New Lego Discovery Center at Phipps Plaza is the first of its kind in the US

Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta closed its doors for renovation after Labor Day 2022, and it will reopen as the LEGO Discovery Center on March 31, 2023. The popular kids’ attraction occupies much of the third floor of Phipps Plaza opposite the AMC Phipps Plaza 14 cinema. This will be the first LEGO Discovery Center in the United States, following first one in Brussels.

Legoland Discovery Center visitors will recognize the Kingdom Quest ride, Pirate Adventure Land, and 4D Cinema, but most of the Center is being upgraded and remodeled. The Great LEGO Race VR simulator is being upgraded, and DUPLO Park has gone from a small corner of the attraction to an expansive play area where younger visitors can build and explore with their parents. General manager Jamica Butler told us, “We’ll have a bunch of games here where the young kids really start to stretch their imagination and build things, especially with their parents. We’ve never had a Duplo park this size, so I’m excited to see the happy faces.”

More Family Oriented

LEGO Discovery Center GM Jamica Butler

GM Butler pointed out what makes LEGO Discovery Center different from the previous iteration of Legoland. “We did a $5 million renovation to turn us into the next generation of these Discovery Centers, where parents and kids can all do the same thing together.” The family connection drives much of the new design. Butler describes the new space, “It’s filled with imagination and wonder. We have a new LEGO building scan where you can build a rocket ship. It’s something fun for all ages, parents included. We went away from just just a certain age kids. You’ll see it’s really bringing us into that whole family oriented type of place.”

The Spaceship Build and Scan is one of the new features at LEGO Discovery Center. Kids and parents build rockets with LEGO bricks, then scan their designs and pilot them using a joystick and video monitors. Build Adventures is another upgraded area where guests build, race, and jump their own LEGO creations.

New Miniland

Guests will notice a lot of changes in the Miniland section of LEGO Discovery Center. This intricate LEGO model of Atlanta landmarks is the creation of Master Model Builder Phillip Quinn-Simmons. I asked Quinn-Simmons how long it took to build Miniland, and he replied, “Everything takes forever all the time.” He continued that a project like this is made up of “Really small pieces and really big builds,” and the time involved varies. The new Zoo Atlanta model took about 6 weeks, in which Quinn-Simmons was sitting in the model “like an animal on display.”

Quinn-Simmons has been working with LEGO professionally for 5 years. His 3 years at LEGO Discovery Center were preceded by 2 years of teaching STEM classes using LEGO bricks. To build the models in Miniland, he photographs the locations, then builds each model from scratch using his photos for reference. He says he completes these highly detailed builds by having a “quantum understanding of how the pieces work, and knowing how it all goes together.”

Quinn-Simmons and his team add details and fun extras that bring the models to life after the main models are done,. Guests can interact with the models to activate movement and lights. I hear there are a lot of secret details hidden throughout Miniland.

Guests at LEGO Discovery Center will have new opportunities to interact with the Master Model builder. GM Butler told me, “Our master model builder has a new guest facing office where he’ll have sliding windows where guests can come up and build with him, hang out with him, and see what’s new.” The remodeled LEGO shop also includes demonstration areas where Quinn-Simmons will do presentations and building demos. 

More upgrades

The LEGO shop includes LEGO model kits, loose bricks for sale, and a new minifigure creator. Guests can design a custom minifigure that is printed right there in the store. This goes beyond just picking pre-printed pieces and assembling a minifigure!

LEGO Discovery Center is designed to be more accessible and inclusive. The ticketing process has been streamlined for easier entry, and a lot of thought has been put into the minifigures on display. GM Butler told me, “The cool thing about our transition into this next generation LEGO Discovery Center is if you look at all the minifigures, they’re so diverse. We have older people minifigures, we have professors, we have people in wheelchairs with disabilities. Minifigures of all different types of people.” She sees this as an evolution of the LEGO tradition. “I don’t think Lego ever goes anywhere. It just continues to evolve. And we were evolving.”

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