When we first broke the news in December that Legoland is coming to Malaysia, there was a lot of excitement and anticipation in the air. Legoland promises to put real play back into the hands of children, it is also about a wholesome and educational experience. Merlin Entertainments Group, the owner of Legoland, Madame Tussauds and London Eye, amongst others gave Venusbuzz.com (VB) an intimate interview with Mr Siegfried Boerst (SB), the General Manager of Legoland Malaysia.
Mr Boerst has been in the themed park business for over 20 years. He started in Disneyland Paris in 1992 where he was Assistant Manager in charge of ticketing, and moved up very quickly from there. It was also in France that he met his wife with whom he has two lovely teenagers. His almost magical journey into Legoland began two years before Legoland Germany opened. He told his wife that he wanted to join them, and true enough, he became part of the team that launched Deutschland Legoland in 2001.
“It is more than a job, I grew up with Lego, my children now still play with Lego and they grew up in the Legoland theme parks. It is a pleasure to walk around the park and see children smiling”. Talking to Mr Boerst, you can feel his love for family and kids.
V : Where is Legoland Malaysia at today and when is it opening?
SB : Legoland Malaysia is about 70% complete to-date and is on track to launch in the 4th Quarter of 2012. Safety checks and testing will be done in June or July by experts from Germany.
V : What kind of investments have gone in to building Legoland so far and what is the staff strength?
SB : The total project cost is over RM720 million, and the park will have a staff strength of 700 employees. This will increase to 900-1,000 eventually with additional attractions. Key personnel have been sent to Legoland locations overseas for training and extensive training is also going to be done locally in the park. For the opening, experienced staff from round the world will be sent over to assist with operations.
V: Legoland Malaysia wants to put “real” play back into the hands of children, explain that
SB : Most theme parks are passive, Legoland Malaysia which is catered to families and children aged 2-12 years promotes interaction, family bonding and teamwork. For example, The Kid Power Towers in the Imagination section of Legoland requires kids to pull themselves up the tower, up to 5 metres in height. They can do this on their own or with a parent or older sibling and friends.
At the LEGO City Rescue Academy, parents and kids can compete together with other families to push a LEGO fire truck and hose down a “burning” building”.
V : What are popular attractions within the park?
SB : In LEGO City, kids can drive an electric powered LEGOLAND car and obtain a driving license in the process. The Conquer The Dragon roller coaster ride will also be very popular with the park visitors.
V: What are challenges building a park in Malaysia or Asia?
SB : Primarily it is the weather, food and understanding what visitors wants in this region. Given the beautiful weather for example, the landscaping can be done differently. Legoland Malaysia is also the first in Asia and the first International Theme Park in Malaysia. The first Legoland was opened in 1968 in Denmark where the headquarters are, and with 2 others in Europe and The United States, Legoland has learnt from many years of experience to bring the best to the latest Legoland in Malaysia. Legoland plans to expand within the region to Korea or Japan in the next 3-5 years.
V : What is unique in Legoland Malaysia?
SB : Miniland in Malaysia contains models dedicated to iconic buildings and locations in Asia, such as the Twin Towers, Angkor Wat, Taj Mahal and more. It is constructed by model builders from around the world using millions of actual LEGO blocks. These blocks are the standard LEGO pieces and not specially made for the models.
V : What does it take be a model builder?
SB : A good imagination which can picture the end product in 3D and physical skills. Children can try their hand in Legoland where 45 minute classes are conducted.
V : How many people can Legoland Malaysia cater to at any one time?
SB : Legoland can cater for up to 15,000 people, however, there will be strict monitoring and control of the crowd flow to ensure a pleasant customer experience. We want to ensure that the Legoland experience is the same everywhere.
V : Can visitors cover the park in 1 day?
SB : It is possible to do so. However, there are plans to expand the park to include a hotel and more attractions in the next few years. We would then encourage people to take their time to enjoy the park and facilities.
V : Venusbuzz.com understands that there is currently no standalone LEGO outlet in Asia. Tell us about the one that is opening in Legoland
SB : The Big Shop could just be one of the largest LEGO outlets in the world, it will carry the full range of LEGO sets. There is the Duplo range for infants, you can also customize your Minifigure in various configurations and pick a brick (amongst 280 different LEGO bricks) which are available by weight. These can be used to also replace missing pieces.
Note : Legoland Malaysia is currently running a discount on its pre-opening annual passes which will be valid til end of 2013. These will be available only for the next few weeks.
Pre-opening Annual Passes (Limited time only)
Child RM 150
Annual Pass (Normal price)
Adult – RM275
Child – RM210
Adult – RM140
Child – RM110
MyKad holders get a RM30 rebate at the gate
Further ticketing details will be available at LEGOLAND Malaysia