I’ll open this post with full disclosure: we’re loyal LEGO users in my house. I generally approve of the company and its corporate policies (they have a strict code of conduct and manufacture almost no toys in China). Also, I grew up playing with them and so have both my kids. So when I saw that LEGO was one of the sponsors of the Jet Adventure trip to the Atlantis Resort, it made the whole thing just that more appealing.
LEGO and Atlantis have just launched a new partnership, and I think that both the resort and toy company have been savvy about it. Instead of simply building the LEGO Construction Zone in the AKA Club and calling it a day, LEGO has created an entire product line, complete with toy sets, a movie, and a website, around the Atlantis theme. The resort, in turn, offers LEGO Fantasy Camps in the summer (they also have the toys on prominent display in their gift shops, as I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear). These camps will incorporate LEGO projects into other experiences already on offer at Atlantis. We got to sample some of the ways these camps will work on the Jet Adventure trip.
With that in mind, accompanying us on our trip were two important, er, people: Eric, the LEGO Master Builder (who will be leading the Atlantis camps) and L.A.N.S.E. (LEGO Atlantis Navigational SCUBA Explorer). At over 5 feet tall and weighing 150 pounds, L.A.N.S.E. was a pretty imposing figure. He rode down with us on the plane.
He also came to all our events all weekend, including the brunch celebrating the opening of the AKA Club, where he showed up inside one of The Dig’s larger tanks.
Eric was also with us all weekend. He is one of those lovely grown-ups who appeal to children by taking them and their ideas seriously and not talking down to them. As a result, all of the children on the trip were eager to share what they made with him. In fact, between Eric and L.A.N.S.E., I’m not sure who made more of an impression in Teddy’s mind. Although he did insist that the mini-L.A.N.S.E that he received as a gift was in fact named Eric and that the “big guy” who “ran everything” was named L.A.N.S.E. It took a bit of argument to convince him otherwise.
The LEGO fun started on the plane when Eric handed out bags containing small plastic LEGO squares and individual pieces in different colors. The squares each had a number on the back and a pattern of colors spray painted on the front. It was our task to put the individual pieces onto the squares in the correct pattern. The kids all loved this, and actually, so did the grownups. There was something strangely satisfying about completing those squares. And that’s good, because there were 500 to complete!
In addition to working on the plane, we all had opportunities to finish the squares throughout the weekend, and Teddy jumped in eagerly whenever he had the chance. The coolest part was that when all of the squares were put together, it made a mural that Eric had designed. Teddy really enjoyed seeing work on the mural progress over the course of the three days that we were there (that’s Eric working on the mural).
The mural wasn’t the only LEGO activity introduced on the plane. Mid-flight, we were all given one of five LEGO “keys” (meant to “unlock the Portal to the City of Atlantis”) and a special pouch to put them in. This was the first part of the scavenger hunt that took us all over the resort. We had to go to the library and complete a code using “Atlantan hieroglyphics.”
As you can see, Teddy was very proud of himself. Other scavenger hunt sites include the Dolphin Cay, where Teddy built a dolphin out of LEGOS that he named Rolf, and the Earth and Fire Pottery Studio and the AKA Club where we had to add to a large LEGO construction project and play a LEGO computer game respectively.
In addition to the more structured activities, there were lots of chances to just explore and build with big bins of LEGOs. Teddy loved it that everywhere we went all weekend, he could play and show what he made to Eric. And he was completely oblivious to the fact that on several occasions, he was building right next to Frankie Jonas (you got it – brother to those other Jonases and voice to Sōsuke in the movie Ponyo), our host for several of the weekend’s events, and all-around nice kid (he’s the one in the white hat).
I have to say that if I were planning a trip to Atlantis over the summer, I might time it to correspond with the LEGO camps, which strike me as a value at $425 for five days (bear in mind that you’ll still have to pay to get there, for your room, and to feed your child breakfast and dinner). In addition to the types of activities I describe in this post, kids who participate in the camp will have a chance to complete additional LEGO building challenges (Eric told me he’s going to spend the spring planning just exactly what these will be), to attend parties and an ice cream social, to play in the AKA Club, to hang out at the Atlantis Speedway and to do the shallow water dolphin interaction. When you look at the price of these activities individually, you would definitely save money doing the camps. That is, unless you use the time your child is playing there to gamble and drink piña coladas!
This post is part of a series I wrote about my tip to the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island Bahamas. If you enjoyed it, you might also be interested in:
Almost all of the expenses for my trip were paid for by LEGO, JetBlue, and the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas. But I was under no obligation to write about my experience, was not compensated for this post, and the opinions it contains are (you guessed it) my own.
Photo of L.A.N.S.E. in the tank and the (nearly) completed mural courtesy of CC Chapman via Flickr.