Legoland Windsor is a big thrill for little kids, finds Juliet Dennis and her five-year-old twins
Who doesn’t love Lego? Most of us played with it as children, and it’s just as popular today – a ‘must-have’ in any five-year-old’s toy box.
So for clients with young children, Legoland Windsor Resort is an essential building block for a UK family break.
Where to stay
Persuading parents shouldn’t take much – chances are, they’ve been nagged already – and it wasn’t long before my five-year-old twins, Joe and Nina, got wind of Legoland.
The grand Legoland Hotel sells only direct to consumers, but agents can take their pick of keenly priced hotels nearby, which can be packaged up with park tickets by operators such as SuperBreak, or just buy tickets from specialists such as Attraction World.
SuperBreak found us a hotel five miles away in Old Windsor: the Beaumont Estate is a 14th-century building nicely situated in large grounds, with a pool, tennis courts and children’s playground, and a good base for exploring the area.
By the time we arrived, Joe and Nina were beside themselves with excitement, but as with all theme parks and overwhelmed youngsters, we needed a plan to squeeze in enough rides, pit-stops and all-important ‘downtime’ (movie for kids, coffee for adults).
The Q-bot – a ride reservation device helping visitors avoid long queues – provided the answer and was, without question, the best buy of our stay. It must be booked in advance as only a limited number are available, and costs £15 per person (aged three and up) per day for the regular version, or £75 for the Q-Bot Ultimate.
Staff at the pick-up point were helpful and the devices easy to use, even for the technologically challenged (me). It meant we could plan each big ride without the need to rush or worry about queues, and we even booked two film screenings for later in the day.
In the park
With 11 kingdoms and areas, including the new Heartlake City which opened this summer, it’s hard to know where to start. The best advice we had was from another parent – start at the back of the park and work forward – so we headed to Atlantis Submarine Voyage in Adventure Land.
After walking straight in (thanks Q-Bot), we were in our yellow submarine in no time. The ride thrilled the kids with sightings of “real sharks, mummy!” plus colourful fish, underwater Lego pirates and mermaids, and an Octonauts-style mission.
Every inch of Legoland has been carefully thought-out. Lego creatures are all over the park, and the incredible Miniland replicas of famous worldwide sights meant we loved it as much as the kids did.
Highlights had to be The Dragon rollercoaster in Knights Kingdom, and Vikings’ River Splash in Land of the Vikings, a raft ride which had Joe screaming with delight – until he got soaked and then refused to set foot on a water ride again.
My husband Nick and Nina certainly won’t forget their Raft Racers water slide in a hurry, wet bottoms and all, and I couldn’t get enough of log flume Pirate Falls Treasure Quest.
Joe and Nina earned their ‘driving licence’ at L-Drivers in Lego City (they were too young to test out the new driving school); then the dads flashed their biceps and won the Fire Academy race ride to shrieks of delight from their five-year-old passengers.
There is plenty to fill a weekend: even in two days we couldn’t try everything, and the drizzle kept the kids from putting on swimming costumes for Drench City water park, so that’s on the list for next time.
As well as the rides, there were plenty of play areas and indoor attractions for rainy days – we all enjoyed the Star Wars Miniland.
But for all the thrills of the rides, one of our highlights was not a ride at all, or for that matter Lego, but a high-energy acrobatic pirate show (with plenty of innuendo and guffawing), and a traditional puppet show of The Three Little Pigs full of panto-esque drama.
There’s a lot to be said for good, old-fashioned storytelling. Only the other day, Nina asked: “Mummy, can we go to see a show like the one at Legoland with the little pigs in it?”
Book it: SuperBreak offers two-day park tickets and two nights at the Beaumont Estate from £393 for a family of four. Attraction World offers one-day park tickets for £43 per adult, £38 per child (3-15 years) and two-day tickets for £51 adult/£46 child.
Legoland Windsor: New for 2015
Lego City Driving School is bigger, with more child-sized Fiat cars, a revamped training area and a new lane on the course, suitable for six to 13-year-olds.
A new Lego Friends area introduces Heartlake City characters Mia, Andrea, Stephanie, Emma and Olivia (pictured below). This includes City Mall, the Heartlake City Express train, Emma’s Ice Cream Parlour, Olivia’s house (where kids can build robots or a home for Olivia’s pets), and live-action music show Friends to the Rescue.
A new-look boating school features more boats and Lego models, with audio effects and animations.
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