The wizards, dragons and royal princesses have not yet taken up residency in Legoland's newest hotel, but the castle facade is complete and the themed guestrooms are on track for an April 27 opening, the Carlsbad, Calif., theme park announced last week.
The 250-room hotel, which started construction a year ago, marks the second themed lodging destination operating within the park itself, catering to families planning to spend more than a day at Legoland.
Although park officials never divulge how much Legoland's owner, London-based Merlin Entertainment Group, invests in park projects, the castle hotel is expected to be even pricier than the first hotel, which at the time it opened, was said to be one of the costliest undertakings since the park opened.
Based on building permit information provided by the city of Carlsbad, the valuation of the castle hotel project, which wouldn't include furnishings and equipment, is more than $20 million.
Hotel General Manager Frank Idris said last week that the deluxe guest rooms and suites are about 75 percent complete, and overall construction of the three-story hotel is about two-thirds of the way finished.
The Legoland Castle Hotel is being characterized as a "premium" experience, with heavier and richer theming in all of the rooms than in the original Legoland Hotel California, a full-service restaurant and a much more robust outdoor space with multiple forms of family entertainment. That means room rates will be slightly higher.
Here's a preview of what's to come:
Knights and dragons rooms: These will account for 130 of the 250 rooms. A centerpiece will be a 3-foot-tall Lego model of a dragon, complementing castle-like walls adorned with depictions of both girl and boy knights, plus more dragons. A curtain will separate the children's sleeping area from that of the adults in all of the 365-square-foot deluxe castle rooms. A new feature unique to this hotel will be a brick-building table that is part of the TV console area.
The decor is designed to inspire a story line in which the young guests are defending the king's castle against the imminent arrival of the evil dragon.
Magic wizards rooms: Expect plenty of male and female wizards populating the rooms, of which there will be 95. The largest of the Lego models will be a giant owl wearing a wizard's hat. The feeling of wizardry will be invoked with images of a magic potions shop, and there will be a shelf filled with Fiberglas bottles and crystal balls.
Royal princess rooms: These 25 rooms exude a "very girlie feel," says Idris, decorated with plenty of purple and pink shades. The castle-like gray block walls will be dominated by a menagerie of woodland animals, including squirrels, cats and owls. Lego models will include an owl, cat and butterfly.
Lobby: Costumed staffers will greet the guests as they enter the lobby, which will feature a grand staircase and a slide that children can use to take them from the mezzanine to the lobby. A play area will be dominated by a Lego "brick pit" with a model of a wizard standing on a pile of books. It will be the final part of the hotel to be completed before it opens.
Dragon's Den restaurant: Idris calls this "the real jewel in the crown." Unlike the first hotel, the castle property will include a full-service sit-down restaurant serving three meals daily. It seats 420 indoors and outside and will feature an open kitchen, large fireplace with a dragon draped over the hearth, and a Lego model of two knights carrying a huge stack of food on a palette.
Outdoor patio and pool area: Included here will be multiple components, including a covered patio with heating and lighting, a stage for live entertainment, play areas for toddlers and older children, and a barbecue and picnic space where movies will be shown in the evenings on a large LCD screen. The pool area will include a food and beverage kiosk, cabanas for rent and a hot tub, which the Legoland Hotel California does not have.
Prices: The hotel is now taking reservations for stays starting in late April. The nightly rates, which include breakfast, can vary widely, ranging anywhere from $250 to a little more than $400, based on a random check. They're about $50 a night more than the existing hotel.
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