In March, I took a preview tour of the new LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Assembly Square in Somerville. While I was sad that we weren’t getting the IKEA that we were expecting over there, the announcement of the LEGOLAND eased my pain. It was fun taking the tour and meeting Master Builder, Ian Coffey, but it looked a lot like this:
In fact, here’s how I looked (with Ian):
At least I was rockin’ my hard hat. In any case, I was thrilled this week to see the (relatively) finished product and to give my kids a chance to put everything to the test. I want to give you a tour and if you’re patient enough, you may just find yourself visiting LEGOLAND Boston yourself. For free!
Arriving at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston, you’ll be greeted by this giant giraffe made from Duplo bricks. Remember her, because she appears later on in our tour! There is plenty of parking in the area and this is definitely going to be a hot spot for a day trip with shopping (lots of outlet stores), dining, a movie theater, and more. And it’s pretty close to 93.
When you enter, you’ll buy tickets just to the right of this giant minifig cutout. The staff told us he glows red when turned on, but I’ll just have to take their word for it. Pass through the minifig to enter the fun!
Oops. Not quite yet. First we hang out and wait for an elevator to take us upstairs. Entries are timed to help with the flow through the space, so you’ll wait here until it’s time for you to go upstairs. The wall décor is a lot of fun, but my kids were a bit overwhelmed by it all. I imagine that might have been worse if it were filled with lots of other people waiting.
Once upstairs, you start with the LEGO Factory Tour. You’ll be asked to pick a color line to stand in (the stanchions are filled wit LEGO bricks of the same color) and then you’ll watch a movie that explains what’s about to happen. My kids were captivated as you can see, but I’d expect younger kids to get antsy during the video. Once again, it’s all done to help with crowd control. Just so you know, the stations are all the same. There are just four of them (one for each color), so make sure to stand with your family here if you want to be standing with them in the next room.
The LEGO Factory Tour begins. In this room, they explain how LEGO bricks are made. There are couple of timed games here. The first has everyone design their own mini-fig. The second asks them to paint their mini-fig in the correct order (white paint first, then colors, then decoration, then black outline). I found the timer to be a bit short and Lady Bug (who is almost seven) barely completed her minifig, and then couldn’t get the order right on the painting in the time allotted. Other than the timing issue, my kids were spot-on for the target age for this room, but once again, little kids will probably be bored by the length of this activity/video. There’s a lot of talking going on.
Here are the minifigs we designed! You don’t get a minifigure when you leave, but you do get a special surprise. I won’t ruin it for you, though. Plus, we didn’t get one because they weren’t open yet.
Upon leaving the Factory Tour, you’re released right in front of the Kingdom Quest ride where you’re asked if you want to help rescue the princess. I hate “rescue the princess” plots since I think they send poor messages to girls, but the ride WAS fun. And the princess was pretty sassy, so that helped. These cars seat 5 people, but that will be cozy with older kids. Each person gets a laser gun that they use to shoot both in-person targets, and creatures on screens. The goal is to get as many points as possible. The ride is in mild darkness and involves skeletons, bats, trolls, and the like. I think it’s the rare child who will be frightened by it, but the possibility is certainly there.
Here we are. Ready to go!
The photo center wasn’t open yet, so I snapped a shot of our picture. It’s cute and, as you can see, I easily trounced my kids in that game!
After the ride, you’ll move into Miniland Boston. The largest Miniland in the country, this room is filled with LEGO versions of Boston landmarks with interactive stations throughout. Here’s the Garden and the Zakim Bridge lit up for the evening.
Here’s Logan airport. The lighting in the room changes slowly, cycling through day and night. Here we’ve got a sunrise shot of the Logan airport model. The kids are making the moving walkway go in the hallway inside.
A closer view. Many of the sets have cars driving around or other things happening on their own. Both my kids and I could have spent our whole time in this room alone.
Rainbow Swash storage tank and Fenway behind. Off in the distant background, a party is happening at the Hatch Shell.
The favorite spot for my kids was this Fenway park baseball game that actually keeps track of how many people are on base, and how many outs there are. Bug was super excited to get a home run with bases loaded! Make sure to take some time to check out all of these little minifigs. Lots of characters at Fenway!
And here we are in Somerville. A mini LEGO version of the giraffe outside of the Discovery Center.
As you pass out of Miniland, look to your right and you’ll see Ian Coffey’s office. While we were there, he was busy building all sorts of things for the upcoming launch, but he kindly took a moment out to chat with my kids and take a picture. Ian won a competition to nab his job and he’ll be spending lots of time interacting with visitors, teaching Master Classes, and just being creative.
I missed a shot of the Duplo Farm play area, unfortunately, but it’s a spot for younger kids to build and explore. Just after that is the LEGO Friends area, which is decorated like Olivia’s House. There’s a kid-sized door out front; parents will want to walk around for unobstructed entry!
In addition to several building areas, it houses a karaoke machine for kids to show off their inner stars. The songs skew to tween-age tunes (my kids are listening – not singing – to “Call Me Maybe”), and I would like to see some songs that younger kids will recognize and know the words to.
One of the building areas in Olivia’s house which is full of LEGO Friends colors and plenty of horse figures to build with. While this space is clearly geared toward girls, boys will enjoy the karaoke and building stations, too.
Next we boarded the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride. Designed for parents to ride with their kids, it consists of roughly 8 pairs of adjustable seats. As the ride spins, riders must pedal their bikes in order to fly in the air. My kids loved this ride most and went on twice. It does take some time for everyone to get settled between properly buckling in (there are leg straps for everyone) and getting everyone out again, but I do like that this is an active ride that the whole family can enjoy.
By now you may be hungry or thirsty. If so, there’s a café’ area, which also may double as a hang-out for parents.
