Thursday 6 July 2017

An Evening With AFOLs - Adult Night at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Manchester

If you don't know what an AFOL is then possibly last night wasn't for you, but the Adult Fans Of LEGO evening at the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester was the latest date of choice for my partner and I. (Click on any images to enlarge them.)

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre usually operates a strict 'accompanied by a child' policy. Whilst this makes complete sense, it does exclude many grown up fans who don't have children to take with them. The monthly AFOL Night solves this problem - and it is strictly for age 16+ only, so it's much quieter and I didn't have to chase my youngest round all night...bliss...

We had no idea what to expect, but we were greeted by the resident Master-Builder, the lovely Alex, as we walked into the centre. He handed everyone a DUPLO plant pot/ice cream cone piece and told us that the challenge during the evening was to 'create a flower' and winners would be picked at the end of the night. There was even a printed agenda for the evening - it was not strict and really more of a guide.

We are lucky, we've been to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre many times. Some of the other folk there were on a first visit or rare visit, and I was really impressed with the level of enthusiasm as they jumped about on the Factory Tour floor to 'make the machine work'. I can't deny it, I joined in.

My gun on the Kingdom Quest ride didn't work - they can be a bit of a pain - so I took a different shot instead. With us, almost purely by coincidence, were LEGO Apple Shop builder Brett and his mate. He currently has a very impressive moustache...

Aside from a couple of the child-sized rides, pretty much the whole centre was open for us to play in, and people did take advantage of the lack of children to fully enjoy the brand new Ninjago City Adventure (soft play). There's something of a release when everyone around you thinks it's absolutely fine to play - especially when you are big.

Both 4D Cinema movies were shown together half way through the evening and almost everyone went in to watch. We've seen both The LEGO Movie 4D: A New Adventure and LEGO NEXO Knights 4D The Book Of Creativity many times, so we stayed in the main area. Spending 20 minutes with only 3 other people visible in the whole of LEGOLAND Discovery Centre was amazing.

We mainly spent that time working on our models. Mine is the one with the bee - my partner tends to think outside the box a little more...

The event was incredibly chilled and relaxed, and super friendly. There were around 40 AFOLs there and we were all different. Some people had a friend for support, some were alone, some came as a couple. There were young people and retired people, it really didn't matter. The whole evening felt like a really safe space for everyone, including people who had additional needs or usually find social situations challenging.

Once the movies had finished we all went into the model building masterclass room to display our flowers for judging. Everyone was given 2 small Technic pieces to vote for their favourite models. Neither my partner or I won, but it's hardly surprising because by heck the standard was fantastic!!

The winners were brilliant - I wish I was that creative. Third place was an amazing plant growing through a broken greenhouse roof, and I stupidly didn't get a photo! Second place was one I'd seen while it was being built - Audrey from Little Shop Of Horrors.

First place was astounding for the time we had and the fact we just used LEGO we found around the centre. Goodness knows where he found all of the parts that he needed to make this amazing version of Bill the Flowerpot Man.

It was so impressive and I loved standing at that table looking around at 40-odd proud smiling faces. Grown ups don't play enough. We don't use our creativity and when we do, we just see the errors and faults. We forget how to feel proud. We forget how to relax.

AFOL Night (16+ ONLY) is on once a month and it's a fiver! Standing there smiling with my model was worth £5 on it's own. If you have an annual pass then you can turn up free of charge. Find out more and book tickets on the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre website. If you come then promise to tell Alex I sent you because I want to get on his good side - he knows all the best tips!

I didn't receive any incentive for this post, although I'm open to any hints as to what next month's build challenge will be!


  1. The winner's flowerpot is amazing! He has legs! Sounds like you had a fabulous time! Sim xx

    1. The quality of the creative builds was amazing - it was a joy to see, it really was. Even people who probably felt theirs was basic, just beautiful. Sooooo different from children's LEGO build challenges! Every one was recognisable and every person proud of their build! :D

  2. What a great idea. I'd love to do this. How much fun doing this at night xx

    1. It was great! I really felt like I'd been 'out' :D It's a shame you aren't around in 2 weeks time! :D


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