It was Mr Curmudgeon’s fault ! Whilst enjoying a family Christmas and helping his two granddaughters with their Lego, he foolishly asked where they would like us to take them in 2017. ‘Legoland ‘ they both said in unison, my stare indicated my disapproval but Mr Curmudgeon whispered they will soon forget.
A few months later and after incessant nagging from the children, we found ourselves outside the entrance of Legoland with two very excited children.
Theme parks have never been our favourite destinations because they tend to be expensive, have long queues and children’s initial excitement often turns tears and disappointment. To be fair to Legoland, they have tried to prevent large queues from the entrance by allowing people into a beginning area in which the kids can have a look around before the main part of the park is opened.
The remarkable Miniland area which features over 40 million Lego bricks which are part of numerous buildings and objects from small scale towns and cities from around the world. The Lego brick is one of the most amazing toy inventions since the Second World War and proves that any toy that allows the creativity of the child or adult to come through will probably be successful.
Amongst the hundreds of nervous parents and excited children, we waited in anticipation for the park to open. People who had visited before, clutched their maps with plans of which attractions to visit first. We decided to take a more leisurely approach and slowly wander around the park.
The park is split into 12 themed lands, incorporating various attractions for particular age groups. The Beginning, Imagination Centre, Duplo Valley, Miniland, Adventure Land, LEGO City, Pirate Shores, Heartlake City, Knight´s Kingdom, Land of the Vikings and Kingdom of the pharaohs.
Duplo Valley is generally aimed at the 3 – 6 age group with a series of water features including Fairy Tale Brook, Raft Racers, Splash Safari and Drench Towers. The weather was not conducive for this area, so we made our way to Lego City which has transport themes and allows the 6-13 age group to try Balloon School: Experience the ups and downs of a hot air balloon ride. Coastguard HQ: an interactive boat ride for children. Fire Academy: helping the ‘firefighters’ to power a LEGO fire engine and putting out a ‘burning’ building. And Lego City Driving School.
Other areas have their own attractions; popular areas include Land of the Vikings, Kingdom of the Pharaohs, Pirate Shores and Knights Kingdom with the major rides being The Dragon and the Dragon’s Apprentice. This area also has a very popular Adventure playground. Adventure Land is situated around a lake at the far end of the park, where the main attraction is Atlantis Submarine Voyage which features “submarine” vehicles used to travel through the tank of sharks and other marine creatures.
The park’s attractions are a mixture of Lego-themed rides, Lego models and interactive areas where children can build with Lego. Once again, Legoland cleverly incorporates building tables in the queues to keep children’s minds occupied.
Many of the attractions are geared to the 3 to 13 age group and allow adults to join children on the rides. Whilst there is an element of ‘fun’ to this, getting in and out of the rides can be a bit of a struggle for those with creaking bones and expanding waistlines.
In some ways, Legoland Windsor is a victim of its own success, In 2015, the park had 2.25 million visitors, making it the most visited theme park in the United Kingdom. This means it can get extremely busy in peak times especially weekends and school holidays. Queues can be quite long for some rides, although most of the rides are quite short in duration. By the late afternoon, tiredness begins to come into play with some parents and children with a few tears and tantrums.
Legoland suffers from the negatives of most theme parks; expensive admission, queues, limited food and drink options. However because it caters for younger age groups and Legoland does think about entertaining visitors in a number of ways, Legoland Winsdor is one of the better attractions of its kind.
Making our way out of the park, our tired but happy granddaughters ran ahead. I smiled to Mr Curmudgeon and said ‘ It has been a quite enjoyable day, but if you ever promise the girls again to take them to a theme park, you will be in the doghouse’.
‘Woof’ he replied as he nearly fell over a Lego character.
Legoland Windsor generally opens from March to November, but there are closures on some days.