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Legoland California is a theme park, miniature park, and aquarium located in Carlsbad, California, based on the Lego toy brand. Opening on March 20, 1999, it was the third Legoland park to open, and the first outside Europe. The park is currently owned by Merlin Entertainments, which took a controlling interest in 2005. A second park in the United States, Legoland Florida, opened in 2011.
Legoland California main entrance
|Location||Legoland California Resort, Carlsbad, California, United States|
|Theme||Lego toys and childhood amusement|
|General Manager||Peter Ronchetti|
|Opened||March 20, 1999|
|Visitors per annum||1.4 million (2004)|
|Area||128 acres (52 ha)|
|Total||more than 60 rides|
The Legoland California Resort currently encompasses:
- The original park (opened in March 1999)
- A Lego-themed Sea Life Aquarium (opened in August 2008), the first Sea Life in the United States
- A Lego-themed water park (opened in May 2010)
The resort site includes two hotels:
- Legoland Resort Hotel (250 rooms, opened in April 2013)
- Legoland Castle Hotel (250 rooms, opened in April 2018)
Lego opened the first Legoland theme park in Billund, Denmark in 1968, followed by a second park in Windsor, England in 1996; the Carlsbad park was the third to open, in March 1999. At the time, Lego was considering an additional United States Legoland to be located somewhere on the east coast. When the park opened, there were eight themed areas. Starting at the entrance (at the central southern part of the park) and proceeding clockwise, they were:
|Themed areas and key locations within Legoland California Resort|
- The Beginning (park entrance and gift shop)
- Village Green (including Playtown for toddlers)
- The Ridge
- Fun Town
- The Garden
- Miniland (including The Lake in the center of the park)
- Castle Hill
- Imagination Zone
By 2002, Village Green and The Ridge had been combined into an area called Explore Village and the Aquazone and LEGO Technic Test Track rides had been installed at Imagination Zone. The fourth Legoland, built in Germany, opened in 2002. Dino Island and Coastersaurus opened in April 2004; the park also added Fun Town Fire Academy, a Florida-themed Miniland area, and the Block of Fame for its fifth anniversary.
Legoland California installed the first KUKA RoboCoaster in the United States in 2005. However, the weak retail toy market led to the sale of the four Legoland theme parks in July 2005 for $456 million to Blackstone Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in the United States. Blackstone had previously purchased Merlin in May 2005, which owned the Sea Life Centres and London Dungeon; the two assets were combined as Merlin Entertainments Group, with Lego taking a 30% ownership share in the combined Merlin Entertainments. Collectively, the four theme parks had approximately 5 million visitors per year at the time.
Under Merlin, Legoland California would add Pirate Shores (2006), a Las Vegas-themed Miniland area (2007), the Egyptian explorer-themed Land of Adventure (2008), and the 5.5-acre (2.2 ha) Legoland Water Park (2010). In 2009, Merlin requested permission to develop an onsite Lego-themed hotel in the existing parking lot; permission was granted in October and plans for the 250-room hotel were announced in 2011, making the site a resort in 2013. The first fictional Miniland area, themed with scenes from the six (at the time) Star Wars movies and the Clone Wars television series, opened in March 2011. The water park was expanded in 2014 with a Chima-themed area. A second 250-room hotel with a castle theme was added in 2018.
Attendance at Legoland California reached 2.5 million visitors in 2013 and nearly 3 million by 2015, nearly double the attendance of Legoland Florida. More than $20 million was spent per year on sales tax on food and merchandise. The park employed more than 2200 workers in total: 600 full-time, nearly 500 part-time, and more than 1100 seasonal.
Explorer Island is a section with themes of dinosaurs and exploration. It contains a large sand area where children may dig for "fossils" and the Gerstlauer-built Coastersaurus mini steel roller coaster, a close copy of the Legoland Germany junior coaster Drachenjagd, with a ride duration of approximately 2 minutes. It was installed in 2004 by Ride Entertainment Group, who handles all of Gerstlauer's operations in the Western Hemisphere.
Explorer Island was previously named Dino Island. When the Village Green/Explore Village area was taken over by Heartlake City, the Fairy Tale Brook boat ride and Safari Trek on-rail driving ride (originally a walking trail showing life-size African animals built with LEGO bricks) were counted as part of the renamed Explorer Island. These rides date back to the opening of the park.
|Coastersaurus||2004||Gerstlauer||Gerstlauer Junior Coaster, installed in 2004.|
|Fairy Tale Brook||1999||Boat ride featuring large-scale LEGO models of fairy tale characters such as Snow White, The Three Pigs, and Aladdin.|
|Safari Trek||1999||On-rail driving ride featuring life-size LEGO models of African wildlife.|
The Heartlake City section, which opened on May 21, 2015, is based on the LEGO Friends brand marketed to girls, featuring Heart Lake, a water fountain; Friends Forever Stage, where musical performances occur; Heartlake Stables, a play area; and Mia's Riding Camp, a carousel.
