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I will be on a vacation with my almost 5 year old son in San Diego in
March. We will have easy access to a car. We will absolutely go to the
San Diego zoo, but we won't be able to afford *both* Disneyland and
Does anyone have any advice about either of these places and the
pros/cons of taking an almost 5 year old boy? If it helps, he does
enjoy rides and has had fun at kid amusement parks in the past.
Disneyland and Legoland are very different experiences. IMHO, Legoland
is much better for the younger set as most of the park is geared toward
them. There are some rides but they are pretty mild. The attractions
for toddlers at Disneyland are great, but the majority of the park is
for older kids/adults. Your little guy will probably LOVE one section
of Disneyland and you may never leave that corner of the park, but for
the money, there is more hands-on stuff to do and play with in
Legoland. My kids thought it had one of the best waterpark-like play
areas they had ever been to (bring dry clothes to change into if you
think it is not warm enough to just air dry)! Also, the drive to
Disneyland from SD is not easy, especially in LA traffic, so you would
be talking about one really long day or an overnight stay at a hotel.
--one vote for legoland
If he's into Legos at all, I'd opt for Legoland. I went there with my
son two years ago when he was nine, and he was just barely at the top
end of the age range. That is, much of it was perfect for the 5-7 age
group, especially the rides. The scale of the park is smaller and much
less hectic than Disneyland, too. If he loves Disney characters (and
Pixar, too) and is okay in a crowd, you'd do fine at Disneyland. I
just thought Legoland had a particular kind of charm.
Been There, Done That
I wanted to speak-up for Legoland and recommend that you give it a
visit. (I have not been to Disneyland in years so I can't offer a
Our family (with three children, who are now betw the ages of 7 and 12)
has been to Legoland 3-4 times over the last few yrs and have enjoyed
it each visit. The operators are taking care of the upkeep and the
park is clean and safe. One of the things I like about it is that it
is not overly huge, and you can see most of it on a one-day visit.
On its Web site, Legoland discourages bringing in outside food, but we
have done it and it's not a big deal. It's good to have fruit and
snacks for the kids when you are waiting in line for the rides, and I
have also taken in sandwiches and drinks for lunch. The park itself has
several eateries (of course) and prices seem to be reasonable.
If you go, be sure to get there when it opens and start at the opposite
end of the park -- you might want to start at the Dragon, which is a 3-
or 4-min. rollcoaster ride through a medieval castle. (Rides near
the entrance gate are the ones that have the lenghty lines ... so
that's why you want to start at the opposite end of the park.)
Legoland has a handful of shows for the kids and adults and I would
recommend them. One of them is in a small theatre where we have seen
a ventriloquist, Kevin Johnson, who does a little bit of magic (the
show 20 mins long). There is also a 20-min. show about some fledgling
firefighters in Funtown that our kids have enjoyed. The star of the
show is Vernon, a clumsy nerd who gets lots of laughs with his
pratfalls and slapstick humor as he tries to pass the firefigher test.
I think your 5-yr-old would find lots to do.
I offer you these comments as someone who does not typically enjoy
amusement parks -- Legoland is OK in my book.
(Also, while you are in S.D., look around for discount coupons for
Legoland, such as a free children's ticket w/ the purchase of an adult
ticket. Places that have tourism info might have these coupons.)
We have been to Legoland and Disneyland whem my son was 4 years old,
and to this day he two years latter he says he likes Legoland better. I
actualy thought the rides were less overwelming and more for his age.
Disneyland was better for taking pictures and mom and dad, he did not
like the closed rides since he could not see what was going to happen.
My two cents.
I can't say enough good about LegoLand! We first took our son there
when he was 4, and now it's a regular destination. Of course you have
more opportunities than you thought possible to buy toys, but that'll
be the same at Disneyland. Anyway, Legoland has places to play and
build, ride appropriate to different ages, and amazing creations made
from Legos. It's a place that really has families in mind--bathroom
stalls big enough for a parent AND a child, decent food, including a
wonderful salad bar in Mini Town, and lots of stuff that works for
smaller kids. It even has a sense of humor about it. Also--money
tip--if you buy your tickets up here from AAA, you can get tickets for
a second day free if you go to the booth just past the gate--you might
check what other deals AAA has for the San Diego area. We love it
We went to both Disneyland and Legoland in November. My kids are 8 and
6, and they both really enjoy Legos and are starting to outgrow some of
the Disney characters and themes. Legoland was so clean, and well run,
it was a really enjoyable experience and it was a full day. Downside:
Legoland is only open from about 10-5, whereas Disneyland is open over
12 hours. But with a 5 year old, 7 hours may be more than enough.
