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Legoland

Started: 2014-11-30 12:18:33

Submitted: 2014-11-30 21:55:55

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator takes Calvin to visit the Legoest place on earth

I've known, vaguely, of the existence of Legoland in Carlsbad for years. This fall, as I expected to take a series of work trips to San Diego, the thought occurred to me to try to arrange my travel to begin or end on a weekend so I could arrange for Kiesa and Calvin to join me and visit Legoland. This didn't pan out (due in part to the last-minute nature of my own planning, and in part to Kiesa's religious service obligations on the key weekends), but the idea had been planted, so when we considered traveling for the every-even-year Logan family reunion at Thanksgiving, I got the bright idea to take the week before Thanksgiving off and take Calvin to Legoland first, then head up to Sacramento. Kiesa was happy to let me take Calvin by myself, but after her experience with pre-term labor while pregnant with Calvin, she wanted to stay at home within reach of the nearest NICU. This counts as paranoia; Version 2.1 release candidate A is only 23 weeks, which is right at the cusp of theoretically survivable in the best NICU -- but I figure she's entitled to most of the paranoia she wants. (It doesn't hurt that she just finished her major project at work, and she needed a break after that.)

When I told Calvin that we would be visiting Legoland he was very excited, then he asked whether we would be visiting Legoland in California or Denmark. I told him we'd be visiting Legoland in California, and wondered if I should start making plans to visit Denmark.

So Calvin and I left Denver for San Diego on Sunday afternoon, 23 November. I packed most of Calvin's in-flight amusements and change of clothes in his small Handy Manny-branded backpack/rolling suitcase, and when he found the backpack waiting for him on Sunday morning he immediately put it on and wore it for the next two hours before we were actually ready to leave the house.

Kiesa drove us to the airport because I had no particular interest in parking during Thanksgiving. At security we got TSA Pre-check, which was still thrilling, and the agent asked Calvin what his name was, presumably to double-check that he really was the Calvin shown on the ticket. (I did have his passport in my carry-on bag, but no one expects a kindergartener to have a photo id so they never ask.) I fed Calvin noodle and tofu for lunch and enjoyed an uneventful flight to San Diego.

Calvin eats noodle and tofu at DIA
Calvin eats noodle and tofu at DIA

Somewhere over the desert between California and Nevada I saw the sun glinting off a large installation. I figured it was a power-generating station using reflectors to concentrate solar power on a heat accumulator, and once I landed I checked my flight track and decided I was in fact correct: I had spotted the three fields of Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System glinting in the sun over a 737 wing
Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System glinting in the sun over a 737 wing

While in San Diego we stayed with my aunt Sherrie at her house a half-hour north of the airport on the 15.

Monday

We arrived at Legoland in a long line of cars queuing for parking (while Google Maps navigation ("Robot Lady") mispronounced Legoland Drive, telling me "At the traffic circle, take the second exit to proceed on Le-gul-lnd drive"), followed by a long queue for tickets. At length we entered, armed with a button proclaiming this to be our first visit to Legoland. (Calvin refused to wear it, so I did.)

Calvin in front of Legoland California
Calvin in front of Legoland California

This was my first visit to Legoland as well, so I had only a vague idea what I was getting myself into. We wandered into Miniland, featuring Lego reproductions of various American cities. I was amused by the presidential motorcade featuring Barack and Michelle Obama (the third presidential couple to be honored by Lego reproductions at this particular resort) and the Lego-scale reproduction of the Iwo Jima Marine Corps memorial -- which inspired me to quip, "Them Iwo Jima is small," a reference to Willy's comment upon seeing the original statue when he was three years old, "Them Iwo Jima is big."

Presidential motorcade in Legoland's Miniland
Presidential motorcade in Legoland's Miniland

We wandered into Lego Las Vegas and saw Lego reproductions of Las Vegas reproductions of actual buildings, which was a bit weird for me. (I'm fully on board with Lego reproductions of original buildings, but in general Las Vegas is a bit weird for me.) As Calvin studied the Lego Luxor I considered the instrumental role that the real Luxor had in his coming into existence: the evening that Kiesa and I wandered around the hotel, which led directly to the beginning of our relationship and, ultimately, Calvin.

