I wasn’t going to write about our trip to Legoland Windsor Resort because we weren’t there in an official reviewing capacity. I put a couple of photos up over on my Instagram, and that was going to be it. However, ever since our trip two weeks ago, I’ve had so many questions from friends and Insta followers, I thought I’d put it all together in one handy blog post. I hope it is useful for anyone planning a trip there soon. We had an amazing couple of days there – our first trip – but it’s worth planning ahead to get the most out of your visit.
1. Look out for deals before you book
If you pay on the gate, it’ll cost you more (between £45 and £60 per person depending on when you visit). Weekends and school holidays are more expensive than term time week days, while bank holidays and special events are even pricier. Book 1-6 days in advance online and you’ll save a tenner per person; book 7+ days in ahead and you’ll save even more – £15 per person. Or look out for adults go free coupons on Kellogg’s cereals and other special offers; or exchange your Tesco Clubcard vouchers in advance, bringing the cost down to £13 per person. If you live in close proximity, consider an annual pass.
We booked with Lego Holidays, meaning we got Legoland tickets for the five of us for two days, a hotel stay and parking. The Lego Hotel is, naturally, way more expensive than other local hotels.
2. Visit off-peak, if you can
Not only is it cheaper, it is dramatically less busy. Our first day in the park a Friday was when our school had an In Service Training (INSET) day for teachers. It was positively blissful compared to the following day which was a/ a Saturday; b/a bank holiday weekend; c/ a Star Wars special. If that had been my only experience of Legoland it would have put me off for life! The downside of visiting off-peak is that at especially quiet times some of the rides may not be open until later in the day.
3. Measure your child’s height before you go and research ride restrictions
There are some rides with no height restrictions, others with 90cm, 100cm, 110cm and 120cm. Some stipulate that children under a certain height can go on but must be accompanied by an adult. Although all the rides have signs stating restrictions and the staff will measure children before allowing them on, it’s worth working out beforehand so you’re not disappointed on the day. We did see a couple of occasions where families had queued up only to be turned away. The Lego City Driving School (pictured above) and L-Drivers are the only rides with age restrictions, 6-13 and 3-5 respectively.
I’d say Legoland is best for children aged between five and nine. My toddler had a great day, but there was quite a lot he couldn’t go on because he was too small. My husband and I would take it it in turns to take him on something he could go on, while the other went off with our other two children. Luckily, he’s pretty chilled about stuff like this, but I have friends who have visited with just a toddler and been disappointed. I’d say adventurous children of 10 and over may get a bit bored as there are not too many of the faster rides you get at other theme parks.
4. Get there early…
Yes, I know it’s the obvious one, but seriously, get there early and get on the rides before they get busy. The website tells you the resort opens at 10am… but you can actually enter from 9.30am. If you’re there early, you can join the park opening ceremony at 9.50am, or you can head as far back into the park as you can and get in the queue for the rides before anyone else makes it that far. Some of the gates to the different areas don’t open until 10am but those in the know will be queuing there beforehand. We did this on our second day and managed to walk straight on the Atlantis Submarine Voyage (pictured above). Later in the day, the queues were up to an hour long.
5. … and/or stay there late
The website might say the park closes at 5pm off peak or 6pm peak, but on both days, a lot of the rides were still open way after that, provided you are in the queue in time.
6. If you know you’re arriving early, or it’s a quiet day, don’t bother paying extra for priority parking
Yes, you have to pay for parking at Legoland! We parked in block B and C, which are really near the entrance… and right next to the more expensive priority zone. Make sure to pay online in advance (£6 regular; £12 priority) so you can just scan your ticket on the way out, rather than having to queue to pay.
7. Don’t follow the crowd when you get into the park
When we arrived on the second day, even though it wasn’t yet 10am, the park was already really busy. There was even a queue to get down the path into the main park. Ignore his path, to the right of the entrance, and instead veer left to avoid the crowds. The kids will love this route because they can whoosh down the slides rather than the steps. (There’s also a buggy-friendly way down too.)
8. Use the Legoland app to keep an eye on queue times
We found the Legoland app invaluable while we were in the park. It helped us to know which rides to avoid and which to make a beeline for when they were quiet. There are signs around the park with wait times, but this was far easier to use, with Legoland’s free Wifi.
