The kids from Barton Moss Primary loved the Legoland Discovery Centre with the cinema and laser shooting ride coming out top.
"I loved the 4-D cinema" said Sarah, celebrating her 8th birthday on the school trip "and the game, where you had to shoot all the baddies and save the baby dragon. I've really enjoyed myself."
Her views were backed up by Kyran, also 8…
"It was fantastic" he said "In the cinema I almost fell off my chair as things were coming out of the screen. And I liked shooting all the zombies and skulls in the shooting game."
Barton Moss pupils were amongst those from five schools around Greater Manchester invited to launch the Centre with a parade, followed by a special preview of what's on offer. Meanwhile, older hacks from the media were also invited to try out the joys of Legoland. So how did it shape up?
The first thing to say is that it's not comparable in the slightest to the huge Legoland in Windsor which has huge rides, Lego art galleries and enough attractions to occupy a full weekend. This is more Legoland lite, a few hours of fun and games in what is essentially a big converted shop. Expectations should be kept well in check.
It is, however, very interactive, and any kids seriously into Lego will be in heaven. There's Earthquake Tower, where freshly built Lego `skyscapers' can be gauged for sturdiness with differing degrees of shaking; there's Racers Build and Test where kids can build Lego cars and try them out on ramps and tracks; and there's the Master Model Builder area, where a friendly bloke called Alex shows kids how to build top Lego models.
Ex postman Alex was chosen by children to be their Lego champ in a series of X Factor type auditions and it was his model of Salford star Ryan Giggs that got him through to the ultimate final. To finally get the job Alex had to impress another sixty kids by leading a model workshop in a school, and now he's installed at the Discovery Centre as a full time Lego `agony uncle', helping kids to build better, while also designing and building new Lego features.
"I've always had the nickname Lego nerd" he recalled "I remember getting my first Lego set when I was three years old which was the pirate ship, I loved it and have been a fan of Lego ever since. I've always been collecting, even through high school, even when friends would ridicule me – `Do you play with Lego when you go home?' …`You not coming out for a drink?' Well now it's paid off."
To encourage future Lego nerds, there's a section for early years kids who are into Duplo, and a Miniland which features `iconic buildings from the North West'. Unfortunately Miniland is the weakest attraction at the Discovery Centre, with models crammed next to each other, so that the Salford bridge near the Lowry Hotel is next to Urbis, Coronation Street and Manchester Cathedral, with a river running past Central Library.
And in the Liverpool section the Liver Bird looks like it's been built by a Man United supporter or a two year old. Meanwhile, Old Trafford and City's stadium are kind of merged into one horrid mess, and the Trafford Centre is transported next to Manchester's big wheel. Unimpressive and totally third rate compared to the real Legoland, where almost every detail is perfection. But that didn't seem to put the kids off, while they were busy pushing buttons making things happen.
The kids favourites will be Kingdom Quest – a kind of ghost trainy ride with laser guns to shoot baddy Lego characters who appear on screens – and the 4-D cinema on which we saw a Bob The Builder episode where the planks of wood come out of the screen and virtually crack you on the head. Fab.
With a `Wacky Warehouse' type soft play area on top of all the other stuff, a café and a huge Lego shop, kids will easily spend a good few hours in the Discovery Centre, only the fourth such Lego Centre in the world. With tickets costing £9.30 for kids and £11.85 for adults it's pricey (although there are afternoon tickets for £7 and special offers) but it's a special treat kind of place. The kids from Barton Moss Primary certainly thought so…
Legoland Discovery Centre is based at Barton Square in the Trafford Centre and opens on 22nd March 2010 from 10am 7 days a week.
Further details at www.legolanddiscoverycentre.co.uk