My conference had now ended, so it was time for a bit of relaxing post-conference travel in Denmark. Jacqueline would be joining me for the remainder of the weekend. I had given her the option of either heading to Copenhagen or Billund, the latter being the home of Legoland, and she made no hesitation in her decision.
I left my AirBnB early in the morning to catch a local bus to the train station. From there, I caught a train to Vejle. Finally, I was back on the European continent; both Odense and Copenhagen are situated on islands. I planned to spend the rest of my time in Denmark in and around the Jutland peninsula.
In Vejle, I went to the neighbouring bus station to find a bus that would head directly to the Legoland park. It was easy to find; there was a cardboard Legoland logo sat in the front window of the bus. Once on board, the bus headed straight up the main road all the way direct to Billund. The first stop was at the Billund airport. As we drove past, I could see Jacquline’s plane landing, but I stayed on the bus until I was around the corner at the park entrance. I queued up among the busy morning crowds for a ticket, and by the time I had purchased one, Jacqueline had arrived as well.
We got a park map and left our bags in the luggage lockers. We now had all day to explore the park. The Legoland park at Billund is the oldest Lego theme park. The original Lego factory was in Billund, and the Lego head offices still remain there. The airport, now one of the largest in Denmark, is mostly used for cargo and charter planes for the company. Hence, the park had been on my radar of places to visit ever since I was a Lego fan as a young child. In particular, I was looking forward to visiting the Minilands, small scale Lego villages and cities. But we decided to save them for later, and head out towards the rides.
We passed by the safari area, where there were life size models of a number of African and European animals. Most of the areas of the park had been installed decades ago and not updated much since. It was easy to pick when an area had been built, because the pre-minifigure areas had people built in a caricature style, but the post-minfigure areas had large scale brick build minifigures. The particular themes also represented now-deprecated Lego themes.
We decided to try the water-based rides first, so we could dry off for later on. This meant heading to Pirate Land, where one ride involved firing water cannons from ship onto passers by, who had water cannons with which to fire back. We also tried a flume ride and a hovercraft ride in Adventure Land. Next, we headed to the roller coasters: there was one in Jungle Land and one in Polar Land. The latter we tried several times as the line was quite short, and Jacqueline liked to see the Lego builds of Arctic animals from her native Canada. It was also additionally entertaining because the ride finished by reaching the end of the rails, and then the cart and rails would undergo a short, unexpected freefall before returning to the start. There was also a penguin enclosure for some unexplained reason.
One of our favourite rides for the day was the so-called Ice Pilots school. Inside, you are given an electronic card, onto which you load a series of manoeuvres for the ride to take you on. Once you get into the ride proper, you and a friend are sat in a harness which is attached to a robotic arm which will spin, lift, drop, rotate or invert you based on the selections you chose. Jacqueline and I naturally went for the most extreme ones we could find, and had a lot of fun being flipped and thrown around.
It was about time for lunch, so we headed back through the Castle Land to a small American, Western-style village. We grabbed some food from one of the shops and sat and ate for a while. From there, we made our way up to the most recent addition to the park, which was based on a newer Lego theme called Ninjago. It was here, after lunch, that the queues started to get a bit longer. But one of the best features of the park, was that the queues made their way round large bins of Lego bricks, so you could build things as you made your way along the queue. The most interesting ride here was a hall of lasers which you had a time limit to run through, without breaking the lasers.
It was now time to head to the Minilands. The first group that we encountered were all based from Lego Star Wars, with set scenes from each of the films. This was followed by a number of scale builds of skyscrapers, ranging from the One World Trade Centre up to the Burj Khalifa. But the most interesting part was the older parts. I spent ages wandering around the scale representations of Danish and Northern European villages, which each had a large number of trains, cars, trucks and boats all moving around them autonomously (following a predesignated timing). It was extensive, and there were so many little details that I was continuously impressed with. In particular, there was one display which had a working lock system. The boat would enter lock, the lock would raise or lower the water level, the gates would open and the boat would continue on. Also impressive was a truck which drove onto a ferry to be taken across a harbour.
There were other elements which impressed me for their size and scale. There was a scale model of the Kennedy space centre, with a smoke machine and flashing lights. There was also a scale model of the Billund airport, with all of the associated planes and support vehicles driving about. Finally, there was a representation of an oil rig and some offshore wind turbines. I kept wandering through it all trying to take it all in.
The day was waning, so we headed out to redo the rides we had enjoyed the most, and check for any of the parts to the Miniland we had missed. Then finally, we did the thing the Lego company wanted us to the most: by some toys from their shop. We then headed for the exit as the park was closing, and walked into town to see if we could find a restaurant that was open. Despite hosting an international airport, the town itself was very small, so we could only find a few restaurants. Finally, we went to the bus station and caught a bus a few miles out of town to the tiny village of Ny Nørup, where we had pre-booked an AirBnB for the few days of our stay. We checked in and took the opportunity to relax from our busy day out.