Friday, August 30, 2013

TOP-10 Lego ideas on Pinterest

There are hundreds of them! I checked.

When I was writing my article on Legoland Discovery Centre, I decided to create a Pinterest board on all the fun stuff I could find about Lego. I came across hundreds of boards from Lego fans.

Lego bricks have been used to create: artworks, public art, jokes, architecture, games, education, collective projects, miniature cities (including Toronto at the Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills)...

Here are my top-10 Lego ideas you'll find on my board "Writer's (Lego) Block" on (you'll need to have a Pinterest account in order to access the boards, it's easy!). The fun thing about Pinterest boards is that when you click on an image on a board, it leads you to the original source of the image (website or blog).

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by the author of the guidebook Toronto Fun Places

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I-SPY a jackhammer guy at Legoland

Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills includes the fantastic miniature City of Toronto entirely made out of Lego bricks. There's lots to observe in Legoland's Miniland. 

When we pushed a button by a tiny construction site near Spadina House, the jackhammer guy started to work at it, like his boss had just shown up on the premises. 

Niagara Falls, as seen in Legoland's parallel universe

Here's Niagara Falls, as seen at Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills. (Note that most of the buildings in Miniland are landmarks from Toronto.) 

Last summer I visited Niagara Falls at night with young friends. I though Legoland did a great job at recreating the ambiance. When night falls over the city, there's even a small projection of some firework display in the background! 

See more landmarks at Legoland:

Like Toronto Fun Places on Facebook for last-minute 
outing suggestions, 
updates and fun bits.

Spadina House, as seen in Legoland's parallel universe

Here's Spadina House, as seen at Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills.

When you look on the floor around the raised platform, you can read street names to help you figure out in what part of town you are.

See more landmarks at Legoland:

Like Toronto Fun Places on Facebook for last-minute 
outing suggestions, 
updates and fun bits.

Hockey Hall of Fame, as seen in Legoland's parallel universe

Here's the Hockey Hall of Fame, as seen at Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills.

A friend of mine lives in a tall condo overlooking the Hockey Hall of Fame, which gave me a chance to take this shot of the attraction.

See more landmarks at Legoland:

Like Toronto Fun Places on Facebook for last-minute 
outing suggestions, 
updates and fun bits.

CN Tower as seen in Legoland's parallel universe

Here's the CN Tower, as seen at Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills.

They've even recreated the real CN Tower's light effects, which you can admire when the night fall over the tiny city.

See more landmarks at Legoland:

Like Toronto Fun Places on Facebook for last-minute 
outing suggestions, updates and fun bits.

Toronto City Hall, as seen in Legoland's parallel universe

The attention to detail is so amazing, we must have spent one whole hour in the Miniland room within Toronto's Legoland Discovery Centre. 

The good thing about Legoland is that once you're in, you can explore it any way you like. At the beginning, kids are too excited to take the time to admire the models entirely made of Lego blocks. But once they've tried everything else in the attraction, they're ready to return to Miniland to truly appreciate what's going on in the miniature city of Toronto.

Here's Toronto City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square, as seen at Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills.

See more landmarks at Legoland:

TOP-10 Lego ideas on Pinterest

Like Toronto Fun Places on Facebook for last-minute 
outing suggestions, updates and fun bits.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Legoland Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills

A true block buster!
It took me one visit to the new family attraction at Vaughan Mills to resume my love story with the most wonderful toy in the world. Lego fans will truly feel they get their money's worth at Legoland Discovery Centre.

Last week, I spent some time with a friend who felt bad that as the summer was closing she had not found the time yet to do something special with her 11-year-old son. 

I convinced them to come with me to Legoland. Our young builder gave the place two big thumbs up, and so did we!

What to expect
Past the admission desk, we waited in a small lobby for a staff member dressed in a white overcoat to lead us into the Lego "factory" where we learned everything about the manufacturing process of the world famous bricks.

The factory is a prologue to the line-up of activities which lie ahead: laser ride, small 4D movie theatre, workshop room,  large indoor playground, twirling ride, sections with tons of blocks to indulge in our own creations (including one with Duplo blocks for younger kids), racing tracks to test our constructions, small karaoke zone, cafeteria and more. 

The attention to detail of this attraction is not unlike what you'd expect at Disneyworld. (Check their washrooms!)

Toronto cityscape at Legoland
Our personal favourites
We LOVED the superb Miniland for which the local building team recreated Toronto's landmarks (and a few more from other cities). Every time the night fell over the city, it allowed us to admire the pretty city lights. We were even treated with small firework displays projected on the walls of the attraction. So lovely! 

Rogers Centre
The 4D movie theatre presented three different 10-minute films (an electronic board by the entrance advertised the title and hour of the coming presentation). 

The shorts are accompanied by modest wind and water effects. Don't miss the movie Clutch Powers which is, in my opinion, at par with Pixar's Toy Story. (Moms will appreciate the moment when our free-falling heroine tries to save the situation... while holding on to her little Lego wig.) 

Merlin's Apprentice Ride at Legoland
We were surprised to discover that the pedals on Merlin’s Apprentice Ride had a function. You need to push them to go up and down. 

The Kingdom Quest Laser Ride lasts all of four intense minutes (and you can hop on it as much as you want). Our young companion scored 27 000 points, far beyond his mom who got 10 000 and me with my pitiful 4 000 points. 

In the store of the Discovery Centre, it is possible to buy Lego bricks by the colour and by the weight. Isn't it great? I've seen kids helping themselves directly from the monochrome containers to build a creation which was then weighed. It costs $14 per 100 grams (a big handfull).

