While winter brings the cold across much of the U.S., southern California stays snow-free near the coast – except at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad. The theme park puts on its annual winter celebration, Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights, and Baby Jawa, Grandma Jawa and I got the opportunity to check it out. This was a big treat for baby girl as it was her first time in the snow! Plus we got a chance to see Star Wars miniland and the rest of the park.
The main highlight of Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights is the Snow Play area in LEGOLAND’s Fun Town. In the Snow Play area, kids can decorate a snowman with LEGO accessories, throw snowballs at targets, try some gentle sledding, and otherwise be kids in the snow. Baby Jawa took a while to warm up to the idea of walking on something so cold and so dazzling in the morning light, especially since she is still adjusting to wearing shoes. While she felt some snow and touched the blocky snowman, she got more excited playing with some giant rubber LEGO bricks. Considering that she only just started figuring out how to take apart her DUPLO bricks at home, and sometimes even put them together, she put a few of these jumbo bricks together like a pro!
Bigger kids had fun playing with the snow too, including throwing snowballs at targets on spinners against the Fun Town fire and police station backdrops. Park staff were on hand with special scoops to help kids make the perfect round snowball. One of the main rules of the snow area is snowballs can only be thrown at the targets, and not at people. On one side, they set up a small incline for some sledding.
The rest of Fun Town was decorated for the holidays, including a giant LEGO Christmas tree in the town square. Starting the night we visited, they have an official tree lighting ceremony, where some lucky guests get to power up the lights on the tree. There’s also a LEGO reindeer and Santa’s sleigh, great for photo ops! Plus, snow falls over Fun Town every now and then. Okay, it’s not real snow – it’s tiny clumps of bubbles that slowly drift down in white specks, disappearing on contact, being blown from the rooftops of the town.
Also in Fun Town is the LEGO Factory Tour, where you can walk through the factory, watching LEGO products being made and packed by machines but we ended up with a special treat. One of the staff took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the “factory” where I got to put my hands in the ABS plastic pellets that are melted into LEGO brick molds (at 450°F). We also got up close to the molding machine and see the bricks being made, and even got to take home a special ornament made on the spot for us. Normally, this experience is reserved for the VIP tours so we felt really honored to go. Well, I did. Baby Jawa was less excited as it was normally her nap time.
There’s also a special menu for Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights at some of the food carts and restaurants, mostly around Fun Town. Lots of the usual winter treats, but also some special bratwurst with sauerkraut at the Hot Dog stand, and Churros with Chocolate sauce. My favorite treat at LEGOLAND is the apple fries on Castle Hill – luckily, they are available all year round! For lunch, we tried the ramen and rice bowl place in the new Heartlake City area – pretty tasty ramen soup! While in Heartlake City (the locale for the LEGO Friends line), we also caught the Friends stage show, which was filled with Christmas songs and dancing for the season, and finished with a big “snow” fall.
After the show, we took Baby Jawa to DUPLO Playtown, where she had fun in the farm playground, and played with some more of the giant rubber LEGO bricks. She also rode the tiny train there, and then we headed off to Miniland for the Coast Cruise boat tour. Aboard the boat, she was more interested in facing the people sitting behind us, but what can you do? Baby girl napped while we strolled around Miniland USA and got those apple fries on Castle Hill.
The rest of LEGOLAND was mostly the same – we spotted Santa’s sleigh looping around the MetLife building in the New York City portion of Miniland USA, but nothing holiday themed appeared in the Star Wars Miniland. Still, they’ve slowly added to the Star Wars area, with the giant Death Star and Trench Run dioramas that opened in March 2015. The Death Star, made of 500,000 bricks, is surrounded by TIE Fighters and X-Wings, and has several interactive dioramas in the base that recreate famous scenes aboard the first and second Death Stars. The Trench Run diorama is a massive set detailing the Death Star trench with Darth Vader and his wingmen pursuing Luke in his X-wing.
Baby Jawa woke up when we reached Land of Adventure and I took her on the Cargo Ace plane ride. Since we both had to squish side by side into a tiny plane, I couldn’t quite tell if she enjoyed it, but on a previous visit with some slightly older young kids, they had a blast on it. She did really enjoy the DUPLO Play building area in the Imagination Zone. She tried to put some bricks together, but had more fun trying to take apart my creations, and then stomped around inside a big pit of DUPLO bricks. And they make 2×3 DUPLO bricks? I don’t think I’d ever seen those before! On the way out, we stopped by the LEGOLAND hotel, where we rode the elevators. The elevators play typical elevator music when the doors are open, but once you’re inside and the doors close, a disco ball turns on and they play different disco tunes, and even Baby Jawa boogied to the beat, before heading home for a real afternoon nap.
I’ve been to LEGOLAND a few times previously, with and without kids, but this was the first time I’d gone with my own kid, who is barely a toddler. While most of the park is not quite geared for her (while she’s tall for being barely one year old, and she’s not quite tall enough for most of the rides, which are for 34″ and above), she did have fun in the snow, and in the DUPLO themed areas. LEGOLAND is great for having high chairs available in all the dining areas, indoors and out, and tons of family restrooms around the park, great for changing diapers, and we also made use of the Model Mom baby care center in Fun Town.
So if you want a winter wonderland without freezing your patootie, head on out to the San Diego area and hit up Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights at LEGOLAND California!
NOTE: LEGOLAND California provided complimentary admission passes and arranged for before-hours access to Snow Play.