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Legoland II

Started: 2019-03-13 20:42:24

Submitted: 2019-03-14 23:40:38

Visibility: World-readable

21st February 2019: In which the intrepid narrator returns to Legoland California Resort

No account of my second visit to Legoland would be complete without mentioning my first visit to Legoland in 2014, when Calvin was in kindergarten at five-and-a-half and Julian was yet unborn.

We ended up going to Legoland with eight people in our group: my household of five (me, Kiesa, Calvin, Julian, and our au pair Alejandra); plus my sister-in-law Jessica, my nephew (her son) Caleb, and her sister Marlene (who lives in the Inland Empire and drove down to Carlsbad to meet us).

Lego scientist figure inside the Legoland
Lego scientist figure inside the Legoland "O"

We stayed across the street from Legoland, at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel. It was an easy walk across the street from the hotel, through the gate in Legoland's perimeter fence, across the parking lot, past the Legoland hotel (dressed up as if it were a 1980s castle Lego set, setting off my nostalgia detector), and through the park's main gate.

We started at at Miniland, the elaborate Lego models of American cities just inside the main entrance. Since my last visit to Legoland, the motorcade carrying President and Mrs. Obama around Washington, DC had been replaced by an orange-haired figure on the front lawn of the White House, giving a press conference in front of Marine One.

Orange-haired figure in front of the White House in Miniland
Orange-haired figure in front of the White House in Miniland

The day's forecast threatened rain, which the park's main entrance warned us of (along with reminding us that there would be no refunds for rain). We came prepared, so when it started raining while we were looking Miniland, we had our rain jackets ready.

Julian and Calvin look at Legoland in Miniland in Legoland
Julian and Calvin look at Legoland in Miniland in Legoland

I was very amused to see that there was, in the section of Miniland dedicated to Southern California, a large space itself dedicated to Legoland; and that, inside Legoland, there was a small reproduction of Miniland, built using what looked like the Lego Architecture models of world buildings. (I looked, but I did not see a miniature Legoland inside that version of Miniland; so it's possible that they cut off the recursion there, without going even deeper.)

The Painted Ladies and Alamo Square Park in Lego
The Painted Ladies and Alamo Square Park in Lego

On my last visit to Legoland, Miniland's San Francisco was under construction. (And at that time I was still living in Boulder, more than a year before I'd call San Francisco my home.) This time, the city was complete, jumbling all of the city's landmarks together, out-of-order, next to each other. I was especially pleased to see the defiantly-ugly Vaillancourt Fountain in Lego, pouring actual water out of its spouts (an accomplishment the actual fountain managed only sporadically while we lived in San Francisco). Not only was the fountain removed from its context in the shadow of the the Embarcadero Freeway, but it was placed next to Alamo Square under the Painted Ladies.

Vaillancourt Fountain in Lego
Vaillancourt Fountain in Lego

I was pleased to see the world's most beautiful bridge rendered, beautifully, in Lego; along with the tall ship Balclutha sailing towards the bridge. (In the model, the ship's masts were too tall to clear the bridge deck.) The model, though, did not have Fort Point under the southern approach to the bridge, nor did it have the elegant steel arch built to span the fort.

The Golden Gate Bridge and Balclutha in Lego
The Golden Gate Bridge and Balclutha in Lego

After Miniland we found ourselves in front of the entrance to Lego City: Deep Sea Adventure. We walked through the the queue, obviously equipped to hold more people than were present on a winter weekday, and took the amusing ride through a partially-submerged "submarine" with real fish and various Lego sculptures in the water.

The ride ended in a gift shop where we could buy a picture of ourselves from the entrance to the ride. Julian was drawn to the Pick-a-Brick wall of brightly-lit Lego bricks, and helped sort the bricks by color by putting them in the right bins.

