The UK’s only LEGOLAND Discovery Centre has had a makeover, bringing new LEGO inspired experiences to Manchester. Brick Fanatics visited the family attraction to take a look at what has changed…
The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre has recently had something of a facelift – after seven years in operation, the Manchester based attraction has a totally new look with an all-new NINJAGO City Adventure play area, a fresh Creative Workshop and a brand new café.
As General Manager Jenn McDonough takes Brick Fanatics on a tour of the revamped LEGO based attraction, she explains the need for change. ‘We were one of the first LEGOLAND Discovery Centres to open. Our guests have given us some us really critical feedback, it got to a point where we needed to make some changes.’
Those changes are rather significant, with the large soft play area that dominated the main space completely removed. It was loosely based on the CITY Fire subtheme, but without strong theming it was a typical play area – nothing distinguished it as being linked to LEGO. ‘It wasn’t a three story all-singing, all dancing… it wasn’t a ‘wow’,’ Jenn says, gesturing to the new NINJAGO City Adventure. If the critique of the previous play area was a lack of theming, this has certainly compensated.
Oversized LEGO bricks dominate the façade of the LEGO NINJAGO City adventure, which allows children to enter through an archway into an activity centre, in the style of the most popular action-adventure theme in the LEGO portfolio. The central play space is surrounded by additional NINJAGO-inspired activities, including a climbing wall, Spinjitzu trainer and reflex testing game.
Fans of LEGO themes from the late 1980s and early 1990s will be disappointed to learn what the alternative was to theme the soft play around. ‘We had the opportunity to look at NINJAGO or Pirates,’ Jenn reveals. ‘We knew that LEGO was bringing out the NINJAGO film and we felt that the NINJAGO brand is a perfect fit for us.’ With the popularity the range has enjoyed, it’s unsurprising that this would be the best option for a child orientated attraction.
But although the NINJAGO City Adventure is the most impressive new aspect to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, it is certainly not the only change. As much as the venue is about children, play and LEGO building, for busy parents a cup of coffee is an important part of a visit – so a new café, with more seating than before, has been added.
‘Build and Test, which is our most popular product, was tucked in a corner and got lost,’ says the General Manager. To remedy that, it became the first thing that guests see as they exit Miniland. The focus on building – be it cars to hurl down a ramp or buildings to survive an earthquake simulator – is completely clear.
The notion of expert building is inspiring to families who visit the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre too. ‘We’ve opened up the Master Model Builder workshop so you can see him working, ask him questions about building,’ Jenn enthuses. ‘That’s why we’ve opened the Creative Workshop so you’ve actually got an environment to learn to build that’s set away, so you can’t hear the loud noise from where all the play’s happening.’
Key aspects of the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre remain in place – the Factory Tour opening that inspires the imagination of children, Miniland and the LEGO themed rides – but the building experiences have been revisited and the new NINJAGO City Adventure is on the perfect scale for young LEGO fans.