A few weeks ago, the Camp Granola crew was invited to visit the LEGOLand Discovery Center in Atlanta. While my preference is obviously for parks and museums, there is obviously a good bit of educational value to be had through LEGO activities. The boys were excited by the opportunity to get their LEGO on so I stuffed away my dislike of malls to give it a chance.
The center is housed within Phipps Plaza in Atlanta’s Buckhead area. For those who aren’t familiar with Atlanta, this is a higher-end mall in a fairly congested area but there is plenty of mall parking once you’ve navigated your way there.
The mall is situated right off of GA 400 so it’s not all that difficult to access even if you’re not used to our road setup here that includes more than 65 streets with “Peachtree” in the name. Welcome to Atlanta, by the way. 😉
The Atlanta LEGOLand Discovery Center boasts 15 attractions that I’ll try to briefly break down for you:
- LEGO Factory Tour: A brief look at how LEGOs are made including the chance to find out your height and weight LEGO equivalent.
- Kingdom Quest Laser Ride: Think Disney’s Buzz Lightyear ride themed around LEGO people and dragons.
- MINILAND: A re-creation of Atlanta’s landmarks with LEGOs, this was by far the coolest feature to us. The exhibit cycles through day and night lighting and has some interactive features.
- LEGO 4D Cinema: Offers 15-minute LEGO movies in 3D with sensory input like squirting water and confetti for the 4D effect.
- LEGO Racers Build & Test: A chance to construct various vehicles and test them by sending them down the two ramps provided.
- Merlin’s Apprentice Ride: A “Dumbo”-type ride themed around wizardry and magic.
- LEGO Fire Academy: This is a play area designed for the younger crowd to get some active play and run time.
- LEGO Construction Site: A soft play area for little LEGO enthusiasts.
- LEGO® Master Builder Academy: A small workshop area to learn more about LEGO construction.
- DUPLO Village: A play area for visitors in the 1-to-5 year old range. Includes a slide and large animal LEGO constructions.
- Earthquake Tables: DUPLO blocks are used here to create earthquake-proof structures. Construct a building, then push a button to make the platform shake and see if your building can stand the test.
- LEGO Friends Olivia’s House: A more girl-centric area that includes a karaoke machine.
- Café: Outside food and drink aren’t allowed but a cafe is available. Prices are included on the LEGOLand website.
- Birthday Rooms: Party rooms for the LEGO enthusiast.
- LEGO Ninjago Laser Maze: This one is coming soon but looks like it will add another way for visitors to be active. Could be great for a rainy day.
- LEGOLand Discovery shop: Like any attraction, you’ll be shuffled out the door through the gift shop.
The list of attractions and map on the website make the LEGOLand facility look huge. In reality this is all within 32,000 square feet which, for comparison sake, is roughly the size of a store like Best Buy.
You begin in the Factory tour after which you are funneled through the laser ride and Miniland before entering a large central area that houses everything else. Once in the main area, each individual area is only a few hundred square feet and, with the exception of the movie theater, they blend together so it’s reasonable to keep an eye on multiple wandering children.
The big picture…
Overall, here are the high points I took away from our visit:
- LEGOLand suggests that the best ages for visitors is 3-10 and that you can plan on spending 2-3 hours. After visiting, we all agreed that both guidelines were very appropriate. At 11 and 14, my boys skewed a little bit old for the center but still had plenty they could do and enjoy. And given their age, we were pretty well done in after two hours. I’m pleased with having done it once but, again, we’re past the prime target age to return more than very occasionally.
- For our ages, the clear favorite was Miniland. My boys were mostly interested in the Racetrack, the laser ride, the movie, and the earthquake tables and spent the bulk of their time in those areas.
- We visited on a random Monday and even then there were plenty of visitors. While LEGOLand uses guest limits to manage the visitation levels, I could see this being quite chaotic at a peak time. They even recommend advance ticket purchase which tells me this joint gets really jumping on the weekends.
- In my mind, the ticket price is a tad high for this venue. Compared to what other Atlanta-area attractions offer for a similar price-point, the value is not quite there. Having said that, advance purchase tickets are slightly less expensive and they offer late afternoon discounts as well as annual passes which put the cost a little bit closer to what I would consider appropriate for LEGOLand.
- If I were a mall-going person, especially with younger kids, I’d probably like having this option to let the kiddos play in between shopping, especially on a rainy day.
Being partially in the niche of experiential education blogger, is there educational value in visiting here? Yes, absolutely.
LEGO building is a great educational activity in general and this center gives kids the chance to do things they’re unlikely to do at home on their own, namely:
- Build and test race cars on the ramps,
- Test the earthquake steadiness of their structures on the vibrating tables, and
- Be inspired by the amazing creations in Miniland.
The rest of the activities, while certainly fun, are similar to experiences that can be found elsewhere but kids love the LEGO theme and if it gets them excited about creating and building, then that’s fabulous.
The fine print…
LEGOLand provided free admission to us in order to share the experience with you. I appreciate their generosity, however, all opinions expressed here are my own.
For current ticket prices, hours, and directions, please visit the LEGOLand Discovery Center website.
And for additional images from our visit, head over to my LEGOLand Flickr set.