Meet LEGOLAND California’s Newest Model Builders


I apologize for not posting the results of LEGOLAND California’s Master Model Builder Search earlier, but even as just an observer, it was an exhausting process! This was a two day competition testing the builder’s skills on many levels. The first day consisted of three building challenges. Challenge number one was to copy-build a Seahorse model (designed by Andy Grubb) in 20 minutes or less.

Copy building is an essential skill as a Master Model Builder. And the faster you can build, the better.

The second challenge was a team build. This was the first time LEGOLAND has added this particular challenge to the mix. Each team had 20 minutes to create an “up-scaled” version of a classic minifigure. In the secession I was in there were three teams of three. What they all ended up doing was each taking a section of the minifig — head, torso, and legs, and then combining them.


The final challenge of the first day was a “free build.” They had one hour to build whatever they wanted. Elizabeth DeSilva, on of the Master Model Designers, reminded them that they should create something that might be found in the park.

After three intense challenges, the builders were given the rest of the day off and told the theme for the final build — Dune Raiders, the newest ride in the Land of Adventure.

Yesterday was the day. It ended up that there were 18 finalists and a possible 6 job openings. If you do the math, that is a 1 in 3 chance of landing a job, much better odds than the last Model Builder Search when there were 24 finalists and only 1 job offered. 😛

They had 2 hours to build and they were allowed to bring reference images to work from if they wanted to. There were a lot of pretty clever models, even though some of them didn’t make sense until the very end.




When it was all over, there was a surprise. Not only were 5 people chosen for the position of Master Model Builder, but 4 others were offered a Model Associate job (basically a copy builder position). Here’s the official press release:

CARLSBAD, Calif. (June 25, 2009) – Eighteen job hunters competed for the ultimate dream job at
LEGOLAND® California today and five walked away with offers to work as Model Builders at the family theme park in Carlsbad. Joel Baker (23) of Seattle, Washington; Brian Heins (35) of San Diego, California; Amanda Jouan (26) of Chula Vista, California; Mark Larson (32) of Chicago, Illinois; and Ryan Wood (25) of Los Angeles, California out built other hopeful contenders to be the newest members of the LEGOLAND Model Shop Team.

The Model Builder Search began with 150 people submitting applications online. More than 25 were selected to compete in the first round of competition on June 25 in which qualified candidates were asked to complete three challenges: a copy build, where applicants had to copy an existing LEGO® model; a team build, where applicants were challenged to build something together; and a creative build where each applicant built a model within just one hour, testing their creativity and time management skills.

The search culminated with today’s final build-off where Park guests watched in anticipation as the finalists had just two hours to build an impressive 3D model based on the Park’s newest area, Land of Adventure. They were judged on their creativity, strategy, ability to build a three-dimensional model and their calmness under pressure. After today’s competition, all of the finalists got the chance to slide down Dune Raiders, the Park’s newest ride before it opens to the public June 26, 2009. The winners’ models will be installed in Dune Raiders to be seen by Park guests all summer long.

Dune Raiders features six side-by-side nearly 50-foot-long racing lanes and a pair of double-helix corkscrews that are more than 15 feet high. The fifth attraction within Land of Adventure, Dune Raiders is themed in an Egyptian bazaar motif complete with a new gaming area called Thunder’s Quest and new LEGO models including a snake charmer with animated snakes.

Baker, Heins, Jouan, Larson and Wood will not only help with projects within LEGOLAND California such as Dune Raiders, but will help build the thousands of LEGO models going on display in other Merlin Entertainments properties such as LEGOLAND Malaysia, LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Shaumburg, LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Xanadu and LEGOLAND Dubailand as well.

The Model Builders hired today will have 30 days in which to start their new job. There are a mere 24 Model Builders at all four LEGOLAND Parks. Ten of them currently work here at LEGOLAND California. Coming from various backgrounds and skills, they all have two things in common: They use every ounce of creativity in their daily work, and they’re passionate about it.

With so many talented finalists, LEGOLAND California also offered entry level positions to four of the competitors. Bryan Decker of San Diego, Samuel Swiger of Carlsbad, Eric Christie of Hemet and Dana Bradsema of San Diego will be working on the Model Shop Team at LEGOLAND California as Model Shop Associates.

Good luck to all those that were chosen and I hope you enjoy your new jobs. 🙂 Oh, and if you are interested, I’ve posted the full set of photos on Flickr.


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2 Responses to “Meet LEGOLAND California’s Newest Model Builders”

  1. Mack Says:

    Thanks for sharing such a nice article. Very nice photo. Legoland theme park in UK is a complete family entertainment package. Dragon coaster is a dangerous ride, very scary for children as well as adults. Don’t miss the live running shows, building workshops, lego models in all shapes and sizes, driving schools, fire academy. For more details refer

  2. Steve Blake Says:

    I have an idea for a model at LEGOLAND California. How do I get to the right person to present the idea. Thank you, in advance, for your assistance!

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