Good to know
All kids must be accompanied by an adult. All adults must enter with a child aged 3 to 12 years old. (The Centre offers a monthly Adult Night allowing fans 18 years and older to enter without a child.) 
  • Adults can accompany their kids on every ride. 
  • There's no in & out priviledge. Visits usually take 2-3 hours. 
  • Socks are mandatory in the playground.
  • The colourful cafeteria sells $4 sandwiches and snacks and beverages (cold or hot). Outside food is not allowed on the premises. 
Super washroom at Legoland
Buy your tickets online in advance. It will allow you to avoid the line-up.
  • The small lobby where everyone waited to get in the movie theatre was full when we opted to watch a show yet, we all got in. 
  • Allow five minutes per 12 people ahead of you in the line-up at Merlin's Apprentice Ride.
  • About birthday parties: You need to make reservations (six weeks ahead of time) for a minimum of 10 paying kids. It's $25 per child but free for the birthday kid and one adult for every five children. This buys you the exclusive use of a room for an hour, a meal, the cake and unlimited access to Legoland activities. 
  • To avoid tantrums at the end of your visit, let your kids know what to expect in the Lego store. You might want to negotiate that you're willing to go only if they promise not to ask for anything at the store. Or you could give them a small allowance. I noticed many options under $10. My friend opted to give her son a lump sum with the permission to top it off with his own money to buy what he wanted. 
Legoland Discovery Centre
Where: Vaughan Mills, 1 Bass Pro Mills Drive, Vaughan. (4A section is the closest to the entrance leading to Legoland (near bowling attraction Lucky Strike Lanes). 
When: On Labour Day weekend, open Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm, Sunday & Monday from 10 am to 7 pm.  At other times, open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 7 pm. (Last admission two hours prior to closing time.)
How much: $18/3-12 yrs, $22/13 yrs +, free for kids 2 years old and under. (Annual pass to be considered if you plan to attend more than three times in the year.) 

Related blogs:
TOP-10 Lego ideas on Pinterest
I-SPY a jackhammer guy
CN Tower at Legoland

Test drive at Legoland 
Toronto City Hall
Air Canada Centre
The ROM on Bloor Street West

Saturday, August 17, 2013

CNE Tips for moms: About rides

About the rides 
The Ride All Day Pass includes admission and unlimited rides and costs $54 ($50 for child or senior). 

Any single ride requires a minimum of 4 coupons. You can buy coupons at the CNE Ride Booths in increments of 4 coupons for $5, 22 coupons for $22 or 55 coupons for $55.

Deal alert! 
During Kid's Toonie Mondays on August 19 & 26, admission will be $2 for kids; the Kiddie Midway (the smaller midway in the north-west part of the Ex, closer to Medieval Times) will then offer 30 coupons for $22 at the Ride BoothsDuring Youth Day on Tuesday August 27, you will be able to buy 8 rides for $20 at the Ride Booths.

About the CNE Zip Line
The CNE Zip Line is NOT included with the Ride All Day Pass. This new attraction is $30 for one ride. You get to climb 180 stairs up a 126 foot scaffolding and ride along a 1,100 foot-long zip line (which takes approx. 30 seconds). 

Buy your ticket online for an additional $2 fee and you'll get a specific time slot. When I attended the media day, all Zip Line riders (not me, because I'm an out-of-the-closet chicken) were set with a Go Pro camera on their helmet and were told that for an additional $10, they could get the clip filmed during their ride.

CNE Tips for moms: About admission

Admission DOES NOT include rides!

(Note: Fees updated for 2014)
General admission to the CNE is $18 (14-59 yrs), $14 (5-13 yrs and seniors), $50 for a family of four, free for kids 4 years and under. This does not include the rides.

But general admission gives you access to: 
• All the bandshell concerts
• All the chefs' presentations (Celebrity Stage, Direct Energy Centre)
• The daily Mardi Gras Parade departing from Princes' Gate at 6 p.m.
• All the exhibits and events throughout the site including the Canadian International Air Show (2014: August 30, 31 and September 1 starting at 1 p.m.).
• Free shuttle all around the site.

Deal alert! 
During Free Till 3 on Tuesday August 26, ground admission will be free for kids 19 years and under from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and they will be able to buy 8 rides for $20.

During Kid's Toonie Mondays on August 18 and 25, ground admission will be $2 for kids under 13 and it will cost them $22 for 30 tickets for the rides. 

CNE Tips for moms with big kids

Visiting the CNE with big kids?

You will want to see:
• Cascade from France (cascade meaning stunt in French). They perform choreographed fights with a bit of humour and lots of precision (daily at the International Stage, closer to Princes' Gate, ask for schedule at admission gate). 
Cascade from France at the CNE
• Hypnotist shows on the Variety Stage near the Better Living Building at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Shows from The Incredible Boris (August 16-24) and from Terrance B (August 25 to Sept. 2 with additional shows Aug. 30 & Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at 8 p.m.).
• Play Like a Pro, featuring sports interactives outside the Food Building in the west end (daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.).

Click here for more information on the entertainment at the CNE.

Other posts on the CNE:
The Flying Wallendas at CNE

CNE Tips for moms with animal lovers

Muskoka chair painted by Toronto student
Visiting the CNE with an animal lover?

You'll want to see:
• SuperDogs in Hall D in Direct Energy Centre (daily shows at 12:30, 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.). They recommend you arrive one hour earlier to get a seat!
• Cat Show at Café Soleil inside Direct Energy Centre. It features 125 cats in display and competition (August 24-25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
• The Farm in the Better Living Centre on the west side.
• Reptilia, Birds of Pray and more in Kids World Park (on west end).
Miniature Horses Competition in the Horse Palace (August 24-25

Horse Palace detail