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Travel & Holiday

A sneak peek into Malaysia's Lego wonderland

Over 40 attractions - including roller coasters, a Miniland with landmarks of Asia built with some 30 million Lego pieces, and workshops - that's what Legoland Malaysia promises.
MyPaper - September 11, 2012
By: Gwendolyn Ng
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A sneak peek into Malaysia's Lego wonderland

MALAYSIA - Over 40 attractions - including roller coasters, a Miniland with landmarks of Asia built with some 30 million Lego pieces, and workshops - that's what Legoland Malaysia promises.

No wonder fellow reporter Joy Fang and I couldn't wait to take a peek at the theme park, the first Legoland in Asia.

There are Legoland branches in Denmark, the United States, Germany and Britain. But Legoland Malaysia, located in Nusajaya in the southern tip of Johor, is just a short hop away from Singapore, making it a must-visit.

This was what Joy and I - along with thousands of other invited guests - did recently, ahead of the park's opening on Saturday. Our spirits were high as we spied the colourful arc of Lego bricks at the theme park's entrance from our bus.

Once inside, we whipped out our cameras and posed for shots with all things Lego, like a giant giraffe, a woman and child in traditional Malay dress and an "uncle" snoozing on a bench.

The park is about the size of 50 football pitches and, rides aside, there are exclusive items like Lego watches, apparel and various Lego sets to bring home.

There were a few disappointments, though. The park is designed largely for kids, equipped as it is with playgrounds and rides for the young ones.

On the day of our visit, a number of rides were not yet ready, such as the Dino Island ride, which will see one go splashing down a 12m-high waterfall.

Still, we were delighted to see that Singapore is represented in Miniland, with Lego versions of the Merlion and the Singapore Flyer.

Read on for our top picks of the rides and attractions so far.

Gwen's top picks

AHOY, CAPTAIN!

What: Take lessons at Boating School, where you can learn to drive your very own boat.

Great for: Both adults and kids who want a shot at navigating waterways.

Features: Manoeuvre your battery-powered boat along the winding waterways.

Climb aboard one of the brightly coloured boats made of Lego bricks - take your pick from a red, blue or yellow ride. Each boat can take up to three people, but I say this is best experienced on your own.

Gwen says: The free-floating boat gives you ultimate control along the narrow waterways, unlike similar boat rides, which were built on tracks, that I experienced at other theme parks.

But don't underestimate this boating ride. I assumed it would be a breeze but, boy, was I wrong.

While my colleague and other adults - used to steering a car at least - cruised through the water channels, I - a non-driver - had a bit of a bumpy time, literally.

At almost every turn, I over-compensated on the steering, bumping into wooden platforms. And my inexperience with steering even caused (eeks!) a minor collision with the boat behind mine.

Needless to say, I did not acquire my Lego boating licence that day. If it hadn't been for the queue of other eager-beaver visitors champing at the bit to take to the water, I would have been game to try the course again. Alas, I guess I have to try again next time.


4-D-MANIA

What: Catch a mini 4-D movie at the Lego Studios.

Great for: Kids who love cartoons and parents in need of air-conditioned respite.

Features: The studio seats 500 people at a time and, here, one can enjoy a 4-D adventure complete with 3-D animation, and gusts of wind, rain and lightning that echo what goes on onscreen.

Choose from three shows, lasting between 10 and 14 minutes each, featuring everything from wizards to car racers. Catch the hourly shows that start from 11.30am and end at 6.30pm.

Gwen says: I stepped into the movie studio, desperate to escape the sweltering heat.

The theme park doesn't offer much shade, and I was literally wilting in the sun as I walked around. In the end, I caught a movie called Spellbreaker, which sees a brave blacksmith fearlessly attempting to save a mediaeval kingdom from an evil wizard.

Sure, such save-the-kingdom plots are pretty predictable, but the animation proved to be a hit with kids - and the kid in me.

The entire 14-minute show was met with enthusiastic "oohs" and "aahs" from the children around me.

And they emitted happy, excited squeals as they were splattered with generous amounts of suds and water. Personally, I welcomed getting wet, as I was happy just to cool down.



Joy's top picks

SPEED MONSTER

What: Hop aboard The Dragon - a green roller coaster in the shape of a dragon - which is modelled after its famous mascot, Ollie.

Great for: Adults and kids who really love high-speed dips and curves.

Features: The ride is located within a mediaeval-style castle. What's interesting is that it goes through caves where Lego figures can be found, before the ride emerges into the daylight. The roller coaster reaches speeds of up to 60kmh.

If your kid needs a bravery boost, take him to The Dragon's Apprentice, a smaller (and less scary) version of The Dragon, first.

Joy says: Okay, I'll admit that the ride is not as high or as heart-pumpingly scary as some rides I've been on overseas.

There aren't any 360-degree turns or sharp, steep drops that would get you screaming.

But comparisons aside, one can't deny that this ride is fun. I particularly enjoyed the Lego figures - I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of a huge Lego butcher with a cleaver.


BIRD'S EYE VIEW

What: At 60m tall, the circular Observation Tower can't be missed as it rises and rotates. Great for: Adults and kids who need a break from running around the park.

Features: The tower is the highlight of the park and its highest point. It takes visitors up to a height of 41m, and offers a panoramic view of the entire Legoland and the surrounding area. See if you can spot the Singapore Flyer at Miniland from there.

The tower can lift 1,000 visitors each hour. Everyone gets a seat, so you don't have to jostle for a good spot by the windows.

Joy says: I like the fact that the tower is air-conditioned and has seats. The ride is a little slow, however, taking a total of about 15 minutes to go up and down.

The good thing is that it rotates once when you're at the top, so you get a great 360-degree view of the place.

Still, a large part of the area is under development, so other than a good look of the park itself, expect to see a lot of sand, stone and carpark views.

Legoland Malaysia opens on Saturday. One-day passes cost RM140 (S$56) per adult, and RM110 for a child (aged between three and 11) or senior citizen (aged 60 and up). Visit www.legoland.com.my

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