I sat there sipping coffee listening attentively to some girlfriends shared about their recent vacations excitedly. One said the close encounter with a pride of lions at the Safari in Kenya was mind-blowing. Another showed us the latest LV Monogram she had bagged from a recent trip to the Europe. The more outdoorsy one took out her phone and showed us scenic photos of the beautiful snow-swept plains in Hokkaido. Noticing that I haven’t said a word yet, they all turned to look at me. I asked shyly, “does blocks and blocks of Lego count?”
Okay, so all of my holidays destinations in the last few years and the next few years may not be very glamorous but where can I possibly go with my small set without going broke at the prospect of flying five big and small persons, finding a decent accommodation without being squished like a pancake and feeding all five constantly hungry stomachs?
One possible answer is in LEGOLAND Malaysia at Nusajaya, Johor. The theme park offers the opportunity of seeing the miniaturized Lego version of some of the iconic landmarks in Asia (without the need to physically fly everywhere to see them) and packs in wholesome family adventures, only if you don’t mind the heat, that is.
It’s as if suddenly I have a “Kiasu” disease (a originally Singaporean Hokkien term which describes an irrational fear of losing in a socially competitive situation) that I need to emphasize this, but folks, this is the FIRST Legoland Theme Park in Asia and I am super-proud of this fact.
We stayed at the Grand Blue Wave Hotel at Johor Bahru city centre which was a 30 minutes car journey from the theme park because The LEGOLAND Hotel located at the theme park was still under construction. The hotel room we had was a suite with its own living room, dining table, a small pantry and good TV channels. Staying in a suite was a really good decision as the kids needed room for their energy, while the parents needed room to get away from their noise momentarily. 😛
We bought the entrance tickets online from LEGOLAND website two weeks before our trip which came with an early bird promotion of 20% saving off the normal price, but apart from the saving, we almost kissed the ground for our smartness because we discovered that we could also skip the really long queue to buy tickets at the park entrance with our own printout tickets. Just imagine, we just strode through the entrance passing the human traffic effortlessly, pretty much the feeling one gets whenever one zips past the long jams at highway toll plaza (with a smirk and feeling very intelligent) because we have the SmartTag!
Frankly, if I were my kids’ age, I would go bonkers at the sight of Lego blocks everywhere! While we hadn’t noticed there were over 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions, the overall experience somewhat seemed more of an utopia for younger kids below 10 years old.
First of all, there was the gigantic LEGOLAND toy / souvenir store selling Lego products of all sorts – Lego toys, even the small bricks in different colours , stationery sets, magnets, tees and other goods. We must have spent there close to an hour as it was near impossible to drag the kiddos and their dad out of the store. Daddy Joe claimed that he was actually very busy comparing the price of the stroller fan he wanted to buy for Baby B to rid of the heat, but really, I can’t explain why we have got a Dark Vader mini figurine travelling with us in our car now. 🙂
It’s best to visit LEGOLAND with your own stroller fan or portable fan as the park has not planted enough trees or placed sufficient canopy for shades and the fans they sell in the store costs 30% higher than the ones sold elsewhere. We felt the intensity of the scorching heat at noon time and were mostly sweaty and dehydrated throughout the visit. It is partly the sunny weather to blame but really, the park would do much better if it could install more shades and some mist fans.
For the two older kids, the LEGO® TECHIC was quite educational. It was like a Lego buffet where kids get an oversupply of Lego blocks to build models, be it castles, cars, skyscrapers and whatever they fancy and bring some of them for a strength test. There was also a splashing fun ride on the outdoor but because the queue was so long (estimated to be 45 minutes waiting time) we had no choice but to skip it.
On that note, because we were there during the school holidays, most of the rides were minimally 45 minutes in queue time. Coupled with the heat and lack of shades, we just gave up trying to get on the queue for many popular attractions such as the LEGO® Studio 4D and some of the fun-tastic rides such as the racy, crazy and 18-metre high Project X that Cheeky Koko and I so wanted to try.
He and his papa did go on the Kid power tower at IMAGINATION which was a self-drop ride where you propel your own seat upward to top of the tower and then let go of your vehicle rope which would then drop you down the tower.
While Baby B took his cat nap, I also took Cheeky Koko and Pumpkin Mei-Mei on some of the rides such as the TECHNIC® Twister, Dragon’s Apprentice and Pharoah’s Revenge. The rides were really tame and may not be thrilling enough for those seeking adrenalin-pumping kind of excitement.
Just when I was about to write-off Baby B’s ability to partake in the fun we were having, Lego Duplo playroom appeared right before us, giving him his own pint size dose of fun in a playground filled with Duplo characters.
The most impressive sight had to be the MINILAND, whereby replicas of some of the iconic cities in Asia were constructed using millions of bricks, powerful creativity and amazing level of detailed workmanship. This is where working moms with three kids who cannot even build a castle and a house like yours truly should not attempt this at home for the lack of imagination and patience.
Of course we also caught a glimpse of The Death Star, the famous icon from the Star Wars saga. This was only a temporary exhibition but that the model is constructed from more than half a million LEGO® bricks and is the biggest model ever made.
After a long day of witnessing how imagination can literally build a city and in this case, a whole theme park, I am convinced that the occasional pain sustained by my feet as I step on yet another small piece of Lego bricks strewn on our floor is worth it (Ouch!). Why, I am even inclined to think that buying Lego is an investment and not just a toy, because you are investing into the imagination of your kids. Who knows, a potential architect, engineer and imagineer of the future can well be groomed starting with playing Lego blocks, one block at a time!