Family time at Legoland Malaysia

My relationship with Lego started way back when I played it with my younger brother and watched him build extraordinary structures from his collection of Lego bricks.

Our first family visit to Legoland Malaysia Resort
Many years have passed since we played with the set that dad bought us and a generation later, Lego continued to give hours of fun to my nephews who also played with these versatile bricks.  Through the years, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day in the future, Lego would build a Legoland, right here in Johor Baru!

In 2009, I was among those who witnessed the ground-breaking ceremony by the then Johor Menteri Besar that kicked off the construction of the theme park in Medini, Iskandar Malaysia.

Then in 2012, a day before Legoland Malaysia Resort was opened to the public, I joined a media tour to experience the park for the very first time.  Since then, I have been to the park regularly for media events that launched new exhibits and festive celebrations.

The Maybank-ers 
Each time I go to these events, I would tell my family that I’m off to Legoland.  They must have heard this line much too often because I try to attend media invites whenever possible so that I can share updates about new attractions and happenings in the park.

Last year, I was at the park to witness the launch of the lunar new year attractions like counting the number of mandarin oranges made of Lego bricks, the Star Wars exhibit, the Ninjago, Realm of Shadows, live puppet show, and when the Johor Sultan personally launched the miniature Lego replica of Istana Bukit Serene at Miniland.

As I watched the park develop from a brown field into an international destination for local and foreign tourists, I felt that the time was ripe to share the park experience with my family.  Every time I had a work assignment there, they may hear me saying that I’m off to Legoland but this time, I would like to bring them along!

The Lego camel is probably one of the
most photographed spots in the park!
When the year-end holidays were just ahead, I arranged for a date where my brother and his family would join my elder sister and me, to bring our parents to the park.  I was particularly keen to let mum and dad see what was going on inside the park because each time we drove pass (usually on our way to a seafood dinner in Gelang Patah!) I would point out to them, the Legoland Malaysia site.

This is a familiar area for dad because, he was once based in Gelang Patah for work at the government dispensary.  He had staff quarters inside the dispensary and as it was then quite a distance between JB and Gelang Patah by the old road, dad used to stay there and come home only at weekends.  On week nights after the dispensary was closed, dad told us how he would partner with the locals to go hunting for wild boar. 

At that time, dad owned a licensed double-barreled gun and I can still remember the smell of the oil which he used to clean and oil his gun.  Dad and his friends would go into the nearby jungles to hunt and I imagined that the sprawling site where Legoland is situated, was probably one of his regular hunting gounds!

Mum and dad, escorted by my brother,
riding the Legoland Express!
At 93, dad may not remember exactly where they went hunting back then but he is familiar with the area where Iskandar Puteri is being developed, that was once rubber and oil palm plantations fringed by dense jungle.

In the morning of the first weekday after Christmas, I joined the crowd in front of Legoland Malaysia Resort to get my tickets while the family waited patiently in a shady spot.  I had also reserved a wheelchair so that we could wheel dad around the park.

Then I spotted Casper Bonavent, Legoland Malaysia’s operations director, welcoming visitors to the park that sunny morning.  I remember meeting him along with the Master Model Builders, at previous events in the park.  While waiting for my turn to be served, we had a chat and he was pleasantly surprised to learn that the first time I was at the park was when it was still a brown field!

Look at those two in the front row!
The excitement was palpable and rather infectious among both young and not-so-young members of the family, but before anyone got lost in the crowd, I suggested that we study the park map and aimed to visit the various attractions, try the rides, catch the shows and meet back at the entrance later.  We had all day but time flies when we were having fun, so we should wisely make the most of the fine weather to enjoy the park.

Just as we entered the park, I was amused to see what our family Maybank-ers were doing.  My brother and sister-in-law, who work with the bank, could not resist posing for a shot with the Lego version of the Maybank mascot tiger dressed in armour!

While we headed to the Lego City Stage for the Ninjago show, the youngsters left the seniors to explore the park on their own and enjoy as many of the park attractions as possible.  Meanwhile, we took turns at pushing dad on his wheelies and it was good that the Legoland Express train ride even had a dedicated section for wheelchair riders.

At Lego City Stage for the Ninjago show
At Dino Island, I pushed my dad up the viewing ramp to watch my brother and his wife ride the boat into the mountain and roll down the chute with a big splash!

They came out dripping wet but it was also an opportunity to see if their quick-dry matching T-shirts were as effective as they claimed to be.

By the time we had explored and admired the iconic structures designed in Miniland, their clothes were dry again and my brother, a Star Wars fan, was ever so keen to head into the Star Wars exhibit.

We saw that a storm was brewing and when the monsoon rain came down in torrents, we were comfortably indoors, sipping hot coffee and nibbling cake.  

With the Lego version of Darth Vader at
the entrance of the Star Wars exhibit
In fact, we enjoyed two meals in the park, lunch at the Market Restaurant and later, afternoon tea at The CafĂ©.  This was where the youngsters found us after they enjoyed fun rides and watching the 4-D Lego Movie.

The rain had abated somewhat before we braved the wet and wheeled dad out again.  It was still drizzling but dad was a good sport to hold the umbrella over himself while my brother wheeled him out!

It was a thoroughly enjoyable outing where the youngsters explored the attractions and thrilled to the rides while the seniors had a good experience of what the park has to offer.  

So when I next tell the family that I’m off to Legoland, I’m sure they now have a clearer picture of where I was going and why.  Over and above that, I just appreciate the privilege to share the Legoland experience with my family and to make more memories with them!

Lunch at the Market Restaurant

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