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Legoland Discovery Centre (Manchester)

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8 Reviews

Address: Barton Square / The Trafford Centre / Manchester M17 8AS / United Kingdom / Tel: 0871 222 2662

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    8 Reviews
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      10.11.2013 00:28
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      An average Day out for a Lego fan

      Little Man recently had an operation on his foot which means he was in plaster for October half term so we had to look for places we could take him that weren't going to be too tricky for him to navigate while he is confined to his wheelchair full time. As Lego is the current in thing I decided Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester's Trafford Centre sounded like a great day out, so I booked a room in the Premier Inn sale and we traveled the 3.5 hours from London to Manchester for a mini break.

      I apologise for the length of the review - but wanted to cover all aspects of our visit!

      Booking
      I booked our tickets on line as this is the only way to guarantee entry to the centre. The online price for tickets was £12 each for over 3 years (and would have been £16.50 on the door) so was £36 for us all. When you add your tickets to basket you need to select the day you will be visiting and the half hour slot you will be arriving at. I also added a Legoland activity pack to my booking as a treat for Little Man. The booking process was very simple, and only took a couple of minutes from adding the tickets to basket to paying by debit card (Credit cards also accepted) You do not need to print anything to gain entry, just quote you booking number or show the confirmation email on a phone - as someone currently between printer I thought this was a great idea.

      Arriving at Legoland Discovery Centre
      Legoland Discovery centre is located in Barton Square in the Trafford Centre, and there is a car park nearby. We didn't realise this and ended up parking near Selfridges and walking down - not that that was a problem as we wanted to look around the shops after! It had been raining a lot overnight and once you get outside the paths are quite slippy so be careful. When we arrived at Legoland Discovery centre is was very busy. There were two queues - one for prebooked & season tickets and one for everyone else. This includes Clubcard tickets, which I was going to use but a friend who lives locally advised me not to during the holidays as you could wait for hours. As it was we had to queue for 25 minutes to get in, but the other queue was advised they would be waiting an hour and a half and the staff were talking of stopping general admission until the afternoon due to the crowds. The centre is open 10 - 7 each day (9 - 7 in the holidays) although this is subject to change so check before you go if you haven't booked.

      Inside the Centre
      Once we had got to the front of the queue and I had quoted my booking reference we were given our tickets and Little Man was given his pack. It consisted of a puzzle book, attached to a lanyard with a badge on it - he was overjoyed with it. There were spaces in the book to collect stamps as you explored the centre, but after we collected a couple we found the stamps had been ripped off the cord which was a bit disappointing so we gave up on collecting them. Once we had our tickets we were directed down a corridor to ....... Another queue!! This one was to have our photo taken against a blank screen with our arms and legs in the air. I assume this would be printed over a ride picture or similar - we didn't even bother to look as they didn't give us chance to get Little Man out of the wheelchair for a decent photo, just pushed it back against the bench and plonked us either side of it! I am a sucker for buying these overpriced piccies so they missed a trick there! Then it was up in the lift to join another queue for our real Lego adventure to begin....

      The Factory Tour
      We had to wait about 10 minutes for the Factory Tour and there is no way to skip this. Luckily they were showing some Lego cartoons on a screen which was probably the best part of this bit! Once we got in we were greeted by a Mad Scientist character who explained as it was Halloween the machines had been taken over and had the kids doing monster and mummy impressions to get it started. They then showed us how the magical machines made lego bricks - I was expecting something more mechanical and factual not something fictional and babyish, even Little Man was bored by it and he is 5! At the end though, every child is given a brick, which Little Man loved. This is the only freebie you'll get (unless you start stealing them from the building area which I saw a few people doing!)

      Kingdom Quest Laser Ride
      This was probably the best bit of the visit. You ride around in a car with your own laser shooting at skeletons and monsters to protect the princess and the dragon. You also get points for shooting the bad guys so it becomes a bit of a competition (which I won, causing much sulking from hubbie!) The queue was about 15 - 20 minutes which put of us riding more than once! We were able to take the wheelchair up in the queue but there is a buggy park if you are taking toddlers - no babes in arms are permitted to ride.

