Legoland: a review with under 4’s in mind

We went to Legoland Windsor today. Our family has 4 members, me, wifey, the wee lass (18 months) and M’laddo (3 and a bit). If we had paid on the door, our day out would have cost us £105, which includes a jaw dropping £29 for our 3 year old. Rather astoundingly on top of this you have to pay 2 for standard parking. There are no family discount tickets. You can get a discount if you book online before visiting which would have dropped our cost to about £75.

That isn’t the end of the story though, because on days like today, at the height of the summer holidays, the queues for most of the attractions are the wrong side of 45 minutes. This included the queue for the helicopters that are accessible to all over 90cm. Try telling a child under a metre high that they can’t go on the ride they’ve set their heart on for an hour without tears.

Fortunately there is a device called a Q-Bot, which is essential in peak periods. Otherwise an 8 hour visit could see you having lunch and going on 4 or 5 rides once. These cost an extra £15 but are basically a must unless you want to spend most of your day standing in line gnashing your teeth at how much it’s cost you to stand in line. I’ve no clear idea how they work but they’re like a mini PDA thing that allow you to book a ride and miss the queue. Presumably they work on some sort of standardised wait for the ride because booking the Dragons Apprentice (the mini rollercoaster for littler ones), as soon as we got in gave us an hour wait. As most of the other rides had a wait of a similar time if we actually queued, I was a little confused about what we could do other than wander around aimlessly until it was time to go on. As it turns out, there was little we could do other than wander around aimlessly for about an hour.

Fortunately some other more toddler specific rides like the Chopper Squadron and the Fairy Tale Brook have a near zero lead time with the Q-Bot. We were able to go on both 4 times before the 45 minute queue had run its course.

The rides are pretty ace when you can get on them, outside of Butlins there is precious little else aimed at this age group that works as well. As a day out its no more expensive than a trip to Whipsnade or London Zoo. And no more than any of the other big theme parks. The food is typical theme park fayre, expensive and not very pleasant. I saw a Dad and boy fill up their water bottles from the coke dispenser in the Pitstop cafe and stroll out at one point. Given that two kids meals, two colas and two bowls of chips cost almost £20, I wasn’t about to dob them in it either.

As with most places there is the option of an annual pass that provides a cheaper entry option if you intend to go more than once. A word of warning though, avoid the basic pass (£49.50) and plump for the full annual pass (£67.50) if you ever want to go in the school holidays as these are specifically excluded from the basic. As a comparison, against the #105 for the day trip, it would have cost £205 for an annual pass for the 3 of us.

It’s difficult to wholeheartedly recommend Legoland, mostly due to the cost. Our two little ones had the absolute time of their lives and on the back of my trip with M’laddo to see Toy Story 3 at a grand cost of £25, it wasn’t too extortionate. Given how full it was, the cost doesn’t seem an issue for most families either.