A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
Kids Bucket Lists. It seems a little wrong for an 8 or 10 year old to have a bucket list but still we had lists. And on that list was a trip to LegoLand.
Lego has had a remarkable history and it has had a significant resurgence in recent years. There seems to be an increased interaction with Hollywood and more super-heros. In 2015 it became the worlds biggest toy company and also the worlds most powerful brand. Lego has become huge. It somehow remains cuddly.
There are several Legoland Theme parks. Lego only partially owns a chain thats growing at the moment. The chain is run by Merlin Entertainments who run an awful lot of this sort of stuff. Merlin wanted to buy the Legoland Brand when it came up for sale but their Private Equity Backers did not. In the end Merlin was sold to The Blackstone Group and they bought Legoland too. Merlin was merged with Legoland. Blackstone? Blackstone are one of the worlds biggest Private Equity Firms and are famous for Leveraged Buyouts. They have assets of $31 Billion and Assets Under Management of over $300 Billion. They are huge. They are not cuddly.
These guys now have parks in Denmark, Germany, England, California, Florida and Malaysia. Theres soon to be one in Dubai and two in China. I’m sure there are some good ones.
We went to Legoland “Windsor” near London and right beside one of the many very fancy houses kept in very nice condition for the Queen of England.
It was not very good. The Force was not strong in this one. The owners are closer to The Sith than to Yoda. I was disappointed.
It was a tired old theme park with long queues and ridiculous prices. Several of the rides were closed. Thousands of kids were filled with sugar all day and then turned into screaming sociopaths as their parents tried to drag them past the shop on the way to the car park.
My kids did like it. Though I rather feel they were making the best of a bad lot.
I like Lego. I liked it as a kid. This really wasn’t a Lego experience for me. But I am but a parent paying for this crap so if your kids have it on their Bucket List then chances are you are going too. If so You will need some help.
Unlucky Top 13 Tips For Legoland Windsor.
1. It’s not much good in the rain. Pick a sunny day. (Good luck.)
2. Bring a rain coat even if it is sunny; because its England and because a lot of the rides will get you wet.
3. The giant blow dryers near the water rides are probably worth it.
4. It’s not much good when its full. Pick a quiet day. (Good luck with that too as there are large groups of school kids on many days that you may have thought would have been quieter.)
5. It gets pretty full most days so arrive early and arrange tickets before if you can.
6. Access is very poor so give yourself at least 45 minutes more than you think you need to get there.
7. Be clever about your plan for the day. The wildest rides get the biggest queues. They aren’t that wild but its all comparative. For example the Dragon Ride is queue-tastic all day so maybe go there as soon as the gates open and do one or two rides before it gets silly.
8. Do not pay full price. There are all sorts of discount offers available; breakfast cereal packets, previous visitors get a reduced price voucher and many more. In short its expensive when you are paying half price. Full price is simply not worth it.
9. Bring a pack lunch. A healthy one. Go and sit at one of the dramatised shows such as the Pirates of Skeleton Bay but get there a little early to get a good seat. Good for the 6-8 year old.
10. Bring your own coffee in a flask. You’ll either need it to stay awake or to keep you warm in the rain.
11. It’s not all bad. I expected the Atlantis Submarine Voyage to be awful but it was one of the family favourites.
12. Do visit the tired but still impressive Lego Mini-land Display. Its right at the start but I would recommend visiting it during the day or perhaps at the end. It has actual Lego so it’s a display and good for a little less blaring music and uninspiring recorded public announcers telling you how great a time you are having.
13. Have a strategy for the shop. Now if you are travelling light you cannot carry a Millennium Falcon in your Back Pack. Perhaps frame it as a good place to pick a present for a later birthday or Christmas etc. Perhaps agree to one small item. We slowly picked up Lego Minifigures along our trip and this was a great success. It still requires imagination and role play. It takes up no space.