Today we have the first of two updates from Legoland California that we'll be bringing you this week.
First and foremost, thanks to Chris and his amazing family for covering the opening for us. You probably can't tell from this awesome update, but he was rather nervous. I think you'll all see he did an absolutely amazing report!!
The Castle Hotel looks amazing, let's go check it out!!
Written by Christopher Moghtaderi
(click any picture below to see a larger version)
On Wednesday (April 25th) we had the privilege to take part in the soft opening for Legoland’s newest addition, Legoland’s Castle Hotel, which opened on the 27th to the general public. The new hotel adds 250 rooms to the resort property with each room themed in one of three designs, Dragon, Magic Wizard, or Royal Princess. Some neat features include a separated kid’s bunk area with Lego building table, a zero-entry pool, an entertainment courtyard complete with climbing structure, interactive Lego creations such as portraits and statues, and over 2000 Lego models. In addition to our Castle adventure, we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the anticipated new interactive ride experience Deep Sea Adventure which opens this summer.
So, let’s start by taking a tour of the hotel!
As we drove up to the hotel, we were taken aback by the attention to detail on the castle exterior.
The castle looks very much like a large Lego constructed building. They even included the occasional mismatched colored yellow piece since, as when you were a kid, there weren’t enough gray pieces to finish it.
As you can see in the following photos, we arrived with a punch of list of items yet to be completed. Much of the ground improvements including sod, plants, and other finishing touches were still underway. However, they were working from morning until night to get this done. You can see the difference that a single day, a broom, sod, and some flowers had around this
Once inside, we were greeted by the Legoland staff, getting us our passes and welcome kit and then checking into the hotel.
We were amazed that the level of detail only seemed to increase. A Grand staircase, a royal welcome by the princess of the castle, a magical (Wizard) centerpiece which spins and lights up at the press of a button, photo opportunities, 2-way Lego Portraits, vinyl-wrapped Elevator doors adorn the lobby.
While it all looks fun, the thought process behind this was genius. There are things for kids to interact with while parents are checking in their kids. Kid’s first is a theme that we picked up on in the design and service of the hotel and park.
As you make your way to the 1st floor, you find the Dragon’s Den Dining area. This colorful dining hall continues, very well I might add, the castle motif throughout. This dining hall is open in the morning for a buffet breakfast, which is included with the cost of your stay. At night, the service converts to full-service dining experience and the open kitchen design allows guests to observe the chef’s in action.
Just outside the dining area is a play area for guests who are waiting for an open table. A clear example of that same thought process designed into the lobby.
Even the tables come equipped to entertain and keep the kids occupied. The 4 person tables have games built into the tops including Checkers, Brick-Tac-Toe, Maze Race, and Brick Target Practice (watch out for bounding pieces).
The rest of the tables are standard but comfortable with some offering views of the entrance to the Park.
The Décor maintains the festive Lego feel with models in various locations. There are hidden Mickey's, we mean Lego mice throughout the dining area. Can you spot any of them in our pictures?
For the adults, the is a bar area and dance floor which they were still installing some last-minute touches.
As mentioned earlier, there are three different room themes and two room types. The standard room sleeps 5 with a king bed and a bunk with trundle. The suite sleeps 7 by adding a sofa bed.
The first themed room is the Wizard Room. This is the room we got to stay in. When you walk in, that kid’s first theme and statement is a physical one. The kids sleeping quarters are the first area you come to. With Wizard themed wall wraps, tv, Lego building station, and awesome night sky lighting, kids can keep occupied.
The bathroom is a pretty standard high tier hotel bathroom. However, the toilet has a built-in child’s seat.
The kitchenette has your standard fridge, a Keurig coffee maker, water, safe, and icebox. Yep, even the icebox is Lego themed.
The parent’s sleeping area is last, creating some separation from the kids. The thought was to provide parents a break from the kids and having a bit of seclusion while the kids played or entertained themselves in their nook. The Wizard theme continues with owls, wall wraps and a headboard that lights up. In fact, all the headboards light up as you will see. Very much a line from the Disneyland Hotel headboards but done very well.
The Dragon room is very similar in layout with the differences being the wall wraps, the Lego models and headboard which offers a lighted stained-glass feature.
The princess room we toured was a suite so there is a bit more to see. When you first walk in, you come into a living room with hideaway bed.
The suite bathroom offers two sinks as well as a vinyl wrap on the shower wall.
Again, different princess themed wall coverings and models are strewn about through the room. The kids area features a duck to dress up with Lego’s (not included in the non-suite rooms). And the parents are includes a magical headboard. Look familiar?
If you happen to be on the first floor and have a courtyard view, your room will include a small patio area.
The shape of the hotel is a giant U with a courtyard in middle. The courtyard houses an outdoor seating area with bar service and a massive kids yard. Moving our way from the outermost portion of the courtyard is an open seating area with a massive outdoor screen looping cartoons all day long.
As we move further in, we see a climbing structure with obstacle course, multiple slides, and climbing wall.
The courtyard has multiple Lego stations as well as giant blocks for building fun structures. There is a stage for entertainment where appearances are made by an acrobatic jester, dragons, a fairy, and Lego characters. Of course, the courtyard wouldn’t be complete with models showing off the master builder skills.
