Fun for all the family at new LEGO centre; Time Off The family entertainment guide.
My six-year-old son James is steadily working his way through the 2009/2010 Star Wars models, and so are most of his schoolfriends.
When I heard that a LEGOland Discovery Centre, the first in the UK, had just opened down the road in the Trafford Centre it was top of our list of Easter holiday days out.
Aimed at three-12 year olds, the attraction boasts activities from across the LEGO spectrum from racing LEGO cars to building giant Duplo models.
Located in the Barton Square part of the shopping mecca, where all the homewares stores are clustered together, it is easy to find and there is free parking.
Once inside you are given a brief 'factory' tour of how LEGO is made before witnessing the famous plastic FUN: James at the bricks in all their glory in the impressive Miniland. Almost 1.5 million bricks were used to create famous northern landmarks like Blackpool Tower, Aintree racecourse and of course the Liver Buildings, complete with a model ferry on the Mersey and tiny Beatles figures singing in a miniature LEGO Cavern.
A highlight for James and his four-year-old sister Nina was Kingdom Quest, an interactive laser ride.
We climbed into what looked like a roller-coaster carriage and had big rubber guns to fire at evil trolls and skeletons which kept appearing on a series of giant video screens. It was great fun.We each had a digital display which kept a tally of our scores.
We all enjoyed the 4D cinema animation involving Bob the Builder and had to duck as we thought giant LEGO bricks were going to hit us.
The hub of the discovery centre houses a cafe and various play areas catering for different ages. This includes the Duplo Village for little ones; a LEGO Racers Build & Test area and a Fire Academy soft play area with a slide, although this can get a bit crowded when busy. Nina had a great time creating her own makeshift racing car and hurling it down the various ramps in the build & test zone.
James joined other children for some expert tips in a class run by the master model builder and made an impressive looking LEGO tiger.
There are lots of tables available in the cafe which serves a selection of sandwiches, paninis, cakes and drinks but I would have preferred the option of children's lunch boxes, much more versatile for fussy young eaters.
The LEGOland Discovery Centre is not somewhere to spend all day, more a morning or afternoon. But the children loved it and especially the LEGO shop with its lifesize model of Darth Vader.
You can also get your hand stamped on the way out of the centre and pop in again later the same day - which we did to have another adventure on Kingdom Quest.
LEGOland Discovery Centre is open seven days a week from 10am-5pm, tickets from pounds 7.
FUN: James at the LEGO centre