We were VERY excited to get to chat with Jason, one of the Master Builders at LEGOLAND Florida. These are the guys who build all of the parks LEGO models – from enormous dinosaurs to teeny mice – and there’s only 4 of them in the whole park!
Jason in his LEGO Kingdom!
So Jason, first things first, how on earth did you manage to become a Master Builder at LEGOLAND?
Well I’ve been playing with LEGO since I was five years old, creating dioramas out of the sets my parents bought me. As an adult, I worked for the LEGO Store in Orlando in their demonstration ring where we took existing LEGO sets and mixed them with our own imaginations to create massive displays.
While I was on holiday I went to LEGOLAND California to enquire about how to become a model builder for LEGOLAND (as I knew they were building a park here in Florida) and showed them some photos of the work I had done for the store.
Just two weeks later, I was invited for an interview at the model shop in California. I got the job and have been a model builder ever since!
Do you have to take exams to become a Master Builder?
There are no exams per se, but there is quite an extensive interview process which includes building challenges, an on-camera interview process and a standard interview like you’d have with any job.
Is a lot of planning needed to create the models, or do you just start building and see where it goes??
Oh yeah – a lot of planning goes into every model we create! This includes a prototype process where we create a smaller, unglued version of the model to make sure everything works the way we want it to.
What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever created from LEGO?
My favourite LEGO model that I created for the park would be a Miniland scale model of The Quest for CHI attraction when The LEGO World of Chima first opened. It ended up being 4ft x 6ft and was built entirely off concept drawings and blueprints.
One of Jason’s small-but-deadly models!
So a lot goes into bringing these creations to life! What’s the usual life-span of your LEGO models?
Our models in the park can last for 10 – 15 years.
Have any of the models suffered a freak accident? Do you get called out to repair them?
We’ve not had any freak accidents (touch wood!), but there’s obviously normal wear and tear from guest interactions that we do get called on to repair.
Well assess the damage and come up with a plan on the best way to fix it. If the damage is minimal we may do the repairs during park hours, but if its a little more extensive we might have to pull the model backstage for repairs.
Most repair call-outs are for access panels – LEGO that we leave unglued to access internal components – which can become loose or fall out.
Be honest with us; is there anything you’ve really hated building?
Because I really love unique projects that require a lot of creativity, Id say my least favourite projects are ones where we have to build the same model many times over (like creating 1000 stars) or models that take a really long time to build – some can take over 2 months!
Is there any competition (friendly of course!) between the 4 Master Builders?
There really isn’t! Every builder has their strengths and weaknesses and each one plays up to them so we work really well as a team.
One of LEGOLAND’s more formidable creations
It definitely sounds like you officially have the coolest job at LEGOLAND. Are there any other equally cool jobs there?
I would say I have one of the cooler jobs in the company! Some of the other cool ones would probably be performing in one of the live shows or designing the shows and attractions for the park.
For everyone who’s visiting LEGOLAND this year, what would you most recommend they go and see?
Anyone visiting this year should definitely check out the Quest for CHI splash battle water ride in the LEGO World of Chima. It will leave you soaked to the bone but you’ll have a blast doing it!
Im also a huge fan of our four roller coasters and we just updated the Dragon coaster with a bunch of new models to enhance the experience.
Also, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to explore Miniland and spot all the little details us Master Builders have sneaked in there!
Secret details hey?? Are there any secrets you can let us in on, to look out for at the park?
Hmmm now what can I reveal??! The Model Builders have hidden many little details in the park – most of them are in Miniland USA. You’ll find me (well a LEGO version of me!) in two parts of Miniland: On the coast cruise ship going around the Statue of Liberty (I’ve got a blue hat and a camera in front of my face) and also I’m the only pilot with brown spiky hair in Hoth at the LEGO Star WarsTM Miniland Model Display.
The model builders have also managed to reference some of their favourite movies and TV shows in the parks models, including Back to the Future, Sister Act, Men in Black, and Spiderman – but Ill leave it up to you to try and find them!
We’ll do our best! Thanks for chatting with us Jason!