Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tips for Visiting Legoland Windsor (and Legolands Around the World!)

As a way of culminating a 10-day visit with my sister's family, which took us from our house to Norfolk to London, we planned an overnight at Legoland Windsor. We were a traveling entourage of 8 people, including 4 kids age 7 and younger. Needless to say, we fell right into the Legoland target market.


And while neither of our families consider ourselves to be amusement park people prior to our time there, we were all sold on the experience after. A visit to Legoland and a stay at the adjacent hotel isn't without its challenges (lines for the rides, a very crowded pool, average and overpriced food, etc.), but the chance to experience the Lego phenomenon with kids who are obsessed with the little bricks was well worth those minor hassles. I doubt I'll do a theme park again anytime soon as it's just not really my thing, but I'm sure glad I didn't miss this experience while my kids are young.

Since I had spent the week leading up to their visit planning the rest of the trip, I did absolutely no reading whatsoever about Legoland. I figured that was a place where surely we could figure out a way to have fun there without researching it. And I was right. However, that doesn't mean a few handy tips couldn't make your visit even better.

Rides:


  • Ride as many rides as you can during the first two hours the park is open and the last hour before it closes. We found this to be when lines were shortest. There is plenty to do around the park during the crowded middle hours besides rides, so you'll use your time much more efficiently this way. My favorite non-ride activities included Miniland, Star Wars, the playgrounds in Duplo Valley and Pirate Shores, and the pirate show.
  • Wear waterproof clothing if you want to do the water rides. Or do those rides toward the end of your visit and just pack a change of clothing for the journey home. Those looked to be some of the most fun, yet we were completely unprepared to get wet. (That didn't stop my husband and wild child Little Arrow from getting soaked on our second day, of course!)
  • Measure your child in advance. If they're less than .9 meters, there will be a lot of rides they can't do. If they're less than 1.3 meters, they'll need an adult with them on many rides. As a frame of reference, my boys were 5 and 3 at the time of our visit and fairly average height for their age. My 5-year-old could ride everything from what I could tell (not that he was brave enough) and there were only a few rides my 3-year-old couldn't ride. However, they both needed an adult to ride with them for many of the rides. Legoland would not be a place I'd want to take both of them without another adult.
  • If lines are long on the day of your visit (we were there over the Easter holiday period, and yet we never waited more than 30 minutes for any ride, and most were under 15 minutes), the rides that I felt were most worthwhile included the Coast Guard boats, L Drivers, Knight's Quest, the Fire Academy, and Atlantis Submarine Voyage.

Hotel Stay:
 
  • Swim in the morning. The pool was absolutely packed in the evening, we even had to wait to be allowed in. The attendant told me it's very quiet in the morning. The park doesn't open until 10 a.m. so you'd have time for a swim before that. The kids had fun in the pool but frankly it was so busy that it was very difficult for the adults to relax and enjoy it.
  • There's loads of entertainment for kids in the evening. All the more reason to swim in the morning and enjoy those activities in the evening instead.
  • Don't forget to open the treasure box in your room. Inside will be a small Lego set for each child. (If you end up with sets that don't align with your children's genders, the front desk will be happy to switch them.)
  • Bricks Restaurant is a good option for dinner. The buffet is much better than I expected and we were all ready for a nice, sit-down meal after grabbing mostly junk food in the park all day. I would not have wanted to round everyone up into the car to eat elsewhere. (And there might have been a revolt among the kids if we told them we were leaving the premises!)

Overall Experience:

  • Pack a lot of food. I thought the food was the most disappointing thing at the park, although friends who had been warned me about this. It was very average and very expensive. Packing a lunch and some snacks would have been ideal. If you do get stuck eating the food, the barbecue themed stands seemed to have the best options.
  • The Hill Train ride is great for saving your legs going up and down the park. There was rarely a line to catch it while we were there.
  • Decide on the QBot the day of your visit. QBots are passes that allow you to skip lines. There are several options, from the full pass which means you'll rarely wait in line, down to a QBot for each individual ride. Needless to say, you pay for this privilege above and beyond the ticket price. On the days of our visit, I would have only considered a QBot for a couple of rides. The lines just weren't that long. But if I showed up and saw that the lines were crazy? I would definitely consider forking over some extra money for this pass. (Although the premise of it sort of rubs me the wrong way.)
 
If a visit to Legoland interests you and you're looking for more reading material, below is a round-up of many Legoland tips and experiences from bloggers around the world, covering some of the amusement parks worldwide.


Legoland Florida
A Review of Legoland Florida in Orlando from Have Baby Will Travel
Saving Time and Money at Legoland Florida from Suitcases and Sippy Cups
Splash into Legoland Florida Waterpark from Suitcases and Sippy Cups
Legoland: Built for Fun from This Girl Travels
Visiting Legoland Florida from Our Traveling Tribe
Top 5 Reasons Legoland Florida is Autism Friendly from MetamorFit
Legoland Florida Amusement Park from Road Trips for Families
Meet the Legoland Master Builders from The Family Adventure Project
Tips for Visiting Legoland Florida from Mommy Musings
Legoland Florida Money Saving Tips from Carrie with Children
Legoland Florida Souvenirs Under $10 from Mommy Musings
Everything is Awesome at Legoland Florida from Real Advice Gal
5 Reasons to Visit Legoland Florida from Family Food and Travel
One Adult and Two Kids at Legoland Florida from Two Kids and a Map

Legoland Malaysia
Building a Day of Fun at Legoland Malaysia from Malaysian Meanders
Asian Landmarks at Legoland Malaysia Miniland from Malaysian Meanders
The 6 Lands of Legoland Malaysia from Travels with Bender
Legoland Malaysia: Asia's First and It's a Winner from Travels with Bender

Legoland Windsor (UK)
Legoland Windsor with Babies and Toddlers from Jennifer's Little World
Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel in England from the Vacation Gals
Feeling the Lego Force at Star Wars Miniland from The Family Adventure Project
Legoland Windsor: Don't Leave it Too Late! from Family Life in Spain
5 Tips for Visiting Legoland (by Robert, aged 9) from Family Travel Times
My Guilt Over LEGOLAND Queue Jumping from Family Travel Times
Legoland Windsor from Mums Do Travel
Everything is Awesome: Legoland Windsor from Travels with Bender

General
Easy DIY Legoland Trip Surprise Idea from Mom Endeavors