      Miniland
      After laser quest you walk through Miniland, a lego model village, to get to the rest of the attractions. There was a mock up of Manchester, Blackpool and London. I love all the lego models, so was a bit disappointed that this section wasn't bigger. They had also covered the models with cobwebs and ghosts for Halloween which I felt detracted from the display a bit. They were also dimming and rainsing the lights sporadically which didn't help when you were trying to look at the intricate details, and a lot of visitors were rushing through without looking. One of the highlights was the Manchester football stadiums where Little Man and I played a Manchester derby. A lot of the interactive bits here such as the boats and the noises weren't working which was a bit of a shame

      After Miniland the attraction opens up into a big open plan area with a soft play area, café and private hire rooms for schools and parties. We did not use the café as it was packed with a huge queue and no available tables. It also smelt like burnt cheese on toast - a smell that lingered throughout the rest of the attraction. There were also paddling pool like pods of bricks, with building plates on the edges for the children to free build on. Little Man absolutely loved this bit, and happily sat there for a good half hour building away.

      The other attractions were located from here - the ones we tried were:

      Lego 4D Cinema
      A 15 minute film based on the characters from Lego Chima - Little Man is a bit young for Chima so didn't know any characters apart from Laval the lion (he got a key ring free from the toy shop a while ago!) but it was still enjoyable. You have to wear special characters so that you can see the special effects coming out of the screen, and there are a few special effects like smoke and water, but there are no chair movements or anything like that so it is quite safe for little ones. The effects are good and the film was amusing, and everyone seemed to really enjoyed. The film runs about every 25 minutes and there is a counter at the beginning of the queue so you know how long you have to wait to get in. We queued from 5 minutes to go, and had no trouble getting a place in the 100 seat cinema.

      Merlin's Apprentice
      A great roundabout style ride where you pedal double glider cars up to the sky. We were quite lucky with this one as wheelchairs could enter through the exit so we didn't have to queue. Little Man couldn't reach the pedals, so I had to do all the pedalling! Make sure you wear decent shoes for this one, as I wore slip on dolly shoes and thought they were going to fall off at any second! You need to be over 90cm to ride this one and 120cm to ride unaccompanied.

      Lego Racers - Build and Test
      A great attraction where you have a selection of lego blocks and wheels to design vehicles that can be raced down various slopes and tracks with big timers so you can see how fast they go. Little man loved this one, experimenting with different designs, and the whole family got involved in racing our creations down the ramp. No queuing for this one, you just saw a space and started building - it never really got that packed while we were there.

      Lego Fire Academy and construction Site
      A large soft play area at the centre of the building. The Construction site is meant to be for under 90cm and the Fire Academy for under 140 cm. Little Man is a smidge over 90cm (in shoes!) so freely moved between the two areas, but no one was really policing them so it was a very busy free for all. The play area was not as good as our local soft play place, and it was so busy with children not being watched by their parents that I was worried for Little Man crawling about there that we didn't stay long.
      The following attractions we didn't used, but in case you want to here is a quick overview:

      Lego Friends: Olivia's House
      A Pink and Purple House, full of girls building Lego Friends - was never going to appeal to a 5 year old boy!!

      Master Model Builder
      A group session every half hour where you are instructed how to build an animal out of Lego (which you don't get to keep). We kept missing the start of this one, otherwise we would have done it, but there are plenty of other build activities so didn't feel like we missed out.

      Duplo Village
      Small area tucked away in the corner for under fives to explore Duplo - was of no interest for Little Man, but was a nice area if you have little ones.

      Lego City Forest Pusuit
      Drive Lego 4 x 4 go carts around Lego city! This is the only ride that Little Man would have loved to have ridden but couldn't - he was old enough but not tall enough as you have to be a metre tall, and he would not have been able to work the foot controls. It looked amazing and was very popular with the biggest queue.

