All the way back in April, I was a very lucky winner of The Joy Of Swimming competition with Britmums and British Gas. The prize was an annual Merlin Pass which gets you in to some wonderful theme parks and attractions around the country.
As the weather has been so
crap awful recently, we haven’t had a chance to use it, but looking at the weather forecasts for Sunday we saw a window of opportunity and decided to head to Legoland. We had an uneventful journey up there and it took a very reasonable hour and a half from Poole.
As we entered Legoland, Isaac was excitedly looking out the window, spotting Lego characters hauling letters up the hill to eventually spell out the word “Welcome”. As we entered the car park, I got my first shock of the day – we had to PAY for parking! Yes, it was only £2 and yes, we had won tickets BUT if I had booked online which saves 25% on door prices I would have had to pay £142.42 for our tickets!!
Nevertheless, we weren’t going to let this spoil our day, so we unloaded the car and set off to the entrance to be greeted by queues and queues of people everywhere!
As we had vouchers for a Merlin Annual pass we headed for the (very quiet) gate which stated it was for passholders. It was closed!
We then headed back for the customer service queue, where we spotted a rather harassed looking member of staff who advised this was in fact the correct queue to be in!
The only way I could describe the scene is complete and utter bedlam. We snaked in and out of a queue system that was marked off by temporary markers (the heavy poles with a band of material attached to each one). There were bored children (thankfully not mine) swinging off them, knocking them over into the buggy and just generally misbehaving. When we finally got to the front of the queue, we couldn’t get to the window we had been called to as there were too many people at other windows in the way, and two people jumped the queue!
I commend the staff at the counters though, they apologised and dealt with us as quickly as they could. We then had to get into another queue to actually get into the park and show the tickets we had just been given. It took us 45 minutes in total!
Having been to Legoland before, I wanted to get a Q-Bot. It is an electronic device that basically queues for you and then you turn up at the ride at the time it gives you. It is a genius idea but HOW MUCH???
£15 per person, which equates to an extra £60. I don’t remember it being so expensive the last time we visited, so sadly we decided against it.
However, we were in and one of the best things about Legoland is the stunning views over Windsor Castle and the City of London in the distance.
The kids were excitedly off and running, so we decided that we’d head for Space Tower which basically involves hauling yourself up to the top and then letting go. Isaac thought it was hilarious (Daddy was
knackered tired afterwards)
Next on the plan was a stroll around Mini Land to stretch those legs. There is lots to see on the walk down and Isaac and Kian enjoyed whizzing down the slides!
Mini Land hasn’t changed since our last visit 3 years ago, but Isaac was too young to remember and was excitedly dashing from exhibit to exhibit. Even Eliza was loving it, especially the trains and boats, although they were disappointed that you had to pay extra to drive the boats!
I was disappointed that Dr Who, The Tardis and the Daleks had been moved from Canary Wharf too.
Next stop was the Spinning Spider, which is basically teacups with a huge and impressive Lego spider hovering above.
By this point Kian was desperate to go on a more thrilling ride, so we took a short stroll up quite a mega hill behind the spider to Vikings River Splash. The queue was quite small so they made a dash inside whilst I went for a wander. I happened to glance over at the ride and realised it wasn’t actually moving and the staff were getting people off at an emergency exit. The assistant at the gate measuring heights must have known the ride was not working. A quick phone call to hubby and they came back out.
We decided to continue up the hill and as the boys were eager to go to the Star Wars experience. We had seen a monster queue for it earlier, but as it was now lunchtime it was quite clear.
It was very dark and loud inside, and I was surprised that Eliza didn’t seem bothered by it. The boys (husband included) were like kids in a sweet shop. Hubby took dozens of photographs and spend what felt like ages studying everything.
We then got to meet some of our favourite Lego Star Wars characters.
Next stop – Duplo Land. A chance for Eliza to stretch her legs and have some fun in the park and we rode the train “Choo choo!!
Eliza was itching to play in the water play area, but I had forgotten it was here so didn’t have an towels so we made do with the park. Daddy went for a wander with Eliza whilst I queued for the Helicopters with Isaac. It was now I noticed just how busy the park was. We queued for 50 minutes for a tiny ride as 4 helicopters were out of order. It is also immensely frustrating to reach the front of the queue only for half a dozen people to turn up with their Q-Bot and get on before you. Still Isaac enjoyed it, and had us spinning around and around at the top!
Poor Eliza wanted to walk everywhere but it was so busy that we had to put her in the buggy. We went off to explore Pirate Landing and Knights Kingdom but by now every single ride had a queue of over an hour. No good when you have little ones. Isaac did insist on having his picture taken with the Knights though.
As we have been to Legoland before, we decided that the one attraction we did want to do was Atlantis as it wasn’t built last time, so we headed off in search of it. Along our journey we spotted the new Legoland Hotel which looks amazing!
Atlantis was just around the corner, and Kian was bouncing as finally we were going to go on a ride. We walked past lots of people who appeared to be waiting for something, but had no idea what. It was in fact the queue for Atlantis and it almost stretched back to the hotel. Sadly we abandoned our quest and decided instead to head for the Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show.
Whilst we were waiting, the boys snuck off to the XBox360 Gaming Zone where they got to play Lego StarWars and Lego Batman – I found this frustrating as they can do this at home, but with the ridiculous queues everywhere I don’t blame them.
And then it was time for the show:
Wow, wow, wow, wow and WOW!!!
It was brilliant!
Full of action, slapstick, comedy and adventure.
The Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show was definitely the highlight of our day. It was now nearing 5pm so we decided to take the advice of one of the staff members and get away before 5.30pm for fear of being stuck in mega queue.
We had a quick browse in the shop and let the kids have a small (if expensive) treat and headed for the car.
We sailed out of the park with no queueing and headed home, exhausted.
Looking back, we mostly had a good day. If you can afford it, then a Q-Bot is a must have. We only managed 3 rides which is hugely disappointing, but I think that with the weather we have had so far this summer, that everyone had the same idea as us and made the most of a good day. I also think that you really need two days in the park to really get to do everything it offers.
The park itself was clean and tidy and the staff were great. For a non-smoking park though, they need to do something about the amount of smokers about, as we walked into clouds of cigarette smoke on several occasions.
It is very, very expensive! We took a packed lunch to cut down on costs, but there are lots of kids eat free offers after 4pm. You can also hire a buggy to help with tired legs but a single is £6.50 and a double is £12, which isn’t cheap.
My only other tip is wear sensible shoes – those hills are a killer, especially with a buggy.