What is Legoland Discovery Center Chicago?


In addition to operating a chain of full-blown LEGOLAND® theme parks around the world, the British company Merlin Entertainments owns and operates twenty-seven LEGOLAND® Discovery Centers, each one a sort of indoor theme park.  [Due to the fact that Merlin is a British company, outside the U.S.A. both The LEGO® Group and Merlin Entertainments use the British spelling of center (“centre), so they often refer to these indoor attractions individually as “LEGOLAND Discovery Centre” and collectively as “LEGOLAND Discovery Centres” if you read content on their Websites.]  LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago is located not in the big city itself, but rather in northwest suburban Schaumburg, Illinois.  It occupies a corner of the strip mall at the intersection of the mall’s internal street and a semi-circular drive at the center of the mall that separates the main building from two smaller buildings that stand in front of the main building.  The Streets of Woodfield is south of, and across the street (Woodfield Road) from, Woodfield Mall.  Visitors to Streets of Woodfield can’t help but notice the life-sized LEGO® giraffe outside.  That giraffe, labeled LE-LA, may remind adults and children old enough to remember Toys R Us of that toy store chain’s mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe.

Streets of Woodfield is bounded by Woodfield Road to the north, Frontage Road to the east, Higgins Road to the south, and Martingale Road to the west.  As Streets of Woodfield faces Frontage Road, which runs parallel with I-290/Route 53 between Golf Road to the north and Higgins Road to the south, the LEGO® giraffe can be glimpsed by motorists on Frontage Road and the southbound lanes of I-290/Route 53.

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The climate of Chicago (and the upper Midwest as a whole) with its hot summers and bitterly cold winters is not conducive to running a running an amusement park.  We have the Great America theme park in Gurnee, Illinois due north of Chicago and not far from the frontier with Wisconsin (and about an hour’s drive away, depending on weather and traffic conditions),[1] and there’s the Santa’s Village theme park in East Dundee, Illinois an exurb to the northwest of Chicago, out past the satellite city of Elgin, and thus over an hour’s drive away.[2]   Older Chicagoans themselves remember or heard relatives recount tales of White City, named after the White City fairgrounds of Chicago’s first World’s Fair, the World’s Columbian Exposition (1893), which stood in Woodlawn; Riverview, which stood at Belmont and Western, Joyland Park, which stood in Bronzeville; as well as other amusement parks that formerly stood in the big city.  Likewise, Kiddieland Amusement Park was open at the corner of North Avenue and First Avenue in Melrose Park from 1950 to 2009.[3] 

The Walt Disney Company’s subsidiary Walt Disney Parks & Resorts opened DisneyQuest in downtown Chicago as an indoor amusement park in 1999.  It was only the second DisneyQuest to be built and the first outside of Walt Disney World.  DisneyQuest Chicago was supposed to be the first of a chain of DisneyQuests with plans to built several more in Philadelphia and other cities, but the others were never built, DisneyQuest Chicago closed in 2001 and the one at Disney World closed in 2017.

Figure 1 Credit: Public Relations, Inc. on behalf of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: This is the entrance of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago with the addition of a costumed character version of the LEGO® Ninjago™ heroic character Kai to promote a special event in 2016.  The special event was Ninjago Wu-Cru over the weekend of Saturday, August 13, A.D. 2016 and Sunday, August 14, A.D. 2016. [4]

Credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Caption: This video gives a quick overview of attractions.

The first of the LEGOLAND® theme parks to open was LEGOLAND® Billund Resort, which opened in 1968.  It is located near the original LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark.  The number of visitors that first year was double what Godtfred Kirk Christiansen (1919-1995), son of LEGO Group founder Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891-1958), had estimated it would be at 600,000.

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LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort is in Windsor, Berkshire, England and opened in 1996.  LEGOLAND® California was the first built outside Europe and opened in 1999.  LEGOLAND® Deutschland Resort is in Günzburg, Swabia, Bavaria, Germany and opened in 2002. 

