We had another chance to visit one of my kids’ favorite places! What I love about Legoland Chicago Discovery Center is that they are always working to improve and enhance their customers’ experience. We experienced another positive change on our last visit.
On their second floor, they transformed the huge play structure. Their Construction Zone themed playset is no longer. What awaits Lego fans? Legoland Chicago Pirate Adventure Island…. It’s a must-see exhibit!
Legoland Chicago pirate fun awaits
Located on the second floor in the “big room,” my kids eagerly went up to the large pirate ship. There is so much to do in this updated section as well as on this entire floor.
Legoland Chicago pirate ship
There is a huge pirate ship for the kids to climb on, in, through, under, and around. There are rope nets to climb, and planks to walk. All of the kids participating in this exhibit were having fun building, climbing, and playing.
They can look out the telescope, fire a cannon, and have fun climbing and crawling through the ship. Kids can play “pirate” or whatever they like.
Additionally, on the ground, under and surrounding the ship, there were also a lot of kids enjoying themselves. They were building with the large Lego rubber bricks and also playing on and with the ship itself.
Another positive about the Legoland Chicago pirate ship area is that kids now keep their shoes on. When my kids first went up to it they immediately started to remove their shoes as they have done for years. But now, kids now keep their shoes on… a very positive change!
It is more sanitary and just cleaner-feeling all around. Now they don’t have to constantly put their shoes back on when they want to go to another exhibit.
Water table on Pirate Adventure Island
In all the years we have been coming to Legoland Chicago, there hasn’t ever been a water table… until now. If you’ve ever been to the children’s museums in the area, you will have seen them before. This one is unique in that it slopes downward so that your boat can race against another boat or simply sail the course on its own.
There are three separate “lanes.” What is different about this water table from other water tables we’ve experienced is that this one isn’t so much about playing in the water as it is about creating and sailing a boat with the available Lego pieces. That’s great because your kids won’t get as wet!
There are aprons available on the nearby hooks if you want your child to protect his/her shirt. Their arms will still get wet so be sure to roll up their sleeves.
Build a boat
Kids and adults will have a lot of fun constructing a Lego boat. There were lots of boat “base” pieces, large and small, to choose from, even when several kids were surrounding the water table building.
There were also many unique and interesting sea pieces as well, including octopus, anchors, masts and many more. You can build your boat right by the water with the tubs of available Lego pieces.
My kids enjoyed playing in these two sections which make up the new Legoland Chicago Pirate Adventure Island. What I noticed was how well the entire pirate area was able to accommodate so many children on a busy Saturday.
It was crowded but what struck me was that many age ranges enjoyed themselves safely with this exhibit. Also, more than I noticed for the previous Construction Site play structure, there were a lot more children aged 5 and under enjoying it, though it is fun for older kids as well.
On the day we were there it was also nice to see how many parents were being positively engaged with their kids, playing along side them, and not on their phones. Others were standing just outside the exhibit actively supervising their children, which was also nice.
Changes to the Lego Racers: Build & Test section
Also on the second floor in the big room is my boys’ favorite exhibit, the Build & Test section. When Legoland Chicago added the pirate exhibit, they changed some other things around, including this section. Although this area has a much smaller footprint now, it was still fun.
They removed an entire ramp with slots for four racers and left the two ramps that adjoin together, allowing two racers to race simultaneously. This space has been modified many times, but luckily, they have never removed it from Legoland Chicago Discovery Center.
This section involves constructing vehicles out of Lego bricks and wheels and racing them down one of two ramps. There are a few steps to go up to the top of the ramp to launch your vehicle.
However, even when there is a little bit of a line, the cars just take seconds to go down the ramp, and usually the person who raced the car rushes back down the steps to reclaim his/her (hopefully intact) car.
So the entire process is fast and the line moves along. The only thing that could be better was if somehow they had stairs going up to launch the car and then a set of stairs in the back to come down so that the person rushing down isn’t bumping into the people coming up.
Fun in this section
But all in all, Legoland Chicago has made this exhibit work with the smaller amount of space they have available. My kids sat for a long time creating cars, racing them, modifying them, and racing them again and again.
Like at the pirate area’s water table, the tubs of Lego bricks and pieces are available right in the tables, and young and old alike can create vehicles sturdy enough to make it down the ramp. There are stools to sit on as well.
A recap of our day
I usually do not visit here or any major Chicago attraction on a weekend, but we were on a short vacation in the area and that was the only day we could make it. We really wanted to see the new Legoland Chicago pirate exhibit. It was crowded when we visited, but not as crowded as I expected.
We were there from 12pm – 3:45pm on a Saturday. I brought my 8 and 9 year old sons and my 13 year old niece. As it is everywhere we go, my kids enjoyed seeing how many steps they walked on their Fitbit Zip.
