My sons and I are Legoland Chicago Discovery Center experts. We have been there 15+ times. If your kids are anything like mine, they love all things Lego. Whether or not you have a membership, this place is affordable (with one of their specials) and fun.
I know many people feel the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg “isn’t worth it” for the price. Read on for more great tips about maximizing your experience but two things you must try to do are: GO WHEN IT’S NOT BUSY and get a great price. If you live locally, check their hours. They change them depending on the season. Go on a weekday right after school, and plan to stay until 7pm. If you live out of the area, do your best to avoid the weekend. If you can’t stay all day, try to go a bit later in the day when families leave for naptime.
Everything you need to know about Legoland Chicago
It is small enough with enough to do for your toddlers and still entertaining for your older children. (Mine are now 10 and 8.) Adults will be in awe of the huge Chicago display made out of Lego, including Navy Pier, Millenium Park, and the skyline. There are life-size characters made entirely out of Legos as well. On two floors, it flows nicely as everything is in its own separate area. Technically, Legoland Discovery Center is located in Schaumburg, IL.
While we have been to this location many times, we went there only once when we actually lived in Illinois and my boys were 2 and 4 years old. We had a wonderful time and were hooked. A month later we moved to Washington state. We loved the Chicago Legoland Discovery Center so much that in three years, my boys and I went 10+ times on our visits to town. Then when we relocated to Indianapolis, we went at least once a year. We always enjoy seeing what they’ve kept the same and what has changed.
Legoland Chicago Discovery Center Location
This location is called the Legoland Discovery Center – Chicago, but it is actually in Chicago’s northwest suburbs, in Schaumburg, IL. It is located in The Streets of Woodfield shopping arena, minutes away from the infamous Woodfield Mall.
Legoland Chicago Address Schaumburg
Legoland Discovery Center is located at The Streets of Woodfield, 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173
Legoland Chicago Parking
Parking at Legoland Discovery Center is free and easy. You park in the lot in front of the Legoland Discovery center. It is the large lot that serves The Streets of Woodfields’ many stores, restaurants and speciality retailers. It gets busy around the Christmas holiday season but I have always found a decent spot, fairly close by the Legoland Chicago.
Why did we visit Legoland Discovery Center Chicago so many times?
We love it! We actually purchased annual passes, sold per person, not by family, when we lived in Washington state. Their convenient Schaumburg location is just 10-15 minutes away from where my family lives. Depending on how our Washington – Illinois trips worked out, we were able to visit Legoland Discovery Center Chicago during spring, summer and winter breaks. Sometimes our membership would expire mid-December, and we would use it up to that day, and then buy it again for when we came back that summer, thereby not wasting the months in between. That would “buy” us more visits that next December when we would be back for the holidays. And if we came in for spring break, it would be valid then too. Check online for their current price for memberships. Check regularly as a membership makes a great gift, and it’s great to get one at a low price.
Avoid the crowds
This was a wonderful place to take my sons when my mom was working or when their cousins were in school. Living out of state, my kids had a different school schedule than the areas surrounding Schaumburg. And especially when my sons were in preschool, we were able to time our visits to avoid the crowds. Learn more about avoiding the crowds at Legoland here.
Recent visit to Legoland
We went to Legoland Schaumburg again over my son’s fall break. My husband was going with us for the first time. I was excited for him to be a part of what had been a tradition for us for so many years. This was our first time back since our memberships expired. I loved that my kids still remembered everything. Because they are so busy with school and activities, I did not want to purchase annual passes this time. What were my options?
Like most people, I strive to not pay full price, especially when I am making a plan in advance to go somewhere. If you pay full price on the Legoland webiste, you may leave disappointed, especially if you visited during a crowded time. What is nice though is that once you are inside, there aren’t extra charges, unless you buy food, Lego builds, or something from the store. You can enjoy the two rides, see the movies, go to the Lego builds and the factory tour as many times as you want.
Buying Legoland Tickets online
When purchasing tickets online, you have to select your arrival time within a half hour increment. Perhaps the Discovery Center is flexible if you arrive earlier or later than the time you purchased tickets for, but I wasn’t willing to chance something happening at the last minute. We still had a 3+ hour drive to get there. However, if you live close by and are sure you are going, you can actually purchase tickets for that same day, provided they are not sold out. In addition to the cost savings, a big advantage to purchasing tickets online is that there is a special line, hopefully with no waiting, at the door.
Legoland Afternoon Saver Ticket – After 3pm
A great deal they offer is to arrive at 3pm or later. This option is valid every day they are open. You will still have four hours to enjoy Chicago Legoland, and it is usually much less crowded during the week during this time. (I am not sure how it is on Saturdays and Sundays.) You MUST purchase your tickets in advance online to get this special rate, otherwise it is full price at the gate. You do not have to commit to what time after 3pm you will arrive. A bonus is that unlike at other venues, you can buy this the same day you plan on visiting, permitting they are not sold out.