At the very end of the courtyard is the pool area. The pool area is colorful and festive with plenty of seating, cabanas, a zero-entry section, and some pretty cool water features including a fountain and filling/dumping buckets.
For those of you who are veterans to Park Journey, you know that my posts have only been Disney related until now. For full transparency, I’m a Disney fan. I’ve always appreciated the level of detail that Disney puts into theming their parks but I must say, I was thoroughly impressed by Legoland and the Castle Hotel. This hotel not only competes with that Disney attention to detail, but in some way surpasses much of what Disney offers. Take a look at some of the Merlin Magic in motion.
Even the bathrooms got some attention. Don’t worry, these photos were taken while they were empty.
Alright, that's going to wrap it up for part one of Chris' amazing update from Legoland. Stay tuned as we'll have more from the hard hat tour of Deep Sea Adventure and some park pics later this week.
So how does the new Legoland hotel look? Pretty amazing right?
Over the weekend our partner in crime Gary from Coasting with Culture headed out to Oaks Park to check out their newest addition, Adrenaline Peak.
Gary got over 50 rides on this new beast throughout his visit, so you know that has to be a good sign. Check out his report below.
Written by Gary Taylor
We'll start off with a POV of the ride that our friends at Ride Entertainment sent us a few weeks ago.
It was a cold, rainy day in the City of Roses, and while it may not have been an ideal day to visit an amusement park, the weather did provide for some breaks in the precipitation to enjoy a visit to Oaks Amusement Park in Portland.
The main reason for this visit was to go and check out the brand-new Adrenaline Peak, a Gerstlauer Eurofighter that had opened about two weeks prior. The addition of this coaster is pretty big for the Pacific Northwest, because while we are never short on rain from the fall through the spring, new coasters tend to be further apart than in other areas of the country, as this was the first new coaster in Oregon since the addition of Zoooooom (a Miler junior coaster) at the same park in 1999, and the first brand-new major coaster of the Cascadia region (British Columbia, Oregon and Washington) since Timberhawk opened in 2003 at Wild Waves. So when a coaster like this gets built around here, it’s a welcomed addition.
Upon arrival to Oaks, pieces of Looping Thunder were still in piles in the parking lot of Oaks. This Pinfari Looping Zyklon coaster had previously operated in the spot that is now home to Adrenaline Peak. Having ridden this coaster in the past, it was nice to see Oaks go for the upgrade in equipment as it could be a bit on the rougher side.
Because of the weather today, the crowds would be fairly light for much of this visit. This made for the ability to enjoy several laps on Adrenaline Peak without having to wait in much of a line (or none at all for several of them).
Adrenaline Peak starts for the signature vertical lift that Eurofighters are known for, climbing to the top of the 72-foot lift hill. Upon reaching the top, you descend down the 97-degree drop and into the first vertical loop. From the loop, you go into the cutback to the left. Then you head up the hill into a right-hand turn, which then goes into the heartline roll going into the final drop, which then ends with one last airtime hill before the brake run.
While the ride after the lift only last about 30 seconds, this ride really makes the most of it. The first drop has you out of your seat with some great airtime. Upon reaching the top of the loop, the car goes through it at such a speed that provides for some fantastic hangtime. The other great moment of alternative forces comes from the heartline roll, especially if you sit on the right hand outside seat as it provides excellent hangtime from the rotation of the car. The final airtime hill also gives a great pop if you sit on the left-hand outside seat. The intensity of the coaster is at an intensity level that makes it a thrilling yet very re-rideable.
Another highlight of this coaster is that it features a lap-bar style restraint that has become more common on the newer Eurofighters. This adds to the thrill of the ride as you experience a more-free feeling while enjoying the airtime and hangtime.
After several laps on this ride, I can safely say that this was a great new addition to Oaks Amusement Park. While this coaster may not seem like much to those who frequent the larger parks of Cedar Fair, Six Flags or Disney, it is a real game changer for this classic local park. You could tell that the park had a different feel to it from the ride operators working that day, as even they had smiles on their faces seeing the reactions from riders upon return to the loading platform, and they would share their experiences from having ridden since its opening with riders who came to challenge it. Throughout my day at the park, all of the reactions to it were all positive.
One thing to note if you visit Oaks to ride Adrenaline Peak is to be aware of their pricing tiers for their bracelets. All bracelets at the park include a session at the park’s roller skating rink with conventional skate rental. While the offer both the Limited (excludes a few of the larger rides) and Deluxe Bracelets, these two bands do not include Adrenaline Peak. For that, you need to get the Premier Bracelet. This bracelet is almost twice the price of the Deluxe, but it does allow for unlimited rides on Adrenaline Peak, and also includes unlimited rides on the parks go-karts, and if you go on a slower day, you can easily get your money’s worth of rides on the brand-new ride.
Oaks has made a great choice in their new coaster, and I feel that for any coaster fan, this is easily a must ride at the park. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, this is easily one of the top coasters of the region. If you have the opportunity to visit Portland, make sure you make a stop at Oaks Amusement Park to check out Adrenaline Peak!
Check out some additional pictures of Adrenaline Peak below and be sure to follow all of Gary's Adventures on Coasting with Culture.
Gary has a Bay Area Tour coming up on May 24-29 and we highly recommend it.