Miniland and Jungle Exhibition
After visiting the Lego jungle animals we were in a large room with full-sized figures of many popular characters, including Batman, Harry Potter, R2D2, and several more. It would be wonderful if they would put the Lego Racers: Build & Test section, such an interactive area, in this large room instead of downsizing it on the second floor.
They could populate the rest of the center with these characters instead of having them in such a large space.
Kingdom Quest Laser Ride
After exiting the characters’ room, one comes upon the Kingdom Quest Lego Ride as well as the lockers, stairs and elevator to the second floor.
The Kingdom Quest ride is always fun, and is meant to accommodate up to four people, though you can have one or two more.
There are laser guns attached to just four of the seats, however.
When we were there it was a little disappointing that after waiting in line for about 10 minutes, one of the laser guns in our coaster didn’t work. Also upsetting that once on the coaster enjoying the ride, there were several of the laser fields that weren’t registering when we shot them. (I told a worker who seemed to already know about it. I left a review — outside the gift shop upon exiting Legoland Chicago — on the kiosk mentioning this.)
Another disappointment overall with this ride is that when they converted it to be a laser shooting game (in the past, it was just a ride through the kingdom) they didn’t put in more targets to shoot and get points for.
As it stands, there are entire sections that you aren’t able to shoot at anything to register points. Overall, the ride is fun and engaging. It is fun for kids and adults to see how many points they have — it keeps an electronic total for each of the four seats — and could be made better with some additional targets.
Second floor at Legoland Chicago
After riding the Kingdom Quest ride twice, we made our way upstairs and into the large room which consists of Pirate Adventure Island, Lego Racers: Build & Test, Merlin’s Apprentice Ride, Duplo Village, and the Cafe.
Please see above for descriptions of Pirate Adventure Island and the Build and Test section. After an hour of playing in the two sections, we took a break and bought some snacks from the Cafe. There are tables that are reserved for customers who buy food from the Cafe.
There is also a taller table area which seems to be open seating which is nice to get out of the way of the kids playing and still mostly be able to see your (older) kids.
Then the kids played a bit more in each of the sections as well as went on the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride. I was very happy to see my 13 year old niece having fun on the ride and also enjoying herself throughout the day building a car and a boat.
The Duplo section is their toddler section. It is off to the side of the water table, on the end and out of the way from heavy traffic areas. It has seating for caregivers and lots of room for little ones to play. There is also a little slide to go down.
Other sections on the second floor
Lego 4D Cinema
We left the large, main room and went to the 4D Cinema. The line for the movie was long but Legoland Chicago conveniently posts a countdown clock to show in how many minutes the next movie will start. My kids kept playing until there were two minutes to showtime, and then we got in line.
So while there was a long line, it went quickly once the doors were open. It is a large theater so everyone was able to get a seat. Kids think it is fun to wear the 4D glasses which a staff member gives you when you enter the theater.
You return the glasses when you exit the theater. My kids and I, even having seen this movie several times, still enjoyed it and loved the special effects. My niece loved it too.
We still wanted time to visit the gift shop so we unfortunately didn’t have time to go into the Factory Tour to see how bricks are made and to get our free brick. Nor did we have time to make the project in the Lego Master Builders Academy.
We got our stuff out of our locker — it is just a quarter to use! Then we made our way to the Lego shop. Each child picked one thing they were very happy with — a minifigure, a Mixel, and an engraved keychain.
Buying an annual pass
Unfortunately, we don’t buy the season passes for Legoland Discovery anymore as we live several time zones away. But if you can afford to do it and know you will be back in the next 12 months, it is definitely worth it.
Parking is always free so even if it is crowded, and you just stay for an hour or two, it is okay.
Come when you can, and stay for as long as you can. You won’t feel compelled to get the full day, “do everything” experience. You won’t have to rush your child through each ride or exhibit.
It is so great when you can let your kids take the lead and do as they wish, even if it means they hang out and play and enjoy just one or two sections during the visit. So much of their lives are structured and hurried.
It is nice for them to just be and not be stressed about seeing everything if they are perfectly happy where they are. So try to get an annual pass or at least be sure to find a coupon or go on days they have better deals.
Lego is timeless
Much like trading cards for kids, Lego building is timeless. It’s so worth it to have your child experience the Pirate Adventure Island exhibit.
We were very happy to have been able to check out Legoland Chicago Pirate Adventure Island. It always makes me happy to see my kids engaged, inventive, creative, and having a great time. They loved the playing on the pirate ship and building ships to sail in water.
They also had fun in the other areas as usual. We look forward to our next visit to Legoland Chicago and are eagerly awaiting to see what changes we notice.
Have you checked out the new Pirate Adventure Island exhibit? What did you like about it?