Friday, 30 June 2017

LEGOland Discovery Centre Manchester

During the month of December the competition world goes a little bit crazy for something we call 'the advents'. These are when a company will run a different competition a day in the run up to Christmas. There are absolutely loads of competitions and it can be a little bit manic but can also be quite fun! 

Last December I won a prize on Facebook with LEGOland Discovery Centre Manchester in one of their advent competitions. It was a nice little prize with a small LEGO model, a badge, a personalised brick, and a family pass for 2 adults and 2 children to LEGOland Discovery Centre Manchester. I've had that ticket in my diary and then on my notice board ever since but with it due to expire on the 17th July 2017 we decided we best give it a go! So because of Jacob's needs and how he struggles we decided to go on Thursday 29th June thinking midweek in term time would be nice and quiet - sadly in my naivety as Jacob isn't school age yet I didn't anticipate that all the schools would be having end of year school trips and so it was quite busy, but we managed, just. 

We decided to keep it a secret from Jacob as to where we were going and told him it was an adventure! He kept asking if we were going on a bear hunt! We set off on the journey from Leeds to Manchester and it was a relatively easy journey and as we approached the Trafford Centre it was well sign posted for LEGOland, which kind of spoiled the surprise a little as Jacob saw the signs and started squealing. As soon as we got into the entrance Jacob was full of 'oohs' and 'aahs' at the giant models dotted around. He found it a little bit difficult to queue up so my partner wandered around the models. I bought an activity pack when we entered which was £4 although we didn't actually pay any attention to the things in it as it was a little bit too structured for Jacob, but it made a nice memento. 

When you first enter you are asked to sit down at a green screen to pose for photographs which you can then buy later on. I sat in for one picture but then decided not to be in the other pictures as I'm not very confident being in pictures anyway and felt I'd spoil them. However we didn't really get to see how well they turned out as Jacob was too tired by the end of the day to wait around. From here you walk into the 'Factory Tour' which I have to say was the worst part of the day for me. Taking somebody with sensory issues from somewhere bright, spacious and colourful into a dark room and telling them where to stand, that they can't touch and have to listen to a talk - albeit short - was just a little bit too much for Jacob and thus we had our first meltdown of the day, especially as he wasn't chosen to help voluntarily like the other children. At the end of the short factory tour Jacob got a small lego brick as a memento which was a nice touch and made him happy again. From here he went on a Kingdom Quest ride which although still dark was a lot less restrictive and as he had adjusted to the light change he quite enjoyed. I didn't go on the ride but it was where they went round on a chariot and shot at things. 

From there you are in the main section which is basically LEGOland Discovery Centre. There is a mini village all built out of LEGO which was rather impressive and must have taken a hell of a lot of effort to build. This section you weren't allowed to touch although Jacob decided to ignore all signs and climb over the railing and try to play with it - including the lake with real water! EEEK! There are several tables all around with large models on and tubs of bricks so you can add to them although even though Jacob loves LEGO he didn't really seem all that bothered by them although he did quite enjoy a section where you built cars and race them down ramps - his daddy quite enjoyed that section too! 

Also around the room was a large soft play centre which looked great fun and Jacob spent a lot of time playing on and when I asked him what his favourite part of the day was and he said jumping in the ball pit which is Jacob all over - he loves being on the go and moving and bouncing. He was in and out of the soft play section the whole time we were there. There is a cinema next to the soft play section but we didn't go in there as I've only ever taken Jacob to the cinema once and it was a disaster and not something I am in a hurry to relive any time soon, I was very impressed with the large Buzz Lightyear made from Lego outside it though! 

There were two rides inside - one where you ride a LEGO City car made from LEGO around the track; they usually put a couple of children on at a time but Ant asked if he could walk around with Jacob as we thought he might struggle to follow the instructions (and he did) but due to health and safety this wasn't allowed but luckily the family due to go on the ride at the same time offered to wait so Jacob could have the ride to himself which was lovely of them and the member of staff walked around with him and was really attentive helping him to steer and power the car when he struggled. The other ride was Merlin's Apprentice Ride and you sat on the ride with some pedals and it went round slowly but the faster you pedaled the higher your part of the ride went which  my wee adrenaline junkie thought was amazing. The member of staff manning this ride was really enthusiastic with his voices he put on while the ride was running which really added to the experience. 

We would normally take some lunch with us or wait to go to a pub chain for lunch but we were all rather hungry so had our lunch at the Discovery Centre. It cost £26 for the three of us which is fairly average really for this kind of place. The cafe is a Costa so nothing too fancy but enjoyable none the less. Ant had a panini, a small tub of pringles and a refillable drink which was £3.50 and you could refill as many times as you like. I had a sandwich and small mixed slushie and Jacob had a childrens meal which was £6 and consisted of a sandwich, small tub of pringles, a yoghurt and a small drink but we paid an extra £4 to get him a LEGO brick lunchbox which he loves and is now using to store some LEGO in.

After lunch it was back to going on the rides, playing in the soft play section and then we decided to leave as I wanted to have a quick look in the Trafford Centre (which didn't work out as it's too big and too busy for me) and we had planned to do a little shopping then re-enter the Discovery Centre for a final hour as we had our hands stamped on the way in but Jacob was tired and asking to be carried so we decided to leave for home. As you leave the main LEGOland section you go through a LEGO Batman section which Jacob thought was amazing. There wasn't much to this section but as its a big thing at the moment with the film coming out on DVD it was popular, I loved the artwork on the walls and Jacob loved trying to dodge lasers in a bid to escape.

Then it was out into the shop where we could have all spent a hell of a lot of money but we were restrained and stuck to a mask, a fridge magnet, a blind bag and a LEGO Batman set. Alas my baby Groot figure has evaded me again. 

Overall I liked the LEGOland Discovery Centre, if we were to go again I would definitely pick midweek term time again in the hope of it being quieter, but I would probably not wait till the end of the school year! There is an offer where you can get joint entry for LEGOland and Sealife Centre which is next door which I would consider as it is better value but I worry it may be just a bit too tiring for us all. I'd rate our experience a 7.5/10 as I thought it was great fun but some things could have been better for us like the factory tour and maybe make it not quite so easy to climb onto the mini village. 

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