In 2004, Lego A/S (doing business as The LEGO® Group) posted a loss of £174,000,000, and consequently restructured.  As part of that restructuring, for the first time, someone outside the Christiansen family became C.E.O. of The LEGO® Group.  G.K. Christiansen’s son, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen (who spells the surname differently), remained Vice Chairman, but stepped down as C.E.O.[5]  The next year, The LEGO® Group sold the four LEGOLAND® theme parks to the Blackstone Group.  Blackstone assigned management of the LEGOLAND® theme parks to its London-based Merlin Entertainments Group.  Now, the Kristiansen family’s investment company Kirkbi A/S has a 47.5% ownership stake in Merlin Entertainments.

Today, Merlin Entertainments has LEGOLAND® theme parks in Denmark; England; Germany, Italy; California, Florida, and, now, New York in the U.S.A.; Malaysia; Dubai; Japan; and, soon, South Korea.  LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago opened in 2008.  It was the first LEGOLAND® Discovery Center to open in North America and only the second to open in the world, the first being LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Berlin, which opened in 2007.

 

LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago has 3,000,000 LEGO® bricks and thirteen attractions spread out over 30,000 square feet.  The attractions are MINILAND™ featuring famous Chicago landmarks; Jungle Expedition; the Master Model Builder Workshop; the Master Builder Academy; LEGO® Friends Heartlake City; Kingdom Quest ride; LEGO 4D Cinema; LEGO® Factory Tour; DUPLO® Village; Pirate Adventure Land: LEGO® Racers Build & Test; The Great LEGO® Race VR Experience; and Merlin’s Apprentice Ride.

The first attraction you will see on your tour is MINILAND™ Chicago, which is comprised of more than 1,500,000 bricks.  The attraction includes models of Millennium Park, the Sears Tower – I know the owners want to call us Willis Tower and for the record LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago does, too, but I don’t care – and Soldier Field.

A team of fifteen expert model builders constructed MINILAND™ Chicago over a period of more than 5,000 man-hours or the equivalent of 208.33333 days.  On February 18, A.D. 2016, an addition debuted that included models of Soldier Field and O’Hare International Airport.

The Soldier Field LEGO® Replica is over seven feet wide, almost four feet tall, is comprised of 50,000 bricks, and is home to 2,000 Minifigures.  The football game is interactive.

The Chicago O’Hare International Airport LEGO® Replica is over three feet wide, four feet tall with additional buildings and vehicles such as the control tower and radar tower.  It is comprised of 10,000 bricks and has three airplanes.

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In 2015, I interviewed LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Master Model Builder David Howard as part of my coverage of the Creative Crew contest there for Examiner.com Chicago and he mentioned he had built the model of the Cloud Gate sculpture (commonly called “The Bean’) in the Millennium Park replica.  He had also built several of the Factory Friends sculptures that were two-and-a-half-feet-tall.  At the time, Mr. Howard had been the Master Model Builder for over a year, having started at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago in 2012 and having spent the entirety of 2013 as Master Model Builder at the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Westchester, New York.

Figure 2 Credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: On February 18, A.D. 2016, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago unveiled additions to MINILAND™ Chicago: Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Soldier Field.

Figure 3 Credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: The Chicago O’Hare International Airport LEGO® Replica is over 3’ wide and 4’ tall with additional buildings and vehicles such as the control tower and radar tower.  It is comprised of 10,000 bricks and has three airplanes.

Figure 4 Credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: The Soldier Field LEGO® Replica is over 7’ wide, almost 4’ tall, is comprised of 50,000 bricks, and is home to 2,000 Minifigures. 

Figure 5 Credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: The football game is interactive at the Soldier Field LEGO® Replica in MINILAND™ Chicago.

Then, visitors walk through “Jungle Expedition,” which is a dark space full of plant and animal models built of LEGO® bricks.  Kids are excited to point out animals to their parents and each other. For adult Chicagoans, this experience is reminiscent of walking through the Tropic World exhibit at Brookfield Zoo, but with sculptures having replaced living things.

