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Legoland with kids ages 5 to 8 - Should you go?

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My just turned 5 year old begged to visit Legoland California on his 5th birthday, so we made a family trip out of it when Legoland gave me 4 one day passes to check it out this summer. So I bought one extra ticket to cover my family of five and decided to splurge on a hotel and booked two nights at the Legoland hotel just steps from the gate being I saved some money by getting a few free tickets. (Read my article on the Legoland Hotel.)
I found a discount code for 40% off tickets from Barbaras cereals - you can use the code too by buying the tickets at this link: legoland.com/barbaras2014. This is the cheapest one day passes I could find anywhere - about $60 for adults and $50 for kids. You can get one day for just Legoland or you can add on the aquarium and water park for a few extra bucks. The code lets you buy up to six passes.
The short answer to answer the question - Is Legoland worth it? - is: not really. It's not that Legoland is so bad. It's just that the retail price is about the same for a day at Disneyland. Comparing what you get for the money, Legoland isn't worth it. So many of the rides at Legoland are SO incredibly fast. You should get to ride them three times to make how long you have to wait in line worth it. Most of the rides have too few seats available at each turn, making the lines stack up like crazy. You can spend about 200% of the normal entrance fee and buy passes that let you cut in line. But I wouldn't do it. There's no way it is worth that extra money unless you are made of money and if you are, just go to Disneyland because it is the premium place to be. Plus everyone scowls at the people with those upgraded passes like they are line cutters. It is not pleasant.
Legoland reminded me all around of a generic version of Disneyland. The rides - except for The Dragon - were missing anything special to make them Lego themed. There are things made out of Legos to look at sure, but other than that you ride a way too small, too slow slightly upgraded carnival ride. And that's all really a shame because Legoland *COULD* be SO cool! But it misses the opportunities around every corner. For one, we saw one Lego MiniFigure characters anywhere. We did see a few "characters" - but they were just poorly dressed sad looking "princesses" and the like. My kids were like why are those people dressed in costumes. I said, they are supposedly characters here. To that, they said, that's sad. My kids are HUGE Lego fans. They love every single minifigure and adore the movie. They were out of their mind excited to visit Legoland. We all wanted to love it but instead around every turn were disappointed.
I think Legoland reps should visit Disneyland and think about what makes it so great. They will find that there are people who care about attention to detail. They will find little surprises everywhere they look. They will find at least three times the staff on all the rides and staff that seem like they really want to be working where they are. They will find informed, helpful workers who know answers to questions. They will find good directions, good signage and good maps that actually tell you how to find the rides you are looking for. They will also find that no one is trying to get you to spend even more money on extra rides once you get inside. (Legoland had the nerve to charge for a small rock climbing wall. They also have carnival games that include a guy that tries to guess things about the kids so they waste their money and don't win generic prizes. It was shameful, actually.)
The good thing was that my 5 year old was tall enough to ride all of the rides. The bad thing was that those rides were lame and even he only enjoyed three of them - the Dragon roller coaster, the Techno roller coaster and the dinosaur roller coaster. Most of the rides my 6.5 and 8 year old thought were BORING. They actually said after the first ride how sad the park was. I told them to act like they were having a good time for their brother being it was his birthday, so they did. They did enjoy the Dragon coaster and the totally drenching Pirate Reef boat plunge ride when all was said and done. (Also, let me add here that having to go through Legoland to get to the water park was weird. They did have a few good slides like Orange Rush which is for the whole family to ride together, but I wouldn't do that again either.)
If you are in the San Diego area for some other reason and have a day with nothing to do and the park is open and you get free tickets and can eat only ice cream during your park visit, then sure, go. But otherwise, spend the same on the tickets and actually less to stay at the Disney Paradise Pier hotel and you'll have a much better time with your family, ride more rides even at a peak time, and eat better park food.

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