The Lego Kidsfest
came to Austin over Labor Day weekend and we couldn't miss the opportunity to take the kids. We made it Skyler's birthday celebration (his birthday is near the end of August), and invited one of his school friends to go along.
The event was broken up into five different sessions over the weekend, and we went to the Saturday morning session from 9am to 1:30pm. We got there around 9:30 and the convention center was already filling up. We didn't think we'd stay for the entire session, but there was so much fun stuff to do that we ended up staying until the very last minute.
When we entered there was a Lego statue museum with life-size statues of favorite characters from Toy Story, Cars, Nickelodeon, and much much more. It was a great way to get acclimated to the enormity of the event and take a moment to catch your breath (for the parents and the kids). It really built up the excitement of being there.
One thing we should have done when we first got there was stop off at the lost parent booth. From my understanding they had little handouts you could use to write down info about your child (i.e. what they were wearing, etc.), in case you got separated. We did hear announcements for lost parents throughout the morning, but my husband and I tag-teamed with the kids and never got lost (although I did find myself feeling lured by the Legos from time to time).
The building was set up in a sort of U-shape with more activities in the middle, and the first station we stopped off at was race ramps. There were tables with car parts where the kids could design and build their own race car and then send it down one of the ramps. It was a little difficult finding wheels, but with a quick search at the bottom of the ramps we found what we needed for the kids to make their own four-wheeled creations.
Next up was the Creation Nation. There was a sectioned off outline of the U.S. and tables where the kids could make something to add to the map. I started trying to make something, but couldn't think what in the world to make--there were buckets and buckets of Legos and the possibilities were endless (and some of the other projects were very impressive).
The boys were having a little difficulty coming up with something too, until I suggested they build something together, so they decided on a tree house. After they were done they got to choose where on the map they wanted their creation. Texas was already about full, so they chose Florida. You can see the finished map from Austin here.
After Creation Nation, we picked up some juice samples from Honest Tea, and sat and relaxed in the Lego theater for a few minutes and had a snack (technically I don't think you were supposed to bring food in, but I brought something along because I knew we'd all need something to munch on). It was great to have a place to sit down, and the Lego animations were fun to watch.
We skipped over the Lego shop and stopped by the Construction Zone to participate in a Lego-building contest. They had different contests going on throughout the day, and the kids all teamed up for a bridge-building competition. They had five minutes to build a bridge and then see how much weight it could hold after the kids carried it to the center as a team. Our team's bridge broke under 5lbs, but one team's bridge held up until 60lbs!
All the participants received a mini Lego kit and the winning team got something extra. The kids were a little bummed that there's didn't hold up, but they had fun--and it was exciting to watch how all the bridges did.
Another favorite was the art gallery. The kids each got to pick a blank square "canvas" and decorate it with Legos. There were some patterns to follow if you wanted, and of course I had to leave my own mark on the wall.
Eleanor and I played in the Duplo section before we left and discovered the princess blocks. They were pretty fun to play with. There was also a section with the new Friends Lego set for girls with the most adorable pieces to build your own dollhouse (the girl in me definitely had fun with those).
The boys also went to the Ninjago area where they got to play and build and even got a free poster. And Eleanor and I enjoyed the monotone build stations where we played with the pink bricks (I made that heart all by myself!).
The kids posed for a few more photos on the way out. It was amazing to think of how many Legos must have been used to build all the statues (and the time it took to make them).
Overall we had a great time and were completely pooped when we were done. But it was well worth the trip (and the cost).
Some of the things we didn't get to do included the brick pile (a giant pile of Legos--enough to bury a kid in!), the Master Builder sessions (you had to be there early to sign up), or the Construction Zone. We did briefly stop by the Lego City section and the Garden of Giving. There was certainly never a lack of things to do.
Here are some tips I'd recommend if you're attending a Lego Kidsfest near you:
1. Go with at least one other adult. Chris almost wasn't able to go with me, and it would have been really stressful trying to keep an eye on the kids (and make potty visits) by myself.
2. Leave the itty bitty ones at home. This may not be an option for everyone, but we left our two year old at home with my mom. It was a nearly five hour event that ended just after lunch time, and you could definitely see the melt downs start to happen all around us as we were leaving. Plus it would have been harder to interact and build with the older kids while entertaining Amelia, too.
3. Give yourself a time limit at each station. It would be easy to get lost in playing at one station for two hours, but if you're hoping to see as much as possible I recommend giving yourself a time limit. You can always go back to a previous station if you have more time.
4. Have fun! There were a lot of parents sitting on the side lines watching while their kids played, but you paid to get in, so you might as well play too. I had so much fun getting in touch with my inner kid and remembering back to my own childhood love of Legos.
5. Skip the shop. That's what we did. Since this was Skyler's birthday celebration I bought some little Lego favors for the kids to play with afterwards. It's tempting to want to buy some of the awesome toys while you're there, but we decided to save money (and time) and just focus on playing. We can always add Legos to the Christmas list.
Are your kids Lego-lovers? Have you ever been to a Lego Kidsfest? What was your experience like?