There are LEGO® Minifigure™ costumed characters pop put at a “designated Meet & Greet area” so families can take their pictures with them.  [Based on a picture on the Website, this appears to be at or near DUPLO® Village, but on the map it is depicted after Jungle Expedition, which would place it on the ground floor.] Please note, however, that currently they only come out on weekends every hour on the half hour starting at 11:30 a.m. 

Next, under normal conditions, children are supposed to be able to interact with a LEGO® Master Model Builder in his office.  This is called the LEGO® Master Builder Academy.  However, this attraction is temporarily unavailable.

One attraction is aimed squarely at girls: LEGO® Friends Heartlake City.  This is an interactive attraction where girls can construct buildings.  Heartlake City is the main setting of LEGO® Friends cartoons and most of the model buildings in LEGO® Friends sets are supposed to be standing in Heartlake City.[6]  Be sure to snap a picture of your daughter (or niece or granddaughter) with the five LEGO® Friends character sculptures.  LEGO® Friends Heartlake City replaced the LEGO® City Construction Site Play Zone.

The Kingdom Quest ride (formerly called the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride) is probably the attraction the average visitor remembers most vividly.  This ride is inspired by the LEGO® System’s old LEGO® Castle theme.  It isn’t the LEGO® Castle theme in a general sense, though.  The cars are inspired by the green dragons from the Dragon Masters faction in sets released between 1993 and ’95.  The ride itself is mostly inspired by the subtheme Castle (2007-2009), which fans also call “Fantasy Castle” or “Fantasy Era Castle.”  The sets released in 2007 pitted heroic humans against an undead army (not depicted in the roller coaster, to my recollection) and in the sets released in 2008 and 2009, humans and dwarfs (out of Norse mythology and J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium) had to defend themselves from an army of goblins and trolls.  [Those goblins and trolls were clearly also inspired by Tolkien’s legendarium, but The LEGO® Group bizarrely labeled the goblins that were the size of human Minifigures™ “Troll Warriors” and the larger Big Fig trolls “Giant Trolls.”[7]]  It is the Giant Troll that is depicted in Kingdom Quest.

Up on the second floor, you will find the LEGO® 4D Cinema, a LEGO® factory mockup, the Café,[8] a DUPLO® play area for preschool-aged tykes, the Pirate Adventure Island, and the Merlin’s Apprentice ride.  The LEGO® 4D Cinema is a 3D cinema where animated LEGO® short films are screened, augmented by the release of certain odors so you can smell what the characters are supposed to be smelling, water sprayed so you’re (a little bit) wet when the characters are drenched, artificial snow falling when the characters are in a blizzard, etc.  When the LEGO® factory mockup is functioning, a tour guide shows your party how a LEGO® brick is made and you get to keep one as a souvenir.  

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Figure 6 Credit: Picture courtesy of Public Communications, Inc. on behalf of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: The animated short films screened in the LEGO® 4D Cinema at LEGOLAND® Discovery centers periodically change. This is a promotional image for LEGO® NEXO KNIGHTS™: THE BOOK OF CREATIVITY.  The twelve-minute-long film premiered at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago on Friday, June 10, A.D. 2016. 

In 2015, Pirate Adventure Island , which has been re-branded as Pirate Adventure Land, replaced a jungle gym with no theme.  LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago was the first LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in the world to get this attraction.  The LEGO® Group revived the LEGO® Pirates theme (product line) in 2015 because of its popularity.[9]

Pirate Adventure Land is outside the Café seating area, in the central part of the eastern end of the second floor of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago.  It is situated between LEGO® Racers: Build & Test and DUPLO® Village.

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DUPLO® Village and LEGO Racers: Build & Test were also new as they opened eight months before Pirate Adventure Island.  Part of LEGO Racers: Build & Test was closed from Tuesday, May 26, A.D. 2015 to Saturday, June 27, A.D. 2015 while Pirate Adventure Island was under construction.  The jungle gym (Pirate Adventure Island replaced) and DUPLO Village were not accessible. 

