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.”