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A parents survival guide to Legoland Windsor

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I have visited Legoland many times over many years, as well as having made and heard suggestions from many, many families over the years. It has given me a set of 'rules' that have become invaluable in attacking and surviving a day out at Legoland in Windsor.

There really can be nothing worse than planning a trip to Legoland and to turn up just after the park is open at 10am. This is the first fatal move. You will end up queuing almost as soon as you get off the M4 motorway (see Getting To Us for directions). This inevitably means you get to the Legoland park some time after 10am, more likely nearer 11am, then queue into the parking area, queue to get tickets, queue to get through the ticket barrier, queue to get on the train down the hill and then you continue your day with a bit more queuing on all the rides. Lovely!

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I think you can all see the picture I'm painting here! I will just add that this is normally only this bad on peak days in summer, at weekends and during the school holidays, but it can happen at any day to a greater or lesser degree depending upon the weather ' it suddenly turns hot and sunny, everyone decides to go to Legoland ' or there's a special offer on you didn't know about ' all the locals with their Legoland annual passes turn out for the day.

So how do you start off on the right foot'

The most important thing to remember is that the Legoland park opens at 10am, and by park I don't mean the parking, the pay points, the Lego shop or the hill top restaurant!

Yep you guessed it, this is all open earlier, about 9.30am! This is when you should be rolling up to the parking area. From the previous scenario you are already 1 hour ahead of those less fortunate who are about to get stuck in the traffic queues off the M4!

So you've arrived and parked up, its 9.40am and you've unpacked the kids and are wandering off to the ticket booths, but of course if you've planned ahead ' which you should have because you're reading this for a start ' and have bought your Legoland tickets online and hopefully got a better deal'. You can pass straight into the Beginning, get your bearings, form The Plan of attack, and try and keep the children away from the shop! Check out the Model Makers Workshop and Hall of Fame ' some amazing Lego models, a near life size 747 cockpit amongst many other exhibits. The Rocket Racers may even open early, or just get a coffee at the Pitstop Caf'There is plenty to do here for ' an hour to chill out and relax before you hit Legoland proper. The Plan will help you get an idea of where to head first, which rides your children want as well as those with height restrictions and the times of the shows throughout the day.

It is getting towards 10am, head down to the Hill Train. Now it may not be worth getting on the train, particularly if there is already a queue, after all, the purpose of this guide is to cut down the queuing, so why would you want to start the day in one! Just wait until they let you past and walk on into the park.

It's all downhill into the park, but it's now time to follow The Plan you thought about earlier. The basic rule is to walk to the back of Legoland and work your way forward. Its important to get to the major rides as soon as you can, do them and then you can relax and make the most of the park for the rest of the day.

In my opinion the best rides at Legoland in 2004 were the Dragon Ride, Pirate Falls, Jungle Coaster and the Driving School. The one thing you can guarantee is that by midday there will be at least a 45 minute queue for all these rides, so its best to try and tick them all off you list as soon as possible. Of course if your little lovelies are too small or just into something else, then make sure you have it in The Plan.

On the walk down the hill, do not get distracted by the show at the Harbour area or the model village, these will be your saving grace later in the day.

When you've done the rides that are important to you, or the queues have built up, this is the time to start doing all the many other things that are on offer in Legoland.

There are so many things that you can do that will not involve much, if any, queuing at all, for instance:-
1. The Harbour show is always fun for adults and children.
2. The Rat Trap ' an adventure playground.
3. The Amazing Mazes -yep, its a maze, but done in a Legoland theme.
4. Enchanted Forest ' good for a slow quiet wander, full of Lego animals.
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5. Mini Land ' do not underestimate this, it's brilliant. I thought it was going to be the most boring bit of Legoland, but for adults and children, its often the most interesting. Loads of moving boats, cars and trains moving all around a superb model village made of lego bricks.
6. Water Works ' get the swimming costumes on and let them run in and out of the water jets, great fun and us adults get to sit and watch the mayhem!
7. Model Makers Workshop - If you didn't do it earlier then here's your chance. Probably more interesting than you think, I shall say no more!
8. Imagination Theatre - Usually a show of some sort, again good entertainment and a chance to sit down!
9. Discovery Zone - A chance to play, build and learn with Lego.
10. Duplo Play Area - A fun area with slides and climbing frames, and seats for us adults!

The following is a list of some of the important things to remember to do and things to bring to help make your day at Legoland as fun and painless as possible.

1. Legoland map ' check your children's height before you set off, and make sure of the rides they are able to get on.
2. Tickets ' pre-book if possible. We at Langton House can hold any tickets so you can pay for them and get them sent on to us if you wish.
3. Food ' Sandwiches, drinks and snacks. It is expensive in the park, but there is plenty of room to sit out on the grass and have a picnic, although I have found the food sold in Legoland to be generally good.
4. Show times ' Find out the times of the various shows and plan your afternoon around these.
5. Swimming suits ' The Water Works is fantastic fun in the hot weather but expect the children to get absolutely drenched!

I really think Legoland is a brilliant park for the younger children. After about 11 or so it becomes progressively less interesting and for young teenagers I think other parks like Thorpe Park are better suited. Children under 2 can also find it a bit restrictive, but then again they are free to get in! But don't let this put you off in any way. Legoland was built as a safe and fun place for the kids to explore. Enjoy your day, don't expect to get it all done, it now really takes a good day and a half to cover it all. Think about staying in Windsor (at Langton House of course!) and looking around Windsor and using a two day Legoland pass. This way you really will be able to get to the park early with allot less stress and less stress = more fun!

Above all, remember this guide is only here to aid you. If nothing else, get there early!

If anyone has any comments, suggestions or updates, please let me know, so that I can pass on good and accurate advice to others.

If I've got anything wrong, let me know and don't sue me!

Paul Fogg
Proprietor at Langton House and survivor of over 20 trips to Legoland!

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