So my son, Finn, is a SERIOUS Lego fan. From about age 3 he massively got into 'little lego' (as opposed to 'big lego' duplo) and in particular Ninjago. Now if you don't know what Ninjago is, it's a lego theme based around four young ninjas, Kai, Jay, Cole and Zane who are all trying to combat the evil Lord Garmadon and his skeleton army. Serious stuff. Right, hope you're still with me... He was completely taken with these characters, skipping the classics and jumping straight to 'older boys' lego, especially obsessed by Lloyd, 'the green one'. So much so that this became the theme for his 4th Birthday party, cake, costume, presents et al. It is now part of his daily routine - to sit and play with his ever growing collection of lego. I love the fact that these simple interlocking toy bricks have been giving kids so much entertainment since the 1950's and withstood the test of time - a complete classic and a reason for husbands to want a son!
Lego is brilliant for your childs motor, spatial and problem solving skills, great for encouraging creativity and developing little imaginations. For me the best thing has been that this is finally something Finn will sit, playing mostly by himself and will happily entertain him for an hour or so every day. He gets lost into his own little world and has helped make him more independent. The downside is that most of the lego sets he wants are beyond his age recommendation so do require assistance when first building them - bring on daddy lego skills, although I have to say I have enjoyed building the odd spaceship :)
So with his newfound obsession it only seemed to make sense that his Birthday treat after the amazing green ninja themed party I threw him, would be a trip to Legoland, Windsor. We had heard positive things about the resort and we booked a package deal which meant we could stay overnight in the Lego hotel and get the full experience! It was a really fun couple of days and a big success all round. But we have to go back soon as the Ninjago world 'area' was still being built at the time we went so watch this space for our second trip there! We did leave Violet (1 yrs) behind with parents so we could really have some quality time with Finn and that worked really well too.
Here are our top tips for visiting Legoland Windsor...
1. Check your Childs height
This is an absolute must - please check your childs height before you book it and go to avoid disappointment and manage expectations. You need to be 90cm to get on most of the rides or 100cm to be guaranteed on everything. This was a good incentive / bribery to get Finn to eat more fruit and veg in the run up to the big day - to make sure he was tall enough to be able to go on any rides! I would try and wait until your child is at least three years old to take full advantage of the parks offer but 4 years was a perfect age for us.
2. Leave your baby with a relative
If you have a baby then ideally don't bring them if you can. There were a lot of people with babies and buggies there but honestly if you can leave them behind with a relative then I would really recommend it! It does make life much easier and they won't be allowed on rides. There are baby change facilities and high chairs but no soft/ specific baby areas and it won't be much fun for them.
3. Stay at the Lego hotel
Turn it into a short break and stay at the Lego hotel. This way you don't need to worry too much about cramming it all in and you have less stress over having to leave super early to get there or get back to avoid traffic (unless you live close by of course). It makes it into more of a special occasion if its not something you plan on doing regularly.
We stayed at the Legoland Resort Hotel for 1 night, it was located in the heart of the park so you are in the thick of the fun. It was a good quality hotel with lots of lego themed fun details, including a fun dragon themed entrance and Finn LOVED it. Lots of play areas and even entertainment (kids entertainers, singing, dancing etc) from around 5pm. We had a Kingdom family room which was basically a double room with ensuite and a connecting bunk room which could sleep up to 3 kids. Finn was in his element when he discovered the room had a big box of lego in it that he could use too. You can pick your room from different themes such as Pirate, Adventure and Friends. Breakfast and dinner were included in the 'Bricks' restaurant which was a buffet type informal dining. The food was fine with a good selection of choices and perfect for families. There was a water play area in the hotel but it was pretty busy so we didn't try that out. You get early entry into the park and our deal meant the next day was free entry as well.
Whilst we were there they were also building a new hotel - The Legoland Castle Hotel, which is opening in July 2017.
4. Plan your visit/ rides
The park has over 55 rides. Try to work out what rides you want to do first (and that your child is tall enough for it), especially try to get to them before the queues get too long and do the ones on top of your wishlist first. Check out the website to see the plan of the park or download free the Legoland App which includes an itinerary planner and queue and showtime alerts (please note we didn't test this out!). Quite a few the queues provide good entertainment including lego pit stops to keep the kids going.
There were a few wet rides - so make sure you take spare clothes /swimmers and again check they are open as some areas such as Splash Safari and Drench Towers weren't opening until end April.
If you really want to go all out you can buy a special Q-Bot pass which allows you to make reservations on rides - probably a good thing to get if you go on a peak period or weekend.
5. Visit the following rides...
Our favourite rides were:
-Atlantis Submarine Voyage
This submarine ride was the first we went on and a good way to start the day. You get submerged to the bottom of the sea into an underwater ancient ruins lego world complete with sharks and sting rays
You get to drive your own boat around a waterway avoiding various obstacles (watch out for the elephant!). Lots of fun lego animals to spot on your way.
I didn't get what the hype was about but Finn loved this - Jump on board a desert off-roader and shoot your very own laser gun at various targets throughout the ancient temple labyrinth
-The Dragon (or Dragons apprentice if under 1.0m)
This was the perfect introduction to a rollercoaster experience for a 4 year old! Twist and turn throughout the depths of the castle.
Also a shout out to Star Wars and Miniland areas, definitely worth a visit!
6. Go outside of school holidays/ during the week
If you can try to visit at quieter times. Less queuing is always easier especially if you have young children. Do check opening times as well as early season it isn't open every day. We went on a Friday in March and this was fairly busy - we also experienced a Saturday as we were there 2 days and it was quite different with a lot more kids and longer queuing times.
7. Look for deals
Its not a particularly cheap day out (starting from £30 pp) once you factor in travel, food and tickets. Look for deals such as kids go free or 2nd day free if you stay in the hotel or pick a package. Check their website for the latest offers and also remember lots of cereal packets offer free tickets!
I've also been informed that you can buy the annual Merlin pass (entry into over 32 attractions with places such as London Aquarium, Madam Tussauds, Chessington, Alton Towers, London Eye and London Dungeon) using your Tesco club card points at a discounted price. Another great way to save!
They also offer annual passes - a great option if you live close or know you will go back a dozen times
8. Take a picnic
Food in the park can be quite pricey so if you are just going for a day I would take your own picnic as a family - there are tonnes of nice places to sit and eat. We had a baked potato from one of the cafes which was good but it was fairly pricey and when you're a small family it does all add up! There is the usual offer of overpriced burgers and hotdogs so if you don't fancy that bring your own!
We look forward to coming back to visit the Ninjago world!