While most children probably think of Disneyland as a place where childhood dreams come true, every AFOL has spent at least some time contemplating the possibility of visiting Legoland. Even today, thousands and thousands of young and old Lego fans visit the Legoland parks that are currently open to the public around the world. So what is Legoland all about?
A Little History
The first ever Legoland park was built in Billund, Denmark near Lego headquarters. Legoland Billund was opened to the public in 1968. But why did the company want to open a theme park based in their most successful toy? It seems obvious now, given how successful the various Legolands have been, but the truth is that Lego was basically forced to do it. You see, the Lego factory had turned into an attraction in its own right. Reportedly as many as 20,000 people were coming there each year – something that was disruptive and clearly not a situation the factory was set up for.
So the powers that be at Lego decided to move the impressive Lego displays at the factory somewhere else and expand it into its own official attraction, leaving the folks at Lego in peace to do their actual work. Since then, the Billund park has doubled in size and an additional five parks been built around the world, with more in the works.
While it can be enjoyed by anyone who is a fan of the toy, Legoland has been designed with children in mind – around the age of 11 by all accounts. So it’s a good idea to explore the website of the specific Legoland you want to visit in advance, and make sure the sorts of attractions you want to see are in fact there. Going to a park without children isn’t a big issue, but you may get a little more attention from park security as an unaccompanied adult. That’s just a sad fact about the world we live in and necessary to ensure the safety of young park visitors. If you want to avoid that, make it a family outing or one with friends.
The Ride of Your Life
If you like theme parks with wild rides, you might find Legoland a little disappointing. What rides there are have, once again, been built to appeal to kids. So there’s nothing too terrifying. Roller Coasters are mild compared to what you might find at dedicated thrill resorts.
That’s not to say you won’t have a blast, but the parks are designed so that people can bring their kids and have family time without undue worry about their safety. In addition to rides, there are also plenty of interactive attractions, such as Lego go-karts and games built according to the various Lego sub-brands, such as Ninjago.
The Height of Fun
If you are taking your children along, it’s very important to know how tall they are. Some rides and attractions have a hard limit on height, and anyone under that height either can’t ride at all or needs an adult with them on the ride. All this information is printed on the park website, so you can confirm which rides are OK before you even leave home.
While rides and interactive activities are awesome and sure to satisfy younger patrons, AFOLs and older children are likely to get a real kick out of the model displays, such as Miniland. This is why Legoland was created in the first place, as a way for the public to come and see the very best that’s possible with Lego – when money is no object and the best talent is in play.
The point of Lego is to fire the imagination through mutual play; to be inspired by other Lego fans and in turn come up with your own creations that will inspire someone else. The art of Lego building has advanced by leaps and bounds. It seems that the people who build the models that end up in Miniland and other Lego displays are wizards. In truth, it’s the result of expertise, careful planning, and teamwork. And, of course, massive gobs of creative energy.
The Legoland hotels add to the whole Lego experience with rooms such as the Pirate room, the Princess room and the Kingdom room, to name but a few. Watch out for dragons and live out your fantasies while you follow the leads of a treasure map – in short, we’d be surprised if you actually get some sleep here.
If you don’t want to spend the money for a hotel (they’re not cheap) or your family simply enjoys camping more, most parks also have camping facilities. Billund for instance has a Legoland Holiday Village with cabins, barrels and tents, but you can also just stay at a camping a little further from the park. Just set up your tent, make sure you sleep well and visit the park next day.
Getting Your Learn On
The last point worth noting about Legoland is that it also expresses another key value of the Lego toys. That value is, of course, education. Lego was created partly due to the perceived vapidness of other toys. It has always been meant to stimulate and develop the minds of young people. Legoland, therefore, has plenty of explicit educational activities and displays. Personally, I think that alone makes it a better choice than Disneyland, but I’m sure somehow if you are a parent you’ll get dragged to both eventually!