Pirate Adventure Island opened to the public on Saturday, June 27, A.D. 2015.  Annual pass members got a preview on Thursday, June 25, A.D. 2015 and Friday, June 26, A.D. 2015.  I attended that preview to cover it as a member of the press.  While Pirate Adventure Island was under construction, and during the preview, at least, a Captain Redbeard costume character stood near the top of the stairs.  Tykes could pose with him to get their pictures taken. 

The attraction has several elements taken directly from LEGO® Pirates sets.  The jungle gym now includes a feature that looks like part of the hull of a LEGO® Pirates ship.  Another part of the jungle gym has a telescope fixed on a railing.[10]  Another part of the jungle gym looks like a white-and-blue building from an Imperial Soldiers or Imperial Guards set.[11]

The jungle gym also has an air canon children can fire.  In addition to the jungle gym, Pirate Adventure Land incorporates a water feature called a water table.  Using LEGO® and LEGO® DUPLO® hulls and decks, children can build and race ships along an obstacle course on the water table, which is about twenty feet long.  The water table’s Treasure Island includes a life-sized treasure chest, oversized gold coins, and an oversized cutlass. 

In another play area of Pirate Adventure Land, children can build LEGO® sandcastles.  Pirate Adventure Land has several large replicas of the palm tree from Treasure Island (Set #70411) and Soldiers Fort (Set #70412) in the third iteration of LEGO® Pirates that rolled out in 2015.

There are three sculptures throughout Pirate Adventure Land that look like giant Minifigures™ from LEGO® Pirates.  These are not life-size, because they are supposed to be full-grown adults, and they are only as tall as children. 

Fathers, uncles, godfathers, and older brothers who collected LEGO® Pirates sets will immediately recognize Captain Redbeard (even if they don’t remember his name).  He is accompanied by two of his crewmen.  

One of his men from the third iteration of LEGO® Pirates, Pirate 1, is in a crow’s nest at the top of the jungle gym.  The Pirate Princess is in one corner, too.[12]  The Pirate Princess holds a cutlass in her left hand and a spyglass in her right hand.

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Figure 7 Credits: Courtesy of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: The old sign for Pirate Adventure Island incorporated images of Captain Redbeard, a parrot, and gold coins from LEGO® Pirates.  This is closer to how Redbeard appeared in the third iteration of LEGO® Pirates, than how he appeared in the first iteration.

Figure 8 Credits: Courtesy of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago  Caption: While this boy is building a LEGO® ship to race down the water table in Pirate Adventure Island, we see the water table’s Treasure Island in the foreground, and the jungle gym with Pirate 1 in the crow’s nest in the background.

Figure 9 Credits: Courtesy of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, Chicago Caption: While this boy is building a LEGO® ship, we see ships floating in the water that were built hulls and decks are from the set Jake’s Pirate Ship Bucky (Set #10514), which was part of Lego® DUPLO® Disney’s™ Jake and the Neverland Pirates™.

Figure 10 Credits: Courtesy of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: This is a sculpture of Pirate Princess from the third iteration of LEGO® Pirates, which rolled out in 2015, at Pirate Adventure Island (as it was then called) in LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago.  She holds a cutlass in her left hand and a spyglass in her right hand.

Figure 11 Credits: Courtesy of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: This is part of the jungle gym at Pirate Adventure Island (as it was then called).  The jungle gym now has parts fabricated to seem like a life-size sailing ship and a building from LEGO® Pirates.  Part of DUPLO® Village can be seen in the background.

Figure 12 Credits: Courtesy of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: Part of the jungle gym at Pirate Adventure Island (as it was then called) in LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, Chicago includes Pirate 1 from the third iteration of LEGO® Pirates in a crow’s nest.

DUPLO® Village is a play area for very small children in the southeast corner on the second floor.  The main feature is a barn-shaped playhouse with a slide.

LEGO® Racers; Build & Test is an attraction where children or whole families can build cars (or trucks) and then race them down against each other on a track. The Great LEGO® Race VR Experience is another attraction located somewhere near this one.  [Either it wasn’t open yet when I visited with my family last year or I didn’t notice it.]  Note you need to buy a separate ticket at the Admissions Desk or the VR Counter inside this attraction to use it and only visitors ages six-and-up can use it.

