When we first told the kids we were moving from Texas to Malaysia, we dangled a visit to LEGOland Malaysia, in front of them as enticement. A couple weeks ago, we finally delivered on our promise, and oh, what fun we had! We've visited the California location of LEGOland a few times, and the newly opened Malaysian park is very similar to that one. The only significant differences are the smaller size and the Asian spin on landmarks in Miniland. To me, the similarities are a great indication that these rides and concepts have already been proven successful in other parts of the world. Located in Johor, just across the border from Singapore, LEGOland is perfect for children ages 2-12 years old. Its over 40 attractions include rides, shows, playground areas and hands-on fun with LEGO bricks.
|Hold on tight on Project X through the switchbacks and big plunge.|
Fun Rides are the Main Attraction
LEGOland has everything from the DUPLO Express train perfect for toddlers to medium-thrill roller coasters and flume rides for older children. (If your kids really want high thrill and fast speeds, Universal Studios Singapore may be better suited for them.)
|Preschoolers chug around Playtown on the LEGO Express.|
The Driving School in LEGO City lets kids ages 6-13 years old motor cars through a street course complete with intersections, traffic lights, a roundabout, and two-way traffic. You don't see that at most theme parks! Children as young as 2 years can try out the simpler Junior Driving School.
|Kids rule the road at Driving School.|
At Kid Power Towers, pull your chair up hand-over-hand 9 metres to the top of the tower and then gently glide back down to the ground.
|How high can you go before time is up on Kid Power Towers? Don't worry adults, you can try, too.|
Hit targets with your laser gun to score points while riding through the ancient Egypt-themed Lost Kingdom of Adventure.
|Amusement park ride and arcade game in one at Lost Kingdom of Adventure.|
There are tons more rides at LEGOland. These are just a few of them.
Hands-on Building with LEGO bricks
When you've had enough of the heat or need to escape the rain, head indoors to one of the building centers. For children older than 8 years, be sure to try LEGO Mindstorms where they can build a robot and do easy, graphical, computer programming to complete missions. Be sure to go by and make your reservation early because the six 45-minute sessions with 8 spots each fill up quickly. If they're too young, you can always get a brick kit and building diagram without any reservations needed.
|Satisfy the emerging engineer at LEGO Mindstorms.|
At Build & Test, kids can try their hand at building race cars or earthquake-proof structures. Challenge other cars on the sloped racing ramp to see whose is the fastest. Make a skyscraper on a shaking platform, go from 0 to 10 on the Richter Scale, and see if yours is still standing at the end.
One nice touch at a few queue areas is the LEGO table where kids can occupy themselves while parents keep their place in line.
Watch Live Action and 4D Shows
The LEGO Studios 4D Theatre rotates through 3 movies. What's a 4D movie? You wear 3D glasses to watch the film and enjoy the added physical special effects like blowing wind, flashing lights, and in the case of LEGO Racers, falling snow. If you really care about which exact movie you watch, get there 20 minutes before showtime. We didn't have a chance to watch the live action shows at LEGO City Stage, but the pictures made them look entertaining.
Run around the Playground
Perhaps your kids are tired of waiting in queues or building things. Let them burn off some energy at the playgrounds located around the park. DUPLO Playtown is ideal for the youngest visitors. The Shipyard and The Forestman's Hideout are aimed at the older ones. Pharoah's Revenge has lots of ball-popping fun.
|Kids run while mamma rests at The Forestman's Hideout in LEGO Kingdom.|
The miniature 1:20 scale replicas of Asian landmarks built out of LEGO bricks is the centerpiece of the park. Take your time strolling around and look carefully. The designers sneak in clever little scenarios and tableaux. Push buttons and watch the action start, but be careful if you're standing in a puddle. You'll probably be squirted with water. See my Miniland post for highlights.
|Angkor Wat LEGO-style|
Details and Tips
What else do you need to know?
- We were there from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (opening to closing times) and still didn't have a chance to try out everything on a medium-size crowd day. Estimated queue times ranged from 15-60 minutes.
- Keep in mind how hot it can be, so bring a hat or even an umbrella which can provide both shade and rain protection. Queueing areas are covered, but you'll be in the sun when walking around.
- Rides close 1 hour before closing time. Miniland remains open until the end of the day.
- Don't forget comfy shoes because you'll be on your feet all day.
- Either bring your own stroller or rent one just inside the entrance for the younger kids.
- Some rides have height requirements (at least 110 cm on many rides) or age limits.
- Restaurants around the park offer both Asian and Western halal-certified fare.
- Numerous restaurants are just outside the main entrance if you get there early or linger after closing.
- Both Malaysian Ringgits and Singapore Dollars are accepted in the park as payment.
- Two prayer rooms and a Baby Care Center are located within LEGOland.
- Of course, you have lots of opportunities to buy LEGOs toys here. It's definitely a much, much bigger selection than at Toys'R'Us.
- See my post about how we took a taxi from Singapore to LEGOland
|Push the button and activate the geyser on AquaZone Wave Racers.|
Looking towards the future
A LEGOland Waterpark is scheduled to open next door on October 21, 2013, and a hotel is currently under construction. If we lived near the park, I could see us buying an Annual Pass.
I have seen many on-line complaints about the heat and the no-refund-due-to-rain policy at LEGOland. These people need to understand that this is standard theme park operations all around the world. I've been in near-typhoon conditions at Tokyo DisneySea, and they didn't refund money. I spent my childhood summers in Houston, Texas at the equally hot-and-humid-with-bouts-of-rain Six Flags Astroworld and managed to endure it. That's what Walt Disney World in Florida is like in July, too. I've had to keep track of my kids in a sea of identical Shamu gift shop raincoats at SeaWorld. My advice to these complainer is to just deal with it. If the grand daddy of theme parks, Disney, doesn't make allowances, I don't expect LEGOland to.
However, there is room for improvement to make this a truly top-notch park. Some rides weren't operational while we were there, and I've heard of a few stopping with guests still on them. Restaurant tables weren't cleared quickly. Bathrooms that were clean and fresh in the morning were stinky and lacking toilet paper by the end of the day. We waited at the ticket booth for 40 minutes, because only 2 were open. At one point, both were at a standstill waiting for the supervisor to help. Hiring more people or better training could easily solve many problems, so I hope LEGOland will take steps to remedy them. Despite these complaints, I would still happily recommend LEGOland to families with children 12 years old and under.
Asian Landmarks at LEGOland Malaysia Miniland
Taking a Taxi from Singapore to LEGOland Malaysia
Flashback to LEGOland California
Universal Studios Singapore
This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.