Readers’ lives: James Bailey

Readers’ lives: James Bailey

He’s got the job most children dream of – playing with Lego all day long. And he gets to do it in Dubai. Amie Keeley speaks to James Bailey.

my typical day at work involves…
I go straight into the park at 7.30am to check with my assistant manager whether we are facing any major issues that cannot be resolved before the park opens. Legoland Dubai features six themed lands, so I do a park-wide walk to check that everything is safe and looking its best. I then go to the Dragon Coaster to make sure all the animated models work. The Dragon is a must-ride highlight for children and parents – it’s 15 metres high and reaches speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour. At 9.15am, I meet the maintenance team for a briefing about the day’s work, highlighting anything that we should be aware of. Then I will do some paperwork, ordering stock and spare parts, while my team continues to either build models or design new elements for Miniland – an interactive area featuring Dubai’s iconic skyline and landmarks from around the Middle East, made up of 20 million Lego bricks. I have lunch at 1pm then head back to the workshop at 2pm. If there is nothing more pressing, I get to build with Lego. We plan well in advance and are already designing for the Halloween events. This is one of the most awesome parts of my job! I finish between 5.30pm and 6pm.

I’ve been in my job for . . .
More than a year, since the pre-opening period of Legoland Dubai. Before that, I was an architectural model maker working in the UK, Hong Kong and Dubai.

I became a Legoland Dubai model shop manager because . . .
I have always loved Lego and enjoyed design. Working with my hands to create something from scratch is very rewarding when you see tangible results at the end of the day. When I heard there was an opening at Legoland Dubai, I knew it was my dream job.

My daily duties involve . . .
Making sure that the park is safe for guests before we open, attending a morning meeting with the maintenance team, writing staff rosters and completing health and safety records. I work with the creative team to come up with new and exciting ideas for the park, and work closely with the marketing and events team on new events both in and outside the park. And, of course, I build with Lego.

Most rewarding part of my job is . . .
Viewing the final product of the team’s work being enjoyed by guests from all over the world. I love seeing people’s reaction when they first enter Miniland, which is made up of 20 million Lego bricks, re-creating key landmarks from around the Middle East.

Most challenging part of my job is . . .
Keeping our models safe. We want everyone to enjoy the park, but gently.

My favourite destination is . . .
The Maldives – and being able to get there in four hours is a bonus.

I am most commonly asked . . .
“How do we stick the models together?” or “how many bricks does it take to make certain models?”. It can be hundreds or hundreds of thousands, depending on the size and complexity of the models.

The worst thing that’s happened at work is . . .
Sandstorms. Some rides are several metres tall, so cleaning afterwards can be difficult. Luckily, Miniland at Legoland Dubai is indoors.

To relax I like to . . .
Practise mixed martial arts and scuba dive.

The one thing I would take to a desert island . . .
A book by my favourite author Len Deighton, and, of course, some Lego bricks.

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