Billund, Denmark – The Birthplace of LEGO
For as long as I could remember hearing that there was a Lego themed amusement park in Denmark I had wanted to go. Growing up Legos were a staple in my toy bin. I had numerous containers full of Legos that I would spend Christmas break or a rainy summer day building cities out of. An entire life sized amusement park full of Legos seemed like a dream world. And in July of 2019 I was able to make that dream come true by spending a day in Billund, Denmark.
Billund is very small town, with a population under 7000 people, located in the middle of nowhere Denmark. My wife and I flew into the Lego capital late in the evening on a small plane full of about 20 other people after a layover in Copenhagen. The airport we landed into was surprisingly large for a city so small but still only consisted of a handful of baggage claim carousels where we retrieved our luggage. It was after midnight by the time we were ready to go to our hotel and the only option to get around was to take a taxi. There isn’t any Uber in Denmark.
The hotel we stayed at, The Refborg Hotel, was located in the middle of Billund a block away from the newly built Lego House attraction. Since we arrived so late in the day the reception desk was closed, but a key to our room had been left for us in the lobby. It wasn’t too long after we settled into our room for the night that we went to bed.
We didn’t have to wake up too early the next morning, since neither the Lego House nor the amusement park opened until 10 am. We had plenty of time to grab breakfast at the hotel before we took the short walk to the Lego House. The weather outside was overcast with a slight breeze. It was a cool morning and felt more like mid-October rather than mid-July.
We arrived at the Lego House just before opening. The doors into the building opened up into a large room a few stories tall. A large spiral staircase wrapped around a giant Lego tree rose up in the middle of the room behind a gated entrance to the attractions. There was a gift shop to one side of the area that we took some time to look around before the attractions opened for the day. There were a handful of families with kids milling around the floor, also waiting for the attractions within the house to open. It was a little surprising that there weren’t more people there considering it was peak tourist season.
Once the gates to the attractions did open we were able to enter and climb the large spiral staircase to the different floors of the house. Upon redeeming our tickets at the entrance we were given a wristband that included a barcode that we would scan at various stations throughout the house. At the top of the stairs we came to a room with some life size Lego dinosaurs. From this room we had various options as to what zone we wanted to go to. Each zone had a different color and theme associated with the activities that were involved.
The first zone we went to included building your own Lego racecar. There were bins in the middle of the zone filled with Lego parts for building a car to your liking. On either side of the bins were two types of tracks to test out your vehicle. One was set up with a ramp and a ring to jump your car through. The other was set up to go head to head against a friend to see who built the faster contraption. I built my car and tested it out on the track with the ring to jump through. It didn’t make it the first few times so I made some modifications. After a few more tries my car flew over the ramp, through the ring and landed on the other side. Soon after my wife had completed her car and we were able to race side by side down the short track. We each set our vehicles behind the gate, pushed the go button and a timer above counted down from 3. On “Go” the gate dropped and the car zoomed down the track. I don’t remember exactly but I’m pretty sure my car won. Each of the activities throughout the Lego House had stations in which we scanned our wristbands. Many of these stations were for photos of the Lego structures that we had built. The station near the race tracks took a photo of you and your car.
The next area we discovered was in another room adjacent to the one with the racetracks. This room had a few large tables in the middle that were filled with grids and some Lego structures. There were also multiple bins full of all types of Legos to build a structure of our liking. We were limited on how large to build our structures by starting with a 6×6 base. Once a structure was complete you would put on one of the squares on the grid tables. Upon setting your structure on the grid the block would light up like a screen and a road with Lego cars and people would appear around it connecting your structure to all the other structures that were on the table. Since we were there so early in the day there weren’t many buildings in the city as of yet.
The first structure I build was a just a random building I made from putting some pieces together. While the bins were filled with Legos to choose from the options were somewhat limited as to what could be made. I next made a tree since I thought the grids needed some greenery. I probably could have spent longer here a continued to build enough structures for an entire city skyline but we needed to move on at some point to find out what else was in store.
Around the corner from the room with the cities was another, smaller room with a large table in the middle. This table was lit up like a screen with animation and Lego robots moved around on top of it. There were stations laid out around the table with touch screens that were for controlling the robots. When we got into the room there was a short line we had to stand in to wait our turn. Once it was our time, our wristbands were scanned and our names appeared on the station touchscreen. There were several options on the screen to be able to control the robot. You could go forward, backward, turn left, right and determine how far to turn, as well as have your robot spit out virtual fire or ice on the screen on the table. The robot was a vehicle with wheels and only rolled a few inches every time you told it to move.
The screen on the table was set up with an ice age theme to make it look like you were moving your robot over the snow and ice. There were parts of screen that were water as well. If you moved your robot towards the water it would stop and not go any further. This is where we made the robot spit out virtual ice to freeze the water on the screen and create a path for the robot to continue over it. On the screen were also mounds of frozen Eskimo like Lego people and animals. The goal of the activity was to unfreeze as many of these as you could in a certain amount of time.
