Had it really been 12 months since I purchased my Merlin Annual Pass? Indeed it was, and with talk in the office of a trip to Alton Towers and a planned trip to Blackpool, it made sense to renew, it wouldn’t take much to ensure I had value for money out of it.
We had been saving Tesco Clubcard vouchers up for quite a while, and with the help of Eon and Top Cash Back, we found that we had saved enough for two Annual Passes, so, for the three of us, we only had to pay for one.
For a few weeks I had been avidly watching Merlin’s Facebook and Twitter feeds to see if any sort of deal was upcoming. Nothing had been announced, and so, Friday night and we were sat watching TV, we decided to go and visit LegoLand Discovery Centre Manchester at the weekend. Still no sign of any discounts or offers, I purchased the renewal for my pass, opting this time for the Premium ticket which includes car parking at the Theme Parks.
Arriving the next day, vouchers and printouts in hand, it was around midday. I am not too fond of driving around the Trafford Centre, so had just parked my car in the first car park we found. It turned out I couldn’t have parked any further away, as we trudged through the Trafford Centre crowds, we finally got to Barton Square, and there, the yellow façade of LegoLand came into sight.
The queue line was empty, there was a family at the ticket desk, but we had walked straight in, a shock as last time, a few years ago, we queued for quite a while.
Getting to the ticket desk, we proudly handed over our fist full of vouchers. “Oh!” said the member of staff, “Erm, bear with me”.
He walked over to the other counter before coming back. “I am sorry” he said, “I am having problems with the annual pass printer here today, would you mind heading over there please”.
Nothing to worry about, we headed over – my full time job is in IT and I have worked on those printers before, they can be a pain, I fully understood.
It turned out this printer also wasn’t working, so, we were told to go and enjoy our day while they tried to fix the problems and go back on the way out.
Inside we headed past the photo opportunity, get your photo taken against a green screen and then buy it at the end of the attraction. We had no intention of buying it, but did as we were asked, posed for a few shots and then headed into a lift.
Upstairs there was a countdown, 2 minutes to go. As the counter timed down, a few other people joined us, again, it wasn’t busy at all, I had been here last time when it was packed.
Finally, a set of doors opened and a member of staff invited us into the Lego Factory to see how lego is made.
Of course, this is a fake setup, with some oversized buttons and child participation. At the end of the show, each child was given a Lego brick and we were directed to the first attraction, Kingdom Quest Laser Ride. If you are the geeky type and need to know everything about the ride, it is from ETF Ride Systems, and they call it a Mystic Mover. The more interesting thing for other people is that the ride doesn’t actually have a track, the cars follow a wire embedded in the ground, which for children is magical.
The ride is a laser shoot ride where the car slowly moves around past props, characters and large screens, each with targets on them, and for each one you hit, you get some points.
After this it was into the main area of the Centre, through MiniLand. MiniLand is obviously a lot smaller than LegoLand Windsors version, but no less impressive with models of Blackpool Tower, Old Trafford Stadium and Alton Towers.
Other attractions included a 4D version of the Lego Movie which was really quite funny, a car ride where children can drive Lego police cars around a circuit, playgrounds, Lego build tables and a laser maze.
We spent a few hours in there, and didn’t do everything. At 7 years old, and showing a healthy interest in the question ‘Does it go fast or upside down’ when talking about rides, our son is approaching a time when LegoLand Discovery Centre is a little tame, however, he seemed to enjoy it, and we will be back, if only for the massive tubs of Lego and really quite funny Lego Movie 4D, while I dream of a time when I could have fitted on those Lego police cars.