I loved playing with building blocks as a child. We didn’t have the ones made by Lego necessarily but they were fun regardless. A similar play set that was popular when I was growing up was called Automech 52. And I vividly recall receiving one from my father which he’d purchased from a toy store in Shillong.
In the years since, I learnt that Lego was a company with humble beginnings. It began with a father wanting to make toys for his child. But this innocent act laid the foundation for a global toy empire.
In 1968, the brand lent its name to Lego themed amusement parks. These were targeted at children 15 years and younger. Currently, there are eight Legoland resorts worldwide.
However, these were only facts I learnt well after visiting the Legoland park and hotel in Johor Baru, Malaysia. My wife, Beas, and I planned the trip around our daughter’s fourth birthday, in July 2019.
It is exciting even for adults
Prior to Beas informing me about it, I’d only heard about the Disneyland amusement parks. I did not bother looking up their website either, and so I had no prior expectation. This was perhaps why I was equally awestruck as our daughter Zarah was, when we first reached the resort.
From the moment one steps into Legoland, it is akin to being transported into a fantasy world. The large entry doors opened into a considerably large play castle with thousands of small Lego blocks. So as parents got busy with the checking in process, children could dive into the world of Lego right away.
As we checked-in, I couldn’t help but marvel at all the little details that went into creating this fantasy world. In fact, above the receptionists, a mechanised Lego parrot on a cycle, went from one end to another.
The hotel lifts were a mini-experience in themselves. They had flashing lights, upbeat music and each one had a different theme.
And when we entered our room, I think I was more excited than our four-year-old. The first part of it was the children’s room with a bunk bed and a treasure vault. The whole room had an Egyptian theme, complete with a Pharoah staring down from one wall. The children’s room then led into the main bedroom.
On the treasure vault was kept a piece of paper with several clues that needed to be followed to open the vault. There was also a large bucket of Lego blocks.
What also caught my attention were several numbers printed on the carpet. These, as I would find out, were part of the clues. We did successfully manage to retrieve the code to the vault. The treasure was, not surprisingly, a little Lego set.
The food was superb too
Much as I was excited about the place, I’d also caught sight of a huge restaurant on my way up. There was a large buffet spread, and this sure was an added bonus for the foodie me.
Since we were a little fatigued from our travels, we decided we’d only visit the water park the following morning. Fortunately, Zarah wasn’t too disappointed given all the attractions within the room itself.
When we finally did head to dinner, we were met with an elaborate spread. There was a sea food section, another serving only barbecue delights, while yet another had local Malaysian fare. While Beas and I tried a little of most dishes, Zarah feasted only on sushi and desserts. In hindsight, my favourite was the sea food.
Dinner was followed by a dance and singing session for children. However, the bulk of little ones seemed more taken by the large Lego blocks that were kept in an area adjacent to the restaurant.
The world of Legos
The following morning, we began exploring the actual amusement park. Zarah seemed quite absorbed by a toy car ride. We also hopped onto the train that offered a quick spin around the park.
For me personally, the highlight was the section that had Lego built representations of globally know landmarks. Some of them even had few working bits.
Thereafter, the mother-daughter duo rushed off to the water park. I decided to stay ‘ashore’ and try a burger and a big bag of fries instead. Needless to say, even the pools and water channels had floating Lego blocks aplenty.
It needed a longer visit
I haven’t visited amusement parks really; the only other one I’d been to, as a child, was Nicco Park in Kolkata. Therefore, this was by far the most exciting amusement park experience for me.
And speaking of which, I always stay away from roller coasters. It isn’t because I am scared of them but because they get a mellow person like me a tad too excited. I am not sure I will be able to handle this rapid surge in dopamine levels.
What I did realise was that our Legoland jaunt was much too rushed. We should ideally have budgeted for at least three nights or so. Hopefully, we can sample another Legoland park in future, and plan a more relaxed stay.
A few hours of frolicking later, we were on a taxi to Singapore. We’re probably among a handful of tourists who go to Singapore by road.