LEGOLAND: the Adventure Continues


Last month our family visited LEGOLAND California again. Even though we’ve been there a few times before, it felt new because it’s been three years since we went as a family, and our boys are 3 years older, so it’s like bringing new kids! We know what to expect, but that gives us the comfort to look for new experiences in this fun familiar place.

The Drive: Coming from Agoura Hills, the drive can take a while, especially in traffic, so we wait until after dinner to get on the road. This time we set out around 8pm and checked into our hotel at 11pm.

The Hotel: Sure, you can drive down to Carlsbad, spend the day at LEGOLAND, and then hop back in the car after closing, but that would just be crazy. So we like to drive down the night before, stay in a hotel, spend the next day (or two) at the park, have a nice dinner, then spend a second night. On this second evening the kids can play in the pool and we parents can relax and stretch out our sore legs. Our hotel of choice has been the Best Western Encinitas, which is far less expensive than closer lodging options, and it’s only a 15-minute drive from the park. Free continental breakfast every morning and a nice little pool with a hot tub, plus it’s right near the beach.


The Park: LEGOLAND has expanded since we last visited in 2013, with its newest attraction, Ninjago World, still not even open when we were here this time! (It’s open now, though!)

We stopped at all of the tried and true attractions we remember from when the kids were younger, but it’s kind of hilarious to see their bigger bodies in these settings:


Upgraded shark mouth, 2016


Original shark mouth, 2013




Driving School, 2016


He fit better in 2013

We took the time to marvel at the LEGO creations, things we may not have paused to consider in earlier years when kids were rushing to the rides:



I was delighted to discover that they have added a new section to the water park, which is CHIMA themed.


Pro tip for the water park: you should definitely pay the extra money to rent a locker for the time you are here. This keeps your valuables safe and dry, and frees up your hands so that you can run around the water park with your kids. You are given a wristband that you scan to open the locker, so you don’t even need to find a place to carry a key.



Among the new features at LEGOLAND is a new 4D movie, LEGO® NEXO KNIGHTS™: The Book of Creativity! But it’s not just a movie – it’s an app too! You can download it before you visit the park, and use it to locate six shields hidden throughout the Park. Interactive!

legoland nexo knights

This trip to LEGOLAND was special for me because we did it to celebrate my kids’ 9th and 11th birthdays. They are old enough now that I don’t have to worry about them running off and getting lost. They are much more patient waiting in lines, and more responsible. My 9-year-old still takes forever to pick out a souvenir (we limit each child to a $15 bill to keep this expense reasonable), so some things never change. That, plus the fact that their favorite attraction in all of the park is the Fun Town Driving School, where, without lines on a gray April day, my kids drove those cars again and again and again.

Our family’s favorite ride, collectively, has always been Pirate’s Reef, where you get absolutely drenched, but that was closed during this visit. The kids made up for it by getting soaked on Splash Battle.



Look at those happy faces. Totally worth it.

During the summer season, LEGOLAND CA and its Water Park and SEA LIFE Aquarium are all open later and later, plus they have special events happening all the time. To check out the schedule and to learn about discount ticket options, visit their website.

As an official LEGOLAND blogger, I received two complimentary admission tickets for this trip.

Get the Inside Scoop about LEGOLAND CA Right Here!

LEGO Ice Cream Pirate at LEGOLAND

As perpetual tourists in Los Angeles since we moved here many years ago, my husband and I have traveled all around Southern California. Now that we have children, it’s much more fun, because we have 2 built-in reasons to visit kid-friendly places. I recently asked our kids what their favorite trips have been, and aside from visiting their grandparents in Connecticut and Louisiana, they both said “LEGOLAND” without hesitation.

We have been to LEGOLAND as a family several times, and the kids even went with their great-aunts a few years ago (on an awesome kid-free weekend for me and the husband!). That’s a long way from our friends who are annual pass holders at other parks and pop in every time they get a free second (what fun!) but we are a good 3-hour drive from Carlsbad so we have to reserve our trips for sports-free weekends! With two active boys, our family doesn’t have a ton of those!

So why LEGOLAND? Well, it’s everyone’s favorite because:

The visitors are nice. Since the whole park is themed for kids and LEGO lovers, you’re less likely to have adults visiting without kids. And kids tend to make adults behave better.

The rides aren’t too scary. Even though my boys are getting older, they are still shy about braving the big thrill rides of other parks.

It’s not too big. Even with the water park, the SEA LIFE Aquarium, and LEGOLAND itself, a family can still go at a leisurely pace and have a great time without being overwhelmed.

