Over the summer, my sister and I were racking our brains for a unique kids activity. Museums were met with a ‘no’ and as my 4 year old is scared of moving creatures, Woburn Safari Park and London Zoo were out of the question. Then my sister’s lightbulb moment.. ‘we could just go to Legoland‘. At under two hour’s drive from her house, close to Windsor Castle, this was a genius plan. We decided to make things more special for the girls by doing an overnight stay so we could make the most of the park and also splash about in a hotel swimming pool. We chose the Holiday Inn Maidenhead which is ten minutes drive from Legoland and half the price of the official Legoland hotel.
When did we go?
We visited in early July, before the majority of the UK’s state schools had broken up. We anticipated a busy park so paid extra for Priority Parking and Q-bots. More on that later.
How we booked the trip?
We booked a package through the Legoland website. You can often get discounted one day tickets from cereal packets. However if you are booking a package with a hotel, the best way to do it is through the website. There are a variety of options for the hotel but we wanted somewhere moderately priced with a pool and the Holiday Inn Maidenhead fit the bill. Our package included two days park access with one night’s bed and breakfast.
Once you have selected your hotel, there are a few add ons to consider: Q-Bot (3 different types) and Parking. Parking is GBP 5 per day and definitely worth purchasing this in advance to save you the queues on the day. If you are visiting during a busy time you may also want to consider Priority Parking which is GBP 10 (or GBP 12 on the day). The Priority carpark is next to the main entrance, which can save you a very long walk.
When planning your trip to Legoland, do bear in mind the parent/child ratio on rides. Certain rides have a maximum of 1 adult/1 child so if you have an uneven number of kids with you, you may have to leave a child waiting. They do operate a ‘Parent Swap’ policy which means you don’t have to queue twice. It might be worth having a quick measure of all the kids heights so you can cross off the rides you won’t be able to do (and mentally prepare your kids for any disappointment!)
What is a Q-bot and do I need one?
A Q-bot is a gizmo that allows you to skip the queue. I find it quite irritating that theme parks promote the idea of spending even more money so you can skip the queues. We had previously splurged extra on a fast pass at Universal Studios in Singapore. Whilst it worked a treat, it also cost us a small fortune and I did feel bad skipping the queue. At Legoland, there are three different Q-bots varying in price; Regular, Express and Ultimate. We bought the regular (GBP 20 per person) which allowed us to book one ride at a time, with a choice of 20 rides. The Q-bot worked well for us, we really made the most of it and I would recommend paying the extra it’s not exorbitant for the ‘regular’ one.
What you need to do in advance
- Download the free Legoland app which provides detailed information on queue times, showtime alerts etc
- Pack water & snacks. We visited on one of the hottest days of the year and water was extortionately priced! Luckily there are water fountains available throughout the park.
- Pack layers to cover all weather options (it is England after all). We visited on one of the hottest days of the years and thankfully had hats and sunglasses with us as shade was minimal.
- Pack swimwear for ‘Splash Towers’, the small water park area.
- We also weren’t sure what lunch options were going to be like so brought our own picnic in a cooler bag. There are lockers throughout the park so you don’t have to lug your picnic around. You need pound coins for the lockers and they are non-refundable.
- We decided not to bring a stroller as our girls are too old. However the park is massive so if your kids don’t like walking, you may want to bring one. Alternatively you can hire a stroller for GBP 9 or a double for GBP 14.
- Print off all your tickets including Parking etc to save queuing.
- Follow your sat nav to Legoland, rather than the official Legoland signs once you arrive in Windsor. The sat nav will take you a slightly shorter, more direct route.
- The rides open at 10am but the park officially opens at 9.30am. There is an opening show which is a bit lame to be honest.
- Head to Guest Services to get a free ‘Lost Parent wristband’
- Check the show schedule. We saw the ‘Lego Friends To the Rescue’ show, which the girls absolutely loved. We didn’t make it but I also heard the Pirates show is brilliant.
- Grab a few maps and plan out your day. We decided to head straight for one of the most popular rides, the Vikings’ River Splash and book it through our Q-bot. Be prepared to get wet!
In the park
- There is a Baby Centre is in Heartlake City which is the best place to change nappies or feed baby.
- The Park is brilliant, I was really impressed and there is so much to do (over 55 rides). In fact, be prepared not to achieve it all! Surprisingly our girls loved Heartlake City the best as they are huge Lego Friends fans, despite the lack of rides there.
- Made For Mums has a useful breakdown of which rides are suitable per age.
- We had a picnic lunch (loads of green spaces available) and munched on ice creams later in the day. There are more food options than I had expected but they are a bit pricey.
- Don’t forget to spend time admiring all the amazing model scenes in ‘Mini Land’. One of my favourites was a full recreation of the JFK Space Center.
- As we had a two-day pass but with only one day of Q-bot usage, we decided to max the rides on day 1 and then on day 2 we just did a few rides and spent most of our time at the Splash Safari/Drench Towers in Duplo Valley. If it hadn’t been the hottest day of the year, perhaps we would have spent 2 full days in the park. However by midday we were melting and angry and that was just my sister and I.
The Holiday Inn Maidenhead
Even though my sister lives under two hours away, I was really pleased with our decision to stay overnight. It made the trip more special for the girls and it was great to have two days access to the park included.
The Legoland website is quite misleading when trying to book a ‘triple room’. It turns out the Holiday Inn Maidenhead, doesn’t actually have a triple room. They have double rooms, where they will put in an extra bed. On check in, there was no record of us having booked a triple room and we had to wait a while for them to bring a bed. I would definitely recommend phoning in advance to reconfirm.
The Holiday Inn is a standard business hotel, nice clean rooms, decent size and a thoughtful kids playroom in the lobby. The hotel is ten minutes drive from the park and it was brilliant to extricate ourselves from a hot day at the park and practically jump straight into their pool. Our room had breakfast included and there’s a free kids dinner buffet (accompanied by paying adults). As mentioned the Holiday Inn is well priced, almost half that of the official Legoland hotel. And I was reliably informed by my doctor in Hong Kong (who had visited the week before) that the Legoland hotel was a bit tired and rubbish.
For more tips on Legoland, see Kiddieholiday’s Complete Guide To Legoland With A Baby Or Toddler