October 2021 Update: Henry received a Legoland Discovery Center Annual Pass for his birthday! We went for our 2nd visit on 10/15 and will now definitely be going more often!
Henry is definitely my child that gets ultra fixated on specific interests. Little Einsteins, Thomas the Train, Lightning McQueen, Ghostbusters … and currently, it’s everything LEGO. He’s been asking to go to LEGOLAND since seeing a few commercials on YouTube and hearing that his cousins had gone to one that wasn’t too far away. (He HAD been asking to go to the one he saw on TV that’s in Florida, but at least settled for the one in Plymouth Meeting.)
I’d been thinking that I’d wait until schools were back in session and it wouldn’t be as crowded, but then our central air broke this week. Trying to think of new things to do where we could take advantage of some AC and with thunderstorms in the forecast, I decided to give LEGOLAND Discover Center Philadelphia a try on Monday. To say Henry was excited is an understatement. He was literally bouncing around the house from the time I told him about the surprise until we got in the car an hour later. The afternoon was a success, and he’s been asking repeatedly when we’re going back again.
On the drive home, Henry commented, “Mommy, LEGOLAND was actually even better than I expected it to be!”
After ordering our timed tickets online, we headed to the Plymouth Meeting Mall. When you first enter the Discovery Center, there’s a small ride, Imagination Express. You hop into a LEGO train where each person has a star wand with a button to shoot at various things that appear on screens as you make your way through the ride. Was it Disney World quality? No. But it entertained Henry and Charlotte, even though neither one of them really got the hang of aiming with the wand laser! Since there was next to no line the entire time, we rode it twice; once at the beginning and once at the end.
After going through the ride, the exit leads you right to the main floor. Henry immediately ran to a building station and got to work making cars and trains and pushing them around the tracks. Right next to this station, there were slides where children are encouraged to race their creations while sliding down themselves. Charlotte wasn’t that interested in building with the LEGOs, but she was happy to go down the slide over and over while Henry built.
That’s how a lot of the afternoon went, but it worked out just fine. Henry absolutely loved moving around the Discovery Center and stopping to build wherever he saw stations to do so. While Charlotte will play LEGOs at home with Henry, she didn’t really want to stay in any one spot too long, and she was more interested in moving around. Luckily, there was enough of a mixture of activities to keep both kids happy. The place wasn’t big or crowded enough that I felt like it was unsafe it they weren’t RIGHT next to each other at all times, so I felt comfortable letting each kid do their own thing as long as all 3 of us were in the same area of the Discovery Center. (NOTE: I’m sure this could be more difficult if you have more than two kids, or if it was a crowded weekend.)
One of the reasons we haven’t visited LEGOLAND sooner was that I was concerned the kids would be too young to really enjoy it. I think their current ages (almost 5 and 3.5) worked out really well. If you have a toddler that still puts things in his/her mouth, WAIT unless you plan to baby wear! There are bins of loose LEGO bricks throughout the entire Discovery Center, and they’re all at a level than any standing toddler can reach. There is a toddler area where there are giant blocks, Duplo and a slide. And a toddler could enjoy the 4D movies and the ride. While my kids loved the Pirate Play Center, even that would probably be overwhelming for a child under 3, and adults aren’t allowed within the play area. (There are benches outside that you can watch them from.) Overall, I wouldn’t take a child under 3 unless you have older children they’re tagging along with. For a mixed-age family outing, you’d be able to find something for everyone. But if you just have a toddler, there are better attractions in the area for that age. (Click HERE to read about Bucks County Children’s Museum or HERE to read about Playpad Bucks.)
Henry and Charlotte first got really into LEGOs after watching The LEGO Movie with Emmet and Lucy, but Ninjago is their current favorite. 2021 is Ninjago’s 10th anniversary, so the Discovery Center is celebrating with some special events/features. Being that this was our first visit, I’m not sure how much of what we saw is unique to this year/this month. (According to the website, August and September will have extra Ninjago attractions.) In any event, the kids were really excited to see that there was an entire corner dedicated to Ninjago. They got to pose with some of their favorite characters built out of bricks, test their Ninja reaction skills, and even go through a laser maze.
In the center of the Discovery Center is MINILAND Philadelphia, where you can walk around and view recreations of some of Philly’s most iconic landmarks. Since my kids aren’t too familiar with city landmarks yet, they were most interested in looking for hidden Ninjago characters and pushing the buttons that made some of the features move. I, however, thought this area was really cool. They even changed the lighting every so often to make it go from daytime to night.
LEGO Friend Fans will want to head to the back right of the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Here, there were more building stations with loose LEGO bricks and a town to add your creation to. Plus, there were several of the LEGO Friends made out of bricks. Charlotte enjoyed checking them all out and posing with each one. Back beyond LEGO Friends was the 4D theater. When we were there, there were two movies showing: LEGO City or LEGO Ninjago. The movies alternated with one playing every every 20 minutes or so. Each movie was about 12 minutes long. You wear 3D glasses, and there were special effects like water spraying, fake snow and bubbles.
