GOSHEN, N.Y. -- Given the average Lego fan's passion for building, building a theme park and hotel for Lego fans is hardly an easy feat.
But as the parent of a Lego fan squarely within Legoland's target demographic of 2- to 12-year-olds, it appears that the Legoland New York Resort has risen to the challenge.
My family and I got the chance to visit the theme park and its adjacent Legoland Hotel in early April, as the attraction -- Merlin Entertainments' third and largest Legoland theme park in the U.S. -- reopened for its first full season.
A castle-themed play area in the lobby of Legoland Hotel. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
Although the park made its official debut last summer, launching with seven themed lands across 150 hilly acres, it is already in expansion mode, with several new additions -- including a water playground and two additional entertainment stages -- in the pipeline for later this year.
While Legoland's resorts in California and Florida both offer hotel commissions to travel advisors, Legoland New York Resort's website says that it's currently "unable to offer commissions to travel agents on hotel bookings." A spokesperson for the park, however, said that both the resort and hotel do work with trade clients, including some OTAs and bed banks, but did not specify whether its commission policy extends to travel advisors.
Replicas of several Manhattan buildings in the Miniland at Legoland New York Resort. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
For many, Legoland New York's hotel will be a major draw in its own right. In fact, the 250-room property ended up being a highlight during our visit, thanks to its thoughtful room layouts and numerous kid-friendly amenities.
The hotel's digital check-in system was also efficient and easy to use. I was able to check-in online several days early, and on our arrival day, I received an email update as soon as the room was ready.
Upon entering the lobby, which is outfitted with colorful Lego models and a wall-size display of mini-figures, we were greeted by a kiosk with several digital key-printing stations. A hotel employee is stationed at the kiosk to assist or put in requests for items like a portable playpen.
The lobby's biggest highlight is its centralized play area, offering a large castle-themed jungle gym and slide with several shallow pits filled with Lego bricks. A well-appointed bar area sits next to the play area -- a genius design that offers tired parents a perfect spot to enjoy a drink while keeping an eye on their children.
Giant Lego models at the Legoland New York Resort. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
Beyond the lobby, the sense of playfulness extends to the hotel's elevators, where music and a disco ball turn every ride into an impromptu dance party, and to the guestrooms, which feature even more Lego models and theming.
The walls of our premium Ninjago room, for example, were adorned top to bottom with the franchise's ninja-themed Lego imagery as well as several Lego models, including a giant scorpion and a pair of throwing stars. Near the door sat a locked "treasure chest" box, which could be unlocked after solving an in-room "treasure hunt" puzzle and obtaining a four-digit code.
The guestroom was focused not only on fun but functionality. A separate kids' sleeping area, featuring both a bunk bed and a trundle bed, means that standard rooms can comfortably sleep families or groups of up to five, and premium rooms can sleep up to seven. The kids' area also features its own TV as well as a stash of Lego bricks, enabling children to keep their creative builds going right up until bedtime.
Among the biggest perks, however, is the hotel's proximity to the park. After a buffet breakfast at its Bricks Family Restaurant, we were among the first to enter the attraction, which meant a good hour or so of minimal lines for many rides.
A premium Ninjago guestroom. Photo Credit: Christina Jelski
Although most of the rides at Legoland New York skew toward the younger set, the park still has plenty to attract those well past childhood. The creativity and craftsmanship on display throughout is impressive, from the life-size Lego figure napping on a bench, to the not-so-miniature replicas of New York City, Washington, San Francisco and other cities in Miniland.
Even those who don't consider themselves Lego fans may find themselves wholly converted after a visit to the Legoland New York.