Happy Birthday, Legoland!
The company famous for its interlocking bricks opened the first Legoland theme park in its hometown of Billund, Denmark, on this day in 1968. The attraction featured detailed city scenes modeled in bricks and drew 3,000 visitors on opening day and 625,000 visitors in its first year.
The Billund park remained the only Legoland until
1999 1996 when international expansion began — first in Windsor, England, followed by parks in Carlsbad, California, and Günzburg, Germany. These days, the average Legoland sees about 1.5 million visitors each year.
The Lego Group doesn’t own the parks anymore, however. They were sold in 2005 to an entertainment-management group as part of a corporate restructuring. However there continues to be a tight partnership between the the companies.
There are some roller coasters and other rides: The Volvo driving school, where kids get to drive go-kart–size cars on an open course and earn their own “driver’s licenses,” is very popular. But the parks rely heavily on Lego models for their decor: The California Legoland has 15,000 individual models, created from more than 35 million bricks, sprinkled throughout the 128-acre park.
The international popularity of the parks for young and old continues to grow, and there are plans to open new Legoland theme parks in Malaysia, Dubai and Florida within the next five years.
The original version of this article misstated the year Legoland Windsor opened.
Image courtesy Lego Group
Cross-posted with This Day in Tech