A 5-Year-Old Reviews Legoland’s New Duplo Playtown
Hollywood Reporter editor David Katz's son takes a deep dive into the theme park's newest attraction.
As Legoland California celebrates its 20th birthday — which I think makes it older than Dad, who is really old — I was offered the chance to review the park’s new Duplo Playtown. The area is billed by Legoland as “a great option for families with toddlers and the perfect place to let younger children play and experience their first theme park ride.”
Now, not to brag, but I had already been to Disneyland — and even braved the very scary Cars ride at California Adventure — so this was hardly my first theme park (it was my second, not counting the zoo). Also, this park was aimed at five and under, and I had turned five weeks before, not to mention my mom often says that I “behave like a teenager,” so I needed to answer a crucial question: Would the new playland entertain and engage me?
The answer was a resounding yes.
Even before entering the theme park, I was pretty excited. My Dad used the expression “turned up to 11,” and while I didn’t get the reference, I didn’t appreciate it. It wasn’t my fault. I had been too excited to sleep the night before, partially due to the fact that our room at the Legoland Castle Hotel had kids’ bunk beds, a Lego play bin and awesome models of dragons and knights made of hundreds of Legos glued together (which don’t come apart, no matter how hard you pull).
Still, I had my concerns about the playland. While I have been a fan of Duplos at least since I was two, I had recently graduated to big boy Legos, favoring dino-themed sets. Luckily this proved not to be a problem, as the greater park itself has over 30,000 models made out of more than 60 million Lego bricks, the largest of which is a friendly looking Brontosaurus named Bronty created out of more than two million Legos.
The Duplo area itself boasts 10 playhouses (with slides!), including a barn, fire station, grocery store, hospital and maze with an interactive scarecrow. My dad asked if I wanted to try one of the Playtown’s three Power Towers, which climb high up and offer views of the park and surrounding Carlsbad, then free-fall. I declined on account of scariness. Instead, I decided to test out the Playtown’s marquee ride, the Express Train. Though it was pretty mild, it was good relaxing fun, and served as a great warm-up for the 60 or so age-ranging rides that awaited us in the main park, including my favorites: the Aquazone Wave Racer, the Driving School and the new Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride. My Dad asked if I wanted to ride the Coastersauras (where Bronty lives). I declined on account of scariness. He said he thought it wouldn’t be too bad. Mom told him to stop pressuring me.
Dad’s only real complaint the whole day — which is pretty rare for Dad — was that he wished there were a more streamlined way to purchase Reserve’n’Ride line passes from the Legoland app while already in the park. But I didn’t really mind. Even though it was a busy weekend, the lines moved efficiently and even when there was a longer wait for the most popular rides, there were usually tons of Legos to keep me entertained.
We finished the day at Swabbie’s Deck, a water feature with pop-up jets and water cannons that got me totally soaked. I loved it — except the really, really big kid who kept hogging the best dunking buckets. He just better hope he’s not there when I come back at age six. Maybe then I’ll even review the Coastersauras.
Editor's disclosure: Admission was provided by Legoland as part of a media tour of the park’s new attractions.