Should You Choose Legoland or Disneyland?

Legoland California
There's no doubt that Disneyland is the premium attraction. But is it better?

In a nutshell... No, it's not better. It's not even as good. The reason is that besides the rides, characters and attractions, each theme park is teaching your child a lesson. Legoland teaches a better lesson.

The Feel
When you visit Disneyland, you feel constantly pressured to buy more. It's all about merchandising. Disneyland isn't a theme park. It's a merchandising "kill box." There is a tremendous effort to latch on to and worship the latest Disney incarnation and buy products that endorse it. The lesson it teaches is Disney. Buy Disney. Watch Disney. Buy Disney. There's also rides and food and stuff. But they seem so ancillary there.

Legoland is entirely different. Sure when you first enter, you feel the same merchandising overkill that you do from Disneyland. But then you realize, "They really aren't trying to sell me anything. They just want me to have a nice time."

Yes. There are lots of Legos to buy. But, you can play with them for free everywhere inside the park. There are Legos for the kids to play with while you are in line for a ride. Lego's to trade for free (if you brought some of your own) and Robotics Classes that you can take to teach basic engineering for ages 9 and up.

Later you realize that they don't just want you to buy Legos. They are constantly teaching lessons about building together, working together, and solving problems together.  After all, from it's inception - Legos are an Educational Toy.

Pulled Pork Sandwich for $5.45?! Yeah.
The Food
When it's finally time to eat you look around. Although some of the food is amusement park crap (Burgers, Pizza, etc.) Most of it isn't. It's stir fry. Real Texas Bar-B-Que and more. And I mean, it really is the best Bar-B-Que I've had in California. (that's not saying a lot as California is more about tofu and less about beef) But it's really good. And it's reasonably priced. We got a pulled pork sandwich - big enough for two adults for $6.95. Plus I got $1.40 off for being a season pass holder. I fed two adults for $2.75 a piece at a theme park! OMG!

The Costs
This is a comparison of equivalent and unrestricted season passes.

Feature Legoland Disneyland
Cost $269/yr* $779/yr
Parking Free Free
Parking Location Near Far
Food Quality Many Organic and Healthy Choices Mixed Reviews and More Junky
Educational Emphasis Throughout the Park Yes, back in the 1950's and 1960's

*But Legoland has a buy 3 get 1 free deal, dropping the price to $201.

The Verdict
In fairness, Disneyland was founded with very similar principles as Legoland holds. You might think that given time, Lego will slip into the same abyss that Disney is in. Only Lego has been around about the same amount of time. They've just kept a better focus. Legoland conveys an environment that is all about kids - not all about the Benjamins. It even closes early - especially on school nights, because it's healthier for your kids. Disneyland is open to 9 or 10 every night. Not that staying open late is wrong for Disneyland, it's just shows a difference in focus.

When you leave Disneyland or Legoland - your family will have had a great time. But when you leave Legoland - you'll leave with a better family.

You see, you can't help feel that from every pore, from every ride, from every dance, event, or play - there is a lesson and a love for children underneath it. There are no crazy rides to talk about. There are fun rides that you shared with your son or daughter.

Sure, to you the rides may have been a bit slow or even boring. But when you get off the ride that you shared with your child and realize that every aspect of it was aimed at them - and not you - you'll understand. You'll see Lego's focus.

Legoland is geared towards the under 13 crowd. There's an aquarium that is perfectly geared for kids. There is a truly amazing water park with different sections geared from 1 to 13 years old.

When we go to Legoland (from more than 100 miles away) it generally costs us about the same as staying home for a weekend (not including hotel room if we go for two days) or the season passes. We'll go 8 or 9 times in a year, making the per visit season pass cost about $20/weekend.

Disneyland is great. But while your kids are still impressionable - and while it's more important for them to spend time with you and not some creation of the Disney Corporation - do yourself a favor and invest in your family instead of merchandising. You'll be glad you did.

What are your experiences? Be a part of the Robin's Nest Cottage Community and let us know in the comments below!