The build up to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester was HUGE for my kids. I mean, they talked about it for weeks. WEEKS. Every day at least one of them would ask when we were going, "Is it tomorrow?! How many days?". I started to get a little concerned that all this build up would lead to a little bit of a let down, because how could it possibly match up to the imaginations of these little kids?!
Well, to put it mildly, it totally did match up. Actually, I think it exceeded even their already super high expectations. Pretty much every aspect of visiting LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is designed to stimulate your child's imagination, have them learn and create, run around like crazy (the way kids should), and just feel like they are in a special little world. The thing I thought about most when walking around was "WOW the attention to detail here is remarkable," because everywhere you look there is something to catch your eye. We started out bright and early right when they opened (TIP #1: Get there when they open to maximize your visit, it gets crowded but not crazy, but getting there early gives you enough time to scope it all out first) and the first thing we saw was Lego Factory Tour where the kids learned how Legos are made.
Let me start here by saying the staff at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester was top notch. They all seemed super excited to be there, not like it was a drag (or that they were giving a spiel they had given 80 billion times already). They were engaged, happy, hands on and personable, and our tour guide was no exception. He told them all about how the bricks were made, they got to spin the wheels and push the buttons, find out what their "Lego weight" was on the special scale, and everyone got their own little LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester brick.
Next up we went on the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, Papa dutifully stayed behind with the baby and my Starbucks and I felt a little bad because the ride was actually as fun for me as it was for the kids. They were just a little excited (see photo below)...
They give you all laser guns and instruct you where to shoot during the ride to zap the trolls and skeletons and spiders hiding behind the corners, it was more funny than it was scary (Jack, our three year old wasn't phased by the ride at all, and he tends to get scared of "scary" rides) and I have to admit I was a little into the zapping (maybe I had the highest score of the family, but who's counting?).
After the ride it was on to MINILAND, where New York’s famous skyline comes to miniature life, made from nearly 1.5 million LEGO bricks, it has EVERYTHING. Moving airships and trains, a subway, people in all the buildings, taxis, Times Square (if you look closely at the Times Square photo you'll see me on the "billboard"), the Subway Series, Giants Stadium, even the Guggenheim! Maybe the coolest part was that every five minutes night would fall and the entire exhibit would light up in a million tiny lights, even the bridge. This is where the attention to detail really came into play. All over the exhibit there were buttons to push (you could actually "play" the Subway Series baseball game), you could turn disco ball lights on in one building, it was so interactive and engaging, we could have spent hours there (Jack kept on coming back to this exhibit, it was his favorite).
Kids are totally free to touch and explore and check everything out. There is no one telling them to keep their hands off, even for the little ones. I was nervous that Jack would get all up in the exhibits and knock something over, but those little details where he was supposed to be touching and pushing and seeing kept him so involved.
After MINILAND you enter the biggest part, where there is LEGO® Fire Academy, a HUGE jungle gym type area where kids can climb around and check out a climbing wall, slides, huge soft Lego bricks to play with, and the best part? They don't let your little one out unless you are there to get them at the entrance, so you don't have to stress about them wandering around on their own. It is all enclosed so they can run around like maniacs while you chill for a minute on a bench nearby. Again, the staff here really shined, Jack would go in and out, and the girl manning the gate actually would remember his name and gave him a hug when he left, it was so sweet. (TIP #2: Be sure to have kids wear socks as you need them on to go into this part).
Inside this bigger area there are a bunch of attractions. The LEGO® Master Builder Academy is where kids can go and take a little "class" from a Master Builder where they walk the kids through building a model (we did a spaceship). Again, the Master Builder was ON POINT. This guy was BORN to be a Master Builder. You know that feeling when you meet someone doing what they love doing? That's how I felt about the guy teaching this class. It was like he was loving being there, and it really rubbed off on the kids too because his enthusiasm was so genuine. The class has a video screen of his handiwork that they follow along, and for the first time ever Levy (6 years old) successfully built a model from scratch! At the end of the class you have the option to either buy the model or leave it, zero pressure to buy it though, which was nice. (TIP #3 Take the extra time to do one of these classes, it was such a fun experience for them.)
It wasn't all big kid stuff though, even Talley got in on the action in DUPLO® Village (did you know DUPLO® bricks got their name from being double the size of LEGO® bricks?) The animal themed DUPLO Village is designed for parents and children to enjoy together, best suited for the smaller set, it has a little play area, a small slide, and lots of fun little details for them to scope out.
