The American Archipelago. Touring the Nation at Miniland USA

Samantha J. Boardman

If you get the opportunity to go to one of the LEGOLAND® theme parks—go. Really. They’re awesome. Not just because they’re beautifully landscaped and full of LEGO® brick statuary, or because their “pink knuckle” rides offer additional entertainment for budding adrenaline junkies, but because they’re wonderful places to contemplate how we—both Americans and non-Americans—imagine America and what it means to be American. No, really.

In LEGO fan parlance, the “Fan Developed Theme” or “FDT” (also sometimes referred to as a “Fan Created Theme”) is a theme derived from the imaginations of LEGO enthusiasts rather than one officially sanctioned by LEGO HQ. In Miniland USA, the nation itself takes on many of the characteristics of the FDT: vignettes of LEGO bricks, thematically unified as “American,” based on representations of locations throughout the United States. Unlike other areas in the park that use thematic elements from LEGO kits, the Miniland USA section is not a representation of any official “American” LEGO series, but instead an intersection where the LEGO enthusiast and the national imagination meet, a collective endeavor constructing a vision at once universally recognizable and wholly unique.

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