGO® car in “Driving School” and getting soaked in Splash Battle, but as much as I wanted her to experience all the awesome rides, she really wasn’t into it and seemed to be more interested in seeing the attractions, especially the LEGO® Star Wars exhibit in Mini Land USA. She enjoyed seeing all her favourite Star Wars characters (especially Darth Vader) and loved feeling like a giant among the miniature movie scenes.


The one thing that Olivia (and my husband Dave) really seemed to enjoy was Minifigure Trading. She knew ahead of time that LEGOLAND® had a Minifigure Trading program, where visitors can trade Minifigures with designated “Model Citizens.” She packed (and designed herself) five different Minifigures to bring to the park and ended up swapping almost all of them. There is no maximum amount of trading you can do, so anytime she saw the opportunity to trade, she did! The Model Citizens were really great about suggesting what Minifigures to trade. It’s not always easy for kids to make a decision (especially about their own toys) and we were really impressed with how patient the Model Citizens were too.

Since we were only there for the day, we, unfortunately, didn’t have time to check out LEGOLAND® Water Park and SEA LIFE Aquarium, but people who have been have said it’s pretty cool.

Overall, it was a great experience for both our kids. While some parts of the park seem a little outdated, the newer attractions like LEGO® Ninjago World and LEGO® Movie™ 4D A New Adventure make up for it. Additionally, their new LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel will be opening on April 27, which will make any kid feel like royalty and this summer, the new LEGO CITY®: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride will be launched and ready to take little thrill seekers on an underwater excursion.

Tips & Tricks

  • Check the daily schedule before visiting, hours can vary for LEGOLAND® California, LEGOLAND® Waterpark and SEA LIFE Aquarium.
  • Save on admission by buying tickets in advance online. They’re currently having a “Buy 1 Day, Get 4 Free” special too!
  • Thinking of staying overnight? They also have hotel and admission packages available, including a “Kids Stay and Play Free” deal
  • There are numerous covered areas around the park where kids can build their own Lego creations. These are great break-out places where the kids can just chill out and the parents can get a bit of rest before the next attraction.
  • Single, double and infant stroller rentals are available at a cost; it’s a pretty big park so if you’re thinking of spending the entire day, we highly recommend bringing or renting a stroller.
  • They have a Baby Care Centre in Funtown, complete with a changing area, a rocking chair for nursing mothers and a refrigerator and microwave for baby’s needs.

By: Marjolyn “MJ” Dimapilis

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