      In order to exit Legoland Discovery Centre you have to walk through the shop which holds pretty much every lego set currently available. The prices are the RRP so you are probably better off shopping around if you want something big. We got Little Man some mini figure sets which were £10 each or two for £15 (one to go away for Christmas) which I did not think was too bad. They had some great t-shirts and although they were on 3 for 2 they were £16.99 each and I thought almost £35 for 3 t-shirts for a 5 year old was ridiculous! They do not accept the Lego VIP card, but will give you 5% off your purchases as long as you don't buy anything on offer.

      So would we return:

      Although I am in no hurry to return to Legoland Discovery, Little Man loved it so I wouldn't say never! I definitely wouldn't go in the holidays again though! I think the experience was overpriced for what it was - we were there less than 3 hours, not including queuing to get in, but if I returned I would still book in advance even though it's cheaper to use offers as you get in far quicker. However I would say the disabled facilities were very good, and even in the crowds Little Man could steer himself about easily. There were some great parts like the laser and magic rides, but there is lots of room for improvement without too much effort. I think a few more staff, a few tweeks to things like the factory tour and soft play, coupled with a small price drop and the place could be an amazing day out.

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        20.05.2011 13:51
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        A disapointingly, over priced day out .

        We converted some of our tesco clubcard points and went to the new legoland discovery land here in Manchester at the Trafford Centre. I think it is a waist of money for normal admission £13.95 for an adult and £7.95 for a child. It would have cost us just short of £38 if I would have paid as my 14 year old is classed as an adult. And I am so glad I did nto pay cash but instead used my vouchers otherwise I would have been even more disappointed.

        My 7 year and 14 year old enjoyed parts of it too, although it is supposedly only for kids up to 12 years, she especially liked the 4 D movie experience. However there enjoyment was short lived, and it was not long before i heard those dreaded words "I'm bored".

        It is not big at all, smaller than I expected, in fact it reminded me of a glorified whackey Warehouse, but to a small child parts of it are great fun.

        The main Highlight for my 2 eldest children was the dragon ride at the beginning, my sons surprised face when he got off the dragon slaying ride was priceless, they got to shoot dragons with laser guns, however they were not allowed to take pictures on the ride, much to my disappointment.

        After this it was down hill for older children, even my 7 year old was a little dissapointed in the "factory" area they show you how Lego is made, we had in our minds that it would be like a real scaled down factory experience to see the blocks being made, and disappointingly it was not, in fact we waited almost 20 minutes to watch an employee in fancy dress, pull a few leavers and watch a few lego blocks fall on the floor.

        There was nothing there for my youngest except a mega blocks corner, that left little to be desired, it looked like the blocks could do with a good clean, in fact I did not let her play, and was glad when she decided to take a nap in her buggy.

        The lego master class was ok, we were taught how to put the lego pieces together to make a turtle, which for children aged 5 was ok, but for younger ones they found it difficult to manipulate the pieces, and older children found it too easy and boring and soon lost interest.

        In fact the best bit for my son was the whackey Warehouse style play area, and this is where the majority of children seemed to gravitate with parents trying to force them into playing with the lego to get there money's worth

        I dont think you could spend more than an hour and half there at most, as after that time bordom begins to set in, the only saving grace was having the Trafford Centre right there so we could go and get something decent to eat as the food was over priced, and also have a look round the shops to make it feel more like a day out.

        Needless to say it is not a place I will be going back to in a hurry, in fact I dont think even if I got free tickets I would want to visit again.

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          24.03.2011 11:19

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          Exhorbitant prices and very little to see - sums up that phrase 'rip off Britain'If Lego wanted to win more fans they just lost some

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          02.11.2010 21:07
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          Learn from our mistake and don't go!

          Copy of email sent to Manchester LDC following our visity of 1 November. I think it sums up our visti quite well!

          Dear Sir

          As my subject line implies, I visited the Manchester LDC on 1 November with my wife and six year old daughter. Having paid an exorbitant £38.85 entrance fee (two adults and one child) I had very high expectations. I was to be very disappointed.