If this applies to your family, this is the best price available. From 10am – 12pm on Tuesdays, children up to age 5 can play at Legoland. Children 2 years and under are free. This is a great deal because you pay a discounted price to enter (as long as you enter before 11am) and then you can stay as long as you want to. Legoland Discovery Center Chicago continues to improve this toddler area. There are large rubber Lego bricks for the kids to build with (in the play structure right next to this area). There are Duplos for the kids to enjoy. They have even put up a new slide in this area and nice seating for parents/caregivers. This is next to the Lego City Construction Site so kids can have a wonderful time climbing and playing here too without the bigger kids getting in their way. Bring socks for your kiddos or pay for them at the Cafe counter. They did not have this dedicated section when my children were younger so we don’t have experience with it except to say it looks fun.
Pay for one adult, get one child free coupon
At times you can find coupons online for buy one adult, get one child for free. This is the best everyday offer I have ever seen. It generally didn’t work for us though because it was usually me and my sons, so only one child would be free. Locally, coupons are often available in the Oaklee’s Family Guide. If you have an equal amount of kids and adults, it is worth it to find this coupon online. During your visit, if your child receives one of their paper Lego crowns, this coupon is on it for your next visit.
Scouts and Halloween costume discounts
The week of our trip, I received an email from Chicago Legoland Discovery Center advertising their Brick or Treat. They advertised a discount if you wore a Halloween costume. My kids’ costumes were not elaborate so I thought this would be easy to do. I was going to wear a witch hat to enter, and then put it in the locker. It was worth the four of us dressing up. Then my sister texted me that Legoland’s “Special offers” section online advertised a discount for scouts who come in their uniform. So, because I couldn’t find the “buy an adult, get a child free” coupons to save money, my sons wore their shirts and their kerchiefs, and we saved the same amount that way.
After heading through the attractions to the lockers, they took off their uniform and continued on with their fun. We enjoyed Chicago’s Legoland Discovery Center from 12:45pm – 7pm.
Legoland Annual Pass – Lots of perks at Legoland Chicago
There are so many special themed nights for annual pass holders. We enjoyed the Star Wars preview night, which was magnificent. There are member-only ornament builds, a Halloween Bash, Lego Derby Race, and more offerings each year. You will enjoy a 20% discount on food and 10% off in the lego store (only this Lego store). Depending on where you live, an annual pass could be beneficial for you to just pop in even for an hour or two, when you can. The latest you can enter the Discovery Center is 5pm. If you buy an annual pass, they will take each person’s picture separately for their own card. Adults usually need to show an identification card or driver’s license upon entry.
Years ago, you used to be able to save your ticket stub from your visit, and bring it back on your next visit to use it as a credit to buy an annual membership. The nice thing about this was that your membership started from the date of that next visit, thereby giving you the full year to use it. (Some places, like the Brookfield Zoo, used to — and may still — let you buy a membership at the end of your visit, less what you paid to enter. But your year membership starts that day, with that current visit.) Because we have purchased annual passes for so many years, I do not know if the Legoland Discovery Center still offers this great option.
Lego Activity Packs
You can’t blame Legoland for trying to upsell you. It is a retail establishment after all! They offer Activity Packs though we have never purchased these. They started offering them after we had become “regulars.” I didn’t want to pay extra for them. I was also concerned about the lanyards around my children’s necks, especially given my kids often spend a lot of time in the Lego City Construction Site play structure. (Yes, I could have taken them off.) Truth be told, my kids finally noticed the activity packs for the first time this most recent visit because there were stations that you were supposed to stamp your booklet. But they never asked if they could have one, and we never purchased one. #happytonotspendmoremoney
Schaumburg Legoland Hours
Monday through Friday they open from 10am or 12pm until 7pm. If you are coming on a weekday, check their website for specific hours. They change depending on days off of school. This also helps them to better accommodate field trips. My boys’ fall break was on a Thursday and Friday, and it wasn’t until Monday of that week that their hours on their website changed from their usual school day admittance of noon to 10am. On Saturday and Sunday they are open from 10am – 7pm. Last entry is permitted at 5pm, unless there is a special event. During the week, there are field trips that come through. They generally leave by 12:45pm. Lego now promotes Toddler Tuesdays which opens at 10am.
Legoland Schaumburg Crowds
Only once, during a poorly timed spring break visit in which we met extended family there, did we ever experience real crowds at Legoland. We definitely saw what “crowded” was. I felt bad for the families from out of town paying full price for a very different experience than what we were used to. (Please scour the internet for coupons so you will not be disappointed having paid full price for your family.) We have been fortunate because:
- My sons were still in preschool, and we could go whenever local schools were in session.