Welcome to Lego Las Vegas
Welcome to Lego Las Vegas
Calvin looks at the front of the Luxor in Legoland's Miniland
Calvin looks at the front of the Luxor in Legoland's Miniland

We visited Lego New York, which jumbled all of New York's iconic buildings together, including Rockefeller Center (which did not actually have a Lego store in one of the outlying buildings), Citigroup Center, and the Chrysler Building. Lego San Francisco was under construction; I could see the felt-covered plywood on which cable cars would be built, and Lombard Street. I was slightly disappointed to see that the Bank of America building did not have the Banker's Heart in front of it.

Lego Chrysler Building
Lego Chrysler Building
Bridges and skyscrapers in Lego New York
Bridges and skyscrapers in Lego New York

Calvin wanted to see the cars he could drive, which I think he learned about from the ads attached to some of his DVDs, so we wandered off in search of there and got sidetracked by a swinging pirate ship ride that Calvin thought was great fun. (When we eventually got to the cars later in the day we learned that the larger car ride required its drivers to be at least six years old, which I think made this the only attraction that Calvin couldn't ride. He was just tall enough to easily hit the 42-inch-tall bar on every other ride we tried.) Calvin found a large Lego shark's head across from the pirate ride and roared.

Calvin in a Lego shark's head
Calvin in a Lego shark's head

Immediately behind the shark was a play area with a bunch of large foam baby-sized Lego-shaped bricks. Calvin built a tower; I built a bridge.

Calvin builds with large Legos
Calvin builds with large Legos

We queued for a ride that let us drive a small boat through a three-foot-deep pool. At various random intervals through the pool there were Lego sculptures of various marine scenes. (This pattern repeated itself throughout the rest of the park: in other ponds were Lego ducks coexisting next to real ducks.) Calvin enjoyed trying to drive the boat, though he tended to over-correct on the steering. (The ride included an attendant dressed in hip-waders to help unstick boats that couldn't get move themselves.)

We ate lunch, then Calvin wanted to enter an attraction labeled "The Lego Movie Experience". I'm generally worried by things billing themselves as "The X Experience", but this turned out to be a small building containing the basement set from The Lego Movie: a giant reproduction of Bricksburg on a waist-high platform in the middle of the room, surrounded by displays of the other themed areas. (They even had the cat poster hanging on the wall under one of the tables.)

Bricksburg construction site
Bricksburg construction site
Calvin looks at the space Legos
Calvin looks at the space Legos

Both Calvin and I thought it was absolutely fantastic.

Calvin looks at the ground floor of Lord Business' tower
Calvin looks at the ground floor of Lord Business' tower

At one point while gaping at the display I lost sight of Calvin until I heard one of the attendants (who was generally responsible for throwing out trivia about the set -- this was, ironically, the only thing in Legoland not Kragled together) say that we were going to hear a special song -- which turned out to be Calvin singing "Everything is awesome", out loud, over the PA. I was not sure whether to be embarrassed or proud.

Calvin in front of Bricksburg
Calvin in front of Bricksburg
Calvin with Lego Emmet
Calvin with Lego Emmet

Calvin wanted to visit the Lego castle, so we made our way to the exact opposite end of the park and rode the Dragon roller coaster. This was not the most impressive roller coaster I've ridden, but it was amusing, and Calvin thought it was great.

Calvin with Lego soldiers
Calvin with Lego soldiers

Calvin rode by himself a small ride involving a "horse" running around a small track, then we had an ice cream snack. By this point it was around 16:00 and we had an hour left in the park. Calvin wanted to try one of the rides on the small hill that we'd circumnavigated earlier, so we headed in that direction but got sidetracked by a giant playground. Once I managed to convince Calvin to go for one more ride we walked through the Star Wars section of Miniland, which featured a large assortment of characters from the movies (both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy), and dioramas from each of the movies. (Calvin wanted me to take pictures of him with every one of the figures.)

Calvin with Lego Yoda
Calvin with Lego Yoda
Lego Endor
Lego Endor

At length we made our way to the Kid Power Tower, an amusing ride involving a pair of seats suspended on the edge of a tower that would be raised when tension was applied to the rope, giving the illusion that one was pulling one's self up by climbing the rope. Calvin thought it was great fun.

We visited one more ride on our way out of the park, shortly before it closed at 17:00: a "helicopter" ride that would raise platforms on poles. Calvin took full control of the ride and enjoyed it as well.

We left Legoland when it closed, after spending an amusing day wandering the park, riding the rides, and looking at fantastic Lego sculptures.

Calvin with a Lego toy soldier
Calvin with a Lego toy soldier

For more photos from our visit to Legoland, see Photos on 2014-11-24.

Unlike most of you, I get to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Dr. Show, to physics class, 20 August 1999