Our Autism Experience at Legoland Discovery Centre

We’ve been going to Legoland Discovery Centre since before Sam was walking. Once he was on the move, his love for the place became clear. Even before he had his Autism diagnosis, Sam was always in his element exploring the giant lego blocks in the soft play area.

The older Sam got, the more he enjoyed his visits. Once he was tall enough to ride it, he squealed with excitement on the Merlin’s Apprentice ride. Last Summer, we decided to get annual passes so that we could visit more often.

I tend to take Sam on weekday afternoons when his younger sister is at nursery. It is much quieter then, so Sam can run around without me worrying about losing him. During these quiet times, the staff often make an effort to speak to Sam. He spends a lot of time tidying up the Lego pits. He likes to make sure the bricks are in the correct pools, and the staff frequently thank him for his help.

On these quiet days, staff notice how excited Sam becomes on the rides, and will often ask if we’d like to stay on and ride again – Sam loves this! The one part of the attraction which Sam doesn’t enjoy very much is the Professor Brick part at the beginning. I explained this to staff one day, and they immediately showed us a short cut to avoid this section in future. The staff definitely scored 10/10 for customer satisfaction on that day!

Sam adores the 4D cinema. The feeling of the wind blowing on him, and the water spraying him never fail to make him laugh. He can usually be seen on the 2nd row, rocking back and forth squealing with delight. Our daughter is 2.5, and she loves visiting Legoland Discovery too. These photos show them both on various visits over the past 2 years.

Sam loves to explore Miniland too. He spends a lot of time watching the models move, enjoying the environment switching from light to dark, and worshipping the fireworks which are projected onto the wall. He loves to listen to the sound effects and press the buttons in here as well. Sam is non verbal, so he can’t tell us whether or not he enjoyed an activity. We have to read his body language and facial expressions. Despite this, I am 100% sure he loves Legoland Discovery Centre & it is one of his favourite places to go.

When the story broke recently about how disabled adults with carers are being turned away from LDC because they don’t have a child with them, I was gutted. It makes me sad to think that Sam could be turned away on his 16th birthday, despite years of loyal custom.

I fully understand the reasoning behind the policy, and I accept why Merlin won’t allow adults in every day (Disabled or otherwise). I am struggling to understand why they don’t set aside one day a week during term time to allow adults entry though. It’s like a ghost town in there some days. They sell products which are aimed at people aged 16+ yet they won’t let them inside to appreciate the Miniland models without a child in tow.

Granted, most adults won’t want to use the rides or the Professor Brick section of the attraction, but the Star Wars models, Miniland, and the car racing section would all be things I’d have enjoyed even before I had kids. In an ideal world, Legoland Discovery would publicise one day a week as an adult friendly day, so that worried parents can make an informed decision whether or not to attend on that day.

I really hope LDC review their admission policy, or at least offer more regular Adult Friendly sessions moving forward. People with Autism need a solid routine, and offering an evening session once in a blue moon doesn’t really do anything to help them. Sam has come on so much since he’s been visiting Legoland regularly, and I’d hate for him to no longer be allowed in once he’s 16.

So…. Where am I now? Honestly: we will still be visiting Legoland. I can’t take away one of very few activities Sam genuinely enjoys. It worked out as amazing value for money for us to buy an annual pass. We visit Sealife a lot too, which is just a few doors away.

This is not a sponsored post – I just wanted to share our own experiences of Legoland Discovery Centre as parents of a child with Autism.

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