How to plan a fun day out with the family at Legoland California

Legoland California in Carlsbad, California, less than an hour away San Diego International Airport (SAN). Whether you are planning to spend your vacation in Carlsbad or nearby City of San DiegoLegoland California is a must-do for families visiting Southern California.

Recently, I visited with my husband and three sons (4, 6, and 10 years old) and we left behind a lot of happy memories — as well as a few new Lego sets from the massive gift shop. Here are 10 ways to maximize your time at Legoland California and have the dirtiest vacation ever.

Buy tickets before going

Whether you buy one-day or multi-day Legoland California tickets, you’ll pay significantly less by purchasing them online ahead of time rather than at the front gate on the day of your visit.

For example, one-day tickets to Legoland California start at $89 (plus taxes and fees) online and $119 (plus taxes and fees) at the gate. You can also save on tickets to many parks including tickets to Legoland Water Park and Sea Life Aquarium.

Related: Essential guide for Legoland Florida

You really need more than one day to experience all of Legoland California, and multi-day tickets aren’t much more expensive than one-day tickets. If you want to visit Legoland one day and the water park the next, you’ll only have to pay $154 (plus taxes and fees) compared to $119 (plus taxes and fees) for a one-day multi-park ticket . It was a second day of brick-and-mortar fun for just $35 off a one-day pass.

You can also buy ticket utility like VIP tours, water park tents, prepaid parking, ‘N’ Ride Reservation skip-the-line access, photo downloads and more before your visit. You can buy most of these during your visit, but you’ll save money by buying them ahead of time. For example, you can save more than 30% on a one-day unlimited digital photo download plan when you buy online before your visit.

Games designed for young children and families

In many theme parks, it seems my youngest is not tall enough to participate in many games. Sometimes, even when he’s tall enough, the games look too scary and he doesn’t want to be up. (OK, it might have been our fault convincing him to go up to the Matterhorn at Disneyland this early year.)

All the games at Legoland California are designed for children aged 2 to 12 years old and none are too scary for young children. There are games that my whole family loves, some that are more engaging for my 10-year-old, and some that are suitable for my 3-year-old.

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Of the park’s more than 50 games and attractions, 24 have no minimum height or age requirements. The highest height requirement for any game is 42 inches on the Lego Technic Coaster (which my 4-year-old has ridden and loved). This number is much lower than what you see in other large theme parks. Legoland’s games are truly designed to be enjoyed by guests of all heights and ages.

Some games, such as Lego Ninjago Ride and Legoland Express Train, require guests under a certain height to be accompanied by a “responsible driver” of a certain age and height, such as parents, siblings or other family members.

There’s more to it than just riding

Although my kids enjoyed the game at Legoland, there was a lot to do besides jumping from game to game all day.

Kids have a lot of energy — especially after eating a delicious meal of potato chips with whipped cream, a signature treat at Legoland — and they need places to burn that energy. Luckily, Legoland is designed with these energetic kids and families in mind.

There are many Lego-themed play areas around the park, including a sand pit for digging dinosaur bones, a Duplo play town for preschoolers, and a Ninjago-themed “training camp” play area with slides and obstacles.

Related: First Look: We Tried the Brand New Peppa Pig Amusement Park in Florida

In addition to the play areas, there are many spots in the park where you can build your own Lego creations. You can build your own Lego boat at the Coast Guard Build-A-Boat or test drive your own Lego moon rover at Lego Moon Base. You don’t get to keep your creations (don’t worry, there are plenty of gift shops for that), but I appreciated the many opportunities for my kids to use their imagination and creativity during our visit .

Of course, you can also meet your favorite Lego characters during your visit.

Legoland California is accessible and autistic-friendly


If you are visiting Legoland California with someone with special needs, know that the park is well equipped and can accommodate all guests. As a Certified Autism Center, each attraction at Legoland California has a sensory guide gives you detailed information about the triggers you may be experiencing. All attractions are Wheelchair for the disabledalthough some require you to switch from a wheelchair to a vehicle.

