Review: LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre

The latest offering from Danish toy brick juggernaut LEGO© has opened in Melbourne.  We took a tour of their the new LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre, and found displays, experiences, products and entertainment to truly capture the imagination of patrons of all ages.  

A BRICKTACULAR DAY OUT

From the moment you enter the brightly coloured foyer, you know you are in for something special. Roped off areas divide the waiting throng into small tour groups, making you feel like you’ve won Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. This is the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre [Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Road, Chadstone], a place that will not only enthral and entertain the kids but will make the grown-ups sigh delighted ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ of nostalgic joy.

We visited on a Sunday morning, shortly after the centre’s 10am opening time, to be met with a snaking queue of eagerly awaiting fans of all ages. Despite the queue, we only waited a short time, as smiling staff efficiently managed the gathering crowd. Even the wait in-line was an experience in itself due to the excitement and buzz of those ready to enjoy the wonders that awaited inside.

I love Star Wars, but I love LEGO® Star Wars the most”, announced an enthusiastic primary schooler, sparking conversation amongst the assembled parents. Young and old alike joined in the impromptu banter about collectable LEGO sets, enthusing about this year being the 40th anniversary of the seminal Star Wars franchise. 

soft play legoland discover centre

LEGO themselves have come to the party, building countless little Star Wars vignettes into the incredible Melbourne LEGO Mini-land. If you are a Star Wars fan, now is the time to visit. Guests are greeted with a sign commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Force, inviting you to spot the temporarily installed Star Wars themed scenes. Some of them, like the Millennium Falcon, parked casually on top of Federation Square, were delightfully obvious. Others, like the showdown between Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi, outside the iconic Melbourne Star, were hidden finds in a tailor-made game of Where’s Wally. This kept many of the big kids entertained, as the younger ones ran about in search of the many tunnels and vantage points designed especially for little ones. 

You definitely don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy the full experience of the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, nor do you have to be overly familiar with all the LEGO products and characters. The centre is designed to be an immersive experience that takes full advantage of the use of colour, movement, light and audio-visuals. 

As soon as you enter, you will find yourself helpfully shepherded onto a stage of sorts, where your pre-tour excitement is captured in a photo for later purchase if you wish. Next is the ‘LEGO Factory Tour’, which is really more of a mini-documentary screening, showing you a little of how the famous studded bricks are produced. This one is really for the kids. We looked around to see them fully engaged with the story playing out on the giant screens stretching across every wall. They loved the interactive buttons and levers, allowing them to control their own experience. It was also short enough to hold their attention until staff gifted each child with a souvenir. 

From here, the experience moves on to allow you to either enter Mini-land, take two official LEGO rides, find your seat in the 4D theatre, enjoy the play space, or order some refreshments from the LEGO cafe . For most of these things, long, but quickly moving queues had built up, making the space feel crowded, but emptying as fast as they filled. All the spaces are captivatingly decorated with primary colours and theming from the ever expanding LEGO universe. There are some really impressive large scale builds too. Look out for the dragon whose size rivals that of a small vehicle.

merlins apprentice ride legoland discovery centre

We recommend allowing around two hours to take everything in. Attractions and venues aimed at kids can sometimes try the nerves of even the most patient parent, but we found the LEGOLAND Discover Centre to be as parent friendly as it was kid friendly. We appreciated the attention to detail on all the displays which gave the adults something to look at and enjoy. With conveniences including lockers to free up your hands for kid wrangling, clear signage throughout the centre as well as ample toilet cubicles, it is easy to make the most of your time here. Credit to the LEGO team for their crowd control techniques too! Yes, we felt the impact of being in a very crowded space, but we were still able to get close-up views of everything, despite the crowds. 

For us, the highlight was definitely LEGO Melbourne Mini-land, for its wide appeal, ingenious staging   and playful attention to detail. Mostly, we love it for that typical LEGO sense of whimsy that keeps you trawling through scene after scene, searching for the little comical touches that large scale LEGO scenes are known for. It’s clear that the professional builders behind this masterpiece, are themselves fans. They know the magic that has turned a simple children’s toy into a coveted collectable and Mini-land delivers that magic in spades. Marvel at intricate scale models of Melbourne’s most recognisable buildings, locations and events, complete with a flowing Yarra River and Melbourne’s legendary Birdman Rally. Creative lighting effects allow you to experience the miniature city by both day and night. It’s nothing short of spectacular and a must for fans of all ages. 

It should be noted that the main opening hours of the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre are exclusively for those attending with children. LEGO however, is very aware of the AFOL community [adult fans of LEGO] and is promoting a number of special adult only evenings where you can really get your geek on. Here you’ll have the opportunity to be awed by Mini-land, enjoy competitive builds and meet professional builders. You’ll also have the chance to win prizes and network with other collectors. 

Open to visitors of all ages throughout centre hours  is the LEGO shop, where all your favourite sets bountifully line the shelves. From Ninjago, to LEGO City, to Creator to the elusive Big Bang Theory set, they’re all there! Also, you don’t need a ticket to enter the LEGO shop. In store, you’ll find the opportunity to buy loose bricks and parts by the cup full, or build your own LEGO mini-fig. While the variety of loose parts is certainly very limited and not for the serious builder, there is definitely more than enough to keep the kids happy – they are, after all, the main target audience for this centre. It is definitely much more of a play centre for kids, and has predominantly child-focused attractions; however the adult nights should cater for the firmly established market of adult collectors. 

Entry tickets start at $32.50, with a concession rate of $27.00

Keep an eye on the website for details of upcoming events, tickets, birthday packages, group bookings, annual passes and more.