I have a love/hate relationship with Legoland Windsor, considering it both the best and the worst of British theme parks: and much of that has to do with how busy the park is on the day you visit! The mini land is exceptional, a place we could happily get lost for hours. Regardless of how busy the park is, it always feels quiet there too: but the rest of the park? Oh my!
Both boys are committed Lego fanatics, so a trip to Legoland is always at the top of their wish list. But dear God, the queues! On a busy (summer weekend, school holidays, the special Christmas event, almost every day we choose to visit….) you will queue for hours just to get on one ride. Hell, you’ll queue for hours to get a hot dog from the snack cart! As theme parks go, Legoland is small but its capacity certainly isn’t.
This weekend we went for our first trip to Legoland with Coronavirus restrictions in place, and we hoped that the legal reduced capacity requirements would make for a much more pleasant day out. Sadly it didn’t seem to have had any discernible impact on the queue levels, and neither did the park feel any quieter than usual. It was also hot, hot, hot! Only we would plan a trip to a shade-free theme park on the hottest day of the year. Here is a quick breakdown of how we found the whole experience:
Our first port of call was the new ‘land’ in the resort: Mythica. This has been much-hyped so the boys were desperate to see it, and to be fair we were all massively impressed! The land features three rides (which I would categorise as one main ride and two supplementary ride) as well as a ‘character meet’ area, lego building zone, playground and a restaurant (which we didn’t try, but which served fish and chips, according to the board outside). If you download the app then you could use AR to bring the models around the land to life, which our oldest in particular absolutely loved; this new way of blending Lego and technology that the brand is experimenting with at the moment is incredibly popular in our house!
The Flight of the Sky Lion ride had a 100 minute queue but it was amazing: Boy8 loved it and didn’t stop talking about it all day, whilst Boy5 found some of it a little scary. This is a flight through a fantasy land of imagination on the big screen; like a 4D cinema that you watched from a moving car that took you into a world of imagination. The other rides were ‘hydro’ and the ‘fire and ice’ drops, and were basically repurposed versions of other rides in the resort, but they fitted into the land nicely and made it feel like more of an experience than the singular ride that it is all revolved around. If you want to see this land at its best then I highly recommend heading there first and early, before it gets too busy to properly appreciate.
Then we decided it was time to cool off. Thanks to the extreme temperatures the queue for the splash parks were insane, with some people waiting up to two hours for their 25 minute slot in the water. We decided not to get involved in that, and instead opted to play in the smaller water play area, the Duplo Brick Safari. There was no queue for this, but it was jam-packed as a result: with children waiting six and sevenfold to take a turn to splash in the water. It was a welcome chance to cool off though, and even we grown-ups got involved, splashing our feet in the water (and running through the animal-themed water features). There are changing rooms available but there aren’t many, given the volume of people hoping to use them, so we changed the boys in the open-air, hiding their modesty with towels instead. If you’re visiting on a sunny day, definitely pack towels and swimsuits in your backpack.
Both boys are big Ninjago fans, so of course, they were keen to revisit the Ninjago section of the park, which was new when we last visited in 2019. The main ride here is an interactive 3D ride, where you battle against enemies alongside the ninja, and the boys just loved it! There is only one subsidiary ride in this area; a small pirate theme themed on the ninja’s ship, the Destiny’s Bounty. The boys enjoyed this too, although because it is small and has tight turns, it made me feel sick! Elsewhere in the Ninjago area, there were brick figures of all the characters, a small climbing wall,and a Ninjago-themed shop. The Ninjago franchise is wildly popular and this area is always busy, so I do feel they could have done more with it.
The other rides we managed to tackle during our trip were: The Monster Haunted Party, The Coastguard HQ boat ride, and the Lego reef, which are all based in the Lego City area. We then went to the Lego Knights area of the park to ride the Dragon, and the Dragon’s Apprentice. There was so much more we wanted to do, but a combination of the heat and the out of control queue times meant that just wasn’t possible. Still, we were incredibly happy with the number of rides we did get to do this trip, and the boys had a fab day.
After we had had our fill of the rides, we enjoyed our favourite part of any trip to Legoland: walking around miniland. The boys could literally do this for hours! Much of this is being refurbished this year, meaning that a lot of the usual moving elements aren’t moving right now: this includes most of the boats, the tube train, the marching soldiers at Buckingham palace, and so on. This was a huge shame but didn’t detract from how impressive the models were: if you haven’t visited before you probably wouldn’t even notice, but as regulars, we did and they were missed. We will be glad to have them back for the 25th anniversary year next year.
All in all, I think Legoland is the best theme park in the Merlin franchise for my boys and other kids in their age category. But the queue times in the summer holidays and at weekends often puts us off taking the plunge and booking to go again!