This past Saturday, my wife and I took our kids to Legoland California, north of San Diego, for its Brick or Treat event, which runs weekends during October. The Legoland event is not a "hard ticket," meaning that you don't need to buy a separate ticket from your regular admission ticket to attend the event. The park is decorated for the holiday, and trick-or-treating runs from noon until park closing.
The nighttime event, called the Brick-or-Trick party night, runs from 5 pm (when the park normally closes during the off-season) until 9 pm, with costume parties, trick-or-treat stations, a fireworks show, and special entertainment like magic shows, live bands, and themed stage shows. Legoland sells a discounted ticket for just the nighttime event for $30 for adults or children. For comparison, a regular day ticket, not including the water park or aquarium, costs $78 for adults and $68 for children (ages 3-12).
The park is located about 30 miles north of San Diego and about 90 miles south of Los Angeles, a little distance from the major cities. The park is usually considerably less crowded than other theme parks in Southern California, such as Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm. In fact, the park cannot be seen from the freeway, and there are no billboards on the freeway approaching the attraction, only a simple highway sign.
We drove down from Los Angeles early on Saturday morning and arrived about a half hour before the scheduled opening at 10 am. There were various photo opportunities inside the entrance, with giant Lego Jack o' Lanterns and with adult-sized Lego minifigures from the Monster Fighters series. The park is nicely decorated with hundreds of pumpkins — both real and plastic — Lego ghosts and skeletons, haystacks, spiders on cobwebs, etc.
Before the nighttime "party," there isn't a lot of special entertainment for Halloween, except for a couple of performances in the Castle Hill area of a family-friendly show about a princess throwing a Halloween party having ordered monsters by mail order that aren't quite scary enough. A similar show runs during the rest of the year with the same actors featuring a pirate trying to steal the princess' inherited treasure. Both shows feature a court jester whose antics steal the show, along with jokes for the parents and grandparents that the kids don't notice.
At noon, the park opens its 10 trick-or-treat stations, which are scattered around the park. During the daytime, we saw maybe a quarter of the children already wearing their costumes around the park. Many of the stations are themed to the different areas of the park, such as the desert Land of Adventure. Four of the 10 stations are along a trail near the Castle Hill section, decorated with special Lego figures for Halloween. To keep the number of people on the trail more manageable, employees restrict how many park guests can enter on a timed basis.
I haven't been to a Halloween event at a theme park with trick or treating for a few years, but my sense was that the candy and other treats being handed out were somewhat healthier than you might expect, with the treats being provided by event sponsors like Snyder's of Hanover, Honest Kids, and Corner Bakery.
We left the park around 2:30 pm to go check in to our hotel and eat dinner. We returned to the park a little before 5 pm, when the nighttime party was starting, and found the parking lot almost full, a crowd of visitors heading into the park, and a steady stream of day visitors leaving.
During the nighttime event, the western half of the park (including Pirate Shores, Fun Town, Duplo Village, and Dino Island) is closed off. There are three stages set up around the park, with the main stage on a lawn near MiniLand hosting three different costume contests (the themes are kingdom, Lego, and creative), live music groups, a dance contest, a magic show, and a fireworks show at park closing at 9 pm. Unlike certain other theme parks, Legoland has only a handful of fireworks shows during the year — during the Halloween parties and on New Year's Eve.
We caught the first magic show of the evening. The magician was quite talented, and called excited children from the audience as volunteers. I should say at this point that I have never seen as many people in the park as I did on Saturday evening. We did our trick-or-treating in the early afternoon with wait times under two minutes, but the lines we saw for the treat stations between 5:00 and 6:30 were 30-75 people long. The biggest audiences I have seen before this weekend at Legoland have been for the 3D movies that are shown in an indoor theater, but I'd estimate there were 200-300 people covering the lawn around the MiniLand stage for the magic show.
Right after entering the park in the evening, we tried the re-themed Coast Cruise, which is normally a relaxing boat ride around the lagoon, viewing Lego models of such landmarks as Mount Rushmore, the Taj Mahal, and the Manhattan skyline. New for Brick-or-Treat this year, the ride had been redubbed the Ghost Cruise, with the queue decorated with oversized Lego character cards for the Monster Fighters series. The guides for the boats were "good guy" characters from the series, and children are given a card on which to write down letters held by Lego ghosts which are placed around the ride's landmarks. The letters then have to be unscrambled to come up with a phrase, which enters you into a contest for a prize.
The description of the re-themed ride simply said that children would hunt for clues hidden around the ride. I was afraid that the clues would be difficult to find, and after learning that letters needed to be unscrambled to create a phrase, I imagined that some difficult brain puzzler was in store. But not only did the guide shout out every letter with the children on the boat, but he also had a dry erase board on which he was writing down each letter as we went along, and before we returned to the dock, he helped the children spell out the answer to the puzzle. Rest assured that no child left the ride puzzling over the answer to the scavenger hunt.
Our family was already tired out from spending most of the day at the park, and instead of fighting the crowds, we went into the indoor area in the park where Lego Xbox games were set up. My wife and I sat down while the kids played some different Xbox games, and then we all played some interactive Xbox Kinect games.
Afterwards, we stopped by the SeaLife aquarium, which was included with the cost of the evening ticket, and which the event map promised to have a bonus trick or treat station. We enjoyed the exhibits in the aquarium, despite the fact that the hallways and exhibits were much more crowded from the evening party event than we were used to from previous visits.
The treat station at the aquarium ended up being more of a trick, in my opinion. Kids had to check off a list of sea animals on a paper they were handed at the entrance. At the gift shop at the aquarium exit, they were given an oversized Lego aquarium sticker for their trouble.Tweet
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