One day at Legoland California can be just the right amount of time for even the most Lego-obsessed family. But planning is in order to make the most of that one day at Legoland. If the family only has a mild interest in the awesome building blocks, then one day at Legoland California is the perfect amount of time. Just plan to arrive before the gates open and plan to stay all day, because there is much to see.
Our one day at Legoland California came at the second leg of our time in Carlsbad during the last week of May. We began our Southern California vacation in Los Angeles before spending a few days in Carlsbad enjoying the beach. We traveled to Anaheim during the middle of the week for a day at Disneyland before returning to Carlsbad to unwind at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa and spend one day at Legoland California.
The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa is in a great location for visitors to Legoland California. The hotel is adjacent to the theme park, close enough to walk and with its own private entrance on the backside of the park. The Legoland Hotel is adjacent to the front entrance of Legoland, and I’m sure it’s a solid lodging option for those families looking to be even closer to the action. But for our family, we needed the separation that came each night at the Sheraton. But more on that in a moment.
Is One Day at Legoland California possible?
The answer to that question depends on who is on the trip and what you want to get out of a visit. Our 8-year-old son enjoys playing with Legos but is not obsessed with the blocks. He who has seen “The Lego Movie” more than a few times, but not an unhealthy amount. One day at Legoland California worked well for our family.
He was excited about many of the rides, the opportunity to create his own Lego mini figurines when we first arrived, seeing the awesome “Star Wars” world and many of the other fun attractions. I was hopeful we’d be able to spend a few hours at the attached Legoland Water Park. We had a park hopper pass that allowed us to move from Legoland to the water park to the Sea Life Aquarium. But our son was having so much fun in the main park we just never made it over to the water.
So if enjoying the main Legoland park and experiencing the water park fully are important to you I would suggest investing in a two-day pass.
By attending in late May the operating hours were shorter. Legoland California was open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Legoland Water Park was open noon to 5 p.m. If visiting later in the summer, the park is open as late as 8 p.m. with the water park often staying open until 7 p.m. So if you visit Legoland California during the peak summer season, it might be more possible to explore both parks in one day.
By staying at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa, we had access to our own private entrance that opened when the park’s gates did at 10 a.m. But we decided to walk in early; the main gates open one hour before opening time with some of the rides opening 30 minutes prior.
The wait to get in the main gates wasn’t long, but we did encounter school groups lining up for a day at the park.
Once we were in we went straight to Sky Cruiser, one of the rides that always has one of the longest waits because so few people can ride at a time. In hindsight I would’ve picked a different ride to start with so our son wouldn’t have had to spend his first 30 minutes in the park waiting in line.
The only ride he had his mind on was Driving School where he was able to get his own “driver’s license” and drive miniature cars around a little city. He must have gone on that ride at least 15 times throughout the day.
There really wasn’t a rhyme or reason to our Legoland experience, and that worked well for us. Maybe you have certain rides you must experience over and over. Other than Sky Cruiser we didn’t experience any long waits. Of course just 36 hours prior we were at Disneyland where a 30-minute wait was bliss.
And the lack of waits is one of the great things about Legoland. Yes, it was busy but never crazy crowded. Our son was able to ride Driving School repeatedly without a long wait between rides.
We could get up close and personal with the Lego Star Wars Miniland and the collection of mini cities.
While we didn’t use our private gate for morning entrance it did come in handy when we got a little wet riding Splash Battle and then absolutely drenched riding Pirate Reef.
Instead of walking around the park all day in soaked clothing we could sneak back to the Sheraton Carlsbad for a quick change into dry clothing.
One of the fun things about Legoland California is the roller coasters. There are a few, and while none of them are overly scary, they do present enough thrills for older kids to have a blast. In fact, our son refused to ride the Lego Technic Coaster. He did find The Dragon and Coastersaurus more his speed.
One of my favorite rides was Aquazone Wave Racer. It was fun dodging the randomly exploding water splashes as we raced around.
And speaking of “The Lego Movie,” the part of the movie set from the basement scene is on display.
Where to Stay
So I earlier mentioned some of the positives about our stay at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa. The property’s location adjacent to Legoland California means no worries about parking when visiting the park.
And while the families hanging out in the hotel’s massive pool and hot tub in the evenings were obviously relaxing after a day at Legoland, that was pretty much the only connection to the theme park. For families who need Lego magic all over the property, the nearby Legoland Hotel is an option.
But for families who prefer separation from the park in an environment that is equally relaxing for parents and kids, the Sheraton Carlsbad is hard to beat. We had a room overlooking the pool, but there are plenty of rooms that look out to the Pacific Ocean down the hillside.
The hotel is not next to the beach but there is a free service that takes guests down to the surf. Our son made friends with some other boys playing in the heated pool while we were able to relax our sore muscles from Disneyland and Legoland in the large hot tub.