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Ford Builds A New Explorer (And Driving School) Out Of Bricks. LEGOS, That Is.

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On: Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 10:15AM | By: Andrew W Davis


Ford Builds A New Explorer (And Driving School) Out Of Bricks. LEGOS, That Is.

While the original Explorer looked (and handled) like a brick, this is the first time Ford has actually built one OUT of bricks.

It's true. Somehow, in between building ACTUAL Fords, the folks at the firm's Chicago Assembly Plant found the time to put 380,000 LEGO bricks together atop a 768-pound aluminum support base to create a full-size mostly-red Explorer simulacrum.

That it weighs 2,654 lbs. and took 22 designers and more than 2,500 man-hours to create is interesting. But it’s where it’s headed that really matters.

In a press release Ford had this to say about its creation:

“A unique Ford Explorer rolling off the line today at Chicago Assembly Plant will feature the model's trademark eye-catching craftsmanship with one notable distinction. This Ford Explorer is created from more than 380,000 LEGO bricks and marks the beginning of a long-term alliance between Ford and LEGOLAND® Florida theme park.”

That’s right; this bricked-out beast is headed for LEGOLAND Florida, the latest park that derives its amusement from little plastic construction toys. Due to open Oct. 15th, the “150-acre family theme park, located in Winter Haven, will offer more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions geared for families with children ages 2 to 12.”

You might wonder why Ford would care enough about this Florida fun-factory to form an ANY-term alliance with it, but wonder no more:

“‘Ford is excited to support the alliance between LEGOLAND Florida and the Southeast Ford dealers. The LEGOLAND Florida Explorer and the Ford Driving School attraction are great opportunities to showcase our products and safety messages to families and visitors in a unique way,’ said Tracy Magee, Ford Experiential Marketing manager.”

Still stumped? Well, “after its debut at the historic Chicago plant, which produces the Explorer, the vehicle will be loaded onto a trailer with transparent sides so motorists can see the LEGO Explorer as it makes its way to the new 150-acre LEGOLAND Florida theme park just outside Orlando. There it will be featured in front of one of the park's attractions, the Ford Driving School for children.”

There it is. Yup, Ford’s built itself a driving school in the “LEGO City” section of LEGOLAND Florida which it says “allows children to experience the fun and responsibility of driving in their own vehicles (at a maximum speed of 3 mph).”

If you’re wondering if this feature is enough to drag several hundred dollars out of your future fun fund, I can’t say. Ford, on the other hand, is all about explanations:

“The driving school is divided by age. There's a Ford Junior Driving School for children ages 3 to 5 years old and a Ford Driving School for those ages 6 to 12. The children watch a video with driving instructions and safety tips – starting with the basics like safety belts and the difference between the accelerator and the brake – and move on to stoplights and stop signs. Children then have the opportunity to drive in their own electric vehicles on curbed roads with maximum speed limits of 3 mph.

“With its detailed LEGO theme, the attraction is designed to give children the experience of driving in a real-world neighborhood.

“While the children are behind the wheel, park employees known as "model citizens" are nearby to ensure the experience stays positive. After the drive is complete, the children are issued their own Ford Driving School license.

“The school was the brainchild of Florida-area Ford dealers that worked with LEGOLAND Florida management, and is designed to introduce the fun and responsibility of driving skills to children.”

As a car-oriented person who has three kids (barely) under-12-years-of-age, I guess I’m deep in the bull’s-eye of Ford’s target market. But to be honest, on a journalist’s salary (ha!), I think I’ll just show them the super-awesome time-lapse video clip and let them lap-drive a REAL car at 3 mph, thus saving myself untold riches and countless crowded-theme-park-related headaches.

But I’m all for ANY program with Ford’s stated goals, and it’s not like we have too MANY “schools” teaching this—and the next—generation how to not kill themselves and all of us with REAL Ford Explorers that don’t limit themselves to 3 (or even 30) mph.

I await the close of opening day—and the flood of YouTube videos that will certainly follow—to see just how “fun” this experience ends up being. As for its effectiveness, I guess we’ll all find out in around eight years, when the first Ford Driving School license-holders become ACTUALLY-licensed drivers.

We can only pray that while those no-longer-children drivers are behind the wheel for real, that they can be their own "model citizens" to ensure the “experience stays positive” for all of us.

Time-Lapse Video

More on LEGOLAND Florida




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