Legoland California Resort First Time Tips

If you’ve never been to Legoland California, located in Carlsbad, California, there’s some important information you may need to know before you go.


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Take a look around the park!

When it comes to vacationing at Legoland California, there are a few different things you may need to know prior to booking and prior to your trip.  This post contains both preplanning information as well as what to expect when you arrive at the hotel.


Pre-planning your Legoland trip

The first thing to think about when planning your vacation is where to stay.  Legoland California has 2 themed hotels, the Legoland Hotel and the Legoland Castle Hotel.  The surrounding area also includes several additional hotel options. 

The 2 onsite themed hotels start at around $200/night for off-peak season to over $400/night for summer vacations.  Each hotel includes about a half dozen themed rooms that are unique to each hotel and contain several fun activities that make staying here worth the cost.


When booking through the Legoland website, whether choosing a Legoland themed hotel or a nearby hotel, you’re given the option to purchase a room only or vacation package.  The vacation package includes park tickets for the number of guests listed on the reservation, which usually come at a discounted rate when included.  Check their current deals to see if they’re offering a special ticket offer.  When I booked this spring for our summer vacation, the package included 2 day park hoppers for the price of a regular 1 day ticket.

If you’re staying elsewhere in the area and want to visit the parks, individual park tickets start at $90 per day for a single park ticket or $100 for a park hopper ticket and go up during peak periods. The resort technically includes 3 gates, but you must purchase a ticket to the main Legoland park to get access to the Legoland Water Park.  So, ticket options include Legoland only, Sea Life Aquarium only ($25 for a 1 day pass), Legoland + Sea Life Aquarium, Legoland + Legoland Water Park, or you can choose all 3.


Additionally, when purchasing tickets, you  can choose to include a skip the line pass.  Legoland offers 3 levels based on time saved. You can choose 25% time reduction for $35 per person, 50% for $55 per person, or 90% for $100 per person.  If going during a peak time, this will help save a good amount of time skipping lines while off peak times, the pass will mostly be unnecessary.

Right now, guests purchasing separate park tickets will require a theme park reservation while guests booking a vacation package will not require the theme park reservation. 


Once you’ve booked your stay, you will want to download the Legoland California app from your phone’s app store.  The app will allow you to start strategizing your trip.  You can see the park map, read ride descriptions, make  reservations, and schedule VIP experiences.  The app also allows you to see current wait times, but is only available while in the park.  If you want to see wait times while outside the park, check out the thrill data website.


Legoland will send an order confirmation email at the time of your purchase.  However, your park tickets will not be sent until 5 days before your hotel reservation begins or your first park day for individual tickets.  The ticket email will include the Order ID to add your tickets into the app.  However, if you call and talk to a phone support person, they can give that number to you over the phone.  The main reason is, if you change your plans, the Order ID will change.

A few other add-ons you can purchase ahead of time to save time or money include 1 dinner buffet for the entire party which saves 20% per person, valet parking which ensures availability of the service upon your arrival, early check-in or late check-out, and a refillable Coke freestyle cup.


A few days before your trip, you’ll receive a pdf document that will need to be printed or accessible on your phone as each page has different bar codes that will need to be scanned when at the resort to redeem prepurchased items in your package.

What to Expect at Legoland

When you arrive in Southern California, you’re likely to be driving from San Diego, Anaheim/Orange County, or LAX, either way, you’ll be taking I-5 to get to Carlsbad/Legoland.  You’ll take the Cannon Road exit off I-5 and that will take you to Legoland Drive.


Once on Legoland Dr and heading towards the parking lot, you’ll get to a tollbooth.  Guests staying at the hotels will get a parking pass for the length of stay and pay for the parking upon checking into the hotel.  (This will be the first page you’ll use from the emailed document.)  Then you’ll circle around the parking lot following the signs to the hotel where you’re staying. 

At the front of the hotel, if you didn’t prepay for Valet parking, you may be able to still use Valet, just ask when you arrive. Otherwise, the Legoland hotel selfparking is in the area of the map above that says Hotel Parking, so not too bad. Also, if you need to haul luggage on a cart, that is managed by the valet attendants as well, so check with them on availability.


