Legoland Star Wars Opening Day
By Leonardo Flores
If I had a chance to start collecting a toyline when it was first released, I wish I had started to collect the Lego Star Wars building sets. Over the years I have been consistently impressed with the Star Wars Lego sets and I do see myself finally giving in to buying a set or two sometime soon. The Star Wars/Lego partnership has created an entire subculture of products that also include video games, books and other merchandise that imprint the charming Lego versions of Star Wars universe.
On Thursday March 29th 2011, Star Wars and Lego fans were treated to perhaps one of their partnerships greatest highlights when Legoland Carlsbad debut their Star Wars themed Miniland which depict scenes from Episodes 1 through 6 and The Clone Wars cartoon series. Made up of over 1.5 million Lego bricks and built in 1:20 scale, this impressive and unique look at the Star Wars universe was the first Legoland Star Wars themed Miniland to open.
Because of the nice weather throughout the year, Southern California is home to many amusement parks with Legoland Carlsbad being one of the newest and most successful theme parks located in California. Legoland Carlsbad debut in 1999 and is located between Orange County and San Diego off the 5 freeway.
CollectionDX was invited to join in on the opening ceremony festivities. Although I personally have never been to Legoland, I was aware of the great reputation the park has earned over the last decade and I was excited to finally visit.
Upon entering the gate I was treated with a huge sand sculpture of an AT-AT and various Lego versions of the characters from the Star Wars saga built by “The Sand Guys”. It was very impressive and the Lego Snow Trooper looked great.
Our guide led us through the park to where the Star Wars Miniland was located and along the route various members of the Star Wars 501st Legion: Vader’s Fist detachment greeted us. Many of you have already heard and read about their exploits in the cospa community but I was completely blown away with the high quality and high degree of professionalism of both their costumes and attitude. No negative, self-righteous, cross-dressing, weirdo fanboy cospa here but a well-organized group of cordial reenactors that all cospa groups should look up to.
We were then led down the red carpet to a holding area for guests and press, with breakfast provided, before the 9:00am opening ceremony. This was a great spot to “people watch”, or should I say “creature watch”, as members of the 501st Legion made their way to the ceremony area.
At 9:00am Legoland staff led us to the ceremony area, which roughly had a crowd of 300 people. Having worked in the film and television profession, it was back to the good old days of vying for a good spot to photograph the speakers, making sure you are not interrupting your fellow reporter. Not only were members of the 501st Legion were about but a group of kids were assembled up front as well as many other people of all ages and walks of life.
Sean Kenobi was our host for the ceremony who did a terrific and very passable Sir Alec Guinness impression throughout. One moving and unexpected addition to the ceremony was when Sean Kenobi introduced a young 9-year old boy from the Make A Wish Foundation named Carson Wiener who is suffering with Leukemia. Carson’s wish was to meet Legoland Masterbuilder Gary McIntire.
Knowing that there was going to be at least one celebrity Star Wars guest I was taken back when Carrie Fisher was introduced. I have never met any of the Star Wars cast member in person and it was great to finally meet a childhood idol such as Carrie Fisher in person. Not only was Carson Weiner presented with his own likeness of himself as a Lego figure by Carrie Fisher, which is to be added to the Las Vegas Miniland scenario but they were both presented with Princess Leia Legoland Star Wars Miniland figures. Carrie was also kind enough to donate $5,000 to the Make A Wish Foundation.
After a short speech by Peter Ronchetti, General Manager of the Legoland resorts and an introduction of each Star Wars Miniland area with dramatic pyrotechnics, the appropriate ribbon cutting ceremony was in order. With two Stormtroopers holding the ribbon in flank, Carson was giving a Lightsaber, and with Carrie Fishers assistance, cut the ribbon with one fell Jedi strike. With that Legoland Miniland was officially opened.
Star Wars Legoland Miniland is split into seven different scenarios depicting various dramatic scenes of from all six Star Wars films and the Clone Wars animated cartoon. Here is a tour of each Star Wars Legoland Miniland scenario.
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
This scenario depicts the planet of Naboo and the large battle between the armies of Naboo and the Trade Federation. The Theed Royal Palace is also presented and beautifully reproduced. Some of the effects included a launching Naboo Star Fighter and Federation Droids leaving their carrier.
Episode 2 : Attack Of The Clones
This scenario depicts two scenes on the planet Genonosis. The first is the gladiator stadium and the battle between Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme and the wild beasts that took place within. The second is the large land battle between the Trade Federation Droids and the combined Jedi and Clone Armies.
Clone Wars Animation
This scenario depicts a battle from the planet Christophsis from the Clone Wars animated cartoon and featured condensation “smoke” from the ice sheets. The Skyscraper building was very impressive.
Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith
This scenario depicts two great battles on the planets Mustafar and Kashyyyk. The Kashyyyk scene had a beautiful and huge Clone Trooper carrier and is was especially charming to see the Wookies depicted in Legos and ready to go over the top from the trench. The Mustafar scene depicts the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin and the mining facilities.
Episode 4: A New Hope
This scenario depicts Tatooine, specifically the Mos Eisley spaceport and cantina. The Lego Millennium Falcon, built in 1/20 scale was beautifully built and displayed and definitely the centerpiece of the entire Star Wars Miniland. Special effects include a working Cantina band. There are a lot of details in this one and is best to take your time and look it over so you do not miss anything.
Episode 5: Empire Strikes Back
This scenario depicts the Battle of Hoth. The AT-AT’s themselves were beautifully rendered and I had only wished there were more. The Rebel Hoth base was fully detailed full of crew, Snowspeeders and X-Wing fighters. The special effect for the Hoth scenario was a working Wampa snow creature that growls and shakes. My personal favorite.
Episode 6: Return Of The Jedi
This scenario depicts the Battle of Endor and the Ewok tree village. The Imperial Shuttle was the largest vehicle presented in the entire Star Wars Legoland experience and was very impressive. There are a lot of details presented throughout, especially buried in the trees.
Having never been to Legoland before I was greatly impressed with not only the Star Wars Miniland debut but also the entire park overall, and I suggest that if you are in Southern California take some time out and stop by Legoland, especially if you have kids. I would like to thank the entire staff of Legoland for inviting CollectionDX to this special event and providing us with excellent service throughout the day.
©2011 article and pictures by Leonard Flores and CollectionDX.