1) Disneyland has the ''Fastpass'' where you get a ticket for a ride
and go back later in the Express lane. That's wonderful. Legoland's
most popular attractions had lines of 60 minutes or more the whole day,
so there were a couple we didn't do. Others were fine with very little
wait. Legoland had a number of water attractions, but it was really
cold when we were there, so we missed those.
2) If you're a member, you might check Costco or Sam's for discount
tickets to either.
Don't worry, you'll have fun no matter which you choose.
I would recommend Legoland - this is almost the perfect age for it. The
rides are much more accessible for someone that age, the scale is
smaller so not as overwhelming, and it is geographically more
I would like to suggest that you take your child to Seaworld first.
they have amazing petting dolphins and the best shamu shows. My son
loved this at that age way more than the sd zoo and we went several
times. I can't offer an opinion about disneyland v. lego, except that
it is quite a drive to LA from SD. I'd say make it simple and go to
Seaworld, the zoo and then legoland.
My kids are quite a bit older now but we've been to both Disneyland and
Legoland. I would definitely recommend Legoland for a variety of
reasons. First, it's closer to San Diego than Disneyland but also
Legoland has a smaller age group as its focus. Disneyland will always
be there for all ages but at some point, your kids will be too old for
Legoland so I would take the opportunity now while you can.
I think that Legoland may be a little cheaper, and could potentially be
a little less busy. But if you're down there anyway, and your kid is a
Disney nut, you might want to spring for D'land. It's really most kids'
dream date. Get your ticket ahead of time (e.g AAA) so you don't have
to waste time at the ticket booth, and get to the gates immediately
when it opens and go straight to the busiest rides. Disneyland is just
fine for a 5 yr old, especially one who likes rides. But it's also the
characters. (e.g. buzz lightyear for his age, and the buzz lightyear
ride is great fun). However, I'm guessing that since your first
priority is the SD zoo, you may not really be disneyland nuts, and
legoland is closer to the zoo than disneyland is (I think). maybe you
should go to legoland this time, then next time buy yourself 3-day
passes to disneyland (which also gets you one early entry day, and
doesn't cost much more than one day), and you can easily spend the
entire time at both!
disneyland and california adventure, which is also fun.
Legoland is great for that age group. I just took my two daughters
(ages almost three and almost five). They loved it! We went twice
(they gave us a free return ticket). We purchased our tickets prior to
going at a Navy Morale and Welfare office (Legoland gives a great
discount to military families -- reserves, retirees or active duty, so
if you have any military affiliation then buy before hand). We went on
New Year's Eve and then again during the first week of January. It was
crowded by Legoland standards but not Disney-esque. My advice is to
get their when it opens to avoid lines. It starts getting busy around
I have not taken the girls to Disneyland, but have taken both to
Disneyworld. I hated that trip. I now let the grandparents take them.
The lines were miserable. It was incredibly crowded. The traffic flow
is sort of an afterthought there, unlike at Legoland where crowds move
easily. That said, I don't know whether or not Disneyland is as as bad
If you only have one day for amusement park-ing, I would go to
Legoland. Disneyland needs more than one day, and stay in the resort if
possible. We just came back from Disneyland (our son is 4) and spent 4
days in the parks and didn't do it all.
If you will spend only one day at an amusement park, then there is no
question: Legoland. It's a much more manageable size and layout for a
one-day trip, and there are more fun things to do without standing in
line or fighting crowds. Not to mention it's cheaper. Much cheaper,
last time I checked. The park offers a lot of fun stuff for everyone,
infant through senior (our parties have included babies as young as 7
months and adults in their 60s), but five-year-old boys are a prime
target audience. Mine last went at age 4, when he was tall enough to
go on pretty much any ride (some accompanied, some alone), old enough
to appreciate all the cool interactive stuff around the park and young
enough to love the silly shows and tame rides too.
As an adult, I enjoyed Legoland more than Disneyland too. It's
less....schlocky. And, as I said, a more manageable size. You could
totally spend more than one day in a row there, but in one full day you
can feel like you've ''done'' the park.
At Disneyland, by contrast, we felt as if we'd barely scratched the
surface after one day, and the price of a one-day admission (''Park
Hopper'' because we'd heard there's a lot of great stuff for kids at CA
Adventure) just isn't a great value. We had fun, don't get me wrong,
and there are some great things about Disneyland, but it felt like we
DID less...and got more tired. You have to plan your route and your
ride/attraction choices carefully, since things are more spread out and
lines tend to be longer. Next time (assuming there is a next time, or
two or three, in the next decade or so!) we will definitely buy a
three-day pass in order to get our money's worth.
