Aug 2, 2012

Legoland Theme Park in Johor

The Legoland Theme Park in Johor will be open on 15th September 2012 and it would be an interesting Johor tourism destination. It took a long time with many lego builder making famous icons of Malaysia to be on displayed. Would certainly like to take a snap with the famous Petronas Twin Tower even if it was just a miniature legoland version!

Do note the entrance fee won't be cheap! It was reported the entrance fee for Malaysians were:
Adults = RM140
Child = RM110
Rebate of RM30 for MyKad holders.

This is certainly expensive and I will have to consider whether to visit with my whole family along for the ride...

Stylized map of Legoland Malaysia
Stylized map of Legoland Malaysia


Legoland theme park pays tribute to famous SEA sites
By Mohd Farhaan Shah
Photos by Abdul Rahman Embong
Wednesday August 1, 2012

NUSAJAYA: It only took a team of 15 Lego builders about a year to complete one of their massive projects for its theme park — the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.

The 10m high skyscraper is the tallest iconic building in all of Legoland theme parks throughout the world.

According to the Legoland designer Eric Hunter, who is the chief builder for the project, his team had to visit Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur to study the construction and detail of the two towers.

He pointed out that it took his team 5,500 hours to build, using more than 542,000 of normal Lego bricks to construct the Petronas Twin Towers.

The main attraction: Legoland Malaysia model builders Muhammad Khairul (left) and master builder Stefan Bentivoglio putting on the final piece of the miniature Petronas Twin Towers.
The main attraction: Legoland Malaysia model builders Muhammad Khairul (left) and master builder Stefan Bentivoglio putting on the final piece of the miniature Petronas Twin Towers.

"Inside the two towers there are eight metres of steel lines and a plate which holds the miniature Petronas Twin Towers together and it is weather proof.

"If someone wants to try his luck to build the Petronas Twin Towers by himself than it will take him more than three years to complete it," he said when met at the completion of the twin towers at Legoland Malaysia, recently.

The miniature Petronas Twin Towers is one of the 12 clusters representing 17 famous building and monuments found throughout Southeast Asia at the theme park Minilands.

One of the team-members is Taiping-born Legoland model builder Muhammad Khairul Zainon Noor, 27, who was given the honour to put the last piece on top of the twin towers said that this is his best achievement so far.

Historic: The Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.
Historic: The Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.

"This is the proudest moment in my life as I put my sweat and blood to complete the project," he said.

Meanwhile, Legoland Malaysia general manager Siegfried Boerst said the first ever such theme park in Asia was nearly completed just in time for its official opening on Sept 15, this year.

"The park is now nearing completion with most of the rides and infrastructure already installed.

"For the past few weeks, we have been in the process of putting final touches to the park by testing rides, fitting the 15,000 Lego models built out of 50mil Lego bricks," he said adding that 45,000 annual passes have been sold so far for the last three months.

Ticketing details can be found on


Building dreams at Legoland Malaysia
By Louisa Lim
Saturday March 31, 2012

Legoland Malaysia won't be just another brick in the wall. Their model builders will see to that.

IT'S hard to imagine that it all begins here, in an unassuming double-storey building located on a street like any other. Just like it's hard to imagine that 27-year-old Firdaus Rahiman is anything but an Average Joe.

You see, the bespectacled Firdaus is something of a Michelangelo of Lego, and this is his lair. With an artist's eye and a sculptor's intuition, he conjures up, and builds, whole cities and towns with his two hands.

When he's not working with Lego, he's talking about Lego.

Taking shape: Malaysia and Asia's first ever Legoland is still a work in progress.
Taking shape: Malaysia and Asia's first ever Legoland is still a work in progress.

"It's all about feeling. If the feeling's not there, you know you've got it all wrong," Firdaus says.

Those who know Firdaus know he's not referring to love, but something infinitely more important: the building process. This "feeling" ensures that the Lego replicas resemble the real thing as closely as possible, be it a building, a backdrop or even a person. It has to be, in Firdaus' words, instantly recognisable.

