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culture

A First Look at Legoland Toronto

Toronto's first (and only) Lego playground opens soon. Here's a look at what's in store.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto

The Vaughan Mills Legoland Discovery Centre opened for a special preview on Thursday, so excited kids and their parents could explore what’s inside before the official opening on March 1.

“This is the first time we’ve seen it live in action with kids,” said marketing manager Lara Hannaford. “Everything that we’ve been working towards for so many months has come to this day.” As the first person hired at the Vaughn Mills Legoland, she saw it go from a construction project to a multicoloured wonderland. “When I see kids smiling and enjoying themselves, I know we’ve done our job.”

Legoland Toronto is the first facility of its kind in Canada, though there are several other Legolands in the U.S. and Europe. The store’s purple and yellow facade sets it apart from other shops at Vaughan Mills. Two giant Lego people stand near the entrance, shiny and new, welcoming visitors with permanent smiles.

Inside Legoland, visitors become immersed in a world where almost everything is made of Lego bricks. One display is called Miniland. It consists of major landmarks and buildings in Toronto, all made of Lego and combined in one big room. City Hall, Yonge-Dundas Square, the Air Canada Centre, the Rogers Centre, the CN Tower, Bay Street, the waterfront, Casa Loma, and Union Station are all there, among many others. Trucks and ambulances roam the streets, guided by magnets underneath the surface. Periodically, the light changes to simulate the city at night. The CN Tower, which stretches up to the ceiling, lights up like the real thing. Lego people, each one unique, occupy the buildings, patios, and public squares.

There’s even a replica of Niagara Falls with flowing water. At the foot of the falls, there’s a campsite with a button on a pedestal that makes a grizzly bear pop up from behind a rock, while a roaring sound plays on hidden speakers.

Master model builder Graeme Dymond played a role in stacking the 1.5 million Lego bricks that make up Miniland. It’s just one of the projects he’s been involved with at Legoland, but it’s one of his favourites. “I helped a lot with the Miniland, but I can’t say I did it all on my own,” he said. “There was a huge effort done by a bunch of people who worked together. It would take one person almost two years to do just the Miniland by itself.”

Dymond won the master model builder job in November after an intense two-day-long competition for the coveted full-time salaried position. Afterward, he promptly left his job as a learning consultant at TD Bank.

“I’m just a huge kid,” he said. “I’ve always loved Lego. I’ve been playing Lego as far back as I can remember and never really stopped.”

His job at Legoland includes building and maintaining the displays, but he also teaches kids how to build. He hopes to impart some of the mathematics, architecture, and engineering intrinsic in Lego construction.

Further inside Legoland, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the Faulty Towers and Test and Ride displays. At Faulty Towers, people construct towers with Duplo and turn a switch to make a platform shake and shimmy, imitating the effect of an earthquake. At Test and Ride people construct Lego cars and shoot them down a ramp. Other popular attractions include in the 4D Cinema, and Master Builder Academy.

While Legoland is aimed at kids 10 and under, there will be adult nights once a month. There are also special events lined up for the future, although Hannaford is staying mum on the details.

CORRECTION: February 22, 2013, 11:30 AM This post originally said that Toronto’s Legoland is the second to have been built in Canada, and that the first was in Windsor, Ontario. In fact, there is no Legoland in Windsor (though there is one in Windsor, England), making Toronto’s the first in Canada.

Comments

  • HotDang

    Kids’ jackets are so ugly these days. I guess they are ski-inspired or pokemon or something.

  • Ryan

    Looks good but I wish they went full Legoland and took over Ontario Place. Rides and water park were already there and it’s in a prime location.

    They’ve done great things in Florida when they turned a failing amusement park there into a full blown Legoland theme park.

    • anitabot

      That is the best idea of use of Ontario Place land. Did you see the Lego pods and exhibits they had there back in the 80′s/90′s?

      • Stephen Job

        The Lego centre up in the Atlantis pods was one of my favourite parts of Ontario Place.

  • Spadina

    Super-charming.

    Say – those guests at the ACC look like Clarkson, Hammond, May and The Stig.

    • Stephen Job

      By golly, I think you’re right!!

  • Colin

    There is a Legoland in Windsor, England. There isn’t one in Windsor, Ontario.

    • SteveKupferman

      You’re right about that. I’ve made the correction.

  • Squint

    The Toronto Legoland… in Vaughan? That seems right.

  • Heather

    A big flaw in their modelling of Toronto is that in LegoLand everyone has the same (yellow) colour of skin. While I realize that is the Lego standard mini-figure, multi-coloured mini-figure heads/hands exist so it would be great to see more cultural diversity implemented by LegoLand before the official opening day.

    • Stephen Job

      This is actually a great comment. Diversity is core to our urban identity in Toronto.

  • 5Celcious

    this is so freaking cool

  • iSkyscraper

    Celebrates the city but is located in fucking Vaughan. What’s wrong with this picture? Why is this not downtown, like it is in New York?

    Same reason why Toronto is the only major city without a flagship freestanding Apple Store. (Eaton Centre is a standard suburban mall store).

    Don’t let all the condos fool you. Downtown is broken, and Rob Ford sure ain’t going to fix it.

    • Stephen Job

      So to summarize… Rob Ford is responsible for downtown being broken, as evidenced by the absence of an Apple Store and Legoland? There is a bit more to urbanism than that. I think downtown Toronto is booming and I am excited to help build it over the next few decades.

      • iSkyscraper

        Guilty of over-dramatizing. But the attention paid by flagship retail to Vaughan Mills or even Yorkdale over downtown annoys me to no end. First world problems to be sure but as someone who works in the industry I watch retail very carefully as a canary in the coal mine, so to speak.

        As for Ford, I’ll blame that childish bastard for everything I can until his sorry ass is run out of office. He didn’t create the challenges facing downtown but he is so anti-urban and anti-downtown that he is certainly not the person to fix them.

  • patrician

    The is a Legoland is St. Jacobs / Waterloo Ontario also. It’s been there for a very long time.

  • Karl Mamer

    This place bans adult fans of Lego, outside of some adult themed nights. They assume adults without kids are child sex predators. Not super keen customers.

    http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2013/07/10/windsor-man-blocked-from-legoland/