Legoland Review

Castle in Legoland HotelRecently, we went on vacation to Florida, and for the first time in years, did not go to Disney World. But, we couldn’t just skip parks all together, so we decided to try Legoland.

Legoland is certainly a better park to go to than Dollywood. On a scale of one to ten, where Disney World is a 10, I’d say Dollywood is a 3 and Legoland a solid 6.

Legoland is ideal for kids ages 4-8 years old. So if you are like many people with multiple kids, you may have one or two kids it’s great for, and then another kid who is bored.

The Boy driving a firetruck on a track for 3 to 4 year olds onlyIt does have good things for that age group. They even have some rides that only kids ages 3 to 4 can ride while older kids have to go someplace else. I liked this because it meant no older kids ruining things for my kid.
Other parents didn’t like it because it meant mom and dad having to split kids up into two lines at two different areas. Kudos to the employees who insisted on brothers and sisters splitting up too, even in the face of a couple of rude families who had obviously read the signs but felt they didn’t apply to them (or apparently the rules for kids to not climb on the rails, or not cutting in line). For those of us with one child, it was an advantage not having ill-behaved 7-year-olds running over my child in a car while he tried to steer.

The Boy riding as a Knight on a Lego horseYou can certainly tell that Legoland used to be a local amusement park. Just as you can still see the bones of Silver Dollar City in Dollywood, you can still see a lot of Cypress Gardens in Legoland. Some of the rides have obviously just been face-lifted to have Lego themes. Some newer rides, like in the World of Chima area, are much better made. But the employees are obviously proud of the history of the park and it made it feel more interesting.

We weren’t able to get to the water park section and I’ve heard that is a great area to visit. We’ll probably do that next time. Since we got to ride the water ride in World of Chima over and over (there were times where the employees just asked if we wanted to stay on) we ended up soaking wet as it was.

We liked Legoland.

We liked that we were able to find discounts on annual passes. We got The Boy the Awesome Pass and Mike and I got the special they ran on Cinco De Mayo of buy-one-Awesomer Pass and get-one free. That saved us $150.

The shopping, which seems to be a great deal of the park, doesn’t have anything that you can’t find online or a big Lego store. We did buy some Lego sets since the Awesomer Pass did get us a discount. One of the nice employees did spend quite a bit of time for me feeling all the minifig packs until she found me a Buzz Lightyear, Captain Hook and Peter Pan. So that’s something you don’t get in most Lego stores.

That brings me to the employees. They were not on par with Disney cast members, but they were running a pretty close second. Everyone was helpful. Everyone had a pretty good attitude. The young employees at the World of Chima water ride were the best. Taunting the riders to try to soak them with water from the guns as they pulled up from the ride. Laughing if they accidentally got hit as riders started the water guns up as they were leaving.

Legoland is not Disney. Where Disney would cover up the mechanics of how things work, Legoland was missing many of those touches. In the Miniland area, all the little tracks that boats, cars, etc. ran on were not covered up. Water in the Miniland area was stale looking. Miniature buildings looked like they needed a good scrubbing. It was neat to look at, but a little disappointing too knowing they could have taken that small extra step to make things, well, more magical. It was really these small touches that made it not feel on par with Disney. That being said, The Boy loved pushing the buttons in this area to get cars to move, pirate boats to squirt us with water, and smoke to come out of Star Wars fire-fights.

The family and the knight in the Legoland hotelThe Legoland hotel was a well themed hotel. We didn’t stay overnight, but we spent a few hours there letting The Boy play in the Lego pit, at the castle, and then had lunch in the bar area. We met the Knight; they also had a court jester to play Lego with the kids. The lunch we had there was pretty good, much better value and quality than the food we had in the park. I don’t think I’d stay at that hotel since the rooms were $300+/night. But it was nice to see and I’d definitely leave the park to eat in the bar area of the hotel. They even have non-alcoholic fancy drinks you can buy for your kids.

Legoland may not have all the magic of Disney, but, it also was a LOT cheaper than going to three days at Disney would have been. I think if we’d not been able to get a buy-one, get-one on our passes, I’d have been a bit disappointed. But we spent in total $270 on passes for three people for tickets we can use for a year. We get food discounts, we get free parking, we get discounts on merchandise. That’s not bad at all. As a comparison, a 3-day ticket for two adults and one child to Disney World is $852 and parking at Disney would be extra unless staying on property. Disney tickets get cheaper/per day the longer you go, but a Disney vacation is still a lot more than going to Legoland.

But, something to remember:  Disney World is the destination for your vacation. Legoland is the fun place you go to while you’re on vacation. I think we’ll be going back.

