Hey you! Don’t forget to check out my Review of the Legoland Malaysia theme park! if you’re thinking of visiting!
During the Raya Holidays, me and Jaron decided to make the long trip down to Legoland Malaysia to pick up our Annual Passes after getting that long awaited alert that Annual Pass Redemptions were finally underway. As an added plus, we were also informed that we The Big Shop was up and running and that we were also given leave to roam about “The Beginning” of the park after picking up our passes!
TL;DR Park service staff excellent. Stupid ALJ pricing. Nice exclusives at The Big Shop. Pick A Brick price rumoured to be RM30-35 for 100gms. Build a Minifig – RM25 for 3 minifigs. Freebies if you enter the park early.
Edit: Reader Charles T tipped me that the Legoland staff told him that there would be a 10-20% opening sale on September 15th. Going to peg this as a rumour, but am not totally surprised at all. Assuming the highest bracket (20%), might be a good time to pick up a Death Star for RM1,600, UCS R2-D2 for RM720 or the Volkswagen T1 Camper Van for RM400. The T1 would be an especially good deal and I would be very very tempted to get it for RM400, so fingers crossed that we get a 20% discount.
The drive down was pretty uneventful as the traffic going down south from Kuala Lumpur was pretty smooth. We stopped at Muar to meet with another friend for breakfast and got to the park at about 1pm. I was kinda peeved that they only started the redemptions from 12.00 noon. It would’ve been much more convenient to let it start a little earlier at like 10am, since the drive took about 4 hours (because of the slight Hari Raya jam). With normal traffic conditions on the North-South Expressway, I expect it to take 3 – 3.5 hours at most to get you to Nusajaya.
Rant 1: I think it’s a really really poor move on Legoland Malaysia’s part making us travel all the way down to Johor to pick up our annual passes. I like to think that I’m an exception, evident by me being crazy enough to drive down all the way and back in one day but seriously, to expect regular joes to do the same is pushing it. Legoland is marketed at families, with young kids amirite? Driving down and back is no mean feat with little children who HAVE to be there for their photo IDs. Arriving at the park, the photo IDs were printed on the spot, in less than a minute. No fancy set up, just a dude at the counter verifying printed receipts with a webcam and a printer that could imprint details. How hard is it to open up a temporary stall or even make the KL offices an alternative pickup point for the Annual Passes?
Getting to Legoland was easy via the North South Highway. For one thing, punching in “Legoland Malaysia” into Google Maps will lead you straight to the theme park. You don’t really need a GPS to get there, since all you do is take the Nusajaya exit and there’s a ton of signage to lead you there. The signages to Legoland are tagged brown to denote a tourist attraction, which I thought was a cool touch. Pretty brainless and idiot proof. In case you do get lost you here are the GPS coordinates. http://goo.gl/maps/kwx50. The Legoland Malaysia website also has pretty good directions and a map if you need more info.
When we got really near the park, there were a lot of temporary signs for eager Annual Pass holders which guided us to the car park. Huge kudos for them for putting these up. Since the area surrounding the park is still pretty desolate, the signs were pretty reassuring. When we got there, the car park wasn’t ready (it was still a patch of dirt) but there were a lot of people there already. Guess other people were thinking the same as we did, making use of the public holiday to collect the passes.
Here was the line. They had a ton of counters open so there wasn’t that much of a wait. Plenty of staff on hand to hand us forms we had to fill out, as well as talk to us about the park and made sure everyone was alright.
Kudos: Have to say, the staff at the park were fantastic. Everything you could ever want from theme park staff. Friendly, approachable, helpful and did I mention friendly? Hope someone from Legoland management is reading this, but special mention goes to this lady that took the time to chat with us, her name was Hany (or was it Hani?). She was very friendly, asked us where we were from and if were familiar with Lego and the theme park, taking time to explain the stuff that we could see today (the shop and cafe) as well as tell us a little of the park, visitors and the first day they were open. Remarkable service and I hope they keep this up when thousands of people descend on the park. 10/10.
