March 21, 2019

Alexa Buechler

Legoland celebrates 20th anniversary with many surprises

Legoland is celebrating its 20th birthday and has many surprises in store for its young visitors as a result. What started as a theme park with only 12 rides and a Miniland in 1999 is now a multi-destination theme park with a full resort. The Legoland park has 60 rides, shows and attractions, a ten-acre water park, a two-story aquarium and two 250-room hotels right on the property.

The theme park has become a popular destination for Arizonans to vacation because it allows them to escape the heat. You can take your family to this fun-filled destination and participate in the birthday festivities.

Corrinne Bollendorf, public relations specialist for Legoland, said the anniversary is an opportunity to give back to their guests. Legoland will be giving kids ages two to 12 free admission on their birthdays. They’ll be following this birthday theme until the end of August with birthday dance parties and special birthday treats involving the Monster Birthday Milkshake – a fruity vanilla milkshake with a large cupcake on top.

The theme park will be premiering a short film called “Lego City 4D- Officer in Pursuit” on Apr. 12 and will be announcing a new addition to the resort on Aug. 15.

The park will also be introducing two new characters: Jake and Emily. “We named them that because those were the top two popular baby names in 1999, the year the park opened. They’ll also be in our new Lego Friends Show that’s also birthday-themed,” Bollendorf said.

On Feb. 15, the theme park opened the Lego Movie 2 Experience, which includes the real movie set from multiple scenes. “The movie was filmed in Vancouver, so our Master Model Builders went up to Vancouver and took thousands of photos of the entire film set, broke down the film set, brought it to the park and recreated it. So kids and families can actually stand on the same steps as the live action actors in the movie,” said Jake Gonzales, senior media relations manager of Legoland.

He also said kids enjoy doing the meet and greets with the Lego characters from the movies, and they play the songs from the movie soundtrack throughout the park. “It’s a great opportunity for kids to really connect with the movie,” Gonzales said.

The Lego movies have increased the popularity of Legoland. “The first one was such a hit. Emmet and Wyldstyle became heroes for kids. Wyldstyle, being such the tough girl that she was, looking out after Emmet, it was really nice to see, and they really empower girls to continue to enjoy and build with Lego,” Gonzales said.

Legoland seeks to empower children and diverge from stereotypes. For example, in their Castle Resort, they have royal princess rooms, but they have a storyline including jousting, which emphasizes valiance and strength. Gonzales said “when you go into the room, you’ll see a lot of hints of strength and empowering women as opposed to the traditional light and fluffy and flowers and pink and purple. It’s saying ‘hey, we’re just as strong.’

“It’s a park built for kids that’s really built for kids. There are theme parks built for adults around a kids theme, so it’s really a park that makes adults feel like kids again as opposed to a theme park really built for kids. There’s a difference. Our park is really built for kids,” Gonzales said. Many of the rides and activities are meant only for kids, and the aquarium has sights for kids to see that adults could only see if they were on their hands and knees.

“They control the adventure for the family instead of the parents creating the adventure for the kids. As a parent you say you’re going on vacation and even though you’re going on a vacation to a theme park, you still have to find ways to entertain your children. You still have to come up with those ideas. You come to our hotel, you’ll see parents’ shoulders drop after the first five minutes because they get more relaxed because they’re realizing, ‘I don’t have to come up with all these things; it’s all there for me. I can relax. I can enjoy it,’” Gonzales said.

Gonzales also said they’re telling kids yes. Instead of creating boundaries and saying no all the time, they are saying yes: “go touch, go get inspired, go build” and this results in more smiles all around. “It’s not as much built for (the parents), but it’s built for their kids, and in turn it makes it fun for them,” he said.

Gonzales also considers Legoland a great place to take children on the Autism Spectrum. Their helpers, called Model Citizens, are trained to accommodate kids on the Spectrum. “Kids on the Spectrum do really well playing with Lego. They get it. They see it. They build it. They visualize. They understand the complexities of a model,” Gonzales said.

The theme park isn’t designated to be only a ride park or an events park, it has multiple entertainment aspects to offer depending on a child’s needs. “They go on their own adventures in the park as well. They’re absorbing so much and experiencing that and taking it back home and actually applying it to wherever they are,” Gonzales said. Legoland also has spots within the park that are designated relaxing areas if a kid gets overwhelmed.

Arizona is Legoland’s no. 1 out-of-state market. “We have a waterpark, which is a big hit for people in the warmer areas like Arizona to come and experience. We’re also right near the beach, so we have that coastal breeze going. We always encourage Arizona to come out and experience the park and the water park. We’re a multi-day destination,” Bollendorf said.

The park is located about 35 minutes north of downtown San Diego and 45 minutes south of Anaheim, according to Gonzales. Those temperatures offer a lot of different opportunities to explore this area of California. The temperature of Carlsbad is usually very moderate, so it allows Arizonans to get out of the heat of triple-digit temperatures in the summertime. So, if you have a little one and want to get out of the blazing heat this summer, or your child has a birthday coming up, Legoland’s 20th anniversary festivities might be the perfect way to spice up your holiday.