London with Kids: Legoland

After two long days touring London, we rested our tired feet Sunday evening and got up early on Monday for our Legoland adventure. The kids were super excited and it was easy to convince them to do things, because I would just say, “Don’t you want to go to Legoland? I guess you must not want to go since you won’t (insert desired outcome here).” I don’t think this technique will work much longer on the Monkey since he is definitely in the tweens. But it seemed to work like a charm for Miss Piggy and Lulu.

Our Airbnb rental was about a 30 minute drive with early morning traffic on a Monday according to google maps. We planned to leave the house around 8:30am to give us plenty of time to arrive before 9:30am. The park doesn’t officially open until 10am, but you can enter the park and look at the shops and displays at the beginning from 9:30am onwards. A good friend who had lived in the London area had recommended arriving when the park opens and then use the strategy of going straight to the back of the park, bypassing any displays and shops, and start on the big rides first. Then work your way toward the front of the park since most people will start at the front. This strategy was also recommended by The Unofficial Guide to Legoland Windsor website as well. It turned out to be great advice and served us well for both of the days we were there and we were able to easily go back to the rides the kids enjoyed the most without waiting in a queue.

For some reason, Monday just had a lot of traffic and we waited in thick traffic for longer than expected but with our early start, we still managed to arrive at the park at 9:30am. Since I had preprinted tickets, it was a breeze to enter their turnstile system without queuing. We decided to do the East side of the park (I have no actual idea if the Legoland map was accurate – but it’s the right side of the map) first since it seemed like most of the big rides were on that side. There were a lot of ooohing and ahhing when we were finally allowed to enter the park and everyone gawked at the giant lego statues of dragons and spiders.

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We kept moving to the back of the park with the kids navigating the map and eventually ended up near the Squid Surfer at the north end of the park. The kids loved it and enjoyed getting randomly squirted with water. As the day went on, their favourite rides were always the ones during which they were unexpectedly squirted with water. If I had known this, I would have skipped the Legoland holiday and just bought myself a super soaker and squirted them randomly at home. 😉

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After the Squid Surfer, we tried out an Egyptian ride that was similar to the Buzz Lightyear ride at Disneyland Paris in which you go into little cars and shoot at targets with your “lasers”. The kids enjoyed the ride, but it was definitely not as good as the Buzz Lightyear ride as the displays lacked the movement and intensity of the Buzz Lightyear ride. We were glad that we caught it early in the day when there was no queue because the long queue ropes were concealed in the pyramid and would have been a miserable wait on a busy day in hot weather.

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After the Laser ride, J and the Monkey decided to this Mia’s Horse Friends ride in the Lego Friends area. It was probably the scariest ride in the park but the Monkey loved it. He convinced Miss Piggy to try the ride with him later in the day and she ended up crying during most of the ride. Not Fun.

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Miss Lulu loved the Lego Friends section and insisted on being photographed with each of her “Friends”. Since we had done some big rides already, we took a detour and went on the carousel and the Aero Nomad for Lulu. Then, we kept moving though, anxious to take advantage of our early start and moved onto the Nexxo Knights castle and the Dragon ride which is a small roller coaster. Before the Nexxo Knights, we made a detour and tried the Pirate Falls ride which the kids rated their favourite ride after being squirted in the eye by the mice and skulls. Soaking wet, we moved onto the Dragon ride in the Nexxo Knights’ castle.

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After the coaster, we decided to take a break in the adjacent play area which was a large climbing/play structure that looked like a large castle. Luckily, the older kids were happy to mind Lulu and us parents were able to sit in the carcinogenic fumes of the chopped up pieces of spongy recycled tires that composed the soft ground cover underneath the climbing structure. We got some coffees and hung out there for probably about an hour. The park was busy and crowded at this point and there were a lot of school groups roaming around in large packs – some in uniforms and some not. It was interesting to see some of the kids in ties and blazers at the amusement park!

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After we recouped at the playground, we headed back up the hill toward the Viking ride (which is the first big ride when you enter the park) which is a white-water rafting type ride which the kids really enjoyed. There was virtually no queue and we only waited about 10 minutes as the ride line moved very quickly. We decided to do Loki’s Labyrinth next which was next to the Viking Splash ride for a fun detour.