- We had the annual pass and were okay with staying just four hours sometimes. Yes, four hours is a long time for some families, but not ours!
- Being we lived out of state, we often had different days off than the local schools.
- We were able to come during the week and avoid the Saturday and Sunday crowds.
Most of the time we went to Legoland Discovery Center were “off-times.” I have never taken my children on a weekend. Most of the time, it was a day off for us, but not for the local schools. It has been very crowded over school breaks but we tried to avoid those times. So yes, the Discovery Center can be extremely crowded. However, we were able to avoid those times/days, thereby most always guaranteeing a great experience.
Trying to See Everything
It is often a struggle when you take your kids somewhere new. They linger at something but you may feel rushed, compelled to “get your money’s worth,” and see everything there is to see. This is a great place to come one time, see everything, and then come back soon after so that your kids can linger at their own pace. Sometimes mine wanted to watch three movies in a row; sometimes they didn’t want to see a movie at all. This last visit, they spent hours constructing cars and went on Merlin’s Apprentice eight times each but only wanted to do the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride twice. It is nice for them to be able to take the lead on what interests them.
Chicago Legoland Employees
We have always, always had wonderful experiences with the employees at Legoland. They have been polite, upbeat, engaging, approachable, and helpful.
Around closing time during our most recent visit, I told one of them it was my son’s birthday, and he politely excused himself only to return with a crown, sticker sheet, and a little Lego Chima pack. A few minutes later he found us and gave my son a birthday button – safe – no pin! I asked if my other son could have the Chima pack as well, and he cheerfully presented one along with a sticker sheet, to my son.
The Legoland employees have really been good to my sons over the years. In years past, the Cafe offered a very reasonably-priced pizza meal which included a mini pizza, a drink and a minifigure. My one son always ordered this but my other son is allergic to dairy. I always asked if there was a way to buy a minifigure for my other son. Each time — this happened at least four times that I can recall — the worker just discreetly gave us one for free. That’s customer service!
During slow times when it was not crowded, the staff have interacted with my sons, building cars with them, racing cars, and setting up contests. When we were there one empty afternoon, an employee held a contest for whoever could have their Lego car go down the ramp and through a goalpost. My son won this really cool ball made from Legos that amazingly we have kept in a safe place to someday recreate.
During that same visit, they posted a challenge for whoever wanted to build a snowman and Christmas trees. My kids turned theirs in and were able to build a Lego Hero Factory guy out of random pieces and actually keep it.
Special theme builds
Other times the employees had a special theme build: a dinosaur, a frog, a clown, etc. After my kids made their creations, employees have given them a Lego sticker sheet or crown (with that good coupon).
Once an employee gave my sons a coupon for a free Lego keychain with their name engraved in it. I am embarrassed to say, I never fully read the coupon, thinking it was “buy a keychain and get engraving for free.” I threw one of them away. It was only when I was unpacking my suitcase that I read the other coupon and realized what a great deal it was. At that time, this was probably 2011 or 2012, they did the brick engraving on the second floor, by the cafe. I actually brought the coupon the next time time we were in town, and explained to the employee at the cafe that I threw one away. She gave us another coupon for my other son, and asked who I was with. She then gave me coupons and crowns for my friend’s two children as well! Together we left with four Lego brick engraved keychains.
Main Level at Legoland Discovery Center Chicago
When you walk through the main doors to enter, you have the choice to enter the Lego Store on the left or the Legoland Discovery Center on the right. After showing your annual pass or paying admission for the Center, you proceed through the following three exhibits. After that, you are able to go wherever you would like. It is worth mentioning that in all the years of going here, after we went through those three “rooms” during our visit, we never went “back” to see them again with all else there is to do. So take your time in these sections as you may not make time later to go back.
Legoland Chicago Miniland Display
Enjoy the immense Chicago Miniland Display complete with sunbathers at Lake Michigan, Buckingham Fountain, Willis (Sears) Tower, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, public transit, and so many more landmarks and details. It is changed and added onto for the holidays, including skeletons around Halloween, Star Wars characters during special times, and Santa’s in December. Every time we go, we see something new, and spend a few minutes in awe of it.
A life-sized Lego Indiana Jones greets you as you enter the Safari. It is a little dark in here but nothing scary. It is a jungle theme with hippos, tigers, exotic birds, and more. There is a little quiz on the wall that your kids can enjoy.
Legoland Star Wars Miniland
In previous years, this room has changed many times. It seems they are now advertising and keeping this area as the Star Wars Miniland Model Display, Episode IV. We enjoyed seeing it. During other visits, we have enjoyed various displays and loved working on large-scale group builds in this room. The huge Lego Darth Vader and R2-D2 are now in this section. We have seen C-3PO in years past but I cannot recall if we saw him this last time. After you exit this room, you are able to explore as you wish. You will have easy access to coat hooks and (affordable!!) lockers so you don’t have to tote your things around. There are two staircases and an elevator to the second level.
