Legoland Florida, just 45 minutes’ drive from Lake Buena Vista, debuted its latest attraction on 23 March, taking their former Project X wild mouse coaster and turning it into a virtual reality (VR) car race filled with tight turns, daring drops, a 360-degree panorama…and some of the zany Minifigure characters that have become beloved icons in the park.
Project X coaster was always popular with the 6-and-up crowd, but this new incarnation adds an even more exciting—and totally different—element to the standard crazy mouse design. Strap on a virtual reality headset and this kid-friendly coaster becomes The Great LEGO Race, a wacky road rally that seems to careen all over the place and gives the impression you’re going much, much faster than the coaster’s actual 35mph.
The competition is fierce, too. You’re up against Team Pirate in their turbine-powered dinghy; Team Pharaoh’s mummified servants bearing their captain in a canopied litter; Team Surfer on a rocket-powered windsurfing rig; Team Wizard in their dragon-themed hot-rod; and Team Trendy, with its scooter and side car fueled by espresso.
And because guests are all kids at heart when they’re in Legoland, the normal laws of gravity don’t apply during the race. Riders ricochet wildly through animated settings made entirely of LEGO bricks, including a forest, mountain, desert, volcano and one heck of a rapid river. With cannon fire going off, magic spells flying left and right, rocks falling all around and farm animals doing their best to impede your progress, you’re going to need some fancy moves to avoid complete disaster.
Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, but help is on the way. Two of the fastest road pavers you’ll ever see in your entire life lay down a track for you when you’re forced to detour, and it’s just possible your vehicle has the ability to fly when so required.
Your headset allows you to look in every direction to see the craziness going on around you, making repeat rides as exciting as the first ride. In fact, in some ways the second ride is even more fun as you discover just how wacky this VR world really is!
So what is the actual experience like? Riding with the headset offers a very different sensation to riding without it, and that’s good news for guests who aren’t that keen on roller coasters. You don’t feel the drops, twists or turns as much, and instead, you get a sensation of moving with the on-screen vehicle you’re in as you become totally immersed in the ride’s story. Your point of view is that of a driver, so you don’t really see your own car, all of which makes this hilarious rally even more convincing.
The entire brick-built environment is extremely 3-dimensional, and there is so much to see, you’re going to want to ride again and again just to take in all the detail, and to fully experience the virtual explosion of action that surrounds you. Kids adore seeing all the LEGO characters they’ve come to know and love, and adults will appreciate the massive amount of imagination that went into creating this lively, comical romp.
We won’t give away the surprise ending of the race, but as it nears its conclusion and all the teams make a final push for the finish line, the VR simulation goes into slow motion, which is an odd but enjoyable sensation that makes for the perfect finale. Can Team Speed overcome the absolute chaos as each of the five other competitors battle it out? Who will raise the championship cup in a burst of glory, as all the citizens of Minifigure-land cheer in their honour? We’ll leave that for you to discover, but suffice to say, no-one leaves disappointed.
There are a few safety requirements, though, as there are for all attractions. The Great LEGO Race riders must be at least 6 years old and 48 inches tall (1.21m) to use the VR headset. Guests between 42-47 inches (1.06-1.19m) can ride with a companion who is at least 14 years old and 48 inches tall, though both must ride without wearing the headset. Guests using a wheelchair must be able to transfer, and those with a full cast on an arm or leg may not ride.
Model Citizens (those fabulous employees who make sure you’re having a great time in the park) provide safety information as you board your vehicle, and give you full instructions on how to use the special clip that tethers your headset to the vehicle, how to tighten the headset for maximum comfort, and how to adjust the screen’s focus to ensure the best viewing experience. And, in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, every headset is cleaned with a sanitizing pad after each ride.
What happens if you decide using the VR headset isn’t your thing once the race starts? No worries. It’s tethered to your vehicle, so you can remove it at any time. Of course, if you prefer not to use the headset at all, that’s just fine too. You’re still in for a wild ride, where everyone comes off saying, “That was AWESOME!”
The Great LEGO Race is the newest addition to the park, but there is more to come in 2018, including a brand new LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens MINILAND model display and a new 4-D movie for the LEGO NINJAGO area, called Master of the 4th Dimension.
When you make the trip over to Winter Haven to visit Legoland, remember to bring along a few Minifigures so you can trade with the Model Citizens, and, if you feel like a winner after your great LEGO race, treat yourself to a supply of yellow bricks so you can build your own Champion’s Cup. Happy racing!
Looking for Legoland tickets? Don’t have a car and need transportation to the park? Attraction Tickets Direct has you covered! Check out all the options here.
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