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After that, we headed back to the North part of the park to do the Atlantis Submarine ride before exploring the West side of the park which had a lot more kiddie (age 6 and under) rides. We managed to catch the Pirate Show in the Lagoon in the Lego Friends area as we passed through. Lulu really loved the submarine ride and we were all surprised to see quite a few good sized sharks swimming below us. Next, we tried out a little boat ride as the park was closing. It was fun and quiet as most of the queues had disappeared with all the school tours leaving around 3pm. The park closed at 5pm since it seemed it wasn’t yet on it’s summer hours.

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As we left the park, we meandered through the Miniland area which were all these amazing city scenes from cities and landmarks in Europe and a couple US sites (Kennedy Space Station) as well. The kids really enjoyed looking at all the intricate details of each model and we spent a lot of time looking at everything. It was especially exciting to see landmarks of places that we had already visited in Europe like Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel tour, the Basilica Sacre Coeur, and the Waterloo Station in London. Since the park had officially closed the rides and shops, Miniland was quiet, but during the park open hours, Miniland features moving cars, moving trains, sounds, and music relevant to each area. We left the park promising to revisit when everything was turned on the next day and to also look in the shops for souvenirs before we left on our second day.

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For our second day, we wanted to make sure we saw the Nexxo Knights 4D movie experience which takes about 15 minutes. They were also playing the Lego Movie 4D experience. While we waited for it start, we tried all the kiddie rides on the West side of the park while there was no queues. We tried this hilarious fire truck experience that required us parents to pump the truck’s engine to get it to move down a track and then pump water for the littles to spray the “fire” in the building and then pump to truck back to the starting point. You are sort of competing with the other fire trucks and J was very proud that he was able to pump for both kids and even though he and Lulu’s truck was the last to leave on the return, he was able to smash all of us and win it in the end! The announcer/ride operator cried out “And #3 comes out of no where for the win!”.

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After the fire station training, we headed over to the L-Drivers (little kids) and Driving School (big kids) for the kids to get a chance to try out the driving rides. The kids all really enjoyed these rides and indicated to us that they were not above making illegal moves and breaking all sorts of road rules. In the end, they proudly displayed their “driver’s Licenses”.

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At about 12:30pm, we stopped at the all you can eat/drink pizza buffet for lunch in the Lego Friends area and watched the Lego Friends show on the lagoon. The Pirate show was definitely much better, but the kids enjoyed it and the weather was sunny and warm. I had noticed a 20% coupon on our park ticket print out, but the server gave us a 30% discount which brought the total from about €55 for the six of us to a much more reasonable €37. We spent the rest of the day re-riding any of the kids’ favourite rides which included the Dragon roller coaster, the Pirate Falls ride, the Atlantis Submarine and the Driving School. After lunch, we meandered around checking out the Miniland again before making a last stop at the main gift shop by the entrance.

It was about 3pm by then, and we headed home to little traffic. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching TV and the kids put together their small Nexxo Knights sets. We packed up that night before bed and we all stayed up late watching a movie. Then the next morning, we woke up, had breakfast, washed all the dishes, and headed out around 1030am to beat the traffic since we were so worried that it would be gnarly based on the traffic on Friday. Fortunately, there was no traffic and we breezed though. Although seeing England from the motorway was not very picturesque, the drive through Wales was lovely and interesting. It was so interesting trying to read all the signs posted in Welsh. I thought Irish looked confusing, but Welsh was really confusing!

We ended up back at Holyhead quite early. So, we spent an awkwardly long time at the McDonald using their WiFi. I was so tired though, that I went back to the car and napped for a bit (since I am always the one driving). Then we explored the grocery store before driving around Holyhead and drove around the harbour area. We finally headed over at 1830 to queue up for the ferry. With our Stena Plus, we got priority boarding and settled in for the evening in the Stena Plus lounge. This ferry was much smaller than the first one and much less crowded. Loads of people found bench seats and went straight to sleep. The Monkey and Puppy decided they wanted to go watch Goosebumps in the Cinema room again while J stayed with Miss Piggy and Lulu sampling snacks and drinks in the lounge. As we made our way back and forth across the ferry, the boat swayed from the rough seas outside, barely visible in the darkness. I remarked to another passenger that it felt like I had been drinking. So, we were thankful that we had all taken motion sickness medicine earlier in the day. It was a quiet, uneventful trip and we arrived to the quiet, inky darkness of the Dublin terminal. Gone were all the buses, cars, and traffic from Friday morning. As we drove down the quiet Dublin streets south toward home, the children one by one nodded off. By the time we pulled into our drive, only the Monkey was still awake.

 

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