Written on: 07/08/2012 by Adina31
We were there yesterday and for my 5 year old son this was a much longed for visit. We only went for the day but I tell you, after reading 100+ reviews (85% negative) and planning the day with military precision it went off almost perfectly!
I have to agree with the majority about how dated and tired the Lego displays throughout the park looked. They definitely need updating as colours are fading etc...but even a good jetwash could bring most of them them up sparkling. There are other areas throughout the park where signs of wear and tear and grime are apparent but I as the parent the only bugged me and my son thoroughly enjoyed himself. Toilets are dreadful in every way but the staff were present and making attempts to maintain.
DO YOUR RESEARCH! Legoland is ridiculously expensive but you don't go to any Theme Park in my opinion unless you are prepared financially. I would not have paid entry without some kind of discount and did the National Rail 2 for 1 offer. We also chose to travel off peak to benefit from a groupsave return ticket. This meant we would be late arriving but saved a lot of money. Packed lunches including frozen drinks and water were a must and if necessary a sweet run to any £1 shop, rationing out throughout the day. On arrival I queued behind an American lady who paid £115 entry compared to my (still steep) £44. Then you are enticed by drink and balloon sellers etc... politely ignored them.
After researching Q-Bot I truly agonised over whether or not to buy one. Like anyone my priority was to get the most out of the day for my kid and lets face it, a 5 year old's patience is very limited. I decided to wait and judge by the queue on arrival. I had saved extra for this but did not want to spend it on this. Having opted to travel cheaper off peak we arrived at 11am and were AMAZED!! This is the height of the summer in August on a lovely sunny day and the ticket office queues were formed of 4-5 families long. We got off the shuttle bus (which was full) and straight away joined a queue in 4th place! You then have to filter through to turnstiles where there is opportunity to use toilets. Entering the park took a max of 15mins! Therefore it was decided not to go for the Q-Bot.
On advice from previous reviews I led my family straight to the back of the park. They (like many) were sidetracked by the sweetie shop, other kiosks and Miniland. All lovely and maybe worth a look on the way back but I was instant we kept moving. I had a one track mind that even without Q-Bot I would get my kid on as many rides as possible and not pay for extras. The weather being lovely, we seemed to overtake A LOT of families strolling around there who would no doubt eventually reach the rides. We looked as we walked through, not necessary to notice every detail here, wastes precious time. My son was desperate to do the 'Driving School' and we went there first. The queue was like your average fair ground queue and as the kids have to spend a few minutes going over the rules and taking photo's for their ''license'' it can take a while. But again only about 15-18 mins and he was on. You do see the Q-Bot people sneaking in at the top but I though they looked rather silly everyone knowing they had paid extra, when it really was not necessary. I even managed to get my son on both 'driving schools'. We did loads, I was really focused anything I noticed that had a barely there queue like the Carousel and Aero Nomad, WE DID IT! The Boating school queue is always full but moves quickly. When we joined at the back I noticed the '60 min wait' sign and by the time we got on we had actually only waited 30 mins. Pretty good I thought. The little Digger ride looks deceptively short but took longer than the Boating school approx 45 mins as the turn around is so unbelievably slow. The staff were fed up and not bothered and the kids have to watch yet another 'how to clip'. I think this is mainly down to staff error as they did not see the logic in filtering kids in to watch the clip in preparation for when the other kids riding had finished their turn. So the rides are constantly in use.
All in all we managed 9 rides, on a warm sunny day in mid August WITHOUT Q-BOT, so it can be done! We finished by riding the train that goes around the park. Again a lot of people queuing but in one go it takes around 30-40 so we waited about 15-20 mins max. Up until that point my only regret was that I over prepared too much and was carry a LOT of stuff, food, spare clothes, ponchos, antihistamines etc... But having checked the weather forecast days before down to the precise times of day. The heavens opened up like clockwork and just as we boarded the little train. It absolutely poured. The train is covered with a roof but has open windows (I won't tell you what for) but we were able to put on our ponchos whilst it went around and as we got off dozens of people in shorts and T-shirts and sundresses got soaked through but we were all poncho'd up with brolly's. Heading back to the exit we were able to take time to stop and look at miniland when the rain stopped and sun came out. And my family took their tome in the sweetie shop and having avoided spending on Q-Bot, photo's, food courts, kiosks, coin slot games/rides. I treated my son to some worthwhile goodies in the Lego shop. Things he can add to his collection which will last. He had £20 spending money from the grandparents and I added £10. He came back with £7-8 in change!
The bus shuttle bus was waiting outside like clockwork, to take us back to the station and was only a quarter full. Moral of my lengthy story is that if you plan well and are prepared you can absolutely have a stress free, economical great day at Legoland. Perhaps the Olympics was a welcome diversion but either way, arriving early like everyone else is not necessarily the way to go as you will end up in the massive herd with everyone else. Try some reverse psychology like I did and buck the trend.