LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels, the First of Its Name


On February 4, A.D. 2021, Merlin Entertainments announced that the twenty-eighth LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre would open in the Belgian capital city of Brussels in the summer of 2022.  [Merlin is the company that owns and/or manages all of the LEGOLAND® theme parks and LEGOLAND® Discovery Centers around the world on behalf of the Kristiansen family (who founded and own The LEGO® Group) and some other investors.] However, it would not be called “LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Brussels,” but rather “LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels.”  This shorter name reflects a re-branding of the chain as LEGO® Discovery Centres.[1]

“With a brand-new look and design, the attractions, now named LEGO Discovery Centres… will continue an already popular offering of highly interactive indoor play experiences,” Merlin stated in a press release. [2]  It will include a “LEGO Space digital experience” in which children and families can build their own spaceships of LEGO® bricks, digitally scan them, and simulate a ride in which they dodge aliens and land on planets in the LEGO® Space star system. [3]  On the Imagination Express train ride, families will use “magic devices” to collect points. [4]  A new attraction for preschoolers will include a dinosaur-themed carousel and slides. [5]

Merlin stated, “The new immersive experience is designed to allow more family learning-through-play activities and will also include a new team of Playmakers and Master Model Builders who will continue to inspire guests through fun, interactive LEGO Creative Workshops.  Brussels is one of Europe’s most exciting and densely populated cities with a high proportion of young and growing families and offers the perfect environment for the new LEGO Discovery Centre to give consumers and opportunity to build on their passion for LEGO play and building.” [6]

Justin Platt, Merlin’s Chief Strategy Officer, stated, “We are delighted that our partnership with the LEGO Group continues to deliver such fantastic opportunities for our guests.  By working together to design and build this next generation of the LEGO Discovery Centres, we can cater for even more families looking for the ultimate LEGO morning or afternoon of indoor activity which the whole family can enjoy together.  We’re delighted to have worked closely with the LEGO Group’s strategic team to really understand how we can continue to build and strengthen the attraction’s offering for our future guests.” [7]

Julie Golden, The LEGO® Group’s Chief Product and Marketing Officer, stated, “We are excited to partner with Merlin Entertainments on the development of the new LEGO Discovery Centre in Brussels which will immerse the whole family in the world of LEGO play.  By creating this highly interactive indoor LEGO experience we will give families a place to play, explore, create and have fun together.  Working closely with Merlin Entertainments and their expertise in the location-based entertainment sector, we hope to spark curiosity, creativity and imagination for the builders of tomorrow.” [8]

Figure 1 Credit: Merlin Entertainments Caption: This is a rendering of the entrance of the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre in Brussels that Merlin shared in February of 2021 in the expectation that the attraction would open in the summer of 2022.  Note that the two signs reflect it would open as a “LEGO® Discovery Centre:” This would be the first attraction in the chain to open as a LEGO® Discovery Centre rather than a LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre due to a rebranding.

The grand opening of the 3,000-square-meter [9,842.52 square feet] LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels occurred on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 22, A.D. 2022.[9]  Michelle Hoenveld, General Manager, opened LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels by taking scissors to a ribbon with the tri-color of the Belgian flag.[10] She was joined by Marius Lang, The LEGO® Group’s Benelux General Manager.[11]

Ms. Hoenveld stated, “Over the past few months, we’ve worked very hard to make the LEGO Discovery Centre Brussels the ultimate place for children and their families to play, discover, create and have fun together.  The LEGO Discovery Centre Brussels is unique thanks to a number of brand-new play experiences, including a new state of the art Space Experience ‘Space Mission’.  From 24 June, we can’t wait to welcome all LEGO adventurers to discover their ultimate LEGO-themed indoor creative experience!”[12]

Sieber Bulteel, Master Model Builder at LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels, stated, “In April I won the dream job of Master Model Builder and I am delighted to be here at the opening of the brand-new LEGO Discovery Centre.  Top quality learning through play is a cornerstone of the LEGO Discovery Centre experience and I am very much looking forward to teaching all children new building techniques and challenging them creatively.”[13]

Figure 2 Credit: Merlin Entertainments Caption: This is a rendering that promotes LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussells, which opened on Wednesday, June 22, A.D. 2022 and is the first such indoor attraction to open  as a “LEGO® Discovery Centre” rather than as a “LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre.”

Figure 3 Credit: Merlin Entertainments Caption: This is a picture from the grand opening of the 3,000-square-foot LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels occurred on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 22, A.D. 2022.  I believe the woman in the blue pantsuit is Michelle Hoenveld, General Manager of LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels.