Protip: First nugget of information I managed to dig up from Hany was that early bird visitors to the park (I’m guessing the first few days of the park’s opening?) will get some sort of commemorative gifts. She said there would be t-shirts available and possibly more, so hey, there’s your incentive to be there when Legoland Malaysia opens its doors on September 15.
Finally got our annual pass! Yes, my haircut looks horrible. Very neat to have a photo ID. I got a special “pre opening pass” bit under My Benefits since I was among the first to purchase it for the sweet sweet price of RM190. No word what exact benefits I’ll enjoy… but still nice to have it printed there. Jaron only had “Daily Access to LLM” on as he bought his a bit later. Photo quality was lackluster, simply due to the bad lighting and reflective glass at the counter, but I’m not complaining.
Before scooting into the park, we went to snap a few pictures of the arch. Here’s Jaron under the huge Legoland Malaysia sign. The arch is very well designed, made to look like it was actually built with oversized Lego bricks. It’s the first thing you see when you approach the entrance and yes, for some reason they managed to get that theme park feel right. You know, that sense of excitement, wonder and giddy joy that you’re at a theme park?
Here’s the arch close up. They had a couple of brick-built minifigs scattered around it. Here’s a Racer and
Indiana Jones Johnny Thunder from the much beloved Adventurers theme on the right.
Not forgetting a Lego City construction worker complete with jack hammer.
Here’s a minifig in overalls waving at visitors.
And finally on the right end, we’ve got the iconic Lego chef and a dragon perched up on the right tower. Absolutely love everything about the arch. Look at that attention to detail, they even replicated the embossed LEGO words on the oversized bricks.
We were also lucky enough to bump into Ollie, Legoland Malaysia’s unique mascot before entering the park. Of course we had to get photos! (I’ve always secretly wanted to be a guy in a giant animal suit. Mad envy of theme park workers)
We found this dude made out of Lego and trying to sneak into the park at the entrance. If you can see behind him, his sister (or female friend) is boosting him up to scale the barrier.
Protip: Before we get into the shop and “The Beginning” of Legoland Malaysia, here’s the second bit of information I confirmed from one of the managers inside the shop. It’s a secret (well, not so secret) tradition practiced at every Legoland in the world. As you stroll around the park, you’ll notice that each Legoland employee has a Lego nametag. Apart from his or her name, some of the park workers will have Lego Minifigs attached to them. Depending on rank (or personal preference) you might find some pretty rare minifigs on them. Now, listen closely. If you bring your own minifigs to the park and you bump into a Legoland employee with a minifig you want, you can initiate a trade with them and they will be obligated to trade theirs with yours. Yes you heard me, you know those hundreds of generic City minifigs you seem to get? Trade them for sometimes rare minifigs on park employees! I completely forgot about this till I got there, but rest assured, come September 15, I’ll be bringing a whole ziploc bag of minifigs I want to trade off. This was confirmed by a Caucasian lady that was hanging around The Big Shop (she was white, so I figured she was pretty important). Gotta say that some of the other park employees were unaware of this when I asked them.
Since they’re not really opened yet, after picking up the annual pass we were only allowed to roam inside The Big Shop (more on this later in the post), The Cafe (didn’t bother to check this out) the fringes of the theme park.
What I really loved about the park was that it was littered with tons of brick sculptors (made out of real glued together Lego!) like this awesome shark and his pirate pelican friend.
These tourists outside the
Lego Big Shop were extremely popular. Tons of people were swarming them for photos.
Here’s one of my favourites – a life-sized painter near the edge of the water. Liked the paint details on her. She also had an easel (not pictured) to show that she was painting a panoramic shot of Legoland.
Here’s one of Jaron’s favourites. You can see part of the park in the background. The staff told us that all the rides were fully operational (the roller coasters were zipping around when we visited) but that they were putting the finishing touches to the landscaping.
Here’s as good as a shot I got of Miniland. You can spot a couple of KL landmarks like the Courthouse, Twin Towers, KL tower and Putrajaya in it. Lots of more close up pictures at Legoland Malaysia’s Official Facebook page. I’m very much looking forward to this part of the park, possibly my most anticipated section as I’m a HUGE fan of Lego architecture.
