I'm a Lego fanatic. In fact, one of the happiest days of my childhood was the Christmas when I received the Lego knight's castle. It's that passion for Lego that inspired me to bring the family to the LegoLand Discovery Center in Chicago over holiday break and it's that passion that I found lacking in every single employee in the place.
Before I delve further into this review, let me offer a tip: Buy your tickets online. Trust me on this one. You'll be able to bypass the drones stuck waiting in line to buy their tickets at the counter. And, if you can arrange it, try to buy the "Arrive after 3pm" tickets, as they are cheaper and the LegoLand Discovery Center is open late enough that you won't miss anything by arrivng so late in the day. And don't bother purchasing the "Activity Pack". At $5 extra per person, it's not worth it. I offer these money making tips and tricks because LegoLand Discovery Center is just not worth paying full price or waiting in line for.
The kids were all excited to go because, like me, they are Lego fanatics. In fact, they avoided buying anything at the traditional Lego store we encountered during a little side-trip because we were all sure that the gift shop at the LegoLand Discovery Center would have a better selection of items. It doesn't. Not by a long shot. It's basically the same type of store you'll find in any large mall. And, considering that you have pay so much to gain admission, you'd think that they'd offer a small discount on the items they sell. A better business model is definitely needed.
By far, the most disappointing feature of the LegoLand Discovery Center is the employees. They have no passion for what they're doing and there were times when they were downright rude. I get it; an environment packed to the gills with tons of kids running around doesn't exactly inspire smiles. And it wouldn't be so bad if every single employee wasn't slow and plodding at their job.
The play area is utter chaos, which is to be expected. Don't expect peaceful play in a place that admits children of all ages. And it was disappointing to see that no one was staffing the play areas. The Duplo area, intended for kids five and under, was overrun by older kids without any supervision. A staff member in the area just to maintain control or even to have a presence would go a long way.
That being said, some of the Lego exhibits were impressive. Chicago in Lego looked incredible and was, for me, the highlight of the visit. The Dragon Ride was very cool, but the line to got on was longer than the actual ride lasted. And the ride didn't work properly as it had trouble tallying the shot scores of everyone in the gondola. There's also a 4D movie based on Lego Chima. Unfortunately, many of the 4D features were not working during our visit.
So, my own recommendation is that you avoid LegoLand Discovery Center Chicago if you can at all help it. You don't get much bang for your buck.