A Review of Legoland Windsor: How To Plan Your Trip
A Guide to Planning Your Trip
Last August we visited Legoland, Windsor, for the first time. My oldest child was nine and had always wanted to go. In fact, most of his friends had already been there but, sadly, he had not. Well, as my son is an avid fan of all things Lego, we decided that for him to miss the opportunity to go at least once would be a travesty. The park is advertised as ideal for children under twelve, but a lot of reviews I read indicated that by the time a child is around ten, the rides start to become too 'tame'. I suppose that really depends on the individual child - my son is not really one for 'thrill' rides. Also, had we taken him to somewhere like Thorpe Park, he wouldn't have been tall enough for most of them, anyhow.
So, back to Legoland. We booked a hotel package on the Legoland website with one night's pre-park accommodation at the Comfort Inn near Heathrow Airport. So far, so good. Until we read all the reviews, that is.
But I've Read the Bad Reviews!
Reviewcentre, on the web, has countless negative reviews of Legoland. Most people are complaining about two things - the extortionate expense and the horrific queues. The reviews were almost enough to make us wish we hadn't booked at all. However, I'm very glad we did go. The four of us - myself, my husband, our nine year old and our toddler - had a wonderful day. My eldest son, the avid Lego fan, has great memories of Legoland, Windsor, and the rest of us enjoyed it, too.
So, what about the reviews? Were they all wrong? A bunch of people complaining about nothing? No. The reviewers that rated Legoland so low probably did have a horrendous day. There is no doubt about it. We saw people just like them - fed up faces; moaning kids. How come, you might wonder, did we have an enjoyable day and they did not? Well, basically we planned it right. And we paid for a Q-Bot.
Tip Number One - Buy a Q-Bot!
Yes, that's right. If you are not prepared to pay another ten pounds per head for a small, virtual queuing gadget then you might as well forget it. For, if you are considering visiting Legoland during the school holidays or on a bank holiday, unless it is absolutely teeming down with rain or a hurricane is forecast, you will join the ranks of the miserable without one.
The Q-Bot does not allow you to queue jump. Quite simply, it allows you to join a queue for a ride without actually standing in it. Therefore, you are at liberty to wander off and enjoy other parts of the park, like Minicity or Loki's Labryinth until you are called to the ride. Then you can join the Q-Bot queue and saunter onto the ride within minutes. You can only book one ride at a time, but this worked well for us. If your party want to split up and you have more than one Q-Bot (you can register up to six people to each one, though you still pay per head) you can queue for more than one ride at a time. (Please note that Q-Bots cannot be used for every single ride, but certainly for almost all of the most popular ones).
So, my first tip is - be prepared to purchase a Q-Bot. It might seem like a lot of extra money (and it is, let's face it). However, if you want your children to go home with magical memories of a wonderful day, then there really is not much point in making the trip without one.
Tip Number Two - Arrive Early!
We arrived at 9.20 am (Legoland opens at 10.00) Many people had already arrived by this time. If you are some of the first visitors into the park then you have the chance to go on several rides in quick succession before the crowds build up. We had pre-purchased tickets which enabled us to go straight through to the turnstiles. Once through the turnstiles, we jumped straight into the queue for a Q-Bot (on the right of the turnstiles). I think you can also pre-purchase these, but we had not. You will be required to pay a deposit, from memory I think it was fifty pounds, but you can double check on their website. We spent only around ten minutes in the Q-Bot queue. There are only five hundred Q-Bots (which isn't many when you think about the amount of daily visitors to the park). This is another reason why arriving before the park opens is essential. We also parked in the preferred parking area, which cost us an additional five pounds. We did this because we could see lots of people already making their way towards the entrance and we wanted to beat them. However, if you can arrive early enough (maybe by 9.00am) this might not be necessary.
After presenting our tickets and purchasing our Q-Bots, we had to wait around twenty minutes before Legoland opened at 10.00 on the dot. It was quite nice, waiting, because we were looking down at the park and could see some of the rides through the trees in the distance. You will also have a map of the park by now, so you can get a feeling of where you are heading.
Many people advise that the best way to 'do' Legoland is to head to the back first. We did that, and I would agree that it is the right advice. My son wanted to go on Laser Raiders first, so we used our Q-Bot and got straight on. Then we went on Scarab Bouncers. Then I took our toddler on a couple of the smaller children's rides - the Ferris Wheel and the Carousel - while my older son and his dad went on the Spinning Spider. After that we had booked our place in the queue for Viking's River Splash, one of the most popular rides at the park. We were on within ten minutes. All this, and we had only been at Legoland for 45 minutes!
Legoland's Parent Swap Policy
Legoland has a great 'parent swap' policy, which you can take advantage of if one of your children is too small for the rides. Basically, you queue and tell the ride supervisor that you would like to do a 'parent swap'. One of you goes first with the older child while the other waits, then immediately the ride finishes, the second parent goes straight on with your child riding twice in successsion. It's a good idea and works very well. We did this for Viking's River Splash. It was fun and you must be prepared to get wet - though you don't always. It all depends on when the bucket drops!
