NEDERLANDS // ENGLISH
Did you ever step on a Lego brick? If the answer is positive, you certainly remember an unbearable level of pain. If you’ve ever been involved in such a terrible accident, you probably started to hate this brightly colored bricks. Or at least, that’s how I experienced this unlucky moment and that was the day I started playing with K’nex. This toy was perfect to create the funfairs, the amusement parks and the roller coasters I wanted. But there was one big disadvantage: K’nex never opened its own theme park. So if I want to please my inner child by visiting a toy-based theme park, I just need to do it in a Lego kind of way.
Legoland certainly isn’t the most beloved amusement park for coaster enthusiasts. Parks in this chain are generally known to be busy, very expensive and also quite uninteresting for anyone older than 12. When I visited my first Legoland in 2012, that cliché (unfortunately) seemed to be correct. Legoland California was the least fun part of our theme park trip at the American West Coast. I decided that it would be my first and only Legoland visit ever, but now I need to reconsider that statement. While planning our Danish coaster trip, we noticed that a return flight from Billund was the cheapest option. And it would be very hard not to visit the world-famous theme park which can be found right next to Billund Airport, right?
Lego theme parks are being built in many different places nowadays. The company currently owns parks in the United States, Dubai, Malaysia and Japan. There are three different Lego resorts in Europe as well, and it all started here in Billund nearly 50 years ago. This original Legoland is still considered to be the best of its kind, but that doesn’t mean that some negative stereotypes don’t apply here. For example: an admission ticket for this park is everything but cheap. Although we ordered our tickets with an online discount, they cost a steep 45 euros per person. I certainly realize that northern Europe isn’t the cheapest travel destination anyway, but Legoland is still remarkably more expensive than the parks we visited yesterday and the day before. It’d better be worth it.
During the past few days, we managed to get coaster bingos (having a coaster bingo means that you’ve ridden every roller coaster in a certain amusement park) without any issues. Of course, we’re planning to achieve the same goal here at Legoland. That’s why we quickly leave the park’s visually unpleasing main street and we also skip some family rides in that particular area. You can hop on a boat tour past Lego-replicas of famous landmarks or you can make a safari filled with Lego-animals. Both rides look amusing and colorful, but I wouldn’t wait 30 minutes for it.
Attention to all roller coaster fanboys: every Legoland-coaster is built in the same corner of the park. And it gets even better, because this area is particularly uncrowded in the early morning. At the moment we enter powered coaster Dragen at Knight’s Kingdom, we have the ride almost entirely for ourselves. Please don’t expect too much of a thrill, since the lay-out mainly consists of wide and pretty slow turns. Despite the non-convincing coaster part, ‘Dragen’ is a great family ride with elaborate theming. The station is built within an impressive medieval castle and the ride starts with a few surprisingly good dark ride scenes. I’ve ridden the namesake at Legoland California, but this one’s obviously cooler. Perfect start of our day.
Legoland seems to love water and therefore, you will find lots of water rides. Close to ‘Dragen’, there is ‘Vikings River Splash’. This rapid river looks pretty spectacular thanks to its steep final descent. During the morning, a chilly breeze prevents us from riding this possibly soaking experience. Weather would become much nicer in the afternoon, but unfortunately the ride would then close down due to technical difficulties. Another water ride which has to be skipped is ‘Jungle Racers’. This kind of jet ski ride is lots of fun, but it’s just not amusing enough to justify a 40 minute queue. An attraction which we do visit, is Pirate Boats. This tow boat ride past (mainly static) Lego-scenes is actually surprisingly good. It looks very well-maintained, and that’s a huge contrast to the things I remember from Legoland California.
