LEGOLand is the real “happiest place on Earth” for small children (mine are ages 3 and 5). There, I said it. I know sooooo many Disney annual pass holders who are going to give me a hard time when they read this post. But, here is why my family likes LEGOLand better than Disney, at least for young kids.
- Disney is dark. I have a sensitive 5-year-old, who won’t get on rides with dark themes and surprises. Disney is full of ominous, scary plot lines. Peter Pan, is literally a dark ride. Snow White? Witch? Forget it. And one of our worst-ever panic attacks occurred on Nemo (formerly 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) when the volcano erupted underwater. Disney has too many dramatic story lines for our taste. If you count the monorail, my kids will ride about 12 rides at Disneyland. By contrast, if your child is over 3 years old and 36-inches tall you’ll find plenty of age-appropriate rides at LEGOLand. From flying helicopters to driving Volvo race cars and fighting fires, I counted 21 rides we enjoyed during our most recent LEGOLand expedition.
- LEGOLand is more than just rides. It doesn’t take long for theme-park exhaustion to set in, especially if you are spending more than a day at the park. LEGOLand has far more free, non-ride fun in my opinion. Take a master building class or learn to build LEGO robots (for ages 9 and up). Tour a LEGO factory. Build and test your LEGO car on a timed race track. Go on a dig for dinosaur bones. Frolic in the Duplo Village play area (far better than those in Mickey’s Toon Town). Or bring your suit and experience some splashy fun at Pirate Shores, including the Soak-n-Sail pirate boat where kids can romp, play and get soaked. Really, there’s no need for a separate water park ticket with so much free water play available.
- Fewer lines. When we do Disney, we stay in the Disney hotel, get in the park at 8 a.m. and are done by noon when the park is overrun and the waits are too much for small children. And that last hour is spent on less popular attractions like the train, Small World, the carousel, etc. At LEGOLand, we get there by 9:30 when a few select rides open. That head start ensures we hit most of our favorite rides before lines peak in the early afternoon. But here’s the thing about LEGOLand: people start leaving at 3 p.m. on weekdays and 4 p.m. on weekends. That means we spend a couple of hours playing in the water, at Duplo Village or building racecars, and we are back on the rides by mid-to-late afternoon. In my experience, lines at Disney never let up as the day progresses.
- Better weather. Carlsbad is near the ocean. It’s typically cooler, often a little overcast. I’ll take that any day over the blazing heat of Anaheim with nary a breeze in sight.
- The price is right. A one-day ticket to DisneyLand is $87 for an adult. If you want a resort hopper so you can go to California Adventure too, you’ll pay more. For LEGOLand it’s $75 for an adult one-day pass. And LEGOLand typically runs a buy one adult ticket, get a child’s ticket free promotion, so think of it as two family members for $75. I can buy a lot of LEGOs in The Big Shop with the money we save on entry fees. And LEGOs are toys I am more than happy to have around the house, even if I step on bricks left and right.
So, there’s my case for LEGOLand for little kids. Which theme park is you favorite: Disney, LEGOLand, Universal, something else? I’d love to know why. No matter where you travel this summer, have fun!