Lockers and coat hooks
There are lockers and coat hooks for your convenience. Legoland Chicago makes it convenient and affordable to lock up your belongings: It is only a quarter for the locker. (I only looked at the locker we used and am not sure if larger lockers cost more.) There are also coat hooks as an option.
Kingdom Quest Laser Ride
They changed this ride a few years ago from just being a ride in a dragon car to now having laser guns to shoot and accumulate points by zapping “bad guys.” Our only wish would be that Lego added more things to shoot. This was not originally set up to be a laser ride so unfortunately there are entire sections in which there is nothing to shoot at to earn points. We were hopeful that as time went on Lego would have installed more targets. They have not.
I was excited to see how this ride was done at Legoland California. It was awesome. There were a lot more targets to shoot at, but it is still fun at the Schaumburg location. It’s great when there aren’t lines and the employees let you stay on the ride a second or third time.
There are four guns and four point counters per car. It is fun to see how many points you can earn. There is a height requirement in order to ride this without a guardian. There is also one section — right before the tunnel — in which a camera takes your picture. You can see it later at the stand near the ride’s exit. We never bought the pictures and often even forget to look up on-screen to see the picture of ourselves.
Legoland Chicago Store
The store is on this level, but if you enter it through the Discovery Center, you cannot re-enter the center. I discuss the store later in this article. Be sure to read this section, as it is good to be prepared!
Second floor Legoland Discovery Center
There are many engaging activities to enjoy upstairs. Here you will find the party rooms and tables and chairs to relax at while eating. Take the elevator or stairs up and enjoy.
Lego 4D Cinema
The 4D movies are always fun. We usually see one or two each visit, depending on what my kids are in the mood for. We have seen them all many times, and we don’t tire of them. The special effects like snow and rain are always a thrill. They rotate between 2 – 4 family-friendly movies throughout the day. My one son doesn’t like the glasses, but is still able to watch the movies without them.
The center is continuously changing things to improve their customers’ experiences. On our most recent visit in October, I was interested to see they put up two “wall builds” to use while waiting in line to enter the theater. Basically you just move Lego pieces around on one of the large Lego guys. My kids enjoyed doing this for a few minutes. We have never had to wait too long in line because again, we go on less crowded days, and also because Lego has a really convenient countdown clock which counts down the minutes until the next movie will begin. Depending on the crowd that day, you can decide when to get in line. Being we are usually there during less-crowded times, we just walk over when there is only 1-3 minutes before showtime.
Lego Master Builder Academy
This is a room that has a little “class” with a Lego instructor. They hold classes at set times throughout the day, advertised outside the door along with what they will build. We have built everything from Star Wars fighters to animals to an angel.
What happens at the Lego Master Builder Academy
The instructor gives everyone who wants to build a bag with the Lego pieces. He or she proceeds with slow step-by-step directions so that with an adult’s help, anyone can participate. In the past, the employee stood at the front of the room and had an overhead monitor so everyone could see. This most recent visit, the employee sat down and was on the side of the room, so he wasn’t as close to everyone. You could still see him but some people were much closer than others. However, there was still the monitor.
Some of the sets had a few pieces missing. If you were missing one, the instructor would come over and bring the piece. We built a monkey the last time we were there.
Positive changes at Lego Master Builder Academy in Chicago
Things have changed for the better in this model build room. In the past, you would decide then, in that room, if you wanted to buy the assembled project you made. Of course your kids would want it. The actual ones you and your kids built would be available in the cafe along with directions for rebuilding. Now, they reuse all the kits in the classroom. If you want to purchase it, you can decide whenever you want. It will be a new, unassembled kit (pieces in a bag) at the Cafe. Why this is fantastic is that your kids won’t be begging for it in the classroom and will have forgotten all about it once they leave the room. It also comes with instructions so your child can rebuild it again.
Why this is SO MUCH BETTER is that you don’t have to make an on-the-spot decision, and your kids pretty much forget about it after you leave. Now it seems more like a class and less about a buying experience.
There are also very detailed and interesting Lego models in this room. It is worth checking them out. We saw Mario, Spongebob, a Despicable Me character, LEGO Minecraft Characters, and lots of Halloween creations.
Pay for your child’s creations
A side note: While this isn’t well-advertised, and we haven’t done this in years, if you make something while at Legoland Discovery Center that you want to keep, you can pay for it in the store. It will not be cheap! They used to have a Pick-A-Brick section in their store that sells by the quarter pound. (Some of their retail locations still offer this.) Your child’s wonderful creation could easily end up costing you a small fortune for really Nothing That Exciting. (Rather than buying my kids’ masterpieces, I am sure to take a picture of whatever they are proud of so it can be “saved forever.”) Only once did we purchase something they made = lesson learned!
