Getting out fairly early, after a breakfast of toaster waffles, we headed towards Legoland, which is 20-30 miles north of our hotel. First we had to stop at a nearby (to LegoLand) outlet mall and pick up our three-day passes to San Diego’s major attractions. While we were there I stopped, for the very first time, at Hot Dog on a Stick. Although I love corn dogs, and their name is fairly explanitory of what they sell, I was still rather surprise at their limited menu. Hot dog on a stick, cheese on a stick, hot dog on a bun, lemonade, fries… yep, that’s it. And they were turkey dogs to boot.
It was almost lunchtime and my justification for stopping for a snack was that food prices in theme parks are frequently akin to rape… and not just rape, but prison rape. My hope was to last through the day and then proceed to Shakey’s Pizza afterwards. (More on that later.)
LegoLand is… well, what can I say? It’s an amusement park, mostly just rides for smaller children (2-12) with lots of Lego statues. Their artwork is impressive – but I feel if I had access to an unlimited number of every Lego ever made, I could probably make an elephant, too.
I’m not very impressed by how the park is run, and I can give two examples. Although every ride has height requirement and they are posted at each ride; however, for some reason they don’t work very well. I saw no fewer than five instances where children (and their parents) were turned back at the boarding of the ride. Height requirements were enforced strictly at the last possible moment. The displays at the beginning of the line look like they ought to be clear, but at one point even we were scratching our heads over what the requirements were.
Considering how devastated the children who were turned away were, perhaps a re-think of their system is in order.
Second example: Children get easily lost in some of the play areas. There are large playgrounds where the parents and children enter, the children can play, the parents can watch, but in some places, the children can exit the playground out of sight of the parents.
In the first case, I saw a young asian girl (maybe 3 or 4) come down a ladder/slide thing that lead to the outside of the play area. Her guardian was obviously still inside, probably on the ground floor. Who would expect an exit on the second floor? The child popped out, looked around and had no clue how to get back into the play area, she headed off. At first she seemed to know where she was going. I kept watching her as she soon started to look worried, then started crying.
I got up to go help her when a woman came up to her and started holding her hand. Not her mother – just a kindly stranger noticing a child in distress. She hadn’t seen her come out of the playground, so I went to her to tell her where the child came from. They got her back to her mother – who never saw her leave the play area.
Second instance, different playground, same scenario, different child – ours. There’s a large playground with lots of ladders and climbing things and slides. The parents can come along, but not all the parts are suitable for adults. There are alternate paths up and down for the parents and kids. Michelle and James went up (to a third lever) to come down the slides and only Michelle came down.
I ran up, James wasn’t there. I ran back down, James still hadn’t come down. Then I look through the playground (we are standing at the back) and see a woman walking James towards the exit. He is crying. I shout to him, but he can’t hear me. I also can’t get to him because you have to go all the way around the playground to get there. Apparently there is another slide that leads to the opposite side of the playground.
I run around the front, pushing slow, old women with strollers out of the way and get to the front – they’re not there. I run to the guy “guarding” the entrance. I say to him, “I just saw a woman walking my son towards this exit. He may have gotten lost. Did she bring him to you?”
“No, what did he look like?”
“Small boy, four years old, brown hair.”
“Nah, I didn’t see anything. What kind of clothes was he wearing?”
“Blue shirt, pants, white hat.”
“What type of hat?”
“White, Gilligan hat.”
“Were his pants long or shorts?”
“Ummmmm, actually, I’m not sure.”
Now, mind you, he’s not the slightest bit concerned or even giving any impression that this is something he should even really give a rat’s ass about.
Just about then a woman (“the” woman) comes up behind me and says, “Was his name James?” After I confirm she says, “He went back in there. He seemed lost and I tried to help him but he wouldn’t let me take him anywhere.” She pointed in the direction he went and there he was.
Case solved, but I ask myself, “Would the LegoLand employee have actually tried to do anything?” The playground was designed in such a way as it was easy for him to go down a completely wrong direction, and then it was not easy to get from the front to the back. What if he’d tried to wander out of the area? Would the Lego Guy have stopped him? Are there even any basic controls in place to stop children from leaving the play area unattended?
The whole place seemed rather lacksidasical.
…and then we got hungry and had to eat. 2 slices of pizza, 1 salad, 1 cup of fruit, 4 breadsticks, 4 sodas…. Over $40!
Otherwise, LegoLand… ehhhhh, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not too keen on amusement parks to begin with.
So it was off to the highlight of the day: Shakey’s Pizza!