Rising from tranquil waters, a silly sea serpent cranes his neck to stare at passing shoppers. Nearby, a friendly dinosaur enjoys an ice cream cone in the company of his family. A short distance away, a group of aliens pose for a photograph alongside their flying saucer.
If these colorful creations sound like the products of a wild imagination, they are. Made of millions of LEGO® bricks, the fanciful characters welcome shoppers to the LEGO Imagination Center, a retail store at the Walt Disney World Resort outside Orlando, Florida.
Located at Downtown Disney, a waterfront shopping and entertainment district, the 4,400-square-foot retail center features hundreds of LEGO sets for sale, licensed LEGO gifts and memorabilia, plus numerous life-size LEGO models on display. The store opened in 1997.
The Florida location is LEGO's second retail store in the United States. The first LEGO Imagination Center opened in 1992 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
In 1999, the Danish toy company opened its third LEGOLAND theme park in Carlsbad, California. The other parks are located in Windsor, England, and Billund, Denmark.
Outside LEGO's Disney World store, visitors will find a 3,000-square-foot play area where LEGO lovers are encouraged to unleash their own imaginations with hundreds of thousands of LEGO®, LEGO DUPLO®, and LEGO PRIMO® pieces.
On the inside, "there are huge spaceships and sea vessels hanging from the ceiling," said one enthusiastic visitor, "as well as a couple life-sized LEGO kids in a LEGO treehouse. The tree takes up a whole wall!"
Other larger-than-life displays include a LEGO sculptor model re-creating Rodin's "The Thinker," LEGO children sneaking a cookie from a gigantic cookie jar, a rock-and-roll robot decorated with dozens of lights, a flying dragon, and more.
The verdict? "The store officially rocks," according to Kidscape.com's correspondent.