The last attraction Merlin’s Apprentice Ride.  To be a rider, the guest must be at least thirty inches (two-and-a-half-feet) tall.  Children between thirty and forty-two-inches in height must be accompanied by an adult or a teenager who is at least fourteen-year-old.  This is a bit like a merry-go-round, but the riders move their legs on bicycle paddles and the cars gently rise and fall in the air. The last time I visited LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago, in 2021, my nieces loved this thing.  My recollection is that a parent who is, let us say, a standard-sized adult, can get on the ride with the kids, as seen in the video below, but I was too large.

Credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Caption:

The Café is also on the top floor.  [I believe the Café and the Coffee Shop that I will bring up later is the same thing as the Café, which is to say I think at some point late last year or early this year the Café was rebranded the Coffee Shop.]  You will pass it before the kids play at Pirate Adventure Land or any of you get on the Merlin’s Quest ride.

If you are touring the place with kids, take them on the roller coaster ride inspired by LEGO® Castle on the ground floor, take them to the 4D movie theater, and they ride Merlin’s Quest on the top floor, and nobody wants to go on a ride a second time, expect to spend an hour or two there, at most, before you hit the gift shop.  Expect to spend another 10-20 minutes in the giftshop depending on how much you can afford to spend; how much the sets appeal to you; how much time, if any, you need at the Pick and Build wall (formerly called the Pick-A-Brick wall); and how much time you need at the Minifigure™ building station.

Figure 13 Caption: LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago Caption: This is supposed to be a map, but it is more like a wayfinding tool that conveys in what order a party will enter an attraction at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago.

Figure 14 Caption: LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago Caption: By comparison, this is the old map of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago and does a much better job of conveying all the attractions there.

According to the Website, the Creative Workshop remains closed.  I’m not sure what that is because it is not identified anywhere else on the Website.  The Coffee Shop is not open every day.  Merlin recommends that visitors wear masks, but they are not required.

Ticket Prices

A Standard LEGOLAND® Discovery Center ticket is $24.99 per person (three-and-over).  A Robot Activity Pack is $6.  Kids looks for stamps throughout the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center and solve puzzles along the way.  A Ticket + Digital Photo Pass is $29.99 per person (three-and-over).  A Ticket + Digital Photo Pass + LEGO® Collectible is $34.99 per person (three-and-over).  Each ticket in this category includes an entry ticket, an Ultimate Magic Memories Photo Package, and one LEGO® Collectible.  The Magic Memories Pass covers all digital photos.

Since Merlin runs another attraction in Schaumburg, Peppa Pig World of Play Chicago (located in the former site of the restaurant Rainforest Café), you can buy tickets for both LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago and Peppa Pig World of Play in one package.  [Peppa Pig World of Play Chicago and the LEGO® Store are both located in the wing of Woodfield Mall where the Sears, Roebuck & Company that closed in November of 2021 was the anchor department store.  The Peppa Pig World of Play is on the ground floor and the LEGO® Store is on the second floor.]  These online tickets are $39.99 per child (ages three-to-eight), $29.99 per adult or child over nine, and $14.99 for toddlers (two and under).  Obviously, there are girls who like LEGO® generally and the LEGO® Friends theme particularly, but the brand appeals primarily to boys and I imagine there are very little boys who like Peppa Pig, but the brand primarily appeals to little girls, so for certain families this two-attractions-for-the-price-of-one package would allow the whole family to see two attractions in close proximity to each other that combined appeal to tots of both sexes.

Tickets are non-refundable.  An online ticket cannot be combined with promotional offers.  The prices offered on the Website (and mentioned by me here) cannot be offered at the door.  When customers purchase tickets online, they choose a time slot to get in line. 

Adults must have children with them to tour LEGOLAND® Discovery Center.  This is to say, one member of your party must be a minor (seventeen-or-under).

In participation with LEGO® Education, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago has designed a program for school groups to take field trips that highlight math, science, and engineering.  However, currently bookings are unavailable.

Daycare centers, summer camps, day camps, youth groups, Y.M.C.A., parks & recreation associations, kids clubs, and sports teams can take group trips.  However, currently bookings are unavailable.

