Taking advantage of what might be the last – and first – nice-weather weekend in September, on Saturday we took the kids for a long-promised visit to Legoland.
Of course, half of London had the same idea as us…
The amusement park, located near Windsor, failed to make a great impression on us. It wasn’t just hordes of people and interminable waits for rides. It was mostly the fact that the rides were underwhelming and fairly short.
We collectively tried around a dozen, of which only Vikings’ River Splash (a river rapids ride), Spinning Spider (like the Teacup Party in Disneyland) and Wave Surfer (a fast watercraft circular ride) received top marks from those who went on them. The roller-coasters, The Dragon and Jungle Coaster, were short on thrills, although the former started with a fun “tour” of a castle full of various Lego statues. The water log ride, Pirate Falls, also went for a tour, that of a pirate island, but it had only one single lift-and-drop, which made it ultimately disappointing. The big rotating gondola swing, Longboat Invader was ok.
Kimmy went on a bunch of smaller rides, of which she especially liked Boating School, and that only because she got to drive the boat herself around the water course. The speed is much too slow to make this appealing to anyone older than 8 years of age. Chairoplane (circular swing ride) and a little Ferris Wheel were mildly amusing for her, and Rat Trap (a tree-house playground) provided an opportunity for some climbing and sliding exercises.
Miniland, a collection of models of buildings from around the Britain, the rest of Europe and the US, was a nice non-ride attraction.
In short, smaller kids might find things of interest to do at Legoland, but teenagers will likely get bored, and the adults will have to contend themselves with being happy for the kids (as opposed to maybe finding attractions of their own liking).
We availed ourselves to the Q-bot technology, thereby reducing our potential levels of wait-queue aggravation. Q-bot is a small wireless gadget that allows you to “reserve” your place in the queue for the next ride that you want to get on. It is not a “fast pass”; rather, it gives you an appointment for the approximate time that you’d be able to get on the ride if you were to join the queue at the moment of making your reservation. The upside, of course, is that you do not have to physically spend time in line; you can explore other attractions in the meantime, or even get on another ride; the gadget only allows one reservation at a time, though. The largely acceptable downside is that renting the Q-bot costs £10 per person (which is an introductory rate; in 2009, the price will double). And your “reservation” will always be for exactly the number of people that you rented the Q-bot for (so, if there are four of you and you only rent a Q-bot for three, you will always have to leave someone off; conversely, if you rent a Q-bot for all four of you, but never get on any ride all together, you simply waste money). Plus, some rides cannot be reserved via a Q-bot, which is quite annoying.
No matter, not standing in queues beats the alternative any busy weekend day.
At any rate, we liked being out of the house and we had as much fun as we could squeeze out of Legoland, aided in large part by the fact that we met with our friends Mila and Andrey and their kids at the park. Towards the end of the day, we all retired to their place and spent the evening catching-up around the dinner table. We should do that more often!