So I noticed there wasn't many things out there when we were researching to surprise our little one for a "Holiday Snow Day" trip to Legoland. Also during Riley and I's first trip there we missed like half of my to do list just getting confused. It's not like Disneyland where everything is linked so it's easy to miss things, so here's some things we have learned during our recent visit.
First & foremost: NEVER pay full price for a ticket! There seems to always be a special. May need to search online, hunt down a cereal box, or a can of soda but there are always cheaper ways in.
Next, as mentioned above, this is not Disneyland! Even on it's busiest days it's nothing like the craziness of that theme park or even Sea World's. It is totally possible to do everything within a day during off season, which seems to be any time that isn't summer. This park has shorter hours and during off season and are even closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so plan around that. We almost tried for a week day to avoid crowds which later seemed pointless in our worries and also not really possible since they weren't even open, lol. Instead we arrived just a few minutes before opening and were done and out of there about 2 hours before the park was to close (5pm that day). All was accomplished even a few repeats, park play times and a buffet lunch with time to spare. *Though I may mention we skipped a few things that were for the older crowd and one ride was closed for refurbishment.
Seems like most of the real Holiday fun was going down in "Fun Town." Here's a link of the activities and where to peak at: Snow Days Entertainment Guide. One item in the center of the town is what is being said to be the "World's Largest Lego Christmas Tree." When it came to the snow fun I was happy with how organized the park was. They allowed 10 mins to each group and they raked the snow in-between so it wasn't like the next group was stuck on hard block of slippery ice but some snow to pick up and throw. They had some really cute accessories for their snowman and some fun big Legos for the little ones not quite to the tossing age. I loved that because they did break up into sessions it allowed for sled sliding time if the kid wished. There also was a separate station for snow innertubbing and was pretty fun for the little one, but a pain for me, cause I was the one dragging the tube cause the rolling wasn't agreeing with me and my husband got left behind. Our Riley was much too small to roll it on her own, though seeing her smile and laugh made it beyond worth it. Also a fun little "snow flurry" hits the town, cute even if it's just bubbles. :)
The layout is best to imagine as a big circle with Lego Mini-Town & Star Wars Lego Scenes set up in the middle front. To the front left of entrance is Hopper entrance to their aquarium, Sea Life and beyond that is the toddler friendly zone. If you go right after entering you go to the Lego play areas and on to bigger kid thrill rides up to Adventure Zones. We didn't go far enough to the left or right last time so missed all the fun towards the back of the park, don't do what we did, make sure to see it all. We were much happier this time around. Also don't worry to much about devoting time to Sea Life Aquarium, it's cool but it really doesn't take to long unless you want to sit and stare at each fish for awhile, I would say it only takes about an hour.
There are things for the young and old, but the target audience seems to be 5-12 years. If there's a huge Lego fan or a inner nerd dying for a day of play this is perfect! But the "thrill rides" are on the not so crazy scale and there really is only 1 or 2. "The Dragon" ride is perfect for the little ones that are just starting to want to join in on roller-coasters and very easy on the stomach of those that typically can't handle such things.
Make sure to relax and let your kids run crazy on the playgrounds, it definitely takes a lot of the theme park stress away.
Just in case you haven't looked yet there are a few official Legoland resources and the honestly best one is the desktop Legoland page! By far the most helpful! But, because I was trying to be sneaky about it was trying on the mobile version and for some reason only wanted to list last years info. :/ An as for their app, well it was cool to have the map but it was also a little bit of lack. It lets you "plan your day" but I didn't really get it. While at the park I didn't even bother with it, but was totally over joyed when Instagram worked with no problems! Sounds dorky, but seriously one of my biggest annoyances when at Disneyland when I can't share our fun with family and friends.
As for money, there are cheaper souvenirs available so that is always a plus. You can get $6 or less little Lego packs for example. Some parents have said no Legos that can be found in stores or plan a budget. We stuck to end of the day pick, but if you want they offer kind of like "Pin Trading" a little Lego character trading. There is a store to the left or right when you first enter if you wanna get one and keep trading with employees as your day goes. They keep there's on their name badges so it's just something extra fun if your little one is into Lego characters, I believe they call them "Lego Mini figures" to be exact. Parking for a car is the typical theme park $15. Food wasn't crazy, but it wasn't exactly cheap.
When researching I keep coming across the "MUST HAVE" treat/snack of the park, Apple Fries found at "Granny's Apple Fries." Well, the husband and I were was sadly let down do to the hype. Riley really didn't care that much either. The funny thing is we had went to get it and the snack stand was still closed and actually went back. They kind of reminded us of a cross between apple chips and funnel cake fries. They're like apple pieces cut into fry chunks and fried then covered in sugar and cinnamon with a side of vanilla whip cream deal. They were good, but to say a must have is a little far fetched.
As for food, I'm sure there is a way to bring in snacks and such, but the site says no outside food allowed so we planned on shelling out for lunch in the park. (Though you can get a hand-stamp leave to eat and come back.) The first time I went there with our kiddo we ate at a sports bar kind of place, loved it, loved the food and the price wasn't to bad, but this time that place had been converted to a "Pizza & Pasta Buffet." It was about the price you would guess for park, but I think it was the best bang for the buck. $15 Adult & $10 per kid. Employees were super friendly and helpful. Pizza was constantly being made so I couldn't really complain. :) It wasn't extravagant and the salad bar wasn't the most amazing, but it definitely meet our needs. The only thing my husband said was missing was like a soft serve ice cream or some kind desert offered like most buffets.
It's fun and definitely worth it, but don't stress about not getting a membership, even with our 5 year old I don't see this being a must repeat through out the year, unless we lived closer to it. seasonal stuff may be fun to check out but I don't feel like the park changes that much or holds that much to make it a must on a regular basis. The only thing we didn't get to do that I really wish to check out is the Water Park, one day we're gonna have to try that. ;)
*Thoughts and photographs were completely our own. We were not given anything to visit the park or to write anything about it.