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Old dogs and new bricks: a night for grown-up Lego fans

For Andrew JohnsBartlett building creating Lego designs has been lifelong fascination. Now it's also his full time job as he

For Andrew Johnson of Bartlett, building and creating Lego designs has been a lifelong fascination. Now, it's also his full time job, as he earned the role of Master Builder at LegoLand Discovery Center Chicago through the company's public competition Mar

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NO KIDS ALLOWED NIGHT

6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday

Legoland Discovery Center Chicago, Streets of Woodfield, Schaumburg

Tickets, $19.95

(847) 592-9708; www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/chicago

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Updated: November 30, 2012 6:17AM



A timeless toy company like Lego knows youngsters aren’t the only ones with a knack for creating.

On Monday night, Legoland Discovery Center Chicago opens its doors to adults for its first “No Kids Allowed” event.

The sprawling indoor amusement park in Schaumburg, one of eight Legoland Discovery Centers around the globe, is a family-friendly attraction featuring a Lego factory, 4D cinema, mini racecar track and laser-gun ride.

Not to mention the detailed displays made entirely out of the popular plastic bricks. The center’s MiniLand display, showcasing the Chicago skyline, took more than a million Lego bricks alone to create.

“A lot of adults are fans of Lego and would like to experience the center,” said Legoland marketing assistant Megan Zelko. But company policy allows only adults with children during business hours.

Though that may be a bummer for longtime Lego lovers, marketing manager Becky Specha insists the center’s daytime activities are enjoyable only with kids in tow.

She said Monday’s event is a grown-up version of brick-building fun, where adults can flex their Lego might and compete for prizes. Guests also encouraged to bring their own creations to display.

A speed contest will test how quickly builders can re-create a haunted house. The winner of the monster build challenge will have his or her creative creature displayed in MiniLand. Those who need to brush up on their building skills can partake in an advanced workshop.

All the amenities of the center — which is themed “Brick-or-Treat” for Halloween — will be open for exploration.

Guests for the evening “will get far more out [the center] than with 600 kids running around,” Specha said.

And, in case you wondered, adult-only beverages will be available.

Those who master the art of brick building know it’s not all child’s play.

Case in point: Andrew Johnson, 24, who turned his childhood hobby into a real-world job in March when he beat 100 contestants to become LegoLand’s master model builder.

The Bartlett resident is responsible for building, maintaining and repairing Lego models on site.

Johnson offered his thoughts on why Legos are enjoyed by people of all ages, as well as tips for mastering the craft of building.

Q. Why is block-building an appealing hobby for adults?

A. I think adults like building with Lego bricks because it reminds them of their childhood, and provides them with a unique opportunity to be creative.

Q. What’s your earliest Lego memory?

A. I’ve been a Lego fan my whole life. My grandpa gave me my first set of Lego bricks for Christmas when I was 5. I remember spending the whole day building towers with them.

Q. What’s the most complicated model you’ve created?

A. Recently, the Lego Ryder Cup was a challenge because it’s hard to turn square bricks into a curved design. It was made from over 1,000 bricks and took four days.

Q. What skills do Lego savants need to be great at what they do?

A. They need to be imaginative, have good spatial awareness, patient and good at counting!

Q.

What’s the best thing about working at LegoLand?

A. Every day is different. One day I’ll be building a life-size Lego skeleton for Halloween, and the next I’ll be building 50 Lego butterflies for our “Lego Friends” weekend!

Q.

How common are accidents?

A. Surprisingly, they’re not that common. The large Lego models are actually really heavy — they’re made from tens of thousands of Lego bricks — so they’re very sturdy. In fact, some of the models are so heavy that it takes three people to move them! 

Natasha Wasinski is a local free-lance writer.



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