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A family trip to Legoland UK: Eighty million bricks, models galore and fun for all

A dual theme park trip in the UK has plenty to offer kids of all ages (and their parents)

The best family holidays are often those where keeping the kids happy, keeps everyone happy. A trip to Legoland in the UK undoubtedly fits the bill.

The Windsor park, located about 12 miles from Heathrow on the outskirts of London, works firmly on this basis; there is so much to keep children busy and entranced, that parents will get a chance to take it easy. They may also find themselves enjoying much of what the park has to offer too.

At least this was my experience when I visited this summer with my 12- and 14-year-old boys.

Despite a home that is still over-burdened with a plethora of Lego sets and boxes of bricks – birthday visits to the Lego store on Grafton Street remains a constant for the younger one – we have never visited any of the chain of nine parks, which are spread across Denmark, the US, Germany, Korea, Japan, Dubai and Malaysia, part of the Merlin Entertainments group.


While daily play with Lego may have subsided in our house, Lego remains a lifelong interest. And this is what makes the park come alive, distinguishing it from your run-of-the-mill theme park. A staggering 80 million bricks have been used to construct models of almost everything you could possibly imagine.

Sitting at dinner you look up to see little Lego mouse on the chandelier above your head; you’ll get Lego-themed shampoo and shower gel in the hotel room; when on the Deep Sea adventure, which brings you in a submarine under the water to get up close and personal with a host of fish, you happen upon a large Poseidon – made of Lego of course.

If you’re staying in one of the two resort hotels, your Lego experience will start at check-in. As you go through this process, a large Lego pit, where they’re free to build their own creations, will keep your children happy, while the biggest wall of mini-figures I’ve ever seen will also grab their attention.

While ostensibly aimed at children, it’s adults who might get the most out of Miniland, where nearly 40 million bricks are used to create model scenes from around the world. See a barge cruising down an Amsterdam canal, or watch the London Eye turn, and keep your eyes peeled for the tiny Lego pigeons in Trafalgar Square.

So who makes all the Lego (your kids will likely ask)? A team of model makers works from a studio near the park, making such creations as a coronation-themed Buckingham Palace, and an enormous lion, which graces the entrance of the new Mythica ride. It’s made from a staggering 685,530 bricks. Imagine putting that together Christmas morning!

But it’s not just about Lego. Legoland is also a bona fide theme park, with 55 interactive rides. A word of warning; the rides are aimed at three to 12 years, but some – the Dragon rollercoaster or the new Mythica ride – are enough to make an adult scream. Or so my kids tell me.

If you’re prepared to get wet, Pirate Falls, a log flume ride which ends in a splash, is great fun – and there are dryers to dry off afterwards.

As with Disneyland, you’ll find Lego characters strolling around the park, happy to stop and pose for pictures.

Check out what’s happening each day; when we were visiting, kids got a free Bumblee mini-figure, while a panto-style live pirate show was fun for all ages.

The Lego theme is carried right through the accommodation, where you can choose from pirate, Ninjago or Friends themed bedrooms in the resort hotel, or enjoy a full-on knight experience in the Castle Hotel. While you wine and dine each evening, the kids will find plenty to play with, as there is a large Lego play pit in the reception of the castle, and master builder workshops in the resort.

Cleverly designed, the rooms have a designated kids section with a bunk-bed, a hideaway bed underneath, their own TV, plus the obligatory box of Lego. A real winner with my kids was the treasure hunt in the room, which leads you to unlocking a safe and finding a surprise; bedrooms in the Castle Hotel also come with a PlayStation 4, featuring Lego-themed games, of course.

Food in the park is largely what you might expect from a theme park – ie not cheap – but the offering in the hotels is a step above, and picnic baskets are also welcome if you wish to bring in your own food.

And speaking of prices, it’s probably a good idea to have a chat with your Lego-loving children to manage expectations about what you are prepared to spend. There are plenty of shops across the park and hotels, with some exclusive sets – including one of Legoland Park, as well as some of the main attractions such as Fire Academy – on sale.

