Through a chain of events that began with a free hotel stay, our family recently ended up spending a night in Schaumburg, IL. The centerpiece of our mini-vacation was a trip to LEGOLAND.
Let me start by telling you a bit about Schaumburg: Schaumburg is the same thing as Chicago, except not really. By that, I mean that it’s in the vicinity of the Big City–if you were visiting from another country, and you spent the night in Schaumburg, you could legitimately tell everyone back home that you stayed in Chicago. It’s that close. Also, it has some of the electric feel of Downtown.
However, unlike Downtown, it’s not at all frightening to drive to/in Schaumburg, and parking is free everywhere. The flipside, of course, is that there are no museums, no major sports teams within easy reach…It is, at the end of the day, a suburb.
What Schaumburg and the surrounding area do have are a few well-placed lesser tourist attractions, including Woodfield Mall, Arlington Park racetrack and Medieval Times in nearby Arlington, and the Streets of Woodfield (which is close to, but different from, Woodfield Mall). It is in the latter destination that you’ll find LEGOLAND.
LEGOLAND probably seems like a must-visit to many parents of kids between the ages of five and twelve. It sure did to us, even though we had read many reviews warning that we would be underwhelmed.
And, underwhelmed we were.
Don’t get me wrong: we still had a fun time, and I don’t NOT recommend going. But, go with your eyes fully open to what you can expect to find there.
To look at this map, one might think LEGOLAND has quite a bit to offer, but the map is deceptive. For example, the LEGO Friends zone, which my daughter got unduly excited for, is really a tiny corner of the food court (more on that later) that has a few small tables of bricks in it.
At first, I was disappointed that there wasn’t something more to do there, and then I thought “Perfect–we can actually assemble something. Isn’t that what LEGOs are all about?”
But, Kate wasn’t really into it. And, even if she had been, the instructions on what we were supposed to build were cryptic, and the pictures of the finished project hard to identify.
In a nutshell, it feels more like a LEGO-specific kids’ museum than an amusement park. There are two rides, both of which are pretty small. It has a couple of really great LEGO displays, and a few other small attractions.
The one thing we didn’t check out, and heard was pretty cool, is the 3-D theatre (everything is included in the ticket price). We squandered our waiting-in-line patience for the day on the rides (which were sort of worth it) and the LEGO “Factory” Tour (totally NOT worth it).
We budgeted our vacation funds to afford lunch at the food court, but I’m begging you–don’t waste your money there. The food quality to price ratio doesn’t work out in the visitor’s favor. Either bring your own lunch, or plan to stop at the Hindsdale Oasis so that you can enjoy your meal while watching cars zoom underneath on bustling I294.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the staff at LEGOLAND was very friendly and helpful. Clearly, the folks behind the attraction do a lot of things right, even if the attraction itself falls a little short.
A few things to keep in mind if you head to Schaumburg: Woodfield Mall is worth a visit, if only for the Stride Rite. It has a Rainforest Café, which we ate at, and I would recommend IF you have some sort of a kids-eat-free coupon or similar deal. As far as themed restaurants go, it’s pretty cool, but doesn’t have the best food–or even experience–you’ll ever have for the price.
Woodfield also has a Build-A-Bear Workshop and LEGO Store (which, surprisingly, has a TON more LEGO sets for sale than LEGOLAND itself does), not to mention many other shops you can’t find in this area.
Also, nearby Arlington Racetrack and Medieval Times are worth checking out. We’ve been to the racetrack; they really try to make it a fun family destination. I’ve never been to Medieval Times, but have yet to hear of someone not enjoying it.
WHERE: Streets of Woodfield: 601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg, IL
HOURS: Open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
COST: The base price is $21 for all people over the age of three. However, there are discounts for going later in the day, booking online, and choosing a family package which includes photos, toys, and a meal in the food court.
Rachael McMillan teaches sixth and seventh grade history at Campus Middle School for Girls. She also tutors at The Reading Group and serves as the education coordinator for Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer in downtown Champaign. She is totally in love with her Chambana life, which she shares with husband Scott, second grader Jack, first grader Kate, and super smiley baby William.