Brick-by-Brick Legoland New York Review
I recently surprised my Lego loving kids with a trip to the first major theme park to open in the northeast in over forty years – Legoland New York. The brand new park is located in Goshen, New York, about 1.5 hours from New York City near the corner of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Developed by Merlin Entertainment, the ninth Legoland resort in the world and third in the United States occupies 150 acres of a 500 acre property. Our first experience with the resort was staying at the Legoland Hotel, which we absolutely loved and set a high bar for our expectations for the theme park. We spent a full day (10am – 5pm) on Friday, October 15th and a half day on Saturday the 16th at the park. I’ll be giving a detailed Legoland New York review, including a land-by-land breakdown of the attractions as well as the few areas I think need to be improved.
Legoland New York Overview
When you’re driving to the park, if you didn’t know about it ahead of time, you’d never know it was there. There are no signs or billboards advertising the existence of the park or directing guests where to go. Upon arriving, the first thing you’ll notice is the property is not flat: the parking lot is divided up into three levels. The park itself is built on a hillside, with the front of the park on top of the hill and the back half of the park at the bottom. The park is spread out over a large area (meaning there are plenty of spaces for future attractions).
One of the biggest complaints about this park is spot on: the paths are mostly devoid of shade. Which is a shame because the park is in a very beautiful location completely surrounded by tree covered hills. Some smaller trees have been planted, so hopefully in a few years they grow enough to provide some cover.
The park is laid out in a circle. On one hand, it’s simple to navigate: you either go clockwise or counterclockwise around the park making it nearly impossible to miss seeing any attractions. The annoying thing about any circular designed park is if there is no way to cut across the center then you have to walk all the way around. Add the terrain and the long winding paths and it’s a bit of a pain to get around. I’d really like to see a path added across the middle of the park from left to right. Additionally, a transportation system to get from the top of the hill at the front of the park to the bottom of the hill at the back would be huge, whether it’s an escalator, sky ride, or funicular.
The entrance plaza is called Brick Street and the only ride here is the Brick Party carousel by Bertazzoni. I really liked how there’s no step to get onto the carousel, it’s level with the ground so anyone can easily walk or roll right onto the platform.
Brick Street is also home to some incredible Lego models and The Big Store.
Being October, Legoland was celebrating their Brick-or-Treat Halloween event so the end of Brick Street was home to the first of four hay mazes. There were also literally thousands of pumpkins scattered all over the resort.
What to ride first at Legoland New York? My advice is to get to the park a half hour before the posted opening time. If its 10am, arrive at 9:30. The gates open 15 minutes early. At 9:45 you’ll be let into Brick Street where you can ride the Brick Party carousel before the park officially opens. Next, head over to Bricktopia to be one of the first guests of the day on Lego Factory Adventure ride. After that, continue clockwise around the park. You can get the big three (Factory Adventure, Ninjago, Dragon) knocked out very quickly. Then, if you have interest in doing Fire Academy I recommend heading to that next as it is a popular attraction with a very low capacity resulting in long, slow waits.
One of the things I love and admire about the Lego brand itself is how inclusive they are. For example, one of the very first Lego figures you see is in a wheelchair.
Going clockwise around the park, the next land you come to is Bricktopia. There are three rides that can be found here: DJ’s Dizzy Disco Spin (a Mack Rides teacup spinner), DUPLO Express mini train ride, and the marquee attraction of the park, the Lego Factory Adventure Ride, which I already wrote a detailed review about here. Bricktopia is also home to Build & Test, a large restaurant, and an interactive fountain.
Lego Ninjago World
In addition to a ninja training play area, Ninjago is home to two rides: a music express called Jay’s Gravity Force Trainer and Lego Ninjago: The Ride, a 3D interactive dark ride by Triotech that uses hand motions to shoot at targets rather than a gun or joystick. I believe this is the seventh Legoland park to add this attraction, which had me seriously scratching my head about why this ride had so many issues. It was up and down all day long (according to the Legoland app). On our first ride, the audio didn’t work at all and one of the hand sensors didn’t work. Our second ride everything seemed to be fine. On our third and final ride the first of four rows wasn’t being loaded and only three out of four of the hand gesture sensors worked on our vehicle again. Love the concept but was a little disappointed in a new-but-cloned ride. Still, there’s nothing else quite like this ride outside other Legolands and Disney.
Castle World is the first land located at the bottom of the hill. There’s a long, windy wheel chair and stroller friendly path down the hill side. It’s a lot of walking, especially for little legs. I’d like to see more shortcut stairs added.
There’s a theater on the way that was not used at all on Friday but there did appear to be shows going on Saturday.
Castle World is home to four rides including the park’s two coasters. Merlin’s Flying Machines by Zamperla is the same pedal powered ride seen at many of the smaller indoor Lego Discovery Centers across the country and was closed both days (no big loss). Tower Climb Tournament by SunKid is like a mini freefall ride but you have to pull yourself to the top first. As you may have noticed, a majority of the rides at Legoland are not passive, sit back and do nothing rides. Many of them are interactive and require user input, which we all loved.
