Legoland is located over near Windsor Castle, where the recent royal wedding had been held, and about 50 miles from us. Thankfully, due to jet lag, Monki was up early, which meant we were as well, and after a brief English breakfast at the hotel, we were off on the day’s adventure.
Again, traffic hit hard and there was a lot of stopping and starting. For about 45 minutes everything seemed fine in the backseat, but then, we had a repeat of the previous day’s events and a sick Monki made her return. We debated turning around and at one point I’d even pulled over (again, not an easy thing when you don’t know the system and are driving on the opposite side of the road) but in the end, decided to continue on. I dealt with British roundabouts and some very close calls on the very narrow streets but we arrived in one piece and found a place to park with little problem.
Unlike other theme parks I’ve been to, though, the parking lot had no indicator of where we were in order to find our car again at the end of the day. So as we were walking in, there was a lot of mentally marking the landscape. We were parked about a third of the way down the aisle that ended with the exit sign across from the wheelchair accessible dip in the sidewalk just before the pedestrian safety fence. See, now even you could find the car.
There was a brief security check and then, since we had pre-booked, we had eTickets and were able to pretty much head straight in. Monki was feeling better and we decided it must be some form of motion sickness but still didn’t want to put any pressure on her. No need to worry, she was out of the stroller and running around in no time.
The way Legoland Windsor is situated, the entrance plaza is on a hill with the bulk of the park below it. So while I drove the stroller the long way down the ramps and inclines, Monki was leading Rasa down the stairs. And visiting the multitude of Lego sculptures everywhere. It’s incredibly impressive to see the creative work which goes in to these things. And this was just on the walk down the hill! There was more to come.
The big test was going to be how Monki reacted to the rides. When we did theme parks last summer, she was only a year old, so she spent far more time sleeping and enjoying the walk around characters. We had done a few rides here and there, but this was now a different little girl. She was autonomous and wanted to see and do things on her own. So at the bottom of the hill was the first ride, a slow moving people mover called “Sky Rider.” There was a short line, which was fine, and then, just before we got onto the ride itself, a measuring stick. Seems that even though this was a pretty harmless ride, since it was on a track 20+ feet above the ground, riders needed to be at least 90cm, even with an adult. Monki wasn’t sure what to think when they came at her with a metal pole “T”ed off at .9 and 1.3M (the height to ride alone). But she stood, uncertainly, as they measured her. Thankfully her hat put her over the top and they let us on the ride. She loved it! She squealed and smiled and giggled the entire 5 minutes or so of the ride. Rasa, who has an aversion to heights, didn’t like it quite as much, but she was stoic and bore it all with good cheer! After it was done, Monki wanted to go again. We explained we would later, but for now, there was more of the park to see.
We made our way through Miniland, the Lego recreations of famous landmarks. Again, the artistry is remarkable. These pictures don’t really do it justice. Interestingly, though, just past there, was a walk-around character, a friendly looking dragon, but now, Monki was afraid to approach and get a picture. The difference a year makes.
Our next stop was Duplo Valley, an area designed specifically for little ones. Here she was able to go down slides and climb stairs and even ride the Duplo Train. The train, really no more than a mall ride, was pretty much her speed. She loved it. We went on it a few times before moving on to the Duplo Valley Airport where you go up and down and around in circles in a helicopter. Well…we were going to go on it but again, they needed to measure her and this time she was having none of it. She started screaming as they approached so we exited the ride and decided it was getting close to nap time.
While she was getting more and more tired, we headed through the older kids sections of the park, including Pirate Shores, Lego Ninjago World and Knights Kingdom, where I went and rode The Dragon roller coaster by myself. It was a fun little ride, with a sort of story-line inside about a baby dragon growing up before the ride exits the building and becomes an actual roller coaster – for about 38 seconds. That’s when it hit me. The only thing in this place designed for adults arethe Lego sculptures. The rides and themed lands and everything else is going to top out at about 14. When Rasa asked why Disney seemed so much better, this was the reason. Disney is designed for all ages while no other theme park really is. Even the little kid rides at Disney can be enjoyed by adults while the little kid rides here are just that.
Coming off the Dragon, Monki was finally asleep so Rasa and I had lunch and kind of planned the rest of the day while resting by the lake in the middle of the park. Rasa still wasn’t at 100% so honestly, it was nice to take a break and just sit and chat. When Monki awoke, we ran around trying to get her some food (weirdly, a number of the food stands were shut, even though the park was still a few hours away from closing). She’s a picky eater at the best of times, so we tried several things for her, eventually getting some food down before heading over to the Atlantis Submarine Voyage, which is exactly like it sounds. Except it’s not only Lego builds of Atlantis, but an actual aquarium your “sub” is diving through. So there’s actual fish swimming by (not surprising considering it’s sponsored by SeaLife, also owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments Group).
Monki liked it enough that we solidified our plan to include the London Aquarium on our itinerary for sometime in the trip. By this point, it was getting late in the day so we went back to the “Sky Ride” as promised. Again there was the measuring stick but it went fairly smoothly and we were able to ride around. Pulling back into the station, there was no one waiting to board so we asked if we could go around again. “Sure!” Came the replay and so a second time in a row we started around. Monki lasted about halfway around before she started getting a bit antsy. We finished out the ride and disembarked, deciding that since the park was closing anyway, we should probably head towards home.
Of course, before we left, I hadto go see the Star Wars Exhibit. I knew Rasa wasn’t really interested and Monki was a bit tired so I left them at the top of the hill near the entrance plaza (where the Star Wars building was located) and went to check it out. They had pretty much every major location from the films built up along with all the characters. Seriously, this is impressive stuff!
While I was gone, Rasa and Monki had a good time watching airplanes land at nearby Heathrow Airport and Rasa even spotted Windsor Castle off in the distance, which I didn’t find out about until we were on the way home and I offered to try and drive past it for her.
Yup, we did find the car again – although we almost overshot it – and programmed the hotel into the GPS. It was looking like a looong ride back. Lots of Thursday’s afternoon traffic so we opted for the shortest route, which took us again through narrow city streets with lots of starts and stops. This proved to be a bit too much for Monki who, once again, got sick. It was weird. She’d been fine all day, but back in the car, not so much. It took a lot to calm her down, especially when Rasa and I could see that while we were spending a lot of time in the car, the time to our destination wasn’t changing. We just wanted to get the little girl home and calmed down but it was taking longer and longer.
At the end of it all, it took over three hours and when we finally got there, yup, you guessed it, someone was parked in the spot we had been told to park. I went to complain and that’s when I was told that parking was more of a value added service rather than a sure fire thing. Needless to say, I was a bit livid. The staff eventually understood and had the offending car moved so we could park and get the little girl up to our room.