Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Legoland, Malaysia: The Highs & Lows

So, during this past Chinese New Year holidays, we finally made our way to Legoland, Malaysia which (in case you didn't know), is located right in the backyard of my kampung, Johor Bahru. I had promised the little one a trip during the first term break in March, but being the awesome dad I am (ahem), I naturally over-delivered.

Anyway, since we were staying in the centre of town at KSL Resorts, we got out reasonably early that day and took the new coastal highway to Legoland. And what an easy drive that was. The signboards came rather late, but it was pretty much a straight line once you get into the highway. And no, I didn't remember paying any toll. So I guess we're safe, at least for now :)

Once we got within the vicinity, all of us just went "Whoa!" when we saw the huge Legoland sign ala the world-famous Hollywood one. THEN, the first sign this was still in Malaysia happened...

Despite being early, we had to queue for a long while to get into the HUGE parking area, just because they made us stop and take a ticket from this ONE guy operating the barrier manually. Ugghh. Seriously, I've raised this matter before when the other Johor attraction, JPO, first opened. Why the need to profit from parking fees?

With Legoland, I had already paid RM390 for tickets, and there was no doubt I'd be spending more on food and merchandise, why so "hadap" on the parking fees? I'm sure the management team have made their "lawatan sambil belajar" before the park's opening, so surely they must have seen that such a scenario does not happen in Australia, Korea, the US etc. Priority should always be on customer convenience. Especially with a location like Legoland where most people would go there in private cars, easy access into the parking area should be of paramount importance. And for what it's worth, the area was not even properly tarred!

OK, OK, let me move on now. And it didn't look good immediately though as we were then faced with a slew of ticket touts. Most of whom were conducting business under signs warning us about dealing with ticket touts! Sigh...

I can go on and on, but let's get to the good stuff now... Starting with the absence of queues at the entry point, hurrah! And just standing there taking photos gave us a sense of fun and joy as a feel-good soundtrack played over the PA system.

It was rather dark that morning though, but we were still determined to make the best out of the day. Armed with the park map, we started exploring the various rides and attractions. Kiddo had a great time taking her Legoland driving license, and despite the drizzle at this point in time, it didn't ruin her semangat in any way.

We also got to the Miniland area, which drew oohs and aahs from us and the rest of the visitors. The structures were magnificently built! Definitely the spot for cool photo opps.

We also caught a show at the auditorium and guess what, yours truly was pulled up on stage to show off his percussion (non) skills during the CNY-themed show. Hehe.

Then it was time for lunch and we made our way to the Market Restaurant which had local and western set meals. I think I paid RM27 for the western and RM25 for the local chicken rice meals. I've read on some blogs complaining about the price and I have to say that I agree. I was prepared to pay a bit more, this being an international theme park, but I really think food prices here could be 15-20% cheaper.

But what was most shocking about the Market Restaurant was... the various leaks in the air-con vent! Yup, we had to move places a couple of times as the areas were getting somewhat flooded. I then did a quick survey and found leaks elsewhere in the restaurant. Yes, a ridiculous thing to happen at a newly-opened place!

The fun then continued at Lego Kingdom with more cool stuff to explore.

But just as we got to the Imagination area, a thunderstorm broke out and dozens of us got stranded under one of the play areas for close to an hour. We were warned by many about the blistering heat before going there, but what we experienced was exactly the opposite! When the rain subsided, we went on to catch the 4D show. It was cool in the beginning, but there was a technical glitch halfway thru that left everyone going "huh?" at the end of the show. Hope they've got that fixed.

Before we proceeded to Lego Technic, we stopped by the Lego train station for a ride around the park. There was already a long queue, but what irked everyone was the lack of announcements by the staff on the status of the train. True, the rain must have screwed up operations, but it wouldn't have hurt to inform everyone of the estimated waiting time. In the end, we quit the queue like most everyone else.

We then walked past Lego Technic but since it was already close to 5pm, we decided to call it a day. But not before checking out the merchandise store. Bought a few things, but again, I thought prices could be 15-20% cheaper. I mean the stuff was definitely more expensive than, say, Dreamworld and Movie World in Gold Coast Australia.

So, final verdict? I'd still give it 4 stars out of 5. It's world class alright, but the stuff I mentioned above should be rectified immediately. We'll definitely go back since there's still a lot more to explore. And it was actually good to see so many foreign tourists around, but I couldn't help but overhear them comparing Legoland to Universal Studios in Singapore and other theme parks around the world. So, do take note, Legoland!


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