Carrie Fisher Returns to "A Galaxy Far, Far Away" for the Grand Opening of STAR WARS MINILAND at LEGOLAND®
Apr 03, 2011 3:00 pm
by Joe Meno
California celebrities come out in force to see newest addition to family theme park
CARLSBAD, Calif. (March 31, 2011) – Actress Carrie Fisher, known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in Star Wars Episodes IV, V and VI, made a special appearance in Carlsbad today to commemorate the grand opening of STAR WARS™ Miniland at LEGOLAND® California. The ceremony, held prior to Park opening, was attended by community leaders and celebrities with their families and featured dramatic unveilings of each of the seven scenes built with more than 1.5 million LEGO® bricks revealing 2,000 Star Wars LEGO models.
Fisher, currently serving as the Jenny Craig spokesperson, granted an out-of-this world wish for 9-year-old Carson Wiener, who suffers from Leukemia. In addition to providing Carson with a chance to meet one of his Star Wars heroes, Fisher presented a $5,000 check from LEGOLAND California to Make-A-Wish Foundation San Diego Chapter. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Carson was able to fulfill his wish last year by coming to LEGOLAND California and spending time with Master Model Builder Gary McIntire. LEGOLAND California asked Carson to help break the red ribbon today - using a lightsaber – to officially open STAR WARS Miniland.
To commemorate their participation, Model Shop Supervisor Tim Petsche presented both Fisher and Carson with replicas of the LEGO minilander model of Princess Leia from the Hoth scene of STAR WARS Miniland. When asked what it was like meeting Carrie Fisher, Wiener replied, “It was cool because she was in Star Wars and I would have really wanted to be in Star Wars too, if I could.”
Also in attendance were cast members from Lucasfilm’s animated TV series, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS™ – James Arnold Taylor, who voices Jedi Masters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Plo Koon, and Catherine Taber, who voices Padmé Amidala. Other attending celebrities included Christian Slater, Brooke Burke, Corey Feldman, Nolan Gould, Tony Hawk, Andy MacDonald, Sharon Leal, Lisa LoCicero, Shawn Hatosy, Atticus Shaffer, Gail O’Grady, Mark Feuerstein, Sharon Leal, Kiptyn Locke and Tenley Molzhan.
Visitors to the all-new STAR WARS Miniland can follow a chronological path through the STAR WARS timeline and retrace the major events of the beloved Saga. Some of the 2,000 LEGO models will be more than 8-feet-tall and interactive buttons will allow children to activate animations throughout the scenes.
“This is a really exciting day for LEGOLAND California -- we are the first LEGOLAND in the world to introduce Star Wars Miniland,” said Peter Ronchetti, General Manager of LEGOLAND California Resort. “In the new area, you follow a chronological path through the Star Wars timeline to retrace the major events of the amazing saga. There are interactive elements and features that really create what we call the hands-on-minds-on experience of LEGOLAND California.”
During the grand opening ceremony, members of the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers guarded each scene until pyrotechnics exploded and each was described in full detail:
The models for the new STAR WARS Miniland were developed and built by eight model designers and two animation electricians in LEGOLAND Deutschland. A team of three Master Model Builders at LEGOLAND California spent the last few months bringing the scenes to life with the help of animation electricians, technicians and landscapers – all working to ensure the LEGO models appear as realistic as possible with special effects and landscaping.
In honor of the grand opening of STAR WARS Miniland, Park guests can also enjoy an enormous sand sculpture created out of 40 tons of sand for a new series titled “The Sand Guys,” premiering on the Travel Channel this summer. Also on display in the Park is a LEGO mosaic featuring memorable images from The Empire Strikes Back created out of 165,888 LEGO bricks and constructed by Park guests.
For the first time ever at LEGOLAND California, a live Web Cam has been set up atop the Model Shop for fans to visit STAR WARS Miniland anytime just by logging onto www.LEGOLAND.com.
Episode 1: Naboo: The epic Battle of Naboo pits Gungan forces against the Trade Federation’s battle droids for control of the planet and its capital city, Theed. The Royal Palace, home to Queen Amidala, is constructed of more than 15,000 LEGO® bricks. In the Theed hangar bay, young Anakin Skywalker saves the day by flying his Naboo starfighter to victory while Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn battle the Sith apprentice, Darth Maul.
Episode II: Geonosis: In the Geonosis execution arena, Padmé Amidala, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker battle three ferocious creatures: the massive reek, the terrifying acklay and the ravenous nexu. The Geonosis arena itself is built to 1:180 scale; if the LEGOLAND® Model Builders had built it to a scale of 1:20 like the other Miniland models, it would have been more than 29 feet high! Also depicted is the Battle of Geonosis, where the Separatist Droid Army clashes with the Grand Army of the Republic in the first conflict of the Clone Wars.
Episode III: Kashyyyk and Mustafar: Two planets are shown here: The Battle of Kashyyyk depicts the Droid Army’s amphibious assault on the home planet of Chewbacca and the Wookiees. The scene features two AT-APs (All Terrain Attack Pod) plus the massive Clone Turbo Tank, which is constructed from 10,180 LEGO® pieces and took 168 hours to build. On the opposite side is the volcanic planet of Mustafar, where the fateful duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker takes place.
Episode IV: Tatooine: This desert planet is the childhood home of Luke Skywalker. In the spaceport city of Mos Eisley, you will find the Cantina where Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi first meet up with Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, and his copilot Chewbacca. As the band plays on, Greedo corners Han Solo just before the group narrowly escapes the planet with C-3PO and R2-D2. It took LEGOLAND® Model Builders 143 hours to design and build the Millennium Falcon, using 19,200 pieces.
Episode V: Hoth: The Rebels establish a secret base on this frozen planet, which is home to wampas and tauntauns. But an Imperial probe droid discovers their location, and the Empire sends massive walkers to attack Echo Base. Inside the base, Rebel snowspeeders and Luke Skywalker’s X-wing fighter can be seen. Outside, Luke’s snowspeeder has crashed, but the young Jedi uses his lightsaber to single-handedly bring down the giant AT-AT.
Episode VI: Endor: The forest moon of Endor is home to the Ewoks. These small but resourceful creatures join forces with the Rebel Alliance to destroy the shield generator and prevent completion of the second Death Star. The Imperial shuttle can be seen on the landing platform, where Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, has just arrived. Next to the landing platform is the massive shield generator, which stands 8 feet tall.
THE CLONE WARS: Christophsis: The animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars takes place chronologically between Episodes II and III and follows the adventures of Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. This scene represents Christophsis, a crystalline planet where Republic clone troopers battle the Separatist army. Anakin single-handedly attacks an Octuptarra droid, while Obi-Wan prepares to repel the advancing droid army. The Crystal City building is the largest Star Wars Miniland LEGO® model and is made of more than 70,000 pieces.
STAR WARS™, STAR WARS™: THE CLONE WARS™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.
MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS GROUP is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment, and has seen the most successful and dynamic growth of any company in the sector over the last five years. Europe’s Number 1 and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, 70 attractions, six hotels/two holiday villages in 16 countries and across four continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its more than 40 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 15,000 employees. Merlin Entertainments’ brands include – SEA LIFE – the world’s biggest aquarium brand; Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower Observatory and Skywalk, Sydney Wildlife World, Heide Park and Earth Explorer. Visit www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information.
About Make-A-Wish Foundation® of San Diego:¨The mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Since its inception in 1983, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of San Diego has granted more than 2,700 wishes to children in San Diego and Imperial Counties and aims to grant 195 wishes this year. For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, please call (858) 707-9474 or visit www.wishsandiego.org.