Another tip: Have your kids bring in the Lego minifigures they can part with. Many employees have minifigures to trade. They will say “yes” no matter what minifigure your child brings in as long as it includes a head, body, and legs. You don’t have to bring in an accessory but it’s nice for the recipient to get one.
Love Legoland Discovery Center? Read on for the 5 Best Things to Do In Chicago You Cannot Miss.
Lego Brick Factory Tour
My kids and I have taken this tour over 10 times. My more reserved son who is now seven, who hasn’t been there since he was five, answered the tour guide’s first question, “What do we do in this factory?” I was so happy he felt so comfortable with the Lego staff member and that he remembered.
Professor Brickenstein, in his or her white lab coat, makes it a fun experience for the kids, letting them press the buttons to make each machine “work.” They try to accommodate all the children who want to participate by having several of them at a time press the button. There have been a few times when it has just been my kids on the tour, and they pressed all the buttons! You will learn some interesting facts about how many bricks Lego makes a day and how they are made. The kids think it is great. Everyone leaves with a Duplo brick, which is compatible with regular Legos.
Only once while we were there did we not get a brick. The Lego employee said, “Lego isn’t allowing us to pass them out anymore.” I am sure I was not alone in thinking, “You ARE Lego.” Since then, they have resumed passing out bricks, so I am not sure what that was about. We love our collection of these bricks. And I really like that adults get them too. Here are the different ones we acquired over the years. This was our first October brick!
A side note: This brick tour is MUCH BETTER here at Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg than it is in Legoland California where it is self-guided and not very engaging. There aren’t any brick giveaways at the end of it either which we were very disappointed in. We love our souvenir bricks!
Still upstairs by the Legoland Cafe
There is a large entrance space to the Cafe; however, it is its own section. It encompasses the Merlin’s Apprentice ride, the general build area, the car ramp area which is called Lego Racers: Build & Test, the play structure was changed to Pirate Adventure Island, the toddler area, and the Cafe.
Merlin’s Apprentice Ride
This ride overlooks the Streets of Woodfield, the parking lot, and the highway. It fun to be on the second story of a building and then be able to go even higher by pedaling your “bicycle.” There is a height requirement in order to ride this without a guardian. One downside was that some of the pedals were broken but there wasn’t a sign on the faulty ones so you didn’t find out until the ride started. Otherwise, this is a fun ride.
General Lego Brick Build Area
This area is kind of merged now with the Lego Racers Build and Test Area where Lego enthusiasts can build cars and race them down the ramps. In the past, this area has taken many forms. There have been the large rubber bricks in this section that have now been moved in the play structure adjacent to the Toddler area. At one time, a section of it was turned into a Lego & Friends area. Now it is just a general building area with tubs of Legos set into tables. Small stools surround the tables for anyone to build whatever they want. In the past, they had a dry erase board advertising the “contest” to build something specific. We did not see that the last time we visited.
Lego Racers Build & Test Area
Like most kids, mine love hands-on stuff. The Lego Racers Build & Test area is always a winner and always their favorite thing to do. Unfortunately, this area was downsized when they changed the play structure to a pirate theme, now called Pirate Adventure Island.
Still, kids get to pick from thousands of Lego bricks and parts to make race cars that can then be raced on the track. Legoland Discovery Center has changed this area at least five times that I can recall. In the past, some ramps were accessible from the ground. This time, each of the four ramps were accessed by walking a few steps up. They change the placement of the ramps as well as the ramps themselves. In years past, they made you turn in your driver’s license in order to use the wheels because customers were stealing them. They did away with this practice years ago, and you can now use as many wheels per car as you wish.
Lego City Construction Site
Update: Read more about how this section is no longer and has now changed to Legoland Chicago Pirate Adventure Island, complete with a huge pirate ship to climb on and play in as well as a large water table where you can have lots of fun building and sailing boats. Pirate Adventure Island is able to handle a large number of participants safely.
There is still more to explore! This is a decent-sized playset but I have seen it get over-crowded with kids, and you do not want your kids in there when it is crowded. It has also evolved over the years. Make sure your kids have socks, or pay for them at the Cafe counter. There are climbing nets and slides. My kids play in here at length if it is not crowded. The staff is now just leaving the large-sized rubber Lego bricks in this section (surrounded by a net) because kids keep bringing them in there.
There are Lego Duplos and little seating areas for your kiddos in this section. There is a new small slide as well. They have really improved this section over the years, and now offer a more contained area for the kids and a nice seating area for the adults. This section is just to the right of the big play structure in what Lego calls their City Construction Site, which if not crowded, your little ones will enjoy as well. A party room used to occupy this space, but they have recreated the space for the Toddler section. Make sure to visit on Toddler Tuesdays with a great online price for ages three and up.
