Attraction of the week: Legoland's Driving School
Published: January 21, 2013 at 11:24 PM
And as special as those moments can be for you, they're magnified when they happen for your children.
My attraction of the week this week is Legoland's Driving School, which my children experienced here in Southern California. But east coast theme park fans have a Driving School at Legoland Florida, too. (You'll find Driving Schools at the international Legolands, too.)
Driving School enables children between ages six and 12 to get behind the wheel of their own Lego car for a drive around a city street grid. I'll turn it over to Theme Park Insider Daughter (and Driving School veteran) Natalie to explain:
"The thing that makes Driving School different from rides like Disneyland's Autopia is you're not on a track. You can drive the car wherever you want -- and run over things if you're not careful. So you have to learn to be careful, to stay in your lane. It's safe, but it doesn't feel safe when you first drive. You've got to be in control; there's no track to keep you from hitting things. But you're not scared when you drive. If you crash the cars, you're going to be fine.
"Legoland also made the ride look like the real world. They put in a lot of details -- like a gas station, and people walking and lots of traffic signs and signals, so you can feel all grown up while you're driving around. You even can get a license afterward."
Sure, a few kids treat the Driving School like a well-decorated bumper car ride, careening into everything in sight. But two of my great thrills as a parent in a theme park were watching each of my kids navigate the Driving School course perfectly for the first time, with no collisions and obeying every traffic signal correctly. (Yeah, that required a few evasive maneuvers from each of them -- but that's part of life in the real Big City, too.)
The Legoland theme parks target such a narrow range (basically, elementary-aged children and their families), that many theme park fans without kids in that age range tend to overlook or dismiss the Legoland parks. But if you have kids between ages 6 and 12 (especially in the younger half of that range), Legoland can delight. Rides such as Driving School demonstrate how theme park attractions can move beyond passive entertainment into active play... with a purpose.