On Saturday we were invited to visit LEGOLAND Windsor Resort to take a look at their new themed area ‘Pirate Shores’, we’d not been to LEGOLAND Windsor Resort since last March for the rather chilly opening of Duplo Valley. J wasn’t even one then so he’s grown and changed a lot since then, and I was hoping he’d get more out of it this time as he has more interest in everything around him now! This is really a ‘trip report’ of our whole day, so it’s very lengthy and picture heavy, if you’re just interested in the basic facts, click here to go to my round-up.
I do love driving, but it can be boring for the smalls, thankfully J was rocking the cheap boredom buster I blogged about ages ago, and G had a combination of the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX we’re testing, and her phone to keep her entertained.
The journey to LEGOLAND Windsor Resort from ours is relatively short, just 75 miles or so – probably the closest of the theme parks to us. We got there just after 10 and were ushered into the car park quickly. Our tickets were waiting for us at the advanced ticket collection booths so we didn’t have to queue with the masses – I’d really recommend pre-booking tickets, it saves you time on the day!
We took a leisurely stroll around Miniland and did a few rides that J and G could enjoy together, with 9 years between them, their taste in rides and fun is very different! First stop was the Balloon School which takes to high into the air in ‘Hot Air Balloons’ that you control you ascent and descent. J was a little unsure to start with as G flew us up to the top!
One of the most popular attractions at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort is the ‘Boating School’ the queues can get over an hour long for this, it’s a lot of fun, and both G and J loved it. I took G around, and Loz had the unenviable task of going around with J. He was very excited by all accounts and was very keen to ‘help’ with the steering!
The Boating School is a brilliant ride, and thankfully lasts a while, so your hour of queuing isn’t entirely in vein!
We then had a trip to Atlantis which takes you on and ‘undersea’ voyage in a yellow submarine, both J and G love this ride, J was cooing at the fishes and G liked the ‘interactive’ element of ‘fixing’ the submarine. I enjoyed the 5 minutes peace it offers!
Lunchtime was fast approaching, and we were going to have a few more rides with the four of us before splitting up with the kids, we opted for the fun ‘Laser Raiders’, it’s a trip around a ‘tomb’ with Laser Guns where you shoot the targets. I was slightly concerned that J would be scared by the darkness, but his joyous cries of ‘A CAR! A CAR!’ are we boarded the train were continued throughout as he gasped at all the Lego characters and ‘Scary’ things. He had a real meltdown when the ride was over, he wanted another go! We had to drag him kicking and screaming out of the ride. Reassuring parents about to go in that he was crying because it was over, rather than him being scared!
We stopped at lunch at the City Walk Pasta and Pizza, this is where we normally go as it offers a decent choice of Pizza, Pasta and Salad on a ‘All you Can Eat’ deal. J and G both consumed a MASSIVE amount of food, and it’s really nice to see that the ‘unlimited’ soft drinks aren’t just Coke, Fanta, etc, they also do Orange and Apple Juice too (great way to top up J’s Sippy Cup!). Under 3’s eat for Free as well, which along with 20% Discount with my Merlin Pass, it was a relatively cheap lunch!
Not wanting to ride anything too extreme after a bellyful of lunch, we opted for the ‘Orient Expedition’ which is a Train that goes around the Park, it’s a lovely ride, and J enjoyed making ‘Choo Choo’ noises. There is one thing I really dislike about it – some of the ‘scenes’ you pass have water jets that fire into the train. It feels a little mean to have it on what’s meant to be a rather slow, gentile family ride. J got a jet straight in his face and spent the rest of the ride crying with his hands over his eyes! I’m not sure you need ‘water elements’ on a train!
We decided to split up for a while so J could do the rides more suited for him, and G and I could do the ‘bigger things’ he wasn’t big enough for. G and I headed off to Pirate Shores and – WOW! It’s brilliant! The area used to be known as ‘Pirates Landing’ and was looking a little sad and tatty, but the Merlin Creative Team have gone crazy and given the area and wonderful, colourful refurb.
G and I spent ages in Pirate Shores – we rode on Pirate Falls which is your average Log Flume ride, adorned with 150 LEGO Models throughout, with lights, sounds and water – a LOT of Water. The weather was good yesterday, but not really warm enough to be spending the day in sodden clothes, so we donned our ponchos and went for a splash!
