Saturday, February 20, 2010

Legoland: The most competitive place on Earth

Spent the day at Legoland with my family (well, half the day at Legoland, and the other half driving*). It was my first time there. It's an interesting theme park because almost every ride we went on has a competitive element to it - - in the cars, kids can pass or bump into each other; you can also pass or ram each other in the boats; on the "power towers," you can see how many times you can hoist your seat up within the allotted time; on the sky cruiser, you can peddle fast enough to catch the dragon in front of you; and at the fire academy, you compete to drive your fire engine and put out a burning building. There's also an excellent play structure filled with rope bridges, slides, and platforms.

My family loved it. The competitive element turns fairly mundane rides into exciting opportunities to exercise and work as a team against other people on the ride. And it wasn't just us, everywhere we looked we saw kids and adults with huge grins on their faces as they rammed each other or strained to pump their fire engine motors. (The ride workers encourage the competition, emphasizing who has won.)

Disneyland has better brands for its rides, but in almost every other way, Legoland is superior. I already mentioned the excitement of competition and the fact that it turns rides into a fun form of exercise. The park is also noticeably cleaner and fresher, particularly where food is served. And Legoland doesn't try to steal money from you at every opportunity. There are places for kids to play with Lego, for free, throughout the park. There's also an arcade where you can play various Lego videogames for free.

If it wasn't so far away, we probably would have bought season passes on the spot.

*To pass the time, while everyone else slept, I listened to podcasts of the NPR game show "Wait, wait, don't tell me."