Last night, my dreams were of Lego bricks on little legs, marching ominously towards my pillow to hatchet my brain.
That’s my reward for an all Lego weekend. Yes, I saw the hit Lego film and visited the Lego theme park in less than 48 hours. One was unnervingly good, the other just unnerving. As infomercial, one succeeds with a giant wink of subversive branding.
The other? A dismal fail. It’s my own fault. I bought into hype.
We bought our timed tickets online. Priority entrance was promised but when we arrived, our wait was longer than those who had just walked up for a same day ticket.
I’m allergic to line ups on a good day. With two kids under five in tow, I was primed for something and it wasn’t hugs. My own kids know this but my young niece and nephew have yet to witness the unravelling.
25 minutes later (!), we and a crushed crowd of assorted victims were in and rounded the corner…to another line-up! Lab Coat Dude comes out, after giving us ten minutes or so to get excited to see him. What’s another line up when everyone is having so much fun?! After an explanation of how Lego bricks are made that was both oversimplified and unsuitable for the massive crowd stuffed into the small space, we were ushered into a large replica of Toronto’s landmarks. I breathed a little easier. This was cool, I had to admit, but only for older kids who actually know what the landmarks are.
As the visit wore on, it soon became the only decent part of the attraction and certainly not one worth the price of admission. Oh sure, we got to help rescue the helpless princess ( sigh) and shoot laser blasters at skeletons and other evil sorts who then exploded into dust. I spent the whole time trying to figure out what this ride had to do with building cool stuff with bricks. The ride line up had set us back another 15 minutes, crammed into a small corridor. Space, in fact, was not in anyone’s mind it seems when designing this clunker -the whole place resembles nothing more than a McDonalds playroom. Timed tickets are supposed to mean crowd control but our visit was joined by all of Toronto that wasn’t sitting on a dock, with a nice rosé and a big, fat novel. The speed test track was blah-yes, one can build a vehicle and send it down the track, but I’m betting most Lego enthusiasts can do this at home. The Fire Academy was just a chaotic jungle gym with a bunch of loser grown ups looking on, wondering just what the hell we were doing there. My eyes darted about, trying to locate my niece and nephew, as they dashed about inside, although sight lines prevented me from seeing them at all times, making me queasy given the inadequate supervision. Line ups for dinky rides and the 4D cinema prevented us from fully grasping the other wonders but a cursory glance told me all I need to know.
We should all have saved our money and spent it on more bricks to build at home. My nephew said it all as we hurried out of there, trying to avert their eyes from the overpriced store, conveniently placed at the exit.
There wasn’t enough to do there, was there, Auntie Anne?
Disney this ain’t. Now, there’s a place where line ups go to be entertained. Whatever your view of Mickey, you’ll don the ears the minute you’re through the gates. The place is spotless, staff are plentiful and polite, and rides-well, they’re mostly spectacular. Costly, crowded, stinking of Grand Fromage-Disney has it all but we knew it going in and our smiles were genuine, ear to Mickey ear.
We leave Legoland with a grimace. A staff member looks up from his dull stare – lobotomies clearly start at dawn here, hence my dream- and said, did you all have a great time?
I thought briefly of stealing the measly souvenir Lego brick from my nephew’s hand and squashing it down Mister’s throat but Aunts have to try hard to be good.
As for that other adventure, the Lego movie is a cheeky ride of fun and underscores the very essence of the toy’s appeal: free play is about individuality and imagination. Spoiler alert: creative minds will blossom. Unlike any kids movie I’ve seen yet, it’s a laugh a minute for all and wildly inventive. I’ll skip the review-the movie has already made millions and doesn’t need me as its champion.
Everything is awesome as long as we keep buying bricks.
Postscript: For the amount of money I paid to get in to Legoland, I expected to be dazzled with something remarkable, something like this.