Now… on to The Big Shop, the main reason I went all the way to Johor. Now first and foremost, while I love theme parks, especially Lego ones – nothing comes before my love for the building blocks of Lego sets. The Big Shop was highly anticipated on my end because they’ve been touting it was being “the largest Lego store in Asia” and “carrying exclusive Lego merchandise/sets” in their marketing materials. For a country that is unfortunately plagued by stupidly high Lego prices, I was hoping for an alternative – a store not afflicted by the evil distributor known as ALJ. It’s also common knowledge that Lego prices in Singapore are well below what we pay (they also have regular sales there) and seeing as how the City Republic was just a mere 40 minutes away and is a main source of visitors to Legoland, I had begun to place my hope that we would see Singaporean prices in the park.
WELL, I WAS WRONG.
The shop was huge, don’t get me wrong. They definitely had the largest more complete selection I’ve seen in Malaysia. But !@#$%, when I went to examine the first set I could get my hands on ( a Friends set) and saw the dreaded prices we pay in KL as well as the accursed ALJ sticker at the bottom, I got quite angry.
Before I get started on my mega-rant, I managed to dig up a few more golden nuggets of information from the store managers and staff working there. The Pick-A-Brick which I wrote about briefly awhile ago wasn’t opened yet but I managed squeeze out the pricing.
Scoop: One of the managers at The Big Shop told me that (don’t quote me on this!) the price of Pick A Brick would be RM30-RM35 for 100gms of bricks. No word on the variety available but that seems like it’s quite on the high side of things. If you purchase a ton of tiles/foliage then it MIGHT be a good deal. Time will only tell if this is good value when I get access to Pick A Brick come September 15, but for now, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a good deal.
Secondly, I also managed to wrangle information on the Build-A-Minifig station which typically occupies an area next to Pick-A-Brick. Like its name suggests, you basically get a bunch of accessories, heads, torsos and legs to customize your very own minifigs. They normally come in sets of 3 and the same manager told me that it would cost RM25 for 3 minifigs. Now that does sound like an alright deal, but it will depend on the variety of accessories that will be available on us. More on this when I visit the park for the opening.
First, the good bits about the store.
HUGE selection of magnets and keychains and I mean HUGE. Nearly every conceivable minifig from the past 1 or 2 years were available. Not bad at RM20-RM25 each for the keychains.
Some exclusive Legoland keychains, which I thought were pretty cool, although I wished they’d use these hearts instead of an L-shaped heart but oh well, that’s just me being pedantic.
Lots of Lego apparel for sale as well. This Star Wars one caught my eye, but I didn’t get it. I opted for a simple minifig motif one in blue.
Mine’s the blue one.
TONS of shirts for kids. I was very very very jealous that my adult body was too big was the “I have Ninja Powers” Ninjago shirt. Kids will love this.
Oh and you’ll spot this massive pink section devoted to Girls. With Friends themed accessories and apparel it’s good to see that Legoland paid equal attention to the fairer sex as well.
I’m a HUGE fan of Friends… so it was quite tempting not to get these.
NOW, here was the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the store. An excellent selection of Lego Store exclusives. Now, I’ve never ever seen any of these sets save the Holiday Magnet and Brick Calendar ones in Malaysia, so I didn’t hesitate to get me some. I bought:
Got myself the brick calendar (RM 60 – US RRP $15) cause I’ve always wanted the numbered bricks (Series 1 Cheerleader and Skater were also nice additions to my minifig collection), the Wedding Cake Topper set (RM30 US RRP $8) cause I’m getting married next year and minifig display cabinet (RM40 – US RRP $10) cause I wanted the Classic Space minifig. The prices were fair, not too much of a difference when compared to the US which is fantastic.
Tons of battlepacks. Was quite surprised to see the Summer minifig pack available for sale. Didn’t pick it up, because meh, the minifigs were rehashes.
Lego exclusives such as the Town Hall and Tower Bridge. Was also delighted to see the Kingdoms Chess set available (RM200) which I thought was good value, since you get 30 minifigs altogether.
More ‘hard to find’ items.
