Last week, our day out to London for the Select Committee hearing interfered with our plans to go to Legoland with a group of home educators. We were sorry to miss the chance to go with them, but fortunately we were able to go this Tuesday instead, having managed to buy tickets on Ebay for under £40 for all of us.
When we arrived we took the Hill Train down to the main park, and headed straight to Fire Academy. The big boys had wanted to do this last year, but they would have had to wait for an hour, whereas this time there was only a short queue. Owl then had a turn in the driving school, which he really enjoyed. After that they all played in the Duplo playground, and we ate our packed lunch there. It is a lovely play area for little ones and interesting enough to satisfy older siblings too.
After a walk through Miniland, our next stop was Build and Test, which they loved the first time we went to Legoland three years ago. Last year it was closed and the children were very disappointed, so there was much relief all round when it was open this time. It has three adjoining rooms with activities suitable for different ages, and we spent a long time in there. In one room there is big Lego of two types. One I think is called Quatro, and we have some of it at home. The other type is the really big soft Lego bricks that are big enough to build a house that the children can go in. We love it and Legoland is one of only three places we have come across it. Another room contains ramps and you can make cars and then test them, learning about friction, and working out why some designs work better than others. The third room has earthquake tables where you can build a structure and test how strong it is.
Rabbit’s big Lego creations
While the others continued to play in Build and Test, Owl and I went to the Discovery centre next door, where you can build Lego education kits, including some with lights and motors. After a while the others joined us there, and by the time they had finished, they had made the cool car, the puppet show, and two carousels, one with small Lego and one with Duplo. It was lovely to be there when it was so quiet. There was plenty of space to build the kits and time to ask for help.
The Cool Cars kit (made by Owl)
Duplo carousel (made by Rabbit; Tiddler had a go as well)
Small Lego carousel (made by Monkey)
Next, Suburban dad took Rabbit and Tiddler on the Sky Rider (cars on an aerial track) and then I took Tiddler back to Miniland, where we spent a very long time watching trains. I had almost forgotten how easy it is to entertain two year old boys with trains – we could have spent all day there. Monkey and Rabbit went on the Sky Rider twice while Owl watched a 4D film – Lego Racers, and then all three of them (and daddy) watched another one, the Lego City one which they particularly wanted to see.
We all met up again in the Duplo playground, and played for a while, then bought an ice cream to eat on the way to the Atlantis submarine voyage. This was one of the rides Owl wanted to do this time having read about it since our last visit. I wasn’t that keen, as I don’t like confined spaces, but I did it and it really was quite good. The submarine goes through an aquarium with sharks, rays and a variety of sea creatures, as well as some Lego models of fish which the children loved. Afterwards, some of them (especially Rabbit) had fun sticking their hands in a tank to touch shrimp and hermit crabs.
Suburban Dad took Owl and Rabbit on a boat ride in the Boating school, and then we went back to the driving school again, as Monkey was now feeling confident enough to have a go, and Owl wanted to go back for more. Rabbit had several goes on the smaller cars for “Learner drivers”, enjoying the chance to keep going on again as there were no queues. Monkey had also been unsure about the boats, but finally decided he would like to go on one with daddy and Tiddler, while Owl and Rabbit carried on driving their cars. That kept them happily occupied until 5pm when the rides closed, and we took the Hill Train back up to the top. We had supper in the restaurant, had the inevitable visit to the shop and set off home with four very tired and very happy children.
We made a little detour on the way back, to visit friends who live near Legoland, and to celebrate their daughter’s first birthday with them. They also have a four year old boy, and the children had a lovely time playing together, and eating birthday cake, while the adults enjoyed the chance to catch up, albeit briefly.
It was a lovely day, and we really felt lucky to be making the most of one of the many benefits of home education – the chance to visit attractions when they are quiet. One of the staff told us that two weeks ago, they had their fourth busiest day ever, with 23,500 visitors, whereas on the day we went there were just 3000 visitors. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm, but not hot, and it really is a lovely place, especially without the crowds. I know the weather is a matter of luck, but on the whole I think there isn’t a much better time to visit Legoland than on a weekday in September, and I hope we will be able to do the same next year.