Legoland

Created on 22/7/2008

Yesterday was my family’s Legoland day. Such is the draw of the place that Jennifer Sclaire, who is not a child herself, asked to join us for the fun.

There are, according to Legoland, 7 new attractions, some of which I shall go on to review here. My family disputed the number of new attractions but I am prepared to believe it. I know the end of our attempt to visit them all exhausted me.

The last time I visited, two years ago, it is fair to say the venue needed a little freshening up. I am still not convinced any of these places are worth their pretty big-ticket price, but then again, I’m not a child. We managed to snag some discounted tickets on Lastminute.com and that difference just about paid for the food, which was awful, but that’s another part of this review.

Some positive feedback first, someone has taken hold of the general training of the mostly very youthful staff and really got them into the sprit of their jobs. They were laughing, friendly and mostly very efficient, and more on this subject later also.

What shocked our group was how the staff behaved with a clearly disabled, wheelchair bound customer. He was a young man, about 14 years old, and being helped by his 3 friends of a similar age. They wheeled him to the small powerboats and he clearly needed assistance to get from his chair to the boat. The staff watched as the disabled boy was helped by his small friends, who were unable to carry his weight to the boat. My wife immediately jumped to help and of course I also tried my best to assist. The staff watched this without any move to help. We were shocked as were all the watching people in the big line waiting their turn. We asked the young man, who was clearly younger and fitter than ourselves, why didn’t he assist the handicapped boy. His answer was that his management had told him not to do so in such circumstances, since, if something were to go wrong he would be sued along with the park. How terribly disappointing that we live in a world where such shabby neglect passes for management. To young men and women everywhere, if you are instructed to do or not do something you believe to me morally wrong you should make your own personal choices.

Looking at my grandchildren and the other kids I saw with huge smiles on their faces they thought it was great. Particularly the boys love Legoland, a little less so for the girls. My American family is particular experts with this kind of place having long held season tickets to their local amusement venue, which you might have heard of, it’s doing quite well, and is called Disneyland. If Legoland impresses these kids, then it’s doing a lot of things right!

Legoland is situated in Windsor, near to one of the Queen’s favorite castles. It is directly on the flight path from one of the world’s busiest airports, Heathrow, but is in a valley so the sound of the aircraft is not too noticeable. It promises to be a hugely exciting season for this very popular tourist destination. Whereas the perception was that there were not enough rides and attractions to give value for the considerable cost I think the park has gone a long way to better meet expectations. Legoland is inviting families to step inside the brand new Land of the Vikings featuring the thrilling Longboat Invader ride. This season the park is boasting its magnificent seven new attractions plus a top line up of special events so there’s no better time to visit!

There is a but here, as with most new rides and attractions anywhere the Vikings’ River Splash ride had a bit of a technical hitch yesterday and we had to descend on foot from it, although we did get to experience it and we all liked it a great deal.

The new highlights include the Longboat Invader that aims to
bring out the hero in everyone. This new area of the park cost £7 million ($14 million) Land of the Vikings. The new homestead is complete for the new season with the addition of the Longboat Invader ride.

On the Vikings' River Splash you take a dizzying spin on the Longboat Invader before graduating to the park’s biggest and wettest ride to date, Vikings’ River Splash. This was great, until near the end where we had our technical problem, and the kids especially liked it.

However if you are going to Legoland during the busy period be prepared for lengthy lines and long waits. We were averaging 45 minutes for good rides. It’s a pity that Legoland doesn’t employ strolling minstrels, clowns, magicians and other entertainers to keep the kids entertained whilst they wait on sometimes very long and boring lines.

We came to Legoland from North West and North East parts of London and did so just after the rush hour. It took a little more than 90 minutes to get there and 60 minutes to get home. My sister usually stays in a hotel local to Legoland and this gives her the time you need to see the whole place without rushing. We arrived at about 11 and as the park closed at 6 pm it was almost impossible to see everything. Even with the extended summer opening times, that add an hour to the end of the day, you would benefit from some extra time.

Because of time constraints we didn’t visit Loki's Labyrinth where adventurers will be challenged to unravel the mystery of the Nordic-themed hedge maze and catch a glimpse of the Viking god of mischief inside Loki’s Labyrinth.

The same applies to the new Mole in One attraction in which family and friends compete against each other in a skilful round of mini-golf. This 18-hole course is located in a unique woodland setting filled with detailed LEGO-brick model animals and like all of the park’s attractions it focuses on interactive, hands on entertainment.

There are three new Shows, which include a live action show. Families also enjoy traditional fairytales performed with a LEGOLAND twist at the DUPLO Theatre and for 2008 there’s a new puppet show, Cinderella, plus a new, improved version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

For thrills, spills and daring high dives catch Johnny Thunder when he returns in a brand new live action show, Revenge of the Aztec Queen.

There are all the remaining features of the theme park, which features ever better Lego modeling especially evident in the amazing village. There are many other features, including plenty of thrills and spills, enough to keep even the more discerning kid happy.

My biggest disappointment was the food, which was very unappealing. It’s hard to make any kind of defense of the muck. It was tasteless, unattractive and poorly presented. We ate in three different areas, a hot dog stand, a sit down café near the attractions and the café next to the main entrance. They were awful!

A couple of tips to remember, if you have enough spare cash invest in the preferred parking, at £6 ($12) so that your car is right next to the entrance as it will feel like a really long walk back to the car at the end of the day. The other worthwhile investment, if you have plenty of money is the Q-bot system to book your place and time on selected rides, which costs a very steep £10 ($20) per person.

Don’t forget towels and maybe a change of clothes, especially for the kids, as you will all get soaked – the park supplies industrial size blow dry machines to quick dry the family but these cost an additional £2 ($4) for the privilege of having some hot air blown in your direction. On balance I would recommend Legoland but remember to go early, or stay over locally, pre-buy your tickets at a discount or you’ll be upset, and I recommend that you take some decent food with you.