CARLSBAD — It's mid-afternoon on a hot summer day. After a full morning at a theme park, energy is running low. While the adults are ready to leave the fun behind for a few hours rest, there are many in the party who don't want to leave.
Legoland has come up with a solution.
The Legoland Hotel, which opened in April, sits just outside the entrance to the theme park. The three-story, 250-room hotel is an explosion of primary colors made to resemble the colorful structures that can be made using the popular toy bricks. It's not unusual for hotels to have a decor that continues the theme of an amusement park. But the Legoland Hotel has been designed as if it were part of the park.
From the Kingdom-, Pirate- and Adventure-theme rooms to the Lego bricks found from the lobby to your room, leaving the park doesn't mean leaving the fun behind.
"We wanted the hotel to continue the theme we have here in the park of promoting interaction, promoting creativity, inspiring kids to use their imagination," says Jake Gonzales, a spokesman for the park and hotel. "It's about kids. This isn't a park built for adults using a kid's theme. This is a child's park that adults can enjoy, too. The hotel's the same way."
Rooms are designed to give adults and children their own space. Bunk beds are situated in an area where children can play with Legos, watch TV (that only shows kid-friendly channels) or figure out the combination to the in-room safe where kid treasures await.
"A lot of things in the rooms were designed just for kids, such as a peep hole low in the door and a training seat in the toilet," Gonzales says.
The attention to young park visitors doesn't end in the room. There are more than 3,500 Lego models in the hotel — created from more than three million bricks — and seven are animated. In the main lobby, kids are urged to build with Legos while their parents check in. And each restaurant has kids in mind, including Bricks Family Restaurant, where a buffet station is at a height they can reach.
The main attraction is the 128-acre theme park created by Danish toy maker The Lego Co. It offers more than 60 interactive rides, shows and attractions, as well as restaurants, shopping and more than 27,000 models created from some 57 million Legos.
The Southern California attraction opened in 1999, the third LEGO park built and the first outside Europe. It's divided into nine areas: The Beginning, Dino Island, Pirates Shores, Miniland USA, Duplo Village, Castle Hill, Imagination Zone, Fun Town and Land of Adventure. The Sealife Aquarium opened in 2008 and two years later the Legoland Water Park was added.
A majority of the attractions are aimed at visitors 2-12. Gonzales says that it's just an urban myth visitors can't get into the park without being accompanied by a minor.
"Adults can come without a child. In fact, we have a lot of adults who grew up playing with Legos. Even if the adults don't want to ride the rides, you definitely can come and walk the grounds," Gonzales says.
None of the models in the park or hotel have been made from molds. The only material used that's not a Lego brick and glue is a steel frame used to support the model. Because the park is designed to be interactive, the models must be strong enough to withstand the assault of young and old visitors.
Each model has individually been made by the craftsman on the park grounds. No spot in the park shows the skill of the model makers more than Miniland USA, which features famous communities such as New York and San Francisco made from millions of blocks.
Washington, D.C., features faithful recreations of the White House, U.S. Capitol, Smithsonian, Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial and parts of Georgetown.
The newest attraction in the park is the Lego Movie Experience, where one of the sets from "The Lego Movie" can be seen. It took more than 2,000 man hours by 11 builders, under the guidance of Master Builder Paul Chrzan, to build.
IF YOU GO
Legoland, One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad. Park hours vary. Call (760) 918-LEGO or visit www.legoland.com for details. Tickets: Adults, $83, Children (3-12) $73
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.