In Northern Europe, you can find a small village of rural farms that goes by the name of Billund. Billund, Denmark still exists because of its ties to the Lego company founder. Ole Kirk Christiansen was born and raised in Billund, Denmark. He was a carpenter until the Great Depression when he decided to start making wooden toys. Shortly after, the Lego was born, first from wood and later from plastic. In keeping with his roots and bringing ecotourism to the area, Christiansen created the Lego metropolis that is the center of Billund and all the surrounding areas.
The Lego Experience
You will arrive in Billund via one of three routes: bus, train, or plane. When Lego became the household name it now is, the Christiansen family put in an airstrip for the increased tourism traffic. After our visit, I would opt for renting a car to get around because unless you are staying at Hotel Legoland, all other lodging options are 15 to 25 minutes away by car or bus. The buses are lovely and efficient, but this area of Denmark is vastly unpopulated, so driving is very easy and would give you a lot more freedom to stay at Airbnbs, hostels, etc. The hostel we stayed at was an additional mile walk past the bus stop down a dirt road. A car would have been helpful.
Lego House: Why You Should Go There First
The first stop of your Lego experience should be The Lego House. It recently opened in September 2017 and is absolutely incredible. I recommend the Lego House before the amusement park for many reasons, but primarily because you learn so much about the history and the family. You also learn a great deal about how the park and house came to be and what the Christiansen name has done for the village.
Inside the Lego House, you will find seven different experience zones. They are color coordinated and range from Duplo pits and activities for small ones, all the way up to designing cities and creating virtual Lego sea life. My Grandmother had never been to Denmark and, therefore, she opted to join us for this portion of our travels. She was dreading the Lego House. Everything about the seven experience zones of screaming children translated to seven layers of hell for Grandma. By lunchtime on Lego House day, she simply said, “It’s incredible. Very impressive.” Because it was!
From the vast amount of things to do for every age (including Grandma), to the seating and gallery displays, there was so much to love. The best part was the staff. I have never encountered staff members like them before. They were a dream. Not only do they know the full Lego company history, but they know the Christiansen family history as well. To make it even better, all the staff members are huge Lego fans.
They refer to the Lego designers as the rockstars of the company, and they are their groupies. The staff also shares with you the ins and outs of working with such fascinating people. As one staff member shared with me, in regard to the designer who created all of the huge city displays, “His name is Stewart. He walks around his artwork all day long with a little Ziploc bag of parts and fixes and adds to his masterpieces. Nothing looks the same two days in a row. He is constantly adding to it.” That means we will have to go back.
Lego House to Legoland
From Lego House, you can easily access Legoland. Both attractions lie within a few blocks of each other. In my opinion, it is a walk you should definitely take because the streets are owned by the Lego company and are full of warehouses, design offices, idea offices, creator labs, etc. You get a wonderful sense of what it actually takes to create and mass produce this toy.
Legoland Billund is very similar to the Legoland locations in the United States (Carlsbad, CA and Winter Haven, FL) with one exception. You will be the first to try and ride many new attractions because the Legoland Billund in Denmark is the test site and original park. Visiting the Lego House first also answers a lot of questions that will arise from your children once you enter the amusement park. For example, my children are always asking me, “How did they make that?” These are some of the things that you learn inside Lego House, as well as who the first designers were for the massive scale of the amusement park.
Here’s a little bonus information: The very first designer to come up and execute a creation for Legoland park was a woman, Dagny Holm.
How Much Time and Money
The Lego House and Legoland amusement park each warrant a full eight-hour day. Passes are available so that you may re-enter both if you wish. More than likely it will be Lego House you wish to re-enter because there is so much to do, see, and learn. Give yourself three full days, especially during the summer as rain is a common occurrence, and you or your children may need a day by the Hotel Legoland pool as well.
The entry fees for both places differ drastically. Legoland amusement park is very expensive and Lego House is very reasonable, even inexpensive I would say. You may also want to spend an extended period of time driving through Denmark. It is a small country, but has so many wonderful things to offer any visitor, but especially those entranced by Viking history.
Photo Credits: Lydia Bradbury