Up next is a ride that’s called X-Treme Racers. With a name like this, you’d expect it to be one of the world’s most thrilling dueling coasters. But don’t be disappointed, because it’s nothing more than a standard wild mouse coaster with an exotic theme. Luckily, ‘X-Treme Racers’ hasn’t got an X-Treme wait and we’re able to board such a trendy Lego-car within five minutes. The ride itself is everything but spectacular: this mirrored version of Europa-Park’s ‘Matterhorn Blitz’ (minus that cool vertical elevator… damn) is so slow that it doesn’t provide any fun. No really, can somebody explain Legoland that they shouldn’t necessarily use all those brake sections to slow down the vehicles? What’s possible in Europa-Park, should be possible in Denmark as well, right?
Have you ever wondered how an Egyptian mummy would look like when it’s completely constructed in Lego? You’ll find the answer right next to ‘X-Treme Racers’, at the interactive dark ride called Templet. The wonderful exterior makes me believe that this could be an amazing attraction, but unfortunately I’m wrong. The decoration inside the building isn’t that nice and the ride itself turns out to be very short. Furthermore, the laser guns don’t seem to work properly and that quickly takes away the fun in such an interactive adventure. Or maybe I’m just terrible at shooting mummies…
You can walk from ancient Egypt to the snowy mountains of Polar Land within seconds. At least in Legoland. Polar Land is a fairly recent addition and that’s noticeable in a negative way. This area looks a bit cheaper and less elaborate than older parts of the park. You even have to search for a main attraction inside of a tent. Despite its uninteresting location, Ice Pilots School is without a doubt the most unique mechanical ride Legoland has to offer: a moving robot arm! Surprisingly, before boarding, you get to compose your own experience on a touchscreen. Therefore, you can make this ride as intense or lame as you wish. We created a moderately intense ride and I’m actually very happy that we didn’t go any further. I really wouldn’t want to experience such an intensive ride, as my head is already turning after this medium ride.
Polar Land is home to the third and final chapter in our coaster bingo hunt. And believe it or not: despite the fact that both other roller coasters were built by Mack, exactly this Zierer turns out to be the most spectacular coaster within the park. That’s strange in a certain way, since this German manufacturer is mainly known for its simple kiddie coasters. Polar X-Plorer however is certainly in a different category. This coaster is comparable to ‘Verbolten’, a ride which recently blew my mind in Busch Gardens Williamsburg. It’s making use of similar tracks, similar trains and it certainly features a similar surprise along the way.
Although this Danish coaster is obviously smaller than its American sister, the ride offers a quite intense start. The first helix even gives me a flashback to the feeling ‘Piraten’ creates during its first curve. That unexpected amount of power is cool, but it comes to an end very quickly. While we slowly enter a snowy mountain cave, I’m also quite disappointed about the theming level. The free fall element is actually meant to be the highlight of the entire experience, but it’s set within an ugly backstage area. Seriously Legoland? Please pay a visit to ‘Verbolten’ or ‘Th13teen’ to realize that some decoration can add an enormous amount of thrill. Don’t get me wrong: ‘Polar X-Plorer’ is a fun ride, but this could’ve been so much more.
Game, set and match if it comes to our coaster bingo. Luckily, Legoland offers more than just roller coasters and we’d like to experience some other family rides. Ghost – The Haunted House for example. This ride seems fairly popular and the wait is nearly 30 minutes. Therefore, I’d expect a haunted house with doom buggies or so, but it’s just a simple walk-through. At the end of this (kind of interactive) walking tour however, we can choose to experience a small indoor free fall. Unfortunately, every sense of surprise is taken away by the safety video and the ride is way too child-friendly. So please just skip this one.
Ninjago – The Ride offers a particularly more interesting experience and you’ll find this attraction at a brand new Asian section. I really don’t know the background of ‘Ninjago’, but it seems to be something like ‘Power Rangers meets Mulan’. This interactive dark ride is pretty cool because it uses some techniques I’ve never seen before. You don’t get to shoot any laser gun here, but you get to eliminate the bad guys with Ninja-like hand movements. Can you imagine four people waving their hands in front of a 3D-screen? That’s without a doubt very funny, but I should tell you that the system works perfectly. I’m usually not that much into interactive dark rides, but this one actually blows my mind. Awesome!
