The new Easton attraction features play areas, rides, movies and more.

If you’re planning a visit to the now-open Legoland Discovery Center Columbus, you’d be wise to clear your calendar for the day. Once the kids get inside, they may not want to leave.

The highly anticipated Easton attraction held a grand opening at 10 a.m. today, almost a year after the project was first announced. Though LDC Columbus opened Sept. 21 for annual pass-holders and a “soft” opening started Sept. 24, the big celebration was saved for Sept. 28.

The 10 a.m. event featured a parade of executives, Lego characters (including Bertie and Emmet) and a 10-member Creative Crew of local kids who help with special events and projects. Those children knocked down a wall of oversize bricks to officially open the attraction.

For the uninitiated, Legoland Discovery Center Columbus is a $10 million, two-story, 36,000-square-foot play center geared for ages 3-10 that took over the Easton Station space formerly occupied by KDB and GameWorks. The attraction, owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments, is the 12th LDC in North America and 22nd worldwide.

Upon arriving at Legoland Discovery Center Columbus, visitors go through an interactive “factory tour” area to learn (mostly via video) how Lego bricks are made.

The second stop is Kingdom Quest, an interactive ride in which passengers travel on chariots on a journey to save the princess. The trackless, two- to three-minute ride features animated sequences and 3-D models. Kids will enjoy using the onboard laser blasters to shoot at targets, earning points that are displayed on in-car consoles. (We won’t judge you if you let them win.)

Marketing manager Jenna Maffei said so far, Kingdom Quest is proving the most popular aspect of LDC Columbus. “I think it’s because of the competitive nature of the ride. You’re interacting with it. You’re part of the story,” she said.

Next, visitors travel to the lower level, home to 10 play areas, a 4D cinema (featuring four, 20-minute movies), a café, Miniland Ohio, a second interactive ride, two party rooms and an area for Master Model Builder classes.

Play areas appeal to a variety of ages and tastes, including Duplo and Lego Friends themes, a vehicle test track, an “earthquake table” where kids can build a tower and try to shake it down, a brick pit and even a climbing area.

Tucked in one corner is Merlin’s Apprentice, a spinning ride where passengers pedal their cars to make them go higher in the air. (Pro tip: Expect a good thigh workout.)

The level of detail throughout the attraction is impressive, from a Minifigure-shaped doorway to the wall décor to a clock tower that plays “Rock Around the Clock” every hour, when a dragon emerges from the clock face. But whatever you do, don’t miss Miniland Ohio.

Set away from the play zones, Miniland features extraordinary re-creations of key Columbus landmarks, as well as smaller areas devoted to Cincinnati and Cleveland. In total, 1.5 million Lego bricks were used here. We won’t give too much away, but you’ll find the Statehouse, the North Market, skyscrapers, the Short North arches, COSI, German Village businesses and a jaw-dropping model of Ohio Stadium that General Manager Jacob Kristensen said includes nearly 1,500 Minifigures. (Tip: Look around the city for the Arnold Schwarzenegger statue.)

Visitors end the journey back on the main level, in a large store filled with an abundant variety of Lego sets, bricks, costumes and more. The store is accessible through a separate entrance for those who only wish to shop.

LDC Columbus advises that first-time visitors can expect to spend two to three hours taking in the whole attraction, but don’t be surprised if your kids (or you) want to stay longer.

For more information, go to columbus.legolanddiscoverycenter.com.

Visitor Tips

Timed tickets are available every half hour. Once inside, visitors can stay as long as they like. Buy tickets online to avoid the prospect of having to wait for an open time when you arrive. Admission is $20 online, $24 at the door; children younger than 2 are admitted free. Annual passes also are available; single-day admission tickets can be upgraded to a pass within 14 days. The attraction is open 365 days a year. Standard operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays. Be aware that special events, including monthly Adult Nights, affect operating hours, so check ahead before planning a visit. The last admission is two hours before closing. Kingdom Quest does not have age or height restrictions, but all riders must be able to walk and sit up unassisted. Children under 4 feet, 3 inches must ride with an adult. Merlin’s Apprentice riders must be at least 3 feet tall, 4 feet to ride unaccompanied.

Special Events

Adult Nights, for guests 18 and older, are scheduled the first Thursday of each month, featuring special activities and prizes. The first Adult Night, on tap 7-10 p.m. Oct. 4, has a Monster Movies theme. Tickets, $24, are available online. Brick Or Treat events will be held every weekend in October, with special builds, activities and décor. Guests are welcome to come in costume. The all-day events are included with standard admission.

Worth Mentioning

GM Kristensen dubbed the attraction, which features Lego themes at every turn, “the best place for parents and children to have fun together. … It is the ultimate toy to develop skills, from physical, from practical to creative.” Both Matt MacClaren, director of TourismOhio, and Jennifer Peterson, chief executive of Easton, said they expect Legoland Discovery Center will bring additional visitors to the region and the state. Tourism is a $44 billion industry for the state, MacClaren said. And Easton already has about 26 million visitors a year.