Legoland ready to open its biggest park attraction ever

Entrance to the new Lego Movie World attraction at Legoland.
Entrance to the new Lego Movie World attraction, which is a new land at the Carlsbad park that takes inspiration from the popular Lego movies.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The park’s new Lego Movie World, which was supposed to make its debut last year, will include a 4D-style ride that transports young passengers to fictional lands featured in the Lego films


Legoland is opening on Thursday what it’s calling its biggest park attraction yet — a new land devoted entirely to the popular Lego movies that will include a half-dozen interactive rides and experiences.

Delayed more than a year by the pandemic, The Lego Movie World is opening just in time for Memorial Day weekend and well before the June 15 lifting of COVID-19 capacity restrictions statewide. For now, Legoland California will still be limited to 25 percent capacity and will require reservations.

Park officials expect there will be days, especially on weekends, when the park will be at capacity, given the new attraction and approaching summer.

“Even though we’re still under capacity restrictions, I expect we’ll hit capacity over the next few weekends before we get to June 15,” said Legoland California Resort President Kurt Stocks. “Our pass members are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Lego Movie World. The response (from the pubic) in general has been very positive since we reopened in April.”

Located in the far west side of the park, Lego Movie World has been designed to give visitors the sensation of being in a world removed from the theme park. Everything in the new land draws inspiration from “The Lego Movie” and “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”

 Emmet's Flying Adventure Ride at Legoland.
Emmet’s Flying Adventure ride at the new Lego Movie World attraction gives passengers the sensation of flying above memorable lands from the Lego movies.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Movie World’s single biggest attraction is Emmet’s Flying Adventure Ride where families, seated on Emmett’s triple decker “flying couch,” will feel as though they’re soaring above lands familiar to Lego movie viewers, including Middle Zealand, Cloud Cuckoo Land, Pirates Cove and the Sistar System.

Surrounded by a full-dome screen, passengers on the ride will begin their virtual journey when the gondolas, facing away from the screen, rotate 180 degrees, giving riders the sensation of hanging over the edge of a deck and soaring in space.

During the course of the ride, housed in two three-level theaters, 4D effects will come into play, like mists of water, puffs of air and a marshmallow-like scent in the hidden realm of Cloud Cuckoo Land. A similar Lego Movie World attraction debuted at Legoland’s Florida park in 2019. In the Carlsbad park, Movie World takes up a little more than two acres where the former Lego Friends Heartlake City area was located.

“The coolest part about this is the full immersive experience a guest will have as you walk through the big movie world, starting with the crane as you go into the land, and downtown Bricksburg and then on Emmet’s Flying Adventure,” said project manager Thomas Storer. “You get a feeling of isolation from the rest of the park and the world.”

Lego Movie World represents the largest investment within the Carlsbad park since the debut in 2018 of Lego City Deep Sea Adventure, a submarine ride that traverses a 300,000-gallon aquarium populated with sharks, rays and tropical fish. While Legoland will not divulge the cost of its attractions, it has previously confirmed that the new land is also Legoland owner Merlin Entertainments’ single biggest investment made within any of its Legoland parks.

 Unikitty's Disco Drop ride at the new Lego Movie World attraction
Unikitty’s Disco Drop ride at the new Lego Movie World attraction.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

In addition to Movie World’s 4D ride, there are a number of attractions catering to young children, including Unikitty’s Disco Drop, which launches kids to the top of Cloud Cuckoo Land and then drops, spins and bounces them back down the tower. Another is Benny’s Play Ship, a 34-foot tall play structure that includes slides and climbing ropes.

Intellectual property is increasingly important for theme parks as they seek to build attendance, and Legoland is no different, regardless of a pandemic. Merlin is capitalizing on the impressive box office success of the first Lego movie, which grossed more than $257 million domestically when it was released in 2014.

As San Diego County moves toward a full reopening in mid-June, Legoland will be reviewing recently issued guidance from the state Department of Public Health as it relates to what are called mega events, which include theme parks. The state defines such events as having an outdoor attendance of 10,000 or more. In such instances, health officials are strongly recommending that attendees either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or show proof of a negative COVID test.

Stocks said he wants time to more fully review the guidelines before deciding what to do. He also will be weighing whether to leave in place for a while the current reservation system for park entry, a requirement under existing COVID guidelines.

While Stocks said he’s looking forward to a strong summer, he acknowledges that a full recovery may not come right away.

“It doesn’t quite feel normal yet,” he said. “We have a ways to go but there’s enough positivity that we’re seeing to suggest we’re going to have a really good summer. As to whether it matches pre-pandemic levels, a lot has to be resolved as it relates to vaccinations but I’m cautiously optimistic there’s a good summer and a good fall ahead.”