run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Legoland for toddlers: a review

Theme parks are generally aimed at big kids - kids bigger than this 30-year-old blogger, actually, since scary rides terrify me.. Some are aimed at tots but not so great for older kids, but a couple stand out for being great for little 'uns and having plenty for siblings (and parents) too - and Legoland is one of them. I love seeing the amazing Lego builds, especially Miniland, so couldn't wait to take tiny man - now approaching two, and decidedly less tiny - and his nine-year-old cousin to the Windsor world of bricks and rides. And it's free for under 3s, yet there's loads for them to do. 


Here's our lowdown on what Legoland is like for toddlers - plus lots of practical top tips.


1) When to go and tickets

If you're nursery-free and work-free and can avoid going on a weekend or during school holidays, do! The park will be a lot quieter with shorter queue times meaning you can pack more into your day. There are lots of BOGOF deals on cereal packets and McDonalds Happy Meals, so look at out for these to bring the cost down; Tesco's Clubcard scheme also offers reduced tickets with points. We went on a Saturday early in the season and it was super-busy so... 

 
2) Queuing

The Q-bot Express - although pricey at £35 per person - was a worthy investment. It almost entirely eliminates queuing - by booking you into a future slot, so you can do other rides or activities in the meantime. You can only 'book' one ride at a time, but it's still worthwhile; maybe consider using savings on, for example, a BOGOF entry deal on a Q-Bot as toddlers are not fans of queues..

3) Plan your day. Sure, you can get crazy busy with a map or the app (which is worth downloading for practical things like queue lengths, maps etc) but in general you'll be OK if you avoid going on rides near the 'Beginning' zone (near the entrance) when you first come into the park in the morning - rides here, like the Rapids, tend to have the biggest queues. Head to the 'back' of the park and work your way back to the entrance.

4) Focus on the under 3s

Alongside free entry, there are lots of toddler-focused rides and activities. Tiny man loved staring at the moving boats, coaches, buses, people, cranes and more in Miniland - we could have been there with him for hours. Look out for little jokes like Marge Simpson waiting for the Tube. 

The nearby building area, the discovery centre, doesn't have Duplo but he still really enjoyed building things out of Lego, and the in-house builders were happily keeping up with his demands "airplane please! digger now please!" and creating amazing things.

Well, I was having fun.
There are especially great boat rides for tots. Fairy Tale Brook is short and sweet ride in the Under 3's-focused 'Duplo Valley' zone, with tales like Cinderella re-enacted in Lego, and Coastguard HQ, which you'll face a long queue for, has loads of Lego animals spraying water and playing, plus you 'drive' the boat which always goes down a treat. Atlantis, the submarine ride, is underwater with huge numbers of (real) fish to look out for, plus Lego Scuba men.

Other tot highlights include the big, toddler energy-zapping playground in Duplo Valley and the small train ride nearby, the hot air balloon ride (Balloon School), and the cross-resort safari animal-watching train that you can catch in Heartlake City. (After this ride, and near the rapids, you can find a row of water pistols and give some of the next train travellers a soaking - which was a source of much toddler hilarity!)

All of the above rides have no height restrictions / open to all, although tots obviously need to have a parent with them on all rides.


5) Attention to detail

Other nice toddler touches include Duplo to play with in some of the queues (such as Driving School, which is for over-3s) and Coastguard HQ, which kept tiny man occupied. On warm days, there's also the 'French Towers' wet water park, although it was shut when we visited. The slides have height restrictions but plenty is good for young uns, except if it's really busy. (Bring a towel and swimwear and swim nappy.)

The live shows at the Heartlake City Harbour were action-packed and went down a treat too - they're a good place to have a picnic lunch if you've bought one with. Otherwise, onto...

6) Food 

We'd normally bring a picnic, but the weather was chilly so decided we'd like to sit down for a hot meal. First thing to say? there's a lot of junk food, and meals are generally pretty pricey, as you'd expect. We found the best options at the Hill Top Cafe - baked potatoes (£7.50 incl. fillings, side salad and a drink) hot dogs, sandwiches. There's a huuuge all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta restaurant but our verdict was, no one wants to be *that* full on a theme park day! Pack a rucksack full of snacks, fruit, drinks etc to keep tots going during queues and walks/

7) Practical stuff

For under 3s, a buggy is a good idea to cover the big distances, squeeze in nap(s), and carry all the cr*p you've inevitably got with you. Or they can be rented - £15 for a double for the day, £10 for a single.

Parking is £6 a day, and there's no way to avoid this.. Unless you walk, but good luck with that...!

8) What rides can under 3s go on without restrictions?

The Beginning:
• • Hill Train

Pirate Shores:
• Enchanted Forest

Kingdom of the Pharaohs:
• Laser Raiders
• Desert Chase
• Aero Nomad

DUPLO Valley Splash and Play:
• Splash Safari
• Brickville
• Fairy Tale Brook
• DUPLO Train

Heartlake City:
• LEGO Friends to the Rescue
• Olivia's House
• Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show
• Heartlake Express

Imagination Centre:
• Imagination Theatre

Adventure Land:
• Atlantis Submarine Voyage

LEGO City:
• Coastguard HQ
• Balloon School

Miniland:
• Miniland

* We were offered review tickets to Legoland Windsor, but rest assured RUNOUTOFWOMB is seriously gobby and only raves about what we really love.
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