We wanted a memorable, fun-filled day out for our youngest’s 3rd birthday. We also needed it to entertain his big sister, age 5.
Legoland, just half an hour’s drive from us, seemed to fit the bill.
A heatwave and a very recent foray into toilet-training for the birthday boy resulted in some parental trepidation the day before our visit, but it turns out that Legoland really is a good as the hype and the kids’ permanent, infectious excitement meant our day was a roaring success.
Here are my top tips for a fun-filled, stress-free day at the land of Lego:
Plan Your Day
Legoland, although not as huge as the likes of Alton Towers, is a big site for little legs so it’s good to have a rough plan for the day. Make sure you get there early (we were queuing outside the gate just before 9.30am, the rides open at 10am) and make the most of the quieter first hour.
We studied the resort map before we went and planned our route from the entrance to two of the most popular rides that we wanted to hit first. That meant we ticked off two of our top attractions in the first hour and we could then relax a bit and re-caffeinate.
The site quietens down again after 4pm so it’s worth staying until closing time if you can in order to milk every last drop of fun. And it’s definitely not just the kids who need stamina for eight hours in a busy theme park. I was grateful for my saintly one-glass-of-wine limit the evening before!
We needn’t have worried about our 3 year-old being too small to go on many rides, Legoland is ideal for pre-schoolers and there was a lot he and his sister could enjoy together. It helped that he is just above 0.9m which seemed to be the minimum height for several rides. (Measure the kids before you go and research the height restrictions) These were our top 5 rides:
- Atlantis Submarine Voyage – This was my daughter’s favourite. After entering our submarine, we travelled ‘under the sea’ to view real sharks, stingray and huge array of beautiful fish swimming past the windows at close range, as well as Lego mermaids and treasure chests.
- L Drivers – Not a big showstopper ride but the kids loved driving the cars around the track, steering wildy, crashing into the kerb and overtaking each other. They got rewarded with their own driver’s license at the end! My son told us that his license said “really good driver”
- Fairytale Brook – This sleepy, shady riverboat ride was definitely my favourite. The four of us could ride together in one boat and we enjoyed spotting the classic fairytale characters made elaborately out of Lego on the banks, including Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood. Magical.
- Coastguard HQ – We paired up in the battery powered boats to dodge the obstacles and surprise water jets. The kids could steer the boats and operate the pedal with the occasional bit of parental intervention and it was great fun racing each other and occasionally colliding!
- Dragon’s Apprentice Rollercoaster – For a ‘mini’ roller coaster this definitely satisfies junior adrenaline junkies with a steep climb to the top of the castle in the Knights Kingdom and a fast, spiralling drop to the moat below. Our daughter screamed and shrieked in utter delight.
These were our winners but we also loved the iconic landmarks in ‘Miniland’, the ‘Desert Chase’ carousel ride and the huge ‘Castaway Camp’ playground in Pirate Shores. The whole of ‘Duplo Valley’ was a big hit as it’s set up specifically for younger visitors and the ‘Splash Safari’ water area within it was awesome. It’s definitely worth packing the kids swimwear and a towel for that one, we had to drag them away. The only one I wish we’d done but we didn’t get round to was ‘Raft Racers’, but there’s always next time……
We used the shows in ‘Heartlake City’ for regular rest stops. For some welcome shade, sit to the left of the stage under the trees. The ‘Return to Skeleton Bay’ Pirate Stunt Show was definitely our favourite with its spectacular aerial acrobatics. The rather schmaltzy ‘Lego Friends To The Rescue’ music show entertained my daughter in particular and she loved meeting the characters afterwards.
Food & Drink
Refreshments are expensive to buy so it’s a good idea to bring plenty of your own snacks, especially to placate kids in the queues, as well as lots of water. We had an early lunch at ‘Harbourside Fish & Chips’ at 11.30am (most restaurants seemed to open then) and were first in the queue before the main rush.
When To Go
Tied to the school holidays and weekends, we opted for a Sunday and were glad we did as the queues were shorter than the Saturday (if you download the free Legoland app you can monitor queuing times in the days prior to your visit). We went in July, early enough to be outside of the peak school holiday period which probably helped too. Having said that, if you have a well-timed INSET day, definitely use it! Quieter is better.
To Q-Bot, or Not to Q-Bot
That is the million-dollar (or hundred quid…) question. Q-Bot is a ride reservation system that covers over 20 of Legoland’s attractions. It’s a hand-held device that ‘virtually’ holds your space in the queue of your chosen ride, enabling you to turn up just as you’re due to get on. The standard Q-Bot is £20 per person, or a very significant £80 for a family of four on top of your hefty entry price. After mulling it over for too long we logged on to the website to find that all Q-Bot passes were sold out for the day of our visit. Decision made and we were glad we saved the money in the end. On the day we went only two of the rides we went on had long queues (45/50 mins) and even for these the wait was shorter than anticipated. I’m ashamed to admit that I had a little smile to myself as a family in the exclusive Q-Bot lane were turned away from ‘Fairytale Brook’, a ride that had almost no queue, for arriving 10 minutes before their allotted slot!
Tickets start from £32 per person online but do some research into current deals before you book.