          We waited five minutes to be given access to the 'factory tour' which even my daughter found embarrassing. We had hoped for a brief insight into how Lego was actually made - not a story about Legopoo. Having got passed this we queued for 15 minutes to go on the Kingdom Quest ride. This was actually quite good and possibly the highlight of our visit.

          We went through the Miniland exhibit but were told by a member of staff in quite a rude manner that we were not allowed to take photos. When I queried this I was simply told 'Because those are the rules."

          Whilst waiting for the first of the 4-D films we went to the Princes Palace. Imagine my disgust at finding the Lego pieces wet with what appeared to be saliva.

          We went into the film and found the theatre to be filthy - with food and drinks cartons strewn around the seats. In fact, this was true of most of the areas we visited. Only the Master Modeller had succeeded in keeping his area clean and tidy.

          I asked another member of staff if I could speak to the duty manager to voice my concerns. The young lady said she would go and find him but, after waiting 20 minutes neither appeared. At this point we decided to leave.

          I admit to having had very high hopes of Manchester LDC, but I have appalled at what we found. We have visited both Legoland Windsor and Billund and were impressed by the cleanliness of the sites and the helpfulness of the staff. The same cannot be said for Manchester LDC. The staff (excluding Alex the Master Builder) appeared stressed and disinterested and the whole exhibit was filthy.

          In view of this, I would like a full refund of the £38.85 I paid. I look forward to receiving your full response, including confirmation of how the refund will be made, with seven days of this email.

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            29.07.2010 00:10

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            Asked my g/son what he would like to do for his 9th birthday legoland in trafford centre he said.. me been the fairy grandmother ok i said booked it on the web site cost £33 for 2 g/son's 1x15yrs 1x9yrs and me .. took the tram and a shuttle bus got there for the time i asked for 2-30pm could wait to get in..we would have been better off going to a wacky ware house. 1 big room full of lego pit's 1 ride and a climbing frame with slide,3D cinema showed a 5min flim of bob the builder..why i was charged £11 85p just get in i dont know...so if your thing of going DONT GO .. lot's of place to take the kid's get more for your money.{NO TO LEGOLAND in trafford } DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY

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            13.06.2010 18:28
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            Go early and bring something to entertain the kids while you queue...

            If we lived in a world where some mean dictator decreed that children could have one toy and one toy only, the obvious choice would have to be Lego for its versatility, subtle educational focus and general fun factor, not to mention its linguistic oddities (Americans study math and play with Legos...we, well, you should know what we do). So, even though I've not yet made it to Legoland in Denmark, or even the Windsor version, the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester became a Must-Do as soon as it opened this spring. It's located in the new Barton Square section of the Trafford centre, and while it's connected to the shops by a walkway, it still makes sense to follow the brown attraction signs and park in the right area. (Though afterwards we went for lunch and a wander, and it takes less than 10 minutes to get into the main part).

            The Discovery Centre is open 7 days a week, from 10am, notably earlier than the rest of the centre on a Sunday. We arrived early and decided to leave the car and head in, which proved to be a good idea since a queue was already forming. Or...two queues, to be precise. They divide you up into those who have pre-booked tickets online (which gives you a day and time of entry) and those who haven't. We were in the second line, as were most people. This wasn't because we hadn't known when we were going, since our trip had been planned for a while, but because, in true Money Saving Expert style, I was equipped with tokens. We had gone for the Tesco Clubcard Deals, while other families had various buy-one-get-one-free vouchers. You can use none of these if you want to pre-book, so those people had clearly paid the full price. No matter how much I like Lego, I would never think it were reasonable to pay almost £14 (£12 online) per person for a place like this, so I didn't regret going down the token route, even though it meant we had to wait.

            And wait.

            And wait some more.

