The World of Chima, which opened Wednesday at Legoland Florida, has all the trappings of a good time, especially for the 2 to 12-year-old crowd. We're talking water cannons, mini-ripcord powered vehicles and mystical animals shaped out of lego bricks.
The new three-acre area of the park is based on a new Lego line and Cartoon Network show, which began airing in January. It’s a fictional place full of mystical animals where all things revolve around chi, an energy source that gives the animals extraordinary powers. The only problem is: The crocodiles want the chi all to themselves.
As guests walk through the expanded area, which adds another two million lego bricks to the existing 56 million, they see the action-packed storyline played out through an interactive splash-battle water ride, water play area, 12-minute 4-D movie, gift shop and an area for racing mini-cars.
The main attraction is the “Quest for Chi,” an interactive splash battle. To find it, just pass under the Lion Temple, a massive stone-and-moss covered entryway by the 45-foot tall Mount Cavora, which seemingly floats on a fountain of water.
While standing in line for the ride, parents will appreciate the fact that the interactive queue is entirely covered from the Florida rays, is well equipped with fans and has flat screens throughout. Better yet, it also has an attached lego-build area where kids can practice their lego-crafting skills until it's time to board.
"Parents wait in line while kids play," says Adrian Jones, general manager of Legoland Florida. "That's another thing that we do really well. We're very clever in the way that we designed our queue line. We do that on every ride."
Guests hop aboard eight-person boats equipped with water cannons, which can be aimed at guests standing in line and vice versa. (Note: Nearly anyone can ride; you just need to be able to walk.) The goal is to help the hero Laval the Lion Prince defeat Cragger the Crocodile King in a quest to return the chi stolen by Cragger.
The best part of all is you don't have to stay seated as the boat meanders through the different Chima animal habitats. Unlike many theme-park attractions, there are no seat belts. And since the watercraft is slow moving, it’s a ride that’s enjoyable for the whole family.
"The key thing is that we don't do white-knuckle rides, we do pink-knuckle rides," says Jones.
Likewise, many of the attractions are extremely interactive. Take Speedorz Arena, for example, where kids can race mini-ripcord vehicles. Then, there's Cragger’s Swamp, where little ones enter the Croc tribe’s hideout and find a foggy swamp full of bubbles, water spouts and interactive elements. To top it off, kids get to meet Laval and Cragger, the rock stars of the Chima world, at daily character meet and greets.
Don't worry, though, the adult set is not left hanging. Each area has shade and seating. And the 4-D movie inside the 700-seat theater is a nice break from the Florida sun, too; for 12 minutes, guests are entertained with wind, water and smoke effects.
"This project is quite unusual," says Jones. While many theme parks create themed lands once a brand is well known, Legoland has done quite the opposite --creating a theme park around the launch of a show.
"We've made a huge investment," says Jones. "And Chima is not established yet."
But Jones says he's not worried. If it's anything like Ninjago, a wildly successful Lego storyline based on ninjas, kids will take to it easily.
Getting there: It takes about 45 minutes to get from Walt Disney World to Legoland Florida.
Cost: $79 for adults 13 - 59; $71 for children 3 - 12 or seniors 60 and older
More information: florida.legoland.com
What else: If you upgrade your ticket, you'll gain access to the water park.