Saturday, August 27, 2016

Our English Summer: Legoland Windsor

We got a really good deal for Legoland Windsor by extending our stay at the Hilton St. Anne's Manor and getting a 2 day pass. If you want to skip the hotel combination

The hotel was an absolute stunner, we loved our family room (I think Bubs loved all the kids TV channels they had on) and given that it was the peak of summer, we bought heaps of fresh fruit daily.

The official Legoland Windsor site lists opening times as 10am - 7pm but what it doesn't mention - and you'll thank me for this *smug smile* - is that the gates open at 9.30am! Skip getting tickets at the gates (a hotel guest told us that the lines were an absolute nightmare) and just print out your online tickets with the bar code so you can enter the park a whole lot quicker. Rides only start at 10am but at least you get to walk around Mini Land for a bit.

The only issue we had was that public transport to Legoland was that even with the earliest bus, we'd only each after 10am but I was adamant about beating the crowds. Hubs called up a taxi company and it worked out to be a reasonably priced option.

Legoland Windsor is spread out across a vast, hilly terrain so be prepared for lots and lots of walking. You will get wet on some rides and there is a wet play area at Duplo Valley for kids to splash about so pick shoes that are comfy and will dry quickly like Crocs (Bubs) or Melissa (my essentials). If your little ones can't handle that much walking, bring along a stroller or rent one so you can dump all the bags in it.

Sunscreen is a must as you're going to be outdoors the entire day and I made Bubs pop on a hat. Bring along as much water as you can carry because once in the park, it was close to impossible to find a drinking fountain.

Food and drinks are exorbitantly priced so if you're going the whole day, bring along a packed lunch as Legoland Windsor allows outside food and drinks and there are plenty of spots where you can sit and enjoy your meal.

All popular rides require about 30 - 45 mins wait time - I am not exaggerating, guys - and the ride finishes in just a couple of minutes. Thanks to commercialisation, you can buy Q-bot passes to cut queues and to further drain your wallet, they even have different levels of Q-bots for you to skip the lines even quicker.

Cynical, much? :) Last bit of handy hint: bring Daiso raincoats with you because you will definitely get wet on the wet rides (to give Legoland credit, they do warn you in advance), there are raincoat vending machines for £3 each and if you do end up soaking wet, don't worry, pay another £2 to use their giant quick drying machines.

Given how huge Legoland is, there is no way to complete all of the rides within a day so research & pick the rides in advance before going.

We did most of the popular rides before lunch:

  • Atlantis Submarine Voyage - you go in a mini submarine that fits about 8 people and view an underwater aquarium. Not for the claustrophobic, it got a bit stuffy towards the end of the ride. 
  • Coastguard HQ - You get to steer a Lego boat around a creek. Hubs and Bubs had a minor collison when the boat in front of them went round in circles :) 

  • Driving school - Kids aged between 6 - 13 drive around a course while learning basic traffic rules. There's a special wait area for parents inside. 
  • Fire Academy - You need to power the fire engine by pumping this to the edge of the city then extinguishing the "fire". Grumpy me thought this was a bit of a rip off, after lining up for ages, guests are urged to race to be the first to reach (Errr, so Legoland can finish this ride quickly and let the next batch of waiting people in) and if you're too slow/can't move the fire engine, Legoland staff will push the fire engine for you to the fire hydrants. I thought there would be a real fire or at least something if you manage to hit the target accurately but no, after putting out the fire, you're urged to quickly move the fire engine back again to the start.
  • The Dragon - a rollercoaster for not faint hearted kids - or chickens like me! There is a reallllllly long queue for this but you don't notice it because you get to queue around a castle with lots of interesting medieval Lego models. Somehow, Bubs and I got onto the very first carriage - just behind the dragon itself - and I was screaming my head off most of the time. Bubs loved it to bits and kept going "Whoa, awesome!"
  • Vikings' River Splash - I thought this was the best ride of the day. You sit in a little tub and go down a river with lots of bends and splashes. I regretted wearing jeans because at some parts, the water seeps in and goes up to your ankles.
  • 4D movie: Nexo Knights - The Book of Creativity. At this point, all our feet were killing us so we popped into the 4D cinema for cool and dark place to sit. Bubs was enamoured with the short movie as he's really into Nexo Knights now and even I'd to admit, the special effects were a nice touch.
  • Pirates of Skeleton Bay stunt show at Heartlake Harbour - This was a nice live show with lots of participation from the kids so go early to get some space to sit. Be warned though, if you sit at the wet area, when the explosions go off, you will get soaked - saw a toddler bawling his eyes out because he got drenched in icy cold water. 
  • Aero Nomad - A Ferris wheel decked up Lego style where you get a nice view of the park. It was a nice, quiet ride where we managed to take a breather from the frantic pace of the day.
  • Thunder Blazer - A swing ride that goes around at moderate speeds. It was one of the few rides where Bubs was allowed to go on by himself. Hubs and I were wondering where he gets his energy levels from, at this point, we were about to pass out from exertion.
  • Duplo Valley Airport - Throughout the day, we pretty much skipped Duplo Valley so now that the crowds were tapering off, we managed to get on a couple more rides. I was surprised Bubs loved this ride where you get to go on a Duplo helicopter that goes up and down and you get to twirl it around too. 
  • Fairy Tale Brook - Our last ride of the day. The whole family gets to sit on a sedate boat ride that takes you past Lego models built from popular fairy tales. 

You get a nice view of Windsor Castle close to the exits and I wished we had the time to visit there. At this point, all of the rides were shutting down (it was close to 7pm) and we couldn't believe that we'd be walking for about 10 hours! All in all, Bubs had the time of his life at Legoland Windsor. There was a huge smile on his exhausted face :) 

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