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Culture

LEGOlicious

More than 50 million of the world's most beloved plastic bricks await visitors at Lego's new theme park in Bavaria. The company expects its two million annual visitors will jumpstart the local economy.

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The Reichstag and other German architectural treasures await visitors at Legoland.

It used to be that travelers wishing to visit the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, or the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church had to go all the way to Berlin.

But that all changed with the opening on Friday in Günzberg of Danish toymaker Lego's latest theme park. Germany's greatest attractions and countless others have been immortalized using 50 million brightly colored, interlocking plastic bricks and brought together in a Disneyland-like park for daydreamers.

Legoland’s 80 designers worked for two years to faithfully recreate just about every famous landmark in the country using scale models.

Campaigning with Legos

At the park's public opening on Friday, Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber, who is campaigning to become Germany's next chancellor, seemed impressed. He leaned up against the scale model of the Reichstag and offered: "I'm always pleased to be in Berlin."

Stoiber's wife Karin, who joined him at the ribbon-cutting event, said her husband loves playing with Legos, especially with his grandson, Johannes. "At the moment, granddad is taking turns with me and (Johannes') father building a garage," she claimed.

25 soccer fields of fun

The hordes of tourists will add a welcome economic push to the small town of 20,000, and Günzberg has been feverishly preparing for its new star attraction. Hotels have been revamped to accommodate families and children.

"Obviously, our target group is families with small children," says John Jakobsen, Legoland Germany's CEO. "And there’s a limit as to how many people we want to have together in one place on one day. Our vision for this park is about two million visitors annually."

Legoland in Günzburg Brandenburger Tor

Besucher betrachten aus Legosteinen gebaute Modelle des Brandenburger Tores und der Berliner Siegessaeule bei einer Praesentation des Legoland Parks Deutschland am Donnerstag, 16. Mai 2002, in Guenzburg. Am Freitag, 17. Mai 2002, oeffnet der erste Legoland Park Deutschlands mit ueber 40 Attraktionen seine Pforten fuer die Besucher. (AP Photo/Jan Pitman)

Lego officials say the 150 million euro ($138 million) park is its most expensive ever. And more than 40 attractions await Lego lovers, including roller coasters, car rides, fan boats and cubist Lego likenesses of dinosaurs, knights, wild animals, buildings and just about every other figment of a child’s imagination. At 60 hectares, the park is approximately the size of 25 soccer fields.

Fun always comes at a price, and a day ticket to Legoland Germany costs 19 euro ($17) for children and 23 euro ($21) for adults. But that hasn’t stopped hardcore Lego fans from snatching up the 20 lifetime membership passes the company has sold for a hefty 555 euro ($509).

Legoland Germany is Lego's fourth amusement park. The original Legoland opened 33 years ago in Billund, Denmark. The Lego empire is still based in Denmark, where more than 8,000 employees comprise its creative core. Other Legoland parks are located in Windsor, England, and San Diego, California.

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