I went back to Legoland today for the first time since 2001, I remember when the park was really small and brand new. I was SO happy to see that everything I remembered was still intact. All the new stuff was pushed outwards from the existing park so much of it was spared. There was some stuff that was missing, but overall they've done an excellent job keeping the park's character.

One thing that disappointed me was the small things that had been removed. The bridge that you cross over that huge lagoon in the middle used to have a lion roaring every time you passed it. And they used to have mist coming out of the dinosaur's head near the Einstein Lego head. Also, the multi-story netting in the playground is sealed up now. And probably worst of all is how they fixed the stability of the boats in Fairy Tale Brook. When it was new, you could rock the boat almost to the point of letting water in. But now it completely bottoms out after maybe 1 inch of movement on either side! I know this was never a "feature" of the ride, but c'mon, why would someone with no little kids want to ride something like that without adding their own flavor of harmless fun. I had to endure the entire thing sitting still, but at least it was shadey.

The Dragon is always a classic, but now I must add Knight's Tournament, Coastersaurus (back seat) and Technic Coaster (front seat) to that list. I miss Spellbinder a lot since I remember them building it as the first addition to the new park. But Knight's Tournament MORE than makes up for the loss! I tried it on Level 4 and, wow, this is not the kiddie park I remember. This ride is pure fun! It tosses you and spins you, but amazingly it doesn't make you sick, dizzy, nauseated, or give you a headache. Somehow this ride didn't hurt my neck or anything, it was incredibly violent but it was also paradoxically smooth. Whoever designed that ride did a wonderful job because it tossed me around something fierce, and I never got sick. I thought I'd be paying for it for the rest of the day, but next time I will definitely try Level 5.

One area I was sorely disappointed in was that Pirate Shores. I had high hopes for it and it actually looked fun walking by it, but it sucks, to put it bluntly. The boat ride is boring and you get soaked while waiting in the unloading dock. And Captain Cranky's (I'm not making this name up) spinning boat was okay, but unless it's a walk-on, it's nothing to see. With everyone having a pirate-themed something nowadays, the theme just doesn't do much for me now.

The other area that was completely underwhelming was that new Adventure section. It has a fun-but-don't-wait-for drop ride and the Pharoah's Revenge is long and has a lot of rooms but isn't very exciting. Creating light-created designs with the lasers on the walls was much more fun than actually shooting anything. Lasers are really awesome, but you are putting them in the hands of kids...not a good idea when they're idea of "fun" is to blind you with them. Thankfully you are completely out of visual range for each car, it's just the kids you're with you have to worry about. They needed to fog up the room so the lasers would be visible.

You'd think you'd need some multi-million dollar attraction to have fun, but not so with Legoland. They have this water balloon fighting area that is SO fun! You sit in a tiny wooden house with holes in the roof and slim wooden beams in front of you. It also has a net above the house and in the middle of the range (like a tennis court). The idea is to launch water balloons through your hole and onto the roof of the other team. Well, there's so many areas the water balloons can hit that it is absolutely *hilarious* to watch people soak themselves with mislaunches. Not to mention there's something ultimately satisfying seeing the HUGE water explosion on the roof. People were actually cheering like crazy, lol. These are like 1-gallon balloons! It just gets right down to the fun of being a kid...instead of building a theme park ride, they made a backyard attraction and it was every bit as interesting and fun as a multi-million dollar ride. This is what I love about Legoland, the fun is so visceral and pure, there is no pretense or anything, it's just pure fun like playing in the backyard as a kid.

Every single employee was around 20 or so. They were very professional and it really surprised me how such young kids could manage things so well. This younger set actually does possess some advantages, the girl employees were all incredibly hot. There must be some group of guys in HR hand picking the female ride operators because, geez, I am used to Southern California but I don't see girls like that too often. I remember I almost worked there for a summer job a few years ago, I decided to go back to college though and never applied to Legoland. The ironic thing is that I'd still be there today, probably making $10 an hour, and yet now I am about to be handed a college degree. By the way, if you're 18: stay in school! That's free advice and I worked many dead-end jobs for 6 years before I figured out I could put in the same amount of work for 4 years in college and actually get something out of it.

One major gripe I have is that they close the park at sunset every single day. In the fall they actually close it at 5:00 PM! I joked with my friend and asked why they even have lights in the park. I remember when it first opened in 1999 we stayed there after dark and it was SO much more fun after dark. Just when they place starts taking on a new nighttime persona, they kick us all out. What a buzzkill.

The clientel are much better than Knott's Berry Farm, and just about on the same level as Disneyland. There were a couple bratty teenagers here and there, but nothing to put a damper on anything. The main thing is that there are a LOT of kids, moreso than Disneyland, and you have to have a lot of patience navigating the park and going on the rides. The parents kept the kids under tight control though, I was really impressed.

Overall I was incredibly happy how Legoland had not changed at all, and yet managed to add so much more and expand the park. I had a lot of fun and completely enjoyed myself. It's as expensive as Disneyland now, but it also offers more discounts and I am only 25 miles away from it so gas becomes an issue too. The lawyers have gotten to Legoland since I've been there, but they've gotten to Disneyland too so I guess it's just the litigation-happy society we live in that's to blame for that.

Legoland is a fun place if you can get some kind of discount for it.