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Monday 18 January 2016

Legoland California

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Legoland. All opinions are my own.

Travelling with young kids isn't always easy. Sometimes it can be downright hard, especially when long distances in a car are involved. Hell, I get bored sitting in a car for hours and hours on end too. But, in my experience at least, the positives always outweigh any negatives. The experiences that our children will remember for a lifetime always trump the non-stop "Are we there yet?" questions that we try to block out from the back of the car.

Most of the advantages of travelling with kids benefit the kids themselves. Broader horizons, experiencing new places and cultures, having fun etc etc... But there's one big advantage for us adults too that I'm going admit right now... Travelling with kids gives us the perfect excuse to visit super fun places we wouldn't normally go to as an adult. Places that you wanted to visit as a child but never got the chance to. Places that are super fun but feel kind of weird to go to on your own as a grown up. 

One such place that we visited over the Winter break fell right into this category - Legoland!

I've been wanting to visit Legoland for as long as I can remember. As I kid I loved Lego. It was always one of my favorite toys to play with. My favorites were always the Fabuland characters, the ones with the animal heads - anyone else remember those? I'm pleased to say that my girls are all just as fond of Lego as I was. In fact, Mathilde is building with Duplo next to my desk as I type this. Note to self, check the ground for stray Duplo pieces before getting up for that next coffee break! Lego is fun, but damn, does it hurt to step on!

We started our day at Legoland shortly after it opened for the day. With only one day there I knew we were going to need every last minute. In fact, even with a full day we only saw about half of Legoland. That gives us a great excuse to go again in a year or two!

The girls were pretty keen to check out Lego Friends Heartlake City first up. Ava has quite a few Lego Friends sets and she was pretty excited to see that there was a real life "City Park Creperie" just like she has at home. So we stopped for crepes (delicious!), enjoyed a performance on the stage, and posed for a couple of photos with a few Lego Friends before heading to Heartlake Stables.

How amazing are the Lego flowers below? Is it weird that I seriously want some of these in a pot by my front door?

In the stables the girls took it in turns "riding" a Lego horse and then we made our way to the carousel which was our first ride for the day. The girls always love riding carousels and it's even more fun when the horses are giant Lego horses!

From Heartlake City we made our way to Duplo Playtown where Mathilde was in her element. The girls climbed on the play equipment, pretended to drive Duplo vehicles and played inside of Duplo houses and stores. Mathilde kept trying her hardest to close the doors to each house but little did she know they were bolted open!

We then made our way to our second ride for the day; Fairy Tale Brook in the Explorer Island area. This lovely little boat ride makes its way past beloved (and not so beloved!) characters from classic fairy tales. We saw Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, and plenty of bad guys too like the Big Bad Wolf. Oh, and watch out for the troll under the water!

The girls were keen to go on more rides, so once we were finished cruising around Fairy Tale Brook we headed to the Safari Trek. Unfortunately Mathilde was too short for this ride so she stayed with me and watched Kim, Ava and Lola go on Safari. One great thing about this particular ride, is that while Mathilde was too short to join in she was still catered for. Next to the line for the ride there is an enclosed area with Duplo blocks for little siblings (or kids that don't like waiting in lines) to play with. So while Ava and Lola zoomed through the safari in their little Jeeps Mathilde built with Duplo. Hooray!

We then decided it was time to do a little shopping. I had originally planned to leave the shopping to the end of the day so we didn't have to lug it all around with us. However, the clever people at Legoland have thought about this and offer a Package Pickup service free of charge. All that shopping can be left securely and collected at the end of the day. Hooray! So we headed to both The Big Shop by the entrance and Heartlake City Boutique for the girls to do a little shopping with their Christmas money. Ava chose a Minecraft set, Lola chose Elsa's Ice Castle, and Mathilde chose a Duplo car and horse float set. I really wanted to get the girls these Lego mugs too but I figured we really don't need any more mugs/cups at home. My Starbucks "You are here" collection of mugs is already overflowing out of our limited cupboard space!