            First they let in the pre-booked groups (which, on this occasion, included two birthday parties, technically spaced 30 minutes apart). Then they let in some people from our line, but only at a trickle. Finally, we were at the front, but we still had to wait a bit. One of the members of staff on queue control duty kept mentioning 'indoor attraction' rules. Let's just say Cadbury World is also an indoor attraction, and we had zero wait last time we went there. They must do this to encourage (and/or reward) people who are willing to pay the full entrance fee, but it made the rest of us feel like second class citizens, and the fact that not all that many people had gone in ahead of us, and the staff were now standing around doing nothing, seemingly unable to let any more in, was a bit odd. In the end they let us in about 20 minutes after it had opened (so 35 minutes after we started queuing). It wasn't the best start, but we were in at last.

            The first part of the experience lets you have your picture taken with a large Lego model. If you want to buy it later, it 'only' costs £7. Then you go up in a lift to a sort of holding area. We were the last to arrive in here and still had to wait a few minutes, though clearly not as long as the people who were already there. It was a bit bizarre, though, that we'd been held downstairs for quite a while when instead we could have been up here with at least a few bits and bobs of Lego to look at. I wonder how many people give up before getting to the front of the queue and leave without handing over any money. When the time was up we were all issued through for a 'factory tour' which is a bit of a generous name for something that lasts about 10 minutes, if that, and stays in one room. The guy leading it had clearly been watching too many episodes of Glee and was overly theatrical, but the children really seemed to like it, and before we left, we were all given a unique brick 'made' in the factory. This was the only controlled bit, and from here on we were free to explore the rest of the centre at our own speed and in our own way.

            The map you can get makes the centre look large, but in reality most of the zoned areas are in one big room, with just a few bits elsewhere. We started with Kingdom Quest, a short ride where you get guns and shoot baddies as you go round, a bit like in Laser Quest. You can get 5 people in a car, and the scores pop up in front of you so you can see who's won. It wasn't the most Lego-themed of activities, nor was it perhaps entirely appropriate (since it essentially encourages the children of Manchester to pick up guns and shoot things) but it was quite fun, and a million times better than the Cadbury World ride. We didn't have to queue for this, but it was set up to indicate you might at times. Following a queue to get in, and a queue for the lift, this would be getting a bit irritating by now, and I'm sure we would have heard some whining children if we hadn't pushed right past them to get on first. Your photo is taken during the ride and ours was naturally hideous. These are displayed at a stand next to the exit, but I was quite pleased with how understated this was, and there was no mad pressure put on you to buy a copy.

            Next stop was Miniland, where they show the North West in miniature - like a model village, but all cleverly made out of Lego. This was good, full stop. The Oblivian ride from Alton Towers nestled next to Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens, the Lake District, Manchester Town Hall and, of course, a replica of the Trafford Centre. They also had parts of Birmingham, which is really only North West to people who think of Watford Gap as North, but was still fun to see. This was perhaps more fun for older children and adults who could appreciate the effort that must have gone into building the structures - younger children seemed itching to play and blithely ignoring the 'don't climb on the exhibits' signs. There were buttons to press to make things happen, but not all were working. Interestingly, one a previous reviewer commented on (the boat) was working for neither of us, on visits that took place over two months apart... Considering they didn't have all that much to maintain from the looks of things, that let it down a little.

            From here you enter into the main area. Our first top was the 4D cinema since a sign above the door was counting down to the next showing in 4 minutes time. We lined up (again) and listened as one of the birthday parties joined us and started a loud, screeching countdown for the last 20 seconds. 5...4...3...2...1... nothing. The member of staff who was supposed to be letting us in eventually trotted over and opened it up a few minutes later, but not before he got a few glares. The cinema shows 2 different short films, one featuring Bob The Builder, and the other a land of Lego people who battle some baddies and are helped out by a dragon, in a way that is not discimilar to Shrek. The second film has very little language in it, just some sounds, but it's obvious what's going on. I did wonder whether they've done that so they can show it worldwide. We watched both films because when the first one finished, we were told the other would be on in 10 minutes, so we came back for it. For each you wear glasses (unless you're being an annoying child and refusing to do so) and sit back as the picture jumps out at you, and you are assaulted by both water and foam - the physical effects that supposedly turn it from a 3D into a 4D experience. The Bob The Builder film was a story with an Important Message, that you should always plan something before you do it, which seemed rather ironic given the apparent lack of planning that had gone into the centre and the way they admit people.

