Planning a trip to Southern California and can’t decide between Disneyland and LEGOLAND? We break down the differences, and here’s what you need to know.
LEGOLAND: Tickets for one day in LEGOLAND California, not including admission to the water park and SEA LIFE Aquarium, start around $96 for adults and about $90 for kids. For admittance to all three, one-day tickets start at around $122 for adults and approximately $116 for kids.
Disneyland: You’ll want at least two days here, and rates for a two-day ticket start at $225 for adults ($112 per day), and $210 for kids ages three through nine ($105 per day). However, consider upgrading to the Park Hopper ticket, which allows you to go from Disneyland to adjacent Disney California Adventure. Two-day Park Hopper tickets start at $280 for adults ($140 per day), and $265 (about $132 per day) for kids ages three through nine.
What You Get:
LEGOLAND: The park has 12 different areas, including two water parks along with the aquarium. (See the full park map here.)
Disneyland: You get two parks in one at Disneyland. The original park has all the classic rides: Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and It's a Small World. California Adventure has new favorites like Incredicoaster (formerly known as California Screamin’) and Soarin’ Over California.
LEGOLAND: Rides here are based on children’s toys and scaled back in intensity -- think Lego planes that “fly” in circles or Lego cars that drive around a track. Even Coastersaurus, with its wide turns and gentle dips, is pretty ho-hum. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, it’s the perfect introduction to amusement park rides.
Disneyland: There are quite a few rides aimed at young ones, but there’s a reason adults without kids plan their vacations around a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. Rides like Space Mountain and Indiana Jones Adventure can get pretty intense.
LEGOLAND: Like the rides in the main part of the park, the attractions in the two water parks are nothing too crazy.
Disneyland: Disneyland doesn’t have a waterpark, so if you are planning a California trip and a water park is a must, LEGOLAND is a good option.
LEGOLAND: Although there is daily entertainment and 4-D movies, LEGOLAND doesn’t have parades, laser shows, or fireworks. Check here for a list of seasonal events and activities. Everyday events can be found here.
Disneyland: Meet your favorite Disney characters at a character breakfast (reservations required, extra charge) or on Main Street. Then, catch a show with more characters. In the evening, take your pick from the parade, fireworks, or World of Color show: and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
LEGOLAND: Stay at the Lego-centric park’s on-site resort for early admission to the park (rates from $169 per night, depending on the season). Want a break from the Lego scene? We recommend the budget-friendly West Inn & Suites just a few miles down the road (rates from $101 per night, depending on the season).
Disneyland: Guests also enjoy early admission to the Disney parks if they stay at one of the three resorts there: Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (rates from $586 per night) Disneyland Hotel (rates from $445 per night), and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (rates from $339 per night).
The Bottom Line:
LEGOLAND: It’s not Disneyland, and for many people, that’s actually a plus. Lines aren't as long and the crowds aren't as massive. Plus, we love the play areas and interactive rides for little ones. However, older kids, especially teens, will likely be bored.
Disneyland: For anyone over the age of seven, Disneyland is the hands-down winner with its classic rides, thrilling attractions, and movie tie-ins. But, if you have little ones, pirates and ghosts can be pretty scary theme rides, and then, there’s that long walk back to the car when they get tired. Every amusement park aficionado should visit a Disney park at least once.