View from a Daddy went on the road this week down south to Windsor to be precise to check out LEGOLAND with our Premier Merlin Passes. I’m guessing like most families, the weather had pretty much determined when we would be best to go and with all of our fingers crossed for at least some sunshine we made our way. From the Midlands it took about 2 and 1/2 hours on a pretty fair run with limited traffic so that was a relief in itself especially as one of us is learning the concept of time and likes to check every twenty minutes or so how many minutes are left of the journey.
We decided as it was a bit of a trek for the small ones we’d check into a hotel for the night and make the most of a full day at the park, which turned out to be a good idea for reasons that will become clear.
I like do my research before I take on a challenge such as visit a theme park where there are likely to be thousands. I’m also reluctant to waste money so again, I planned ahead for food venues and such like. I knew from reading around that although the park officially opens at 10am the gates open earlier so we took advantage of this and got there early. A Premier Merlin Pass provides free parking (otherwise £6) and getting there well before opening time meant no huge walks. Although we were early, other visitors had had the same idea – this in turn meant that by 9am there was a queue starting to form. Usefully, there are clean and accessible toilets outside of the gates that have children’s seats too (it’s the little things that please me – say what you like!). Be warned, if you are a pushchair user (highly recommended for the bag carrying required – it will become clear why even to the lightest of travellers a bag is a good idea), then you should queue to the left hand side as the entry is wider and accessible. Maps are available before entry too so, at the very least, if you find yourself queuing, you can plan your first pit stop.
At 9.30am a chirpy chap welcomed us and started a countdown to our entry. There was a small stampede, rather unnecessarily, as the the initial welcome only allows you as far as the next gate but the vista from the top of the park which sits at the top of a winding hill side is pretty spectacular- Windsor is literally a lego brick’s throw away and the observation point for planes jetting off to far away lands will keep you entertained until the next gate release. There are coffee outlets and shops too in this venue so you’ll fill the time fairly easily even with a toddler and excited youngster in tow.
Thanks to my research, I knew that things would get busy quickly and given that it was a warm day, it seemed that was likely to be the case so we headed out to the back of the park. As I mentioned, it is set over a hill-scape which has a winding path down and a train that will take you across the park – this wasn’t working for our visit due to maintenance. We were fine with the walk but if you have someone less mobile the trek could be an unexpected challenge. There were a number of unsuspecting visitors who were winding their way up and down the paths laden with bags and dashing explorers. There are lockers for hire at a charge so its worth checking for these if you do want to drop bags rather than carry them around the park. Similarly, if you choose not to take a buggy, these are available to hire too.
The park itself is separated off into distinct sections and the map does a very good job at providing details about the accessibility of rides for different heights and ages. Fortunately the Little Lady is above the 0.9 metre requirements of most rides – she did need an adult for some while others she could ride solo. Not much was inaccessible and as she’s only 4 this wasn’t too much of a disappointment. There was one ride I quite fancied but the Little Lady was too small so it was me that was disappointed but I couldn’t really justify queuing up while the kids looked on.
My favourite was the Squid Surfer which was fast and very wet while the Little Lady enjoyed the Spinning Spider a funky version of the spinning teacups only a giant lego spider sits above you flexing its pincers while fearing riders scream from beneath. Another hit for all of the family was the Atlantis Submarine Voyage essentially a submarine ride which is interactive and one of the more quiet rides of the day but enjoyed by us all.
Before it got hugely busy, we got to Duplo Valley which is aimed at the younger visitors. Here we enjoyed a puppet show of Cinderella in a shaded amphitheatre which was just the ticket in the heat. After, we’d taken time to cool off, we headed for the water splash area that is great fun. Here is where the bag comes in. We had packed the girls’ swimming togs and mine too of course so that we could: firstly, cool down in the forecast sunshine but secondly, so that we could avoid any huge arguments that would surely occur if we had attempted to scoot away from this area when squeals of excitement were so abundant. There are two sections here: Drench Towers and Safari Splash (each living up to their titles) which, when really busy, are subject to time allocations. We managed to get there early enough to have free run of it. There are changing facilities here for you to do a Clark Kent as well as toilets. This area was super busy so you’ll have to be especially alert to your belongings and your little ones. Fortunately there were two of us but if you were alone and there was more than one child, it could be necessary to get a locker here. Make sure you have kit with you to avoid disappointment and be prepared to get wet. There was an attendant in action who generally kept watch of the children and warded off any cameras.
Duplo Valley is adjoined to the Miniland so you can easily get back to some calm to eat a picnic or to just for some respite. We took food with us but there are plenty of food outlets available. With a Premium Merlin Pass you can benefit from 20% off food and drinks but be warned some of the smaller outlets dotted around the park do not offer this discount. This isn’t advertised before you order so make sure if you are intending on using your pass to benefit from the offer that you check so as to avoid disappointment or in my case frustration.
Back in Miniland, we watched one of the shows that occur throughout the day so even when the lure of food just isn’t enough for your fun seekers, they will be distracted while you can grab a drink and a bite to eat. These are generally interactive and require audience participation but there is no pressure and it’s all good fun. Here too, you’ll discover some pretty fantastic replicas of landmarks from London to Newcastle with moving vessels and even the Angel of the North; the intricate detail is pretty captivating while you grab some calm before heading for the next zone of rides and entertainment. Around the park are areas for the kids to get their hands on lego too as well as models of planes, animals and even dinosaurs to capture their interest. There are also opportunities to catch 4D lego movies and to meet and greet some lego legends.
We spent the whole day at the park leaving just before closing time. We had fun from start to finish and got to do most of the things that we wanted to do but I am sure that there is so much more we could have explored. It was super busy and if the Little Lady had been a little bit older she might have been slightly disappointed by having to queue for some things but as we could generally manage her expectations with the rides we chose that had shorter queues she left happy and contented. I’m sure we’ll be back for more adventures.
All of the staff were friendly and attentive from the start to the end of the day. We loved our day out because of the variety that this park has to offer. We could easily have gone back for a second day but someone wanted to see where the queen lived and the sight of the castle in the distance meant that there was no escaping a visit to Windsor for our next day of exploring this part of the world.
- plan ahead
- get there early
- pack your trunks and a towel
- map your route so as not to avoid disappointment
- schedule a whole day if not more
- get your walking feet on
- head to the back and work your way forward
For more information please visit www.merlinannualpass.co.uk.
This post is published as part of our role as Merlin Entertainment Ambassadors.