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Day tripping: The Legoland Discovery Centre

Jonathan Schofield is a stickler for a constructive day out up the road

Written by . Published on April 6th 2010.

Day tripping: The Legoland Discovery Centre

THE LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is superb fun; a strong addition to what the region offers in the way of family distraction. If you've got under-12s they should love it. The staff seem too as well.

There's lots of creation taking place in this place. There's the Model Builder's Workshop, the Racer's Build and Test track and the Duplo Village for starters. The Build and Test track is good boyish fun where you make your own car and scoot it down a race ramp to see how fast it goes – your vehicle is timed.

Two of them on our review visit were trying to out-do each other over the complexity of their name badges which they'd created out of bricks. The pair were Lego technicians which means they get to mess about with Lego as a grown-up job all day.

I, myself, even at 46 years of age can easily lose a morning doing this, wrestling the bricks off my co-reviewer, nine-year-old Ralph. We usually end up with rockets, castles, and sorry, you parents out there who are much nicer than me, guns.

Indeed, there's lots of creation taking place in this place. There's the Model Builder's Workshop, the Racer's Build and Test track, the Fire Academy climbing and sliding area, Lego Studies were you get 4D films (3D with the odd flurry of, say, snow) and the Duplo Village amongst others. The Build and Test track is good boyish fun where you make your own car and scoot it down a race ramp to see how fast it goes – your vehicle is timed.

There's also Princess Palace, which sorry to stereotype, made my co-reviewer rush past, but seemed a good idea for pink-obsessed young ladies.

The whole thing starts well with a little bit of Alton Towers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach rolled into one. This is the Kingdom Quest, where you scoot around on a 'chariot', through some hypothetical Indiana Jones-type scene.

The whole intro is given a boost by placing you under attack. This means you have to laser shoot at trolls and skeletons to rescue the princess. Your score is displayed on the trolley in front of you. This starts the experience off with a nice bit of competition in the family. Excellent. On scores hovering over 4000, Ralph beat me by 500. The highest score so far, when we went, was double his.

The Miniland area is intriguing as you try and spot local landmarks reconstructed in Lego. There's the Town Hall, Urbis, a half City of Manchester Stadium merged with half of Old Trafford and loads of Liverpool too including the Cavern Club with Lego Beatles playing. There's also the Trafford Centre looking somehow very genuine made from Lego.

The excuse for so much Liverpool, and for that matter Blackpool, on display in Manchester is that the Trafford Centre has visitors from far and wide. Any stroll down the aisles of the shopping mall ear-wigging the shoppers would seem to prove that point. Occasionally Miniland darkens, lights in the buildings come on and there's a firework display in neon over the walls.

So what did my co-reviewer like the best?

“The bits when we were up against each other,” he said. “The race track and Kingdom Quest. But I liked making stuff as well. And the big models.”

He would have said the large shop too, if I'd let him linger. Watch out for that otherwise the price of a visit might rise steeply.

Speaking of which, here's a piece of advice. The entry prices fly all over the place: almost as much as the variety of Lego bricks. The best thing to do is go for the £7 adult and £7 child ticket after 4pm, grand total £14 for two.

Before 4pm the standard day price is £11.85 adult, £9.30 child, or £21.15 for two. This is too much to encourage multiple visits – maybe Legoland Discovery Centre should review this. Of course if you want to think ahead you can buy an annual family pass which allows unlimited use for £75 (2 adults, 2 kids + £27.50 each additional child).

Finally, just so you don't get lost, The Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester is in that bit of the Trafford Centre that Time forgot, the eerily quiet Barton Square, over the road from the main architectural fiesta of domes and marble. This makes parking much easier. The phone number is 0871 222 2662 and the Discovery Centre is open from 10am-7pm daily

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