With two increasingly LEGO-obsessed children, a trip to LEGOLAND sat on the top of the must-visit list. I had assumed we’d have to travel to sunnier climates to find one. Surprise – LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in the Vaughan Mills mall is the GTA’s bright yellow LEGO heaven.
Opened in March 2013, the 34,000-square-foot play space may seem small-scale compared to its theme park cousins, but with 14 “attractions” geared to 3 to 10-year-olds, there are lots of building and bouncing back and forth from station to station to keep minds and bodies busy.
Must say, the online map had me a bit overwhelmed as I planned for our visit, especially since there are height restrictions for some of the rides and activities. In reality it’s an easy-to-navigate space with lots for kids above and below that 90 cm mark.
All in all, a super half-day excursion. Here’s a breakdown of some of our favourite activities that got our brains and bodies moving:
LEGO-fanatic’s favourites: The almost-six-year-old LEGO-lover hasn’t really caught on to the storylines of CHIMA, NINJAGO or Star Wars. Made no difference. His favourite was the LEGO Racers Build and Test area where you create your own wheels and try them on some ramps. It’s one of the first stops and we kept returning for more. He also loved the 12-minute 4D Cinema (complete with mist and wind effects.) There are four in rotation (every 30 min on weekdays and 15 min on weekends.)
Toddler’s favourite: There are four work stations at the Earthquake Tables where little hands can build DUPLO towers then have them shake and tumble to the ground. It’s next to the DUPLO Village with large LEGO bins and a slide. He also loved playing in the LEGO Friends kitchen.
Grandma’s favourite: After the LEGO Factory Tour, you’re led into Kingdom Quest Laser Ride where you’re sent in a 4-person “car” through a dark maze to rescue the princess. Yes, you zap with gun-shaped lasers and there are lots of animated spiders, skeletons and LEGO dudes throwing rocks at you. It’s fun and short (grandma racked up the most points) but definitely opt to skip based on your children. A great follow-up to the adrenaline-inducing ride was MINILAND, a LEGO-sized mock up of Toronto and Niagara Falls. Coming this Spring – Star Wars.
Mom’s favourite: The Master Builder Academy was a nice break from the action. In this free class, a LEGO expert leads you through a project. It’s not for keeps but you have tons of options for purchase in the store later. I would have loved to have them burn some extra energy in the jungle gym style LEGO Fire Academy but it was a bit intimidating for our Kids in TOw when it got busy.
Getting there: It’s in the southeast end of Vaughan Mills shopping centre. Tons of free mall parking. It’s part of the York Region Transit Terminal. For transit options from Toronto, check out these instructions via the Vaughan Mills Mall. Stroller-friendly. There is a small ‘coat check’ near the back by the Merlin’s Apprentice ride. This is not a supervised area. There is paid ($3) lockers in the mall. Since parking is super accessible, you’ll often see an adult running outside to drop off gear.
Low-down: Admission (walk-up) is $24 for adults and children; $15.60 when purchased online. (Kids two-and-under are free.) To guarantee entrance pre-book and choose your entry time. (There are individual and family Annual Passes and birthday party options.) Note: Anyone under 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
When to visit: Staff explained that Saturdays are by far the busiest and that in summer, every day is a Saturday. March Break tops as the busiest during the school year. The quietest time is usually between 2 pm (when school groups have left) and closing. We were there on a weekday morning and even with a couple of school groups, we never had to wait in line.
Food: No outside food allowed. (Exceptions made for guests with food allergies.) There is an onsite café with ample seating. No in-and-out priviledges (unless you have an Annual Pass) so if you plan to eat your own food, time your visit accordingly.
Potty time: Yes, washrooms with baby change table and kid-sized sinks and family washrooms.
DYK: If you have a double at home or one to swap, you can bring your mini figures and trade them with staff. (They all have them on their name tags and love to swap.) They have adult-only events! Next one is February 25th.