Colorful plastic Lego pieces fell like confetti during a noontime groundbreaking for the new, $12 million Legoland Discovery Center which is opening in March 2013 at Ridge Hill -- with dreams of becoming a major regional tourist destination.
The 32,300-square-foot indoor facility is the first Legoland operation in New York State and the fifth to open nationwide since 2008. The other locations are in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., and Atlanta. A Toronto site also breaks ground this week, and two are scheduled for Asia next year, said James Burleigh, an executive for Merlin Entertainments, the British company which owns the centers and the two Legoland outdoor theme parks near San Diego and Orlando.
"This will be tourist destination and people will come from much farther than we've seen people come before to this area," said Laurence Gottlieb, Westchester County's director of economic development who was one of the many local officials on hand for the groundbreaking. He said that Ridge Hill is already pulling in visitors from Northern Westchester and is "doing a phenomenal job of attracting dollars from the Bronx."
The Legoland center, designed for children ages 3 to 10, will feature two kiddie rides, Lego movies, party rooms for rent and a Miniland of New York City landmarks built out of Lego bricks.
By early November, Merlin officials said they will launch an online website for ordering specially priced advance tickets at $13.50 for both adults and children. After the opening, admission will be $19.50 for adults and $15 for children, with all activities included (food purchases are extra). Group rates and discounted annual tickets will also be available.
Merlin officials said the new location will generate 100 jobs, half the number originally announced in May.