With the Q-Bot, you can (and should) book your next ride as soon as the ride supervisor has reset your Q-Bot. We booked Pirate Falls , another major ride, before Viking's River Splash had even set off. We had to wait about half an hour and we did another parent swap on that one. I particularly enjoyed Pirate Falls (basically a waterchute). As you set off it is very serene, with jaunty music playing and lots of wonderful Lego models of pirates to look at. Some of them move about and squirt water. The ride is tranquil right up until the end, when you are propelled quickly into the water to a wet and sudden finish!
Still Winning With the Q-Bot!
After Pirate Falls, we walked about for a bit and looked at some of the other Lego models which are dotted about the park. My son and his dad went on Dino Safari (they queued for this, I don't think you could use a Q-Bot) and I watched with the little one. We admired the amazing Lego animal models, which looked uncannily realistic, especially from a distance. Legoland was, by this time, getting very busy. This was a hot, summer's day during the main school holiday. We had almost been put off by the bad reviews, but so far our day was going amazingly well. It was all thanks to our little Q-Bots, of course, because the queues were now around 1-2 hours long for most of the most popular rides. My son was desperate for a go on Driving School, so we found a nice spot to eat our lunch while he 'queued'. Since adults are not allowed on Driving School, we also booked Boat School on the other Q-Bot.
There were many disappointed children without Q-Bots who were having to spend ridiculously long amounts of time waiting for their chance to experience Driving School, which must have lasted for about ten minutes. I reiterate again - don't go to Legoland during peak times without one! My son loved Driving School and, in fact, had another go later on. We went straight onto Boat School, although we made a mistake at this point - our toddler was able to go on Boat School but we didn't realise this until he'd missed his chance.
Chillin' Out in Duplo Land!
If you have time to catch one of the outdoor shows, performed over the water, they looked pretty entertaining. We watched a bit of one, but only caught the end. We made our way to Duplo Land, especially for the little ones. Our small boy played on some of the equipment and his brother showed him how it's done. If you visit on a warm day, don't forget your children's swimsuits, as Duplo Land has a great water play area, with fountains shooting water everywhere. Great fun - and you don't have to queue!
From there, we booked a slot on Fairytale Brook. We went on it mainly for our little one and he was wide eyed all the way through. Throughout your journey (on a boat) you are greeted by fantastic Lego models of all the popular fairy tales - Red Riding Hood; The Three Little Pigs; The Billy Goat's Gruff; Aladdin. It was a calm, tranquil ride and I thought it was very well done.
Whilst a Q-Bot is very necessary, there are some rides that it cannot be used for. Wave Rider and the new Jungle Coaster are two of these. Whilst my son didn't fancy Jungle Coaster, he would have liked to try Wave Rider, but the queue was just too long so we gave it a miss. Instead, his Dad persuaded him to go on the Dragon (which he'd already booked, hoping our son might quickly get over his anxiety of rollercoasters). They went for it and loved it - in fact, our son loved it so much he went on it three times altogether, and they bought a photo as a souvenir, in a Lego photo frame.
Next we bought a couple of waffles ( we brought most of our own food and drink ourselves) and my son played about in the Ratcatcher, a wooden adventure play area which is unsupervised and which you don't have to queue for. It was late afternoon by now, and we, the parents, were pretty exhausted. We had already done so much - in fact, we had exceeded our expectations. There was one more area which we had to see (nobody should miss it), and that was Minicity.
Some of the Wonderful Models at Minicity
The Fantastic World of Minicity
Minicity is made out of around 40,000,000 Lego bricks. It is fantastic. There are scenes from around the world - Scotland; Wembly Stadium (my son's favourite); Buckingham Palace; St. Paul's Cathedral; places in France; Italy; Amsterdam; the USA. You should allow plenty of time to fully appreciate this wonderful creation. We spent around 45 minutes admiring Minicity, then it was time for the park to close. Unfortunately, my son had really wanted to go into the Discovery Centre, but time had caught up with us. Oh well, maybe next year. He really, really wants to go again.
To Sum It All Up
All in all, we read a ton of negative reviews about Legoland, Windsor, but our day surpassed all expectation. The park was set in lovely grounds, the Lego was amazing and the children enjoyed it all. Some reviews will tell you that the park is dirty, but I didn't think that at all - in fact, I thought it was quite the opposite. The rides are not 'thrill-seeking rides', like at Thorpe Park or Alton Towers, but they are not trying to be. Yes, it is expensive, but if you want a one-off, special treat for your family it is worth going. To sum it all up, here are my tips again:
- Purchase your tickets in advance
- Get there early, before 9.30 at the latest.
- Buy a Q-Bot (you will regret it if you don't!)
- Start at the back of the park
- Bring your own food and drink
With a bit of careful planning, Legoland, Windsor, is a great day out for the children to remember - if you plan it right. My one regret of the day is that I didn't manage to get a photo of the Dragon - it was too fast, but we bought a framed souvenir photo for the shelf instead!
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