Unless you are die-hard Disney fans or your kid is just clamoring to go
to Disneyland...do Legoland instead. (And the San Diego Wild Animal
Park, while you're in the area.) Save DL for when the grandparents are
paying ;-) or you can do a whole Disney vacation.
(By the way, I've visited both parks more than once since having kids
because until recently my parents lived in Orange County. Makes the
whole thing easier.)
Mom of a Lego fanatic
I would pick Legoland, as it is a limited time that your son will enjoy
it. Disneyland is for ALL ages...LegoLand is really for the 2-7 year
We have several outings planned for the summer, including a few days in San Diego, and
are trying to figure out which place will be the most fun for all the money we'll have
to spend! Has anyone recently been to Legoland, Sea World in San Diego, or Marine World
in Vallejo? We're taking our two boys, aged 6 1/2 and nearly 9, and they're interested
in both the rides AND the animals. Is Marine World (Vallejo) just another amusement park
with animals as a smaller attraction? Is Sea World (S.D.) mainly animal shows with not
much else to do? Is Legoland mainly geared toward younger kids? (My older son isn't
particularly keen on super-thrill rides, but nor does he want the Oakland Zoo-type
kiddie rides either.)Have seen earlier reviews but nothing too recent...
We liked Legoland much better than Sea World.
I went to Legoland over spring break, with my 10 yo son and my 11 and 7 yo nieces. We all had a great
time. For the older kids there are a couple of classes that involves robotics and legos, that are an
hour each and were great. The rides are short, and not especially scary, but still fun, and the lines
move pretty quickly. The food is actually pretty good, and not overpriced. And most importantly, I
didn't have that claustrophobic over stimulated feeling I usually get from amusement parks. We would
have gone back for the second day ($1 if you get your tickets from AAA) if we'd had time.
We also like the Wild Animal Park. I wouldn't say it is a must see, but the tram tour is good (get in
line first thing and early) but the setting is pretty cool and it is an easy way to spend a day.
We have seen the glowing reviews of Legoland on this site and
from friends who have been, so we are excited to take our two
boys ages 3.9 and 2.2 years as an alternative to Disney this
Don't see any recommendations about where to stay though, and I
know it's a bit of a hike from San Diego, so we'd want to stay
some place Carlsbad or near there.
We've found on recent trips that a suites hotel does work
better just b/c the boys have an extra room to roam and play
and chase..you get the picture.
Of course price is fairly important trying to keep it between
$80 and $125 per night.
Embassy Suites vision, Motel 6 budget
Our family just went to Legoland a few weeks ago and stayed in the Best
Western Inn & Suites in Encinitas. Price for a suite was about $120 for
the AAA members price. It worked out great for us! Ocean view, just a
short way down the highway from Legoland, maybe 4-5 miles, and a really
nice hotel. Price included a good breakfast -- more than just nasty
little pastries and coffee -- and the suite had a nice kitchen setup so
we could store lunch and snack supplies. In fact, our 2nd day at
Legoland we ended up out at the car making sandwiches (we had taken along
a small cooler) rather than pay the expensive food prices inside the
I'd highly recommend the Best Western for your trip.
La Jolla is nice. About 20 minutes south of LegoLand, has nice beaches,
and you can add a trip down to the zoo in San Diego, which I HIGHLY
We are planing to visit south California next month, with our 3 and
5-year-old kids. We are not sure whether it is worth to visit Lego Land.
Some people say it is great, while others say it is a waste of time and
money. Thanks for any opinion / advise you can give us. Eli
I vote yes on a visit to Legoland. We took our 19-month-old son there last
month, and he had a blast. The park gears its amusements for kids ages 3 to
12, but we found there was more than enough there to captivate a slightly
younger guy. I was a bit apprehensive at first, because I checked out the
Web site, and it struck me that it was just another amusement park. But my
Southern California friend, whose son is just a month younger than mine,
talked me into it. (She's got a year-long pass for her boy.) Here are some
of the things we really, REALLY liked: The park is very clean. All restrooms
have changing tables. All restrooms have sinks that little ones can reach.
The restaurants serve pretty healthy, fun food. (We went to a pasta place.
The pasta was cooked as we watched, and it tasted really good. But it was
pricey.) The high chairs are clean, on wheels, safe, and roll away easily.
