Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
We drove to Encinitas, just south of Carlsbad to the HoJos picked by Hotwire. The deal was $73/day with breakfast and pool. We checked out the HoJos in Carlsbad when we had dinner at the TGIFridays next door. This HoJos is newer than the one in Encinitas, but the pool and jauzzi at ours worked and the beds were clean.
The next day we arrived early to buy our tickets at the park with our Carls Jr. 1 child free with one adult coupon. This was a better deal than we got at my employee benefits store.
The next stop was the Coastasaurus, which is a gentle roller coaster that both girls liked. The girls wanted to do the Dinosaur Dig but we skipped that to get further into the park.
A few carnival type rides later we got to the Volvo training school. My 6 year old really loved this ride. The cars seat only one person, so everyone gets to drive, and there is no "guide" track. You are on a little street with buildings and traffic lights. Even though there were only a few dozen people in line, they operated only ten cars in the morning, so there was a short wait. Later in the day there are over 20 cars running. The ride itself is fairly long so they can circle a block several times and still drive through the "city." My 6 year old really loved this ride and went on it at least 5 times.
A lot of the rides and activities in Legoland require personal involvement. The Kid Power Tower requires you to pull on a rope to go up. If you let go you go down. Many rides have a lego play area where "kids can play while parents stand in line" with playground toys or legos.
In Pirate Shores there is a nice water park with a small slide and water tube and many sprays, fountains and other opportunities for kids to get gloriously wet. (bring a bathing suit and towel.) The Treasure Falls log ride is another gentle ride. "Captain Cranky" is a wayward boat that is basically a fancy carnival ride. My 8 year old liked it, my 6 year old wouldn't go.
Neither of them would go on the Dragon coaster, the lego Technic Test Track, or the Knight's Tournament. The Dragon and the Test Track are more thrilling coaster-type rides with sharp turns and steeper drops that my children don't enjoy yet. The Knight's Tournament is a nasty-looking robot ride. Basically it is a huge robot arm with two seats. Apparently you can select the program you want, but most of the riders were choosing programs that spun the chairs upside down and sideways. There are 5 or six of these arms side by side and the screaming coming out scared my kids off. These three rides were mostly being ridden by older kids who didn't wait in long lines because the younger kids stayed away.
Another good ride that is different from other parks is the Soak 'n Sail, where the bystanders aim water cannons at the sailors, who try to shoot back. The bystanders have a lot of fun because the riders aren't always prepared for the gauntlet of water they have to run.
One of the cutest rides for small children is the Royal Joust. This is supermarket-sized rocking horse on a track that goes through woods. The kids ride alone on the horses which neigh and rock through the woods. Very cute.
The Lego build-and-test is nice because you can try out various kinds of Legos for several hours if you want, which my kids did. There are many other rides and displayes of Lego recreations of New York, Las Vegas, Washington DC.
Overall, a nice place for young children. We saw mostly other young children 4-12 and a few younger teenagers.
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort