PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. -- When COVID-19 shook theme parks, museums, and other attractions, it posed a logistical headache for how to reopen safely. It was especially challenging to bring back the hands-on, interactive experience at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia.
After more than three months with their doors closed, the indoor attraction is building back one brick at a time.
"Kids are kids and they want to just get out there and build. But safety is obviously number one. It always has been and it always will be," said Anthony Rossi, Marketing Manager at LEGOLAND.
At the outset of the pandemic, Rossi and his fellow co-workers were furloughed. Now, they're relieved to see smiles coming back to children's faces.
Before closing the weekend of March 14, LEGOLAND had already implemented safety measures. LEGO mascots decorated social distancing signs throughout the 33,000 square foot center.
"We've done a lot of things that have allowed them to feel comfortable but also have a great time, knowing that there is normalcy outside of your home," said LEGOLAND General Manager Michael Taylor.
Prior to the pandemic, LEGOLAND would scatter its famous bricks across various building stations. Although cleaning took place routinely, this free-for-all method would not cut it during these trying times.
Instead, each guest can request an individual bag of bricks to play with. Upon completing that particular building session, the child or parent can pack up the bag and return it to the desk. Those specific LEGOs will not be used again until they are specially cleaned by staff.
"I kind of like it," said LEGOLAND Master Model Builder Michael Nieves. "It keeps a lot of the pieces off the floor. If you've ever stepped on a LEGO, you know."
Since age 2, Nieves played with LEGOs. After studying engineering, that became his career.
While new constructions projects are at a halt, he continues to teach LEGO classes to eager children and their parents.
Ben Myers from Upper Darby, PA, visited LEGOLAND today with five of his children, leaving the sixth home with his wife.
"We just really value places where they can get their hands and build things and really encourage creativity," he said.
Myers had always homeschooled his children before the pandemic. He encourages all parents to support their spouses and use this time at home to reconnect with family values.
Liz Ahn from Ambler, PA, visited LEGOLAND to give her daughter some much needed free time.
"Today, she's taking a break from virtual learning, you know, not being in front of a screen all day and she's really enjoying it," she said.
Anyone interested in visiting should make an online reservation and check the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Philadelphia website for hours of operation.