So, you’ve got a LEGO® maniac. You’re not alone – many of us do. Undiagnosed? Check the symptoms: You have dents on your feet from stepping on tiny pieces that are strewn all over the house. You have Customer Service on speed dial for ordering replacement pieces that you can’t buy at a LEGO store. (Speaking of LEGO stores, the employees at your local one know you by name.) You have spent more money on LEGOs than on yourself in the last few years. Yep, you’ve got a LEGO maniac. The only cure is time, but that’s ok – this is a habit you’re happy to encourage. (Future engineers, inventors, artists and architects were all little maniacs once – it bodes well for their future.) But you’ve got to feed the need.
Enter the LEGO Castle Adventure.
Past That Other Castle
This LEGO Castle Adventure takes place at the Discovery Science Center all summer long. It’s in Santa Ana, just a shade South on the I5 of another castle adventure in Anaheim. (But this one is fully enclosed in an air-conditioned museum for your summer attendance enjoyment, and is also much easier on the wallet.)
Builders and Storytellers Wanted
Watching kids at play here, we noticed that most kids gravitated to one of two types of activities: storytelling or building. Luckily, they’re nicely interspersed, so if you’re visiting with both types of kids, one will work on the “brick layout” computer, where mini-engineers can plan a castle and see just how many bricks it would take to complete their creation, while the other tries on knight or princess costumes and sits on the royal throne. Or one will build (and build and build) at the castle creation stations, while the other can concoct a story at the “elements of a story” wall.
Educational? Yes. Shhhh.
They won’t notice how much they’re learning. Peek inside some pretty impressive LEGO replicas of real castles (like Blarney Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle – the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, by the way) that show how castles were constructed, where people lived and how they were fortified and defended. Big kids also love the interactive catapult and the chair pulley race.
Little Maniacs Welcome
Speaking of big kids, this isn’t just for them. Your DUPLO® devil (the younger sibling to the LEGO maniac) is right at home here. Castle dress up and exploration is just as fun for small fry. The giant LEGO dragon and armor are equally impressive, and frankly the slide in the climbable castle is too tame for big guys. There’s also a special area filled with DUPLO castle pieces that gives bigger kids envy (but they can’t play – the apprentice area is for the under 4s).
The True Beauty of LEGO
The real draw here, and the reason LEGO endures from generation to generation, is that LEGOs rock. So see the cool exhibits, bask in behind the scenes information and immerse yourself in interactive activities, but make sure your last stop is the castle building station. Because this is where they’ll want to spend their time – building and building with an endless supply of cool LEGO pieces. The only way to get them to leave is to show them the gift shop is on the way out. The gift shop fully stocked with LEGOS you can bring home.
Feed Your Brain (Tip#1)
True, this is a kids museum. And you promised them unlimited LEGO time. But while you’re here, be sure to check out the DaVinci the Genius exhibit. The kids will enjoy it, too, and will really dig the DaVinci Jr. workshop. But you’ll want some extra time for yourself to check out the lifesize machine inventions and in-depth look at Mona Lisa.
Feed Your Body (Tip #2)
The only food options inside the museum are Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. So if your family tends to live a more organic, less saturated kind of lifestyle, you may want to bring your own. Outside food is not permitted in the museum; so if you’re packing, eat at the picnic tables outside or take a picnic to nearby Fisher Park.
Where: Discovery Science Center
Parking: Parking costs $4 per vehicle, and only cash is accepted.
Cost: Adults: $15.95, Kids (Ages 3-14) and Seniors (Age 62 and up): $12.95
Freebies: Santa Ana residents are free on the first Tuesday of the month. Teachers are always free (register for free tickets online), and Bank of America cardholders get in free on the first Sunday of each month. Check discount details on the website.
Discovery Science Center
2500 North Main St.
Santa Ana, Ca 92705
Phone: (714) 542-CUBE (2823)
Photo credits: LEGO® Castle Adventure via Discovery Science Center and Meghan Rose