Wednesday, May 17, 2017

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia: A Jersey Momma Review

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia is a LEGO lover's dream come true! Come read my review of our fun afternoon at the 'ultimate indoor LEGO playground!'


So here's my usual disclaimer: I was provided free passes to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia, but this in no way influenced my opinion. I tell it like it is, people! And remember, this post may be chock full o' info, but it's designed for easy reading. All of my posts contain bold headings so you can scroll through to find exactly what you're looking for.



What is LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia?

LEGOLAND Discovery Center is not the same as LEGOLAND.  LEGOLAND is a theme park, so you can think of the Discovery Center as a miniature version of the park. LEGOLAND Discovery Centers are described as 'indoor LEGO playgrounds,' and I'd have to say I agree! That is the perfect way to describe what you'll find here at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia.


Where is LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia?

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia is located about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. It took us about an hour and a half to get there from Central New Jersey, driving on a Monday morning in the Spring. One of the interesting things about the Center is that it's located inside of a shopping mall called Plymouth Meeting Mall. The mall itself has some cool stores in it (including an actual vinyl record store- holy cow!), a Whole Foods, a Dave and Busters, and something brand new called an Amazon Locker (essentially a place where you can pick up your Amazon orders!). Check out the mall website for exact stores and info.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia is located in the lower level of the mall, near the entrance where Elevation Burger and Bertucci's is.

You can also download the LEGOLAND Discovery Center app to make the most of your trip. I didn't do this because my phone is full of kids' gaming apps and has no more memory left. Sigh.


And for more of a placement reference, there is a giant double-decker carousel right outside LEGOLAND Discovery Center, too!


Where Do I Park for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia?

Since the Discovery Center is located inside of a shopping mall, there is ample parking and it's free. You can pretty much park anywhere in the mall parking lot and walk to the Center inside the mall. If you park in the lot by Elevation Burger and California Pizza Kitchen, you can walk straight inside to find LEGOLAND Discovery Center. If you look at the photo below, there are entrances from parking lots to the right and left of the food court. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia is the yellow location across from the carousel.


How Much Are Tickets for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia?

You can purchase tickets online for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia or you can purchase at the actual center. I recommend purchasing in advance online just to save yourself some time and a few bucks. Plus, you're guaranteed entrance that way. The center sells tickets based on times in order to reduce crowding. Once inside, you can stay as long as you like.

As of the publication date of this entry, online tickets are $19 each (walk ups are $24). Children 2 and under visit free (mainly because the attractions are geared towards kids ages 3 -10). There is also an option to purchase an 'extra value' ticket for $24 online, which includes a little LEGO collectible. Annual passes are available for $59, and include lots of perks that you can view here. If we lived closer I would totally consider this option because my little guy loved it!


What Will I See at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia?

When you arrive and check in, they will take your photo against a green screen for you to purchase later (if you want). I really loved our picture, but those souvenir photos are always so expensive! I think it was $37 for the whole package (two posed images in different formats) or in the $20 range for one image. Then you walk through to the Imagination Express Ride.

The Imagination Express is a little ride that takes you right into LEGOLAND Discovery Center. It's like a mini version of the Toy Story Mania ride at Disney Hollywood Studios, because you sit in a little car and you use your wand with a laser beam to pop animated bubbles on screens, light up twinkling stars and a few other tasks. Although a short ride, it was a cute and exciting way to enter the whole center, and it was my favorite thing about the whole experience. I also liked that you could ride it as many times as you wanted, by going back from the inside and waiting on a new line. We wound up riding it twice.


Although it appears dark at the entrance, it is not overly dark on the ride, and the ride is quick. But if you have a little one who is unsure of driving into a little tunnel like that, you can choose to bypass the ride and enter the center through a gate instead.



Note that they will take your photo on the ride for possible souvenir purchase, too. I can't tell you much about that, though, since the photo feature was not working during our trip.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia has a few different areas to explore once you're inside and through the ride. Inside you'll find:

  • Pirate Adventure Island
  • Miniland Philadelphia
  • LEGO Ninjago Training Camp
  • DUPLO Park
  • Earthquake Tables
  • Build Challenge Area
  • LEGO Cafe
  • LEGO Friends area
  • Creative Workshop
  • LEGO Racers Build and Test
  • Birthday Party Rooms
  • 4D Cinema
  • LEGO Shop (this is actually outside of the center, so you do not need tickets to shop here and it can be accessed from outside the actual attraction)

I'll try to highlight the attractions here as best I can without telling you every detail!

1. Pirate Island Adventure

Pirate Island Adventure was like a big indoor playground for kids. It's shaped to look like a LEGO pirate ship, and little ones can take off their shoes and head inside to play. There's lots to climb on and slide down, and there was an attendant present to keep an eye on things. Parents sit outside and watch, which might make you nervous if you have very little ones, especially if it's crowded. Going in with a buddy or an older sibling is a good option.




