The wait for LEGOLAND Discovery Center Arizona in Tempe is over. This cool new indoor family attraction opened in April 2016 at Arizona Mills. I went with my family and we were super excited to see it. I had heard lots about it and we’ve been to LEGOLAND in California, but I wasn’t sure what to expect about Tempe’s newest destination for fun.
From the bright yellow outside entrance, you’ll know that you’ve arrived somewhere special. Merlin Entertainments owns both LEGOLAND Discovery Center and SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium, located right next door. They’ve capitalized on this great partnership between these two family friendly attractions with a giant fountain just outside the mall entrance made of LEGOs, featuring a red octopus and a few deep sea divers. When we saw how much work and detail went into the outside, we knew we were in for something special.
From the outside, it looks large but not over-sized. From the inside however, it is organized into specific experiences full of bright colors and activities that make it appear larger than life.
Once you step through the doors, you’re transformed into a world of LEGOs. Everyone starts their visit by posing for a few fun photos, followed by the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride. Here, you’ll climb into a chariot to help save a princess who has been captured. Your job? Shoot your laser to zap the mean guys. Let’s just say that I didn’t have the highest score out of my family, but it sure was fun.
From here, you’ll enter MINILAND, which may be my favorite part of this new Arizona attraction. The talented team has created mini versions of landmarks and cityscapes around the state, including Tempe Town Lake and Downtown Tempe, Downtown Phoenix, the Grand Canyon and Route 66. They have so many details down to a “T” including the swimming pool at Chase Field, the skywalk at the Grand Canyon and the Hayden Flour Mill, complete with people doing yoga on the grassy lawn. You can even race boats at Tempe Town Lake. And, every few minutes, day turns to night, the city lights come on and fireworks burst across the walls above the mini buildings.
From there, LEGOLAND Discovery Center reveals more fun. The next space is quite expansive with activities at every turn. My daughter and her friends loved the LEGO City Play Zone, an upgrade to your standard jungle gym with slides, places to climb, windows to peer down at parents below and more places to roam. There’s a café with kid-friendly food and a DUPLO Farm for the smallest kids. At the LEGO 4D Cinema, you can see multiple movies that play every 15 minutes or so. We saw “Chima” and my daughter is still talking about how we were rained on and immersed in fog during the show. The 4D experience really makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
Kids (and parents) with a need for speed should check out the LEGO Racers Build & Test area where you can create your own car and launch it off of a ramp to see how fast it can go. My daughter couldn’t get enough of the LEGO Friends area with her favorite girl characters. There’s also Merlin’s Apprentice Ride where the height of your carriage is fully dependent on how much you pedal.
During our visit, we were able to meet Alec Posta, the Master Model Builder. This super nice guy competed against 100 people to get this dream job. He works out of a space in the middle of everything, and he was more than happy to chat with everyone who came by to check out his work. Soon, he’ll share his talents with kids by overseeing model building workshops.
There are multiple places throughout LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Tempe where you’ll find big containers full of LEGOs, ready and waiting for you and your kids to create something. It’s a perfect combination of structured activities like the rides and 4D Cinema and places where your kids can use their imagination. It is designed for kids from 3-10 years old (who bring their cool parents along with them). Of course, you can purchase all the LEGOs and LEGO-related things that you’ve ever wanted at their gift shop which is accessible to anyone in the mall, not just ticket holders.
It is suggested that everyone purchase their tickets in advance online to guarantee entry. This is already a popular attraction and walk-up tickets are not always available. Single tickets start at $22 and kids 2 and under are free. They are also offering combination tickets for both SEA LIFE and LEGOLAND Discovery Center starting at just $30. Quite a deal!
And, if you love LEGOs but you don’t have kids, you can still visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center. The second Thursday of every month from 7-9 p.m. is reserved for adult LEGO fans. Check out the events page on their website for more details.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center at Arizona Mills in Tempe is an excellent addition to the family-friendly places in Phoenix. For more ideas of things to do in Tempe, visit the Tempe Tourism Office website or call us at 800-283-6734.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Arizona
5000 S. Arizona Mills Cir., Ste. 135, Tempe, AZ 85282