Legoland - A Grown up theme park
Normally no fan of theme parks, Jane Egginton checks into the Legoland Resort and is surprised to find herself reluctant to check out.
Few grown-ups are fond of theme parks, but Legoland is a bit different, especially if you are considering amusement across the generations. Part of Lego’s magic is its perennial appeal – who hasn’t played with those legendary bricks at some time in their life? Even if you are not an AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego), the chances are you will have some fond memories of this world famous brick. And Legoland in Windsor now has a hotel, which means adults can check in with their kids or grandchildren and take the whole thing at a leisurely pace.
I was as excited as my two year old when we checked into reception with his granny, feeling a tingle of excitement that we had made it to this much recommended resort. Check in was smooth: us adults appreciated the helpful staff who offered to take our bags as soon as our room became available (check in is not until 3pm, but you are advised to arrive early to make the most of the day) and my little boy loved the Lego pit in reception.
As we all ran excitedly upstairs, I landed on a spot in the carpet that makes a noise like a whoopee cushion, much to my son’s amusement. It is imaginative details like this that mean there is hardly a dull moment in the resort, even when you are not actually enjoying one of the attractions. When we entered the toilets, a sultry voice exclaimed: ‘Look at you, you are beautiful!’ at which my mum broke out into a huge smile.
There were lots of little things like this that were cleverly designed to keep the grown ups amused. The chef had wittily shaped the chips as Lego bricks and I loved the Skylounge bar – and not just for its Manhattan style cityscape and little Lego figures beautifully decorating the walls. There were plenty of adults of all ages enjoying a well-earned drink at the end of a Lego-filled day, some with little ones in tow.
Because of course all the best children’s entertainment pleases adults in some way. Think of those Disney classics, The Muppets, or even more modern creations like Shrek. On our trip, we saw grown-ups of all ages not just observing their children or grandchildren having fun but genuinely having a very good time themselves.
Just one of the advantages of staying in the Legoland hotel is that you can experience the resort before everyone else arrives and after they have gone home. I suggest you go to the end of the park the furthest from reception to avoid other hotel guests during these times. Legoland is deservedly popular, so queues – often long – do form, so do try to visit the resort out of peak periods, during summer and weekends.
The resort not only appeals to adults of all ages, but children of all ages. I have heard some people say that they wouldn’t bring a toddler as there is not enough for them to do, but this is simply not true. Admittedly, there are some rides they cant go on due to height restrictions and others that are just plain unsuitable, but there are plenty of rides and amusements that are both imaginative and educational.
A favourite of all three of us was Miniland, probably the most classic attraction in the park. Granny and I loved seeing our little one dwarf Tower Bridge and the London Eye and he seemed mesmerised by the little scenes from around the world, made out of an incredible 40 million Lego bricks. Fun as it is, Legoland is also an education – in geography, but also in physical skills.
My son drove a fire engine, a car, a helicopter and even a hot air balloon on his trip. We all thrilled at him being dramatically informed: ‘Lego city is on fire’ and told how to drive the fire engine towards a burning building, put the fire out and return to base in record time. During his Legoland driving lesson, he was briefed on vehicle safety before confidently driving around a track with his peers, and being presented with a driving licence.
After all this, granny wanted something a little more restful so we made our way to The Fairy Tale Brook. As we all floated down river in an enormous lily pad, we passed everyone’s favourite fairytale characters –in Lego of course – accompanied by some appropriately gentle music.
After we made the short journey back to the hotel at the end of the day, all three of us eagerly tucked into the all-you-can eat buffet, with food to please all generations. Granny and I happily sipped some fine red wine – resisting the temptation of ordering a £75-bottle of Lanson as the family at the next table had done – as my toddler blissed out with an ice cream he had decorated himself.
One thing about the hotel surprised me: we had a family room yet there was no door between the two rooms and no baby listening service. Once we had put the little one to bed at seven thirty, my mother and are looked at each other in alarm: what could we do now? We couldn’t turn the light or the TV on in our room for fear of waking him, so what were we going to do for the three or four hours until bedtime? Then granny had a great idea. She had downloaded a baby monitor app onto her iPhone which would call a number of choice (mine) if it detected any noise in the room. So, placing it next to our sleeping charge, granny and I slipped off to the Skylounge bar for a bit of adult R&R.
The next day we reluctantly checked out. Thankfully, the resort is just a two-hour drive from London, so I could promise my mother and son we would all soon be back at the much-loved Legoland.