Cub scouts, boy scouts, and girl scout troops of ten or more kids can participate in workshops and earn badges. However, currently bookings are unavailable.

Families can arrange for birthday parties to be held at LEGOLAND ® Discovery Center Chicago.  A birthday party package includes admission, food, drinks, cupcakes, and a LEGO® take home model for each gust.  There’s a party room that can accommodate thirty people.  A party package requires a minimum of fifteen paid guests.  Please note that “paid guests” include all adults and children.  Reservations must be booked two weeks in advance.  The payment is taken at the time of booking to secure the party package, date, and time.  However, you’ll be shocked to read, bookings are currently unavailable.  This seems to be due to the Birthday Party Room being “temporarily” closed.

The Groups & Schools Webpage states, “Our 30,000 square foot indoor attraction provides the ultimate educational field trip or group outing for children ages 3 to 10 years old.”  This seems to be the only place on the Website with guidance about the age range LEGOLAND ® Discovery Center Chicago caters to but it is about perfect.  Some children a little older than that would have a blast at such a place, but others might feel they are too mature for it.  There are also older teens who would enjoy taking younger siblings or cousins around the place, yet, who, in a different scenario, wouldn’t necessarily be pleased to be taken there by their parents without the presence of wee ones.

If you aren’t trying to entertain adorable little people, and there are only adults and teens in your party, is it still worth visiting?  A group of adult and teenage LEGO® enthusiasts might have a good time zipping through LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago even if they don’t have wee tykes in their party, especially as a side trip for people attending the Brickworld Chicago convention, which is held in Schaumburg on an annual basis.  However, for many adults and teenagers, it is probably sufficient to stop inside the giftshop.  There isn’t 100% overlap between the inventory of the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago and the LEGO® Store in Woodfield Mall, so if you have time, I recommend to A.F.O.L.s and T.F.O.L.s that you stop in both places.

It is not necessary to take a tour to stop in the gift shop.  Currently, the giftshop is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays.  If you purchase an Annual Pass, you can save 10% at the giftshop.  Customers please note, at the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center giftshop, they cannot accept a LEGO® Gift Card as payment.  They do not participate in the LEGO® Club points program.  Refunds and exchanges can only be made with purchases from LEGOLAND® Discovery Center.  Due to the way this is phrased on the Website, I think they mean this giftshop at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago and not giftshops from other LEGOLAND® Discovery Centers, but I suppose it is possible they mean giftshops at all LEGOLAND® Discovery Centers.  Either way, they will not issue refunds or agree to exchanges for products purchased at a LEGO® Store or the online LEGO® Shop.

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A few years ago, there were (at least two) night events for adults at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago.   Firstly, there was “Flirty Friday” on Friday, February 12, A.D. 2016 (so two days before St. Valentine’s Day).  This one was for older teens (sixteen-and-over) as well as adults.  Activities included a Blind Love Build and a Racing Heart team Speed Build.  Adults (twenty-one-and-over) were able to buy alcoholic beverages.  Secondly, there was “‘80’s Prom Adult Night” on May 20, A.D. 2016.  Participants were encouraged to dress their best to be chosen Prom King or Queen.  All ten attractions then at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago were open.  Special activities included dancing to ‘80s hair band music and love ballads, playing arcade video games, building arcade characters, and a trivia contest.   There was also a charity raffle that benefitted Merin’s Magic Wand Foundation.  The staff Master Model Builder was on hand to talk with guests.  Adults twenty-one-and-over could purchase alcoholic beverages.  It strikes me it would make for a fun night out for a certain kind of couple, especially if one, or both, of them were A.F.O.L.s.  However, to the best of my knowledge, this program came to a halt even before the COVID-19 restrictions came into play in 2020, and may have ended in 2016, the last time I was notified about such an event, so I cannot say if it will come back.

