on November 5, 2012
We had bought annual Merlin passes, which cover unlimited entry into their attractions for one year. Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester is one of these. We visited on a Sunday afternoon on the last day of the school holidays - big mistake. It was so crowded you could hardly move inside. Children were bumping into each other all over the place, and for adults who just wanted to sit while their children played, it was a struggle to find a free seat. We had to stand the whole time.Our son is 9 years old now, I think although he did enjoy it, he is starting to be a bit too old for what they have available here. It is definitely more for the 4-8 age group.The Discovery Centre is very conveniently located at the Trafford Centre, shopping centre in Manchester. There is lots of free parking, so it is very accessible. You probably only need a couple of hours inside, but there is no limit to how long you can stay. It opens every day between 10am and 7pm. The cost is £16.20 per person over 3 years of age. I think this is very expensive and do not think it is worth it. Had we not had the annual passes, I would have been extremely disappointed to pay this amount. There are on-line discounts if you pay in advance, also lots of discount coupons if you look around.We had to queue for ages at the entrance. I was not overly impressed with the staff there, they seemed to be extremely inefficient.When you go inside, you are taken through a "Lego factory" where someone dressed as Professor Brick a Brack has a bit of interaction with the children and explains how Lego bricks are made. Everyone gets a Lego brick at the end. The Kingdom Quest ride is next. Again, we all quite enjoyed this. It is a ride with laser guns where you ride through and shoot at targets. It is fun, but one of the guns in our carriage wasn't working - luckily there were only 3 of us so it didn't really matter.I enjoyed Miniland, this was my favourite area. They have landmarks from the north west of England area all made of Lego. We saw Blackpool Tower, Manchester Town Hall, Coronation Street and more. It is very clever and fun to look and peer closely. Old Trafford Football Stadium is full of supporters, the trams and trains move and the scene changes between day and night.Once you pass this area, you are in a big room with all the other attractions. This is where it was extremely busy for us and not that pleasant an experience. They have lots of different zones - a couple of rides for children both of which were not working during our visit. There is also Lego Racers area. Our son loved it here. They have wheels and other bits of Lego, you can build your own vehicle and then race it down a track.There is a 4D cinema with different films showing at various times throughout the day. The effects are good, the films all have a Lego theme with Lego characters in them. We quite enjoyed the film.Also good is the Master Model Builder Workshops. These go on at different times during the day. A master builder gives a class in how to make something - it was an owl for us. Quite intricate and the children all seemed to enjoy it. The only downside was, after making your model and putting a lot of effort into it, you had to hand it back and watch it be disassembled for the next workshop. Not that popular with the kids!There is also a play area with slides, climbing walls etc. and a cafe which I would suggest you avoid at all costs. It is not very clean, they have a limited supply of produce, the coffee is terrible and everything is extremely overpriced.You exit through the shop - as expected lots of Lego toys and sets to buy.All in all, our son did enjoy his afternoon here, as parents we did not have quite such a good experience. I think the place is very overpriced, they could vastly improve the cafe and try and make sure the rides are working. If we had not had the annual passes, I would have felt well and truly ripped off by visiting Legoland Discovery Centre. It is not a patch on Legoland Windsor - save the money and go there instead.
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