            In between the films, we went over to look at Duplo Village which is also where you find some fabulous Lego sculptures of animals that are bigger than a lot of the little ones playing that area would be. And, we went to the Cafe which is right next to it, trying the cupcakes which were pleasingly cheap (considering the entrance fee and photo prices, this was unexpected). The cafe had some nice sounding sandwiches, muffins and salads, and a good range of drinks, but didn't do hot food or proper meals. Given that the Trafford Centre has a large food court and numerous eateries, they must have decided it wasn't needed, but I think they would find it profitable to extend the menu a little to cater for the many mums and dads who could spend hours sitting around as their little ones played. Add in Sunday newspapers and you'd be on to a winner. Though, on second thoughts, I don't suppose they would want you to linger that much given the number of people downstairs who would be chomping at the bit to get in.

            After our second film we had a look at Fire Academy, an indoor play ground we were too old for, nosied into Princess Palace (where they were face painting and where I started to build something simply because they had pretty bricks to match my pretty top) and tried and failed to get anywhere near the bricks in Racers where you can build and, um, race cars along a few tracks. These, it should be noted, were being hogged by the fathers as well as the children...

            We listened to the Master Model Builder for a few minutes - the workshops start every half hour, but we missed them because of the films - and watched as the 'class' made turtles they then had to hand back in - a place for freebies, this is not. After a quick stop at the loos (which smelt amazing - I want to know their secret) we headed back to the lift through a strange room not labelled on the map where you had to step on lights in the ground to kill baddies (the violent theme continued) and save civilisation, or something like that. The only area we didn't visit was one we didn't even see - a soft play area for the under 5s that was tucked away behind the ride.

            Our final part of the day was the shop which you can also visit without going into the Centre. It was well stocked but not cheap - I suppose they work on the assumption that the nag factor will mean parents buy things here straight after a visit rather than going home and sensibly buying it online for less. They did have some things I'd not seen elsewhere, though, but then so do other Lego shops, including those not attached to Discovery Centres. I was supremely impressed with my psychic powers, however, when I picked out an anonymous packet from a selection, promised to contain one of 16 different models, and promptly discovered I'd picked out the cheerleader...

            In total, we spent just over 90 minutes in the centre, though they say allow 2 ½ hours or you can stay all day (how this would then work with all the poor people waiting to come in, remained to be seen). We looked at everything, took numerous photos and didn't rush, so the only way I think you could have made the visit last longer would be if you, the parents, sat down in the cafe while the kids ran riot in Fire Academy or built and dismantled structures to their hearts content: surely something they would be able to do just as easily at home since you'd expect most of the visitors to be Lego enthusiasts. I thought it was disappointing that they didn't really have any special bricks or things to use, and I also thought it would have been good if they had maybe had patterns by the construction areas so you could make different things, rather than just following the instructions in the Model Builder for that one item.

            The centre is bright and modern inside, with Lego coloured lights, and lots of intricate over-sized models (the ones by the cafe being particularly impressive). It is in no way a rival for any of the Legoland theme parks, but it is definitely worth a visit, especially if you have interested children. However, go early and be prepared to queue up - there was a long line as we were leaving, just as when we were waiting to go in initially. Redeem a voucher of some kind and it's a good half-day out, but I don't think it offers value for money if you're paying the rack rates of £14 per adult and £11 per child (3 - 11; under 3s free). I would also recommend visiting mid-week if possible as it will be much quieter. In the end it wasn't too bad inside (perhaps due to their rather over zealous crowd control) but I can imagine it would get frustrating if it were busier and you wanted to be able to build something at one of the stations, as there's not masses of room to manoeuvre.

            Current prices are actually £13.95 per adult /£10.95 per child. When you're talking that sort of money, I hardly think taking off 5p makes it suddenly seem like a bargain you're willing to pay, but £14 / £11 too high a price.

