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Egyptian theme rides set to open in March

North County Times

Original Article »

January 11, 2008

Toning down the fear factor but still hanging onto the adventurous spirit of an “Indiana Jones” movie, Legoland California will open its Egyptian-themed “Land of Adventure” area March 10.

Four new attractions are planned as part of the park's largest single-year investment since it opened in 1999, park officials said during a news conference Thursday.

The new area's signature ride -- the Lost Kingdom Adventure -- takes visitors in mock, four-seater jeeps through mostly unlit rooms where spiders, snakes and scarabs (beetles) scramble over faux Egyptian artifacts. Visitors blast away at these creepy-crawlies and other hazards with laser “guns.”

Ride designer Bill Vollbrecht said Thursday that his favorite part occurs when the jeeps careen around a mock traffic accident where two skeletons and a jeep are embedded into a wall covered in metal spikes.

But don't expect any blood and guts -- even the pretend kind. After all, this is an amusement park geared toward families with children ages 2 to 12.

“It's not real skeletons,” Vollbrecht said. “It's fun, smiling Lego skeletons -- they don't mind getting squished.”

Legoland reportedly is spending $20 million for its Land of Adventure and a new aquarium complex -- a separate-ticket attraction set to open this summer.

This is double the $10 million the park spent in 2006 to expand its “Pirate Shores” area, General Manager and President John Jakobsen said Thursday.

That 2006 expansion paid huge dividends, he added. That year, the park set an admission record with more than 1.6 million visitors. Last year, the park repeated that figure, and the coming year looks just as bright because of the attractions that are coming, Jakobsen said.

“We'll become more and more of a multiday experience,” Jakobsen said, noting that a new Sheraton resort is under construction next door.

Bordered by Cannon Road to the north and Palomar Airport Road to the south, the park is one of three amusement attractions based on the Lego building-block theme. There also are Legolands in Denmark, England and Germany.

Legoland started with multiple ideas for its new adventure area, including a haunted house or jungle theme.

Park surveys showed visitors had a marked preference for going on an excursion into ancient Egypt, so that's what Legoland selected, Vollbrecht said.

However, parents also stressed that they wanted the “adventure” to have a limited danger factor.

“We found with our guests, they didn't want anything too scary or too dark,” he said.

Though the advertising poster at Thursday's news conference showed a bouncing jeep with some of its wheels off the ground, the jeeps in the Lost Kingdom ride won't rock as they make their trip through the building, Vollbrecht said.

“We can't do crazy dips and things,” he said.

And the gunfire sound effects aren't too loud or realistic sounding, park officials say.

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