Last Friday the boys’ school had a training day. A lovely, random day off – instant long-weekend!
We normally have our training days on a Monday, the day before the start of a new term at school – which is never the best time for a big day out. We decided to make the most of it and head to Legoland Windsor. It’s so rare to get the chance for a legitimate weekday off school and we hoped that it wouldn’t be too crowded.
After one visit, I’m certainly not an expert on the place, but here are a few tips I’d like to share…
1. Get there before it opens. We left home in Cambridgeshire at 7am and arrived at the park for 9.15. It was still fairly quiet at that point, lots of space in the car park and only a small queue at the turnstiles – including some of Gabriel’s classmates, which was a nice surprise! They let us in at about 9.30, and we then had half an hour to wander round the Star Wars mini model exhibit (the only thing open apart from the shop) before they opened the pathways into the main park.
2. Don’t bother going if your children are under 4. Some may disagree with this, but I’m glad we put off going to until both our boys were old enough to go on all the rides and enjoy them.
3. Don’t try and do everything on your first visit. We really wanted to visit the Knight’s Kingdom first, so we skipped past the water rides to get down there before the crowds reached it. This was a great move as it was blissfully quiet. We went on the two dragon rollercoasters which were really fun and we hardly had to queue at all. It was so much quieter in the morning and I’m glad we did this bit first.
4. They have a system called Q-bot where you can pay to avoid standing in lines. We didn’t bother as it didn’t seem busy enough (the longest we had to queue was about 40 minutes) but I think it would be worth doing for a hot, busy weekend. The most basic one is £15 per person. You still have to wait, but you can wander round or sit in the shade and the Q-bot will tell you when it’s your turn. The more expensive ones cut down your waiting time – Express is £35 per person and cuts the wait by half, Ultimate is £75 per person (yikes!) and means you can skip straight to the front. Seems a bit like silly money to me – but I would consider the basic one, especially in hot weather.
5. Does anyone actually pay full price for their entry tickets? I exchanged a year’s worth of Tesco vouchers for our tickets, which is great value. Most other people seemed to be using money-off vouchers of some kind – either from packets of cereals or newspapers. A good deal on your entry makes things like the Q-bots a lot more appealing.
6. Take a picnic. Some of the food looked ok, but it was expensive and the queues for the various kiosks were very long by lunchtime. We sat in the fantastic pirate play area to eat it – with a couple of takeaway coffees for the grown-ups. We did queue up a few times for drinks and ice-creams, but it was much better to have our own nice picnic which I knew everyone would eat!
7. One of our favourite rides was the Lego Atlantis submarine aquarium trip. This was the longest queue we stood in, and it looked a bit dingy from the outside – but it was really fun! The boys loved seeing the real fish, sharks etc and I was pretty excited too.
8. The most disappointing ride was the Heartlake City train, which broke down before it left the station! Plus, Tom dropped that pony on the track and it had to be retrieved by a kind Lego person.
9. The Lego staff were all really friendly and the whole park seemed a really happy place to be. Maybe this was because it was a weekday? Or maybe they all just really love Lego.
10. Get out while the going’s good. We decided to leave at about 4pm – before we all got cross and tearful, and to avoid the worst of the traffic and potential car park queues. As we’d got up pretty early, and it was a hot day, we were all very tired. I think if we hadn’t had a long journey home ahead of us we’d have stayed a bit longer – apparently it starts to get quieter again later on. In the event, there were no queues to get out of the car park, although the M25 was as horrible as you’d expect it to be at 5pm on a Friday.
The boys are already keen to go again (every weekend if possible!). It’ll definitely be easier next time!
Oh, and one last thing – remember to just smile and relax – it may be expensive and busy, but it’s only one day and your children will love it!