Lego Star Wars Miniland experience (Legoland Windsor) pictures and hands-on
The Lego Star Wars Miniland experience opens to the public on the 16 March in the UK and Pocket-lint managed to sneak in for a private viewing ahead of the grand opening to find out what all the fuss is about.
Taking more than a year to plan and a team of four six months to build, the Lego Star Wars Miniland experience recreates pivotal scenes from the movies (and Clone Wars cartoon series) in seven huge dioramas.
Installed at Legoland in Windsor in what used to be the Creation Centre / Racers ride, the new experience will let you walk through taking in the models before getting a chance to buy as much Star Wars Lego as your credit card will handle, in the dedicated Star Wars shop at the end.
Like Miniland already at the park, this isn't a ride, but a series of models for you to gaze at - albeit in a dark room.
While die-hard Lego fans will tell you this is one of three identical sets around the world, this is the first to be inside - a plus the Lego team tell us when it comes to the British weather - and therefore the first to feature lights and music.
The first diorama is enjoyed in the queue and is more of a bonus, to be fair. It's a battle scene from Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.
All the models in the experience are made from Lego bricks rather than just Minifigs and are built in 1:20 scale. Before you start to wonder, Lego tell us the model makers used around 1.5 million bricks to build the 2000 models.
Once you've finished in the queue the dioramas start in earnest, slowly taking you through the six movies.
For the first three, most of the focus is on the big battles, with little time spent on the Pod racing or the love story that follows Anakin and Padmé. It does feature the final battle sequence between Anakin and Obi Wan at the end of episode three, however.
Star Wars, the original, is represented by Tatooine complete with Storm Troopers, the sand people, the Millennium Falcon, and the Cantina bar. Hidden almost out of sight are Han Solo and Greedo.
A flick of a blue switch - which takes a forever to come on - sets off a light and sound show that lasts for around 30 seconds. Sometimes it's just lights and noises, but other times the models move and, in the case of the Millennium Falcon on Tatooine, it lights up and starts to take off.
The Tatooine diorama is also the only one that your kids will be able to see from a different perspective. There is a tunnel underneath with a viewing bubble. Expect to lose your kids.
All the darkness suddenly ends, albeit briefly, for the bright lights of Hoth in the next room, and here the battle played out in Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back can be enjoyed.
Again the attention to detail is fantastic, and we especially like the ice cave scene with Luke Skywalker and its cool blue light.
The final room is Endor, featuring Ewoks, Darth Vader and the scene with Han Solo and Princess Leia with Chewie and the droids trying to get into the satellite uplink station.
At the end you are back in the shop, no doubt keen to buy models that will help you relive the excitement at home.
Strangely there are plenty of noticeable exclusions. We never found Yoda, Jabba, Boba Fett, nor is the Death Star featured. It is also worth mentioning that the Star Wars Miniland experience is very dark, will no doubt be crowded, and you will probably have to go a couple of times to catch all the minute details the build team have included. We almost missed Han Solo and Greedo for example. It is going to be hard to take photos.
The final concern is that it will be very easy to lose your young kids. We went with a 6 and 4-year-old. Both got lost at some point within the "experience". Don't worry, we found them again very quickly.
All that said, this is a great addition to Legoland and one that you'll want to keep going back to see over and over and over again.