There are some building stations that allow kids to design and race their own cars, and to build structures to see how they hold up to earthquakes. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there, but I would have liked some guidance on car building for less confident builders. Lady Bug felt overwhelmed and frustrated by all of the pieces and the girl I called over on staff didn’t look much more confident, although she was very friendly. It took us some time to find all of the pieces we needed, so that may be an issue going forward as the space is filled to capacity.
Out next stop was the 4D movie. They have three different movies that run about 14 minutes each. If you haven’t been to a 4D movie, you can expect touch and smell to be added to your movie experience. In our case we were “sprayed” with a water hose and “snowed” on as well. The smell effects weren’t working yet. I can’t remember which movie we saw, but the kids absolutely loved it and it was cute to see them reaching out for 3D objects and squealing at the water and snow (soap bubbles).
The last play area is a climbing structure designed for kids under 51 inches. There may be some flexibility there on quieter days, but they aim to have this be a safer place for younger kids. Adults are not allowed in and kids must be in socks (bring them with you if you don’t want to buy a pair onsite).
In addition to climbing activities, it is filled with rubber bricks that you can build with. My kids spent at least 15 minutes in here and probably could have spent another hour.
The space also includes a Master Builder Academy Classroom which wasn’t open while we were there. They will be offering workshops in this space. Be prepared for an additional charge to bring home any models created during workshops.
Lastly, there are two birthday party rooms with a moveable partition so you can have one big party.
The rooms are cute and fairly private, which is nice in an open space like this.
When you’re all tuckered out, you’ll exit back through Miniland and down the elevator which lets out directly into a LEGO Shop!
The shop isn’t massive, but has a nice array of sets and accessories, as well as a Pick-a-Brick wall.
A few things to note about the LEGOLAND Discovery Center:
- Tickets are timed so your best bet is to buy them ahead online. *The Center opens on May 23, but it already entirely booked for that first weekend.
- Adults are not allowed into the space without a child. They will offer special Adult-only nights, so keep your eye out for those if you want to go.
- Online tickets are $22.50 for adults and $18.00 for kids ages 3-12. Kids younger than 3 are free.
- Outside food is not allowed.
- You can trade Minifigs with staff members at the Discovery Center. Bring yours from home and look for staff with Minifigs on their pins.
My kids loved LEGOLAND Discover Center and can’t wait to go back. I would recommend that parents find an off-hour time to go, especially with kids who are more shy or have issues with noise/chaos. I can imagine it getting pretty crazy in there when it’s crowded. I have an issue with the cost for an adult, since it’s really geared toward kids, and I especially dislike the fact that you pay for adults ($18 each) at birthday parties. That will be cost prohibitive for kids who are too young for a drop-off experience. I also think that really young kids and older kids will be less engaged. There’s sort of a sweet spot for kids who are in pre-K-3rd grade in terms of being able to take part in all of the activities in the space. Overall, I thought the different activities were fun, and I loved the detail and the interactive elements in Miniland. I’m excited to see how the Master Builder workshops play out and to see the finished 4D movies. But, since our preview had maybe 15 kids at most, it is hard to tell what the experience will be like when it’s at capacity. I’m looking forward to checking it out once the grand opening dust settles, though. I’ll update the review if need be.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
598 Assembly Row
Somerville, MA 02145
Would you like to enjoy LEGOLAND Discovery Center with your family? I’ve got a family four-pack of tickets to give away! Note: Family four-packs come with two adult tickets (12 and older) and two tickets for kids ages 3-12. Tickets are valid starting on June 15, 2014 and expire one year from date issued.
Family Four-Pack Terms & Conditions
One (1) winner will receive [Family 4 pack of tickets to LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston; including two (2) single-entry children tickets valid for ages 3 to 12 years old and two (2) single-entry adult tickets valid for ages 12 years and older.] (Approximate retail value or “ARV”: $81). Tickets are valid starting June 15, 2014 and expire one year from date issued.
Only one prize per person and per household will be awarded. Gift cards and gift certificates are subject to the terms and conditions of the issuer. Prizes cannot be transferred, redeemed for cash or substituted by winner. Merlin Entertainments reserves the right in its sole and absolute discretion to award a substitute prize of equal or greater value if a prize described in these Official Rules is unavailable or cannot be awarded, in whole or in part, for any reason. The ARV of the prize represents LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston’s good faith determination. That determination is final and binding and cannot be appealed. If the actual value of the prize turns out to be less than the stated ARV, the difference will not be awarded in cash. LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston makes no representation or warranty concerning the appearance, safety or performance of any prize awarded. Restrictions, conditions, and limitations may apply. LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston will not replace any lost or stolen prize items.
Prize will only be awarded and/or delivered to addresses within USA. All federal, state and/or local taxes, fees, and surcharges are the sole responsibility of the prize winner. Failure to comply with the Official Rules will result in forfeiture of the prize.
Limitation of Liability: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center is not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by entrant or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Sweepstakes or by any technical or human error, which may occur in the processing of submissions in the Sweepstakes. LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston assumes no responsibility for any misdirected or lost mail, or any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay of operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, Entries. LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of email or players on account of technical problems. If, for any reason, the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned, then LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston reserves the right in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. In such event, LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston may, in its sole discretion, perform the random drawing from among all eligible Entries received prior to or after such cancellation, suspension, or modification.
In the event of a dispute concerning who registered to participate in the Sweepstakes, the registration will be declared to have been made by the authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who is assigned to an email address by an internet provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g., business, education institution, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address. A potential winner may be requested to provide LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston with proof that the potential winner is the authorized account holder of the email address. If a dispute cannot be resolved to LEGOLAND(R) Discovery Center Boston’s satisfaction, the entry will be deemed ineligible.