Julian sorts the Pick-a-Brick bricks by color
Julian sorts the Pick-a-Brick bricks by color

Our next stop was around the corner at the playground called The Hideaways, which amused all of the kids for as long as we let them play. Julian in particular liked one specific climbing tower where he could climb up on tumbling mats secured to platforms at just the right spacing for him to pull himself up onto the next mat.

Julian climbs the playground at Legoland
Julian climbs the playground at Legoland

When at last we managed to pull our kids away from the playground we sent the kids on The Royal Joust ride. Calvin was probably old enough that it wasn't quite as interesting for him; but Julian and Caleb seemed to enjoy it (even if they may have been younger than the ride was officially specified for).

Calvin rides The Royal Joust at Legoland
Calvin rides The Royal Joust at Legoland
Julian rides The Royal Joust at Legoland
Julian rides The Royal Joust at Legoland

The park's second-largest roller coaster, The Dragon, was closed for mechanical problems for much of the morning but opened just as the kids were riding (for the third or fourth time in a row) the Beetle Bounce ride. I scrambled to keep up with Calvin as he ran back to get in line and rode the coaster by himself. The ride's height cut-off, 40 inches, was just short enough that Julian and Caleb could ride as well; and they were also amused (not, as I feared they might be, terrified) by the ride.

We ate lunch (pizza) within sight of the park's largest roller coaster, the Technic Coaster. After lunch I took Calvin on the coaster, which was adequately amusing for a small amusement park roller coaster. Caleb insisted on trying to ride the coaster, but he was too short to meet the ride's 42-inch minimum height.

We rode the Aquazone Wave Racers ride (spinning around on a vehicle suspended above a shallow pool, with a rudder controlled by a steering wheel that would control how far one rode within a narrow arc), then I headed off with Calvin on a leisurely stroll towards the other side of the park, starting with a walk through the Lego Movie 2 Experience.

Calvin looks at the Lego Movie 2 set
Calvin looks at the Lego Movie 2 set

Like the previous Lego Movie Experience, from my last visit to Legoland, this exhibit showed the filming models from the basement set; though I had to confess that I had not actually seen the movie yet (this being only a few weeks after the theatrical release of the movie), so it I didn't get all of the references.

Spaceship! Spaceship! Spaceship!
Spaceship! Spaceship! Spaceship!

I was, at least, pleased to see Spaceship! Spaceship! Spaceship! in the space Lego set off to the side.

Calvin looks at the Lego Movie 2 set
Calvin looks at the Lego Movie 2 set

Calvin and I walked through Miniland again, starting with Las Vegas. Calvin wanted an explanation of the resort-hotel-casinos he saw, complete with the authentic mismatch hodgepodge of cultural appropriation on The Strip.

One World Trade Center at Legoland
One World Trade Center at Legoland

I was more interested in New York, which was also a mismatch hodgepodge of buildings and parks from around the city; but at least the city it was representing was a real place with significant buildings in its own right. At the southern tip of Manhattan was One World Trade Center next to the PATH train station and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. (I don't remember what was here last time I visited Legoland; from the pictures I took at the time I think the Lego One World Trade Center was under construction, only slightly behind the real building, which had just officially opened at the time.)

PATH World Trade Center station at Legoland
PATH World Trade Center station at Legoland

Calvin drove the cars at Driving School (which seemed to be less interesting than he had hoped, possibly because he ended up with a car with a depleted battery). We walked through the Lego Factory Tour, which featured industrial machinery molding Lego bricks from ABS plastic, then painting logos on pieces, then assembling a wheel; finally picking and packing the right number of pieces in a kit. All of the machinery was slowed down so we could see what it was doing. I liked being able to see the individual steps, but I felt like I was missing the sense of scale that I would get in the real factory.

After that we were done with our time in Legoland for the day, and we headed back to our hotel for the night, having spent the day seeing all the Lego entertainments at the park.

nightly chats with bin laden would be better
- Scott Galvin, about Jaeger's nightly jobsearch talks with his parents,
14 October 2002