CARLSBAD -- Legoland officially rolled out its first U.S.-based hotel with a splashy grand opening Friday morning.
In a skit clearly designed for the youngest guests, the key to the hotel arrived in four pieces via an adventurer on motorcycle, a knight on horseback, a pirate by rope from the rooftop and a pig-tailed girl with a Lego brick-shaped backpack. With a quick wave of the assembled key, the front doors slid open and confetti popped out of the entrance to the Lego tower, then blew on a gentle breeze directly into the nearby hotel pool.
It was the only wrinkle in a brief grand opening for the three-story, 250-room hotel, which marks Legoland joining the ranks of the true amusement resort destinations 14 years after it first started in this San Diego County city as just an amusement park. Adjacent to the park's main entrance, the hotel gives guests immediate access to the 128 acres featuring amusement rides, water park and full-size aquarium.
The hotel has all the staples of a family-friendly lodging, complete with separate sleeping areas for children in guest rooms based on pirate, adventure or kingdom themes; buffet-style restaurant; outdoor pool; and ample Lego play areas. But it also strikes an impressive note of sophistication with more than 3,500 intricately designed models -- created from more than 3 million Legos -- tucked in every corner of the hotel.
The Lego theme also extends to things not made out of the toy blocks, from brightly colored wicker chairs to disco-style elevators with Lego character murals, lively music and flashing mirrored balls.
"We've doubled in size since we opened the park 14 years ago, so we're indeed a resort property now, which means you really need more than one day to experience everything," said Legoland general manager Peter Ronchitti. "Having a hotel right here on the property allows you to stay immersed in the Legoland experience."
Contact Ann Tatko-Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @atatkopeterson.