Save Money in this Sunday's paper

comments

Love ‘The Lego Movie’? You'll like Florida’s Legoland

By Steve Palisin
spalisin@thesunnews.com
2011.07.06_LEGOLANDFLORIDA_001.jpg
Chip Litherland - Legoland Florida
Nothing is miniature about the grand layout of Legoland’s Miniland USA, a whole park of Lego designs 1/20 in scale to their real-world models – including the famed Daytona 500 Speedway,

More Information

  • Going to Legoland?

    Current Legoland Florida hours and admission: www.legoland.com


  • Charlotte-area sibling

    The Legoland theme parks in Florida and California are owned by Merlin Entertainments, a British-based firm that operates 99 attractions, eight hotels, three holiday villages in 22 countries. Their newest property is Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium, which opened Feb. 20 at Concord Mills. Details: www.visitsealife.com/charlotte-concord.



Producers of “The Lego Movie” have quite a blockbuster. And Legoland Florida isn’t doing too badly, either.

The amusement park is between Orlando and Tampa, in Winter Haven – site of historic Cypress Gardens; both are owned by a British company.

Nothing is miniature about the grand layout of Legoland’s Miniland USA, a whole park of Lego designs 1/20 in scale to their real-world models, from the Daytona 500 Speedway, with a grandstand full of people, to such clusters as Washington, D.C., and New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, a sunset celebration in Key West, and Cape Canaveral, simulating the smoke from a space shuttle blasting off.

Jason Miller, one of the park’s four “master model builders,” said 100 master builders from four continents teamed up to build Miniland, which took two years to install, with more than 30 million Lego bricks. And that 8 million more have been added in displays since then.

All the designs are bolted into concrete, and “piece by piece, brick by brick,” everything’ is fastened with a special glue just for the park, said Miller, who began playing with Legos at age 5 and developed “giant dioramas” with battling knights and Wild West scenes. (He added that gluing Lego designs at home is not encouraged, “so you can take them apart and rebuild them.”)

For students aspiring for master model builderhood, Miller said Lego designing melds math, science, social studies and art. For example, the namesake statues in the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials – which were right behind him – are built with accuracy and respect.

Larger, life-size Lego figures placed across the park – and even in Cypress Gardens – were designed and sculpted from photos and images, just like the mini-layouts, “down to the street lights and trash cans” in Miniland, Miller said.

Consider the littlest details, such as the red octopus that inhabits a shipwreck, or the newspaper vending boxes in the Manhattan scene and – if anyone can spot them – Miniland’s smallest figures, six pigeons. A sign states that the real-life Washington Monument weighs 81,210 tons, but even the Lego model racks up some heft, at 129 pounds.

The park’s amusements spread across the 150 acres and include such areas as Imagination Zone, Lost Kingdom Adventure; driving, boating and flying “schools” geared to youngsters; and – upon entry – Fun Town, with a double-deck carousel. Rides are included with admission. Depending on time, day and season, the wait times, including for the signature Coastersaurus, the largest Legoland ride, will vary.

Pirates’ Cove water-ski shows play out on the amusement park’s lakeside, with some live acrobats dressed as Lego-faced imperial soldiers in the “Battle for Blackbeard’s Bounty.”

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases
CharlotteObserver.com