We then took a little walk to check out some of the Lego sculptures on display around the lake near the entrance. You'll see that there are lots of exciting looking rides just on the other side of the lake. We'll have to save those rides for our next visit when the girls are a little older as Ava was too scared to go on most of these. She still hasn't forgiven Kim and I for tricking her into riding the Thunder Mountain (or Thunder of Fear, as she renamed it) mini roller coaster at Disneyland. Our big girl is all about the sedate rides. Lola was keen to try out a few more adventurous rides but she was too short for most of them. Needless to say, so too was Mathilde!

We then made our way to Funtown (next to all of those fun looking, but "scary" rides) where Ava and Lola tried their hand at driving Lego cars. Ava drove around the track of the Driving School while Lola drove around the Junior Driving School. They both passed with flying colors and earned their very own Lego driver's licenses. Ok, Mathilde got one too even though she didn't take the test.

By now it was starting to get dark. Ah, the downside of visiting fun outdoor places in Winter. I was most looking forward to seeing Miniland USA so we headed there next. Unfortunately as it was getting dark it wasn't so easy to see everything. The New York City buildings looked amazing all lit up but a lot of the other cities were a little hard to see. Had I known they wouldn't be flood lit at night I would've made sure we stopped by earlier in the day. As it was getting dark and I didn't have my tripod with my I don't have as many photos of Miniland USA to share as I would've liked. Believe me, it's pretty amazing though. Being Christmas time there were lots of little holiday touches in Miniland USA. Santa and his reindeer flew around one of the New York skyscrapers. A row of Santas (heading to Santacon?) lined the steps of a San Francisco Victorian. Another Santa was seen hanging around outside a New Orleans jazz club. There were plenty more to be seen too.

We decided we wanted to squeeze in one last ride before we left the park so we headed to the Coast Cruise. We had seen this boat cruising around on the lake quite a few times throughout the day (you can see it further back in the photo with the elephant) and the girls were keen to go for a ride. The Coast Cruise took us past plenty of fun Lego sculptures including more landmarks from the USA and around the world. We saw the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House and Mount Rushmore. Look, George Washington's ear is being cleaned with a giant cotton bud!

The girls were getting pretty tired from their long day by now but they weren't quite ready to go so we stopped by the Build & Test area in the Imagination Zone. Here the girls built Lego cars and raced them on a track. The girls enjoyed building and racing their cars but it was a little chaotic with kids rushing around everywhere. We stayed for a little while before deciding to call it a day. The girls were tired and we had a pretty long drive ahead of us to reach our hotel for the night.

As I mentioned earlier, there were so many things at Legoland that we didn't get a chance to see. We didn't make it to Pirate Shore, Castle Hill or Land of Adventure. Our tickets also gave us entry to the Sea Life aquarium but we ran out of time before we had a chance to check it out.

We'll definitely be going back to Legoland again in the future. The kids really enjoyed it and there's still so much for us to see. And maybe the next time around I might be able to convince Ava to go on a few of the more adventurous rides!

Planning a trip to Legoland? Here a few tips:

  • If possible, put aside two full days for Legoland. I wish we had done this. It really is huge.
  • If possible, stay at the Legoland Hotel. You'll be able to enter the park earlier than other guests and you won't have to travel at the end of a long day. Once again, I wish we'd done this! 
  • Download the park map before you go so you can plan your day in advance. This is extra important if you have limited time at the park.
  • If you have kids of varying ages, check out the height restrictions for rides before you visit. We were able to coordinate Mathilde's nap time while Ava and Lola were on rides that she was too small for. 
  • Make use of the Package Pickup service for your shopping rather than visiting the store before closing when it's super busy.
  • The food at Legoland is actually really good. None of the usual fried stuff you expect at attractions catering towards children.
  • If you're visiting during Winter don't forget that the sun sets a few hours before the park closes.
  • And most of all... Enjoy! Legoland is such a fun place!

For more information check out the Legoland website here.

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