Legoland – still a poor excuse for a day out ten years on

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Ten years ago we took our sons, now aged 14 and 15, to Legoland. We left feeling cold, tired and ripped off. We tried again this week with our five and nine year olds, and I’m sorry to say nothing much has changed.
It cost the best part of £100 for two adults and the car parking. It’s only the fact that third son Billy had cut out two free kids’ tickets that stopped entry being almost £160. For day tickets.
It will be OK, we decided, our youngest two love all things Lego (Star Wars and the girly Lego friends) and they hadn’t been before. It was Easter, but it was cold, and still busy.
We started at the very short train ride down the hill, and walked to the knight’s kingdom where we knew there were two ‘ entry level’ rollercoasters, suitable for ride- phobic Bloke as well as the kids. An hour later Billy and I had been on The Dragon, a not terribly scary sit-down coaster suitable for those over a metre tall. Bloke and Bonnie were still queuing for the Dragon’s Apprentice, a much smaller ride.
Billy and I joined the queue instead for lunch in the restaurant, a very poory staffed and grubby place with oversized wooden tables run, it seems, by teenagers with no sense of urgency despite a half hour queue of families waiting for tables. I felt cross and embarrassed as there were families from overseas who must have marvelled at the British inability to run, well, the proverbial knees-up in a brewery. An expensive brewery.
We moved on to Laser Raiders where we were told the wait would be 75 minutes. Not unusual in a theme park, we’ve done Alton Towers and Drayton Manor and understand they’ve only got so many seats per ride. They do have a priority queue jump system but it was FIFTEEN QUID PER PERSON! The wait was so long I actually wrote most of this review while waiting and hoped it was worth it, as we’ve been on these shooting lasers at targets rides before. The American theme parks do these well, with the Buzz Light year and Men in Black ones really standing out for value-for-your wait. Legoland’s version was shabby and short.
With some rides still under construction (the new Duplo’ land would be too young for ours anyway) and the water rides just too damn cold in this weather, we probably didn’t have the same expereice we might had we gone later in the summer.
We bought a couple of overpriced coffees and a bucket of candyfloss and headed to queue for Atlantis, a ‘submarine’ ride which let you look at real fish in the underwater aquarium beneath, but while it was the best we went on, it was still too short for a ride with an hour-long queue.
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We bypassed the car driving and fire engine ‘experiences’ and headed back up the hill to the Star Wars exhibition, via ‘mini land’ which features a lot of very out of date models of country landmarks from around the world which included ‘old’ Wembley and Silverstone with buttons which were supposed to make cars and windmills and the like move, but they were mostly broken.
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The Star Wars area could have been so good, but instead you walked around a museum of star wars scenes in Lego, placed behind glass or certainly out of reach. After the brilliance of the Lego computer games, surely they could have been more imaginative? Even Clone Wars uber-fan Billy was underwealmed.
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We gave up another too-many quid in the shop but didn’t have to fight or bribe the kids that much to head home. Even though we had tried to be positive and give them a fun day without the older two vying for attention, they were talking more about a previous trip to Alton Towers on the way home than the place they’d just been!
Legoland is at Windsor, just off the M4. Leaving took some time as there are only two lanes to exit and some poor woman had rear-ended another car on the steep hill. Then the M1 was closed and it took three and a half hours to get home.
I don’t enjoy writing such a negative review but come-ON Legoland, you should be embarrassed how much you are charging for such a tired and old park. You have a good reputation in all your other businesses so why let this one become so dated and unwelcoming? It had very little for older kids and we were relieved not to have taken the teens. Other UK parks, just as old if not older, seem to have kept pace.
If you are thinking of a visit this Easter, for goodness sake take your own food and look for online deals or use club card vouchers, as some fellow visitors we were talking to in one if the queues did (who, by coincidence, came from Northampton). It was the first time they had visited and, as they whispered out of earshot of their three kids, it would also be their last. As all our kids have now ‘done’ Legoland, thankfully we too have no inclination to return.

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