Daytona International Speedway has a sleek new look at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. It’s the newest model in MINILAND USA, where visitors discover dozens of LEGO landmarks from across the United States. The sounds of cheering fans greet theme park guests as they approach the 1/20-scale model of the “World Center of Racing,” updated following the "DAYTONA Rising Project" - a $400 million renovation that made DIS the first motorsports stadium in the world.

The theme park version was designed and built by Merlin Magic Making at its new creative hub in Lake Wales, Fla., which develops displays for Merlin Entertainments attractions around the world. Made of nearly 300,000 LEGO bricks and stretching 31 feet long, the miniature stadium is now the single largest model in MINILAND USA. “Race fans have been thrilled by the transformation of the world’s first motorsports stadium,” said Chip Wile, President of the Daytona International Speedway. “I’m sure LEGOLAND guests will be just as impressed by this awesome replica.”

Veteran NASCAR driver Casey Mears recently visited the theme park to celebrate the giant new display, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ return to DIS for the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on Saturday, July 2 and for a special event — a two-car race through MINILAND USA in kid-sized vehicles borrowed from the theme park’s popular Driving School attraction.

Racing against Mears was 10-year-old Layla Popoff, whose dream of a giant backyard playhouse was fulfilled by Make-A-Wish® Central and Northern Florida earlier this year. The spirited Orlando, Fla., resident was tapped for the friendly competition with the assistance of Merlin’s Magic Wand, a global charity that has enabled nearly 300,000 children and their families to enjoy a magical day out at more than 100 Merlin attractions around the world.

As a crowd of cheering fans gathered along the miniature racetrack for the “MINILAND 400,” Mears climbed into a vehicle resembling a LEGO-built version of his No. 13 GEICO race car while Layla took the wheel of a car representing the Coke Zero 400.

The four most famous words in motorsports kicked off the exciting action: “Drivers, start your engines!” With a wave of the green flag, the race was off to a “fast” start, topping out at a modest 3.7 mph as the racers took off from between LEGO models of the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. Capitol.

Neck-and-neck as they zoomed past the New York City skyline, the racers remained close as they barreled down the Las Vegas Strip. With the finish line in sight at the new DIS model, Mears suddenly plowed into a pile of oversized LEGO bricks while Layla raced across the finish line to the delight of park guests and assembled media, claiming victory in the inaugural MINILAND 400. Posing next to Mears, she accepted a giant LEGO trophy from Wile with a triumphant smile.

Afterward, Mears greeted fans in the theme park’s Imagination Zone, a popular indoor space filled with hands-on LEGO building activities in a variety of themes, where kids can put their imaginations into overdrive. Using his years of competitive driving expertise, Mears helped kids design and build creative LEGO vehicles before sending them zooming down timed ramps in the racing-themed Wheels Zone.

Now open after a months-long refurbishment, the awesomely re-imagined Imagination Zone gives LEGOLAND Florida Resort guests many great new reasons to come and play.  Several all-new LEGO building activities promise endless possibilities to dream it, build it, race it, fly it, swim it and more in a cool indoor play area that’s been totally transformed with colorful furnishings and floor-to-ceiling graphics.

This summer is packed full of excitement at the place #BuiltForKids, including LEGOLAND Night Lights, an all-new summertime event included with park admission that features extended park hours, special entertainment and a spectacular LEGO NINJAGO™ fireworks display taking place every Saturday and Sunday through July 31, plus Monday, July 4. For more information, visit

PHOTOS: © 2016 LEGOLAND Florida Resort. All Rights Reserved.

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