If you think the theme park experience will be too overwhelming to stay on site also, Windsor, home to the eponymous castle and site of the recent coronation celebrations of King Charles III, is just two miles away. You can get there via bus or taxi, and you’ll find plenty of alternative food and accommodation offerings there.

A top tip would be to travel when UK children are still in school, as it will mean a quieter park and shorter queue times.

Wild side

If you’re in the mood for more adventure after a trip to Legoland, about 30 minutes’ drive down the road is Chessington World of Adventures, where you’ll find 40 rides and attractions, plus a zoo and Sea Life aquarium, and a safari-themed hotel.

Here, you can wake up to zebras, giraffes and antelopes roaming the savannah (or Surrey countryside) outside your window, while staying at the hotel also gives you the option of getting up close and personal with some animals.

Zoo staff host animal meet and greets several times a day – we had the pleasure of meeting a skunk, who was nothing like the malodorous Pepé le Pew of cartoon fame. More like a soft, small cat or large gerbil, skunks rarely release their stench, we were told, unless very much threatened.

Another animal highlight was the chance to hand feed giraffes (from £40 per person).

Combining the two theme parks is a good idea for families with both older and younger kids. At Legoland you’ll find rides for all the family with the added bonus of Lego on tap; at Chessington, the thrill factor is ratcheted up a notch.

The theme park and zoo has just opened the World of Jumanji, a new themed land based on the box office hit. Featuring an impressive new rollercoaster, Mandrill Mayhem, it’s not for the faint of heart; you get flipped upside down at 42 miles per hour on the ride, and then do it all backwards.

As my 14-year-old son noted, it had the “perfect balance of being fun and scary at the same time”. Too scary for some of us.

Elsewhere, Tiger Rock, another water adventure, was a hit. But it’s not all thrills and spills; one of our best experiences was the good old-fashioned bumper cars and an amped-up chairoplane in the Wild Asia section of the park. For smaller kids, the Room on the Broom adventure, or Gruffalo River Ride, will appeal.

A good tip is to download the app, which shows you how long the queues are (on a typical weekday in May for example, queues ranged from five to 60 minutes). It also breaks down the rides into who they are best suited to: those faint of heart can stick to “family explorer” rides, while the more adventurous can opt for “brave adventurers”.

To coincide with the launch of the World of Jumanji, the resort hotel has also just launched six new Jumanji-themed bedrooms. Again, it’s a winning theme, with kids quickly picking up on the little details in the rooms, such as another treasure hunt which leads to a surprise in a safe; the hat Jack Black’s character wears in the movie; and ivy trailing from the ceiling.

As with Legoland, the rooms are spacious, and cleverly designed, so no one feels like they’re on top of each other.

How to get there

Both Legoland and Chessington are located within a 30-minute drive of Heathrow Airport. Aer Lingus flies direct to Heathrow from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Knock airports, with fares starting at €55.99 each way.

Day passes cost from £34, booked in advance at Legoland. You can upgrade to several fast pass options, known as “reserve and ride”, from £25 per person to queue virtually, to £95 to quick access to all the park’s attractions. At Chessington, you’ll pay from £34 for a one-day ticket to the theme park and zoo. You can upgrade to reserve and ride from £20-£75 per person.

Under-threes are free at Chessington; at Legoland, entry is free for children under 0.9m tall.

Alternatively, you can go on a package. Prices for Legoland with Magic Vacations start from €199 per person travelling in September and include flights, one night at the Legoland Hotel, breakfast and two days entry to the Legoland Park.

At Chessington, a package with Magic Vacations starts from €189 per person travelling in September and includes flights, one night at the Chessington Hotel, breakfast and two days entry to the Chessington Theme park.

Fiona Reddan was a guest of Magic Vacations, Aer Lingus and Merlin Entertainments