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Tips & Tricks for a Successful Disney Vacation with or without kids – Part 3 – packing list

The Packing List Post

For Part 1

For Part 2

This is the final part of the Tips and Tricks posts, though I have ideas for other posts along the way. This post is my packing list. There are some extremely detailed packing lists out there that include everything but the kitchen sink, but this is a paired down list for what you can fit in a small car. Speaking of small cars, this was what we drove down and we fit everything listed here plus a bit I’m sure I forgot:

2006-kia-spectra5

That’s a Kia Spectra 5 hatchback that held stuff for two adults and a kid (including stroller) and was driven from Tennessee to Florida. We were a bit tight.

crammedcar1

Surprisingly though, the adults had plenty of space and The Boy had quite a bit of leg room where you can’t see it.

So? What did we bring?

My Packing List:
Important Stuff to not forget:

  • Tickets for parks
  • Memory Maker card
  • Tickets for MNSSHP
  • Paper version of our general itinerary. (I’ll talk about this in a future post)

Technology:

  • iPads for Mom and Boy
  • chargers
  • iPhones
  • Dad’s MacBook and charger
  • connector for iPad to TV
  • Camera (we ended up not needing this and only used our cell phones and the Memory Maker)

Bed and Night time stuff:
We like sleeping with our own pillows and I’m fairly allergic to dust so I have bad reactions when I have to sleep on some hotel pillows exclusively.

  • 3 Pillows (1 for each adult and 1 for The Boy)
  • 1 Blue Blankie (The Boy cannot sleep without his favorite blankie)
  • Favorite stuffed animals (Meercat, Mickey)
  • Nighttime books (we always read before bed, so I brought a good assortment of The Boy’s favorite books)

Bathroom/Medical Items:

  • Prescription medications, Epi pen, etc.
  • 1 bottle of Sunscreen per person (even if you’re going in winter, wear sunscreen)
  • Frogg Toggs (tip, you can cut a large one into smaller pieces)
  • Ibuprofen/Tylenol for adults and kids
  • Benadryl for adults and kids
  • Heartburn medication
  • Deodorant
  • Shave gel/ disposable razors
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Combs/brushes
  • Makeup
  • Hair rubberbands
  • Shampoo (if you don’t want to use the hotel’s)
  • Soap (if you don’t want to use the hotel’s)
  • Small packets of tissues
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Swim diapers

Food/Kitchen Items:

  • Paper towels
  • Small bottle of dishwashing soap
  • Ziptop bags – go for the good kind with the actual zipper
  • Thermos bottles for drinks
  • Small snack packs like: raisins, cookies, peanut butter crackers
  • Bottled water
  • Juice boxes
  • Bottles of soda
  • Small insulated lunch size bag to hold water/snacks

Clothing

  • Laundry soap packets
  • 4 shirts per adults
  •  6 shirts per kid
  • 4 shorts per adult
  • 6 shorts per kid
  • 1 pair long pants per kid
  • 3 PJs per kid
  • 2 PJs per adult
  • 1 pair sunglasses per adults
  • 2 pair sunglasses per kid
  • 4 pair socks per adult
  • 6 pair socks per kid
  • 6 pair underwear per adult
  • 4 bras
  • 2 pair tennis shoes per adult
  • 1 pair water safe shoes per adult (husband did not use his)
  • 1 pair tennis shoes for kid (Tip: if getting a dog tag ID for shoes, make one for each pair of shoes taken)
  • 1 pair water-safe shoes for kid
  • 1 swim suit per adult
  • 2 swim suits per kid
  • Costumes for MNSSHP (Dad: Woody, Mom: Jessie, Son: Buzz Lightyear)

Kid Stuff for the Car Trip:
Put this in a small, easy open and easy to get to bag for car trip. Bring new items out when unhappiness ensues.

  • Buzz Lightyear mini-magna doodle
  • 3 New small “Matchbox” size cars and planes (we brought Avalanche and Dusty from Planes 2 movie)
  • 3 Dinosaurs ($1 -$3 each depending on size)
  • $1 Cars Lightning McQueen coloring book
  • A few crayons (tried to find triangle shaped ones and couldn’t)
  • Puffy/fuzzy stickers – these were the biggest hit after the Planes stuff.
  • Some of his favorite Cars: Mater/McQueen/Sally
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • iPad (with kid friendly movies, games, etc.)

Stuff for the Parks
Here are some items I packed for taking to the Parks. Notice I’m including a couple things from the list above since we used some of them both in parks and out.

  • Stroller
  • Stroller rain cover
  • Glow sticks from dollar store
  • Glow wands/swords from dollar store
  •  Insulated Bag with 2 frozen and 2 cold bottles of water
  •  Thermos bottle of water per person
  • Frogg Toggs
  • Kids swim suit
  • Change of clothes for kids
  • A couple of snack boxes
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissues
  • Wipes
  • 4 Diapers
  • 2 Swim diapers
  • Rain ponchos (Many debate bringing with or buying at the parks. We bought at the parks and then re-used those for the trip.)

These are the main items we packed, I’m sure I forgot some. But at least it will give you an idea of what you need and don’t need when going to Disney.