2. Miniland Philadelphia

This was sooooo cool! I was blown away by this masterpiece, which is made up of over 1.5 million LEGO bricks. You can walk through a real-life LEGO city, which is modeled after Philadelphia.



Real, moving LEGO cars and subways drive by you, and there are buttons you can push and levers you can turn to make the minifigures move inside the display.


You can try to spot famous Philadelphia icons (I loved seeing the Rocky statue outside of the art museum, and you could even make a little LEGO minifigure run up the famous 'Rocky steps' of the museum, too!).


There are boats you can move (in real water!) and lights that go on and off. Sounds of clanking LEGO bricks and voices of minifigures can even be heard. You can push the buttons and make the boats race (see photo below)!


Stick around for 'night time,' as the lights in Miniland dim and the firework show begins! The show is actually projected on a little screen above the city.



3. Ninjago Training Camp

You can test your ninja skills in the Ninjago training camp. Build some of your favorite Ninjago characters or test your speed at one of the hands-on displays.



You can also test your skill in the laser maze. My guy was nervous to go in himself so I went with him. It was actually really fun! There are laser lights (like straight lines) across the room and they time you to see if you can get through without setting off the lights. I thought I made it through but apparently my backpack hit one of the lights while I was crawling! The first time we did this maze it was great. The second time we went back to try again later on, and there was no attendant, so kids were coming through the exit and not starting the timer the way they were supposed to, so that was a bit of a bummer, This laser maze definitely needs an attendant!



And there's plenty of Ninjago photo ops, too!



4. LEGO Racers Build and Test

This area is great for kids who like to build LEGO cars. There are all kinds of supplies and small tables set up to construct a LEGO car of your own. Then there's a giant ramp where you can send them on a test run! Not only that, you can slide down next to your own creation!



5. 4D Cinema

There was a selection of 4D movies available while we were there, at varying times of the day. We happened to catch one called 'Spellbinder,' but there was also a Legends of Chima movie and a Nexo Knights one. 4D means you wear special glasses for 3D moments in the movie, and there are special effects in the theater, like wind, rain, even snow! Flashing lights and fog made an appearance at our show, too. Our movie featured LEGO characters but no voices, only sounds and music. Apparently, 'Spellbinder' was created with hearing-impaired guests in mind (and it's also pretty cool to think that it can be universally understood!). There is a new 4D movie coming soon to LEGO Discovery Center Philadelphia, featuring our beloved friends from The LEGO Movie! That should be REALLY cool!




6. Creative Workshop

The Creative Workshop was a separate room where you could go in and create a LEGO mini build with the help of an instructor. This room was probably my only gripe about our whole visit. In order to control crowds, the Creative Workshop has designated creation times. When we opened the door, the entire room was set up for guests and the instructor was there, but she said we couldn't come in for another fifteen minutes. I just thought that was kind of silly. On a slower day, why not just let your guests trickle in? So we never did actually get a chance to go back and try it, so I'm not even sure if you get to take your creation home or not.


7. Earthquake Tables and DUPLO Park

The Earthquake Table was an area where you could build a LEGO creation and see if it could withstand a shaking 'earthquake' from the buttons nearby.


DUPLO Park was an area where little ones could build with regular DUPLO blocks or giant squishy ones! The squishy ones were pretty enticing. Even some of the older kids seemed to like creating with them.


There was a small slide that looked like a grassy hill for the kids to slide down, too.

8. LEGO Friends Building Area

I love LEGO Friends and tried to make The Jersey Momma's Boy stand next to one of the life-sized LEGO girls with me for a photo. He wouldn't do it! Oh well. This area had Heartlake City buildings and Friends LEGO blocks to create with.



9. Build Challenge Area

I would assume this area is used more on the weekends or when there are more crowds. On the LEGOLAND Discovery Philadelphia website, it says this area is used for their mascot, Bernie, or for hosted building challenges. We never did see anything happening here, but the kids seemed to like dancing around it anyway.


What Can I Eat at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia?

There is an adorable little cafe right inside LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia if you choose to eat there. The LEGO Cafe offers a variety of choices, including salads, sandwiches, paninis, drinks, and grab and go snack boxes,


I thought the Meal Deal was kind of cute. Kids could pick a LEGO lunch box (pictured below) and it comes with a kids milk/juice or water, kids sandwich and a snack. Adults could get the same deal without the box for $11.00.



If you didn't opt for the meal deal, you could get paninis, salads or sandwiches separately.


There were tables inside and outside the cafe to eat at, and everything looked clean and inviting. I admit we did not eat here, mainly because my little guy is not a fan of sandwiches. We opted to eat outside the center, at the Chick-fil-A right upstairs.



What Age is LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia Good For?

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia is designed for ages 3-10. My personal opinion is that kids over the age of 10 might be a little too big (physically) for some of the attractions, and they might even get a little bored by it. But if they are big LEGO fans, you might want to make that decision for yourself. Kids ages 2 and under are free, and there is a little Duplo area where they can play with giant squishy blocks, and a small slide they can go down with assistance. I, personally, would not make a special trip here just with two year olds. You will not get your money's worth yet and are better off waiting till they are a little older and can experience more. But if you have older children and a two year old and you're wondering if you can bring them, I say go for it.