Someone came over and cleaned our table as soon as we got up. The security
is great. A little boy near us was in tears because he'd lost his family. We
barely had time to ask him what the matter was before an attendant showed up
with a walkie-talkie and took over. (We later saw a the boy with his
family.) It was also a really comfortable atmosphere for families. It seemed
everywhere I looked someone was changing a little one's diaper. And people
didn't go crazy because your kid was making too much noise.
My son loved the choo-choo train; we couldn't get him off of it. He loved an
area that had climbing things and little huts. There are places where kids
can play with Legos (imagine that!). He loved the huge Lego elephant that
moved. And he went bonkers for little jets of water that shot up from the
ground. The kids are supposed to plant themselves on a spot, and the water
goes off every couple of minutes. But Watson just went running from spot to
spot to spot. He was soaking wet, and his grin wouldn't quit. I should warn
you that it isn't inexpensive. They don't give you discounts for younger
kids, and they don't let toddlers in free. I imagine that would be foolish,
because there were an awful lot of toddlers at the park and that's a lot of
revenue. But be sure to bring your Triple-A card, if you're a member,
because that will give you a bit of a break. Be aware, too, that it's a bit
of a drive from most places. It's in Carlsbad. We came from Orange County
and had an hour and a half drive. But that made for a really good nap for
our little one on the way home. :-)
Gwynne and Mark
We went to Southern California in late May. We spent a day at Lego Land with
3 kids aged 18 months, 3 1/2 and 4 1/2. The kids really loved it! We got
there fairly early and the little one crashed about 2pm but the other two
went until 4:30p. I think it would be perfect for your age range. Some of
the rides would be too big for them but there were plenty they could go on.
My guess is with older kids (above 9 or 10) it might be too "little kids"
for them. Look for coupons on the web or in the local brochures. The food
was pretty inexpensive in the park, but there's plenty of picnicking places
as well. Bring a change of clothes because there's a big water play area
where ours got soaked.
We went last year with our 4 year old and 1 yr old. We loved it. It is
clean, well organized, has fresh food, and is lots of fun. We lucked out and
went on a weekday (non-summer) and it wasn't too crowded. It is expensive
($30/person or so), though. Anon
We are big fans of Legoland, having visited there when my son was 2.5 and
again when he turned 3. I am generally not a fan of 'theme parks', but
Legoland left an impression on me. There are plenty of opportunities to
play with legos of all sizes of course (primo, duplo, lego, and large soft
pre-primo size), but the special attractions including Miniland (replicas of
places around the US done in Legos) are fascinating. Also, especially nice
during hot summers, there is a participatory water park with structures all
made of Legos. So bring bathing suits and a change of clothes if you go.
The park is clean, the food is several cuts above junkfood (fresh salads and
fruit as well as decent prepared sandwiches and other food), and there are
plenty of clean restrooms - all of which is important when traveling with
young children. The web-site is pretty informative, in case you haven't
already looked at it. I think it's www.legoland.com
or something close to that. Finally, though it isn't cheap, if you're
thinking of going to a theme park anyway, you'd be spending just about that
much money anywhere else.
We went to Lego Land Feb. 2000 for my son's 9th bd. Our younger son was 4
We LOVED it. I think I especially loved it more than anyone. We were there in
winter on a gorgeous day and the place was spotless and almost empty. There
were some fun rides for kids and a very entertaining show. There were plenty
of activities kids could do with leggos. One activity was building leggo race
cars and then racing them against your own time on a track with a timer. My
favorite was "mini land". I'm sure you've heard about it....cities of leggos
with leggo people, leggo dogs, miniature landscaping, leggo marching bands
with music playing, leggo mardi gras, leggo Wash. DC, parades with cars
moving on tracks with leggo people waving from cars.....I think the whole
idea is ingenious. My kids liked it but they were more interested in the
activities and rides than mini land. Even the restaurant we ate in had what I
considered reasonably healthy food (I usually HATE eating in amusement or
theme park food places....greasy, unhealthy and expensive). We combined it
with a visit to some friends and the San Diego Zoo.
We've been to Lego Land twice - once when our daughter
was 3 and once when she was 4. We enjoyed it both
times, but she got more out of it the second time. As
these type of expensive "attractions" go, I would
If you go, be sure to start in the area specifically
for little kids with your 3-year-old. Our first time
there we were a bit disappointed until we found that
area because much of the park is designed to be
enjoyed and appreciated by older kids.
My daughter still asks if we can go back to Lego Land
and the San Diego Zoo, but has never mentioned Sea
World again - so those would be my 2 top picks in that
area. Have fun.
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