Legos are awesome. Legoland isn’t.

Legoland. August 2014. Carlsbad, California.

We were on the second day of our two-day Legoland adventure. It was also the fourth day out of five that we had spent at a San Diego theme park/attraction. (Was one of them Sea World? I’m not saying. You’ll have to save your Blackfish morality whipping for another day.) I don’t remember exactly where we were in the park, but it’s a safe bet that we were walking through a slightly miniature plastic city of one sort or another. It’s also a safe bet that I had just spend $67 on a lunch that consisted mostly of chicken fingers and rubbery apple slices. It was hot. We were all sweaty, tired and a little sick of each other. As most parents know, this is where vacations usually go off the rails. This is where I turn into Jelly of the Month Club Clark Griswold. So, I was ready for some typical (and probably justified) complaining and whining. I wasn’t ready for my world to be flipped upside-down.

My 11-year-old son smacked me in the arm and plainly said, “Legoland must be owned by Lord Business.”

I didn’t follow. Maybe it was the heat (or probably the chicken fingers), but — even though the Lego Movie ran on a constantly loop for three weeks at our house — I didn’t understand where he was headed.

“Huh? Why would Lord Business own Legoland?”

“Because the whole place is Kragled.”

Mind. Blown. We were standing on what I had considered Holy Ground. We were at Legoland (!) — a place constructed of millions (billions?) of the most irrationally important objects of my (and my children’s) childhood. And suddenly, it all sucked. The Chewbacca made from 100,000+ bricks? Just another piece of Lord Business’s empire. The replica of Times Square? Simply another creation covered in DO NOT TOUCH signs. The crazy adventurer-themed hotel room? Not toys… But “a highly sophisticated, interlocking brick system” — coated in super glue.

Kragled Chewbacca. Clueless Matt.

That quickly, my son had ruined Legoland for me. I couldn’t stop thinking about how Legoland was exactly what Lord Business advocated. Orderly, structured, sealed in place. With the exception of a few small play areas nestled within the lines for rides — and a relatively small exploration center near the front of the park — Legoland was a place where you were definitely not supposed to play with the Legos. There is none of the chaos that is so well explored and highlighted in the movie. None of the anarchy. You won’t find mutant creations and mismatched superheroes from competing universes. The whole park has been designed by adults who want to make sure that their collectibles remain just exactly as they are depicted in the brochures.

I spent the rest of the day fantasizing about releasing each and every brick. Dropping thousands of gallons of paint thinner on the entire park and watching as each cityscape crumbled into a pile of beautiful 2x4s. I imagined kids running amok, building their own Unikitties and Metalbeards — and then tearing them apart as the sun set. Another group of kids would rebuild the park the following morning. It would be Lord Business’s worst nightmare. It would be the greatest theme park on earth.

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