Birthday Party Room

There were designated birthday party rooms for you to plan your own event. I can imagine that attending a party here (or throwing one here!) would be pretty awesome indeed! Check their website or call ahead for more details.


The LEGO Shop

Okay, so anyone who reads my Jersey Momma travel posts (you can see more of the places we've been here) knows that I love souvenir shops. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia had a LEGO store attached to the outside of it (you exit through it, of course), and there were some unique LEGO items and rare sets (Christmas sets, Angry Birds, etc.) that I can no longer find in my regular LEGO Store at home. There was also a Pick-a-Brick wall to create your own brick combinations.


However, I must say I was a little bummed that there weren't any items to purchase with the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia logos on them. No t-shirts, no key chains or mugs or cups. I was bummed about that because I love that kind of stuff! So we wound up spending $1 for a flattened penny (which is actually a favorite souvenir of ours- we keep a book of flattened pennies from all of the places we've been).


And we also purchased a 'gold' coin (which is more bronze, if you ask me) from inside the discovery center, at a machine for $5. I don't think that was my wisest purchase choice, but oh well.


Added Thoughts

Is LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia worth the trip? We thought so. My little guy is 8 and he loved it. We just had an overall laid back, fun experience. This is a brand new place (it's only been open a month as I write this) so they might still be working out some glitches and kinks along the way. I also think there's plenty of time for them to add even more fun things (like the 4D LEGO Movie coming soon), so keep checking their Facebook page and social media channels for info! If you'd like to visit, be sure to read some of my tips below to help you plan your trip.


JERSEY MOMMA TIPS

So here's the part where I give you some quick tips and advice. I try to be as honest as I can, so please glance through these before you visit!

*LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia is brand new for 2016 and that means that it has the potential to get very crowded on the weekends. If you plan to attend, I highly suggest you arrive early or even shoot for a weekday if you can. We went on a Monday, arriving around 11am and found that it wasn't too crowded at all. A few schools arrived for field trips while we were there but nothing too conflicting for us.

*To get your money's worth, try to see and do all of the attractions (if you can). See all of the movies (we only saw one), stay to eat inside the center, ride the ride more than once. If your child rushes through something, see if you can get them to go back and try it again. Your admission fee allows you to stay and play as long as you like, so try to take advantage of that!

*There were no announcements of when shows were beginning (movies, creative workshops, etc) so check the little board when you first come in, ask an attendant, or check the listings outside each attraction to figure out when to see them.

*You'll notice from my pics that it is a tad bit dark in the rooms. I think that's for overall ambiance. It definitely was not too dark to enjoy! The lighting is similar to many science museums I've been in.

*There are areas all over for kids to build at, even spots I did not feature here. So be sure to look around and see where you can foster your creativity!

*If you think the food choices are not for you, remember there is a whole mall right outside the door, so if you time it right, you can eat at someplace in the mall instead on your way out (keep in mind that you can't leave the center and come back, so once you exit, that's it!).

*The Center remains open two hours after the last admission (check their admission times for exact info), so this might be another way to beat crowds. If you arrive closer to that last entry time, many people might be filtering out as you're coming in. Otherwise, try arriving when they first open.

*Bring your extra LEGO MiniFigures to trade! Attendants at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia wear MiniFigures around their neck and they would be happy to trade with you.

*Keep an eye out for Adult Themed Nights at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia, coming soon! They'll offer special evenings just for adult LEGO fans to come and play.

*And this is just one momma's opinion, but if you are visiting with your child, please do not plop yourself down at the building tables while your child plays. I saw a few parents sitting at the kids' building areas with their purses on top of the tables and everything. How are kids supposed to play there if you're sitting there, especially when it's busy? It's just common courtesy. There are sitting areas for parents throughout the Center, designated specifically for you. And I don't mean you shouldn't sit and help your child build. I'm talking about those people who will completely occupy a child's space when their own child is off somewhere else in the area. Just sayin.

*Germaphobes might appreciate that the whole Center was very clean. There were even boxes around the room labeled for specific LEGO cleaning purposes.





You can find LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia here:

500 W Germantown Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
1-866-841-3659

Check out their website or visit them on 
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too.  


If this has totally inspired you to build something massive, check out my Amazon affiliate LEGO picks below, too!








4 comments:

  1. What a cool place to visit - and a thorough review! Adult night would be awesome, because I still like to play with Legos too. Maybe someday they'll build one near our house.

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    1. They seem to be popping up all over, so you never know! But you should check this one out if you're ever in the area! Thanks, Nicci!

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  2. So fun! I've never gotten to visit a Legoland, but we have one in KC so this is really helpful to know some things to expect, even if we don't live in Philadelphia. My 4 year old has been begging to go!

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    1. Aw, you should definitely do it, Bree! This is a great age to take him, too. Thanks for stopping by!

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