Related: Travel for all: 7 autistic-friendly vacation destinations

If you need any accommodations during your visit, talk to guest service at the park entrance. They can assist you in renting electric scooters, wheelchairs and strollers. They can also get you a Access pass supported allows guests with physical and cognitive disabilities to book rides in advance of the day to reduce waiting time in line.

Leave your cash at home

Legoland California is part of a growing trend of cashless theme park. Theme parks, water parks, aquariums, and on-site hotels only accept credit and debit cards. If you show up with cash in your wallet, you can convert it to a prepaid Visa card at one of three cash withdrawal kiosks at the park.

Visit during one of Legoland’s special events for even more fun


Legoland features seasonal events themed for major holidays like Independence Day, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Events with themed characters, decorations, and entertainment are included in the regular ticket price.

Our most recent visit was during Summer block partyheld until September 4, 2023. We danced at the Legoland Summer Jam dance party, plus a stunt performance, a DJ, a dance party with Benny from “The Lego Movie”, etc

Check out Legoland Seasonal events page for date and details. If possible, I recommend visiting one of these events for even more Lego-themed fun.

You need more than one day to do it all


We spent the day in Legoland California from opening to closing, and left with a full list of things we still want to do. We’ve played most of our favorite games, but we don’t have enough time to sneak in Aquarium of marine life or Legoland Water Park.

Next time we visit, I plan to add a second day so we have time to do it all. The aquarium and water park are easily accessible inside the park. Lockers are available near the main entrance of the park and inside the water park, so you can bring your swimwear without carrying it around all day

You can trade minifigures with Legoland’s “Model Citizens”


One of my kids’ favorite things about Legoland is the Minifigure trading with Legoland employees (known as Model Citizens). You can bring your own Miniatures from home or buy them at the park to trade with Model Citizens.

You can ask any Model Citizen to trade (most have thumbnails on their name badges) or you can check out the Thumbnail trade posts around the park for more options . It’s interesting to see what Miniatures you can find and it helps you get an inexpensive (or free if you bring your own) souvenir from your trip.

You can skip the line with the Ride ‘N’ Reserve card


Reserve ‘N’ Ride is Legoland California’s way to skip the lines at its most popular attractions. There are three versions with three different prices. Basically, the more you pay, the less time you spend waiting in line. Here is a breakdown of pricing and details for each version:

  • Reserve ‘N’ Ride Ultimate: $100 per person, reducing wait times by up to 90%
  • Reserve ‘N’ Ride Deluxe: $55 per person, reducing wait times by up to 50%
  • Reserve ‘N’ Ride Express: $35 per person, reducing wait times by up to 25%

Once you purchase a Reserve ‘N’ Ride, you can reserve ride times for the day using the Legoland California mobile app. The service can run out of tickets, so it’s best to purchase an ‘N’ Ride in advance if you want to use it during your visit.

Stay at a nearby hotel for Legoland perks

Legoland California has two hotels on site, Legoland Hotel and Legoland Castle Hotel. Both hotels have fun Lego themes, nightly entertainment, free breakfast, and outdoor pools. Each room has a separate children’s sleeping area and a children’s object game with prizes.

Both hotels are located just outside the main Legoland gate, and hotel guests have early access to pick up Legoland games before the park opens to the public.

While not an official Legoland hotel, there are several hotels within walking distance (or a short drive away) that offer their own theme park perks. Options include The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa, Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa and Club Hilton Grand Vacations MarBrisa Carlsbad.

Related: The best hotels in San Diego

Guests at each of these hotels have access to Legoland’s own entrance (near the back of the park) allowing you to skip the longer lines at the front entrance. You can walk to the entrance from your hotel or drive and park in the parking lot provided.

bottom line


My family enjoyed their time in Legoland California. Because our boys’ ages range from 4 to 10, it can be difficult to find holiday activities that all of them are excited about. Our oldest loves thrill rides, and our youngest isn’t quite there yet.

Legoland California has games and activities that our whole family can enjoy together, which is the key to a successful family vacation in my eyes. Well, that, and enjoy a serving of hot, crispy fries.

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