Legoland Cafe in Schaumburg and Eating at Legoland!
This is a really big deal. What will my kids eat? How much is this going to cost? Will they like it and actually eat it? When we come to Legoland, we usually stay a l-o-n-g time. My kids will need to eat while we are there. Legoland does not permit you to leave their facility and come back. (Yes, you can go to your car, or maybe be gone for a few minutes and just say you need to go to your car. But you cannot be gone long enough to eat at Big Bowl or Chipotle at the Streets of Woodfield, which are walkable.) Therefore, it is important for you to have a plan when it comes to eating.
Changes at the Legoland Cafe
The Legoland cafe has changed many times. They have changed their menu offerings dramatically over the years. Families used to be able to order hot dogs, big pretzels, salads, and an entire pizza there. My one son’s favorite was their special of a mini pizza, a drink and a minifigure. They also had Icees which were a nice treat. Legoland does not permit you to bring in your own food and drinks. However, we have done this for each of our visits and have never had a problem.
We keep our snacks simple, try to be discreet, clean up after ourselves, and never bring anything with nuts or any peanut products. We are not having full-on meals, just simple things to keep my kids’ hunger at bay. It should be noted we don’t bring in coolers. I bring whatever can fit in my backpack that I put my camera, cell phone, water, and credit card in. (Everything else I put in the locker.) In ALL the years of doing this, the very nice employees at Legoland have never said anything to us.
Our most recent visit shocked me with another complete revamp of their menu offerings. Gone are the frozen slushy machines. Now all the kid’s meals are more expensive and even more so if you want the cute Lego box with it. Kids choose an uncomplicated child’s sandwich, drink, and bag of chips. Adults have heartier (more expensive) sandwiches and a few other healthy options.
Besides the chips and some of the drinks (expensive bottles of water!), my kids do not like any of the food options. Luckily we stopped for lunch on the way there. I brought some Cliff Z bars, pretzels, Goldfish crackers, grapes, and cheese sticks as snacks (and never any nuts). I brought in our stainless steel water bottles, and carried them in my backpack. My husband went out to the car to refill them all one time.
(We brought a gallon jug of water with us because we are trying to limit our use of throw away plastic water bottles. If my husband was not here, I would have just packed a few juice boxes and those darn plastic water bottles because I was not going to bring everyone to my car to refill them. And I for sure was not going to spend a lot of money on water at Legoland. We were there all day and drank the equivalent of our discounted admission fees in Lego concessions water!)
Now that their menu has changed significantly, we will be bringing in our snacks exclusively. Again, depending on when you are there, the cafe usually has plenty of seating, so you can have a “home base” for your kids while you sit there, and they keep running back and forth to eat and then to play and back again. (If it is crowded, we would not sit at a paying-customer’s table!)
Again, I cannot emphasize enough to come when there aren’t as many crowds: A weekday when local schools are in session! With your Legoland Discovery Center annual pass, you will save 20% on food in the cafe.
Other things to know About Legoland Chicago Discovery Center
One of my favorite things is flat penny machines. They are the cheapest souvenir around, take up hardly any space, and will serve as a nice memento/memory for years to come.
Flat Pennies at Legoland Chicago Discovery Center
This is one of the first places my boys bought flat pennies. For 51 cents each, it is a wonderful souvenir. I cannot emphasize enough how much my family loves these.
Whenever we go on vacation or are visiting relatives, etc. I look up the location of these flat pennies machines. We found some interesting attractions, places we never would have visited otherwise. Some great finds were Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari, NM, and our trip to Colorado, including Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, at Matchstick Marvels in Iowa and the the Hastings Museum in Nebraska and at the and the Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At this Legoland Discovery Center, there are two machines, both with four designs. Put these quarters and pennies with your locker money. It is two quarters and one penny per item.
My sister’s family has gone to birthday parties here. They have been on busy weekends but still enjoyable. My friend has been on a Boy Scout overnight here and loved it. We have never been to these types of parties or overnight adventures though we have seen a few weekday birthday parties over the years.
They used to have two party rooms which were completely separate from each other. One was back where the toddler section is now. This Legoland Discovery Center is continually tweaking things to make everyone’s experience better. Now there are two rooms which can be made into one large room if the divider is not used. The location is more centrally located, and the party go-ers and throwers won’t have to walk all the way to the back. Party hosts can enjoy a 10% discount on their weekend party with an annual pass. It seems ridiculous to me that this 10% off doesn’t apply for their weekday party option, which is still quite expensive.
Brick or Treat
It was so fun to visit Legoland Discovery Center Chicago in October. My boys were able to Brick or Treat at four stations for Lego bricks which made a pumpkin. This was for kids only. They loved it.
