Legoland – Vejle, Denmark
An inordinate amount of my youth was centered around Legos. From before I can remember until my early teens, I sat on the floor of my room and constructed Lego houses, spaceships and futuristic communities. Even the procurement of my cherished Atari 2600 didn’t completely kill my Lego habit. So it goes without saying that I expected Legoland in Vejle, Denmark to be my holy land. My Mecca. My Dollywood.
Lego Mount Rushmore
The most striking part about Legoland was all of the huge Lego exhibits. Some of them constructed with millions of individual Lego pieces. Lego Statue of Liberty. Lego Dutch cityscape. Lego Mount Rushmore. Lego Munich airport with planes and trucks that drove around! Lego shipping site with working railroad lines!! And a fully functional Lego lock and dam that plucked a moving Lego barge out of the (not Lego) river, raised it and sent the barge on its merry way through the exhibit! The amount of work that had obviously gone into some of these exhibits was mind boggling. As I staggered through the park, I developed a fantasy where I would get into a zealous discussion with a stranger, commenting on the brilliance of the design and construction of the exhibits, expressing my general passion for Legos and then the stranger would turn out to be the park’s lead design engineer and he would offer me a job on the spot! I was so smitten.
Unfortunately I can’t claim that my visit was all Lego peaches and Lego cream. Legoland had strayed a bit too far into the realm of shameless over-commercialism. The entry fee was an astounding $25. There were shops, kiosks and carts everywhere you turned, trying to sell you Lego trappings, apparel, accessories, dinette sets… OK, that last one was a lie, but the souvenir pushing was so overwhelming that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see it. The challenge of pushing through this blinding barrage of over-priced crap in order to locate the fantastic Lego exhibits was frustrating at times.
After a few hours, I was nearing the end my patience threshold for the teeming crowds and the relentless hawking of cheap knick-knacks when I found myself trapped in a circle of wall-to-wall food carts and souvenir stands. I whipped out the Legoland map to get my bearings and saw something vague and strange. In a remote corner of the park there was a huge enclosed garage labeled “Power Builder.” There was no description accompanying this attraction, so I charged in that general direction to investigate. What I found changed my attitude faster than a bottle of free wine. Power Builder was a design-your-own thrill ride!
A Power Builder is basically two extremely padded bucket seats, bolted onto the end of a giant, multi-jointed, super powerful robot arm. Upon entering the facility, you go to a touch screen where you program exactly what you want Power Builder to do to you and how violently you want it to be done. Then the touch screen spits out a smart card with your selections saved on it that you carry with you while you wait for your turn to get on one of the 10 Power Builders. When your turn comes, you shove your smart card into your Power Builder, strap yourself in and prepare to get your brains scrambled. Being the masochistic idiot that I am, I programmed Power Builder to kick the living ca-ca out of me. The results were nothing short of fabulous. Power Builder did a horrifying combination of spinning me around on a vertical axis, whipping me around in circles on a horizontal axis and flinging me up and down on the double jointed arm (watch the movie). I haven’t been physically and emotionally moved like that since the dream I had where Jennifer Garner and Salma Hayak gave me a nude, Swedish massage while on a private jet destined for Vegas where we… I should probably stop there.
Lego Boba Fett
Speaking as a grizzled theme park ride veteran, I don’t believe I am over-stating the matter when I say that Power Builder is the greatest ride in the history of human existence. Unfortunately, if you want the pleasure of a spin on Power Builder you will have to make the trip to Demark as Legoland is the one and only place in the world that has Power Builders at the moment.
Shortly after coming down off my Power Builder high, I managed to discover the awesome Lego Interactive Center that gave kids the opportunity to play Lego video games, construct strange, dynamic creations and design and build their own working Lego race cars that they could subsequently road-test on the Lego race track and attempt to break the Lego race car speed record. These late discoveries succeeded in bringing me back from the brink of discouraged exasperation with Legoland and reinstated my childlike awe and admiration of this brilliant, perennial plaything that was such a large part of my youth.