The pressure is on, however.

Legoland Malaysia is set to open later this year, and Firdaus and his team of 31 builders only have until June to create the perfect world from Lego — all 50 million pieces of them.

Reclined on a red sofa beside sidekick Khairunadia Kamarudin, 26, he twirls a life-sized ball made entirely of Lego in his hands. On the table in front of us is a Lego vase filled with Lego flowers.

"Anything that isn't straight is a challenge to reproduce. Organic shapes like these are the hardest," he says, and Khairunadia nods in agreement.

The 32 model builders of Legoland Malaysia have a lot to smile about!
The 32 model builders of Legoland Malaysia have a lot to smile about!

Nevertheless, these objects aren't as difficult to construct as the massive structures kept in the Lego-strewn workshop beyond, awaiting their debut on the big day. Chunks of the Prime Minister's Office and the Putra Bridge — both part of the Putrajaya skyline — lay partially completed in one corner, while the KL Railway Station, complete with tiny Lego Malaysians, takes up several square metres of another room.

Skyscrapers rise like monuments from the befuddling brickscape. Whether it's the Menara Tabung Haji or HSBC Tower, these replicas are architectural feats in their own right. "This would be our first time building skyscrapers out of Lego. It's not something that is commonly found in Legoland, except the one in California," says Firdaus.

The tallest among these are the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. Measuring 9m and 7m respectively, these two KL icons will be the tallest Lego structures anywhere in the world.


First, a little bit about Legoland Malaysia: Managed by the Merlin Entertainment Group — which also operates Madame Tussauds, Chessington World of Adventures and Sydney Aquarium — Legoland will be the first internationally-accredited theme park in the country. It will span an impressive 31ha (or approximately 76 football fields), with seven themed areas featuring more than 40 rides, shows and attractions.

It's a theme park built for kids. Here, the little ones get to drive slow one-seater toy cars. They can steer boats and turn water cannons on each other. They can build and operate robots in one of the Build & Test Workshops. They can hop on different rides.

"Many of the rides are also interactive, and allows visitors to participate in the ride itself, rather than just sitting passively in a seat and letting the ride take its course," says general manager of Legoland Malaysia Siegfried Boerst, 49. "We want to reclaim the importance of play. Children should be able to play outside, instead of just sitting in front of the TV or computer all day. It's essential to development, and we want to provide a safe area for the kids to do just that."

Hard at work in the workshop.
Hard at work in the workshop.

While Legoland doesn't have heart-in-your-throat roller coasters or rides with compelling storylines or expensive cutting-edge visuals, it has several attractions that are guaranteed to thrill even the oldest, grumpiest parkgoer.

There's the boat ride on Dino Island, which passes life-sized brick dinosaurs and ends with an 8m-high splash; the Dragon Coaster, which winds and plunges through the depths of a castle at 60kph; also the iconic coaster carts of the Technic Test Track, which rises to 20m above ground level for breathtaking views of the city before zipping back down.

The most captivating, however, is Miniland. Featuring miniature dioramas of different cities in Malaysia, as well as some of Asia's landmarks such as Merlion (Singapore), Angkor Wat (Cambodia) and Taj Mahal (India), Miniland is the ultimate expression of the Lego art form.

This is where Firdaus and his team come in.

They begin by taking photographs of the object they're trying to copy. Next, model designers like Khairunadia will create a 3D image of the object using a specialty software. Finally, it's on to the model builders, who match it up as closely as they possibly can, creating the object's skeleton out of steel bars and assembling pieces of Lego together to form an "outer skin".

Each block is then reinforced with heavy-duty glue — just in case anyone thinks a piece of, say, the Great Wall of China would make a nice souvenir.

The time and effort taken to build each model varies, but the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower rate higher in complexity because of their relative size. Work on the former started in California, even before Legoland Malaysia began hiring for its workshop.