            You only get that one freebie, right at the beginning, though in retrospect I did wonder how many of the building station bricks they lose each day. Maybe they factor that in to the price, and therefore I should have pinched some to really get my money's worth...


            http://www.legolanddiscoverycentre.co.uk/manchester/en/index.htm

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              18.05.2010 00:14

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              This was a little disapointing as a family day out, although we did enjoy it overall. The entrance fee is way too much, there is only 1 ride and then basically lots of lego building. Not much for the younger kids, my 4 year old and daddy loved building cars and racing them. However trying to occupy my 2 year old was not quite so easy. Having said all that can honestly say the staff were great, very attentive and happy to spend time with four year old and build lots of stuff with him. It was a very quiet day so we were able to just mouch about doing what we wanted, but can see it being a nightmare as soon as it gets any busier. ONLY go if its in the week/ term time and use tesco vouchers to keep it cheap.

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              11.05.2010 12:18
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              Worth discovering but could have been planned better by Bob the Builder!

              Living in the Midlands, Legoland Windsor is a little too far for a day trip and adds up to a pricey family outing when hotel costs are also factored in. For that reason, I was excited to learn that Legoland were opening a new 'Discovery Centre' at the Trafford Centre in Manchester which is within an hour's drive for us.

              The Discovery Centre isn't a full blown copy of the Legoland theme park though and actually only features one 'ride', as such, as well as a 4D cinema. The majority of the centre is based around interactive Lego-themed activities which children are free to come and go and play on as they wish. This was fine for us as we have Alton Towers on our doorstep if we want rides and both my boys love playing with Lego.

              **Arrival**

              We actually went for the first time just a few weeks after the centre had opened, over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. (The Centre is signposted although by the time we had spotted them we were already in the wrong lane and ended up parking at the opposite end of the Trafford Centre!) After a fifteen minute walk to get to the Barton Square side of the Trafford Centre and the new Lego Discovery Centre, we were greeted by a notice saying that only pre-booked tickets were being accepted for admission, given the high demand! Luckily, an assistant told us to remain in the queue as that would only actually come into effect later in the day.

              Admittedly, we went during a peak period but I think our visit highlighted some of the weaknesses in the planning of this new attraction. The queueing system was quite poorly designed. Obviously, we expected to queue for tickets (and this was relatively swift and unproblematic) but after this we were ushered through into quite a small waiting area to join another queue for a lift up to the next floor for the 'factory tour.'

              Even using two large lifts, we had quite a long wait as everybody needed to enter the centre via this process. It might have been a better option to provide alternative routes in and encourage people to start at a different part of the centre to avoid this bottle neck.

              **Factory Tour**

              The 'factory tour' itself was more than a little disappointing and was a mere mock up of a series of wheels and pulleys, designed to give some sort of an impression of the way in which Lego is produced from tiny plastic shreds. It really doesn't last long at all and some of the children found it difficult to see and hear what was going on. The disappointment was eased a little by each child receiving a Lego 'Discovery Centre' branded block at the end of the process. This is not, however, like Cadbury World where each child receives a goody bag of free chocolate. That single block was the only Lego 'freebie' available throughout the day but my boys were both delighted with it.

              **Laser Gun Ride**

              After the disappointing tour, we were again ushered en masse to join yet another queue, this time for the laser gun ride. The wait for the ride was pretty tedious, especially as this was the third queue we had now joined and there was nothing at all to do or see during the wait as we were just waiting around in semi-darkness. It would have been more pleasurable had there been some staff dressed up in daft Lego-man outfits to distract the increasingly frustrated little ones or even pictures or information relating to Lego to look at on the way round, as this would have relieved the tedium of standing in yet another queue somewhat.

              The ride itself was admittedly worth waiting for and my seven year old thoroughly enjoyed shooting at various 'baddies' from the comfort of our little chariot. The two year old was a little scared though as the ride itself was quite dark and he was more than a little unnerved by some of the scenes and unexpected villians round every corner. It is, essentially, a ghost train format with the added attraction of shooting with a laser gun but it was good fun for us all (apart from the little one!)