Figure 15 Credit: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago Caption: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago used this C.G.I. (computer-generated imagery) image of a fairy to promote the “Flirty Friday” night event for adults and teens in 2016.  The image had the name “Front Faerie” and seems to be a reuse of a promotional image created by The LEGO® Group for the Collectable Minifigure™ from Series 8 of the Collectable Minifigures™, released in 2012.

In addition to the LEGO® Store (and the Peppa Pig World of Play) in Woodfield Mall to the north, and the annual Brickworld Chicago convention, other points of interests in Schaumburg are the Brickmania® Chicago store, which used to be located in Woodfield Mall and now is in a different part of Schaumburg, and Busse Woods, a vast forest preserve belonging to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County that lies to the east of I-290.  In 2019, the Brickmania® Chicago store moved from Woodfield Mall to a larger space in Cove Shopping Plaza, a strip mall on Wise Road, so it is now closer to the Schaumburg Boomers minor league baseball stadium – now called Wintrust Field – and the Metra commuter train station than to Woodfield Mall.  Cove Shopping Plaza is at the northwest corner of Wise Road and Spring Cove Drive.  The address of the Brickmania® Chicago Store is 522 West Wise Road, Schaumburg, Illinois 60193. The phone number is (847) 252-9911.  The Webpage for it is https://www.brickmania.com/chicago/

There was formerly another point of interest for LEGO® enthusiasts in Woodfield Mall in the form of Blocks to Bricks. Unfortunately, that museum-and-store closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020 and never re-opened.[13] 

Higgins Road/Route 72 runs roughly through the center of Busse Woods, so it is easy to reach from LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago.  Multiple scenic hiking trails run through the forest. The Busse Woods Elk Pasture is at the east end of the forest preserve, at the northwest corner of Higgins Road and Arlington Heights Road.  The elk aren’t always out, but when they come out to the fence, it’s worth stopping there to see the animals, especially if you have children with you.

The address of LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Chicago is 601 North Martingale Road.  The Website is https://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/chicago/

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END NOTES


[1] Marriott opened Great America in 1976.  Six Flags purchased it in 1984 and added it to their chain of theme parks.

[2] Santa’s Village in East Dundee was the third amusement park with that name to be built by Glenn Holland (1982-2002), the first two being in California.  It ended up being the last one to still be in operation when it closed In 2005.  New owners re-opened it as “Santa’s Village Azoosment Park” six years later.

[3] It was demolished a year later and now a Costco big box store/club stands on the former site of Kiddieland and the Melrose Park Public Library has the Kiddieland sign. 

[4] Introduced in 2011, LEGO® Ninjago™ (sometimes stylized LEGO® NINJAGO™) is a play theme.  It reuses some elements from the LEGO® Ninja theme The LEGO® Group produced from 1998 to 2000, but unlike LEGO® Ninja it has a narrative, signs of modern technology (instead of being firmly rooted in the past), and fantasy elements.  There are LEGO® Ninjago™ books and videogames, as well as LEGO® Ninjago™ sets.  The 3D computer-animated series LEGO NINJAGO: MASTERS OF SPINJITZU airs on the Cartoon Network in the U.S.A. and are available for steaming on Netflix.  It began to air in 2011 and in 2019 the name was shortened to Ninjago.  The creators of the series, brothers Dan and Kevin Hageman, were head writers until the ninth season. [They also co-wrote the story for THE LEGO MOVIE (2014) with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.  Lord and Miller wrote the final script.]  Warner Bros. released THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE (2017), written by the Hageman brothers, Kevin Chesley, and Bryan Shukoff.  The Island (2021) was a four-episode miniseries set between the thirteenth (2020) and fourteenth (2021) seasons of the show.

[5] In 2016, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, grandson of The LEGO® Group founder Ole Kirk Christiansen (1891-1958), went from being Deputy Chairman of the Board of Lego A/S to being an ordinary board member and his son, Thomas, who had been an ordinary member became Deputy Chairman.  This was the first step in a smooth transition to Thomas running the family’s group of companies on behalf of the larger family.  Thomas Kirk Kristiansen is now the Chairman of Lego A/S and the Lego Foundation.  Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen remains Chairman of the Board of Kirkbi A/S but in 2023 Thomas will become Chairman of Kirkbi A/S.   Kirkbi A/S has a 75% ownership stake in Lego A/S and the remaining 25% is owned by the Lego Foundation.

