Last week we visited The Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester. I was aware before we went that the attraction is aimed more at primary school aged children than teenagers but thought it would be a good place to review considering so many autistic children love lego. We all very much enjoyed it too!
Upon arrival, my son was given a green lanyard and a ride access pass along with a booklet of information for visiting. The lanyard makes staff aware you have extra needs so they can help if necessary and explain everything clearly. The ride access pass allows you to queue virtually for the rides. You get on at the exit of the first ride you go on and then the ride attendant writes a return time for the next ride. This return time varies depending on how busy it is. While we were there the return time was 20 minutes. This included the time we were on the ride so meant we wouldn’t be waiting long between rides.
We headed into the attraction. As you enter there is a green screen where you sit on a bench and have your picture taken. This is magically altered to place you in various lego related scenarios and you get the option to see and purchase the pictures later in your journey through the attraction. This sale isn’t pushed on you and staff were happy to show us our pictures even though we decided not to buy (my pose was strange to say the least!).
After having our pictures taken, we were directed into an elevator which took us upstairs to a holding area where we waited to get into the attraction. We were waiting around 5 minutes and there were things to look at and photo opportunities in this area.
When it was time, we headed through the doors into a room set up like a lego factory and the staff member gave us a brief “factory tour” before handing us all an envelope and sending us out the door to the first ride. The envelope contained a small gift which was a nice touch.
The first ride involved moving round the track in a carriage and shooting the skeletons that appeared on various screens to gain points.
Following this ride, we walked through some giant lego models of various places including Manchester, London and Alton Towers with a working Oblivion ride made of lego!
After this part of the attraction, the majority of the activities are all in one large area. There was a lot to do including rides, climbing, soft play and lego building activities. You could make a building and then cause an earthquake to see if your building still stood or you could build a car and then drive it down the car track. There was also a cafe in this area to buy food and drinks and a magic show.
We spent most of our time in this area looking for the answers to the scavenger hunt that we were given on the way in, in the hope of winning a prize at the end of our visit. Then we watched some impressive magic tricks before making our way towards the exit.
The kids collected their prizes from a man who showed them another magic trick and then we all received a lego character keychain for filling in a questionnaire on the way out.
We had a great time despite the kids being older as we still found there were things there for them to do and if your kids are younger I would definitely recommend a visit.
Taking an autistic child to The Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester?
I was pleased to see how much thought has gone into welcoming autistic guests to the Legoland Discovery Centre, especially taking into account so many autistic children love lego!
My son was given a special lanyard which enabled staff to see he may need additional help or understanding. For us this really worked when my son started to get very frustrated that he had missed one of the scavenger hunt answers. A staff member noticed his lanyard and distress and patiently took him to look up the answer on the computer. He then explained to us exactly where to find the other clues so we didn’t miss the rest. This really helped.
We were given a ride access pass. This enabled us to “virtually queue” for all the rides. We took it to the first ride exit and went straight on and were then given a return time for the next ride. It was a busy day and our return time was 20 minutes later which worked absolutely fine. There are plenty of other activities to do whilst waiting. To get the ride access pass you will need either a letter from your doctor clearly stating why you need the pass, a DLA, DWP or PIP letter stating higher rate mobility or a blue badge and photo ID. For most autistic children this means the professional letter will be necessary.
We were given a booklet explaining all the sensory and special needs information.
Ear defenders are available to borrow if you need them.
The main room of the attraction was very busy with lots of children and lots going on. There were few quieter areas. The far side of the room where the cafe tables are near the window seemed to be a bit less busy. Also there is a “space mission” area that is quieter and darker. If the attraction being busy is a potential problem the look into visiting during their autism friendly sessions or quieter times (we visited in the middle of the school holidays).
The Legoland Discovery Center have specific autism friendly sessions within the attraction, every Thursday afternoon during term-time, from 2-6pm. Music is turned off, sound effects are limited and the lighting is made as standard as possible throughout.
There is a bathroom for those who require assistance when using the facilities. Located by the main toilets, the larger cubicles offer changing facilities and additional privacy.
There is a rave cave as you exit the attraction, you can bypass this by following the signs.
They have also created a social story which is available to download on their website, allowing visitors to familiarise themselves with the centre before visiting.
We were guests of Legoland Discovery Centre for this experience. All opinions are our own. Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester is located at Barton Square, Intu Trafford Centre. Information about autism friendly sessions and pre-visit social stories can be found on their website. You can also watch some of our adventure on my Youtube channel here.
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