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Travel – It’s a Small World

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.


Image by Glamhag via Flickr


Image by Glamhag via Flickr

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.

Beeching Halt

Image by Glamhag via Flickr

Castlebury Clinic

Image by Glamhag via Flickr

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

Image by Glamhag via Flickr

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.

Wombley Stadion

Image by Gary Troughton via Flickr

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.

Las Vegas

Image by Kris Arnold via Flickr

The Hollywood bowl

Image by Ron McDonald via Flickr

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

Image by wiredforlego via Flickr

New York

Image by Thom Watson via Flickr

San Francisco

Image by Thom Watson via Flickr

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.

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