Thanks to LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Atlanta for hosting my family for a visit. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.
A few weeks ago my crew headed down to Atlanta to visit the LEGOLAND Discovery Center there. Did you know that there are multiple LEGO parks of various types (from discovery centers to water parks to theme parks?). Definitely check out the listing because even if you don’t live near Atlanta, you still might have a LEGOLAND of some sort within striking distance.
Location: A Surprising Spot!
I was quite confused when the GPS directions on my phone led us to a mall parking lot as we were trying to reach the Discovery Center. We decided to go ahead and drive the outside perimeter of the mall just in case it was there. And it was! I think I was expecting LEGOLAND Discovery Center to be in a stand alone building, and not inside a mall, though in hindsight the location makes perfect sense. Lots of families are already visiting this place, so a trip to LEGOLAND as part of a day at the mall could be fun for folks.
Almost the entire center is self-guided, so you can go wherever you like as you see fit (that doesn’t mean you won’t find lines, though!). But the very first part of the experience is guided, and I think that’s by design so that too many people don’t enter the play areas at one time. You are guided through a room where you get to “make” a LEGO (and honestly, any kid older than 6 is going to realize that you aren’t actually doing anything in this room, but it’s still a really cute concept). Every child is given a complimentary LEGO with the logo of the center on it. I think that’s a really cool souvenir to add to the LEGO collections back home.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Rides
There are two rides in the center. The first is a “gentle thrills” ride called Kindgom Quest where parties of 4 get in a cart and go from scene to scene (some animation on the screen, some “live”) shooting your laser guns at targets. My almost 5-year-old was borderline terrified the whole time, yet my 2-year-old thought it was awesome. And it was my personal favorite part of the whole place; had my oldest not protested I would have ridden it twice or maybe even three times. Totally fun!
The other ride is called Merlin’s Apprentice. It is very similar in concept to Dumbo at Disney World, only you have to pedal within your cart to keep your pod up in the air. That definitely added an element of fun to it. The line was LONG for this one; I think we waited 30 minutes for it (which is 3 eternities to a 4-year-old). The experience of waiting in line like that has me freaking out a bit about our upcoming Disney trip. But I digress…
This is the part of the center where I would have liked to have spent more time. If you have older kids, this will hold their attention (but it is lost on toddlers, I promise). They have recreated many popular sights of the city of Atlanta, all using LEGO pieces (over 1 million!). It is totally awesome and well worth 20 to 30 minutes of your time.
Watch the Movie!
There is a 4D movie theater tucked into the back corner of the center. Definitely go see this! It’s maybe 20 minutes long, and you get sprinkled with water and even experience some snow fall right in the theater. It was a bit loud for a 2-year-old, but she still said that she liked it afterwards. My older daughter still talks about it a few weeks later.
Play Areas for the Littles
They did have an area, right next to the place where you can sit down and eat, with jumbo blocks, a slide, and cute LEGO animal statues. This is a really good spot for toddlers to play in, especially while older siblings ride Merlin’s Apprentice.
Ok, honestly, this might have been the most disappointing part of the entire center for me. Darah’s just now starting to get into LEGO Friends (she still mostly uses LEGO Duplos with her sister). And I know that there is some controversy around the whole concept, since stuff shouldn’t need to be pink or purple and have hearts on it for girls to want to play with it, or for parents to be willing to buy it for their girls. But I like a lot of the Friends kits that they offer; they aren’t violent, either explicitly or implicitly, as some of the other LEGO sets can be. Anyway, I was excited to see this area, only to be very disappointed by how it actually looked. There were several building stations that looked like a hot mess. The main purpose of this area, according to the brochure, was to build a microphone that you could then use to do karaoke. There were no examples of microphones anywhere to be seen, so absolutely nobody in the area was doing that. And as for the karaoke machine, it was busted. It worked only if someone was constantly, and I do mean CONSTANTLY, tapping the screen to help the highlighted lyrics move along. It was rough, you guys.
We Went on Saturday
To be fair to LEGOLAND, we arrived around 3 in the afternoon on a Saturday. That place was pretty well packed, and I imagine that it had been for several hours. I know what my living room looks like after just 2 kids have been playing with LEGOs, so it may not be fair for me to expect that LEGOLAND, which has thousands and thousands of LEGO pieces all over the place, and hundreds and hundreds of kids playing with them, would look pristine. It’s just something to keep in mind when you visit. I’d advise against going on a weekend if you can possibly swing it. Or get there right when it opens so that you can experience the building areas of the center before they have been destroyed.
So while I can’t say that I was completely blown away by LEGOLAND, I do think it is worth a visit for any family who uses LEGOs regularly. Tickets are free for those 2 and under, $17 for kids 3-12, and $19 for those 13 and up. But go online to buy your tickets in advance, because they offer really good discounts if you buy online!
Have you ever visited any of the LEGOLAND attractions? I’ve heard that the theme parks are unbelievably awesome! I’d love to hear about your experience!