State’s first Legoland opens

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 29, 2016

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AUBURN HILLS — Michigan’s Legoland Discovery Center has been building a home inside Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills for the past year, and now the public finally has a chance to see what’s inside.

The state’s first Legoland indoor playground celebrated its grand opening March 24, giving families a chance to explore 32,000 square feet of Lego-themed exhibits and play areas — including a 4-D cinema, two interactive rides, a Lego car racing station, replicas of metro Detroit landmarks and more.

Legoland Discovery Center Michigan was built by U.K.-based Merlin Entertainments, which operates seven other Legoland Discovery Centers in the United States and 16 across the world. Merlin Entertainments also owns and operates the Sea Life Michigan attraction inside the outlet mall.

Legoland Discovery Center Michigan General Manager Hayley Anderson said Legoland provides an immersive two- to three-hour experience for families with children between the ages of 3 and 10. Adults ages 18 and older must be accompanied by a child to visit. However, Anderson said Legoland will host adult nights from 7 to 9 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month.

“We’re excited to give Lego children the unique opportunity to immerse in a world of creativity, learning and imagination at Legoland Discovery Center Michigan,” Anderson said. “... Families will have countless opportunities to experience the world of Legos.”

Upon entry, Lego enthusiasts will take a 360-degree projection screen factory tour to learn how raw plastic is turned into Lego bricks, before jumping into a “chariot” and using “lasers” to save a princess from trolls and skeletons on the interactive Kingdom Quest Laser Ride.

Guests then enter a uniquely designed Michigan-themed Miniland display, which was crafted by a team of 20 expert Lego builders from over 1 million Lego bricks over the past six months. Michigan’s Miniland features over 50 models of Detroit-area landmarks — such as the GM Renaissance Center, Spirit of Detroit, Belle Isle, Motown Museum, Fox Theatre, Guardian Building, Comerica Park, Uniroyal Tire, Michigan Central Station and the Heidelberg Project — all uniquely illuminated during a day-to-night cycle in the room, which runs every five minutes.

With plenty of Lego construction inspiration at hand, families can move on for some hands-on Lego play inside the Lego Duplo Farm, the Lego Friends’ Heartlake City, the Lego Racers: Build and Test Lab and the Earthquake Tables station, and even sign up to take a 25-minute creative workshop — where a master builder teaches a new Lego-building skill.

Once the Lego creations are complete, families can give their hands a break by riding alongside their favorite Lego characters in the 4-D cinema, pedaling on the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride, grabbing a bite to eat at the café, and letting the kids burn off some energy inside the Lego Fire Academy and Lego Construction Site play areas.

But the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Before heading home, visitors have a chance to purchase a variety of individual Lego pieces and sets inside the Legoland Discovery Center Shop to continue the building long after leaving the attraction.

Lake Orion residents Matt and Lisa Gdowski and their 12-year-old son, AJ, said they were impressed with Legoland and its many attractions. AJ — who is a member of the Legoland Creative Crew, a group of 12 children selected to serve as special ambassadors leading up to the attraction’s grand opening and beyond, building and testing new models for events — said his favorite part of the attraction was Miniland because it was “quite interactive.” AJ, who frequently attends Detroit Tigers games at Comerica Park, was impressed by its Lego replica, along with an interactive feature that allows the public to “pitch” and “bat” through the use of a pinball machine feature inside the mini Lego ballpark.

Lisa said her son has loved Legos his entire life, and has really gotten into the more complicated Lego Star Wars sets, which he displays in his room and on a dedicated shelf in the basement.

“He has been building for as long as we can remember,” she said.

Elizabeth Cuthbertson, 8, of Auburn Hills, said she loved the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride the most.

“I liked finding all the dragons,” she said.

Legoland Discovery Center Michigan is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, with the last admission two hours before closing. Tickets, which must be purchased online in advance, start at $23.50, and children under 3 get in free.

For more information, visit LegolandDiscoveryCenter.com.

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