Monday, December 12, 2016
However, I have to admit that we were all especially anticipating our time visiting The Windy City because of one particular destination that we were finally going to get to experience and check off of our bucket list.
Because truly, if you're in the Midwest and have young children, you've got to make time for the unique, original, creative, constructing fun that is to be had at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago!
One of ten LEGOLAND Discovery Center locations across North America (with even more throughout the rest of the world), LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago opened in 2008, 50 years after the LEGO Brick as we know it was invented and patented in 1958.
After having visited LEGOLAND Florida as well as LEGOLAND California and having a blast at both, it wasn't at all a surprise that we couldn't wait to step inside our first Discovery Center to see the exhibits, life-size models, 4D Theater, rides, building opportunities, and more.
First up, Miniland!
I find it incredibly fascinating that builders are able to turn LEGO bricks into miniature replicas of just about anywhere in the world — and seeing famous Chicago landmarks built from almost 2 million LEGO bricks was no exception!
From Willis Tower to Navy Pier to the Wrigley Building, I could have examined Miniland Chicago for hours to take in all of the intricate details included on each and every structure. There was even a group of LEGO minifigures taking a segway tour of the Chicago scenery, something my husband and I did in real life years ago!
Plus, as Miniland is updated seasonally, Big Sister E and Little Sister B had a great time pointing out when they found a tiny Santa Claus or decorated tree. I would love to come back and see the changes that occur throughout the other seasons!
After oohing and ahhing over Miniland, we stepped into Jungle Expedition and continued to be amazed at all that can be built from LEGO bricks.
As well as pointing out the extraordinary tigers, monkeys, hippos, and more, we had a great time guessing at the answers to the various quizzes posted around the room. I found out a lot of fun facts about jungle animals that I previously hadn't known (or even thought about)!
The remainder of our time on the first floor of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago was spent in the interactive LEGO City Builder room, riding the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, peeking in at a Master Builder hard at work, and marveling at some familiar faces portrayed as astounding life-size LEGO characters!
Both of my girls could have spent hours making their own creative pieces in the LEGO City Builder zone (we did return to this room multiple times throughout the visit), because who doesn't love the open-ended creativity that comes with sitting down with unlimited LEGO bricks? Not to mention being inspired by the LEGO City and LEGO Friends skyscrapers, police and fire stations, cafes, suburban streets, beaches, and more!
As well as wanting to build over and over, my girls happily rode the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride time and time again (if there was ever a line at all it was very short, which made Mom happy, too)! This is one ride that is very appealing to all ages, as my husband and I got into the action of zapping the skeletons, trolls, spiders, boulders, and more in an effort to rack up more points. It was definitely a favorite for all four of us (and, ahem, I believe I'm the undefeated champion in the family)!
While we had already had a blast on the first floor of LEGO Discovery Center Chicago, once we went upstairs we found an entire second level of entertainment awaited!
After eyeballing the tasty options for sale in the Cafe; marveling at the idea of having a party here in the Birthday Rooms (Little Sister B immediately declared LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago as her upcoming birthday party location of choice); and discussing how neat it was that the LEGO Master Builder Academy allowed kids to learn building tips from the LEGOLAND Discovery Center model building team; we headed in to experience Pirate Adventure Island.
This HUGE climbing structure spans multiple rooms and offers all sorts of active, free play! Climbing, constructing, sliding — there is even a DUPLO Village section for the younger crowd and a giant water table where kids can construct their own LEGO boat and see how smoothly it can sail through a variety of obstacles.
For older kids, or simply when taking a break from Pirate Adventure Island, Merlin's Apprentice Ride and the LEGO Racers: Build & Test area were both big hits with my girls!
I lost count of how many times Big Sister E and Little Sister B rode Merlin's Apprentice Ride, as they would hop off when the ride stopped, hurry back to the entrance, and get right back on again! But considering that it was not only fun, but also good exercise in that riders have to keep pedaling for their seats to stay up in the air, I was happy to see them love it over and over again.
When they weren't biking their way through the sky, the girls also spent quite a bit of time building large and small vehicles to race down the ramps in the Build and Test zone. Their creations ranged from very basic to fairly complicated and it was great to see what LEGO bricks and wheels they picked out to work with next!
To complete our visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago, we were sure to also visit the LEGO 4D Theater and take a tour of the LEGO Factory.
In all prior 4D shows (the 4th dimension is an added experience such as wind or bubbles) Little Sister B has never enjoyed the experience and ended up removing her 3D glasses and/or hiding her face in my arm.
However, whether it was because she was already having such a great time at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago or because she was so excited to see familiar LEGO Movie and LEGO Chima characters on the screen, she ended up loving the shows — we went in multiple times to see the different movies being played throughout the time we were there!
For our final experience, our tour of the LEGO Factory was a short presentation of the entire LEGO brick creation and all of the kids involved were riveted hearing about each step of the process. How cool that the tiny plastic granulate turn into such a beloved toy! And, as an added bonus, everyone on the tour left with a special souvenir LEGO brick and who wouldn't be excited about that?
With unlimited access to all 11 different attractions, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago has more than enough to keep kids entertained for hours. We never once felt rushed and the kids loved the ability to be able to go back and forth (upstairs and downstairs) whenever they felt like it!
The Discovery Center does a great job regulating the number of people who are visiting at any given time, meaning little to no lines, and the entire place isn't so massively monstrous that it becomes overwhelming. Every staff member we interacted with was extremely gracious and friendly and even the restrooms were spotlessly clean and LEGO-themed!
All in all, our entire family had a great time and the whole visit was a welcome change from 'typical' museums or attractions that we know. I'd love to visit again in the future to take part in some of the special events that they host throughout the year!
To find out much, much more about LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago and all of the Discovery Center locations, visit their website and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter. If you live in or are visiting the Chicago area, be sure to add this must-see attraction to your list!
I was provided complimentary tickets for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago in order to help facilitate this review, but they in no way affected the amazing time that we had and my honest opinions in this post.