What is Legoland Windsor?
Now, if you are from the UK, most of us have at least heard of Legoland Windsor. It is a Merlin Attractions owned theme park in the Berkshire countryside, within an hours drive of London (traffic permitting). It is influenced by Lego and is ideal for children under the age of 13. Rides range from pre-school to primary school. If you like thrills and rollercoasters, you may be better visiting nearby Chessington World of Adventures or Thorpe Park. It’s not an everyday occurrence for us, so I thought I’d share my views on Navigating Legoland Windsor with a Special Needs Child.
Costs in Involved
Like most theme parks, Legoland isn’t cheap, and the average price per ticket is £50-£60 per person. Under 3’s go free. They often do deals with Kelloggs, where a parent gets in free with a visiting child, this is usually towards the summer months but can offer significant savings.
My daughter and I have Merlin Premium Annual passes (Please see my other post on perks and costs involved). She’s nearly 12 and loves theme parks, so I invested in Annual Passes last year. My son has special needs, and I’m not currently sure whether the cost of the annual pass would be worth it (watch this space). My husband gets in free as a carer. So entrance wisely it cost us £15.00 for our son as we used a Friends and Family discount (perks).
I would suggest booking in advance as you could save up to 30%.
The Disabled Visitor
Driving towards the Legoland car park is easily signposted, I especially love the extra touch of mini lego characters. Disabled parking is located near the premium parking and right at the front of the entrance. We couldn’t have parked any closer. The picture of us in front of the blue railings is a foot in front of our car!
Like most theme parks now, you are greeted by security doing a bag search. They are lovely and high fived us all through the gate and at the end of the day are for our safety.
To the average family, a trip to Legoland is like any typical day out, but to a child with special needs, it could be all kinds of hell. Long queues, long noises from all directions, music, lots of people, unfamiliar surroundings, I could go on. But why should learning difficulties or social disorders stop our children from experiencing the norm? Primarily when Legoland Windsor assist in helping cut out a little of the stress.
Thomas is eight years old now, and I want him to experience things that other children his age do, just with support and a lot of advanced planning. I had heard rumours that Merlin and Legoland especially had changed their Ride Access Pass. I was keen to understand how it would work and why a few families were upset with the change.
With hindsight, I should have pre-booked our ride access pass, as that queue was empty and we spent 15 minutes with a distressed eight-year-old! The man at the Ride Access Pass explained all the details, and we went on our way.
The Q Bot System
So the new Legoland version uses the QBot system. It’s a virtual queue. So, for example, we love The Dragon rollercoaster and reserved our ‘space’ in the queue. It gave us 30 minutes, so we found a couple of five-minute queues and the time raced by. It did get busier, and we found that by 4 pm, the thought of waiting 45 minutes to get on any of the rides was just too much, but I like the system. It’s a phone-based system (remember battery charger although you can borrow phones). There are limitations; I agree it would be handy if one queue is 45 minutes that you could be able to add a second ride.
So our time counts down, and we approach the ride through the Qbot entrance, pretty much enter straight away and don’t feel guilty for queue jumping as we have been queuing ‘virtually’ for the same time as the people at the front of the queue. It is, however frustrating when your child wants to go straight back on, but the queue is 40 minutes! That being said, I do like how it works, it probably won’t work for everyone but have a snack, drink, toilet break, face painted, lunch, look around the shops, it soon ticks down.
Legoland Windsor is a resort with two onsite hotels. The Legoland Resort Hotel includes everything for the die-hard Lego fan including The Bricks Family Restaurant and themed rooms. At the same time, nearby you can spend the night with Knights and Wizards in the Legoland Castle Hotel. Bonus staying onsite, closer to the park and an extra 30 minutes park access to some of the rides.
If you can’t stretch your budget for an onsite hotel, there are plenty of nearby budget hotels including Hilton Bracknell and The Copthorne Hotel both which are in easy reach of the park.
A Few Negatives
There has to be a few, right?
- Now TV giving away free sticks – Now I’m all for a freebie, but we passed them five or six times, and it grew irritating!
- Some rides need an update. Vikings’ River Splash, for example, we barely got a dribble of water on us, the bucket had been removed, and nothing sprayed water anymore, it was a little disappointing.
- The NEW Wafflemeister – I love a good waffle, who doesn’t? I was excited to see one at Legoland Windsor; however, it should have come with its own queue time! I left the queue after queueing for ten minutes without moving!
My Top Five Tips for Navigating Legoland Windsor
- Pre-Visit – Check out Legoland Windsor Resort for all the update news, opening hours, new attractions or any ride restrictions.
- Pre-Visit – Make sure you have a fully charged phone and bring a second portable battery charger. My S9 lasted until 1.30 pm before I needed an extra charge during lunch.
- During your Visit – Have fun, it is such a lovely family day out, there is a changing places accessible toilet in the main Heartlake City area and several accessible toilets dotted around, that need radar keys.
- During your visit – If it gets too much and you need a time out, there are plenty of picnic spots, with grassy areas to chill out or maybe take a look at the Total Sensory Space, its located in Heartlake City and is perfect for chillout. Unfortunately, during our visit, it was quite busy, so I struggled to take photographs. There are a few on Legoland Windsors Resort.
- After your visit – Don’t forget to download photographs (if you have any) and consider your next trip.
So there are a few of my tips for navigating Legoland Windsor with a Special Needs child and probably for most children under the age of seven.
Despite our original reservations, we managed a full day in the park. We tried out the City Walk Pizza and Pasta Buffet for lunch and wasn’t disappointed; we even saved 20% due to having Annual Passes. It’s all in the planning, taking the day as it comes and having no expectations. We’d already made the decision that should Thomas struggle we would call it a day, but he loved it. I can’t thank the staff enough; they were all accommodating, happy to help and on hand if we needed any advice.
Have you been to Legoland Windsor recently? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Do you think the Q Bot system works as part of the ride access pass? What do you think of the Merlin annual passes? Please drop me a comment below or click follow to read more posts like this in the future!