7 things to know before visiting Legoland New York Resort
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As a parent of a 6-year-old daughter, I was very excited for the opening of Legoland New York Resort.
Deep down, I’m a theme park geek. But we can’t easily fly off to Walt Disney World for the day. And yes, Six Flags Great Adventure is a daytrip from our Manhattan home, but it isn’t exactly geared toward young kids. On the other hand, Legoland says it focuses on kids ages 2 to 12.
Back in April, I got to visit on a hard-hat press tour. But at the time, we didn’t get an opportunity to ride any of the attractions and none of the food vendors were yet operating.
So the other day, my daughter and I took a little drive to Legoland.
It was a great trip, with perfect rides for her age. My only disappointment was the lack of COVID-19 mask compliance. In the two indoor rides and inside the gift shop, we saw less than 40% of the guests wearing masks.
Here’s what we found at the rest of the park.
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It’s really close to New York City
The 150-acre park sits in Goshen, New York. It took us an hour, with no traffic, to get there from Manhattan’s Upper West Side. For those looking for another landmark, the park is about 10 minutes past Woodbury Common Premium Outlets.
For those living in northern New Jersey, or suburban towns in New York’s Rockland or Westchester counties, it is even closer.
While some families will choose to make Legoland into an overnight adventure — the hotel was sold out all of August, according to a park spokeswoman — it is an easy daytrip that will have you home in time for dinner.
Buy tickets in advance
Same-day tickets cost $89.99 for adults and $79.99 for kids ages 3 through 12.
Purchasing those tickets just one day in advance drops the cost by $10 per person.
Weekdays are also cheaper than weekends – $5 less for kids and $12 for adults, from my spot-checks online.
The same holds for parking. If you purchase it online in advance, it is $20 plus $1.63 in tax. Purchasing it at the park will cost $27.03.
The park really opens 15 minutes early
For our visit, the posted opening time was 10 a.m.
But as a theme park fan, I knew to get there earlier. Getting into the parking lot and finding a spot was no hassle. The security checkpoint was open long before 10 a.m., letting us into a big plaza with bathrooms, a ticket booth and some Lego figurines.
Then at 9:45 a.m., Legoland New York opened its gates with its traditional opening dance. (We couldn’t see it since a few hundred people were ahead of us in the lines.) And tickets were scanned, letting folks into the park.
The actual rides don’t start until 10 a.m., but for those looking to maximize their day – or to at least get in one popular ride without a wait – early arrival is key.
Driving School was a hit
The thought of my daughter getting behind the wheel terrifies me.
Luckily, I have a few years until that happens.
But at Legoland, there are small cars and a network of roads that kids ages 6 to 13 can drive on. If they pass (hint: everybody does), they get their “driver’s license.”
I was amazed at what a good job my daughter did. See the video below for yourself.
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Upon exiting the course, each kid is handed a paper driver’s license. And here’s where the upsell comes in.
I quickly ushered her out of the area. But others were directed to a kiosk where you could get a much more official-looking plastic license with your photo on it. Call me a bad dad, but I wasn’t about to spend $25 extra to get her a fake license. (Additional ones are $10 more.)
There is no shade
This was something I noticed during the April hard-hat tour and hoped would have been fixed.
The park sits atop a big hill with no nearby trees. A few have been planted that will grow in. But really, just a few.
There are some umbrellas over benches in spots. And most of the rides have covered areas for their lines to snake back and forth. But that’s it.
Luckily, there are lots of ways to get sprayed with water (no bathing suits needed) in the Lego Pirates section of the park.
We were in the sun a lot on a recent 86-degree day and it caused my daughter to get exhausted earlier than I anticipated. By 1 p.m., we decided to leave the park. It was just way too warm.
Scary, but not really scary
Here is where Legoland really shines.
The park has found just the right level of fright. It’s scary without freaking out little kids.
For instance, the park’s big roller coaster, Dragon, is perfectly sized for a child’s first coaster experience. There’s no big drop or overly scary turn. For younger riders, there’s Dragon’s Apprentice. It’s a much smaller coaster to help get kids ready for the bigger Dragon. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open during our visit.
At Lego Ninjago: The Ride, there are two things that help keep kids from tears.
First, everybody uses their hands to trigger sensors and fight the bad guys. It’s really cool and empowers kids to be part of the action.
Second, the ghosts, ninjas and snakes coming at you from the screens are very cartoony. That takes the edge off the fright and makes it easier to remind little ones that it’s just a ride and it’s all fake.
The food was good, for a theme park
OK, so the dining won’t win any Michelin stars. But you are at a theme park.
For me, the big issue at theme parks and ski resorts is the number of options.
We ate at Brickbeard’s Food Market – in, you guessed it, the Pirates area – and found lots of options.
There was the expected double cheeseburger for $16 plus tax and a grilled chicken sandwich for $15. But then we found Chinese specialties like orange chicken for $12 and sesame deep-fried tofu also for $12. A large salad was $16 and a smoked turkey club panini was $12.50.
For kids, there was a burger or chicken tenders combo that came with fries and a juice box or water for $9.99. That was a pretty good deal for a theme park.
(I paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the meals coded as dining, earning me 3 points per dollar. Theme park food doesn’t always show up as a restaurant, so I was glad to see that here.)
There are lots of other food outlets in the park, most with similar menus. The one standout for me was Brickolini’s Pizza and Pasta buffet. It offers all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta, desserts and sodas. The $24.99 adult price is a bit steep and $12.99 for kids isn’t bad. But a family of four can pay $49.99 — a steal if you like carbs, soda and dessert.
Pro tip: Bring a refillable water bottle to save money — and our planet. There are plenty of water fountains throughout the park, all with a bottle-filling station.
This is a great park for young kids.
There are ample, clean family restrooms.
The rides are great for young kids. There are lots of interactive elements, including musical instruments that kids can activate with sensors and levers throughout Miniland that kids can pull to start Lego figures dancing or singing.
As an adult, I loved Miniland — it was fun to see the Lego interpretation of Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia and lots of other American landmarks.
There were also carnival-like games that quickly run up the cost of a visit.
Luckily, throughout the park, credit cards were accepted.
Signs at registers reminded guests: “Of course we take plastic!”
It is Legoland, after all.
Featured photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy.
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