Construction Starts on LegoLand

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- The placement of 3 million Lego bricks by Danish toy manufacturer the Lego Group, marked the start of construction on the first Legoland theme park in the U.S.

Legoland California, which broke ground earlier this month, is the first theme park to be built in Southern California in 25 years.

The project is located in the seaside community of Carlsbad, 30 miles north of San Diego.

The original Legoland Park opened in 1968 in Billund, Denmark, which is the headquarters for the Lego Group, and the second park, Legoland Windsor in Great Britain, opened in March 1996.

Legoland California is expected to open in the spring of 1999.

Spread over 128 acres, the aim of the park will be to provide an all-day, hands-on family experience, according to Lego, which has been in the business of constructing toys for more than 50 years.

The park will combine interactive attractions, opportunities to build, areas to explore, family rides and shows as well as restaurants and shopping venues.

Roughly 30 million Lego bricks will be used in the creation of 1,000 Lego models that will dot the park.

Legoland California will encompass six play areas: Miniland, Imagination Zone, Castle Hill, Fun Town, Village Green and the Ridge.

At the heart of the park will be Miniland, an area dedicated to Lego brick art form.

Miniland will be a replication of five areas of the U.S., all constructed with 20 million Lego bricks.

The area, visible from many places in the park, including the entrance, will feature miniature recreations of New Orleans, the California coast, a New England harbor, Washington and New York City.

The models will be animated with cars, trains, people movement, sound and lighting.

The Imagination Zone will emphasize exploration and creation.

Features will include an area where kids can build giant models; play sets where children can pretend to be farmers, zoo keepers and shoppers; a multimedia show that enables guests to communicate with the action on the movie screen and determine the plot and outcome of a story, and a learning center featuring computer-equipped facilities utilizing Lego software and interface programs.

Castle Hill will be themed after medieval images of knights, princesses and dragons.

Among the attractions of the area will be The Dragon, a roller coaster that travels through a Lego castle; the Royal Joust, which enables kids to ride Lego horses, and the Enchanted Walk, which features a trail through a landscaped setting exhibiting Lego models of animals.

Fun Town will be an area where kids can pretend they are adults.

Children will be able to learn to pilot and maneuver a Lego helicopter, participate in driving school and receive a Legoland license, and learn boating skills.

Other features of Fun Town will include a walk-through attraction showcasing inhabitants of the Amazon rain forest, ancient Egypt and the Arctic, all made from Lego bricks, and a small-scale Lego factory, where kids can learn about the Lego brick-making process.

Village Green will feature Safari Trek, a venture into the wilds of Africa to see giraffes, zebras and lions, all made from Lego bricks; an interactive water play area; an 18,000-square-foot playscape offering a variety of kids' activities; a boat ride through an enchanted forest that allows kids to experience themed fairy tales, and a magic show.

The Ridge is an overlook point at the center of the park that features rides and attractions.

Included are Kid Power Tower, a self-propelled ride to the top of a 30-foot tower that provides a view of the entire park, and Sky Cycle, a monorail ride that enables riders to pedal their way around an elevated track.

Legoland California is a $130 million project that is expected to draw approximately 1.8 million visitors during its first year of operation.

The park will be the third of a series of Legoland facilities planned worldwide.

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