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Indoor Legoland to land in Schaumburg
By Kim Mikus | Daily Herald Staff

The Legoland Discovery Centre that will come to Schaumburg in August will be similar to this prototype, which opened in Berlin last year.

 

COURTESY OF MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP

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Published: 2/6/2008 1:13 AM

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Plans have been pieced together for a giant indoor Lego amusement-style park to be erected at the Streets of Woodfield in Schaumburg.

The urban street-front shopping center will house the first Legoland Discovery Centre in the United States.

The new 30,000-square-foot play arena, designed for children ages 2 to 12, is coming to Streets, located across from the Woodfield Shopping Center with access from Route 53. Legoland will be modeled after a prototype that debuted in Berlin last year.

It's a smaller version of the outdoor Legoland theme park popular around the world, including in California, said Adrian Jones, U.S. general manager for Merlin Entertainments Group, which operates the parks. Merlin, partially owned by The LEGO Group, is the world's second largest entertainment company after Disney.

The Schaumburg Legoland will focus on entertainment and education with Lego model building, a sit-down dragon ride similar to a train, an adventure trail and a 4-D cinema incorporating Lego creatures and special effects.

"It will be a mix of a theme park and an indoor interactive attraction," said Jones, who is originally from England and currently heading up an entertainment project in Las Vegas.

"It's very worthy and educational. It's different than other U.S. concepts," he said.

The local indoor park is slated to open the first week of August. Other highlights at the two-story storefront, which has been vacant for several years, include birthday party rooms, a cafe, a Lego store and a special room with rotating exhibits of work by master Lego builders. Professional builders will be on site to show young enthusiasts how to build with the brightly colored plastic pieces.

Why the Streets of Woodfield?

"We did a lot of research and the Woodfield area registered very high," Jones said. His company toyed with Chicago's Navy Pier, but believes the high demographic of families with young children in the Schaumburg area is better. "This was a slam dunk," Jones said.

"The two-floor building has been vacant for a while. It was crying out for something like this," he added.

Landlord Joseph Freed & Associates is pleased with the way the plans are stacking up.

"It's a fantastic entertainment use for the Streets of Woodfield," said Mike Douglass, development manager for Joseph Freed. He added that the new tenant, to be located on the south end of the center, will bring added traffic to Streets of Woodfield and the entire area.

The Legoland Discovery Centre will join about 30 other tenants including Gameworks, Dick's Sporting Goods, a 20-screen movie theater, Maggiano's and Shaw's Crab House.

Legoland in Berlin has been a hit attracting more than 500,000 visitors annually. Another site is set to open in Germany in May, kicking off an expansion throughout Europe and the U.S.

Lego, a popular toy across the world, is an abbreviation of the two Danish words "leg godt," meaning "play well." Headquartered in Billund, Denmark, The LEGO Group was founded in 1932 in a small carpenter's workshop. Over the past 75 years it has become the world's sixth-largest manufacturer of toys. Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, a grandchild of the founder, now owns the growing Lego empire.