Legoland, Birch Aquarium announce partial openings in keeping with COVID-19 restrictions

Ninjago characters at Legoland.
Greeting costumed characters will be among some of the experiences families will have during Legoland’s special Build ‘N Play days it will be debuting in March.
(Legoland California)

While theme parks are closed, Legoland will open some play areas to families, while the aquarium has cobbled together some outdoor-only experiences


As local attractions wait out the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, some, like Legoland and Birch Aquarium, are coming up with strategic ways to welcome back visitors hungering for outdoor outings.

Legoland, which has been unable to fully reopen since the start of the pandemic nearly a year ago, will debut March 5 what it is calling its Build ‘N Play Days. Children will have access to play structures within the park, like Kai’s Spinners and Cole’s Rock Climb in Lego Ninjago World and Duplo Playtown.

There will be various building activities and a scavenger hunt in Miniland U.S.A., as well as live entertainment and opportunities to meet costumed characters.

Meanwhile, the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, which still has to keep its indoor live exhibits shut down, has come up with a panoply of outdoor experiences that will include, among other things, a chance to see juvenile and adult seahorses and to also touch such animals like cleaner shrimp, hermit crabs, sea stars and young epaulette sharks in a coral reef environment. The aquarium will open Friday for members and Saturday for the general public.

Under current statewide COVID-19 orders, large theme parks are barred from fully opening until COVID-19 transmission rates decline more significantly. However, SeaWorld, for example, has been able to partially reopen at reduced capacities under more relaxed guidelines for zoos. Legoland is allowed to open its themed hotel, and its latest Build ‘N Play initiative is possible under rules that allow parks to be open.

“Over the last 12 months we have had to reimagine the world as it is and rebuild, so to speak, our world as we know it,” said Legoland California Resort President Kurt Stocks. “Build ‘N Play Days gives children and their families the opportunity to reimagine their world using the power of play in a fun and safe environment. We’re eager and ready to open the rest of our park responsibly as soon as possible, but, until then, we know our guests will make memories during this experience.”

Build ‘N Play days will start March 5-7 and continue on select dates through May 2.

Ticket prices start at $19.99, which will include activities like a Miniland dance party, designing your own mini figure atop the roof of the Model Shop, and listening to live musical appearances in Fun Town.

Among the outdoor offerings at Birch Aquarium are:

  • Shark Shores, featuring La Jolla’s Leopard Sharks and other species of elasmobranchs (sharks and rays). The large outdoor exhibit allows visitors to experience what one might see in the sandy-bottomed habitat of La Jolla Shores .
  • Nursery animals where guests can observe young animals from nearby cool temperate waters, like clumps of mussels, swell shark egg cases and juvenile sharks, sand crabs, and juvenile zebra perch.
  • South Tide Pool Touch Experience, which offers the opportunity to touch La Jolla locals, like anemones, urchins, and sea cucumbers.

“We are delighted to reopen Birch Aquarium with family friendly outdoor-only experiences,” said Executive Director Harry Helling. “Guests can safely enjoy new animal encounters, exhibits, and art installations added to our outdoor spaces, all with sweeping views of Scripps Oceanography and the beautiful Pacific.”
Advanced reservations for a specific time and date will be required and can be made online. The aquarium will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Pricing for admission is 16.50 for adults and $12 for children.