CARLSBAD - Legoland California opened its three-story, 250-room hotel in Carlsbad Friday with a ceremony that included a performance by costumed characters.
Park officials have said they hope the hotel will encourage park guests to stay longer than just one day and also take in their aquarium and water park. The hotel was originally slated to open this summer but the opening date was moved up after construction progressed faster than had been expected.
Bookings for rooms in the new hotel were accepted in advance of Friday's opening. Opening weekend rates were $309 per night for two adults and two children, or $278 per night with a AAA discount.
The entrance to the hotel is guarded by a smoke-breathing dragon built out of around 400,000 Lego bricks. More than 3,500 Lego models, made up of about 3 million bricks, are spread around the hotel.
Guest rooms are decorated in Lego pirate, adventure and kingdom themes, and children will have their own sleeping areas, with bunk and trundle beds.
"The painting makes it look like it's almost built out of Legos," one boy told a local TV station. "And the rooms are all really cool, they make a kid's imagination really go wild."
Another boy told the station that the rooms were themed perfectly, "and then you go in the elevators and it's just disco."
Hotel guests will be allowed early entrance into the park, according to Legoland.
Legoland has also "hired" six children to serve as concierges on weekends, to provide guests with a kid perspective on how to navigate the resort. The concierges will perform their duties in exchange for free weekend stays for their families.
Park General Manager Peter Ronchetti said in January that Legoland California hired 250 employees to staff the hotel, bringing the park's work force to around 1,600.
Legoland California, owned by Merlin Entertainment of London, opened in 1999 and is the only park of its kind in the United States. Merlin runs two Legoland theme parks in Europe.
Its new hotel is the second Legoland hotel in the world. The other one is in Billund, Denmark.
Ronchetti told 10News that the park planned a "major new land expansion," but didn't provide details.