Legoland Discovery Center opens in Tempe

    Tempe mom Chauntelle Loveall stood in the middle of the new Legoland Discovery Center Arizona in Tempe with her youngest son, Kadyn, 2. Both were mesmerized by a towering cuckoo clock built entirely of Legos.

    Legoland Discovery Center, Arizona, Tempe, Legos
    This cuckoo clock is made entirely of Lego bricks.

    “That is so cool,” she said as the clock chimed and a dragon appeared.

    Everywhere one looks in this large Lego-themed indoor play center, there’s something to explore. It’s opening to the public on Friday, April 22 at Arizona Mills mall.

    In the Miniland room, many of Arizona’s landmarks—including the Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, the Grand Canyon Skywalk and even an Ed Mell statue in Old Town Scottsdale—are recreated in Legos.

    There is a giant play structure, a car-racing area and dozens of stations where you can build anything you can imagine with the iconic plastic bricks. A Lego Friends area features pink and purple Legos.

    This giant indoor play center, aimed at families with kids ages 3 to 10, also boasts two small-scale amusement park rides and a 4D theater showing short Lego-themed films, complete with special effects such as wind and rain.

    “My boys love it. I love it,” said Loveall, who homeschools her 7-year-old son, Lyrik. They were invited to a special media day and preview for homeschooling families late last week. “It’s nice to find a place—since I have such an age gap—where they’re both having fun.”

    Legoland Discovery Center, Tempe, Arizona
    From left: Creative crew members Aidan Miyagishima (10), of Phoenix, and Ethan Tyau (9), of Gilbert, collaborate on a tower at the Legoland Discovery Center Arizona.

    Creative Crew

    Aidan Miyagishima, 10, of Phoenix, is one of a dozen Creative Crew members chosen by the local Master Model Builder to serve as the center’s young VIPs. He built a Tesla Model X from Legos to win the honor, and was busy building a giant tower with fellow Creative Crew member Ethan Tyau, 9.

    “I like the rides. I like Miniland, too, and I like the builds,” Aidan said. “The most fun part is building.”

    Parents at the media day agreed they liked the creative-play aspect of the center, and the fact that kids of all ages were having fun. Families should plan on staying awhile. Legoland suggests allowing two to three hours per visit. There’s a small café here and a parents’ lounge, plus a Lego store that opens to the mall.

    Miniland room, Legoland Discovery Center, Arizona, Arizona Mills, Tempe
    The Miniland room showcases many of Arizona’s landmarks—including the Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium.

    Grand opening day

    Crowds are expected when doors open Friday to the 40,000-square-foot indoor playground. Daily tickets ($22 for ages 3 and up) with specific entry times are available online.

    If you think your family will make three or more visits in a year, you might consider an annual pass ($65 per person, or $240 for a family of four), which also allows entry at any time during the opening.

    “If you have an annual pass you can skip the long lines [on opening day] and get right in,” said Alec Posta, the Discovery Center’s Master Model Builder.

    Lego, master model builder, Alec Posta, Legoland Discovery Center, Arizona, Arizona Mills, Tempe
    Master model Builder Alec Posta found his dream job at the new Legoland Discovery Center Arizona at Arizona.

    Arizona’s Discovery Center—the ninth in the U.S.—is owned by Merlin Entertainments, which also owns SeaLife Aquarium at Arizona Mills and Legoland resorts in California and Florida. Combo passes for Merlin attractions are another way to save. This month only, those with an annual pass to SeaLife Arizona can upgrade to a combo membership that includes the Legoland Discovery Center (next door) for an extra $35; the deal is only available at the aquarium.

    For security reasons, adults who are not accompanied by children are only allowed admission to Legoland Discovery Center on Adult Nights, held from 7 to 9 p.m. the second Thursday of every month. Posta said he’s working on fun games and scavenger hunts for those nights, where Lego enthusiasts age 18 and older can socialize and win prizes.

    The center already has extended its summer hours, opening at 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. daily through Labor Day.

    If you go: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; last admission two hours before closing. $22 daily for ages 3 and up; $65 annual pass; free admission for ages 2 and under. Adults not admitted without children. 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, #135, Tempe. 877-526-3960 or