Long range aircraft, wireless communication, currency banking… Many innovations have continued to make the world a smaller place, but what if one wanted to take the term “small world” in a literal sense? Imagine taking in an entire continent in one day, or standing in one place and seeing countless global landmarks. These popular attractions let you do just that.
Babbacombe Model Village
Babbacombe is a pretty district of the equally pretty Devon seaside town of Torquay. The area has a theatre, a clifftop green and a picturesque beach, but is perhaps best known for its model village. Babbacombe Model Village is probably the best known example of such an attraction in the UK, and in an age of thrill rides and high tech interactive experiences it is clearly doing something right to keep pulling in the crowds some 52 years after it first opened.
The concept of a model village in itself is a quaint one, and in many ways transports visitors back to a different – possibly simpler – age. With miniature scenes representing maypole dancing on the village green, Tudor style housing and shop name puns such as Annie Seedballs the confectioner, there are many memories of yesteryear on the menu. Perhaps then Babbacombe Model Village’s success lies in part with maintaining this reassuring old world vibe, while still accommodating modern developments – a wind farm and a replica of London’s Shard skyscraper are among the more recent additions.
While Babbacombe Model Village preserves a slice of old England, Mini-Europe in Brussels is very much about selling the European Union dream – all of the continent’s countries together. Bringing together Europe’s best known landmarks the park is a fascinating sight to behold, not just due to the range of structures but because of their size.
Lake and beach
With buildings at 1 to 25 scale, not every feature will make you feel like a giant as some landmarks (the Eiffel Tower at 13 metres in height for example) still boast formidable dimensions even in “miniature”. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and Brussels’ own Grand Place are among the other scenes replicated around Mini-Europe.
The Miniland USA, Legoland, California
If seeing America in a day is more your thing, you can do just that in California courtesy of some well known plastic building blocks. The Miniland USA feature is described as being the “heart” of the Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad.
The Hollywood bowl
Constructed with 20 million Lego bricks, it is a real labour of love depicting iconic scenes and skylines from across the USA. At New York’s Central Park you will find little people doing Tai-Chi and taking carriage rides, while San Francisco’s Pier 39 has a working carousel and sea lions basking in the sun. And make sure you see the presidential motorcade in the Washington D.C. replica, where the figures are changed to represent the current White House occupants. Since the park opened Lego versions of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – as well as their First Ladies – have appeared in the scene.
US Capitol Building
When visiting a compact attraction you’ll want to travel compact too – why carry excess luggage or wrestle with traveller’s cheques and wads of bank notes. A multi currency card is another example of good things coming in small packages.