ATM Ahoy!

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

The ATM kiosks were decorated in various themes at Legoland. This one was for the park’s Pirate Shores attraction. I’m not so certain that a pirate ATM is such a good idea. I made sure I counted my cash after using it.

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A condo made of stone-a


Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/5. ISO: 200)

Seen on the walls of Legoland’s Lost Kingdom Adventure ride, the true secret of how the Great Pyramids were built.

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No privacy


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/3.5. ISO: 200)


New York’s Grand Central Station is actually a cutaway in the Legoland interpretation of Manhattan. This gives a view of the interior of the world’s largest train station. People can see a subway train actually run under the terminal.  The main concourse is the centerpiece of the building but other smaller room are featured as well. In the subway level of the building, a Lego mugger using a banana to hold up a hapless mark. Nearby, a man in a public bathroom is answering the call of nature. I guess everything is on display in Legoland.

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Viva Las Vegas

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/3.5. ISO: 200)

Does what happens in Vegas, really stay in Vegas? In the Las Vegas section of Legoland’s Miniland USA, I saw a newly married Lego couple leaving a wedding chapel. I wonder if they were made from off-the-shelf parts or did they have to special-order them?

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Hear ye, hear ye


“Do you think that when they asked George Washington for ID that he just whipped out a quarter?” – Stephen Wright



(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

One of the fun things about the Legoland are some the whimsical details in the Miniland scale models. Hours and hours are put into designing the mini replicas and even more are put into assembling the literally millions of little bricks. I would imagine that the engineers and work people would need to blow off a little steam now and again.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

For instance, the Lego Mount Rushmore looks incredibly realistic, but upon closer examination, a work crew of little figures are cleaning out George Washington’s left ear with a giant Q-tip. I wonder what Lego earwax looks like?

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A Capitol idea


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/16. ISO: 200)


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/11. ISO: 200)

One of my favorite features of Legoland’s Miniland USA is the park’s representation of Washington DC. The Jefferson and Lincoln memorials are replicated in exacting detail, as well as the Supreme Court building, the Washington Monument and more.

(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/9. ISO: 200)


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/11. ISO: 200)

A Lego marching band that parades back and forth on the grounds of the Capitol is pretty cool to watch. The press corps (complete with cameras…I think I saw one that looked a little like me!) stands behind a barricade as a presidential motorcade drives though the streets of Washington. I guess Legoland doesn’t play any political favorites because there was no telling if it was Clinton, Obama or McCain sitting in the topless limo.

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Boxing day


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 19mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Lego and the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo have a partnership at the Legoland theme park. Anyone who drives to the park in a Volvo gets a discount on perferred parking. For its part, Volvo sponsors the park’s Junior Driving School where kids (and kids only) get to drive around in Lego/Volvo inspired go-kart-like cars.

Years ago Volvo car styling was, well, boring. The cars were well-built, economical and safe, but car magazines would describe Volvo designs as “the box they came in”. A few years ago, Volvo started making their cars look swoopy and sleek. Lines were more on the diagonal rather than 90 degrees straight up or down and there actual curves to their automobiles.

On display at Legoland was a full-scale Lego replica of a 2004 Volvo XC90. Built on an real Volvo chassis, the car took and average of 5 Lego builders over 2-1/2 months to assemble and used 201,076 Lego bricks. I bet they would would have an easier time if Volvo still had their boxy styling.

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All hands on deck


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/3.5. ISO: 200)

Like I said before, the Legoland attractions aren’t quite up to Disneyland standards, but they have an interactive quality that the House of Mouse lacks. There’s a ride that is pedaled like a bike. Another is a pirate boat ride where the riders turn cranks to spray water guns at other boats. My favorite was the Fun Town Fire Academy. The activity is actually a race. It involves teams operating firetrucks which were propelled via rail handcar-like levers, then shooting water through nozzels onto a target, and finally racing the firetruck back to the starting point.

We must’ve looked like easy marks, because when we boarded our truck my wife said that she heard the family next to us say that they were going to kick our butts. My daughter said she heard the family on the other side say the same thing. Ready, set, go and we were off. My son and I furiously pumped the handcar levers to get our truck going. We arrived at the end of the 20-yard, straight-line course in 2nd place. We jumped out and my wife and daughter manned the two levers of a fire hydrant-shaped water pump, while my son and I aimed the water cannons at our target. Soon the “fire” was out and we the first to all jump back into our bright red truck. My wife and I were now the ones manning the levers. We finished in first place, a satisfyingly full length over the next truck. I didn’t see, but my wife and daughter said the losers didn’t look too happy.

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Erector set


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 70mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/11. ISO: 200)

Upon entering Legoland, we saw some construction going on at the theme park. The Sea Life Aquarium is scheduled for completion in the Summer of 2008 (though from the looks of it, I’m not so sure they’ll make it by then). I know a lot of the Legoland thing is just an illusion, with the girders of the partially built structure looking more like an Erector Set, rather than building blocks. It was just a little disappointing to see that the actual construction didn’t include any of the plastic bricks.


(Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 70mm. Exposure: 1/250sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

I wonder what kind of fish the aquarium will have?

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Ulterior motive, part 1: Brickhouse


A 1:20 scale replica of the National Capitol dome in the Miniland USA portion of Legoland in Carlsbad. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 153mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

“No man does anything from a single motive” -  Samuel Taylor Coleridge


A pharaoh’s tomb in the Adventurer’s Club at Legoland. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/20 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

OK, we’ll do almost anything for ur children’s education, but we didn’t travel all the way down to San Diego to visit just the Mission. Our son is off-track and our middle school-aged daughter is on Spring break, so we decided to make a vacation out of it.

New York’s Chrysler Building in the Miniland USA portion of Legoland. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/11. ISO: 200)

San Diego calls itself “America’s Finest City”, And from a tourist point of view, the name rings pretty true. There are so many great things to do and see in and around the city, we didn’t have time enough for us to get to them all.


The Daytona Speedway, complete with moving race cars in the Miniland USA portion of Legoland. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Our first stop after the mission wasn’t actually in San Diego at all, but rather about 45 minutes to the north in Carlsbad: Legoland. We visited the theme park about 5-6 years ago when the kids were much younger, they’re at the upper age limit now (especially my daughter), but they still had a great time.

A Lego Statue of Liberty in the Miniland USA portion of Legoland. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Everything in the park is either made from, or carries a Lego theme of the plastic building bricks from the Denmark-based toy company. While there are similar attractions in Germany, the United Kingdom and of course, Denmark, the one in Carlsbad is the only one in the US.


A child drives a car at the Volvo Junior Driving School at Legoland. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 153mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

While not quite in the Disneyland-league, Legoland has a charm all it’s own. There are places for kids can have fun building their own Lego creations as well as programing a small Lego robot. Although not technically made out of Legos, there are rides based their adventure-themed toys.

The San Francisco skyline  replicated in Lego blocks in the Miniland USA portion of Legoland. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  70-200mm @ 70mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

The heart of Legoland is Miniland USA. The attraction features scale models of several US cities made entirely out of the little blocks. From San Francisco to New York, famous buildings representing seven regions of the country are all recreated in 1:20 scale in surprising detail.


A Lego sculpture of a tired tourist at Legoland. (Camera: Canon 20D. Lens: Canon  16-35mm @ 16mm. Exposure: 1/500sec., @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

Our experience at Legoland took us all day with a lot of walking involved. Although we didn’t get to see every feature,we had a fun time but we were dead tired at the end of the day.

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    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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