The new LEGOLAND Hotel, San Diego, opened its doors to guests this week and invited MiceChat to stay for a night. We decided to send the Hamand’s, long time MiceChat readers, and family of four, to check it out for us. Here’s their story of how this new hotel stacks up.
Our family loves LEGO. From the thousand piece sets that greet us when we walk in our front door, to the massive train track that sits on our son Adam’s bedroom floor, to the pixelated LEGO portrait of us that hangs in our hallway. We love LEGO. So, when we were given the opportunity by MiceChat to check out the new family focussed LEGOLAND Hotel we were very excited.
The first thing you see when you arrive at the hotel is a tall clock tower. A large LEGO dragon has made a home there and he welcomes you to the hotel. This is one of a family of four LEGO dragons that reside in the various areas of the hotel.
The second dragon is just inside the lobby doors. He turns a handle which makes a river of LEGO bricks flow through the lobby to a fantastic kids play area. There is also a LEGO building area that allows children to help cover a support column with LEGO bricks. This keeps kids entertained while parents’ complete the checking in process.
The check in desk of the hotel sits in front of a LEGO wall mural featuring 5,000 LEGO minifigures (minifigure is the official name for the guys with the yellow cylindrical heads.) There is also a LEGO bicycle rider moving back and forth above the desk who’s wheels magnify the minifigures as he rides past.
The front desk staff were knowledgeable and friendly. They were eager to help us get situated and checked in. They made us feel welcome and seemed genuinely excited to be launching the new hotel.
As soon as we walked through the doors our kids made a beeline straight through the lobby to the Castle and Pirate Play area. This was the end point for the river of bricks that the dragon from the lobby started flowing. The Play Area is a large castle/pirate ship structure with different rooms, child size doors, a ship’s wheel that spins a pirate flag, a castle drawbridge guarded by an ogre, and many, many bins full of LEGO bricks for children to build with.
(Piles of bricks for children to build with are a consistent theme in this hotel.)
Adjacent to the Castle Play area is Mini’s Lounge where guests can enjoy snacks and beverages. The comfy chairs here make a great base for parents to keep an eye on their children while they play in the Castle Play area.
After checking in and letting the kids play for a while, we headed to our room. Right near the elevator is a whoopie spot on the floor. When you step on this spot it makes a whoopie cushion noise and a minifig decal on the wall behind you makes fun of your flatulence. He’s wearing a biohazard suit so you know he’s serious.
The elevator is a ride in itself. It was seriously one of the most entertaining and fun parts of the whole stay. When the elevator door opens and passengers are boarding, regular elevator music is playing. When you select a floor, that’s when the fun begins.
After the doors close a disco ball starts spinning and disco music starts playing. We must have used the elevators a dozen times during our stay and whenever the music started up, dancing happened. You couldn’t help it. Both Adam, 8 and Laura, 5 said the elevator was one of their favorite things about the whole trip.
The hotel has three floors and each has its own theme. The first floor is Castle (knights in shining armor and princesses.) The second floor is Pirates. The third floor is Adventure (kind of Indiana Jones-ish.) Each floor is highly themed with custom carpet, wall paper, room number plaques, and LEGO torches. Greeting you at the elevator on each floor is a themed LEGO minifigure who announces your floor.
This hotel is family/children focussed and the rooms are no exception. All the rooms, not just the premium ones, have a separate kids area with bunk beds, a trundle bed, and their own TV.
The kids even get a kid-height peephole in the door. The only thing that differentiates the premium rooms from the standard rooms is more theming in the adult sleeping area, a balcony and an additional LEGO prize on the treasure hunt (More on that in a bit).
We toured a premium room and while the extra adult area theming was nice, the normal room was not un-themed. Our recommendation is to stick with the standard room. The standard kids sleeping/tv area is practically a premium upgrade in itself.
The standard room theming is extensive. We had a Pirate themed room. The first thing you see is a treasure chest with a LEGO monkey on it. That is the first of at least 8 LEGO models that each room has. There are bugs, a pirate hat, a pirate mouse. The LEGO bugs in the bathroom might bother some people but they reinforce the LEGO theming.
In addition to the kids TV area there is a bin of LEGO bricks for kids (and/or grown ups) to build with. The front desk also gives kids a scavenger hunt to complete. Our kids excitedly counted the swords on the carpet, the crabs on the wallpaper, and the skulls and crossbones so they could unlock the treasure chest and find a prize. We got two minifigure blind packs and a pouch of gold (chocolate) coins. Premium rooms also have an additional LEGO prize.