Legoland Star Wars Days
We were lucky enough to be in town one summer for this awesome event. Being we were annual pass holders, we were able to register in advance for their Annual Pass Preview Night which was on a Thursday evening, after hours. There was no additional charge. It was not crowded. My kids enjoyed the Star Wars Chicago-themed miniland. There were many Star Wars characters walking around, including Darth Vader and several Stormtroopers. My kids actually posed for pictures with them. Each of us, even the adults, received a small jet fighter set of Legos for free. We also were able to work on a large-scale Yoga group build.
The following year, they offered a Darth Vader group build. I can only imagine how crowded this event is on Saturday and Sunday but we thoroughly enjoyed it that Thursday evening and even came back for a few hours for their “official” Star Wars days for a few hours the next day. We did not get the pack of Legos for free, and while there were some characters, we did not see as many as we did the previous night.
Holiday Bricktacular at Legoland Discovery Center Chicago
It is fun to attend Legoland Discovery Center over the holidays to enjoy their many extra-special, festive, and family-friendly holiday activities. The Center transforms into a Winter Wonderland with their special Holiday Bricktacular. We have enjoyed it many times in the past, so hopefully we will be able to attend again this year.
You and your family will have fun with seasonal games and a winter-themed Miniland. This is really something to see! You will enjoy looking for the hundreds of Santas, snowmen, and other holiday minifigures. Later on in Santa’s Grotto, be sure to take your picture with the life-sized Santa and Snowman Lego models. (I used the picture on my holiday card one year.) In the Master Builder Academy, you can learn how to make a Lego gingerbread house. The class is free.
They offer daily Lego prizes as well as their festive factory tour with a take-home holiday brick. We have several of these and love them. (Adults get the free holiday brick too!) They will also have creative building challenges which have always been fun. We made snowmen the last time we were there in December.
Legoland’s New Year’s Celebration
We have always had plans on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and have never been able to experience what I know would be a fun, family-friendly New Year’s Celebration. Legoland Discovery Center Center is celebrating on December 31st and January 1st. Special hours are 9am – 7pm, with last admission at 5pm. In addition to the above activities for Holiday Bricktacular, they will also be having balloon drops at 12pm, 3pm, and 6pm.
You are ready to leave… but now you have to get through the Lego Store
Your kids are happy, tired, and perhaps overstimulated. You all just had a great time. And here it is… the Lego Store. Is this forced exit stop going to make or break your day?
Unless you visited the Lego Store before entering the Discovery Center, your kids wouldn’t have even known this store existed. Now that my kids are older, this store is much easier to handle. Still, you just don’t know how this store visit is going to go, so it is good to have a plan. You don’t want whether or not your kids get something to define your entire trip. Legos are expensive after all. You just spent a lot of money in the Center itself. What will the kids remember? That they didn’t get something? Probably. (This reminds me of spending hundreds of dollars on airfare and hotel nights for a trip and then telling my child “no” to the small souvenir he wants.).
The good news: You now know what to expect. Do your kids earn money or save money for special things? When you are on vacation, do you give each child a certain amount of money or buy a few souvenirs? Do you let your child get one thing, especially if it is not an “impulse buy,” but something you know he or she really wants?
What’s at the Lego Store
With a Lego Discovery Center membership, you receive 10% off your purchase, which is pretty much the tax on whatever you buy, but it something. They have interesting keychains, Lego calendars, and other things you will not find at your local Target, Walmart or Toys r Us.
But it is a hit or miss. When my sons were very into Lego Hero Factory, sometimes they would luck out and the newest characters would be there, and sometimes they weren’t. I have left this store spending a lot, and I have left this store only buying two flat pennies. For my family, it really depends what my kids are “into” at the time and how much I spent that day/week already. If we brought in our own food and used our membership pass, essentially it was “free” for us that day, and they might get something if they really, really wanted something. If we were just there the day or week before, they would not.
When they loved Lego Hero Factory, I could buy them each one, and they were happy. They had something to do at grandma’s, and they fit easily in our suitcases. This last time we were there they saw all the Mixels characters there. I told them that would be a great thing to put on their Christmas list, and they were fine with it. It should be noted that the Lego prices here are the same you will find at Target, etc., except they do not have “sales.”
We are always hopeful of finding some interesting pieces in this section. One time my boys scored with lots of random Lego Hero Factory parts in there. Another time there was interesting ladders and fencing. A third time we found the cute Lego trees. However, usually they just sell the different colored pieces. There is a better selection at the Pick-A-Brick at the back wall of the Lego Store in Woodfield Mall or any Lego store. Use caution and weigh your bricks in advance of bringing them up to the counter. You might just be better off with a small set instead of buying a bunch of random pieces for that price.
