We decided to take our little family to Legoland Discovery Center on a Sunday. Our kids our almost 2 and 4.5 years. Overall, we loved the experience, although we did have a few cons. I've listed an overview of what to expect and some tips for first-timers;
1. Location: Legoland is located in Phipps Mall, which is a swanky place (think Tiffany's). The parking is free and there's easy access. It's located on the 3rd floor, and takes up most of the square footage. There is a Moe's Southwest Grill, Johnny Rockets, and Subway across from them. No other eateries except those.
2. Tickets: You can purchase your tickets online or upon arriving. It's a better deal if you pre-purchase if you know which day you are going. Plus, Lego likes to offer deals like a BOGO or big discount if you purchase early. I got our tickets BOGO!
3. Lanyards: There is a fun activity pack for a reasonable price (it was $4 at our visit) for kids (or adults!) to record the areas they've visited. You can find stamp stations all over the center. If you collect all the stamps, you get a small souvenir. My 4 yr old got excited every time he found a stamp station. We didn't allow him to stamp his pack until he finished the activity. This allowed him to get a "reward" for completing the task.
** You'll first enter into a lobby area with two yellow doors. A cartoon is playing on the TVs asking you to wait for the professor to arrive. I was expecting someone in a lab coat to enter and get the crowd excited and even show something cool about Legos. I was rather disappointed that when the doors opened, there was no introduction...Just an employee telling us we could come in. I was also annoyed that we weren't told we needed to wait and that it could take up to 30 minutes. I understand they do this to avoid large crowds, and I certainly appreciate them spreading the visitors out so everyone can have a front row seat. But expect to wait if you don't catch them about to open the doors. I would suggest having a game or video on a tablet to keep the kiddos entertained until it's your turn. Otherwise, you'll have kids climbing over all the Lego displays!
**After walking through a lab to push buttons and turn wheels to show how Legos are made, you'll get a chance to ride through a game. This game is around 7 minutes long and is medieval themed. There are 4 people to a car, and it goes slow enough for all ages (my daughter got to ride and she's 2). You get a toy gun and have a chance to shoot the spiders, bugs, and bad guys (it's Lego so not really that bad) along your ride to help the knights. Your score is recorded on the car, but you do not get a print out. At the purchase you can view a photo that was taken while on your ride.
**The next stop is the Ninjago laser game. You get to go through a "training center," which is a small hallway where you have to navigate through lasers without touching them. Upon exiting, you find another game with colors on the wall. You choose one of four colors and compete with another opponent. Both have to whack the most of their colors in a certain time (think whack-a-mole).
**The next room is a miniland of Atlanta. This is merely an area to view Lego-sized landmarks of Atlanta. Some parts are moving. Every few minutes the time changes in Miniland from day to night.
**You are know entering the largest part of the center. This large room has stations all throughout. A Lego store anchors the room. A cafe (with Atlanta Bread pre-packaged meals) are available to purchase. We didn't eat here because A. it was overpriced and B. my kids wouldn't enjoy the sandwich choices. There is a Merlin's ride (think Dumbo's flying elephant ride) where an adult and child can ride together for about 5 minutes. The more you pedal your car, the higher you go. The child seat is in the inside of the car...it will tilt just slightly when you are in the air. My son didn't care for the feeling of being up so high tilted, but it was a fun ride. You can always stay on the ground as it goes around. Don't worry...it won't go fast enough to get sick.
The rest of the area houses a huge Lego City Fire Station playhouse (socks are required); a build and test race track; 4D cinema; lab (this costs extra, but I think you take what you built); Lego Friends house (complete with karaoke machine (this is where the parents can shine!); earthquake test (for Legos--not you!); and a Lego Duplo tot area.
The Duplo are was so fun for my 2 year old. It's a small area off the cafe that has a slide and big soft foam Lego bricks. And yes, they actually can be connected just like regular Legos to build something. She loved being among the Lego pit. This are is only for ages 2-5. However, my son seemed a bit too big even though he was only 4.
Overall, the center is a great place to go for a family fun day. I feel to fully enjoy the whole center, your kids should be between ages 5-12. Otherwise, they'll be limited to what they can do. You can bring strollers and stay as long as you like. You can even return to some favorite parts, but it is a bit tricky to get to them. I would suggest coming as soon as they open to avoid large crowds. By the time we left around 2pm, it was getting busy.
The Lego Store is really nothing exclusive to the center. All the sets can be found at other stores. I really wish they would've had some apparel with the Atlanta logo on them. I would've loved to have gotten a t-shirt for the kids. We ended up only have the activity pack on the lanyard (with the stamps) as a souvenir.
I also was wondering if the center had a meet-n-greet with some Lego characters. I would've loved to see some favorites from the Lego Movie or just a general character (like a ninja, knight, etc) to take pictures. I guess this is only available at the theme parks. Speaking of Lego Movie, they did not have any references to the movie. There is probably some royalty/licensing fee they have to pay in order to have something, but it would be nice to create a small area for them!
Definitely go and see for yourself. It's meant to bring families together and be creative! Parents, please be mindful of others visiting. Be sure to remember the age limits of some rides. I encountered a few families that allowed their kids to run through the Duplo area, which made it unsafe for the little ones. In order to have a good time, you should also respect others who are just as excited to be there as you.