By Tina Chadwick

I was expecting a glorified store. Not in a bad way, but just thinking the new LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead would be a neat store with a few things you could play with—maybe some of the toys unwrapped and a few bins of LEGO bricks scattered about to get you in the mood to buy some of the surrounding walls of enticing LEGO worlds you could build.

But once you cross the entrance, you are immersed in the world of LEGO. The first door leads to a windowless brightly-styled room akin to the first room entered when the kids visited Wonka’s factory. My 5-year old daughter, Elizabeth, and I were greeted by a “Master Builder” who had a hand in crafting all of the structures we were about to see within. Okay, Okay, my anticipation was peaking and I felt myself giving over to the same excitement I saw reflected in Elizabeth’s eyes. We were led into a scaled down LEGO factory to learn some quick facts about LEGO production—all through touch and learn machines that are something straight from Seuss. We measured how tall we were in LEGO bricks, how much we weighed in LEGO bricks and then, we all got our commemorative building piece before the next leg of our journey. The ride.

Yes, ride—as in sit in a car and the bar lowers. “Kingdom Quest” is where you’re issued a laser-pointed gun to destroy trolls and capture the princess. When the ride is over, you get your score and a chance to buy a photo of you and your party in action. At this point I couldn’t tell who was 5-years old and who was 44 anymore—I was having kid-style fun.

The next room opened into a MINI-CITY of Atlanta’s famous landmarks built entirely of LEGO bricks – Stone Mountain, Braves and Falcons Stadiums, The Fox — and a Delta LEGO plane circled it all. I could have spent more time appreciating the detail here but my “younger self” was pulling me to the next room’s noises. We stepped into the giant playroom. Not an anemic bins of LEGO bricks, a big space filled with LEGO figures, playgrounds, another ride and a true 4D Cinema—which is really good family fun—and you do get a little wet!

Before I give away all the secrets and surprises of LEGOLAND, I’ll stop and quote Elizabeth: “Mommy, we went everywhere in LEGOLAND today—a castle, a tiny city like ours, a playground and the movies!” Then, she fell asleep in the car on the way home. It’s a fun afternoon away from the world, right in the middle of it. My advice: Go!

LEGOLAND opens at Phipps Plaza on Saturday, March 17. For tickets and information, visit atlanta.legolanddiscoverycenter.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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