Today I was lucky enough to be invited to the grand opening of LEGOLAND Discover Centre (LDC) in Melbourne – The first in Australia and only one in the southern hemisphere. For those outside Australia this is a big deal for us down under. We have languished in the forgotten basket eagerly awaiting for someone to hit the checkout button. Thankfully for us Merlin Entertainments plc picked up the mantle and brought us the LDC and our second certified LEGO store.
The event was attended by VIP’s that reflected the importance of LDC to the overall push for increased tourism by the Victorian Government. So much so I felt hilariously undressed in my jeans and hoodie (no one told me suit and ties were the order of the day!). Drew Grove (General Manager) opened up the floor and made various introductions and thank yous to all involved and was followed by various dignitaries from the Chadstone Shopping Centre, local state government and more importantly one of the young Creative Crew.
For the most important moment LDC brought in the services of Bertie to officially open the Centre and welcome the eagerly awaiting crowds into the wonderful world of LEGO.
While the crowds worked their way through myself and fellow bloggers/social media gurus – Jay’s Brick Blog, The Short News and CheepJokes (blue band group) sat back and talked all things LEGO while we waited our turn to head into LDC.
Finally after some talk, coffee and cake we entered into the world of childhood dreams and the start of our journey – The LEGO factory tour.
With every tour you need guides and these two lovable minifigures (please excuse my ugly mug) are there to guide kids through the interactive factory tour.
The main zone is contained in a circular room where kids can interact with the tour guides and are challenged to create minifigures from printing minifigure faces to creating complete minifigure bodies while learning about the LEGO factory process.
The next zone brings us to medieval world of LEGO with Kingdom Quest. A small ride where you jump into a medieval cart armed with pistols (Lasers).
The aim of the ride is to shoot as many Orcs, Skeletons and Trolls to ensure the your band of merry men succeed in rescuing the Princess, Dwarf King and help save the Dragon egg.
Of course the all important point to note is the ride keeps score and I’m happy to say in this instance Western Australia (WA) has bragging rights over the East Coast of Australia, as I managed to get the top score over my fellow bloggers!
Now as I’ve mentioned before LDC is geared to kids, however there is one area that would get any AFOL excited and that’s the Melbourne Miniland zone! Think of all the iconic Melbourne landmarks and LDC and It’s team have created it to minifigure scale.
Being from Western Australia you’ll have to forgive me for not naming all the landmarks, but here I go – Royal Exhibition Building, Flinders Station, Melbourne Star, MCG, Trams, Flemington, etc… After admiring the displaying and thinking whoa this is awesome, then the cherry on the cake moment happens and the whole display cycles from day to night and the city scape is a blaze with LEDs. I have to admit this blew my mind and looked amazing and I heard all the kids and adults alike all gasp at the scene.
As you can probably tell by the number of pictures it took me nearly an hour to leave this zone. Just when I thought I was done I started snapping pictures again. The irony being I still haven’t done it justice and I would highly recommend anyone to visit in person as the overall display is just magical.
It’s time to move on (general public opening loaming behind me). After three very compartmentalised zones the next area covers all the remaining zones in an open area. Going with the natural flow I headed over to the Friends section.
Now irrespective of the minidolls I’m actually a fan of the friends (Elves as well) and this area showcases the beauty of pastel coloured LEGO and Heartlake City. It also happens to be one of the few areas where we have brick built models of the Friends gang. Kids can also get stuck into building their own creations with some nice Friends MOCs nearby for inspiration.
If at this point you’re losing the interest of your toddler never fear the Duplo zone is next and will keep any restless Toddler occupied.
Now time for a ride again – This time round Merlin (Easter egg?) is ready to take weary legs on a flight. Disclaiming not that weary you have to peddle on this ride to take off into the air!
Of course our little group of merry bloggers (grown up kids) had to have ago and managed to gatecrash the Channel 10 news feed reporting on the opening of LDC.
After embarrassing ourselves we could go one step further and head into the soft play area, but was deemed a step too far!
So we moved on to building racecars and racing fellow bloggers. Sadly after the win for Western Australia I lost badly in the race car front! Forgive my car it is pretty shocking!
Now on to the heart of the centre – Creative Workshop. Earlier in the year the LDC held and competition to find a new Master Model Builder to head up the Creative Workshop. David Holder successfully won the competition and now heads up the team and runs workshops on the hour from aspiring kids (refer to Jay’s Brick Blog for interview with David Holder).
The Creative team have an awesome workshop and is well worth holding out and getting involved in one of the regular workshops held by the team.
After gaining key skills from the Master Model Builder kids can practice their building skills with Duplo and test against the forces created by Earthquakes.
The final zone covers LDC’s jewel in the crown and it’s very own 4D cinema. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical on 4D, but after watching a LEGO NEXO KNIGHT mini movie and being hit by wind, water (mist), light and smoke I was pleasantly surprised and wanting more!
After all that excitement I had worked up an appetite so headed over to the LEGO cafe. The cafe keeps the LEGO magic going by offering, LEGO brick lunch boxes and LEGO minifigure head cookies. Hopefully not too many food colourings – if not just send them into the centre again!
Well after 3 happy hours that marked the end of my journey through the LDC zones all that was left was to head to the certified LEGO shop to spend my well earned dollars on my kids (well myself as well). For me the excitement of the shop was solely around the “Pick A Brick” wall. Considering the shop had been open a week already the selection was still intact minus the 2×2 dark grey tiles (guy before me grabbed multiply cups loads – you know who you are). Some online shop and LEGOLAND exclusives had also been cleared out which was a shame, but to be expected.
In summary Melbourne LDC has hit the sweet spot for kids (remember its for kids!), with flowing zones and interesting interactive features keeping the attention span of your kids squarely on all things LEGO. LDC was well worth the wait and the Chadstone Shopping Centre is a perfect setting for the centre.
Tickets are now on sale from $27.50/per person or $77.00/per person for an annual pass and can be purchased online via the website.
Keep tuned for further updates and interviews.