As for the latter, Firdaus, Khairunadia and another one of their colleagues took exactly 600 hours, 41,200 Lego bricks and an actual crane to build it. The end result, explains a flustered Khairunadia, needs to look and "feel" like KL Tower, when viewed by visitors during the day or night.

"Straight shapes are supposed to be easiest," she says. "But because the KL Tower is such a significant landmark and because this is the second tallest Lego model in the world, the model needs to live up to the hype as well. It's quite stressful."

General manager of Legoland Malaysia Siegfried Boerst and friends.
General manager of Legoland Malaysia Siegfried Boerst and friends.

Malaysia's blazing sun and frequent tropical storms will also pose a number of challenges in the future, says Firdaus.

"To be honest, we don't know how well the colours will hold in our climate. In Billund where the weather is milder, the colours last 10 years before they need to be replaced," he says.

"I'm giving it five years... or less," Khairunadia says.

So far, they've got the base tower and satellites in place. The pineapple-shaped restaurant at the top, however, is yet to be completed and "needs a few more tweaks."

"Malaysians have this perception that anything that is Malaysian-made is inferior," says Khairunadia. "But I don't want people to see my work and go ‘Alaa, Malaysia tak best'. I want to surprise them."

Take a brick!

There's nothing you can't do with Lego, given the right amount of time and bricks. That's the philosophy of most Lego enthusiasts, including Nathan Sawaya, New York-based artist extraordinaire.

Known for creating large-scale sculptures using only Lego, Sawaya has been described by one journalist as "a surrealist mash-up of forms and artists. Imagine Frank Lloyd Wright crossed with Ray Harryhausen, or Auguste Rodin crossed with Shigeru Miyamoto, and you start to get a sense of where Sawaya is coming from."

Khairunadia and Firdaus with a small-scale model of their workshop.
Khairunadia and Firdaus with a small-scale model of their workshop.

"We're jealous of him! He's so rich that he has more Lego bricks than what we have in our warehouse," exclaims Firdaus of his hero.

One of the 14 Lego-certified professionals in the world, Sawaya's sophisticated art pieces have made the rounds in museum and art circuits worldwide — an achievement that he hopes to emulate one day.

"At the audition, I built my first Lego model, a pyramid. Right now, however, if I could create anything, it would be a portrait of my wife Maria," he says.

There are other mottos to live by. First, while it's true that practice makes perfect, it also helps if you love your job. Otherwise, muses Khairunadia, it would show up in your work. Secondly, creativity can be nurtured and harnessed, but not forced.

"There comes a time when you feel like you just can't do it (build) anymore," she says. "It really drives me crazy. But instead of pushing myself, I take a break outside. It always helps me solve the puzzle."

The duo has come a long way; considering how Lego isn't a toy they or most other Malaysian children grew up with. In fact, Fridaus played a lot of video games, while Kairunadia preferred Barbies and Polly Pockets.

"It's not that we didn't like Lego; it's because they're expensive," says Firdaus.

However, all this changed when they were hired as Malaysia's pioneer model builders three years ago, after beating dozens of other job applicants in a three-part audition.

"We weren't prepared for it at all," says Khairunadia, chuckling. "There were other others who knew exactly what they were doing, but we didn't. To this day, we're still asking ourselves why they chose us."

They knew that having one of the coolest jobs in the world would earn them bragging rights. They did not, however, expect it to trigger a love affair with these multi-coloured mini bricks. It seems nothing can put them off their newfound hobby.

At home, Firdaus combines his obsession for video games and Lego by playing, you guessed it, Lego-based video games. Khairunadia, meanwhile, has started a collection of Lego sets.

"I'm also in the midst of decorating my Lego-themed studio so I can have a place to display them," she says.

Playtime has to wait, however. As the date for Legoland's soft launch draws closer, the duo can mostly be found in the workshop, designing, building and tweaking Lego models to be transported to the park.

