When you’ve got kids, LEGO is a household name. Whether you’ve got brick-obsessed builders or experimental tinkerers, LEGO products are as universally recognizable as Disney. And here at Red Tricycle, we love LEGO just as much as your kids do (seriously, you should see our editors at LEGOLAND). From grand openings to brand-new products, scroll on to see a few amazing ways the LEGO Group blew our minds in 2017.

photo: Sandy Huffaker/LEGOLAND

LEGOLAND, CA Castle Hotel

Almost complete by the end of 2017, we can’t wait to explore these newly-bricked digs and live like the kings and queens we are. The LEGO flag is flying high atop the turrets already, with a 2018 debut of 250 themed rooms in this palace for the people. Room themes include Knights & Dragons, Royal Princess and Magic Wizard. Along with the in-room themes, you’ll also find LEGO castle décor throughout the entire hotel. As if there isn’t enough to do at LEGOLAND already, the castle hotel has several play zones. These include a tot spot, an outdoor stage and a movie screen. If the kids get hungry, the family can enjoy a meal at the (also themed) Dragon’s Den Restaurant and Bar. Keep your eye out for the grand opening deets on Red Tricycle.

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Women of NASA LEGO Sets

The brand new LEGO set turned heads for all the right reason: four female figures—Mae Jemison, Nancy Grace Roman, Margaret Hamilton and Sally Ride—all join the ranks as MiniFigs sure to inspire kids for generations to come. The 231-piece set includes three builds, which feature the women in their area of expertise.

photo: LEGOLAND Hotel

Ninjago-Themed Rooms at the LEGOLAND Hotel

Earlier in 2017 we heard the great news that LEGOLAND, CA’s hotel had redone a set of rooms all with the popular Ninjago theme. After a visit to LEGOLAND California Resort and NINJAGO World, these 18 sweet suites and rooms offer an extra special experience for ninja lovers. Kids can spend the night with beloved LEGO characters including Kai, Jay, Cole, Zane, Lloyd, Nya and Master Wu. Little ones will get a kick out of the decor made entirely of LEGO bricks–– from Zane’s titanium falcon and a huge dragon egg to a ninja throwing stars and Nya’s helmet.The rooms boast oodles of LEGO bricks to play with and a treasure chest hidden in a bamboo passageway that leads to the mountain temple. Kiddos will also dig the fact that they have their very own TV and games, too. And if you’re wondering where you’ll catch some shut-eye in all this ninja-style mania? There’s a king-sized bed for adults and the bed’s headrest comes complete with a shrine holding the four elemental weapons. Let’s hope that includes a sturdy pair of slippers to cushion the blow of stepping on those tiny bricks that are sure to be afoot! And if you’re looking for the ultimate set for your ninjas, check out their new-in-2017 NINJAGO sets. Learn more about the hotel rooms and see tons of pics here.

Custom MiniFigs to Look Just Like You. JUST Like You.

We know your kids have probably tried to recreate you in LEGO form at least once but if you want to go totally next-level with the interactive world of LEGO, check out the new way to make Minifigs custom. The UK company uses your photo to shrink you down to LEGO size.

photo: Amber Guetebier

LEGOLAND, FL Beach Retreat

When LEGOLAND announced the grand opening of their beach bungalows, we had to see it in real life. And see it we did. Not only do you get all the perks of being in a LEGOLAND property, including early access to the park, you get a laid-back vibe, a pool with a tropical feel and plenty of that beachy vaycay action, while still appeasing your builders. And we were already impressed with LEGOLAND, FL for their autism-friendly initiative, including training park employees on best practices, Blue Hero passes to avoid lines and special quiet rooms where kids can get a break from sensory overload.

photo: LEGO Group

The International LEGO Scene

The completion of the LEGO House in Denmark, the HQ of the whole operation, blew our minds, big time. This epic place includes color-coded rooms that aim to teach kids about stem principles...plus a gallery of LEGO creations that are museum worthy. And did we mention it looks like giant stacked bricks, but in that Danish-modern way? And speaking of Denmark and LEGO, this AirBnB wowed us with the serious dedication to Brick Heads everywhere looking to up their Danish LEGO visit even more.

photo: LEGO Group

There’s a New LEGOLAND Coming. To New York!

The rumor that a new LEGOLAND was opening was proven true with the 2017 announcement that an all new park would be begin construction soon. The location? New York! The park like the eight others operating around the globe, will feature attractions for LEGO fans of all ages, including rides and shows all built around the world’s most famous plastic bricks. The New York park will be open seasonally from April 1 to Nov. 1 and will also include a 250-room LEGO-themed hotel that will be open year-round.

photo: LEGO Bags

New LEGO Bags & How to Get Free Ones  

2017 brought us some pretty cool non-brick swag, including these sweet LEGO backpacks and lunchboxes, which not only come in an array of designs for LEGO fans of varying ages, they are made from recycled plastic water bottles! Like what you see? Find out how you can become a LEGO bag brand ambassador and get free swag to tote around yourself.

photo: Royal Caribbean

The World’s Biggest Cruise Ship Features LEGO Walls

16 decks, 230,000 tons: the Symphony of the Seas is not your average cruise ship. Besides the usual attractions like pools, rock climbing walls, ice rinks (yes, we said ice rinks) and movie theaters, this ship features over 20 different restaurants, a park with over 12,000 tropical plants and a 10-story water slide called the Ultimate Abyss, which is the world’s tallest at sea. The crown jewel for cruise-loving families,however, is the family suite. The Ultimate Family Suite is a jaw-dropping, two-story dream, complete with a tunnel slide, floor-to-ceiling LEGO wall and a separate 3-D movie theater room all in a sprawling 1,346 square feet. The suite also features a wrap-around balcony with a pool table,  a full-sized whirlpool, a personal butler and accommodations for up to eight. Learn more.

photo: Amazon

EPIC Star Wars LEGO Sets

Thanks to the release of the new Star Wars movie, LEGO announced some major new sets were coming to shelves, including one of the biggest sets ever: the Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon. With 7,541 pieces, it’s the biggest set to date by 1,000 pieces! But don’t worry, the Millennium Falcon isn’t your only choice. There’s a Resistance Bomber, Ty Fighter, a head-spinning BB8 and Luke’s Landspeeder, to name just a few. Check them all out here.

What’s your favorite LEGO announcement from 2017? What are you excited about for 2018? Tell us in a comment below. 

—Amber Guetebier