I played a lot with Duplo when I was a toddler, but nowadays I definitely feel too old to enter Duplo Land. However, I always like to get an overview of theme parks and the neighbouring Legotop Tower offers that exact experience. This panoramic tower is only 36 meters high, whereas most similar rides measure at least 50 meters. The pretty limited size may be due to the nearby airport. During our ride on ‘Legotop’, we both enjoy views of Legoland and Billund Airport. That’s cool, but it makes me realize that our Danish holiday is coming to an end as well. In just a few hours, we need to be in that terminal on the horizon to catch our flight home…
From the sky to the depths of the sea: time for Atlantis by Sea-Life. This type of marine life parks is always nice, but I would certainly never pay 20 euros for this. Luckily, there are some amusement parks where Merlin Entertainment added it as an extra ride which is included in park admission. In Alton Towers for example, you’ll find a ‘Sea-Life Park’ in the pirate-themed section. Legoland Billund got its own version as well and it’s decorated as Atlantis over here. This theme is perfect, but you’ll have to survive a boring preshow before entering. The actual walk-trough is much more interesting, since the aquariums turn out to be notably bigger than I was expecting.
We use our last two hours in Legoland for re-rides on ‘Polar X-Plorer’ (the queue for single riders is empty and we really don’t mind splitting up) and to discover Miniland. Miniland is the centerpiece of every Legoland: it’s an area where monuments, recognizable cities and famous buildings are reconstructed with Lego bricks. They mainly focus on landmarks which can be found in the (very wide) surroundings of the park. That’s why we saw reproductions of San Francisco and Las Vegas in Legoland California, whereas this Miniland has been mainly built around Copenhagen, the Norwegian city of Bergen and the Netherlands. The level of detail is amazing and I could watch this beautiful masterpiece for many hours. Windmills are turning slowly, ships are sailing through the Dutch canals, cute Lego cars are driving along the roads and giant airplanes are taxiing at a replica of Billund Airport. It’s a great pleasure to wander through Miniland, because you always notice new details and hidden gags. I’m also pleasantly surprised by the good shape of Miniland. This area looks tidy and very well maintained, which is a huge contrast compared to its counterpart in California.
Miniland is one of the main draws for Legoland Billund and they regularly add a novelty. This year’s addition is a massive display called World’s Tallest, with replicas of five super high buildings. Legoland built its own versions of Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower, Makkah Royal Clock Tower, One World Trade Center and Taipei 101. They needed lots of Lego bricks, 830.000 to be precise. The result is very overwhelming and visually appealing.
It’s time to say goodbye to Legoland Billund. This was kind of a quick visit, as our flight already leaves at 6.30 PM. Although we only spent six hours at Legoland, we have been able to ride nearly every big attraction and I’ve really enjoyed this day. Legoland is a theme park with a fine array of family friendly rides, good theming and even the food department did a great job. On top of that, staff are once again very friendly, as usual in Denmark. During a Legoland visit, you should however keep in mind that the park is focused on small children. So don’t expect any major thrills and please know that the existing coasters are quite soft.
Legoland Billund is known to be the best theme park of its kind in the world and I can imagine why. If I compare this park to the namesake in California, then I liked it a thousand times more. Nevertheless it didn’t amaze me like Fårup Sommerland and Djurs Sommerland did. Legoland is lacking the typical Scandinavian atmosphere and it looks way more international and commercial. Don’t get me wrong: I do like theme parks with an international appearance, but Djurs’ and Fårup’s indescribably ambiance was much more interesting. Those two parks are hidden gems in the European theme park business, whereas Legoland feels rather generic.
While taking of from Billund airport, I’m able to get a final glimpse of Legoland, its coasters and its millions of colorful bricks. I then realize that we’ve had another great day and I’m a little sad because our holiday has come to an end. It’s always a pleasure being in Denmark, so I very much enjoyed these last few days. Luckily, the end of this trip marks the start of a new countdown. There are some other great amusement parks on our wish list for 2017 and I’ll definitely write about them too. What about a trip report about Cedar Point, for example? Stay tuned.