Friday, December 21, 2012

Lego Disney Wonder Cruise Ship

The Lego Wonder

Recently, I built a model of the Disney Wonder, in Lego.  It's displayed at work, where I'm known for building Lego things, see "Shawn Dropped the Space Needle".  It's been displayed at BrickCon 2012 and is currently at work in Building 85.

There's also a YouTube video with my Lego at Lego Disney Wonder.  I've gotten a lot of questions, so here goes:

Lego Disney Wonder
The Lego Wonder is as accurate as I could make it, which took about 4500 pieces.  The stats: it's about 4 feet / 1.2 meters long.  It took about 6 days (Lara says 60 hours) to build, as we were interrupted by shows on the ship, ports of call, etc.  As there are few Lego stores in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we spent a couple weeks planning before the trip.

It Just Happened One Day

Rough mockup of Lego Disney Wonder
I blame it all on my wife, Lara.  We were planning on a cruise (one guess which ship), and she pointed out that on long cruises they sometimes have boat building contests.  She also mentioned that the judges might like to see their own ship, and, besides, it's a pretty ship.

With that conversation in mind, a few weeks before the cruise I noticed that our Lego store had a sale, and so I grabbed some bulk bricks. 

Of course when I got home and tried to do some research, and discovered that all my guesses were all wrong.  (I usually underestimate how many pieces I'll need for these things).  In the store there were 1x3 yellow bricks that I thought might work for life boats.  I also guessed that 16 studs wide would be about wide enough for the detail, and figured it'd be maybe 2 or 3 feet long.  Once I got the dimensions of the real ship I found how long and skinny cruise ships really are.  

My width, and the structure of the balconies also sort of forced the scale.  If I wanted it 16 studs wide and ledges for the balconies, then it was going to have to be 150 or so studs long....

All Those Little Details

Lego Wonder lifeboat prototyping
Figuring out Lifeboats
My 3-stud lifeboats weren't going to fit at that scale.  But the store didn't have any bricks the right color, so I was going to have to order bricks online, and we only had a couple of weeks before we left on the cruise.  I browsed through parts lists and came up with a few different ideas, but I wouldn't really know what worked for sure until I had the bricks in hand to play with, so I ordered parts for several different ways of building each lifeboat.  Enough for 10 lifeboats on each side.  I tried a few things at home, but crossed my fingers that the parts would work when they came.  That went for the parts for several other details as well.  The stacks for example, I only had a vague idea about, and so I tried to find a few different options that might work.

My biggest problem is that I remembered the hull being blue, but that didn't work in the rough mockup of part of the hull.  I went back to the store and got black, which worked a lot better (the hull looks black in a lot of photos of the real ship), but I still wanted better.  Unfortunately the right color was very rare and difficult to find. 

I managed to order some at the last minute, but it didn't seem like it would arrive in time.  I gathered some black just in case.  On the last day before we left I checked the mailbox, not really expecting anything.  There were some letters, so the mail had come, but no bricks :(  Not terribly surprised that they hadn't come, I walked up to the door, and there was a small package.  The missing bricks had arrived!

Ironically, later, on the ship, after that work on the colors, one of the other guests asked why it wasn't black, and I had to point out that the real ship wasn't black!



  1. Hey there! I am starting a lego blog and would love to feature your ship! What do you think?

    1. That could work. Have you seen L3-G0 too? ( - just for another idea.

  2. We're back on Lego Ideas! Support this Lego model there, and please share!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. We are doing 3 Disney cruises shortly. Can you email me pics of your Lego ship? We want to post the pictures on our cabin door to promote support for your project> Thanks

    3. You can probably find one of those "download youtube video" things online to download the video. We have photos on flickr -

  3. A link would help on Lego Ideas. Please support and share!!!

  4. Wow, Any thoughts on making a few hinged sections to be able to see the Atrium Oceaneer club/lab and the Theater? (Hybrid deck 4/5) There would need to be a special piece for the Ariel statue though.

  5. do you have any bluprint or brick count or any sort of instructions would love to build this

    1. Best thing would be to support the project on Lego Ideas, and get other folks to support it too! It's about 4500 bricks, but we don't have plans.

    2. is the project on Lego Ideas