Heartlake City replaced Village Green, which included a set of musical fountains and water features collectively called the "Water Works". A temporary installation of the sets from The Lego Movie opened in 2014 at Explore Village.
Although physically accessible only from Heartlake City, the Duplo Playtown and Legoland Express (formerly part of Village Green/Explore Village) are now considered part of Fun Town.
The current incarnation of Fun Town incorporates the rides at "The Ridge", which was a separate themed area at the park's opening in 1999. Attractions at The Ridge included the Kid Power Tower, the Sky Cycle, and The Amazing Maze.
|DUPLO Playtown||1999||Playground for young children|
|Legoland Express||1999||Small train ride within Playtown|
|Volvo Driving School||1999||Children aged 6 to 13 years drive self-propelled Lego cars on a closed circuit featuring multiple intersections, two way traffic and traffic signals. It is designed to promote safe driving and skills. Volvo became the sponsor shortly after the park's 5th anniversary in 2004.|
|Volvo Junior Driving School||1999||Children aged 3 to 5 years drive similar self-propelled Lego cars on a simple oval.|
|Police and Fire Academy||2004||Competitive team attraction where groups propel a hand pumped truck in a race down a street, accomplish a task, and return. In the original incarnation named Fun Town Fire Academy, all vehicles were fire trucks rushing to douse a simulated building "fire". A police theme was added in 2011, and the task for the police trucks was to knock down robbers.|
|Flight Squadron||1999||LEGO airplane-themed ride that move up and down while moving in a circle|
|Sky Patrol||1999||Lego helicopter-themed ride that move up and down and can spin in place|
|Skipper School||1999||Self-propelled boat-ride that travels a winding water course|
|Kid Power Towers||1999||Heege||Tower ride where riders pull themselves up the ride with a rope|
|Adventurer's Club||1999||Walk-through attraction with scenes such as ancient Egypt, a rainforest, and the arctic|
|LEGO Factory Tour||1999||Walk-through attraction that teaches young children how LEGO models are made|
|LEGO Clubhouse||1999||A room where you can build your own LEGO models with occasional classes teaching children techniques on building LEGO models|
Miniland USA is a 1:20 scale model miniature park featuring prominent architecture and symbols from seven areas in the United States. Certain models are visible throughout the Legoland park. It was constructed over the course of three years using more than 20 million LEGO bricks. The Coast Cruise ride, which departs from Miniland USA, travels through the lake in the center of Legoland. The lake covers 1.73 acres (0.70 ha).
Miniland includes the Model Shop, the main design and building office for Legoland's US parks. A large viewing window allows guests to watch master model builders working on new models. Repairs and refurbishment of existing models are also conducted in the Model Shop.
Certain model builders have inserted incongruous scenes into the Miniland vignettes, including a businessman mooning the presidential motorcade and a man using the toilet in the Grand Central Station model. Miniland officials insist all such scenes are incorporated with full management knowledge and approval.
The Star Wars-themed Miniland was expanded with a life-size model of an X-wing starfighter, on display in 2013. A large-scale model of the Death Star was added in 2015, along with a recreation of the trench run scene from the climax of Episode IV. Scenes from The Force Awakens were added in 2017, including what was billed as the longest LEGO model for Star Wars Miniland, a 16 ft (4.9 m) long Resurgent-class Star Destroyer Finalizer.