There was a little bit of a learning curve to trying to control the robot. My first few times of moving the robot I would turn it too far or not far enough. I was not close enough to unfreeze some of the Lego people and animals at first. But I picked up on it pretty quick and was soon unfreezing the little Lego mammals all over the place. When time was up the touchscreen at my station told me how many Legos I had unfrozen. I don’t remember what the exact number was but it seemed like it was a lot. The photo that we were given at the end of this activity was of a newspaper with our name on it praising us for saving the frozen Lego people.
The next stop on our tour through the Lego House took us to a room where we built our own custom mini figure. The bins in this room were filled with all of the different piece to build a mini figure that you would expect. A head, an upper body, legs and an assortment of accessories. I decided to make a medieval skeleton knight. I then took my figure to one of the stations and took a photo of the figure. I was then able to select from a variety of backgrounds to set my mini figure in. I didn’t find this area all that exciting as putting a mini figure together didn’t take very long and didn’t lend to a ton of open creativity.
The final interactive zone we experienced was building a Lego fish. Again the room was filled with bins of Legos in which to build a sea creature out of. Once I had my fish build I took it to an augmented reality station where I added eyes and a mouth. There were large screens in this room that projected animated fish tanks. After I put the face on my fish I then brought it over to the screen where I set it in another box and the fish then came alive within the screen and started to swim around amongst all the other Lego swimmers others had built.
By this time we had walked around the many floors and rooms of the Lego House and had made our way back to the main floor and outside of the paid activity area. There was one more place to go within the house, the history museum. This was located on the lower level of the building. We made our way down there and explored pretty much on our own. There were barely any other people in the museum. In here was a timeline of Lego and the company from its beginnings to the modern day. It showed how Lego initially started as a wooden toy company and took us on a journey to the current line of Legos. It was pretty interesting and gave a lot of information I didn’t know about Lego. It was also our own step back in time as my wife and I pointed out the different Legos we had in the 80s and 90s during our childhood.
It was early afternoon by the time we were ready to leave the Lego House. With kids and more time we could have easily spent the entire day there, however we also needed to get to the Legoland amusement park just down the road. While the back of the park was near the Lego House, the entrance was about a mile away. Conveniently during the summer months there is a free bus that runs between the amusement park, Lego House, the airport and multiple hotels, including our own. We hopped on the bus and after a few stops and a ride around Billund we arrived at the entrance of Legoland.
There weren’t too many people going in or out at that time and even as we started to make our way into the first parts of the park it wasn’t very crowded. The weather was still a little cool and overcast so it wasn’t a great day to spend outdoors. However that would change as the day went on.
We looked at a map of the park through the phone app that came in really handy. The app told us where we were in the park, how long it would take to get anywhere and how long the lines were for any given attraction. It was nearing lunch time so we decided to look for something to eat. But first we came across one of the many Lego replica model areas. This area was Star Wars themed and had a scene from each of the first 6 movies. These weren’t just still models, they had sound and movement to them, but that is to be expected with Legos.
After this we found the food area of the park, we also found where the crowds were. The lines for most of the vendors were at least 10-15 people long. We determined what line was shortest and what sounded good and settled on hot dogs. They weren’t quite like American hot dogs with a bun, but had more of a pretzel like outside that they put ketchup or another type of sauce that we really weren’t sure about inside the pretzel and then slid the hot dog in it. Overall they were pretty good, but not very filling.
The weather started to turn for the better as the afternoon wore on. The sun came out from under the clouds, which warmed up the air and it ended up being a pretty nice afternoon to spend at the park. We rode some rides, saw a couple of shows, including a 3D Lego movie, and even learned about some penguins that were on display. When the day turned into the evening the crowds started to thin out some and the lines to wait for the rides got shorter.
One of the last areas we went to was the mini city area that included Lego replicas of cities from around the world. Most of them were from Europe and Scandinavia in particular, but there were also buildings from New York, the Middle East and China. We spent about 20 minutes walking around this mini village and I still think we didn’t catch everything that was there. It really was amazing how close the Lego versions looked like the real thing.
By the time we went through all the stores it was almost 8 pm and even though the sun was still pretty high in the sky, the park was getting ready to close. We hopped on the bus that took us back towards our hotel and stopped at a pizza place, which was quite crowded, and got some dinner. We were pretty exhausted at this point in the day and had to catch an early flight the next morning. After dinner we called it a night so we could at least get some rest before waking up at 5 am to catch a cab to the airport.
I was really glad I got to experience Billund and all the Lego activities it offers. The Lego House was the highlight of the day. Its interactive activities were world class and offered something unique and fun, even for adults. Legoland was like most any other theme park and was a little outdated but was still fun. Billund is somewhere that I would recommend to anyone that has a love for Legos if you have the time to get there.