Let me say, to start, that I would rather be up a mountain, on a beach or in a forest than at Legoland. However, we have a ten year old; so for anyone who immediately thinks “you could just not go” (I include myself in this group) this visit was inevitable really. Top of the ten year old’s bucket list, it felt like we must go if only as payback for the time we literally dragged him round the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle. So we went for the full immersion – two days, and an overnight stay in the hotel.
Some suggestions for getting to the end of your Legoland* trip psychologically, if not financially, intact:
Take a child or two, and some friends in your own age bracket; preferably the kind of friends who think a G&T or pint at 3pm is a completely acceptable thing (I’m pretty sure all my friends fall into this category). Not that you’ll be able to get a G&T at 3pm – and you can’t get a decent pint at any time – but you will be able to discuss the delicious possibility of it with like minded folks.
Suck it up. You’re in Legoland with a child or two. Remember it’s for them, not you, and that your main role is to become poorer and tired-er while all the time remaining reasonably sanguine about it all, and consuming lots of paper cups of £2.00 tea to keep you going/caffeinated/warm.
You will get to drive through Windsor Great Park. You can marvel at the ancient gnarly oak trees – they are pretty cool – and wonder to yourself how many Instagram photos there are of the pink cake of a house near Queen Anne’s Gate. If you are bookish like me then you can also really imagine spotting Herne the Hunter through the trees – especially in this freezing, foggy April, more like winter than spring -where some of the mythological happenings in The Dark is Rising take place . This was one of my favourite bits of the trip.
Oh yes. Take a book with you. You won’t have time to read it but its very presence in your bag will be a comfort (I would go for a slim volume – maybe The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper – as you will be carrying it around for ages).
Find the tranquil parts of Legoland – I have done a recce for you if that makes it easier, I think there are two:
The Enchanted Forest: This can be found behind the Medieval Themed Adventure Playground. It does have picnic tables and the inevitable LEGO creatures lurking in the undergrowth. What it doesn’t have is the constant slightly too loud piped music appearing from the bushes. There are some lovely camellia bushes and twisted willows. By Legoland standards, it is tranquility itself.
Heartlake Cafe: This is Lego Friends land, I know right?, but bear with me. The Heartlake Cafe is in ‘Heartlake Mall’ where the Lego Friends apparently hang out (we are a Ninjago household so I know the bear minimum about the ‘Friends’). I hung out in there for about an hour because husband and child had gone swimming, it was 10am, there was NO-ONE ELSE IN THERE, and there was no music. It was fab.
Get in early, or spend your life’s savings staying overnight like we did. It’s actually easier to cope with the whole thing if you know you don’t have to drive home at the end of the day. We stayed in The Lego Castle Hotel which is brand new and has Nespresso machines in the rooms to make up for the lack of minibar. If you stay over, at park closing time you can just go and crash on a comfy bed (they are comfy) have a cup of tea/coffee, then show up at the Bricks Family Restaurant and eat as much as you can (because heaven knows, you’ve paid for it). The kids will love the Lego brick shaped potato waffles – other healthier foods are available – and the chocolate fountain. The spinach and ricotta tortellini was good actually, and the tacos lovely. If you occasionally like a wierd meal such as you can get in an American diner, then this is the restaurant for you. Wine is £22.00/bottle by the way.
Cough up for the QBot queue jumper thing. However much it rankles.
Sit the two (or more, are you mad?) children down at the start and explain that they will most likely get a Lego set from the big shop at the end of the trip, but not before. If you have stayed in the Castle or Legoland Hotel they will get a Lego set anyway, and some other bits and pieces in the room treasure hunt. Absolutely refuse to countenance them winning a giant cuddly doughnut or similar on the side shows. This will cost more ££ (which you are now quite short of) and you probably won’t win – you could just chuck two quid in the lake and save yourself the tears.
Spot the wildlife. You can see lots of jackdaws at Legoland, some of them alongside dinosaurs. It’s heartening to see a creature not made of Lego occasionally (the jackdaws not the Dinosaurs).
Spot the amusing things. The Ninjago ride entryway looks totally like a 1970s film version of an opium den. But the most amusing thing I saw was the Lego vending machine of painkillers. Yes, they know.
Of course you will get Stockholm Syndrome and start to actually enjoy yourself. Legoland’s rides are not terrifying, they’re pretty tame really. None of them remotely resemble the torture machines we see at Abingdon Fair every spring, so those of us with vertigo or an older persons respect for mortality, can go on them quite happily. Not the rocking boat ones though, I don’t need to see my breakfast eggs benedict again, however good they were. I have a soft spot for the Star Wars miniland, and I proved to be really good at killing ninja skeletons in the Ninjago 3D exravaganza. To finish we had a celebratory final trip down the Viking River Rapids as we all agreed it was the best – someone may have said ‘quite gentle’ – ride there.
Added bonus: You will get your steps in. My Fitbit tells me I – so we – did about 14 miles over two days. Did we hear a peep of a whinge about ‘achey feet’ or ‘tired legs’ from the boy? NO WE DID NOT. So I reckon that means we’ve got him over a barrel now, walks wise. Well hello, South West Coast path!
*No, I’m not going to type LEGOLAND throughout in the shouty capitals because I find it really irritating.