Lego Fundraising Program
Not living in the area, I am not sure how much their fundraising program is advertised; however, it looks to be a great idea. (Our school is currently selling candles. Who needs more candles?) I love this idea of selling and buying tickets to somewhere as fun as the Legoland Discovery Center. People in the organization (schools, scouts, etc.) can buy them among themselves and even go as a group. (See their website for information on Magic days as well. This is a great deal, and your group can earn money too.) The participants sell the tickets. Depending on how many your organization sells (the minimum is 30 tickets) your group earns money from each ticket.
At certain times of the year, Legoland Chicago offers great discounts. Be sure to look for them.
Overall thoughts on Legoland Discovery Center Chicago
Check their website for the latest news, offers, special days, as well as information for special events, including field trips, outreach, and Magic days. Though the visit may initially seem expensive, it actually seemed quite affordable in the end considering the amount of time you may spend there. Plus, you can do every attraction as many times as you want. For a day of family fun, not much can compare with the Legoland Discovery Center Chicago.
Overall “pros” at Legoland Chicago
- The employees overall have been very approachable and helpful.
- My kids always love it and feel very comfortable there.
- When you go at off-times, it is a great time.
- The bathrooms (one on each floor) have always been exceptionally clean.
- Like everywhere else, when your kids are a little older, it is so easy to enjoy Legoland because you aren’t chasing after them.
- You can take a quick survey at the kiosk when you leave the Discovery Center to praise and vent.
- They have special offers/coupons and fun events.
Overall “cons” at Legoland Chicago
- I think the Cafe is expensive, but like I said, the employees have never said anything to us when we brought in our own snacks.
- The staff could and should do a better job of cleaning the Lego bricks that the kids play with daily. In all the days and hours we have spent there, I have never seen them change out the “dirty bricks” for batches of “clean, hopefully sanitized” bricks. I don’t think employees clean these. I have seen workers sweep up Lego bricks off the floor and with the dustpan just dump them back in the pile.
- The big rubber Lego bricks are definitely not clean. Update: They were cleaner/newer on my most recent visit (July 2016).
- Some of the large Lego models in the Cafe, the big red racecar most recently, were very dirty. (I typed a review about the dirty racecar at the kiosk on my way out. Hopefully they will clean it!) On our most recent visit, I was pleasantly surprised to see a manager dusting a larger display at closing time.
More Legoland Chicago downsides
- All the museums and attractions in Chicago are expensive, so it is difficult to judge this one. Plan to stay for several hours, and look ahead online for the best deal.
- On our last several visits, more than one of the “bikes” on the Merlin’s Apprentice ride were broken — pedals not working.
- Update: We visited again in July 2016, and four out of the 12 seats didn’t work. That’s 1/3 of the seats! During the busy summer months, Lego management should have fixed these. We waited for over a half hour to ride Merlin’s Apprentice. However, I should have followed my own advice and waited until later in the day when it was empty. I did express my dissatisfaction with the out-of-commission bikes on the survey kiosk on the way out.
- Everyone would enjoy a lot more targets to shoot at in the Laser Quest ride. Unfortunately, this ride was not originally set up to be a virtual target shooting game. They modified it, and they need more targets.
- Update: I rode this again in July 2016 and despite hitting some targets, my score wasn’t registering. This was fine for me (and my kids thought it was hysterical) but I’m sure some children who rode it must have been frustrated and upset.
Encourage your child to play with Lego
Lego bricks and Lego building are timeless activities, like kids collecting trading cards. Building in visits to Legoland will make wonderful childhood memories.
Our boys love getting their Lego and Lego Jr. Magazines in the mail every month, and I love that they are FREE!! – No credit card required
Best tips for Legoland Discovery Center Chicago
If you can make the trip, or if you live locally, I highly recommend checking it out. After you visit Legoland Discovery Center Chicago and see everything, you will have the lay of the land, and feel more confident returning the next time. Get the best deal you can with a coupon or by ordering online in advance, pack your water and small snacks, try to avoid the weekends and school breaks, and stay calm. You will all have a wonderful time.
Legoland Chicago address
Legoland Chicago Discovery Center is located at 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173 in The Streets of Woodfield.
We moved to Arizona which made driving to visit Legoland California very easy. We went during our kids’ four-day weekend in February, and it was fairly empty. A new Legoland Discovery Center opened in Tempe, Arizona, and we look forward to seeing how similar it is to Legoland in Chicago.
If you are traveling in the midwest and looking for things to do, learn about road trips to Milwaukee, Iowa and Nebraska with kids. Still, every time we return to Chicago, we visit Legoland Chicago, which is technically Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg.
You will love visiting Legoland Chicago
We just know if you and your family like playing with Lego bricks — even just a little bit — you will definitely love visiting Legoland Chicago. Bring your camera to preserve the awesome memories.