Thursday, December 14, 2017
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At Legoland's new World of Chima experience, the emphasis is on interactive fun

A pair of flip-flops will come in handy if you're planning on riding Legoland Florida's newest attraction, the Quest for Chi, because you will get wet.

As the centerpiece of the World of Chima, an interactive experience/product tie-in that opened this week at the Winter Haven park, the water ride is devoid of thrills but no less fun.

Riders hop on the slow boat and can choose to sit or stand. There are no height requirements — toddlers who can stand on their own can ride with a parent.

The boat loops through the essential story of The Legend of Chima, the Cartoon Network show that premiered earlier this year and will begin airing regularly on Wednesday. The lions are the protectors/distributors of the Chi, orbs of energy that helped make the animals sentient. Unsatisfied with that arrangement, the Crocodile Tribe — led by Cragger — attacks and steals Chi.

The floating boat takes kids past statue scenes showing the lions and allies chasing the crocs through other parts of Chima. Each figure is made from Legos — no doubt a feat — but the completed work still comes together as a little crafty and a rush job.

But riders will have little time to notice that, because in front of each position is a water cannon operated by turning a crank. The faster you crank, the harder the water stream. Kids immediately started spraying the characters with water, which may account for why it isn't terribly elaborate to begin with.

When the slow boat twists and turns out into an outdoor pool, that is where the magic happens. The boats loop in a way that makes them face one another several times. Attacks began immediately with kids aiming their cannons at people in other boats and cranking with reckless abandon.

Riders are not your only opponents.

Several water cannons are placed near the ride's exit so that anyone can walk up to them and fire them right into the boats. Boaters can return water blasts but the winding course puts the land-side shooters out of range from time to time.

Even if you managed to dodge every water cannon, you still couldn't come out unscathed. A gigantic water feature soaks the entire boat as soon as you get outside.

There are no dips, dives, hills or drops on the Quest for Chi — just one slow winding sail through an all-out water fight.

Once you're soaked to your skivvies, you can take the tykes over to Cragger Swamp and watch them frolic through the water features, which include big red buttons that trigger water falls, sprinklers and water cannons. Only 34 kids can enter at a time, but there was no word on how that would be regulated.

For slightly bigger boys and girls, there is the Speedorz arena, a product tie-in and play place, where they can play with the tiny ripcord-powered vehicles. Players can jump them through hoops and off-ramps. The objective is to get all your Speedorz into a black bag at the end of the small green table. Not really that easy once you take into account how tricky aiming a vehicle you just ripped a red zip-tie type cord out of can be.

You can race against your friends or just play by yourself, said Adriana Eraso of Legoland.

"Someone will be working at the center to move groups in and out but there's no rush," she said.

Fans of the cartoon will also be able to pick up hard-to-find merchandise at Razor's Bazaar, named after one of the bird tribe characters.

"The most popular items we have right now are the role-playing items," said Bobbi Jo Sterling, merchandise manager for Legoland Florida.

Swords, shields and capes from both the Lion and Croc Tribes were on sale. Budding supervillains didn't hide their allegiances.

"Surprisingly, we're selling about 50-50 of both lion and croc items," Sterling said.

The new World of Chima isn't flashy, but it is wet. Little kids, ages 10 and under, will get a kick out of all it has to offer. And big kids might get a chance to cool off on a hot Florida day.

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