Today we ventured out to Legoland, Windsor. The threat of thunderstorms was not going to put us off. We packed waterproof jackets and cardigans just in case. This ensured that the temperature would be around 26-28 degrees and we'd have no need of all this stuff that we decided to carry around!
Having removed the solid wheeled pushchair from the boot of the car before we set off, we got our 'caching pushchair' out only to find it had a puncture and the tyre was completely flat. No doubt some sneaky thorn from our last trip out. Fortunately we are armed with a pump so hubby just had to keep on inflating as we wandered around :)
The view from the entrance is pretty amazing (as you can see hubby and S were checking out the route here) and we decided to ride the Hill Train down to Kingdom of the Pharaohs which both S and N found very exciting. The train is good and you can get quite a few pushchairs on.
Off we got and went over to Desert Chase which is basically a carousel ride. S loved the 'up and down horses' which she went on with hubby. He made me laugh as he sat on the horse next to hers only to be told by the operator that this ride was not for adults. Oops! He had to just stand next to her. I suddenly realised that for S, this was really her first proper experience of rides. After that, she and I went on the Thunder Blazer which is a set of swing chairs which made me feel a little sick. We then went to Scarab-bouncers which are seats for 7 people (1 adult can go on each) that go up in the air then, as the name implies, kind of bounce down and up again. It gives the sensation of going over a hump-back bridge so hubby said. S wasn't sure to start with but within seconds was smiling and enjoying it. N was busy eating puffs as she couldn't go on any of these rides, which was a shame.
By this time it was about 11.30am and the girls were already feeling hungry so we settled on a seat at Lego City and started our packed lunch. A loud speaker announced that the Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show was due to start at 12 noon so we decided to stay and watch it. I even went and bought us an ice cream each (£2.85 for a single scoop).
It was a total hit and was quite crowded at the main area seating but we were just around the corner, still with a good view and with some of the stunt crew performing right in front of us. Both S and N were dancing, shouting and clapping. The high diving was impressive (by the stunt crew - not the girls).
We then went over to Adventure Land and straight on to the Atlantis Submarine Voyage. Both the girls were glued to the windows watching fish, rays and sharks swimming by. Of course there were Lego fish and divers down here too ;-) Another short ride but enough fun for them. Our next ride was Dino Safari which entailed little cars going around a track very sedately. We got to the front of the queue and I was told that N was too little to go on. I have to say this did seem utterly ridiculous to me as she could have easily sat on my lap or next to me. Shame. Hubby and S went on and photographed various dinosaurs on their way round. One was even having his teeth brushed as you can see. I am guessing that's a plant eater...
Our next area to explore was Duplo Land where hubby and S went on to Fairytale Book. I have to say that the signs at the entrance to these rides really need to be made clearer. This one says 'no children on laps' and 'guests under 1.3m must be accompanied by an adult'. Maybe we were being daft but we presumed that this meant that N could not go. Shame as it looked almost as exciting as watching grass grow to me. Oh well. She and I went off to find a spot to look for S and hubby's boat to come past. As we settled down and started watching, a family with a very young baby came past in a boat. Another ride opportunity missed for N as we were meeting up with a friend for a drink as soon as hubby and S had finished the ride :(
I think that the signs by the ride entrances should state that they are suitable for under 3's (although I did now notice the guide book says this if you look for a teddy bear face). I think I was getting too hot and bothered to notice all the little symbols (plus I didn't have my glasses with me!).
We went into a cafe to get a drink but were told by the staff there that we could not just buy a drink, we had to buy a buffet lunch each. I think we all just looked at each other and shrugged and left. This was a bit of a case of 'jobs-worth' if you ask me. The place had about 3 people in it. There was seating inside, at a back area and outside behind a fence. I know that when they are busy I am sure it is a pain if people are just having a drink but talk about not wanting your custom even when they are empty. Crazy! We ended up just around the corner buying a cappucino and 2 standard Fanta drinks. The cost? Over £8.
Heading over then to Miniland, we went to Balloon School where up to 4 people (yes, N could ride this one) get into a balloon 'basket' and up you go, pulling a cord to control how high you go and letting it go to come back down. N squealed with excitement on this ride.
Miniland was what I remembered the old Legoland to be. Lots of models of areas of the world you would recognise from London to Cape Kennedy. It is quite awe inspiring to look at these models and realise just how many Lego bricks went into each.
We walked through here and off up to the Sky Rider. S and I went on this ride together as, once again, N was just too small. It clearly is a height thing for the safety rail as the ride neither moved fast nor was scary so I know she would have enjoyed it. The view over another part of Miniland was lovely as we went past. S said she liked "roller coasters".
Everyone was getting a little tired now as we had walked around for 5 hours and yet had still managed to miss quite a few sections of the park. We decided to finish up at this point and just pop in to the Star Wars Experience on our way out. Ironically, this was the one thing that made S cry. The volume of the music and sound effects inside was extremely high and it upset her so hubby took her out straight away whilst I whizzed N round in her pushchair, almost bumping into Darth Vader as we came out!
One final hit to your pocket is a £2 car park charge to leave.
Now, Legoland (if you've not been there) is not a cheap family day out. Oh no. In fact, the gate price for an adult ticket is £44.20 and a child (from age 3!) is £35.20. That's a hefty sum of money for a family of four for a days entertainment. I know you can get discounts with early booking, voucher deals, etc but bearing in mind most 3 year olds would probably not be able to get onto many rides due to height restrictions (and they check EVERY child), that is a pretty steep entry fee. With an ice cream costing £2.85 and a fizzy drink £2.35, you'll see why we packed our own lunch.
There is a new hotel on the site and staying there does include a park ticket. In September, for example, a room for 2 adults, 1 child and 1 infant would be £385-£485. You can also jump the queues at the rides by buying a Q-Bot ticket for £45 per day.
Fortunately for us, an old friend of mine works there and gave us free tickets for our fun day out :) We also collected some vouchers from a newspaper recently and have two free tickets to go again in September. Mind you, that still means a £35 payment to get S in. At least we can go to the areas we missed then :)