The Irish Mail on Sunday
Not once did I see a child getting upset – and nobody in the queue tried any shoving
full of Lego. It has more than 50 interactive rides, daily shows, bumper cars and is located in an attractive parkland bordering Windsor Great Park in the UK.
And this time I got over my phobia of theme parks. For a start we had good weather and we were staying in the hotel onsite – a huge plus after a long day.
Surprisingly, not once did I see a child kicking off because they didn’t get their twentieth go on the rollercoaster, and none of the people in the queues for the rides were pushing and shoving.
Myself and my two sons Tam, four, and Calbhach, 12, flew from Dublin to Heathrow with British Airways. It was a relief after our Ryanair experiences – a free breakfast with snacks and drinks on-board will always go down well when you’re travelling alone with two children.
We arrived at the resort by minibus and just the sight of the coloured brickwork on the front of the hotel was enough to make the children jump out of their skin – even the 12 year old.
Inside was a full Lego pit for the children to play with while parents are at the check-in desk, which had a display of 6 ,000 Lego men. Our bedroom was on the pirate-themed floor which was perfect for two active boys.
There was a treasure hunt for the kids, giving them a code that opened a pirate treasure chest of Lego goodies. And someone had thoughtfully put a box of Duplo in the room for Tam.
My 12 year old was hugely interested in the puzzles and games in the room, he spent an hour trying to figure out how to open up the chest and when he worked it out he was only too delighted to claim his prize.
He also spent any spare minute he had over the next couple of days designing a Lego sculpture for a competition which takes place every few days at the hotel.
I thought at one point we would never get out of our room because of how much Calbhach was enjoying the little puzzles and games – even the bunk bed looked like a pirate ship!
Our first stop was the pool. We chose lunchtime to go for a dip, thinking everyone would be in the park or eating – and they were. We were the only ones in the pool for two hours.
Then it was out to explore the park. We were given some ‘Lego loot’ to use on site – which will pay for anything on sale and it’s a real treat for the children to have their own Lego money.
Once we got our bearings, and worked out on the map how much of the place we could see over the two days, we were off.
The park itself caters for children between three and 12, so we were in the right age group, but to be honest, this place would suit all ages.
It was one thing after another, thousands upon thousands of pieces of Lego went into building the site, there were large sculptures everywhere, not to mention the mini Lego land which is a show stopper. We went from the Stars Wars exhibition to the land of the Vikings, as well as the Imagination Centre and Duplo Valley, which has a splash and play area.
There were queues everywhere – this has to be one major drawback to any of these themed parks – but if you’re willing to spend a little extra you can buy a Q-Bot ticket which automatically puts you to the top of the queue.
Tam loved the boat rides through the park. For Calbhach, the mission was to try as many rollercoasters as possible.
We spent all day making our way around the site and stopped off at the various tuck shops to pick up icecreams and drinks.
That evening we had dinner in the Brick Restaurant, the buffet style menu includes burgers, baguettes, fried chicken, potatoes, rice and lots of different types of dishes to try.
Before travelling I read a few complaints online that the meals were on the expensive side, on average €12 for
adults and €6 for children, but overall the park seemed like good value to me. The staff were extremely friendly and t here were plenty of facilities for children with bottle heating services, wristbands in case your child got lost, nappy-changing areas and a playground right outside the hotel.
At night there is live entertainment for the children and Lego men everywere willing to pose for photos.
The next day we had exclusive access to Pirate Shores, which opened recently. This was Calbhach’s favourite and mine too. You need to bring waterproof clothes because you can get soaked some of the rides. There were also large walk-in heaters to dry off for a small fee.
The Star Wars exhibition was a show- stopper, with thousands of pieces of Lego used to create Chewbacca, Darth Vader and C-3PO.
Back at the hotel, the bar and coffee shop is open all day beside the entertainment area so you can stay up and have drinks while the kids watch the night shows. But to be honest we were so exhausted by the end of the day we were in bed early.
On our last day we visited the Mini Lego Land with the greatest concentration of Lego bricks in the park – nearly 40 million pieces have been used to recreate scenes from all over Europe.
Calbhach’s main complaint was the park wasn’t big enough; my view was there was plenty to see. But he thoroughly enjoyed it and would go back in a heart- beat. I found the trip well worthwhile for the hours upon hours it keeps the children entertained. Tam was very easy to keep occupied, the area is very secure. He loved the trains and Duplo Valley and thankfully slept without any complaints at night.
To his joy, Calbhach won the Lego sculpture competition. As we walked around on the last evening he secretly left one of his Lego men on Miniland. When I asked him why, he said, ‘Lego is there to be shared and enjoyed.’
I wonder has anyone spotted the outof-place Lego man since we left?