Adventure? Excitement? A Jedi craves not these things, but it seems that visitors to Legoland California do. Manager Peter Ronchetti announced that not only was 2010 the most successful year in park history, but that they are also opening four new experiences. Before all the announcements could be made, a blast of lasers broke up the press conference as a Jedi Knight and stormtroopers from the 501st Legion took control of the press conference.
The Jedi Knight was on hand to help announce the addition of the all new Star Wars Mini Land. Legoland California is the first of three parks to get the addition, and it can only be guessed that the all new Legoland Florida, which is scheduled to open in October of this year, will get the second.
From the Official Press Release:
CARLSBAD, Calif. (Jan. 6, 2011) – The Force was strong at LEGOLAND® California Resort today when General Manager Peter Ronchetti announced that a new STAR WARS™ Miniland area will be opening at the family theme park on March 31, 2011. The announcement came when a Jedi Knight – flanked by stormtroopers from the 501st Legion – interrupted the Resort’s annual press conference in a maelstrom of darkness and lasers. Before the interruption, Ronchetti reviewed LEGOLAND California’s 2010 business results and announced the addition of Octopus Garden at SEA LIFE™ Aquarium; Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND Water Park; a LEGO® Hero Factory Experience inside LEGOLAND California and the re-launch of Park favorite Fun Town Fire Academy as Fun Town Police and Fire Academy.
“I am thrilled to be able to report that LEGOLAND California’s stellar growth streak has continued,” said Ronchetti.
“2010 was the most successful year in the history of LEGOLAND California Resort!” 2010 marked the seventh year of continuous growth for LEGOLAND California with double digit percentage growth in attendance over 2009. “Many theme parks across the country have reported difficult trading as a result of the challenging economic climate in recent years. So we feel very fortunate to be able to report that our attendance continues to grow,” Ronchetti continued.
Ronchetti attributed the Park’s success to continued expansion of Resort properties, specifically the addition of LEGOLAND Water Park, which opened in May 2010 and has already received many accolades including the World Waterpark Association’s prestigious Industry Innovation Award. The Industry Innovation Award is judged based on how the organization has set itself apart from others in terms of moving the industry to a new or higher plane
“More than just a year of exciting growth for LEGOLAND California, 2010 marked an exciting year for Merlin Entertainments Group here in the states,” Ronchetti continued. The second SEA LIFE Aquarium in the U.S. opened in Tempe, Arizona in May and it was announced that the second U.S. LEGOLAND Park, LEGOLAND Florida will open in Winterhaven, Florida in October of this year. Additional LEGOLAND Discovery Centers and SEA LIFE Aquariums are also cropping up across the U.S. with openings already planned in Texas and New Jersey.
“We expect continued success in 2011 with a multi-million dollar investment into expansions planned for all three Resort properties,” Ronchetti said as he went on to describe each of the new additions.
On March 31 LEGOLAND California becomes the first of three LEGOLAND Parks to launch a new STAR WARS Miniland area. Guests can enjoy seven of the most famous scenes from the six live-action STAR WARS movies, as well as a scene from the animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS™ all made out of 1.5 million LEGO bricks and built in 1:20 scale. Guests will be further immersed into the STAR WARS experience as they pose with life-size LEGO models of Chewbacca, R2D2 and Darth Vader. LEGOLAND Billund and LEGOLAND Deutschland will launch the STAR WARS Miniland area later this year.
Following a chronological path through the STAR WARS timeline, LEGOLAND guests retrace the major events of the beloved Saga. Some of the 2,000 LEGO models will be more than 6-feet-tall. Interactive buttons will allow children to activate animations throughout the scenes.
The models for the new STAR WARS area are being developed and built by eight model designers and two animation electricians at our sister park, LEGOLAND Deutschland. It will be up to Master Model Builders at LEGOLAND California to bring the scenes to life with the help of animation electricians, technicians and landscapers all working to ensure the LEGO models appear as realistic as possible with special effects and landscaping.
On February 17, a new LEGO Hero Factory attraction opens in the Imagination Zone. Here, young guests will be able to build and create their own heroes (or villains) and meet and greet their favorite Hero Factory characters. And from Feb. 17 through 27, guests will have the opportunity to build the largest LEGO mosaic to ever be built at LEGOLAND California. The 6-foot-tall, 26-foot-wide mosaic made of 298,368 LEGO bricks will depict an iconic scene from the Hero Factory saga and will be a permanent part of the new Hero Factory experience.
On April 12, one of the most popular rides in the Park – Fun Town Fire Academy – is being re-launched as the Police and Fire Academy. On this classic LEGOLAND ride, families pile into a fire truck and power it by pumping levers up and down as they race other families to put out the “fire”. The first family to make it back wins. Now the fire trucks are being joined by police vehicles and families race to put out fires and stop robbers.
On May 6, SEA LIFE Aquarium Carlsbad launches Octopus Garden, an interactive exhibit introducing families to the amazing world of cephalopods. From octopus and cuttlefish to nautilus, these distinctive creatures have almost supernatural abilities including camouflage, ink clouds and jet propulsion, that will surprise and delight adults and children alike. Octopus Garden replaces the Sharks Revealed exhibit that opened in 2008.