The Dragon’s Apprentice by Zamperla is a forgettable kiddie coaster with a 36 inch rider height requirement.
The Dragon by Zierer is the park’s “big” coaster. It begins with a tire driven dark ride segment through several show scenes before ascending a fifty-foot lift into a fast finale of somewhat forceful helixes. As far as family coasters go, I’d say it’s on the upper end; not as good as FireChaser Express at Dollywood but better than your average roller skater models. The height requirement is 42 inches which is a little higher than expected.
Another word of advice for getting the most out of your Legoland New York experience: don’t go to the park thinking you’re going to go on a ton of different rides. You have to go for the full experience, meaning stopping to spend some time building with Lego. For example, in Castle Word you’ll find Builders Guild where kids can help build a massive Lego castle.
The next land is Lego City, home to the famous Granny’s Apple Fries.
Driving School (6-12 year olds) and Junior Driving School (3-5) are “Kids Only” rides where they can earn their driver’s license.
Coast Guard Academy, a ride where you can drive your own boat through a closed course, was apparently closed for the season. Curious why this water ride was closed but the other two were open. There is also a large ship playground, but with an enclosed bottom half you can’t keep eyes on your kids if you want to.
The other ride, Fire Academy, looked like a ton of fun where your family pumps your own fire truck over to a building to put out a fire. Alas, it was closed on Friday and the posted waited time on Saturday was 60 minutes as only three out of six fire engines was working. Thus there were no actual rides the adults got to do in Lego City.
Speaking of wait times, every ride has an electronic sign with the estimated wait time post, as well as in the Legoland app. They were pretty accurate as far as I could tell. Why is this so hard for other parks to get right?
The highlight of Lego City for us was the massive 4D theater. Two shows rotate on the hour (but I wish they played continuously). I appreciate the simplicity of the show we saw: cops chase bad guys. Caution: you will get wet!
The final land with rides is Lego Pirates, featuring Anchors Away, a Zamperla rockin’ tug ride, Rogue Riders, a Zierer jet ski ride (only operating at half capacity both days of our visit) and Splash Battle by Lagotronics Projects. Closed in the mornings, it opened midway through the day both days. Thankfully we didn’t get too wet but that’s totally dependent on the guests in the other boats and manning the cannons on the midway.
Parents can relax while the kids play on a large pirate ship playground. And there are interactive water bombs and cannons where non-riders can try to soak the riders of Anchors Away and Splash Battle. If it’s a hot day, this is the place to be.
A staple of all Legoland parks, Miniland’s long, curving paths will get you back up to the top of the hill.
There are multiple areas of giant Lego models, including recreations of Las Vegas and New York City. The skill, the size, and the attention to detail of the Lego models is truly astounding. If you’re into Lego building you could spend hours gazing at these amazing builds. There’s even an interactive hot dog eating contest! The only disappointing thing was many of the interaction components seemed to be broken already (or maybe never worked in the first place?).
Legoland New York Review
We visited Legoland New York for the first time on Friday, October 15th and it was one of the best days we’ve ever had at a theme park: perfect weather and no lines. Even on Saturday the lines weren’t too bad. My Lego loving seven year old, the target demographic, proclaimed “This is the funnest theme park I’ve ever been to!”
Tip: For coaster enthusiasts trying to increase their coaster count, there is a FEC two miles down the street called Castle Fun Center that has a E&F Miler roller coaster.
Legoland New York is a great park and it has even more potential. For myself, an adult and a theme park fan, my wish list for improvements to the park include:
- More large trees and shade. While the midways and paths are all wide open, I will give them credit for putting the majority of the attractions queues indoors or under structures.
- More connecting paths to make navigating the hills quicker.
- Another marque attraction, such as a roller coaster with a height requirement between 36 and 42 inches. FireChaser Express or Dragonflier at Dollywood are two ride types that would help round out LLNY collection nicely.
- Fix the rides you have. Too many rides were closed, operated at reduced capacity, or didn’t function 100%. This must be addressed.
- My four year old’s favorite ride is Black Bear Trail at Dollywood, a PonyTrek ride, would be a perfect fit (with different theming) at LLNY. Maybe in the flat field right next to the Dragon.
Visiting on a weekday in October, I suspect some of the closed rides were due to staffing issues. A sign outside the park entrance did say some rides would be closed, but failed to specify which ones. Regardless, even with a few rides closed and other minor hiccups to be expected with a brand new theme park, we still thoroughly enjoyed our time at the park. With a few improvements over the next couple of years, Legoland New York could cement itself as the best theme park for kids in America.
Have you been to Legoland New York? What did you think? Give us your Legoland New York review in the comments below!