21 September 2012
| last updated at 05:00PM
COVER STORY: LEGOLAND frenzy boosts JB tourism
LEGO MANIA: After months of feverish anticipation, LEGOLAND Malaysia finally opens its doors to the paying public
Judging by the steady stream of crowd lining up for tickets during opening day, Iskandar Malaysia seems to have a genuine hit on their hands with this world-class theme park. A reported 10,000 visitors thronged LEGOLAND’s opening. Already, the “LEGOLAND effect” is being felt in Johor Bahru’s tourism industry. Hotels in and around JB were filled to the brim leading up to LEGOLAND’s opening weekend.
“Over the past 2–3 years, things have definitely picked up in JB. Developments in Iskandar Malaysia has revived tourists’ interest in Johor,” says Dev Singh, General Manager of M Suites Hotel in JB. “In the past, many Singaporeans would bypass JB and go to Malacca or Kuala Lumpur instead for their weekend shopping or leisure activities. Now, with the opening of LEGOLAND, tourists are excited to visit JB again. You can see that now with many hotels in JB doing good business and reporting high occupancy rates.”
With other theme parks planned to open in the future, Iskandar Malaysia is already being dubbed Asia’s version of Orlando, Florida, which is home to famous Walt Disney World Resort. Orlando was gradually transformed from a slowly developing metropolitan area to one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.
“We believe in the long-term potential of Iskandar Malaysia, not just in the Malaysian market but the entire region including Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and China. That’s why we see ourselves developing as a regional entertainment hub, similar to Orlando,” says Siegfried Boerst, General Manager of LEGOLAND Malaysia.
Asked whether he is concerned about launching LEGOLAND Malaysia amidst uncertain economic conditions and consumers tightening their spending, Siegfried remains upbeat. “We believe in the strength of the LEGO brand, its popularity with children and we will leverage that in the theme park as well. Families will always prioritise spending quality time with their children and LEGOLAND offers a unique experience. LEGOLAND Malaysia is the only theme park specifically designed for families with children between the ages of two and 12,” Sigfried adds.
LEGOLAND Malaysia is a full-day family theme park that features more than 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions. Another unique highlight at the centre of the park is Miniland, with models of major Asian landmarks such as the Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat recreated in painstaking detail using LEGO bricks.
LEGOLAND is expecting visitors from three main target groups — the resident market in Johor and Singapore, domestic tourists in Malaysia and international tourists. LEGOLAND Water Park will open in the second half of 2013, followed by the LEGOLAND Hotel Park in 2014.
The grand opening of LEGOLAND Malaysia is tomorrow, with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, Chief Minister of Johor Datuk Haji Abdul Ghani Othman and other dignitaries expected to grace the ceremony.