Figure 4 Credit: Merlin Entertainments Caption: This is a picture from the grand opening of the 3,000-square-meter LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels occurred on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 22, A.D. 2022.  I believe the young woman in the blue shirt is a Playmaker.

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LEGO® Discovery Centre Brussels has twelve zones.[14]  Preschoolers and their families can build structures and solve puzzles in DUPLO PARK, as well as watch ducklings in the DUPLO Duck Pond.[15]  According to Merlin, BUILD ADVENTURE “is where the imagination runs wild and creative skills are put to the test.”[16]  MINI WORLD’s structures are comprised of 1,500,000 LEGO bricks.[17]  Visitors can also build skyscraper models and test them on earthquake tables.[18] In IMAGINATION EXPRESS, visitors journey “through an oversized LEGO world on an unforgettable train ride.”[19]  This adventure includes a “giant hot tub,” the “ocean,” and a trip to outer space.[20]  Visitors build Minifigures™ in CREATE YOUR MINIFIGURE from a selection of “a trillion LEGO heads, bodies, legs.”[21]  Playmakers help visitors customize structures in the CREATIVE CLUB.[22] 

Visitors meet the Master Model Builder and his team at the LEGO TREE OF IMAGINATION and get their pictures taken before they move on to THE LEGO CAFÉ, where they can both eat and “feed” a DUPLO horse in the play area.[23]   

HEROES ADVENTURE combines the LEGO® City and LEGO® NINJAGO® themes.[24]  There are both adventure and construction opportunities here.[25]  The adventure component includes a “LEGO laser maze” and a climbing wall. [26]

Next comes the 4D CINEMA.[27]  If you have never been in a 4D cinema, you may be asking, “What makes it 4D instead of 3D?”  Well, a  4D cinema is really a 3D cinema with some extra features so that while the audience is watching a film, they might have a light mist sprayed on them when characters on screen dash through the rain or splash in the ocean and might find the smell of roses wafting through the cinema when a hero rushes into a flower shop to buy roses for the heroine, to give two examples.

There is another opportunity to meet the Master Model Builder in THE WORKSHOP.[28]  He will guide visitors through “building special LEGO structures” and impart “unique insider tips & tricks.”[29]  SPACE MISSION “is an extraordinary LEGO® tech building experience.”[30]  Visitors design, build, and digitally scan a LEGO spaceship to see it fly onscreen.[31] 

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The inclusion of the SPACE MISSION and the presence of an astronaut Minifigure™ and rocket in the rendering generated for the grand opening is interesting because The LEGO® Group has not released a set in the LEGO® Space theme since 2013.  Instead, The LEGO® Group released realistic space shuttles in the LEGO® City theme and LEGO® Creator Expert theme.  Then on Monday, August1, A.D. 2022, as part of celebrations for the 90th anniversary of The LEGO® Group, it released Galaxy Explorer (Set #10497) in the Icons theme.  Billed as “A 1970s classics – reimagined” and a “scaled-up anniversary tribute to the Classic LEGO Galaxy 497 set” released in 1979.  The original Galaxy Explorer (Set #497 in the U.S.A. and Set #928 in Europe) had 338 pieces had four astronauts (two Red Spacemen and two White Spacemen) and had a retail price of $32.  By contrast, the new Galaxy Explorer (Set #10497) has 1,254 pieces, has four astronauts (two Red Spacemen and two White Spacemen), and has a retail price of $99.

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ENDNOTES


[1] Merlin Entertainments, press release, “New generation LEGO® Discovery Centres set to further strengthen Merlin Entertainments’ and the LEGO Group’s global offering,” 4 February, 2021, p. 1

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Merlin Entertainments, press release, “New generation LEGO® Discovery Centres set to further strengthen Merlin Entertainments’ and the LEGO Group’s global offering,” 4 February, 2021, p. 2

[8] Ibid

[9] Merlin Entertainments, press release, “The first new generation LEGO® Discovery Centre officially opens in Brussels,” 22 June, 2022, p. 1

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14]Merlin Entertainments, press release, “The first new generation LEGO® Discovery Centre officially opens in Brussels,” 22 June, 2022, p. 2

[15] Ibid

[16] Ibid

[17] Ibid

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid

[20] Ibid

[21] Ibid

[22] Ibid

[23] Merlin Entertainments, press release, “The first new generation LEGO® Discovery Centre officially opens in Brussels,” 22 June, 2022, p. 3

[24] Ibid

[25] Ibid

[26] Ibid

[27] Ibid

[28] Ibid

[29] Ibid

[30] Ibid

[31] Ibid


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