|Coast Cruise||1999||Morgan Manufacturing||8-minute-long boat ride where guests can view many monuments such as the Sydney Opera House, Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, London Eye, and Mount Rushmore, as well as a few other interesting models such as the depiction of a scene from Gulliver's Travels|
|New England||1999||Depicts a New England harbor and local architecture|
|Las Vegas||2007||Depicts the Las Vegas strip with its famous hotels such as Tropicana Las Vegas, Mirage Las Vegas, and the Stratosphere Tower.|
|Washington, DC||1999||Depicts the National Mall with monuments such as the U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Castle|
|Block of Fame||2004||Park walkway with LEGO busts of famous individuals such as George Washington, Marilyn Monroe, and Winston Churchill. Installed in 2004.|
|Model Shop||1999||Viewing area for the park's model shop, where many of Legoland California's models are built|
|New Orleans||1999||Depicts New Orleans and its many waterways|
|New York||1999||Depicts Manhattan Island of New York City with models of places like Central Park and Times Square. The model of Downtown Manhattan included the 2002 design of One World Trade Center; the model has since been updated to match the finished skyscraper.|
|San Francisco||1999||Depicts San Francisco with models including Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Transamerica Pyramid|
|Southern California||1999||Depicts Southern California with models including the TCL Chinese Theatre, Huntington Beach Pier, and Mission San Luis Rey. In 2018, the entire area aside from the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory was taken down to be replaced.|
|Star Wars Miniland||2011||Depicts seven Star Wars movies, including the Clone Wars movie Opened in 2011, replacing a Florida-themed Miniland whose models were moved to the Winter Haven park.|
In 2005, Legoland opened the Wild Woods Golf putting course decorated with off-green LEGO models on the west side of Castle Hill. Wild Woods Golf and the neighboring Enchanted Walk were replaced by the submarine ride LEGO City: Deep Sea Adventure, which opened in July 2018.
|The Dragon||1999||Vekoma||Family steel roller coaster with the first segment of the ride acting like a dark ride through a castle. 20 riders per 10-car train.|
|The Hideaways||1999||Large multi-level wooden playground designed for younger children, structure with slides, rope ladders, and bridges. Considered by Theme Park Insider readers as one of the world's best theme park playgrounds.|
|Knight's Tournament||2005||KUKA||Robotic arm-like ride where guests can select their level of intensity, with level one being the least intense and level five being the most intense. First Kuka RoboCoaster in the United States.|
|LEGO City: Deep Sea Adventure||2018||12 riders per submarine on a voyage through a 350,000 US gal (1,300,000 l) aquarium populated with LEGO-themed decorations and 2,000 live animals. Similar to submarine rides at Legoland Dubai and Windsor; costliest single upgrade to any Legoland park at the time it opened.|
|Royal Joust||1999||Rocking horse ride where guests ride fiberglass horses that rock back and forth above a track|
In the Imagination Zone, visitors can ride a Wild Mouse-style roller coaster called the Technic Coaster-Test Track (formerly named Project X), Bionicle Blaster (a variant of a teacup ride), or the Aquazone Wave Racers, a dual water carousel. Kids can also build and race Lego cars down a ramp at Build 'n Test (younger children have a similar build and play area in the same building, named Duplo Play), play LEGO PC games at the Maniac Challenge (later converted to consoles and renamed the Xbox Family Gamespace after its corporate sponsor), and program robots in Mindstorms. At the park's opening in 1999, the Imagination Zone only referred to the Maniac Challenge/Mindstorms and Build & Test/Duplo Play buildings; the other rides had not yet been built. The Maniac Challenge/Mindstorms building was distinguished by large LEGO models of Albert Einstein's head, a submarine, and a Technic Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The LEGO Show Place theater screens 4-D films. In the initial incarnation, the movie was interactive and the audience could decide the ending. Later, more movies were added, including Bob the Builder and Clutch Powers (a racing movie). Racers 4-D began alternating with the new Spellbreaker 4-D film in May 2006. Bob the Builder In 4-D: Bob the Builder and the Roller Coaster was added in March 2009. The Legends of Chima debuted on March 7, 2014. The LEGO® Movie™ 4D A New Adventure was added to Legoland California on February 6, 2016. LEGO® NINJAGO® - Master of the 4th Dimension opened on January 12, 2018. LEGO City 4D - Officer in Pursuit! was added on April 12, 2019.
