Clinton Corners Day 4: LEGOLAND Remix

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, we purchased a LEGOLAND package that included two days at the park and one hotel night. That allowed us today to revisit some attractions we’d skipped over yesterday, as well as revisit some favorites needing a second look.

#1BigSis’s favorite from yesterday was the LEGO Factory Adventure. I’d gone with her yesterday, so today she took her dad along for the adventure.

Reception drive up at LEGOLAND Hotel

Yesterday we skipped past Kingdom and Ninjago. Fortunately today a few rides that were closed yesterday were open today. Some staff members described short handed staffing thanks to Covid as a reason for the closures, but we learned 100% of the Slushee machines were closed due to Yellow Jackets stinging one too many guests.

MiniFig Displays

Amir and #1BigSis hit the spinning teacups today since they were closed yesterday. I suppose technically they weren’t teacups, rather, the “Spinning Disco,” but that’s the closest equivalent. Happily, no one threw up.

Next stop, face painting. We’d scoped it out yesterday, but the line was long and we’d discovered it late in the day. #1BigSis decided to be a rainbow tiger. Amazingly she sat still for the whole thing, save for one emergency moment where she had a big booger that needed attention. (Sorry Kaye).

She said next time we all 4 need to be rainbow tigers

I think the pace of yesterday started catching up with me today. Between my wasp-stung right foot (still swollen) and the SI joint pain I’ve been battling since pregnant with #1LilBrother, today was a reminder that 43 and pregnant isn’t smooth sailing. I stopped to rest at every shady bench I saw, and gained a new appreciation for disability friendly spaces.

We stopped by another MiniFig station for some construction time

About 4 years ago, Amir started collecting LEGO MiniFigs. I think as a result of saving a few of the LEGO Star Wars Christmas Advent Calendar friends over the years, his hobby gained traction, and now has over 200 back home. When we were at LEGOLAND Denmark, he even made one representing each of (at the time) the three of us.

This was #1BigSis’s contribution to the family collection

While I rested, Amir and #1BigSis rode a few rides, including the Mini Dragon rollercoaster, her first ever.

No scaredy-cats here

In a miraculous feat, we did manage to get one photo of all four of us while exploring Ninjago. I asked a nice woman to take her photo, and she was mortified when her preteen daughter jumped in front of the camera and blocked the view, not realizing her mom was helping out strangers.

A motley crew, but we have fun

LEGOLAND was certainly hard to say goodbye to, but exhaustion made the decision easy. There were a few tears on the trek back to the car. But once I took some Tylenol and put my feet up, I stopped whining.

Robots give the best hugs

Back at The Willows, the rain from Ida left everything even greener than when we’d left. Amir threw a fishing pole in but got no bites. We walked the grounds, hoping to spot another deer (I saw one when alone on day 1, and still no one believes me). Sneaking up on skittish deer with our squirmy crew is a futile effort.

Not much makes him feel small
All the snugs

A gamble, I climbed into the hammock, not knowing if I’d be able to climb out on my own. It didn’t take long for everyone else to pile in with me, and Amir captured the photo that encapsulated everything that taking a vacation can heal.

A fitting end to a beautiful day

Tomorrow is Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, and we plan to check out the Farmer’s Market at Millbrook as well as a playground close by. Sunday we have a beginner’s horseback riding lesson scheduled for #1BigSis. Trying not to over-schedule us, but to balance that with taking in all these amazing experiences while we can.

Clinton Corners Day 3: LEGOLAND New York

Last fall when we learned they were building a new LEGOLAND in the US, we knew we needed to go. In July 2019 we went to the original LEGOLAND in Denmark and enjoyed an unforgettable adventure.

LEGOLAND Hotel lobby artwork

The 41 mile drive took us about an hour and 15 minutes as the roads are 2 lanes and wind through vibrant small towns dotted with red barns and antique shops.

LEGO Kingdom Room

We lucked out and received a free early check-in to our room – a welcome surprise since we had a crew ready to potty and unwind a bit before hitting the theme park itself.

A little HGTV before the main event
More lobby artwork

Park tickets are available by reservation (prepurchase) only as a way to limit volumes and be more Covid-19 compliant. We took advantage of a 2 day park pass with one hotel night promo which is just the amount of time needed to explore everything without feeling rushed.

#1BigSis making friends as usual

The park offers a combination of visual candy (hundreds of LEGO sculptures) along with rides and carnival style games. Everything is designed for younger families, with rides even broken out into ages 3-5 and 6-14 in some areas.

#1BigSis never passes up a carousel ride

First stop: the LEGO Carousel… kids can ride Duplo block animals or sit in LEGO teacups that spin. #1BigSis picked a giraffe with red spots and pink stripes.

After some construction time, we turned right and headed down the hill to MiniLand, the iconic miniature cityscapes of all LEGOLANDs. We visited NYC (complete with Upper, Mid and Lower Manhattan), San Fran, DC, and many other US landmarks.

Guggenheim Museum overlooking Central Park
Lady Liberty

Because the park is just a few months old, the cars and cultural references in these models are up to date. When we were in Denmark, the original LEGOLAND, I distinctly remember the building replicas surrounded by 1980s model cars, indicative of the era in which they were constructed.

The 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan

We are just a week away from the 20th Anniversary of the attacks on September 11. This morning I watched part of a documentary commemorating the milestone anniversary and reflected on just how much has changed these last 20 years.

