LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is an obvious winner with little kids who seem wired to explore, create, and build. What I wasn’t expecting was how much fun the adults in our group ended up having. Truly, this is a destination the whole family can visit together.
While I would never spend the exorbitant amount of money it costs to host a birthday party there, I was thrilled to invite my family for a group outing to the place in honor of my son turning 7. He and my 6-year-old nephew are big fans of LEGO Ninjago, and so this trip spoke to their passion. They had the chance to pose with life-size LEGO replicas of Lloyd and Master Wu.
My 9-year-old niece was quick to join them in the Ninjago play area and Wu’s dojo, where they climbed the walls. She and my son also sang karoake and got their dance on in the section devoted to LEGO Friends (the line aimed at girls).
What was less expected was my nearly 39-year-old brother’s fixation with the center’s racetrack. There, visitors build their own cars out of LEGOs and then race them on a few different kinds of tracks. You are testing both the speed of the vehicles and your engineering deft. The boys – young and old alike – couldn’t get enough of flying LEGO bricks as the DIY cars hit the end of the bumpy racetrack.
Building a tower as tall as the house – or at least trying to – is another favorite pastime around here. At LEGOLAND Discovery Center, the kids were able to do that and then turn on the “earthquake” table, which shakes the tower to its core. Sometimes, it falls. Sometimes, it keeps standing. It all depends on your mad LEGO skills.
Still, the highlight of the trip were the two indoor rides. Kingdom Quest has riders shooting a laser gun at LEGO targets to win points. Meanwhile, Merlin’s Apprentice is a smaller scale version of Disney World’s Dumbo Flying Elephant ride. You soar into the sky with your ride mate. You go as high as your pedaling allows.
We also enjoyed a 4-D film featuring your favorite LEGO characters. When we were there, the film focused on Chima, the adorable warrior animals of LEGO. But the movie changes all the time. At one point, it featured Ninjago, and there are others. What is neat about this experience is the rain and bubbles, which actually appear to come out of the screen and fall onto you.
There are numerous photo ops in this place. Besides the life-size LEGO creations, including a police car and other vehicles on which you can sit, there are photo props into which you can stick your face. What will really impress you, however, is the miniland. At the Westchester Center, you’ll find LEGO replicas of famous New York (and New Jersey) landmarks, such as Giants Stadium, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the George Washington Bridge.
Those who are interested in grabbing a quick bite can find some kid-friendly, small meals at the newly renovated coffee shop, which serves Starbucks. And family photos with LEGO backgrounds are available for purchase. It’s a little overpriced (as these things usually are), but we did get two bigger sized prints, one in a plastic LEGO frame and another in a cardboard frame and two keyrings. Try to get out of the center without allowing your kids to see the gift shop. It’s a LEGO fantasy in there, and they will try to force you to buy something no one needs – more LEGOs.
Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press, 2012). She also has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10.