We found a great place to stay. Instead of staying at the hotel on site (which is something we dream of doing one day!) we stay at the Best Western Encinitas, which is right near the beach and the groovy town of Encinitas. There is a small pool and hot tub, and continental breakfast every morning. It’s reasonably priced and only a short drive from LEGOLAND.


If you are planning a trip to LEGOLAND, keep your eyes on this site and social media channels, because I’m excited to say that Agoura Hills Mom is an official LEGOLAND insider! I’ll get first looks at new features and promotions from the park and I will share them here!

Knott’s Berry Farm Has More Than Rides

brady knotts game win

A day at Knott’s Berry Farm is one of those things you build into your summer to break up the long stretch of free time. At least that’s how my family looks at it. When life gets too “boring” for the kids, plan and execute Operation Theme Park, right? And that’s how I see it – a mission that requires skill and organization. With a destination as easy or hard to get to depending on traffic as Buena Park, CA, it’s a long drive and a long day, so we want to maximize our fun.

What I did not expect at a recent visit to Knott’s was the helpful way the daily entertainment broke up our day. My younger son and I spent a day there to check out the new rides at scenery at the recently opened Boardwalk, and also to ride the reopened Timber Mountain Log Ride. The Coast Rider roller coaster was a huge hit with my 6-year-old. Since we were at the park before the official opening time, we were able to ride it 3 times in a row without standing in a long line. We rode it twice more during our visit! The only reason that happened was that the new ride is a fun and fast roller coaster but it’s smooth, unlike its veteran mentor The Ghost Rider, which, in its old-school coaster way, smashes and jerks your body back and forth, to and fro, with headache-inducing force. The Ghost Rider has the better vertical drops, though, so it’s worth standing in line for that one if defying gravity is really your thing.

knott's berry farm boardwalk coast rider and surfside gliders

My son and I truly enjoyed the rides, and we went on a lot of them that day, because he is finally tall enough! He even went on the Surfside Glider all by himself, with me standing proudly at the ride’s perimeter snapping pictures, hoping to catch the self-satisfied grin on his little face.

knott's berry farm surfside gliders

But what made the whole day extra fun was the shows.

When visitors enter the gates of Knott’s Berry Farm, they are handed a park map and a schedule of the day’s entertainment. My son saw this and constantly asked me “What time is the next show?” I decided to indulge him, if only to give myself a break from standing in line and being whipped up and down and around again on the rides, and we wound up spending the whole day going from one show to the next, working in rides if there was time in between them.

We saw the Calico Saloon Show, a true vaudeville dancing and singing performance behind the bar that actually serves drinks. We saw most of the latest Peanuts character show at Camp Snoopy before my companion had to go to the bathroom. We stood in Main Street in Ghost Town and watched the Cowboy Antics, a slapstick street performance/duel.We saw the Wild West Stunt Show at the Wagon Camp in Ghost Town, where the same cowboys make the audience laugh with their goofy play fights. We sat through the weird vanishing storyteller show in the Mystery Lodge – a nice indoor, air-conditioned break for me, during which I answered a lot of “Is he really magic?” and “Did that guy really disappear?” type questions. We caught some of the Native American Dancer’s performance at the Indian Trails stage, but left during the performer’s end-of-show political diatribe against the White Man. Later in the day, we sang along during the Marshall Purdy Show, an audience participation banjo act, and we caught the incredible Cirque-du-Soleil-meets-the-Old-West show on the main stage in Calico Square called Boom Town.

knott's berry farm shows snoopy cowboys calico saloon marshall purdy

Our favorite, though, was the new “Snoopy…Unleashed” Ice Show at the Charles M. Schulz Theatre near the bumper cars. This was an honest and for true ice show with amazing professional ice skaters including one who humbly dons the Snoopy costume and marches around and skates on a tiny little stage at the front of the theatre. There was a marching band, a ribbon gymnast skater who could have been in the Cirque show herself, and about 25 minutes of skillful and entertaining synchronized ice dancing and acrobatics set to great music. I was so delightfully surprised that I forgot I had a whole day of slogging through an amusement park in front of me, and my son was simply delighted.

Most of the shows take place more than once a day, and it seems possible to catch them all, but we did in fact stand in some long lines to go on rides, and we had to break for snacks and meals.

knott's berry farm view from sky cabin.jpg

Views from Sky Cabin, “basically an elevator that rotates,” said the attendant.

If you dismiss Knott’s Berry Farm because you’ve been there done that, I suggest you consider going back, both for the new rides, and the family pleasing entertainment. That’s a lot of family fun for the price of a ticket which is more modest that some other area theme parks, and you can even get discounted tickets with local offers and coupons.


Oh look! Mom was there, too!