Kids love the toys at Království železnic; parents love the AC
Excitement is building at Království železnic (Railway Kindgom).
The cavernous basement space in Prague 5 is home to meters of model railroad track, which are in the midst of becoming a model of the entire Czech rail system.
And if railroads and model trains don’t capture your fancy, creative kids of all ages now have another reason to visit: Central and Eastern Europe’s largest Lego exhibition.
“It’s an interactive exhibit. Plus, who has so many Lego sets and models at home?” said Milan Peterka, general manager of Království železnic. “It’s interesting to see them complete and together in one place.”
Imagine an 80-square-meter display filled with 160 Lego sets, assembled into miniature scenes: a performing circus complete with lion tamer, swinging monkey and a dolphin trainer with her pupil in a small pool. There’s a construction site, filled with cranes and dump trucks, as well as a zoo, farmyard and mini-campsite. People, animals, vehicles – they all exist in this miniature world. It took about a month to assemble the exhibition.
“We held a competition over one weekend where groups could put sets together,” Peterka said. “About half was done, and then the next weekend we invited visitors who wanted to help assemble. Some of the employees took them home, as well.”
Visitors can see all 311 sets Lego currently has on the retail market. For inventive kids, the possibilities are almost endless. A pirate-themed model comes complete with flag, palm tree, crocodiles and treasure chest. For the digital generation, there’s a Lego robot with touch sensors and Bluetooth capability, which can be programmed on a computer. Back in Lego Land, be sure to push the buttons located on the glass display panels and then pay close attention; something is bound to happen.
On the airport runway, the landing tower and the runway lights activate, and then a plane comes in for a landing. There’s a river with a bridge and seaplane, a small village with a pizza parlor and, appropriately enough for the Czech Republic, apartment buildings resembling colorful paneláks.
Království železnic opened in 2009 with 115 square meters of model railroad and the goal of designing the entire Czech railway system by 2014. Currently, the Ústí region’s railroads are complete, and workers are busy assembling the railways surrounding Karlovy Vary and Plzen.
The 2,800-square-meter space spans two floors. The top floor is filled with model railways, the humming and clicking providing a quiet backdrop to the carefully arranged vistas. Trains run around villages, past churches and through stations. Lights dim and darken to give the impression of the day-night cycle. Darkness obscures some of the minor details, but is better for noting others, like the lighted trains and streetlights.
Looking over the balcony to the bottom level, one gets a bird’s eye view of the Lego exhibition, plus the space where the railway model is being constructed. Also down below is an interactive area for kids.
Two train models are set up to allow visitors to play engineer. There’s a kid’s corner filled with buckets of Legos for busy hands and even an Xbox 360 game system, but on one recent visit, this seemed to draw more fathers than kids. There are seemingly endless displays, a stationary setup using wooden tracks and another plastic one bearing the familiar face of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Království železnic receives 150,000 visitors per year and, with potentially bored children at home this summer, is a great place to kill a couple of air-conditioned hours.
Between endless lines of tracks and a colorful Lego world, imaginations of all ages are free to run wild.