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Having first gone to Legoland California Resort shortly after it originally opened in 1999, I was pleased to revisit the park in celebration of its current 20th anniversary. Legos were always my favorite toy growing up, and I must admit, even at 35 years old, I am decidedly an AFOL (aka An Adult Fan of Lego).
In the span of two decades, the once-fledgling 12-ride park has become a huge 60-plus attraction resort, having added two hotels, a waterpark, an aquarium and a host of other rides and attractions.
Overnight accommodations are convenient; both the Legoland Hotel and Legoland Castle Hotel are located immediately outside the main park entrance. Legoland Castle Hotel hosted our stay, and the in-room details were outstanding, with more than half a dozen Lego sculptures decorating the modern yet medieval-influenced family room.
Past the front gate, Legoland looked very familiar from my earlier encounters. The Coast Cruise boat ride is still front and center, temporarily re-themed to the Birthday Cruise for the park’s 20th. And just off to the right is Miniland USA, where guests will find expertly rendered miniature replicas of New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Southern California and Washington D.C. Newest to me here were masterful renditions of Las Vegas and Star Wars.
Over time, some models have faded more than others, and a few kinetic effects have ceased to function, but the future of the brick is bright at The Lego Movie 2 Experience. Protected from the bleaching rays of the sun are the Lego sets from the film — ready to be examined at a close range. Get ready to say hello to film stars Emmet, Lucy and other residents of Apocalypseburg.
Miniland may forever be the heart and soul of Legoland, but the evolution of the resort has relied on more elaborate additions, including parks within the park. Access to Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Water Park require separate admission or park hopper tickets, but both definitely add value to a visit.
If, however, you are looking to save some money, the fantastic Lego City: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride gives a taste of the aquarium experience in Legoland proper. Guests “descend” in subs to see rays, sharks and other exotic fish swimming among vibrant sets and statues.
New for the park’s birthday is a relocated Duplo Playtown. Colorful jungle gyms with slides and a leisurely train ride now skirt the Kid Power Tower where the queue for the retired Sky Cruiser once sat.
It’s clear the target audience for the park are the young kids that Legos already appeals to, but some rides will appeal to adult fans, too. The park has many other interactive rides and rollercoasters — ranging from the tame Coastersaurus to the speedier Technic rollercoaster, and even an intensity-programmable Kuka RoboCoaster.
The Knights’ Tournament ride invites participants to strap into one of six two-person harnesses before being whipped about. Level one is ideal for the littlest ones, but level five pushes the attraction’s technology to its limits. I was satisfactorily spun around upside down and from side to side in what can be called Legoland’s first thrill ride. I would just advise enjoying the park’s excellent Knights’ Smokehouse BBQ and Granny’s Apple Fries after riding.
For the 2019 festivities, children ages 12 and under will receive free admission on their birthday, and this kid at heart only wished he could take advantage of the deal to return himself. As for 2020, the former site of Duplo Playtown has since been razed to make way for what construction walls describe as “something awesome.” My guess is that The Lego Movie will soon be permanently represented in the park.
The DetailsLegoland California Resortwww.legoland.com