Right outside of the theater, there was an arctic room with a big polar bear made out of LEGO and a building station with screens that showed how to build different creations. And in the middle of the Discovery Center, there was a small section dedicated to LEGO Dots. A staff member assisted children in picking 3 colors they wanted to use and then gave them a small LEGO square to design. When they were finished, they could add their creation to big cubes with other children’s designs.
We spent the entire afternoon at LEGOLAND Discovery Center, and I actually had to SHOW Henry that they had lowered the bars outside of the center to get him to believe me that we NEEDED to leave. While writing this post, I noticed that the website says something about a 2-3 hour visit, but that’s not something that is enforced. We arrived around 1, and we stayed until closing at 5.
Henry basically loved the entire place, but he claims his most favorite attractions were the Ninjago laser maze, the 4D movies, the train ride, and building trains and cars to use on the slide and tracks.
Charlotte’s favorites were the giant pirate ship play zone, the DUPLO rainbow slide and giant blocks, and the train ride.
My favorites were the train ride, 4D movies, and MINILAND Philadelphia.
Bathrooms were in the back right corner of the attraction. We only used them once, right before leaving, but they were very clean. Low sink meant the kids could wash their hands without me holding them up. And the toilets are push-button, not automatic. (My kids hate those!) Each stall had a different LEGO scene on the door, which the kids thought was super funny.
There is a sign when you enter saying that outside food isn’t allowed because of allergy concerns. No one checks your bags though, and I just always have water bottles whenever we leave the house. There is a small cafe with a limited food menu: hot dogs, pizza, soft pretzels, nachos, packaged snacks, and drinks. We didn’t eat there, but I took a picture of the menu to include here. Note: LEGOLAND is located inside the Plymouth Meeting Mall, and there were a few food places right outside the entrance. So if we hadn’t eaten lunch first, I probably would’ve grabbed food in the mall area instead. The food looked fine and prices weren’t bad, but nothing overly excited/LEGO-themed or anything.
Update: On our second visit, we got pizza right outside of Legoland and ate at a table in the mall. The pizza was good, and we were able to get a slice on plain and a slice of BBQ chicken (for me) for around $6.
I’m not sure of the exact numbers, but LEGOLAND’s website and signs there said that they are limiting capacity and they suggest purchasing tickets online. They open at 11 a.m. and you buy timed entry tickets.
There are hand sanitizing stations throughout the center, and every one that I used had hand sanitizer. I also saw employees wiping down areas every so often. Mask wearing is not required. I’d estimate about 50% of guests were wearing masks. It was not overly crowded and is fairly easy to social distance in most areas.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center is currently cashless, so if you plan to buy snacks or a souvenir from the gift shop, make sure you have your credit card.
- Buy your tickets online. It’ll make it easier when you’re there, and it’s also a few dollars cheaper. Children under 3 are free.
- When you purchase your tickets, there’s an option to add on a “collectible and activity pack.” I decided not to do it, and I don’t regret that. From what I saw, the activity pack was a lanyard with a LEGO figure pamphlet that you could self-stamp as you visited the different areas. I saw several of them abandoned on the floor throughout the center. I’ve seen a few comments on Facebook that the other thing you receive is just a small bag of random LEGO bricks. For that cost, I’d rather just let my kids pick out something small in the gift shop for themselves.
- As on 8/25/21, you can use coupon code 199940 to receive 1 free child ticket when you purchase an adult ticket. This is a great savings! I didn’t see an expiration date, but be sure to check retailmenot.com to see if there are other codes if that one doesn’t work. I ALWAYS check there/google coupon codes before I buy tickets to any attraction.
- Make sure the kids are wearing socks. Shoes are not allowed in Pirate Adventure Land.
- We went on a Monday. I’m not sure what the crowds were like at opening, but we were there from 1-5, and it definitely started emptying out around 3/3:30. The last hour there, it was probably us and 10 other kids in the whole place.
- Take a look at the signs with times posted for the 4D movie and Builder Workshops. We were able to watch both movies, but we kept missing the Workshop. Even better, take a picture of the signs! The place isn’t big, but it’ll make it a lot easier to check that pic on your phone rather than running back to the sign.
- To exit the Discovery Center, you need to walk through a gift shop. I noticed that very few of the items in the store actually had price tags! If you’re looking for something small to purchase as a souvenir, there’s a pressed penny machine by the checkout that costs $1. There are also packs of 3 minifigures with a few accessories for $12.95 (Charlotte’s pick), and I believe the small LEGO grab bags (Henry picked a race car) were $5 or $6.
- It’s dark in there. I know this isn’t a tip, but something I found surprising. I get that the lights get dim for the nighttime effects in MINILAND, but I don’t know why they’re so dim in the entire place!
Will we be back at LEGOLAND Discovery Center? Definitely!
If it was up to Henry, it would probably be a weekly outing. Given the distance from our house (35 minutes) and the price, it won’t be in our rotation as often as some other things. But I’m seriously considering suggesting an Annual Pass as a gift idea for relatives looking for ideas for Henry’s upcoming birthday. Even if we don’t get passes for all of us, I could always keep an eye out for deals like that Buy One Adult Ticket, Get One Child Ticket offer. Click HERE to read my post about Experience Gifts.
To see more about our afternoon at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia, be sure to check out my saved Story Highlight on Instagram.