Written by: Caitlyn Canby,San Diego North Economic Development Council
One of Kurt Stocks’ favorite things about LEGOLAND is the park’s opportunity to help bring families together to interact and create lifelong memories. It’s the main reason he took the job at Legoland Malaysia and eventually as President of LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad.
“It’s really powerful when you think about it. The impact you can have on a family and their experience, creating memories and experiences from a holiday that they’ll talk about for the rest of their lives,” said Stocks. “It’s not just about operating rides – it’s about delivering experiences, and you can really make an impact.”
BRICK-OR-TREAT MONSTER PARTY
LEGOLAND’s next special experience is their Brick-or-Treat presents Monster Party. It runs every Saturday from September 17 to October 29 from 10 am to 9 pm, and on Sunday, October 30 from 10 am to 8 pm. Entrance to the special event is included in the regular ticket price and select annual passes.
Brick-or-Treat is a family-centered Halloween experience focusing on kids ages 2-12, but guests of all ages are invited to dress up and enjoy the celebration. Expect to meet a few new Halloween LEGO Monster characters; family-friendly entertainment including the LEGO Rock Band; themed rides including the newly themed Disco Dragon Coaster; and a new 4D movie called “The Great Monster Chase.”
“[The Great Monster Chase] is really fun. It’s not scary,” said Stocks. “It will catch kids by surprise a couple of times, but it will make them laugh, and they’ll have a good time.” The film includes 4D special effects including bubbles, water, and more.
LIVE, WORK & PLAY NORTH COUNTY
Open almost every day of the year, LEGOLAND’s presence in Carlsbad has economically impacted the city and the region tremendously, directly and by bringing more tourism to the area, which helps many industries rise. At peak times, LEGOLAND hires upwards of 3,000 people, creating jobs for residents who typically reinvest in the area.
“We’ve been a part of the county now for 23 years. We started a lot smaller than we are now. There’s been a lot of progress in 23 years, and I’d like to think that in the next 23 years, there will be the same level of progress in terms of the Resort offering and what we give back to North County,” said Stocks.
Stocks and his family love living in North County. As much as they loved their time in Southeast Asia while Stocks worked in the health and fitness industry and subsequently LEGOLAND Malaysia, “once we had a chance to come here and have a look at what was in North County, we just kind of fell in love with it,” said Stocks.
“The community is very tight here. It’s nice to feel appreciated. Everyone is really supportive, has mutual appreciation for others and everything they do,” said Stocks.
An active family, Stocks and his family love the weather, opportunities for outdoor activities and easy access to activities, and great schools. But one of their favorite afternoon activities to do with their three young kids is – you guessed it – spend an afternoon at LEGOLAND.
CLOSING & REPOPENING
The Stocks family has been here for 3 years. About 10 weeks after he started working in the office, Stocks and his staff made the decision to close the park due to COVID. While they were closed, Stocks was overwhelmed by the passion and commitment of the 1,300 furloughed employees who consistently dialed into regular check-in and update calls.
“It’s really hard to even articulate what that was like,” Stocks said. “The fact that so many people would dial into those calls… They were appreciative that everything was being done to get us back open as soon as we could, and they just held on and wanted to come back. It was quite overwhelming really.”
After 13 months of maintaining a non-operational park, Stocks and his staff had to recruit and make changes to open under COVID conditions. “Jokingly I always say, ‘We learned that it’s a lot easier to close a park than it is to re-open a park.’ Getting ready to re-open was almost like opening a brand-new park,” he said.
HERE, NOW & FUTURE PLANNING
Now, Stocks focuses on making sure LEGOLAND is “successful here and now while also strategically planning how we want to develop the Resort over the next 10-15 years.” Stocks and his Central Planning Team have been focusing on the retention of staff and multi-skilling front-line staff. Training front-line employees in different roles and areas of the park helps create knowledgeable and confident staff who then create great experiences for the park guests.
“We’ve been deliberate on focusing on how we keep people in the business. How do we make conditions right, so our turnover is so low that our recruitment burden is actually reduced?” Stocks said. “We (try to) get things right in terms of working conditions, people engaging with the brand, having fun with what they do, and realizing how important what they do is –” getting to be a part of creating life-long memories for families.