{Germany} Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin

October 28, 2013

Germany

This week, #MuseumBaby’s nursery is on a short Autumn break. As all his favourite museums are closed on Monday’s, I took him to visit the Legoland Discovery Centre here in Berlin today. It says a lot about how we have raised him, that he referred to it as the “Lego Museum”, even though the word museum never crossed my lips! And since I recently reviewed the Lego exhibition at the Archäologisches Museum/ Helms Hamburg here on the blog, I thought sharing our little visit with you would fit right in.

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - giraffe

Berlin’s Legoland Centre is located in the Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz. You are greeted outside by a larger than life Lego giraffe, then descend down in to the basement level where a whole world of Lego awaits you. The first part of the visit takes you through an exhibition of miniature Lego dioramas, much like the historical ones in Hamburg. Only here, it’s the city of Berlin that spreads out before you, from Berlin Cathedral and the Brandenburg Gate, to Checkpoint Charlie and the Reichstag. You can even watch a section of the Berlin wall being toppled at the press of a button. Further buttons make other parts of the dioramas come to life. It took much persuasion to make our visit move beyond watching the trains in the diorama go round!

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - Brandenburger Tor und Reichstag

This is followed, quite randomly, by several dioramas from Star Wars – which also invite more button pressing – alongside life size (?) models of  3CPO and R2D2. #MuseumBaby was totally unimpressed by the latter, perhaps because he associates robots in general with the – in his eyes – scary trio of robots at the Museum für Naturkunde?

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - 3CPO and R2D2 from Star Wars

The Dragon Ride (no photos allowed) then takes you on a short ride through a dark tunnel maze, where large animated Lego models greet you along the way. Since it’s Hallowe’en week, they had additional spooky ghosts and skeletons at every turn, which made for a nice touch. If you think it’s going to be too scary for your child, you can skip the ride, but #MuseumBaby was mostly just fascinated. After that you descend a further level down, in to an open plan space with several different areas to go round at your own pace and in which ever order you wish.

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - Halloween Pumpkin

One of the central things is, of course, building with Lego yourself, and there are bricks for every age, from oversized rubber bricks for the tiny tots, the Lego Duplo for toddlers and pre-schoolers, and regular sized Lego for older children. #MuseumBaby headed straight for the Duplo Village and got stuck in to building, until he spotted the Lego Friends house, a patio, kitchen and sitting room combo in varying shades of purple and pink where you can build Lego cupcakes in the kitchen, or make yourself comfy on the sofa and watch a short film of the friends in question getting their pets ready for a tournament. They say that every little boy’s favourite colour is pink, until they are told otherwise, and the fact that there were more little boys than girls squeezing on to the sofa to watch Olivia and her friends, clutching candy pink Lego bricks, may give credit to this.

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - Duplo Village

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - Duplo Village

But all this was forgotten when we discovered the cars. Of course. In the Build & Test area you can create your own car from scratch, then send it down a ramp to see how well it performs, or race it against other people’s cars. I think if it were up to #MuseumBaby we would still be there now. I lost count of the number of times we sent the car down the ramp and the race track, and the number of times I had to piece it back together for him after it crashed. The visit was worth it alone, just to experience his pure, tangible joy. The test area also included four seismic plates which you can set to vibrate at different speeds – the challenge is to build a construction that won’t collapse from the vibrations.

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - building a car

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - Car Racing

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - Seismic Plates

That wasn’t all, however. There was an entire area dedicated to Ninjago, a Lego phenomenon that has escaped us so far but I fear this will only be temporary. Here you can train your Ninja skills in the laser maze (which is aimed a slightly older kids), the reaction wall at the soft play parkour. It’s not the only soft play area on site, there’s also a large soft play gym which has nothing to do with Lego but is excellent for burning off some of your kids energy. In the Lego Factory Tour you can learn about how Lego bricks are made, and receive a special souvenir edition brick to take home, and in the 4D cinema you can see your Lego heroes come to life on the big screen in some short films. Make sure you check the age recommendations though – I didn’t realise until afterwards that the Hallowe’en special edition film was rated a 6+. Bad mom. #MuseumBaby took it in his stride though, thankfully.

legoland_berlin_ninjago_parkours

There were a couple of things besides the laser maze that #MuseumBaby was too small or too young for, including a pedal ride called ‘Merlin’s Apprentice’ (105cm and taller only) and the Lego Workshop, where you could build another small souvenir kit under group instruction, which although he’s old enough now not to eat the small bricks he just lacks the concentration for. But if you’re wondering wether it’s worth the money taking an (almost) 3 year old to the Legoland Discovery Centre, let me tell you we spent 5 (!) whole hours there, which included 15 mins at most for a lunch break. We would have stayed even longer, if it I hadn’t had to play the voice of reason and get us home in time for dinner.

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - giraffe

In conclusion, it’s one of those places that sounds pricey and you worry won’t be value for money, but there’s some great special deals available if you book online in advance, and there’s discount vouchers lying out in various places around town if you keep your eyes open. I would definitely recommend getting tickets in advance though – after my initial shock at seeing the Q which was worth at least half an hour’s wait, I realised we could skip straight to the front with out e-tickets. And judging by how busy and noisy it had become when we go towards late afternoon, I’d also recommend going early in the day. You can find all details for Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin (in English) on their website.

Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin - Indiana Jones

I couldn’t persuade #MuseumBaby to post with the hat, but for all my archaeologist museum friends out there, I just had to include a picture of Indy ;)

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