(Thoughts on the game itself will be in a separate post)
After the game, we spent one more action packed day in Southern California. We packed up and left my uncle’s house, who had been hosting us the whole time we were in San Diego, at 7:30 AM yesterday (the 29th). This was no small feat considering we got back from the game at 10:00 PM the night before and mobilizing a family of 4 kids is no small task what with the portable crib and all the other stuff that goes along with a young family. Luckily, my wife who had come along for the trip but didn’t go to the game had gotten most everything possible packed while we were at the game.
The reason for the early departure time was two-fold. First, we were having breakfast with an old college friend of mine who had recently returned to San Diego, her hometown, after years back east. She had never met any of my kids and it had been over a decade since I had seen her. It was good to catch up.
The second reason was that we were headed to Legoland for the day. My kids had never been and with three boys between 8 and 4 years old we were told it was the perfect age for them.
Frankly, I was not all that impressed with Legoland, particularly in the middle of the day. They need to take the chumps who designed their rides on an extended trip to Disneyland an hour up the road and learn a little bit about how to design rides for a good flow. After spending 75 minutes in line for “The Lost Kingdom Adventure” with the kids and then spending all of 2 minutes on the ride itself, I was pretty ticked off. It was the last straw for me in a long day of ridiculously slow moving lines.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that amusement park lines can be long, but what was so frustrating was that in this case there was no reason for then to be. They just didn’t think through how to get as many people as possible through a ride as quickly as possible. Things like loading up more than one car at a time, putting more cars on the loop and instructing their workers on to move people through. Their convoluted rules on who can ride each ride (if you’re 48″ you can ride by yourself on most everything; for those shorter than that, some are off limits and some require an adult to accompany you or in other cases just another person over 48″; and then some rides have age instead of height requirements and still others had maximum weight limits that affected which parents could go on.) while they were well communicated, still caused lots of holdups as confused people didn’t understand the nuances.
I’ve sat in line for over an hour at Disneyland in a ridiculously long line and when I got to the front was amazed at how quickly they were moving people through. I’ve seen how efficiently they dealt with people who couldn’t go on the rides and helped those who could quickly get in their seats. None of that was the case here. These were short lines, sometimes only 30 families deep, that were taking 45 minutes on average to get to the front and each new person on the ride happened at an excruciatingly slow pace.
However, to give Legoland some credit, if they could solve that large problem, it would be an excellent park. The center of the park is a ridiculously awesome display of Lego creations including cities from around the country and a new Star Wars section. The kids spent hours looking at them. They also had plays and short movies that were very creative and well put together. The playing areas, particularly the “Hideaways” in the back of the park, where the kids can run around are really nice too. It actually would be even better in the summer as they have a lot of rides and play areas where getting wet is part of the fun, particularly in the pirate section.
So if you had asked me at 3:30 PM yesterday what I thought of Legoland I would have told you to run and never look back, particularly if you were going to go at a busy time of year (and all things considered it wasn’t that busy/crowded yesterday). However, by the time we left at 6:00 PM having seen a show to help me calm my nerves and spent a lot of time in the center of the park, it had risen to a ‘pluses and minuses’ experience. Having known what it’s like, I would have structured the day very differently and probably would have done my last set of the long line rides during lunch time and once everybody returned from their eating breaks and the park was at its fullest, stuck to non-ride activities. It would have made the day a lot better. That does excuse their poor designs however.
At 6 PM we left the park having seen most of what we wanted to see minus a couple of rides that had an over 1 hour wait. We stopped just up the road in Oceanside to gas up (thanks gasbuddy.com for the cheap gas prices) and get some drive-through food with the plan that the kids could wolf down some food and then fall asleep after an exhausting day for the long trip home. We actually had two contingencies based on how tired I was. We’d either stop at a motel once we got over the grapevine, or if I was feeling up for it, we’d push late through the night. As it turned out, because we left the park an hour earlier than expected and didn’t hit much traffic through LA, I was able to make good time and we made it home by 2 AM.
An interesting note about the trip home was that the kids were unusually cranky. We expected them to be exhausted and thus sleep well, but they didn’t. Perhaps it was because it was the trip home and there was no longer anything to be excited about. Perhaps it was because we didn’t stop half way to let them stretch out like we did on the way down (which was at dinner time on the way down). Perhaps it was because it was the 2nd long trip in 4 days. Or perhaps it was a combination of the above. But I think it was because they were exhausted and thus were less tolerant of the lack of comfort of trying to sleep in the car.
Luckily, when I say they were cranky, it’s not what you think because we’ve been blessed with VERY cooperative and tolerant kids. There were no crying fits or melt downs or other tantrums that one hears about from other horror stories. They were just a little whiney, that’s all. And when we told them how long it was going to be they were great at toughing it out and doing their best to try to sleep even though they weren’t in the best of moods.
All it all, it was a good trip. It would have been a great trip if what happened on the gridiron had been different (more on that later) and Legoland knew how to design high volume rides (or at a minimum I had known in advance that they didn’t).
I’ll consider myself content and happy with a good trip.