The bathroom was also designed for kids. It included a step stool to reach the sink, a towel bar at kid-height, and a potty seat built right into the toilet lid. The only problem we encountered was the placement of the toilet paper holder. It was back and off to the side at such an angle that even the eight-year-old had difficulty reaching it.
Another good feature was that the shower head was adjustable height and could even be hand-held which was great for bathing our youngest after a full day spent enjoying the park.
After exploring the room we headed back down to the first floor to play some more and wait for dinner. We checked out the pool which was sadly un-themed. It has a gradual incline to a depth of five feet and was heated to eighty degrees but, other than a LEGO lifeguard at the gate there was no LEGO at all. However, it should be noted that there is a LEGO Water Park right next door.
The Skyline Cafe on the other hand is nicely themed. The outside patio for the Cafe features LEGO waiters and other workers. The patio umbrellas are made to look like giant LEGO trees.
The inside has tables with LEGO bricks under glass and a great LEGO wall display of a city skyline. The windows of the buildings in the skyline have little LEGO easter egg scenes and the fun of the display is finding them all. (Look for the minifigure who is upset that you’re looking into her bathroom.)
Dinner was served in Bricks Family Restaurant. It is a character dining, buffet restaurant. The tables are covered (at dinner) with LEGO coloring book tablecloths. Crayons are provided. There are 18 LEGO chef models around the restaurant “helping” to prepare the meal.
The character portion of the dinner is cute. Kids (not ours) were lining up to meet and greet a minifigure pirate and knight. Adam did get a picture with the pirate a little later when the crowd died down but Laura was only willing to wave from a distance. Those were the only characters we saw and we hope that they boost that number, as they are certainly possible.
The food at the buffet, both breakfast and dinner, was excellent. The dinner buffet featured stations with different cuisines, Italian, Mexican, Asian, American, salads, soups, and dessert. A carving station had beef brisket, and turkey with all the trimmings (mashed potatoes, stuffing, and green beans.)
The centerpiece (literally) of the buffet is the kids section. This island serving counter is kid height and is loaded with items geared to children. Grilled cheese, pizza, chicken fingers, broccoli, potato salad, veggies and dip, chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry milk, juice pouches, and macaroni and cheese. The juice and milk are organic, and the grilled cheese is on whole wheat bread, so some effort is being made to keep things healthy-ish.
Everything we tried from the buffet was tasty. The standouts were the moist, flavorful turkey and the tender carne asada. The kids choices were also big hits.
The breakfast buffet was equally tasty featuring not only the standard omelet station but a smoothie station and an oatmeal selection. There was also plenty of fresh fruit and berries. The cheese blintzes with local Carlsbad strawberries were very good as well. Our kids enjoyed the cinnamon French toast sticks, chocolate chip pancakes, smoothies, and scones. They ate enough that they weren’t begging for snacks all day while we enjoyed the resort.
There is a lot going on in the LEGOLAND Hotel to entertain the children from the LEGO bricks in giant bins, to portholes that look down from the upper floors, to the castle and pirate play area, to the bubble blowing dragon. Children are encouraged to use their imaginations. There is a daily competition to build the best model that represents that month’s theme. Children can use any of the bricks around the hotel to make their creation. When they bring it to the reception desk they earn a sticker and if they are that day’s winner they get a special LEGO gift. April’s theme is “Build an Ancient Tomb” to go with the Adventure line of LEGO. We saw some very creative entries.
There is entertainment for the children every night in the play area and on Friday and Saturday nights during peak season there are “Swim Up Movies” in the pool area. The night we stayed Cobra Jim and Sir Ginger (an adventurer and knight respectfully) led the festivities in the play area. First the kids were knighted or made princesses or adventurers after taking the “Oath of Chivalry.” Laura eagerly became a princess of the LEGOLAND hotel while Adam preferred to watch from the sidelines until the freeze dance game began. The area was filled with kids dancing and building. Then there was storytelling and a “trip” through the castle and pirate ship that took them out to the patio to see Bubbles the dragon who blows bubbles and occasionally squirts water from her tub. Bubbles was a real hit with the kids. Seven of the LEGO models throughout the hotel have interactive elements to them or are animated. The kids had so much fun with Cobra Jim and Sir Ginger that they were a little sad not to see them when we came to play in the morning before breakfast.
Overall we were delighted with our stay at the LEGOland Hotel. It is definitely well themed and kid centered. Our children were at the perfect age to enjoy the amenities and are already asking when we can go back.