San Diego Union-Tribune
July 1, 2016
The tallest Lego model in the U.S.
By Lori Weisberg
Legoland California debuts its replica of One World Trade Center in its Mini Land New York exhibit area within the Carlsbad park. It’s the tallest Lego model in the U.S. Courtesy of Sandy Huffaker/Legoland
Just in time for the Independence Day weekend, Legoland is showing off an extensive remodel of its New York miniland, dominated by a towering replica of Manhattan’s One World Trade Center.
At 26 feet tall and more than 250,000 Lego bricks, the skyscraper is the tallest Lego model in the U.S. (A 60-foot-tall replica of the 160-story Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai is awaiting the opening of Legoland Dubai this October.) It alone took eight master model builders more than 1,200 hours to build the trade center replica.
Unveiled on Thursday, the tower is part of a whole new section of the miniland devoted to replicating the feel and look of the memorial in lower Manhattan created to honor the thousands killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The memorial’s twin reflecting pools, the grove of memorial trees, World Trade Center Transportation Hub and even the museum building are all represented in the renovated miniland.
Legoland’s master builders even created a tower viewer fashioned from Lego bricks that allows individuals to get a birds-eye view of the Manhattan tableau from atop the World Trade Center Lego tower.
Legoland’s version of New York’s 9/11 Memorial includes Lego replicas of the twin reflecting pools. Sandy Huffaker/Legoland
"Instead of using glass binoculars like what are used for the coin-operated binoculars (at sightseeing landmarks), we used a digital camera mounted on top of our One World Trade Center, and it's connected to a Lego-built viewfinder that guests can look into to get a birds-eye view of New York miniland,” explained master model builder Rob McCarthy. “It’s a very wide angle so you can also see yourself.”
Nearly a year in the making, the redesigned New York area includes a number of new buildings, a dozen more moving automobiles and a subway system with new cars and tracks that are illuminated and feature sound effects that mimic the real thing.
One of the biggest challenges constructing the One World Trade Center model, McCarthy said, was that it could not be entirely assembled in the indoor Lego model-building shop. Instead, the model builders crafted the tower in sections and assembled it on the site of the miniland, McCarthy explained.
“Two things I love is watching guests come in and the children’s eyes lighting up when they see how how huge these buildings are and how they are really made of Lego bricks,” McCarthy said. “The second thing is when the adults and children realize the detail and you see them spending a lot of time examining those details and how it was put together, so that's very rewarding because the size of all this can be overwhelming.”
© 1995-2016 The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC