For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

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Fridays with Jim Korkis: The Lego Store in Disney Springs



By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE LEGO STORE AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

By Jim Korkis

The LEGO Group is a Danish multi-national company known for toys, video games, and even theme parks, among other things. The word “Lego” comes from the Danish words “leg godt,” which means “play well.”

LEGO has produced toy lines based on Disney intellectual properties since 1999, and opened its first retail store on Disney property in October 1997 at what was then known as Downtown Disney at Walt Disney World.

(c) LEGO

The official grand opening celebration was held November 7-9 with Master LEGO model builders appearing, as well as the presence of a twelve foot tall LEGO model of Cinderella Castle. Two decades later, a LEGO figure of Cinderella would appear outside the store.

LEGO has built eight amusement parks around the world (with Legoland Florida opening in Winter Haven, Florida in October 2011), so is technically a competitor with the Walt Disney Company.

Its first LEGO Store was in the Mall of America in Minnesota in 1992 with displays of LEGO sculptures, a play area, and a large selection of LEGO sets for sale. Its second “Imagination Center” was opened at Walt Disney World next to the World of Disney Store. Today, there are roughly ninety LEGO stores operating worldwide.

The LEGO Imagination Center at Disney Springs is over 4,400 square feet and became a popular showplace for detailed Lego models and merchandise, including a Pick and Build Wall and a Minifigure Factory. Outside the store is a 3,000 square foot play area filled with hundreds of thousands of LEGO blocks that guests can use to build their own creations.

Also outside the store are larger-than-life sculptures built from LEGOs. Director of retail and special projects Bill Higgins has stated that all the models were created by overlapping LEGO blocks. No glue was used, and no LEGO blocks were cut to fit the model.

One of the most iconic LEGO sculptures is Brickley, the twenty-foot tall, fifty-foot long sea serpent in the water outside of the store, who made his debut in 1997.

Brickley has appeared at many LEGO Stores around the world as an unofficial mascot. His eyes glow and smoke comes from his nostrils as well as from underneath his body.

In some cases like at Disneyland he works his way in and out of rooms, while other times, such as at Walt Disney World, he actually plies the waterways overlooking the store. He is comprised of over 170,000 blocks.

The character with two humps and a tail was so popular that in 2011, LEGO released two sets dedicated to Brickley. One had 59 pieces and the other, larger set had 197 pieces.

Starting with simple sculptures for photo opportunities like a snoring grandfather in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts sitting on a bench, over the decades the outside LEGO art at Walt Disney World has changed to include Prince Philip battling a towering Maleficent dragon, Woody and Buzz Lightyear using an RC Racer (and a firecracker) to soar to catch Andy’s moving van, and the Seven Dwarfs and their diamond mine, as well as Snow White giving Dopey a kiss.

In 2022, a Frozen display was added with Anna, Elsa and Olaf in their outfits from the movie Frozen II, and also added from Star Wars were Chewbacca and Rey on one side and Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, and a red Stormtrooper on the other side.

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Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt: Volume 10: Final Edition  Kungaloosh! The Mythic Jungles of Walt Disney World and Hidden Treasures of Walt Disney World Resorts: Histories, Mysteries, and Theming, much of which was first published on this site.

 

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