              **Mini Land**

              After the ride, we came out into the 'Mini land' area, a smaller replica of the one at Legoland Windsor. This is very clever, featuring lego models of lots of famous landmarks from around the world. The scene also changes from daylight to night-time every few minutes and features running vehicles. The attention to detail is fascinating and certainly puts our home-made efforts to shame. Sadly, some of the interactive aspects weren't working properly during our visit (including a boat and some racing models.) I appreciate that maintaining something of this nature will be difficult but I did expect that everything would be up and running properly, considering how recently the attraction had opened.

              **Be a Lego Master!**

              The remainder of the centre is free for the children to come and go, so thankfully no more queueing. My seven year old particularly enjoyed the Lego master class where he (as part of a small group) was shown how to create a specific character - in this case a well-made giraffe- block by block. Sadly, he wasn't allowed to keep his creation afterwards!

              **Legoland Studios**

              The 4D cinema was enjoyable. (The fourth dimension mainly comprising of blasts of cold air and other items being pumped out at relevant moments.) We watched two different short films, a generic Legoland one and a Bob the Builder film so quite a wide age group was catered for. It wasn't clear until you were actually inside the cinema which of the two films was being shown though so it would be useful to have the times and showings listed outside. (I suspect that many ten year olds would be reluctant to sit through the Bob the Builder version, even with the funky 3D glasses!)

              **Other Attractions**

              Other attractions included a climbing/play area which was rebranded the 'Fire Academy' (although it was essentially a replica of most generic indoor kiddy play areas.) There was also an area where children could make their own towers and various constructions out of giant (albeit slightly softer) Duplo blocks as well as an area to build and 'test' different Lego vehicles. Many (if not all) of these attractions are also at the main Legoland in Windsor.

              **Food**

              After all that playing, we all started to get a little hungry which is where we discovered some other flaws in the design of this attraction. The only eating/seating area is right in the middle of all of the various activities so kids were constantly racing through the area, trying to get two and from different activities. There were also far too few tables and chairs available, although any extra would have posed even more of a health and safety issue.

              The main issue was that the cafeteria does not serve any hot food options which seems very strange and disappointing for a venue aimed specifically at young families. The only items available were hot and cold drinks and pre-packaged ready made sandwiches. These were quite limited in choice too, as there was only one vegetarian option available at the time of my purchase, as well as being over-priced (costing in general £3.50 each for a fairly mediocre sandwich.) I don't see why they can't offer a limited selection of hot food here - it seems such a letdown! More organised families might want to consider taking their own food with them (particularly as sandwiches are the only thing on offer here) although there didn't appear to be any areas set aside for eating your own food, so you might find yourself perched at the edge of the Duplo play area!

              **What have I 'Discovered'?**

              In retrospect, there doesn't appear to be all that much actually at the centre (particularly considering the admission charges) but there was surprisingly more than enough for us to spend the majority of the day there, without either of the boys becoming bored or agitated although, admittedly, a good chunk of the morning was spent queuing.

              Despite the many criticisms that I've been able to make, it was actually an enjoyable day out for us all. The cynic in some people might think that this is a bit of a rip-off, as the bulk of the day is spent in free play activities with some Lego - which most kids can do at home for nothing! My boys (who do both love Lego) really enjoyed themselves and have actually asked to go back again since.

              I think the admission charges are certainly on the steep side (standard 'on the day' prices are £13.95 for over 12s and £10.95 for children aged 3-11.) I used BOGOF vouchers which are quite readily available - mine came from WHSmith and I would certainly not be prepared to pay the full admission charge.

              In all, this is a fun day out for young children who enjoy being creative with Lego. I wouldn't recommend travelling too far (unless you are going to combine it with a mammoth shopping session at the Trafford Centre) or paying full price and there are a number of key areas where this attraction seems incredibly ill thought-out. Despite that, it was an enjoyable day out and we will probably return at some point in the future.

              www.legolanddiscoverycentre.co.uk/manchester/

              Barton Square, The Trafford Centre, Manchester, M17 8AS
              Tel: 0871 222 2662

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