|Technic Coaster||2001||Mack Rides||Wild mouse roller coaster; single-car ride with four riders per car.|
|Bionicle Blaster||2001||Mack||Bionicle-themed tea cups ride. Originally known as Technic Teacups from 2001-14.|
|Aquazone Wave Racers||2000||Heege/Zierer||Dual water carousel|
|LEGO Show Place||1999||4D theater that shows seasonal movies.|
|XBOX Family Gamespace||Area where guests can play LEGO games on Xbox consoles|
|LEGO Mindstorms||Classes that teach children how to operate Mindstorms robots|
|DUPLO Play||1999||Indoor play area for small children with DUPLO bricks|
|Build & Test||1999||LEGO play area where guests can build cars out of LEGO bricks and race them with others|
|Captain Cranky's Challenge||2007||A ride with a mock pirate ship that sways in a u-shaped track and rotates bi-directionally|
|Pirate Reef||2012||A "shoot the chutes" attraction with interactive components including a splash bridge, water cannons and brick building play area. This attraction is accessible from both Pirate Shores and the Legoland Water Park.|
|Soak n' Sail||2006||The larger of the two water playgrounds.|
|Splash Battle||2006||Preston & Barbieri||A water ride where guests spray each other with water on-ride and off-ride; up to four passengers per boat and each seat is equipped with a water cannon.|
|Swabbie's Deck||2006||A small water play area for small children, developed as "Squabbies Deck".|
|Treasure Falls||2006||A small log flume ride that shows "what pirates do on their vacation".|
Land of AdventureEdit
|Beetle Bounce||2008||Guests bounce nearly 15 feet (4.6 m) to nearly touch the enormous beetles above|
|Cargo Ace||2008||Guests board one of eight planes to fly six feet into the air|
|Dune Raiders||2009||A tall slide|
|Lost Kingdom Adventure||2008||Sally||Guests board and ride a roadster to recover stolen treasure by blasting targets with laser guns along their journey. First interactive dark ride at Legoland California, designed by Bill Vollbrecht.|
|Pharaoh's Revenge||2008||Guests fire foam balls at targets and at each other|
The Lego Ninjago World opened in May 2016. The area features Ninjago: The Ride along with new retail and dining options. Ninjago: The Ride is controlled by hand motions using "Maestro" technology developed by Triotech, who had previously developed the interactive Voyage to the Iron Reef dark ride at Knott's Berry Farm. A reviewer who experienced an early preview of the ride declared it "among the world's best interactive theme park attractions".
Retired rides and attractionsEdit
|Enchanted Walk||2005–18||Castle Hill||Woodland animal models built from LEGO bricks. Replaced by LEGO City: Deep Sea Adventure in 2018.|
|Miniland Florida||2004–11||Miniland||Florida-themed section of Miniland, including a model of the Daytona International Speedway. Replaced by Star Wars Miniland in 2011.|
|Sky Cruiser||1999–2016||The Ridge
|Pedal-powered track ride with panoramic views of the park. Tracks are still present.|
|Spellbreaker||2000–03||Castle Hill||Single-car with tandem riders suspended roller coaster; steel Batflyer model manufactured by Caripro. Dual tracks, maximum 5 cars per track at one time.|
|Water Works||1999–2015||Village Green
|Pressure-activated musical fountain and interactive water features. Replaced by Heartlake City.|
|Wild Woods Golf||2005–18||Castle Hill||Miniature golf-sized course using putting greens with off-green LEGO-themed decorations. Replaced by LEGO City: Deep Sea Adventure.|
Sea Life AquariumEdit
The first Sea Life Aquarium in North America opened at Legoland California in 2008. It has 36,000 sq ft (3,300 m2) of floor area on two stories, featuring a 35 ft (11 m) long acrylic walk-through tunnel and LEGO models in the tanks.
This is a water park area in Legoland California. Planning for the water park began in September 2009. It opened on May 28, 2010. It is located next to the buildings in Fun Town, meaning admission to the water park is an extra cost ticket in addition to regular park admission.
It is the first Legoland to feature a water park; a Legoland Water Park opened in Florida in 2012. At Legoland California, a Legends of Chima-themed expansion to the water park opened in early July 2014.
|Build-A-Raft River||2010||LEGOLAND Water Park||Lazy river where guests can build foam LEGO bricks on their inner tube|
|DUPLO Splash Safari||2010||LEGOLAND Water Park||Kids area with small water slides|
|Imagination Station||2010||LEGOLAND Water Park||Interactive play area|
|Joker Soaker||2010||LEGOLAND Water Park||Tower that releases water onto the guests below|
|Kid Creek||LEGOLAND Water Park||Junior lazy river|
|Orange Rush||2010||LEGOLAND Water Park||Large raft water slide|
|Splash Out||2010||LEGOLAND Water Park||Body slide|
|Splash Zoo||2011||LEGOLAND Water Park||Kids area|
|Twin Chasers||2010||LEGOLAND Water Park||Two body slides|
|Pirate Reef||2012||LEGOLAND Water Park/Pirate Shores||Shoot-the-chutes ride that has entrances in both Pirate Shores and the Water Park|
|Cragger's Swamp||2014||LEGO CHIMA Water Park||Interactive water playground|
|Eglor's Build-A-Boat||2014||LEGO CHIMA Water Park||LEGO building area where guests build small boats that they can place in a small artificial creek|
|Lion Temple Wave Pool||2014||LEGO CHIMA Water Park||Wave pool with a 30' Mount Cavora "floating" in the middle|
|Speedorz Arena||2014||LEGO CHIMA Water Park||Interactive play area where guests can race their Speedorz|
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