Hoping to bring in more visitors, Legoland California has made some minor updates to their Star Wars miniland area, as well as hosting a series of Star Wars Days over the past few weekends to hype up the fun over the Spring Break period. Costumed members of the 501st and Rebel Legion were on hand to help add to the festivities in the Carlsbad theme park.
While Star Wars miniland only opened a year ago with seven dioramas (one for each of the main saga movies, and one for The Clone Wars,) in the theme park industry, you’ve got to keep things fresh (or at least advertise as such) to attract visitors. So this year, the Lego builders have created several additions to the miniland area:
- A line of large-scale statues of Star Wars mini-figures. Each LEGO statue has a plaque describing the iconic character depicted in their mini-figure form. Pulling from the movies and television, we have Darth Maul, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Wicket, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Yoda, Captain Rex, and Anakin Skywalker.
- The Naboo diorama depicting The Phantom Menace has gotten a big upgrade: one side has been turned into an underwater view of the opee sea killer striking the bongo submersible. Additionally, the battle scene between the Gungan Army and Trade Federation might have been expanded, with some of the Gungan beasts pulling in loads of energy balls, and one clumsy Gungan.
- The Tatooine diorama for A New Hope had a 17,000 piece Sandcrawler added, showing the sale of the droids outside the Lars moisture farm. Elsewhere, Jawas riding a ronto now appears in the streets of Mos Eisley.
- The Cristophsis scene for The Clone Wars has a second large building added to the background, allowing Rex and some jet-pack-wearing clonetroopers to jet into the battle between the Separatist droids and Republic forces.
- Minor changes in the other dioramas: On Endor, one scene depicts the Rebel forces caught in the Ewok net trap, while the furry denizens appear below, ready to capture their prey. Elsewhere, Leia and Wicket meet on a log. On Hoth, the probe droid now has company: Han and Chewie, while a giant ion cannon has been added to the background of the Echo Base area (and Luke dangling from an AT-AT is now motorizes to zip up and down). On Mustafar, Anakin’s starfighter is now on the landing platform, as well as Padme’s shuttle, and on Geonosis, the nexu attacking Padme is now animated to move up and down the pillar.
- Back at the park entrance, a new life-size statue of Darth Maul greets visitors (or maybe just scares them).
During the opening weekend, the official ribbon cutting was attended by several children from the Make-A-Wish foundation, while events were held for the visitors: a little costumed pageant at the park gates when Legoland opened, a 501st Legion droid hunt, costume contests for the kids, a scavenger hunt for Darth Maul figures hiding in Miniland USA, Jedi trivia, and showings of LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace. Over later weekends, the Maul scavenger hunt continued, as well as more costumed appearances by Rebel Legion and 501st Legion members. Also helping out during the opening weekend were members several local LEGO user groups and From Bricks to Bothans, the SW Lego group.
The overall expansion to Star Wars miniland is not major. Other than the gallery of mini-figures and the Opee Sea Killer and Sandcrawler, most of the updates might not even be noticed by casual returning visitors. During the opening weekend, I was excited to see so many families wearing Star Wars t-shirts – kids and adults. And a lot of children competing in the costume contest. While some wore off-the-rack costumes, others had some unique and awesome creations, including a two-person AT-AT costume. But the big winners were an Imperial power droid, a LEGO ARC trooper, and an Aurra Sing. I would recommend that Star Wars fans try to visit during the periodic Star Wars Days that Legoland schedules a few weekends during the year, to maximize your fun from the galaxy far, far away.