On May 26, Splash Zoo, a brand new area for toddlers, opens inside LEGOLAND Water Park. The DUPLO® Zoo themed area, located next to DUPLO Splash Safari and Kid Creek, features giant DUPLO Zoo animals – including a lion, a giraffe and a zebra – plus interactive spray pads, fountains and a teeter totter, all geared specifically for guests ages 1 to 3.
All of the new guest experiences are included in the cost of admission to LEGOLAND California Resort properties. For ticket prices, operating schedule and additional information, visit www.LEGOLAND.com or www.sealifeus.com or call 760-918-LEGO.
In case you’re curious as to what exactly you’ll see in the Star Wars Miniland, here’s the breakdown:
• Episode I: Naboo
Naboo is one of the most geographically varied planets in the STAR WARS galaxy. This scene depicts the Battle of Naboo and the capital Theed – both the Royal Palace and the hangar. The duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Sith apprentice Darth Maul can also be viewed in this scene.
• Episode II: Geonosis
In this scene, visitors have a fantastic view of the Arena of Geonosis, in which Padmé Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker battle ferocious creatures. Figures such as Poggle the Lesser, Jango Fett and Count Dooku can be seen in the loge. There is also a battle scene of the clash between Count Dooku’s droid army and the Grand Army of the Republic.
• Episode III: Kashyyyk and Mustafar
In this scene, two planets are shown: Kashyyyk and Mustafar. On one side, guests can marvel at the Battle of Kashyyyk – the home of Chewbacca and the Wookiees. The scene includes fantastic vehicles modeled from LEGO bricks, such as the massive Clone Turbo Tank. On the other side, LEGOLAND guests are treated to a glimpse of the fateful duel on Mustafar between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
• Episode IV: Tatooine
This LEGOLAND scene focuses on famous structures of the desert planet: Uncle Owen’s Farm, where Luke Skywalker lived as a child; the Cantina, with a view inside of the animated Cantina Band, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, R2-D2 and others; as well as the
starport with an impressive model of the Millennium Falcon, the famous spacecraft of Han Solo.
Episode V: Hoth
The Rebels took refuge on this icy planet, but the Empire tracked them down and the Rebels were forced to flee. The scene features LEGO models of the Imperial AT-ATs, Rebel snowspeeders and Luke Skywalker’s X-wing starfighter. Figures include Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader.
• Episode VI: Endor
The Endor system plays a key role in Return of the Jedi as the site of the Battle of Endor, fought to prevent construction of the second Death Star. The scene presents the final victory of the Rebel Alliance over the Empire. Endor is a forest moon and home of the Ewoks, who fight against the Imperial forces alongside the Rebels. Guests can also view a large-scale model of a Lambda-class Imperial shuttle on its landing platform.
• THE CLONE WARS: Christophsis
The seventh area shows a scene from the animated series THE CLONE WARS on the planet Christophsis. Chronologically, the series takes place between Episode II and Episode III and focuses on the adventures of Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi as Jedi Knights. The LEGO scene depicts part of the planet’s surface, with the largest of all LEGO STAR WARS models: an approximately 8 foot tall building from the Crystal City. There is also a scene showing a battle between Separatist battle droids and Republic clone troopers.
How the LEGO models are created:
The roughly 2,000 LEGO STAR WARS models are being developed and built by eight model designers and two animation electricians at our sister park, LEGOLAND Deutschland in Günzburg, Germany. It is up to the Master Model Builders at LEGOLAND California to bring the scenes to life with the help of animation electricians, technicians and landscapers all working to ensure the LEGO models appear as realistic as possible with special effects and landscaping.
Planning started in March 2010. The individual film scenes were selected after careful consultation with Lucasfilm Ltd. Pictures and drawings of the figures, spacecraft, vehicles, landscapes, etc. were taken as the basis for the detailed construction blueprints. The model designers used a special LEGO drawing paper for this, on which one square is equivalent to one LEGO knob. In the next step, they calculated how many bricks and which colors and forms would be needed for the models. For particularly difficult model parts, prototypes are first built, before the model is constructed brick by brick. To help the LEGO models last longer, all of the bricks are glued together and then sprayed with a special UV coating.
Authentic STAR WARS sounds, actions and lighting effects help to make the models even more lifelike. For all models, only commercially available LEGO pieces are used.
LEGOLAND Deutschland and LEGOLAND Billund will also be opening new STAR WARS Miniland displays in 2011.
At a glance:
Scenes: Each cluster features a key scene from one of the six STAR WARS films and the animated TV series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS.
Area: Seven clusters (“islands”) with an area of approximately 200 square feet each
Number of bricks: More than 1.5 million LEGO bricks are being used to build the roughly 2,000 models
Total weight of the bricks: 1.3 tons
Location: Next to The Model Shop above Miniland U.S.A.
Timeframe: Thirteen months for development and construction
Construction team: Eight model designers and two animation electricians from LEGOLAND Deutschland as well as three Model Builders and a team of landscapers, animation electricians and maintenance workers from LEGOLAND California.