Flight of the Sky Lion is a new for 2021 attraction at Legoland Windsor in the United Kingdom. It first opened on Saturday 29th May, becoming the first Flying Theatre attraction in the country. The ride system was manufactured by Brogent Technologies, a Taiwan based company that designs and builds media-based attractions. The company’s most popular products are the flying theatres. The creative aspects of the project were overseen and put into action by a branch of Merlin Entertainments known as Merlin Magic Making.
A flying theatre in a Legoland park is not a new concept. Legoland Florida, California and Billund (Denmark) also have their own flying theatre. However, the version in Windsor is different. Where the other three installations are based on the Lego Movie franchise, Flight of the Sky Lion has an entirely new theme.
The attraction itself forms part of a new themed area for Legoland Windsor: “Mythica”. Certain other rides in the vicinity of Flight of the Sky Lion have been rebranded and rethemed to fit into this area. According to the park: “The incredible world of LEGO® MYTHICA is a parallel universe to ours, where LEGO creatures come to life. Full of epic adventures, powerful guardians and mysterious creatures all waiting to be discovered.” DRdb visited the ride for the first time recently and in this article will aim to provide a quick overview of how the attraction plays out from entrance to exit.
The show building displays a striking facade that first introduces guests to the main character of the ride that we will later meet during the flight. The character is brought to life with a large and intricately textured 3D lego model, of course a staple for any Legoland attraction.
The entrance to the queue line sits to the left of the main building, under a smaller shelter which so far contains a small display cabinet of a few regular sized Lego models depicting various creatures in the Mythica style. Upon completion of the queue, guests are batched into six rows of ten riders and are assigned with a number which can be seen on the floor.
Once the pre-show room has been cleared by the preceding batch of guests, the new riders enter and are split, in their groups, across two floors of the building. Three screens in each pre-show room state that a briefing will start soon and, once ready, a short video plays to explain both the storyline and the various operational and safety instructions.
The video begins with the narrator introducing us to Bitsandbobs, a colourful, mismatched unicorn type character, before revealing that we have been invited to explore the world of Mythica itself. Our host and guide for the adventure will be Maximus the Sky Lion (who we recognise of course from the building’s façade) and this sets the precedent for why and how the ride is taking place. A warning is given to keep an eye out for the antagonist of the storyline, a mythical creature known as a Chimera, in order to set up some possible threat. After the safety instructions are given, the pre-show concludes and guests move forward to board one of the three ride vehicles on each floor.
Like all flying theatres, the ride vehicles consist of a bench, in this case with ten seats. However, unlike most installations, the vehicles of Flight of the Sky Lion do not face the projection screen. Instead, the screen is behind the vehicles. At the start of the ride, the vehicles will turn 180° to clear the floor and face the screen. The ride vehicles are capable of moving with two degrees of freedom (‘pitch’ and ‘yaw’ for the connoisseurs), synchronised to the ride film. Also onboard are scent dispensers, to enhance the riders’ immersive experience.
The film initially finds us in a room full of portals to other worlds, along with both Maximus the Sky Lion and Bitsandbobs. Maximus picks up the riders and takes them into the central portal which, full of lego bricks, leads to the land of Mythica. In keeping with the style of most flying theatre attractions, the first portion of the ride is a scenic simulation of a flight over some natural scenery, accompanied by mythical creatures in this particular case. The ride vehicles themselves tilt forwards and backwards, left and right to emulate the movements seen on screen and the soundtrack drives the experience onward. The journey takes us from the mountains through the jungle, towards the ocean.
Once out on the open water, the flight is interrupted by a less friendly creature, a two-headed sea dragon. Many of the creatures found within the film of the attraction can also be found as models outside in the land of Mythica, which adds to the feeling of continuity. During this encounter the movement sequence becomes more stop-start, something that further sets this apart from other similar applications of the hardware. Riders are set down on a rock while Maximus goes off to deal with the dragon, but are then kidnapped by another flying creature who brings them to its nest in a volcanic area. The use of scents on the ride is particularly noticeable here, adding to the sense of immersion.
Maximus returns to take guests to safety again, this time starting in a backwards direction escaping through some tunnels before coming face to face with the Chimera. The pace is increased as riders are pursued back towards the portal home, as the Chimera attempts to prevent us from escaping, but luckily we got some help. Another fellow creature (a bird of fire and ice – providing a cohesive tie to the other new drop towers attraction ‘Fire and Ice Freefall’ in the Mythica area) assists in bringing us back to our own world safely. The experience ends where it began in the room of portals and the ride system rotates back to the loading area and exit doors.
The Flight of the Sky Lion appears to have been a success for Merlin Entertainments and Legoland Windsor this year, attracting significant queues and positive reviews throughout the season so far. The attraction has helped to diversify their lineup, bring an all important ‘first’ to the UK and perhaps most importantly of all provided another unique experience that sets it apart from other Legoland parks across the world.
© Dark Ride Database
Visit by Steven
Article by Steven and Erik
Pictures by Steven