Travel Tip: Legoland’s Premium Play Pass

Toby enjoys a Legoland horse ride minus the wait!

If you plan to visit the increasingly popular Legoland California in Carlsbad, CA during their peak summer and holiday periods, you might consider upgrading your admission tickets to Premium Play Passes.

Not widely advertised, this upgrade allows every passholder front of the line access for every ride, all day long and preferred seating for every show. The cavat: you pay dearly for this convenience, and with a limited number of passes available per day, they go fast.

The nitty-gritty: PPPs are $150 per adult and $130 per child (almost double regular admission). They include 1 day admission to Legoland and the CA Sea Life Aquarium and front-of-line privileges. (I do not believe they include water park admission.) Each day, only 100 PPPs are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. To snag a set on a crowded day, plan to arrive at the park at least 45 minutes before opening. (When we experienced Legoland with PPPs, 55 of the 100 had been sold by the time we arrived 1 hour before park opening.)

Where you get them: Pay for regular admission at the main booth to enter the park, then head to Guest Services, where you can upgrade your tickets to PPPs. (You can access Guest Services even before park opening.) PPPs aren’t sold at the admission booths. In fact, when we visited, they weren’t advertised on their pricing board in any way. Even at Guest Services, you need to ask for Premium Play Passes specifically.

The way it works: At Guest Services, each member of your party who upgraded to a PPP will be issued a wristband (when we went, it was yellow). These must be worn all day! At each ride or attraction, go to the exit (similar to how you’d access rides with a disability pass). Show the attendant your wrist bands (they’ll probably spot them immediately) and follow instructions for boarding the ride (in our experience, within 30 seconds to 2 minutes). All day long, you’ll never enter a regular line.

 

Our experience: To be honest, when we decided to try the PPP, I was unsure about how I’d feel about boarding rides in front of people who had waited in line. Sure, it’d be awesome, but would I feel like a jerk? The answer: yes and no. At times during the day (at especially crowded rides with long waits), I did feel a bit uncomfortable (it was weird for our kids, too!). However, the way Legoland has designed the PPP, you never directly ‘cut’ in front of waiting people, for which I was grateful. Because you enter at the exit, most regular guests never know you’re there (or what you’re doing). And the park employees are very good at getting PPP holder on rides quickly (that’s what you paid for, after all) and smoothly. We never encountered an employee who didn’t understand the system, and there was never any ride where the PPP didn’t apply, no matter how long or short the wait time.

And for us, the value of the PPP was measured way beyond the lack of wait time. If you’re the type of theme park guest who gets anxious about getting to the ‘big’ rides early in the day, staying on a schedule so that you avoid major crowds, or try to plan your break and meal times around crowd levels (that’s me!), the PPP will give you a peace of mind that slows your whole day down. Instead of worrying about what ride lines were filling up, we could spend time meandering the Mini-Land exhibits and posing next to lego-fied Darth Vader (all my preschooler wanted to do!). I didn’t rush my kids, took lots of breaks in the middle of the day, and generally felt stress-free…which I’m pretty sure is how a day at Legoland is supposed to feel!

The moral of the story (at least from a travel perspective!): The PPP is a perfect example of a little research going a long way. At Pit Stops for Kids, we always advocate pre-planning, and since the PPP isn’t well advertised, it’s definitely something you can only take advantage of if you know what you’re looking for. Any time you opt for something the general public is not readily made aware of, you’re going to find a crowd-reducing measure. We ended up having a memorable day of fun with our kids because we knew what was available.

Worth the price?: Definitely, if you’re visiting during peak season. The PPP buys not only convenience, but time, a commodity in short supply while theme park touring. If you plan to visit while California schools are in session (and avoid Spring Break weeks, winter breaks, and three-day weekends), the PPP will not be worth the price. But if you go on a weekend in August (which is when we found ourselves there), I’d recommend it, especially considering how large Legoland is becoming.

For more Legoland tips, Pit Stops for Kids recommends the Unauthorized LegoLand Guidebook by Bridget Smith.

We upgraded our park admission to Premium Play Passes at our own expense. Legoland CA did not pay or compensate us for this review in any way.

 

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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