Walking into the lobby is pretty loud and chaotic as they have a few play areas and loud music playing around the hotel.  If you’re here before 4pm, you can only check-in if you prepaid for early check-in.  Your hotel check-in is another page of the document. Below is a screenshot.  I highlighted some important information regarding additional charges.


If you’re ready to go to the parks, you’ll have a paper ticket page from the document for everyone in your group. Or, if you added the order to the app, you can just have your app scanned.  They stamp your arm or hand when you go in or out of the park so you don’t have to keep scanning the barcode.  

If you prepaid for the Reserve n Ride, you’ll have a page in the document to get this activated.  You’ll have to do that inside the park on the day you want to use it.  They are open during early entry, but don’t waste early entry ride time getting it set up! See the 360 image below for the location, it’s just inside the main gate, a few storefronts down, the red building, which says Reserve n Ride above the window.  You can also go here to purchase RnR for your park day, based on availability, if you didn’t prepay.  Looks like this is the same place to check in for a VIP tour as well.


Also in this image, though a bit harder to find, is the place to redeem your Coke Freestyle refillable cup.  Off to my left is a group of tables with umbrellas.  The store is on the other side of the tables and is the corner building.  There are 2 Coke Freestyle machines inside, to let you know you’re in the right spot.  The cups have an RFID sticker on the bottom which is good until midnight the day it’s used.  You can ask for stickers for the length of your stay so you don’t go back each day.  You just peel off the old sticker and put the new sticker in place.  I think season pass holders get a sticker active for a ye seear. There are 3 refill stations around the park that you can use as many times as you want throughout the day.


Going back to Reserve n Ride, this system only allows you to reserve 1 ride at a time, but it’s not as bad as it seems. When you go to reserve a specific ride, the system looks at the current wait time and tells you to come back in a specific amount of time based on your RnR package. For example, I had the ultimate package to remove up to 90% of the wait. I wanted to reserve a ride with a 75 minute wait, so the system had me come back in 10 minutes. However, most rides typically don’t have lines that long, so a typical return time was within 5 minutes.

There is a total of 15 rides available with RnR and you can reserve rides multiple times if you do desire, except for Emmett’s Flying Adventure, where each person in your party can use it once. Some rides can fill up during a given time, but as soon as the backlog clears, I believe the RnR opens back up. We personally used it 8 times, but we’re able to go on 12 of the 15 rides. The other 4 rides, we were able to do with Early Entry.


Early Entry is available starting at 9:30am for the LEGO branded hotel guests to be able to access a select few rides prior to other guests entering the park. The typical rides are Coastersaurus, Fairy Tale Brook, Coast Cruise and Ninjago. We were there on a holiday where the park opened at 9am instead and Safari Trek was also available. I did Coastersaurus alone while we all did Safari Trek, Fairy Tale Brook and Coast Cruise. I later did Ninjago alone with Reserve n Ride.

Dining options on site include the Hotel restaurants, which are buffet style restaurants that serve breakfast and dinner. Each hotel restaurant requires reservations for both meals. Breakfast is free for hotel guests, while dinner is 28/adult and 15/kid. Prepaying with your vacation package can save 20%. In the park, there are about a half dozen quick service restaurants plus several snack stands available to get a quick energy boost.


Throughout both the hotels and parks, there are numerous opportunities to play and build with LEGOs, watch live shows or interact with LEGO characters. There’s also many LEGO brick sculptures to admire.

I think that about covers everything you may need to know prior to taking a trip to Legoland California. Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comment section. Would love to hear from anyone thinking about going to Legoland California!


While you plan, check out my full 360° walkthrough video to get an idea of where everything is located!

If you’re ready to start exploring a Legoland California family vacation, I recommend checking out Undercover Tourist for your ticket options.  I’ve already used them a few times, twice at Disneyland and once at Disney World and will plan to continue comparing their prices with other sites, however I usually come back to UT because they have the best deals and their instructions make it easy to add your tickets to the Legoland and Disney apps.


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