A few years ago, we spent a day at LEGOLAND when we were in San Diego, and my then very young kids loved spending time in the mega-brand’s theme park. That was 3 years ago, and they’re older but who outgrows Legos? So when I heard that there was a new LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester, I was intrigued and excited to take them on a recent half-day of school. My son has never been a huge LEGO freak, but I knew once he got there, he’d be into it. My daughter is open-minded and she’s not bothered by gender-specific activities but LEGOLAND has taken girls into consideration with a section dedicated to them.
I picked them up and didn’t tell them where we going (a first for me – I have a big mouth) and headed to the 32,300 square foot indoor attraction in Yonkers. When they figured it out, there was a lot of excitement in the car. I realize that there is only so much time left in their young lives where they’ll want to go to places like this. My oldest is 10, just 2 years shy of the age LEGOLAND is recommended for but she was very happy, never felt too old for the fun she was to have.
More than 3 million LEGO bricks are used in the exhibits, sculptures and activity areas. LEGOLAND has a range of educational and interactive experiences that includes hands-on play areas, a 4D cinema, master classes led by Master Model Builders, two LEGO amusement rides and MINILAND — the venue’s signature re-creation of landmark locations and buildings throughout Westchester County and New York City, made entirely out of more than 1 million LEGO bricks. There’s Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, Tarrytown’s Lyndhurst and Sunnyside mansions, and of course the Ridge Hill shopping center. Apparently, it took a team of 20 expert Lego model builders six months to complete. Interactive features allow youngsters to activate lights, sounds and moving parts.
Our fist stop was the Factory Tour where we learned how raw plastic creates finished LEGO bricks by own personal LEGO professor who introduced us to everything LEGO. My kids were intrigued. Then we jumped on the Kingdom Quest, an interactive laser ride where we joined the Good King’s Army to battle evil skeletons, giant trolls and large spiders. I’m not sure who enjoyed this more – me or the kids. The other ride they offer is Merlin’s Apprentice, a flying wizard ride where guests pedal faster to make their seats rise into the air. This was also much enjoyed by them…and me.
My kids were enamored with the Build & Test zone where they timed their racing car on the speed test track. The stopwatch is exact to the hundredths of a second, so even the smallest change could make all the difference. They also loved the 4D film’s wind, rain, lightning and snow that flung itself in our faces (personally, I didn’t mind getting wet at all). In the Master Builder Academy, they built high towers as tall as the sky. There are also LEGO pit areas for free play and build and test exhibits, where children can build LEGO objects and test their performance, like a race car.
LEGOLAND is a fun and educational destination, bringing the worlds of math, science and technology to life outside the classroom. For a few hours, my kids were immersed in using their imagination and creative energies. Even I enjoyed it.
I also thoroughly enjoyed discovering the Ridge Hill Shopping Center where LEGOLAND is housed. We will be back there to shop, that is for sure.
Here’s what you need to know before you go:
– Go early on weekends or even mid-week after school. Apparently, it gets VERY crowded. By going during a half-day, the crowds were very bearable. You might want to buy your tickets in advance online to make sure you have them, too.
– A visit to LEGOLAND isn’t cheap. Individual tickets for children (ages 3-12) are $18 and adults (13 and up) are $22, plus-tax. Children under 2 years-old enter the attraction free of charge. I think it’s worth the money (at least according to the smiles on my kid’s faces) but I wouldn’t repeat the experience at this price (without becoming a member – details below).
– One way to get cheaper tickets is to get annual passes which offer unlimited entry to for 12 months; 10% discounts in the LEGO Shop and on birthday parties; a 20% discount on food and beverages in the café; and more.
– Outside food is not permitted at Legoland, but they have a cafe. The menu is predictable but ideal for a pit stop when food becomes absolutely necessary. The $15 kids’ meal includes a Smuckers Uncrustables sandwich, a juice box and a choice of chips or a fruit cup. You might be better off if you head into the shopping center where there is a plethora of restaurant choices for every budget.
– Parking is $3.25 in the nearby garage, but LEGOLAND does validate tickets which brings it down to $1.75.
Disclosure: I was provided with comp tickets to facilitate this review but all opinions are my own.