9. Bring snacks or toys for the queues
Over the course of two days, we only had two really long queues for rides my children were desperate to go on. Some of the rides have Lego to play with along the way; Sky Riders even has an area where kids can sit and watch various Lego films, while you stay in the queue (although when it is really busy, it takes you out of view, so not totally ideal). There’s nothing like producing a few sweets or a little toy mid-queue to stop fed up kids from complaining.
10. Consider paying for a Q-Bot
These are not cheap, but if you can afford it (we couldn’t) are a great way to skip the queues. There are three types of Q-Bots: Regular at an additional £20 per person, where you reserve your ride time and can continue exploring the park while you wait; Express at £35 per person, which reduces your waiting time by half; and Ultimate at £80 per person, which gives you pretty much instant access to the rides.
11. Take advantage of Parent Swap, if you have more kids than adults or more adults than kids
This is brilliant for families like ours, where the kids outnumber the adults. With Parent Swap, one adult can queue with two children, take one on the ride and leave the other at the front of the queue and go on the ride with them without having to rejoin the back of the queue. Or two adults can take it in turns to go on the ride and the child gets to go twice!
12. Bring your own food to keep the costs down…
There are plenty of food options on site, including an all you can eat pasta and pizza buffet, a fish and chip shop, and a burger joint. Adult meals were around £10 and children’s around £7. However, we wanted to keep costs down and so bought a packed lunch along with us. The park could do with more picnic areas, but we found the steps in Heartlake City ideal.
13. …and if you’re staying for more than one day, make use of the local supermarkets….
If you’re staying in a hotel the night before your visit, you may think your only option is to buy food on site. However, we headed to one of the local supermarkets (Tesco in Bracknell, which was on the way from our hotel to the park) on the morning of the second day and spent £12 on lunch, drinks and snacks for the five of us. Friends from home who we’d bumped into at the park had spent around £80 on food and drink over the course of the day. It hadn’t occurred to them to do this.
14. ….and local restaurants or chip shops at the end of the day
We didn’t want the expense of eating in the park at the end of the day, so we used our Tesco Clubcard vouchers to dine at Pizza Express Wokingham on our first day, and headed to a local chip shop on the second day, just before driving home.
15. Bring a buggy for younger children
Our toddler is pretty good at walking when we are out and about, but he would have struggled on his feet at the park all day. It was also handy to dump our bags and picnic lunch on while we queued for the rides. You can hire Legoland buggies, but they’re expensive (£10 for a single and £15 for a double). We saw one family with shopping trolley bags, which we thought was a great idea!
16. Don’t wait until the end of the day to visit the gift shop
Usually I don’t let my kids anywhere near the gift shops when we go on days out, because I know they’ll just end up spending loads of money on disposable plastic junk that will just fall apart. However, I think you can never have too much Lego, so I let them take £10 each (money they had been given for Easter) and told them they could spend it at Legoland. There’s a huge shop near the entrance and smaller ones around the park. The main shop gets jam-packed at closing time. If you can, buy earlier in the day. You can arrange to pick up your goodies at the main shop at the end of the day, or if you’re staying in the Lego hotel, they’ll deliver to your room.
17. The shows are worth watching
We watched a puppet fairytale show at Duplo Valley, which my toddler loved and his big brother and sister enjoyed although they pretended it was too young for them. We also saw the Pirates of Skeleton Bay show, which was absolutely brilliant, featuring pirates somersaulting and acrobatting on dry land and into the water. It was a good chance to sit down after being on our feet all day. When the shows are on is also a good time to get onto nearby rides, when they are quieter.
18. Don’t forget your children’s swimming costumes (and sun cream)
Splash Safari is a splash park for younger visitors, full of familiar Lego Duplo animals and interactive water features. Drench Towers is the UK’s largest water play structure, with water slides, tipping bricks and more. There are height restrictions of 90cm and 1m for the slides. And if you do forget, there’s a shop right next to the splash pad selling everything you need. Both water areas are closed during winter months and open from the end of April until the start of October.
(Yes, I know I said 18 in the title but I added one in after it had been published and it’s tricky to change a title once a blog post has been published!)
19. Don’t necessarily leave the wet rides until the end of the day
The usual advice is to leave the wet rides until the end of the day so that you don’t have to walk around wet and cold. However, because everyone does this, that’s when the rides are usually busier. Consider taking spare clothing so you can go on them earlier and then get changed, use one of the family drier cubicles (costs £2), or bring waterproofs.
Have I missed anything? It’d be great to add even more tips to help people plan their visit. Do let me know your top tips in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page, or you can tweet me on @cardiffmummy