There are very few areas of the entertainment industry which have not yet been impacted by the Lego phenomenon with the original Lego sets, video games, clothing, online games and theme parks. The Legoland theme parks currently number five around the world and are located in Denmark, England, Germany, California and Florida. However, these are more than just a trip down memory lane for Lego enthusiasts as they are centred round young families and take in a number of roller coasters and other children's rides which are not as extreme as those in other family parks.
Structure of Legoland Parks
While each of the Legoland theme parks around the world is slightly different they do follow a common theme and are split into various sections. While the Legoland parks include a Lego Miniland, Model Village, Fun-based Learning Centre, Lego Gardens, Lego themed driving attractions many of the actual Legoland rides based upon particular themes of Lego sets. As you would expect, all of the areas of Legoland have been created in such a way as to give the impression that even rides and recreated cities from around the world are built from Lego.
The Danish Legoland was the original Legoland Park having been opened in 1968 to celebrate the ongoing success and the ongoing popularity of Lego. The theme park is situated in Billund, Denmark and attracts around 1.7 million visitors each year. Indeed, such is the popularity of Lego in Denmark that it is actually the largest tourist attraction outside of the capital Copenhagen. The park itself consists of nine separate worlds which include Duplo Land, Imagination Zone, Legoredo Town, Adventure Land, Miniland, Pirate Land, Lego City, Knights Kingdom and the Viking Land.
The UK Legoland is based in Windsor and was built upon the previous Windsor Safari Park site. While the UK Legoland is a relatively new attraction, having been officially opened in 1996, it is still the second oldest of the Legoland theme parks. While the Danish Legoland is split into nine different worlds there are actually 12 different areas in the UK version. These include The Beginning, Imagination Centre, Miniland, Duplo Land, Traffic, Lego City, Land of the Vikings, Kingdom of the Pharaohs, Pirates Landing, Knights Kingdom and the Adventure Land. It is fair to say that Legoland UK has become one of the more popular tourist destinations for young families.
It will come as no surprise to learn that once the Legoland phenomenon began to take shape and attract the attention of fans around the world, America was the next obvious stop for Legoland. The Legoland in California is located in Carlsbad, North San Diego County and was opened on 20 March 1999. This particular Legoland is the only one at the moment to contain a water park as well as eight other specific entertainment areas. The other entertainment areas consist of The Beginning, Dino Island, Explore Village, Fun Town, Castle Hill, Miniland USA, Imagination Zone, Pirate Shores and the Land of Adventure. There is also a sea life park adjacent to the main California Legoland.
The German Legoland theme park is situated in Gunzberg and while it was first opened back in 2002 it has undergone expansion over the years. The theme park currently has seven specific entertainment areas including the Imagination Centre, Miniland, Lego X-treme, Lego City, Knights Kingdom, Adventure Land and the Land of the Pirates. The fact that the German Legoland theme park is the only attraction of its kind on mainland Europe has obviously helped with its popularity and perfectly illustrates the ongoing demand for Lego.
There is no doubt that Florida is the home of entertainment and as a consequence it was only a matter of time before Legoland Florida came into play. This Legoland theme park was opened in October 2011 and is aimed specifically at the southern United States market. As you would expect, this Legoland theme park also sticks to the very rigid and very successful themes of years gone by with The Beginning, Lego Kingdoms, Duplo Village, Fun Town, Imagination Zone, Land of Adventure, Lego City, Miniland USA, Pirates Cove and Lego Technic which is a water-based entertainment service.
Future Legoland theme parks
While the ongoing worldwide recession has delayed the opening of further Legoland theme parks, plans are well underway for a Legoland Malaysia (set to open in 2012) and Legoland Dubai (nicknamed Dubailand). The Dubai venture was originally scheduled to open in 2011 but has been delayed with a new scheduled opening date to be announced very soon.
The Legoland experience
As we have detailed above, there are a number of existing and a number of new Legoland theme parks around the world. While the vast majority of alternative theme parks are created with children in mind, and offer an all-round family experience, there is no doubt that the Legoland theme parks are targeted more towards very young children. The company has decided against many of the extreme rides and experiences seen in other theme parks, preferring to go for a more modest and a less chilling experience.
As we have covered in a number of articles of late, the Lego phenomenon continues to go from strength to strength and the company itself has maximised its commercial value over the years. While Lego group initially set up the Legoland theme park operation, 70% of the business was sold to a company by the name of Merlin Entertainment which is based in the UK. Indeed, it is believed that the 70% stake was sold for $460 million back in July 2005 thereby giving effective control to the Merlin Entertainment operation.
The Lego Group still maintains a 30% stake in the Legoland theme park operation and is very proactive in researching new locations for the future and new "child related "themed experiences. The ability to build up the Legoland operation over the years, since the first park was opened in 1968, into a multi-million-dollar operation perfectly reflects the very astute commercial minds at the company.