Out & About in Toronto
For the last week, I have been in Toronto. The purpose of the trip was actually work related. I was sent to a conference for some professional development. My wife and I decided that we would extend the trip a little to visit family and friends in the area. Of course, I had to squeeze some LEGO related activities into the mix. The first stop was the LEGO Store in Yorkdale Mall. It was pretty much the same as my local LEGO store back in Montreal. However, I did find that it was not as well organized or stocked in terms of the Minifigure station and pick-a-brick wall. I was there the day after the release of the new Ninjago Movie Minifigures, so I stocked up on a few of those.
Towards the end of the week, I hit the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Being an adult fan of LEGO, I am actually not allowed into the center by myself. They do have special adult nights, but I was not in town for one of them. The Discovery Center is really meant for little kids, and focuses on their entertainment and safety. So, it is understandable that there are no adults allowed in without a child. Luckily, I have two nieces in the area who had never been. So, I borrowed my sister’s kids and we went out for the day!
When you walk into the Discovery Center, there is a sizeable LEGO store on the left. You can access the store without paying for entry into the center itself, and adults can go shop on their own without kids. There was a pretty good selection, especially on the pick-a-brick wall. I find LEGO Stores tend to have generally the same bricks from store to store (at least the two in Montreal and the one in Yorkdale have pretty much the same selection). The Discovery Center had a lot of bricks in a variety of colours that were not the usual fare. It was a little more expensive though. At the regular LEGO Store, you buy LEGO by the cup. This means that you can cram as much LEGO in as possible, and the price doesn’t change. I like to think that I am getting pretty good at that. At the Discovery Center, you pay by weight, so the more you cram, the more you pay. I guess the advantage of that is that if you only need a few bricks, you don’t have to buy a whole cup.
The Discovery Center itself was filled with activities to entertain little ones. There was a Ninjago jungle gym and training center, a Friends house, a Duplo playground, and various build pits. We enjoyed a short Nexo Knights film in the 4D cinema. The video was a little more violent than I anticipated, and my four year old niece was a little frightened. My five year old niece really liked it though, and especially got a kick out of the evil book spitting on the crowd, and how people actually got sprayed (the fourth dimension of film involves actually feeling stuff like wind and little water sprays). There was also two little rides, but my nieces didn’t want to try those.
My main purpose for wanting to visit LEGOLAND was the builds. There were a lot of character statues, and the Toronto Miniland was really cool. I would love for my LEGO city to be on that scale one day. There were even little subway stations beneath the city that you could see through windows in the base of the stage supporting the buildings. Off to the side, there was even a Niagara Falls display built out of LEGO. All in all, it was a fun little side trip. I had two-for-one coupons as well, so it wasn’t too expensive to get in either.
On the weekend, I visited another LEGO Store, this time at Sherway Gardens Mall. This LEGO Store impressed me. The pick-a-brick wall actually had some good selection, and even some 2×2 tiles, which are harder to find. The Minifigure Station also had some parts that I had not seen before, so I found myself filling a cup and building some Minifigs. The staff was also super friendly. I have never had unfriendly staff at a LEGO Store, but this time, a couple of the employees actually engaged me in conversation about my brick selection, which was fun. Other than writing about LEGO here on my blog, I don’t often get to converse about my hobby with people who seem interested.
As I left Toronto on Sunday, I made one last stop at the Fairview Mall. There is another LEGO Store in it. I figured that I had been to all of the other LEGO Stores in Toronto, I couldn’t leave just one unvisited. It was along the same lines as the Yorkdale Mall location. The brick selection was the same as most other stores, as was the Minifigure station (which was not well stocked).
Are there any Torontonians out there? My visits to these stores were one-offs. I would be curious to know if I just hit some of these stores on bad days, or if their stock is regularly low? If anyone else has been to the Discovery Center (or others) I would love to hear how your experiences compared in the comments below.
Until next time,