We have exciting times ahead in Australia: Recently we had the opening of the first Certified LEGO Store on the Gold Coast. Meanwhile, a lazy 18 hour drive (approx 1759 km, 1087 miles) away in Melbourne, we are looking forward to the country’s first LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre opening in mid April.
In coming weeks, we will see the Brick Factor Competition, which will see some of our top LEGO builders vying for the role of Master Builder for the centre, but today, we have something a little special.
While others were comparing the size of the queue and pick-a-brick hauls, a small number of Melbourne’s LEGO Bloggers and Instagrammers had the opportunity to visit the building site with members of the team from the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre. Located on the top floor of the recently redeveloped area of the Chadstone Shopping Centre, the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre is located opposite the cinema complex.
At this stage it is very much a work in progress: the builders are on site, fitting out is incomplete and bubble wrap abounds! As such, we had to don our hard hats and high-visibility vests for the purposes of the walk through.
If you wish to avoid any spoilers of what to expect when you arrive, stop now. All you need to know is: Admission will cost around $32 per person over three years of age. Annual passes are available now for the introductory price of $73 each. Each person over the age of 3 must have a ticket. During public admission times, all adults must be accompanied by a child. AFOL nights are likely to occur on a monthly basis. There will be a shop…
Further details will become available closer to the opening date, which will be in mid April.
At this stage, the centre is a couple of months away from completion: it is still a building site. Models are still in their shipping palettes, although some are hanging from the ceiling.
Some areas are near completion, while others are still some time away from this. All need daily dusting!
We enter the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre though the future retail space: a few models are already hanging from the roof. There will be a large minifigure sculpture at the front door. The exact contents of the store are unknown at this stage. However, We can expect the standard range of LEGO sets. We expect some gear (keyring, drink bottles, t-shirts, caps). We expect a pick brick wall. We are unsure as to whether it will charge by gram or by the cupful. However, we do know that Merlin run shops (at LEGOLAND® parks overseas) tend to charge by weight, rather than volume. The shop will also feature a Build-A-Minfigure station.
As the known unknowns proceed to become known knowns, I will update this article. Unknown unknowns will remain a little harder to deal with.
From the shop, we enter the ‘Story of Lego‘ Interactive screens present the story of the company as well as the production of the brick.
We then enter the Kingdom Quest.
One of the two rides in the centre, a group of five ride in a carriage, aiming to shoot targets with laser pistols along the way. periodically, the car will stop, and present you with a target challenge based on the story line presented at the start of the ride. The art and story style is very much in that of – the Fantasy Castle range sold from 2007-2009. Players will receive an individual and a team score. Just the thing to decide who is going to buy dinner, or to settle sibling rivalries!
From Kingdom Quest, we enter through to the hub – a large central space with several different play areas, a cafeteria, an adult lounge (that is to say, a place for grown ups to have a break from the kids.)
The play spaces include:
LEGO® Friends Zone: the gang are all here in not quite life size brick built sculptures. Experience overseas tells me that people will be lining up to have their pictures taken with these sculptures.
Racers: Build and Test: Build a car, and race it along the down hill track against your friends.
The 4D Cinema was being fitted out: this typically takes around a month to install from start to finish. Movies will screen periodically throughout the day. At the time of opening, they will be screening The LEGO 4D movie and the Legends of Chima™ 4D Movie experience. The NEXOKnights 4D: Book of Creativity will open later in the year. Not only are you entertained by the movie in 3-d, but also may have jets of air, or water mist blown around to enhance the experience.
Earthquake Tower: here you build a tower, on a baseplate. Then the fun begins: activate the earthquake to make the baseplate shake back and forth – how much can your tower withstand?
Merlin’s Apprentice – another fantasy castle themed ride: pedal harder to lift your seat higher, into the air. I particularly enjoyed the appearance of the seats being constructible from LEGO® Bricks.
[Note: at this point, we were all invited to put our cameras down. One or two pictures have been provided, but the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Team wish to maintain an element of surprise for you when the centre opens]
Like a trip to LEGOLAND® Parks, I found the MINILAND® to be a highlight. Unlike LEGOLAND® parks, where the MINILAND® construction scale is approximately 1:20, the MINILAND® here is built at minifigure scale (approximately 1:45). The models in MINILAND® have been constructed in the model workhops located at the LEGOLAND® Parks in Windsor, Malaysia and California. Some contents may have settled in transit, and so team of master model builders from LEGOLAND® Windsor are currently installing the models, ensuring that everything will be ready in time for the opening.
There are over 2500 minifigures to be found visiting landmarks around Melbourne. There are so many, instantly recognisable landmarks from around the city to be seen. There will be a functioning tram and roving buses.For those who are curious, the cars are virtually all built to 6 studs wide, to enhance the level of detail achievable at this scale.
Luna Park is a feature, and will include animated rides including…but wait, that would be telling. Purists should look away now, as some LEGO Elements just aren’t durable enough to be moving 10 hours per day, 365 days per year. That debate can be saved for another day!
For myself, MINILAND® is one of the highlights of the centre, with the chance to spend many hours playing spot the landmark, and observing the antics of the minifigure population.
What about all those kids, all those colds, all those grubby hands: what do they do?
For those who are wondering, the bricks in the playzones are washed daily. An industrial washer, with normal dishwashing detergent, is used. The bricks will be replaced every few months, to ensure they are always in tip-top shape. For those of you who are purchasing bricks second hand as part of bulk lots, using bricks as part of an activity program, or after a particularly gruelling birthday party, the operations team recommend putting your lego into a laundry bag (like you would use for cleaning delicates) and washing for 20 minutes in the (clothes) washing machine with regular detergent.
There is much more to find out about the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre, and I am sure we will learn more as we approach the opening date.
What can we be sure of?
- It will be an exciting place for children and there adults to come and enjoy themselves.
- There will be opportunities to learn from the in-house Master Builder.
- Monthly AFOL nights (where you can enter without a child!) are likely to occur.
- This is far more a play centre than a theme park, but
- there is certainly something for everyone in the family!
The centre is currently scheduled to open on the 18th of April, with owners of a play first pass being able to visit the weekend beforehand!
I would like to give special thanks to the Marketing Team behind LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Melbourne for providing us with this opportunity to visit the site before is is complete. For further information, or to purchase tickets, why not visit the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Melbourne’s website here. The Rambling Brick will continue to provide coverage of this latest LEGO® attraction, as opening time approaches.
What are you most looking forward to? Have you bought your tickets yet?