Next up was something just for me, The Jolly Rocker – EVERY Theme Park needs a Pirate Ship, and this is LEGOLAND’s shiny one! G HATES Pirate Ships with a passion, so she just watched while I jumped aboard! We also panned for gold, it’s £3.50 for a pan and it was a great way to spend 20 minutes or so looking for ‘gold’ – we actually did really well! G was dead chuffed with her medal that she ‘won’!
We took a trip around to the ‘Land of the Vikings’ and donned our Ponchos again for the ‘Viking’s River Splash’ – this is a VERY wet ride, and it’s very fast moving and bumpy. I loved it, we were sharing a boat with 5 others and they weren’t really ready for just how wet it was , I couldn’t help but laugh! We packed away the ponchos and took a spin on the ‘Longboat Invader’, it’s a very small spinning Pirate Ship ride – great for the less daring adventurer!
G had nagged for most of the day that she wanted to go on a ‘Rollercoaster’ – I had vaguely remembered there was one, somewhere, but I couldn’t recall where, and I’d never actually been on it before. G pulled out the map and found ‘The Dragon’ in the far top right. It was just through Pirate Shores! We made our way over and found both ‘The Dragon’ and also ‘The Dragon’s Apprentice’ a smaller, scaled down version for younger adventurers! Superb. We queued for The Dragon, and, well, it’s BRILLIANT! A fabulous little coaster, it’s not the biggest or fastest you’ll ride, but it’s got a little punch. As soon as we got off we queued again, G was buzzing – this picture says it all..
We decided it was time to go and find J and Loz (with a cheeky stop at the ‘Digger Challenge’ on the way). Little dude had had so much fun in Duplo Valley he was out cold in his buggy – this is a rare occurrence and only helped by the Nuna IVVI’s ability to lay flat! As we were nearby we decided to nip into the the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort Hotel for a coffee and a sit down. The Skyline Bar area has had a bit of a refurb since last year, and is ‘working’ a lot better. The staff are quick and on the ball, and we had a nice quite drink while the children charged around the stage and gamesroom upstairs.
With tea time approaching we decided to have some food in the ‘Bricks’ Restaurant inside the Hotel, one of the managers got us a table for 5pm, nothing was too much trouble!
Bricks is probably one of my favouirte places to take the kids for food, the selection is wide and varied, and I LOVE the little island of food stuff for the kids to help themselves from. Plus there is unlimited ice-cream and soft drinks included too. At £18.95 per adult and £7.95 for a child (Under 3’s eat free again!), it’s not cheap, but the quality of the food is WONDERFUL, it’s not your average ‘buffet’ stuff. Vegetarians will be happy with the selection on offer too, there is something for everyone! Both kids cleared several platefuls, and G was VERY pleased to have her favourite – Ribs (*shudder*)
The staff in Bricks are wonderful, they’ve always been good, but they definitely have upped their game further, so very polite and professional, nothing is too much bother or hassle, it’s a thoroughly pleasant and smooth experience eating here.
After dinner we decided to stay a bit longer and watch the entertainment in the Hotel. The stage area comes alive each evening with a fun and varied collection of entertainment suitable for the family. In between there are opportunities to meet some of the Lego characters, G was over the moon to have a hug with ‘Pink Brick’ and not to mention being invited on stage to be part of the ‘Story’.
The entertainment team are all fantastic, full of energy and life and fantastic with the wide age range of the audience, the ‘stage’ is only a few steps high, so we spent a lot of time picking up J as he stormed on to dance with the entertainers! Thankfully there are moments when the children are allowed on stage to dance, and J flew up each time to shake his tiny butt to the loud kid-pop.
By 9pm, little man was too tired to continue and was trying to sleep on the floor, so we left having had a fantastic day out.
LEGOLAND Windsor Resort really is a fantastic place to go for a family day out, especially with little ones. There is a variety of rides for all tastes and lots to see and do. The staff are AMAZING, all very happy and smiley, and will talk to you, and your kids like they’ve known you forever. The whole place has a warm and friendly atmosphere that can’t help but make you smile. It’s not a cheap day out by any means, and if you pay the ‘on the gate’ prices your wallet will be weeping at you before you’ve set foot into the park. So either grab a Merlin Annual Pass and enjoy ALL the Merlin attractions, OR Book online before the day to save yourself some money.
If your children are pushing more into their teenage years they be a little bored as there aren’t really any ‘thrill’ rides like you’d find at Alton Towers or Thorpe Park. But even the biggest of kids will enjoy tearing round the Boating School, going ‘underwater’ in Atlantis, and getting soaked on Pirate Falls! If your family is young, then I would definitely say that LEGOLAND Windsor Resort is THE Best Family Day Out in 2014!