Next to DUPLO® Village was Levy's favorite part (and sort of my favorite too), a life sized Heartlake City! I honestly like sort of swooned when I saw it, imagine being able to jump into a life sized LEGO® set, it was incredible (yes we felt like were were in the Lego Movie and it was awesome). Kids can build their own microphone and perform on the karaoke stage, I mean every detail was special. The little lamp lit up, the couch, the windows, everything! If I was a little girl I would have LOVED that part, it was so cool.
Now, because this post is getting on the long side (there seriously was so much I want to include), I'm going to focus just on two more attractions, BUT they do also have a movie theater with 4D shows every 15 minutes AND a really great Merlin's Apprentice Ride where kids between 35" tall and 48" tall can still ride (just that they must ride with an adult). The Earthquake Tables were also a big hit with our kids, you build the tallest tower you can with as many LEGO® bricks as possible then turn up the Earthquake power on your table and stand back to see if your tower will survive! I loved to see the kids planning out their tower, really thinking about it and getting creative.
The same could be said about the LEGO® Racers: Build & Test where kids build cars and trucks and then race them against each other. Finn (8 years old) really loved this part, he went back time and time again to tweak his creations and emerged victorious more than once. He really got into experimenting with different elements to see which would make his car the fastest. Now, a bunch of you asked if it got crowded on the weekend (we were there on a Sunday) and while it was busy, it was no busier than any other kiddo centric place on a weekend, but the remarkable thing was that there seemed to be zero lines for anything. Mainly because kids just jump in and create and play wherever. The ONLY line was for the ride because it had a limited amount of kids at a time, but other than that (not a long wait either) it was really easy to just circulate and find things to do at every turn. There are big bins of Lego bricks everywhere for kids to dip into and start building and it never seemed like there was a shortage of building opportunities for anyone. (TIP #4: Weekdays are less busy, but the weekend wasn't so busy that I wouldn't go on a weekend day again).
We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of their newest special exhibit (they change every few months or so to keep it fresh), City Builder. In a separate room it's another LEGO® town full of cool details only this time the kids get to build ON to this one! There are buckets of Lego bricks and the super nice Master Builder Veronica Watson (the FIRST female Master Builder! So cool!) was there to help kids make their creations possible. There was also a Heartlake City element to the City Builder exhibit, and it was all full of little details to explore, like finding lost puppies and spotting the robbers. The kids could literally build onto anything they wanted, they could add onto the buildings or create a whole new building, whatever they were inspired to create. Also, Veronica had THE coolest name tag which she changes seasonally (this one was a duck pond). OMG.
Another really cool element was that kids could trade minifigs with any of the staff members. All they have to do is bring their own minifigs with them and then scope out the name tags of each staff member, and offer up a trade! Finn snagged a really cool guy he hadn't seen before, he must have gone up to every single staff member to see which ones they had (another instance of super friendly staff here). TIP #5: (Be sure to bring at least one minifig to trade, this was such a fun part and the kids get to go home with something new).
Now, I usually have a love/hate relationship with the gift shop. After a full day of fun you don't want to haggle with your kids on spending more money, BUT, I will say there were a few parts to this gift shop that I really liked. First, there is a part where you can create your own minifigs from a bunch of parts. Levy decided to do this as her "treat" and she created the coolest Lego chicks, totally unique to her that we wouldn't have been able to buy otherwise. Finn nabbed a set he really wanted, but I also got a few things (Lego minifig ice trays, SO CUTE). Speaking of grown up stuff though, I have to give a shout out to Veronica for her Fashion Week Lego creation, and that Lego Guggenheim was SO AWESOME!
I really felt like this was an experience that we all enjoyed together, there were so many different elements to check out and explore and something for all of the kids age ranges. Some of the more nuts and bolts details of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester: the cafeteria part is clean and bright and a nice little break (healthy options abounded), super clean bathrooms, they offer birthday parties too, and it was in an awesome mall with some great restaurant options as well.
This was only but one part of our Westchester NY weekend, and I want you to tune in later on this week for Part 2 for even more info on where to stay, where to eat, and other great things to check out in Westchester (get a sneak peek on my Instagram here).
Click here to visit their website to get even more info. I can't tell you enough how much we all enjoyed this. Thank you SO much to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester for having us, we can't wait to go back for another visit!
***This Giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified via email. Thank you to everyone who entered and thank you to LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester for giving our lucky winner free passes!***
Good luck! xoxo