Want to see a Lego Petco Park? Legoland unveils San Diego made from 5 million bricks

Carlsbad residents Kaitlin and Greg Tate, with son Landon, 8, look at a Lego version of Petco Park.
Carlsbad residents Kaitlin and Greg Tate, with son Landon, 8, look at a Lego version of Petco Park, which is part of Miniland San Diego at Legoland California Resort.
(Hayne Palmour IV/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Carlsbad amusement park added the city of San Diego built to its Miniland display this week; addition features iconic landmarks like Petco Park and the Coronado Bridge.


Kids were running from San Diego State University’s Hepner Hall to Hall H of the downtown convention center in a matter of seconds. The stands at Petco Park were packed with fans cheering on the Padres — a week before opening day. And on a Saturday in March, the Del Mar fairgrounds were covered in carnival games, fried food stands and a revolving Ferris wheel.

In what world or alternate dimension is this all possible?

In Legoland California’s Miniland model of San Diego, of course. The Carlsbad theme park unveiled its latest attraction this week — some of San Diego’s most iconic landmarks made from more than 5 million Lego bricks on a 1:20 scale.

The project has been years in the making, and included a poll on social media to decide which San Diego locations to include in the final design, park officials said. From a 65,490-brick replica of the Rady Shell — complete with a symphony orchestra — to a mariachi band playing in Old Town, park guests are bound to recognize something from around town.

Master Model Builder Carter Cummings, 26, works on a LEGO version of the San Diego Trolley.
Master Model Builder Carter Cummings, 26, works on a LEGO version of the San Diego Trolley while in the downtown San Diego part of Miniland San Diego at Legoland in Carlsbad on Saturday, March 25, 2023.
(Hayne Palmour IV/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Carter Cummings, who grew up in Escondido, was one of the 70 master model builders in Carlsbad, Florida and Malaysia that fabricated San Diego’s Lego skyline.

“It’s really a caricature of the city,” Cummings said of the design process. “Nothing is exact. Everything’s inspired by what you’d see if you were to go to the city.”

So, instead of Comic Con, visitors will see signs for “Brick Con.” The “Built-in” hotel is awfully reminiscent of the Hilton. There’s also uniquely San Diego scenes from seagulls dive-bombing a wedding on the beach to a Lego figure sunbathing on a yacht near the Hotel del Coronado.

“We’re all storytellers,” he said. “And each of us has a hand in displaying a story that’s personal to us or is just a funny joke in general.”

For Cummings, he was determined to intertwine a special moment in the downtown skyline — when he proposed to his wife, Jaime, on top of the Emerald Plaza, a 450-foot skyscraper on West Broadway.

The 26-year-old master model builder went to architecture school in San Diego and has been visiting Legoland since he was a toddler. While interviewing for his dream job, he had to build structures — like an apple — quickly and without an instruction manual.

He used those same skills to build out the tiny city; it was a painstaking process. Putting together just one San Diego lifeguard truck took Cummings more than 10 hours of research and studying pictures of the red Toyota Tacomas. Actually building the vehicle took a little over a day.

Once completed, the trucks and everything else get covered in a special UV protective coating — like sunblock for the Lego creations.

On Saturday, a group of Lego enthusiasts examined the building techniques used for the Gaslamp Quarter’s street lights and awed at the creativity of the convention minifigures’ cosplay. Others pointed and shouted at familiar places turned Lego.

“Oh my god, it’s Geisel!” exclaimed one woman pointing to UC San Diego’s Lego library.

Farrah Alvarez, 9, said “it’s unbelievable” to see San Diego in Lego.

“My favorite part so far is the Padres stadium because we go there a lot,” she said. The Vista resident came to the park with her dad, Jim, who was decked out in brown and gold Padres gear.

Petco Park was made with more than 150,000 bricks and features a jumbotron that plays actual Padres highlights. Upon close inspection, visitors will notice that the “Swinging Friar” mascot has a pretzel holding together his robe — it was the closest thing designers could find to his rope belt. Master model builders get creative using the same Lego pieces that are available to anyone at home.

Lincoln LaRoe drives over the Coronado Bridge all the time and was marveling at the 101,943 Lego brick replica. He brought his 6-year-old son Teddy to the display and was impressed by the representation of San Diego’s landmarks among Miniland’s other major cities.

“It’s neat that they finally put it in here,” he said. “You know, we kept coming here and seeing LA and San Francisco and New York City and Las Vegas. So, it’s nice that you actually have San Diego in San Diego.”