Legoland Windsor is a Merlin Entertainments-owned theme park in the Berkshire countryside, within an hour’s drive from London (traffic permitting). It is influenced by Lego and is ideal for children under 13. Rides range from preschool to primary school. If you like thrills and rollercoasters, you may be better off 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 £34 per person if booked online in advance. Under 3’s, go free. They often do deals with Kellogg’s, where a parent gets in free with a visiting child, usually towards the summer months but can offer significant savings.
My daughter and I have Merlin Premium Annual passes. My son has special needs, and I’m unsure whether the annual pass cost would be worth it (watch this space). My husband gets in free as a carer. The entrance cost us £15.00 for our son as we used a Friends and Family discount (perks).
I 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 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 afoot in front of our car!
Like most theme parks, you are greeted by security doing a bag search. They are lovely, high-fived us through the gate, and are there for our safety.
A trip to Legoland is like any typical day out for the average family, but it could be hell for a child with special needs. Long queues, loud 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? Especially when Legoland Windsor assists in helping cut out a little of the stress.
Thomas is older now, and I want him to experience things that other children his age do, just with support and advanced planning. I had heard rumours that Merlin and Legoland had significantly changed their Ride Access Pass, and I was keen to understand how it would work and why a few families were upset with the change.
In hindsight, I should have pre-booked our ride access pass, as that queue was empty, and we spent 15 minutes with a distressed child! The man at the Ride Access Pass explained all the details, and we went on to enjoy the park.
The Q Bot System
So the new Legoland version uses the QBot system. It’s a virtual queue. For example, we love The Dragon rollercoaster and reserved our ‘space’ in the line. 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; you could 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 line. However, it is frustrating when your child wants to get on the ride again, but the queue is 40 minutes long! That being said, I like how it works; it probably won’t work for everyone, but have a snack, drink, toilet break, face painted, lunch, and look around the shops, it soon ticks down. It’s similar to the new Disneyworld version.
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 of park access to some rides.
A Few Negatives
There have to be a few, right?
- Now TV giving away free sticks – 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 up-to-date news, opening hours, new attractions or any ride restrictions.
- Pre-Visit – Ensure 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 changing places accessible toilet in the main Heartlake City area and several accessible toilets dotted around, requiring radar keys.
- During your visit – If it gets too much and you need a time out, there are plenty of picnic spots and grassy areas to chill out, or maybe take a look at the Total Sensory Space in Heartlake City is perfect for a chillout. Unfortunately, it was quite busy during our visit, so I struggled to take photographs. There are a few at Legoland Windsors Resort.
- After your visit, 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 weren’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 decided to call it a day should Thomas struggle, 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!
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