Since opening in 1999, LEGOLAND California has captured the imagination of kids and parents alike—and the park’s incredible sets and sculptures continue to expand each year. To date, LEGOLAND, based in sunny Carlsbad, boasts 30,000-plus models made from more than 60 million little colorful bricks.
If you’ve ever wondered who on earth builds these playful wonders of engineering, give this episode of the California Now Podcast a listen. Host Soterios Johnson chats with P.J. Catalano, one of the park’s Master LEGO Builders—yes, that’s a real job. Catalano shares some LEGOLAND insider insight as well as his best tips for making the most of your trip. Here are a few of the must-see masterpieces, as selected by Catalano and his fellow builders at this family-friendly Southern California park.
1. Miniland USA
Catalano calls this attraction “the heart and soul” of LEGOLAND California. Explore a cross-country adventure—from miniature Las Vegas to San Francisco to New York. Make sure to visit the interpretation of 1 World Trade Center: at 25 feet it’s the tallest structure in the entire park—and the largest LEGO building in North America.
2. LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure
Take a ride on an actual submarine as you explore an underwater world that Catalano calls “one of my favorite things.” Stay on the lookout for buried treasure as you float by sea life made from LEGOs alongside real-life stingrays and sharks.
Older kids and adults will love this hair-raising trip through a prehistoric LEGO jungle. The coaster, which hits speeds of 21 miles per hour, curves and dips by massive reptiles such as the 1,100-pound Brachiosaurus and the Parasaurolophus searching for food.
4. Fairy Tale Brook
Perfect for little ones, this lazy-river style ride features life-size versions of your favorite storybook characters like the three little pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and Aladdin, and more.
5. The Model Shop
See builders like Catalano at work by visiting the Model Shop, where you can often watch LEGOLAND professionals developing or repairing intricate creations behind a large glass window. Try your hand at building yourself with more than 3 million bricks available.
6. The LEGO Movie World
Opening in 2020, this entirely new attraction is based on the hugely popular films in the LEGO franchise. “We’re really excited,” says Catalano. “We have a whole bunch of new LEGO content coming in.” While projects are still in the works, the Master Builder hints that brand-new rides and raptors will be part of the interactive experience.