"The KL Tower is due in April. To be honest, if we were given one year to complete it, it would be 10 times better. But right now, we need to do the best with what we've got," says Firdaus.

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) says these are exciting times for theme park operators worldwide. Some 189.1 million of us clicked through the turnstiles of the world's major parks in 2010, an increase of 1.9% on 2009. That's the best performance in half a decade, with steady growth being helped by a surge in the popularity of parks in Asia.

If successful — and the signs are looking good — Legoland Johor will herald in a golden era of theme parks. And they would have their 32 model builders to thank for it.

> Legoland Malaysia's Pre-Opening Annual Passes are on sale at


Legoland Hotel to open in Johor
Wednesday April 25, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: Asia's first Legoland Hotel is to open in Malaysia in 2014 next to a theme park dedicated to the popular children's building bricks, the developers said.

Groundwork for the hotel in southern Johor state the world's fourth Legoland hotel began last month, developer Merlin Entertainments Groups and LL Themed Hotel said in a statement yesterday.

The 31ha park, which will offer 40 rides, shows and displays featuring the Danish toy bricks, will be one of the main attractions of Iskandar Malaysia - AFP


Johor tourist arrivals to increase after Legoland opens
Friday May 11, 2012

NUSAJAYA: The opening of the Legoland Theme Park in September and the Desaru tourism development in three years will bring in more than five million tourists to the state from the current 3.8 million.

State Tourism and Domestic Trade Committee chairman Hoo Seong Chang said that with the new attractions, he was confident that Johor would overtake Penang in the tourism industry.

"Johor is now on par with Malacca, Sabah and Sarawak in terms of tourist arrivals but is still behind Kuala Lumpur (12 million), Pahang (eight million) and Penang (five million)," he said at a press conference after chairing a tourism committee meeting at Kota Iskandar on Tuesday.

He added that in the first quarter of the year, Johor received 6.193 million day trippers compared to 3.981 million in 2011.

"Singaporeans are still the highest number of day trippers followed by mainland Chinese and Indonesians," he said.

Hoo also said that Johor received 3.785 million tourists who stayed in the state last year, compared to 3.618 million in 2010.

On another matter, Hoo said the deadline for the Johor Tourism Awards had been extended to June this year from December last year.

"We have received an overwhelming response for the competition, which offers 27 awards in nine categories. The presentation ceremony will be held in September," he added.


Legoland urged to lower entry rates
By Mohd Farhaan Shah
Thursday December 8, 2011

JOHOR BARU: The entrance fees for Asia's first ever Legoland theme park in Nusajaya are too high for locals, said Malaysian Tourists Guides Council president Jimmy Leong.

He said Legoland Malaysia should have a two-tier ticket system to cater to both locals and foreigners.

"Other places of interest, like the cable car ride in Langkawi or the Istana Muzium here, have implemented such a system," he told The Star yesterday.

Leong pointed out that foreign visitors are charged US$7 (RM21) while Malaysians have to pay RM5, with a RM1 discount for Johoreans for entry into Istana Muzium.

The charges for entry into Legoland Malaysia are RM140 per adult and RM110 per child with a RM30 rebate for MyKad holders.

"Even with the rebate, it is too expensive for locals considering the current economic situation," he said, adding that a family of four would have to cough up RM380 for a day at the theme park.

Leong said the high prices could have an effect on the middle or low-income earners.

"The management of Legoland Malaysia should discuss the matter with consumer groups or tour guide associations to set the right prices for the theme park," he said.

It was recently reported that works on the Legoland Malaysia is progressing well and the park was expected to open by the end of next year and offer over 40 interactive rides to the visitors.

The RM720mil theme park on a 31ha site is a joint venture between Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB) and Merlin Entertainment Groups, the world's largest visitor attraction operator.

Source: The Star

Entrance to Legoland Malaysia in Nusajaya Johor