On Wednesday, we took advantage of the discount deal I purchased at FamilyFinds and visited the Legoland Discovery Center. We kept it a surprise from the kids until we were there. They guessed where we were going when they saw the store from the parking lot.
I have to get this out there up front. A word on customer service. Our experience was very split. The place itself is divided between the store up front and the Discovery Center in the back. The people in the back, all very nice, very helpful and generally cheerful. I really liked that part of the experience. The people up font, the exact opposite. They seemed very uninterested in being helpful and generally weren’t. This isn’t universally true, but there was trend. Be warned. Also, a note to people working customer service jobs in general, if a parent asks where the bathroom, take the five seconds to answer that question quickly instead of making them wait wile you complete THREE other customers and not bother to answer the question.
Ok, that out of the way, the center itself is pretty nice. It’s not all that big and there aren’t a whole lot of things to do. Their map of the place takes quite the artistic interpretation of what is actually there. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty to fill time with. Had I paid full price, I’d have been disappointed.
The first thing we saw was the Miniland. This is a lego model of the Chicago skyline. It is pretty impressive and has lighting that changes from day to evening to night. Other than Daniel being upset that the trains didn’t move, this was a really cool room and the kids quite liked it.
Next up was a jungle area with lots of Lego statues of animals and a few people. Very cool models in this room, including frogs, snakes, spiders, lizards, a tiger, lemurs, monkeys and a great big hippo. After that is a giant spider and a hallway with backlights. Not sure the purpose of that, but the kids liked seeing their clothes glow. That was probably the point.
After the jungle is a room where they do some pictures. This are wasn’t staffed when we were there, which is fine. There were models of Indiana Jones, Darth Vader and R2-D2 as well. Those were life-size models and pretty cool.
The adjoining room houses the dragon ride. I think this was Jason’s favorite part. It takes you though a story with lots of Lego models, some animated. My favorite part of this ride were the Lego stained glass windows. They looked really cool to me. I think Jason liked the giant dragon at the end of the ride the best. That or the huge group of bats just before that.
At that point we journeyed upstairs. Here is found the “4D” movie theater and the factory tour. The movie is a 3D movie plus some other interactive elements, fake snow, flashing lights and a mist of water, to enhance the on-screen action. We saw a short adventure movie. The kids liked it. The factory tour is really just a room with some samples of the machines used to make Lego bricks. It is interesting, but not really much of a tour.
Near the cafeteria, there is a large play structure. On one end of that is the toddler area which hosts a pool of Duplo blocks. At the other end of this room are a bunch of tables and stools where you can build things. The main focus was on car-like things that you could release down ramps and see how they do. Daniel really liked that part. I can see older kids getting really into making cars and jumping them on the ramps.
Next to the building tables is a ride. This ride seemed a bit out of place, but the kids still enjoyed it. I would have a hard time giving the ride a name, but is moves around a circle and goes up and down a bit. The seats are made to look something like a Lego powered hang glider. Like I said, seemed a bit out of place but the kids liked it and that’s what counts.
The last thing on the second floor was the Master Model Builder talk. This is an interactive demonstration, or more like a class, on building a certain Lego model. Our session was a dog. The three older kids all participated and wanted to buy the sets, which they do offer for sale after the session.
We wound up the day by heading back down the stairs. There were a few more life size Lego models, including Batman, Harry Potter and Hagrid. On from there was the Lego store. Anticipating the visit to the store (which you must pass through to leave) we had brought along money for each kid to choose something. In the end, they decided to pool their money together to buy one large set, the Hogwarts Castle from Harry Potter. We made our purchases and headed home.
It was a nice day and we all had a pretty good time. Like I said before, I think the prices is too high for what is offered. The staff within was quite friendly and helpful, unlike the staff without. You can easily cover the whole thing in half a day. Aside from food and things to buy like photos or Lego sets, everything is included with the admission price which is a good thing in my opinion. It wasn’t too busy when we went which is the better way to go if you ask me. I could see the place being difficult to navigate with a big crowd. So worth the visit if you find a budget ticket. That’s my take!