We stayed an extra day in Kansas City during a recent trip so that we could experience the Legoland Discovery Center. Never having been to another one (or to a full-scale Legoland) it’s hard to make a comparison, but with a family full of Lego enthusiasts we did not expect to be disappointed.
Unfortunately, we arrived to discover that the 4D Cinema was closed for renovations. This was a blow, because it’s one of their greatest feature attractions (from all we could tell). If you’re planning a trip, check the web site for status updates so that you know what to expect.
We did attend during the morning of a school weekday and essentially had the entire center practically to ourselves, which made it extra fun for us, but I can imagine that during weekends and busy times it is jam-packed with kids.
Of their other attractions, here is what we were able to experience:
- Lego Factory Tour
The discovery center entrance opens with much fanfare into this (highly stylized and somewhat ridiculous) “factory tour” environment which we were marched through with hurried explanations by their staff. It didn’t make a great first impression.
- Kingdom Quest Laser Ride
This is the next stop that brings you into the main series of attractions. If you’ve seen the Toy Story “Astro Blasters” ride at a Disney park, this is essentially the same thing on a much smaller scale. (Riding in a cart on a fixed track, scoring points by firing toy guns at enemies and targets.) Part of the ride was broken (which we weren’t warned about, and caused some confusion) during our visit, and the “Lego” influence was minimal. We didn’t go back to try this one again.
- Merlin’s Apprentice Ride
This ride was much more well-received and fun for the kids and adults, and it’s well-constructed (although similar to Disney’s “flying” rides like rocket ships or Dumbo). Each “pod” seats two people and their height while flying is affected by how quickly they can keep their feet pedaling a bicycle-like mechanism. Everyone enjoyed this. (Still not a lot of “Lego” emphasis, though.)
This was a series of dioramas of models, some life-size and some at tiny scale, of different characters and scenes. There are lots of interactive buttons that trigger lights, sounds, motors, cars driving on a racetrack, and other responses, which made it extra fun for the kids. The models are exceptionally creative and well-done, and the quantity of Legos is endless. Several Star Wars scenes from the movies recreated in Legos were especially popular, and other displays included The Wizard Of Oz and downtown Kansas City. Everyone happily spent a long time at this exhibit.
- Lego Master Builder Academy
This is held in a classroom-type environment with an instructor teaching how to build a particular model while everyone follows along. The model was pretty rudimentary, but the staff member did a fine job and kept the kids’ attention.
- Lego Racers: Build & Test
This was a huge hit, with ramps and raceways for Lego cars to drive on so that kids can compete against each other in trying to build the fastest vehicle. We had a lot of fun with this! (Although, as a caveat, it would have been more difficult during a busy time of day with a crowd of kids trying to play with the models at the same time.)
- The Lego Store
Don’t expect to escape without shopping your way through all the latest Lego sets!
We bought tickets to Legoland & Sea Life which was a great value, but individual tickets are pretty pricey. Buy them online to get a few dollars off!
In retrospect, our family did end up really enjoying our time here, but only due to the fanatic Lego aficionados among us. Without that high-pitched enthusiasm, we would have had more fun elsewhere.