Last weekend I visited the new Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers (Westchester County), just north of New York City, with my 3-year old son. Neither of us has been to other Legoland locations so I can’t compare, but my son had lots of fun! We spent almost 3 hours there, and that’s a lot at his age. So it’s not as big as the main Legoland parks, but there’s plenty to do.
The center is located in the new Ridge Hill shopping mall, which looks pretty cool, with lots of large plazas and outdoor dining. Once you go in, you do a ride called Kingdom Quest, in trackless cars that weave around dark rooms. In every room there’s a big screen with Lego characters manning a castle, and each passenger has a laser gun that they can use to shoot at the bad guys on screen. It’s pretty entertaining for older kids, who can team up to finish the enemies quick, but my 3-year old didn’t get the concept.
Next is Miniland, a series of miniature scenes, mainly related to New York City. Being mid-October, they also had a Halloween theme, with spider webs and scary ghouls between the buildings. They were really cool and each scene required lots of work, with thousands, if not tens of thousands of Lego pieces. There were city streets with tall buildings and lots of vehicles, the Statue of Liberty and the New York Public Library, Ellis Island and much more. Definitely fun for adults too to watch. From there, you’re in the main hall, around which all the other Legoland attractions are.
My son’s favorite, by far, was the Lego Racers, an area where kids could build their own race cars and then watch them race down the track. They had thousands of Lego pieces available to build whatever they can dream of, and there no shortage of components. Some reviews say there are not enough wheels, but must be older reviews. The room got pretty busy at one time, and you still didn’t lack anything. Five kids at a time could place their cars on the track and race down to the finish line, and it was very fun watching their enthusiasm and creativity. For the more skilled “engineers”, there was a jumping ramp, but most kid creations would break down there before doing the jump. That was for the school-age kids I think.
Back in the main hall, there were the Earthquake Tables, where kids could build tall towers, and then start the shaking to see if their creation can withstand the earthquake. And also a big playing structure, with climbing nets, tunnels and slides, but my kid was a bit intimidated. He still enjoyed jumping around in a big pool of giant foam Lego bricks. Other playing rooms were the Duplo Village, with the bigger pieces which are easier for smaller kids and the Lego Friends, better suited for girls with its pink themed bricks and “house play” tools like the cupcake machine. The other ride of Legoland was Merlin’s Apprentice, a regular spinning ride but where you had to pedal fast in order to get off the ground. Again I can’t comment on this one since it’s not suited for 3-year olds.
But we both enjoyed the 4D Cinema, which plays 10-15 minute 3D films on a continuous schedule. We caught Clutch Powers, a Lego characters adventure, and the cool part were the special effects. When the heroes were driving fast over a bridge or jumping from a helicopter, you’d feel a strong breeze in your face. And when the firefighter would use his hose, tiny water droplets would spray you. Nothing to get you wet, just a cooling sensation. Combined with the full 3D effects, it was very entertaining.
The Cafe was cozy and with a lot of food choices. What I’d like to point out is that, compared to other kids attractions (especially this close to New York City!), Legoland was pretty inexpensive. Our extra costs (food, parking, souvenir toy) were less than $20! Go to Six Flags or Sesame Street and you won’t get away without spending at least $60-80. The store was very well stocked with Lego sets for all ages (no premium prices) and I found it funny that you could buy Lego bricks by the pound (picking them from bowls, like candy at the movie theater).
Legoland was just about a 1h 15min ride from Middletown (Northern part of the Jersey Shore), and well worth it. I think even a 2-year old would enjoy most of it, and there’s even more to do for older kids. If you’re past the afternoon naps age, you can also enjoy Ridge Hill afterwards, with the many shops and cool outdoor restaurants nearby.
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