Though California’s Disneyland lays claim to the slogan, “The Happiest Place on Earth”, we like to think that Denmark's Legoland, though considerably smaller, may give it a run for its money.
Legoland is, after all, a theme park
celebrating the “toy of the century” (title courtesy of Fortune magazine) in the country in which it was invented:
Denmark, “the world's happiest nation” (according a Gallup World Poll). So you
have to believe this place will be something special. And it is.
Opened back in 1968,
Legoland is located in Billund, a small town in regional Denmark that was the
birthplace of the toy bricks. Billund is some 260km west of Copenhagen; handily, the airport that was built
here by the Lego company in the mid-1960s has grown to become the second
largest airport in Denmark. Public transport to the park is excellent.
Once here, your heart will
be warmed by the sight of 59 million plastic bricks imaginatively put together
to create Lego-heaven, possibly by so many happy Scandi families. You might
feel a little underdressed if you are not accessorising with your own excited
offspring, but do not be put off - this place all but begs you to embrace your
For anyone above the age
of, say, five, the highlight of Legoland is Miniland - 20 million plastic
blocks snapped together to create miniature cities and replicate global icons.
You cannot help but marvel at the brilliant Lilliputian models of the Kennedy
Space Centre, Amsterdam canals, the Bergen waterfront or a Scottish castle and
loch, and you will no doubt vow to head home and drag your Lego out of storage
to see what masterpiece you can create.
In Miniland you can also do
some advance sightseeing of Danish landmarks including Copenhagen's tourist
magnet Nyhavn; the country's oldest town, Ribe; or the royal palace of
Amalienborg. Kids can take a mini-jeep safari through an African wildlife park
(lions, zebras and giraffes built from Legos, of course). All ages can take a
miniboat trip past landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Acropolis, and
Abu Simbel Egyptian temple. The reconstructions are on a scale of 1:20 to 1:40
and the attention to detail is incredible. The park's largest piece, a model of
Mt Rushmore with the four American presidents, is built with a staggering 1.5
million Lego bricks. (The smallest piece? A dove in Miniland, built of four
small white bricks.)
New to the park in 2011 is
the Star Wars area, where 1.5 million bricks have been used to recreate seven
detailed scenes from the Star Wars films. The four-legged robotic walkers
rendered in Lego are something to behold, as is the Tatooine cantina scene in
Be sure to pick up a park
map to assist with further exploration. The park is divided into themed areas,
including Legoredo Town, a Wild West area; Knights' Kingdom, where a medieval
castle awaits; Pirate Land, which hosts ships and sword-play; and Duplo Land,
with safe, simple rides and activities for toddlers.
Legoland's rides and
activities are mostly geared to pre-teens and families. For wilder rides suited
to older kids, it compares unfavourably to somewhere like Copenhagen's Tivoli.
Still, adrenaline-junkies should seek out X-treme Racers, a roller coaster that
cranks up to a speed of 60kph, then head to the nearby Power Builder to defy
gravity on a Terminator-like robotic arm.
For some downtime stop by
Atlantis, a large aquarium built around Lego models of divers and submersibles.
For the chilled park-goer there are rides aplenty to keep the blood pressure
down, from merry-go-rounds to a tranquil train ride. Once the entrance fee is
paid, all rides are free. Happy indeed.
hours: The park's season is from
April to October. Check the website, as there are a handful of closed days in
April, September and October.
Legoland is right by the park and continues the theme, with brilliant Lego
figures and fabulous pirate, princess or knight-themed rooms.
The article 'Lego-heaven in Denmark' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.