Fantasy family fun

The giant bucket tipping over on the Joker Soaker
in Legoland Water Park
A friend whose extended family has plans for a holiday in Johor Baru, asked me for tips on what to do to entertain them here because there was a mix of elderly uncles and aunts as well as cousins with young families.  I assured her that there is something for everyone to enjoy and told her that we can take the seniors on nostalgic heritage walks and arrange for the young families to enjoy a time of family bonding in our themeparks.  I can sense her relieve as she saw how her whole family can have fun here because while JB welcomes the new in our developing modern metropolis, our city still has some charming old treasures. 
Familiar characters greet you at the
entrance to Star Wars Miniland
I understand how overwhelming it must be to host visiting friends and family members who have heard so much about our new attractions but we have yet to visit these sites ourselves.  Visitors, both local and from abroad, are coming to international attractions located at our very doorstep but sadly many locals either have a vague notion or no idea about them.  So I’m often the go-to-person for some honest insights as I’ve had the privilege to experience resort attractions locally and abroad in my travel assignments. 

While the rides and restaurants in Legoland Malaysia opened in September 2012, last October the adjacent Water Park opened as the largest Legoland Water Park in the world.  Designed with over 70 Lego models and more than 20 unique slides, this park is bordered by a meandering river where visitors can create their own rafts from soft Lego bricks and float along with the current.  

Besides restaurants, a retail store and cabanas for hire, there is also a wave pool and plenty of shade if you wish to just chill out and doze on the deck chairs.  The Joker Soaker is a favourite spot for thrill-seekers who can enjoy interactive fun on platforms built in the wade pool and wait for the giant bucket to fill up before it tips 350 gallons of water to splash and soak everyone below!

I assured my friend that young families will have an unforgettable stay with the Legoland Hotel because there is non-stop fun from the moment they step into the hotel lobby.  That’s because children will be delighted with the thousands of Lego bricks available for play in the moat around the knight’s castle and in the sea where the pirate’s ship is anchored – right there in the lobby!  I’ve seen how children are happily occupied with Lego while parents check-in or check-out and I even spotted several dads bonding with their children as they create swords and guns from Lego bricks, ostensibly for them but they were probably also having fun reliving their own childhood!

Young families will have fun at Sanrio Hello Kitty Town
in the Little Red Cube, Nusajaya
At Star Wars Miniland, the latest attraction in Legoland Malaysia, parents will also have fun introducing their families to the Yoda, R2D2, C-3PO and the infamous Darth Vader among other favourite Star Wars characters designed in Lego bricks.  This indoor experience showcases over 2,000 detailed models displayed in iconic scenes from the six Star Wars blockbuster movie episodes and The Clone Wars animated series.  

I’m sure Star Wars fans will recognise scenes like the battle at Naboo even before reading the brief provided at each exhibit.  While the clever play of light and sound effects will transport you to a galaxy far, far away, I instantly recognised familiar music from my favourite scene with the weirdest creatures in the Cantina where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi first met Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon and his co-pilot Chewbacca!

Figurine of Lat, the kampung boy
at Lat's Place
Over at Sanrio Hello Kitty Town in the Little Red Cube, Puteri Harbour, Hello Kitty fans and families with younger children can thrill to meeting the life-size pair of Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel.  The experience continues in Hello Kitty House, the fantasy home of the pair of furry felines that’s filled with Kitty-shaped and themed furniture and knick-knacks.  Then at the Wishful Studio, you can enjoy activities like Costume Dress-up, Nail Salon, Jewellery Making and paint a Kitty face-shaped cookie at the Cookie Studio.  Older children can have fun with an exciting hi-tech interactive game in the Black Wonder, a dark labyrinth where the solution to a puzzle will release Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel from their kidnappers!

Familiar characters like Bob the Builder, Barney the Dinosaur, Angelina Ballerina and Pingu the Penguin are all in the Little Big Club.  Safe play structures, rides and interactive activities keep the youngsters engaged and entertained for hours while adults can also have fun on the rides designed with Thomas & Friends.  The rides are child-safe and adults are allowed to accompany younger children on the Train Ride, Bertie the Bus, The Windmill, Colin Crane Drop and Harold’s Helitours.  At the Bumping Buffers Steamies & Diesel Ride, you don’t need driving experience to join in the fun, dodging each other in bumper cars!

Dinner at Lat's Place comes with an entertaining experience!
One of the dining options at the Little Red Cube is Lat’s Place, a unique themed restaurant that serves Malaysian cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This is where you meet Lat our kampung boy, a familiar local animated character and get original Lat merchandise.  Reservations are essential for dinner that is offered with adult, child or vegetarian choices and it comes with an 80-minute live animation entertainment experience, a set meal, free-flow of non-alcoholic drink and one complimentary photo for two persons.  This is a must for Lat fans to enjoy the antics of the kampung boy and his Latoon friends!

With a glimpse of what her visitors can do for holiday fun and family bonding in JB, my friend was more than ready to be a better host.  Later she told me that her cousins and families will head to Nusajaya to enjoy themepark activities while the seniors have opted for a heritage walk.  This presented her with yet another dilemma but to resolve the situation, she quickly invited me along because I’m also familiar with the city’s heritage sites. 

A version of this was published in the November 2014 issue of The Iskandarian

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