I liked the centerpiece of the store, a Lego contraption of sorts which extended across the store’s ceiling.
More brick-built Lego sculptures on top including a very cool robot!
Also had a bin of Lego Brick separators! Each of them go for RM10. Next to this bin, they had a bin full of Halloween themed polybags which were pretty unimpressive. If I recall correctly, each bag costed RM25. Poor value.
MEGA RANT 2: Okay here goes. I spotted out one tiny little detail in terms of the pricing at The Big Shop. There were 2 sources of products, which you could tell from the little stickers on the box. About 95% of the store’s stock were sourced from the evil monopolistic distributor with an iron grip on Malaysia’s Lego supply – ALJ. But there was a couple of items with a different sticker, attributing the import and distribution to Legoland Malaysia. Among others were the merchandise, keychains etc.
Let’s take the Minifig Display Case that I bought for RM40. The US RRP is $10. After converting the currency, I’m only paying about a $3 premium. Take a generic set like… 6862 which costs US$20. Want to guess how much it costs here? RM150. That’s…. a ~US$30 premium. What the flying turd. And the only difference between these two examples it was imported and distributed by ALJ or Legoland Malaysia.
I was deeply unimpressed to see that ALJ was allowed into The Big Shop and Legoland Malaysia. They are everything that’s wrong with Lego in Malaysia, making it SO difficult for regular people to be able to purchase and enjoy Lego. First up, there were also several sore omissions from the store. First, what’s up with the lack of Polybags? No Collectible Minifigures as well. Does ALJ have an iron grip exclusive arrangement with their favourite cartel partner, Toys R Us Malaysia that they’re powerful enough to block the sale of the blind minifig packs in Legoland? No Toys R Us exclusives (Y-Wing, Dynamic Duo Funhouse Escape, etc) which I found incredibly strange, since Lego Stores across the world are exempt from these exclusivity clauses. If Lego sells it, you betcha last dollar that you’ll be able to find it at a Lego Store, though this isn’t the case with Legoland Malaysia’s Big Shop.
I echo a lot of other Malaysian Lego fans, that were hoping that there would be more competitively priced Lego in Malaysia at The Big Shop. All the other Lego fans I know on forums have expressed their deep disgust that ALJ was allowed to peddle their wares at their prices at Legoland Malaysia. I really hope Merlin Entertainment does something about this, cause it’s plain stupid to pay over-inflated Malaysian prices when you can simple take a 40 minute drive across the causeway to enjoy much much much cheaper Lego in Singapore.
Absolute bollocks. So if you’re planning on going to Legoland Malaysia’s Big Shop, do the Malaysian Lego fans a service and NOT PURCHASE ANY ALJ PRODUCTS. DO purchase products brought in by Legoland Malaysia. I firmly believe that unless we send a message that we will not tolerate these ridiculous ALJ prices, we will NOT see any change and continue to be fleeced by ALJ. Most educated Lego fans know this, but I implore you, to tell your friends and family to not be taken in by Malaysian Lego prices. WHEN THE BUYING STOPS, ALJ’s DAYLIGHT ROBBERY CAN TOO.
Final Thoughts: The park is shaping up quite well. The Customer Service is top-notch (not something you experience often in Malaysia!) and there’s this magical sense of wonder with Legoland that just makes everything works. The Big Shop is a Massive Disappointment and I really do hope Merlin Entertainment listens to Malaysian Lego fans and does something to rectify this. I absolutely can’t wait for the doors to open on September 15 and I’m raring to be one of the first Malaysians to enter the park. Can’t wait for the rides and can’t wait to experience Miniland.
I really do wish Legoland’s Management made it a lot easier for the majority of Malaysians to go pick up the Annual Passes, but oh well.
That’s me, and with the opening just 2 weeks way, I cannot wait to stand under these arches again!
Legoland Malaysia opens its doors on Saturday, 15 September 2012.
Day passes will cost you RM 140 (adult) and RM110 (kids) and Annual Passes can be obtained for RM275 (adults) and RM210 (kids) respectively. More information on admissions and ticket prices on Legoland Malaysia’s Website.