The Mad Scientist
San Francisco Harbor

Not widely known, but Amir is obnoxiously good at winning carnival game prizes. Lucky for us, he’s that dad that always wins the giant stuffed animal on just the first or second try, ensuring that #1BigSis never goes home empty handed, and that I am constantly rearranging our giant stuffy collection back home to make room for new friends.

The fishing game on crack
I came in 2nd place on the water gun game

After game time, Amir took #1BigSis on the Pirate Ship Splash Battle (video below speaks 1000 words) and the Anchor’s Away spinning ship. #1LilBrother and I hung back with the stroller, and both our stomachs are a bit more delicate.

Riders shoot water cannons up at bystanders who can shoot back
And to think this was AFTER lunch, too

Lunch was admittedly the low point for the day. The park has been open just a few months now, but food service is definitely an area for improvement. We expect theme park food prices but have likely been spoiled over the years by Busch Gardens Williamsburg which, while costly, offers food that matches the price tag.

As I mentioned, the rides are well-suited for various age ranges. The cars are a popular spot, with ample staffing to keep drivers moving forward without crashing.

Car matches the dress
Interactive displays play music and invite exploration

After the rides, we headed indoors to the Build & Test Lab where kids (and maybe an adult or two) can build cars they send down steep ramps and buildings they can subject to earthquake style forces to see how they hold up.

First car prototype made it all the way down the ramp
Every inch of every wall is deliberately decorated

After the park, we headed back to our Kingdom to rehydrate, rest and change a diaper or two. #1BigSis watched the LEGO Ninjago Movie from her Kingdom bunk bed while I took in a little HGTV (my ultimate vacation relaxation).

Hotel amenities
The kids room has bins of loose LEGOs

For dinner, we stuck around the hotel and enjoyed pizza and Caesar salad at The Brick House. Dinner was admittedly much tastier than lunch, and offered a variety of family-style dishes for sharing such as roast chicken and veggies in a pan and pesto pasta.

1/2 Hudson Valley, 1/2 Cheese
My cocktail: Blueberry cotton candy fizz

Tomorrow we have another day at the park. We’ll explore the back half of the park that we breezed past today, including the Kingdom and Ninjago themed areas.

These happy faces are now sound asleep, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Time to put my feet up and take some Tylenol. Phew.

Denmark Day 4: LEGOLAND!

Yesterday we travelled by train (x 2) and bus from Copenhagen to Billund, the site of LEGOLAND. There’s an option to fly here from Copenhagen, but it still means a train or bus to the airport, then another bus to the park. Renting a car is reportedly the easiest option, but incredibly expensive (like many things here).

So we opted to test out the robust public transportation system here. Not the easiest trip ever, but two thumbs up for a national public transit system that lets you seamlessly “swipe in” with one access card for the whole country and across all modes. No separate fares for trains, buses or the metro. Also friendly if you want to bring your bike or stroller.

Specific cars are designated for bikes and strollers, plus free WiFi!

Last night we stayed at Hotel Svaden, roughly 700m from the park entrance, but 1/4 the cost of a night at the official LEGOLAND Hotel. It served its purpose.

The park opens at 10am daily. We stopped for breakfast at an Espresso House, right across the street from the park prior to entering and avoided breakfast at a pricey all-you-can-eat buffet.

Rain ponchos thankfully come in adult and kids sizes

The only negative about today – the weather. Today was 62 degrees and rainy, the entire day. As Amir said, “what are we going to do, go back to Copenhagen?” So in Louka style, we made the most of it.

Admittedly, the yellow ponchos were pretty fun. I now feel bad for the multitude of people I’ve made fun of over the years at various theme parks. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I’m pretty sure the LEGOLAND website can do a better job showcasing everything the park has to offer in much greater detail, so I’m just going to drop some photos and small details.

Nyhavn a la LEGO

Nyhavn in real life

It was fun seeing the sites of Denmark built intricately in hundreds of thousands of LEGOs, particular scenes like Nyhavn which we’d visited just two days earlier.

After riding on a Jungle Safari, we headed to Duplo land, a playground designed just for kids under six. With a hospital, an ambulance and 3 slides, it was everything this team wanted.

Someone didn’t feel like driving the ambulance

Next we headed to the carousel to ride a horse. The ride allows a parent to stand in the middle and chaperone a little one, which is nice at our age.

She went once with her MaMa then immediately wanted a turn with DaDa

After the carousel, the rain had intensified, so we went in search of an indoor activity and landed at Atlantis, the aquarium. There’s a short film before entering the aquarium itself, but you are quickly greeted by sharks, clown fish, stingrays and various other colorful creatures.

LEGO sculptures live under water with the sea life

A little damp, but everyone is still smiling

LEGO submarine and a stingray

After the aquarium we met and hugged a beautiful princess and indulged in strawberry ice cream at the request of #1Toddler.

She also tried cotton candy or “candy floss” for the first time

We would have stayed a tad longer, but #1Toddler eventually passed out in the stroller.

No question what was Amir’s favorite

We took the bus-train-train route back to our hotel and exhausted, enjoyed a nice dinner in the warmth and convenience of our hotel restaurant.

The train is always the scenic route

Buses run every 30 minutes

These $3 IKEA stacking cups are a must have for out & about

Some photo odds & ends:

Cape Canaveral, FL

The Royal Palace, Copenhagen

Everyone was tired by the end