We are back! Amazingly, the kids did not have a clue – we woke them up early ‘to go swimming before it gets too busy’ and bless them, they bought it hook, line and sinker. Until we hit the M4, when ‘Daddy’s short cut’ just didn’t cut it any more. It was lovely listening to them wondering where we were going – in fact it made for such a peaceful journey that I am thinking of making all trips mystery ones from now on!
So – the good. To be fair – this was most of it – Legoland does what it does really well, there was plenty to keep all of them happy – and the kids are close enough in age, that they all wanted to go on pretty much the same things. My favourite was the ‘Atlantis Experience’, where you get to go in a ‘submarine’ alongside sharks, rays, and all manner of sealife – and it was warm! One benefit of the weather being absolutely fecking freezing was that there were no queues for anything at all – which meant that by the time the kids got too cold to stay outdoors, they’d done enough rides that they were happy to head back to the hotel.
We’d booked early enough to get a really good deal at the Lego Hotel in the park – this proved to be a good move, as after coming in from the park we were able to take the kids into the pirate pool – with all the watershooters and fountains any kid (or Dad) could want. The hotel itself was brilliantly set up for kids, with a massive lego pit in reception, a pretty big play castle area in the main dining area and – my kids favourite – a whoopee cushion in the carpet. Hours of fun for them all – and, er, Dad.
The awesome – well, the awesome has to be the rooms. We’d booked a Pirate Room, and it was fab! The designers really had gone to town, with everything very properly pirate indeed. There was even a treasure hunt for the kids, giving them a code which opened a pirate treasure chest with lego goodies in. And someone had thoughtfully put a box of Duplo in the room for the three year old – a wasted effort since he scorns any baby versions of toys, but a good thought all the same! Here they are in their pirate alcove. By the way, they are absolutely not watching TV so I can have 5 minutes peace – no siree, I’m a much better mother than that. They are admiring the pirate wallpaper. But there is also a TV, right where they are looking, just in case you wanted to know.
The bad – well, the bad was the cold. And there isn’t that much that the lego gods can do about that, so we’ll let that pass.
And the ugly. I’m afraid there was an ugly, and it was the food – or rather the food prices. After our first trip to Legoland back in 2009, I wrote a review somewhere (I can’t find it now) that said something like ‘the food isn’t that great, but it’s not terrible, and it’s not as overpriced as you might expect’. Well, the food is still in ‘not great, but not terrible’ territory. But look at the prices:
That’s £45 for a very average lunch for a family of 5 – three of whom are aged 7 or under! A similar deal in Pizza Hut would have set us back £26. But the kids were cold, and hungry, so I gulped and paid. And it was more of the same in the hotel in the evening – £18.95 for adults, and £9.95 for children, for a Harvester style buffet, plus drinks on top, if the adults among you don’t fancy Coke, lemonade or fizzy orange. Nearly £70 seemed a lot to me – so we took an executive decision to pile the kids into the car and try our luck in Windsor. We ended up in Nandos, because it seemed unstuffy enough to cope if the kids had a meltdown – since it was the first time we’d EVER braved an evening meal out with the three of them, we figured it might be wise to play it safe. It was a great success actually – and it came in at £50, though to be fair a tenner of that was beer for the adults. That is to say, the adults not including the designated driver, so, umm, me. Well anyway. It was far better value than the hotel. And the kids loved it, as you can see by the exemplary behaviour of the biggest one.
So, there you are. The good, the awesome, the bad and the ugly. I’d definitely recommend Legoland – it’s great value, especially if you do some hunting around for discount deals. And paying extra to stay in the Lego hotel is a sensible investment at any time of year, given the uncertainty of the weather in these parts. But if it’s warm enough, pack a picnic for the daytime, and then eat out in the evening, or you’ll end up with a ginormous hole in your pocket.