At last, the galaxy far, far away has come to Legoland Windsor. Just over a year after the Star Wars Miniland opened in Legoland California (read Dave Banks’ excellent write up of that one here) the Lego master builders have recreated all the same models again and brought them to UK, and to celebrate the opening of the Star Wars Miniland Experience, they had a special weekend-long, Star Wars-themed party and called it the Star Wars Invasion.
Originally, I hadn’t planned to go along as weekends at Legoland can get very busy, plus we’d already been to the new Harry Potter Studio Tour that Saturday, but it was lovely sunny morning when we woke up on the Sunday, so the munchkin and I decided to just do it – annual passes and living close by are great when making spur of the moment decisions! After an initial downer — leaving my cash sticking out of the cash machine and driving away (D’oh!) — we arrived nice and early, skipped past all the lines (another perk of the Merlin Pass) and headed straight for the new attraction.
The whole thing is housed inside the old Lego Racers arcade game section, which is both good and bad. The Racers game was getting very tired as it had been there from the beginning, and being indoors means you (and those precious millions of bricks) are safe from the unpredictable British weather. The downside is of course that is very hard to get decent photos of all the cool models, so apologies for the grainy, blurry or bleached out shots!
Over the doorway is an oversized Lego Millennium Falcon which leads you down to the first of the seven scenes. As far as I can tell they are the same as the ones in California, taking in all six movies and the Clone Wars:
- Clone Wars: A battle scene from Christophsis between droids and troopers
- Episode I: The Theed Royal Palace and hangar on Naboo and the droid invasion
- Episode II: The Geonosian execution arena and a battle scene, with gunships and hellfire droids
- Episode III: Order 66 on Kashyyyk and the duel on Mustafar
- Episode IV: Mos Eisley spaceport, the cantina and the moisture farm
- Episode V: Echo Base and The Battle of Hoth
- Episode VI: The forests and landing platform on Endor
I won’t bore you all by going through each scene, brick by brick – that’s what the photos are for – but I will quickly mention a few of my favorite bits. The Gunships over Genosis were pretty impressive and one of them even had a certain little green fellow on board – as pointed out to me by the munchkin. The Giant A6 Juggernaut Heavy Assault Vehicle (yes, I had to look that up on Wookieepedia) in the Kashyyyk scene was quite incredible – such a huge and detailed model for something that probably has about 10 seconds of screentime in the film, and it was fun trying to work out which Wookiee was Chewie.
The Falcon blasting its way out of Mos Eisley is HUGE! Nearly 20,000 bricks apparently, Han and Chewie are even in the cockpit. There’s a crawl tunnel leading to a viewing bubble in the middle of the scene too, which is fun for the little ones. In addition to the huge AT-ATs, Hoth features a Bacta Tank, the Wampa and tucked away at the back, Han and Chewie taking on the probe droid. The Imperial Shuttle on Endor is another monster of a model, but I liked Vader on the landing platform and a the speederbike spinning to its doom around a tree too.
Of course when your tour is finished, you’re led straight into a dedicated Star Wars shop, full of pretty much every set Lego sells. I was hoping to see the new R2-D2, but unfortunately only his life-size brother was around, together with C-3PO, Vader and Chewbacca, all made from thousands of bricks. There was also a display case showing all the Ultimate Collector models fully assembled, including the epic Super Star Destroyer and Death Star – which is probably the closest I’ll ever get to them!
I’m glad we decided to go along for the Invasion day, as Lego had pulled out all the stops to make it a fun-filled day for everyone. Loads of kids came along in fancy dress (I couldn’t even convince mine to wear the cool Leia T-Shirt I got for her at Christmas though), as did many adults – although they were mostly members of the 501st. We spotted Troopers, Imperial Officers, Biker Scouts, Rebel Pilots and even Endor Leia (no Slave Leias though; it was a family day after all!). However, I’m not sure Jedi Luke and Han were really feeling the fun! There were competitions running for finding them all and a stage set up as a Padawan Training facility, where several lucky students got to battle Lord Vader himself. Back up by the main entrance stood a replica of Luke’s Landspeeder, and whizzing around it where two full size radio controlled R2 units.
A great day out just got even better; I can’t wait until our next visit. In the meantime, there’s a slideshow of all of my photos from the invasion below, and the video at the top was put together from iPhone clips in about 15 minutes using iMovie on the iPad – a very hand bit of kit indeed.