Legoland Windsor is one of the biggest, busiest theme parks in the UK, attracting some 2.5 million visitors a year before coronavirus.
Now it’s open again, and the crowds are flocking back. The park has taken many measures to reduce close contact, with prebook-only tickets, a reduced capacity, regular cleaning of rides and socially distanced queueing.
But what do you need to consider before taking the family along? The following tips are largely based on the experiences of Kidadl readers, as reported on our Facebook group.
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1. Get there early
It hardly needs saying that the park gets busier as the day goes on. Aim to get there as early as you can, and tick off as many of the more popular attractions as possible before the masses arrive en bloc.
2. Choose your moment
As with any theme park, footfall at Legoland ebbs and flows with the days. Weekends will be full to capacity, but weekdays may not be. Likewise, rainy days may also be quieter so long as you don’t mind getting wet. The busiest time of all is reportedly the very end of the month, after many workers have received their pay. That suggests that an inclement weekday in the middle of the month might be a sweet spot. Needless to say, you’re going to find a much quieter park outside the school holidays, but that’s only an option for those with preschoolers.
3. Have a plan
Before you set off, make a note of all the attractions that the kids (and parents!) consider absolute must-sees. There’s a lot to do at Legoland, and no visit is going to include everything. Draw up a priority list, and then divide them into attractions that are likely to be universally popular (and therefore have long queues), and those that are particularly good for your family, but not necessarily every other visitor.
You can get quite strategic about the whole thing. For example, make an early beeline for rides like the Viking River Splash, where you might get wet -- many people leave these till last so as not to have soggy clothes all day. Likewise, quite a few of the attractions have a ‘reserve & ride’ facility, so you can prebook your slot and not have to queue. Also, don’t leave the gift shop until the end or you’ll face one final big queue. It pays to do all your planning in advance.
Remember, too, that it’s not all about the rides. The park has plenty to see without queues, with impressive Lego models crammed into every corner. Take the time to appreciate the hours of skill that went into creating these.
4. There will be queues
This is inevitable, and was always the case. It might look like you’re in for a long wait. But remember the obvious… there are fewer people in the park, so the queues should have fewer people in them (albeit for fewer places on the ride). Don’t lose heart if the line is snaking around the corner. Everyone is standing (in theory) two metres apart, so you may be nearer the front than you realise.
Reports from our Facebook group vary. One person suggested an average waiting time of 5-7 minutes, with a maximum wait of 20 minutes. Others experienced longer waits for the most popular rides, especially on a Saturday. The general consensus seems to be that, yes, you have to queue, but not inconsistent with waiting times in the past.
5. Come prepared
You will inevitably end up waiting around for some rides. All attractions must be regularly wiped down, and most have reduced capacity to maintain a decent gap between households. So it pays to come prepared with plenty of activities that can be done while standing in line. Snacks and treats may also be your friend.
While dining options are available, there won’t be as many outlets as in The Good Old Days. This may be another time you need to queue. So consider taking along a packed lunch and your own water bottles.
It goes without saying that you should take along hand sanitiser and face masks (although government guidance asks for masks indoors for over-11s, some parts of Legoland set the limit at age 6). We’ve heard reports that the park is abundantly supplied with sanitiser stations (and very clean toilets), so you won’t need to bring loads of the stuff.
6. Get the app
The Legoland app is available for both Apple and Android devices. The app can be customised to your family. Tell it you’ve got two teens and it’ll show you different tips to those for preschoolers. The smart software also provides live information about queue times, so you can check availability of your favourite ride before walking right across the park.
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Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.