[6] For decades, The LEGO® Group struggled to create a theme that would appeal to girls before they succeeded with LEGO® Friends in 2012.  [The best known example was Belville (1994-2009), but many LEGO® enthusiasts who would have bought Belville sets for their daughters didn’t even know it existed.]  After studying girls at play and asking for feedback they found that girls wanted figures that were more detailed than the Minifigure™ that was sufficient for boys (and grown men looking to fill cityscapes) and developed the Mini-Doll.  These Mini-Dolls were also distinct characters whereas most Minifigures™ are more like archetypes (a knight, an astronaut, a cop, a fireman, etc.).  The horses and other animals in LEGO® Friends sets are also more realistic (and yet also cuter) than the horses and other animals in the traditional LEGO® System themes.  The building and vehicle models are comprised of bricks® and other pieces that are brighter colors than most LEGO® City, LEGO® Castle, or LEGO® Space themes. [Subsequently, The LEGO® Group has used Mini-Dolls in other themes aimed at girls: Disney Princess, Fusion (2014), and LEGO® Elves (2015-2018), and DC Super Hero Girls (2017).]  LEGO Friends: New Girl in Town (2012) and LEGO® Friends: Stephanie’s Surprise Party (2013) were animated 3D short telefilms that became the first two installments in a series alternatively known as LEGO Fiends and LEGO Friends of Heartlake City .  LEGO Friends (2012-2016), which was animated but not 3D animated like the other productions, ran for four seasons as a Web series posted on YouTube.  Each episode was only a few minutes long. LEGO Friends: The Power of Friendship (2016) ran as a 3D animated miniseries on Netflix.  A reboot, LEGO Friends: Girls on a Mission (2018-) with two of the characters re-designed, has run for four seasons. 

[7] After The LEGO® Group gained the license to create sets that depicted scenes from The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (2001-2003), they used the same scale Big Fig for the Cave Troll in the Mines of Moria (Set #9473), released in 2012.

[8] The formal name of the Café is or was the Snack Bar at LEGOLAND® Discovery Center.  I believe it was rebranded as the Coffee Shop.

[9] The LEGO® Group introduced the first iteration of the theme LEGO® Pirates in 1989 and sets were released in the theme every year through 1997. It was only the fourth theme in the LEGO® System after LEGLAND® City, LEGOLAND® Castle, and LEGOLAND® Space, which The LEGO® Group released in 1978.  In 2009, The LEGO® Group released a second iteration.  [In 2011, The LEGO® Group released an unrelated Pirates of the Caribbean™ theme under license from Disney.]  The LEGO® Group released a third iteration in 2015. Further, The LEGO® Group released the fan-designed set LEGO® Ideas Pirates of Barracuda Bay (Set #21233), which was meant for adults and teens sixteen-and-over, and several of the Collectable Minifigures™ have been pirates.

[10] In the LEGO® Pirates theme, several Minifigures™ have had spyglass-type telescopes as accessories (for navigational purposes like sextants).

[11] The Imperial Soldiers and Imperial Guards had buildings with a white-and-yellow color scheme in the first iteration of LEGO® Pirates (1989-1997, 2002).  The Imperial Guards had buildings with a white-and-tan color scheme in the second iteration of LEGO® Pirates (2009-2010).  The Imperial Soldiers, now called Bluecoat Soldiers, have white-and-black buildings in the third iteration of LEGO® Pirates.

[12] The Pirate Princess replaced the Pirate Lady Minifigures from the first iteration of LEGO® Pirates (1989-1997, 2002) and second iterations of LEGO® Pirates (2009-2010).

[13] Founded by the LEGO® Certified Professional Adam Reed Tucker, Blocks to Bricks was dedicated to building toys including LEGO®, Erector Sets®, and Lincoln Logs®.  Tucker’s LEGO® models of famous buildings had been featured in the temporary exhibit Brick by Brick at the Museum of Science and Industry from 2016 to 2018.


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