With the end of the school summer holidays in sight, and the novelty of being at home all day every day starting to wear thin, now is the perfect time to take your little ones on a journey into their imagination.

Just over an hour along the M4 from Swindon lies the Legoland Windsor resort, where the humble Lego brick has transformed a hill in the Berkshire countryside into the ultimate playground.

Last year the resort passed its 20th year milestone, and its creators have invested heavily in the park to bring its appeal bang up to date with today’s younger guests, with everything from blockbuster favourites Star Wars to the country’s first 4D hand gesture-controlled ride. Which isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds, but is a huge amount of fun, and gives you an upper body work-out along the way too.

As with any theme park, the trick is to get there as early as you can – not only to maximise your time in the park, which closes at 6pm, but by being among the first through the gates you will manage to fit far more in during those first hours from rope drop as the park gets steadily busier as the day goes on.

The excitement was building in our car as soon as we turned off the main road and into the driveway to the car parks when my big kid for the day (he’s actually 30…) caught sight of the larger than life Lego figures welcoming us to the resort.

Once through the gates we took advantage of the park’s Q-Bot, which is a clever little device that allows you to reserve a spot in the queue of a ride while enjoying the rest of the park. When it’s your time to ride, it lets you know, and you skip to the front of the queue. At £20 per person it was definitely a wise investment, as with a bit of planning we avoided all of the heavy queues.

The park is laid out into several distinct lands, each with expert theming to let your imagination run wild. You can go a-plundering in Land of the Vikings – as you’re tossed around in a Viking, um, roundboat, as you speed down a winding river rapid; or take to the high seas in Pirate Shores where a galleon will swing you almost 20 metres above the ground (hang on to your loose change!). Here you can also set sail in hunt of buried treasure on Pirate Falls Treasure Quest – though be prepared for the drop at the end – you will get wet! Knights and dragons will appeal to other guests in Nexo Knights Kingdom, home to The Dragon rollercoaster built into an impressive medieval castle.

Kingdom of the Pharohs transports thrill-seekers back to ancient Egypt while Adventureland offers up the chance to go beneath the waves aboard the Atlantis Submarine Voyage where Lego models meets beautiful marine wildlife. For younger guests who aren’t afraid of getting (soaking!) wet there is Duplo Valley, home to Drench Towers and Brickville.

Don’t be fooled by the cutesy appearance of the sugar-sweet sounding Heartlake City though, as this land is home to the loudest screams in the park. The somewhat tame sounding Mia’s Riding Adventure is actually a disc-o-coaster with a difference that makes the Grand National look like a gentle canter through spring meadows on a sunny day. We rode it twice - it was that much fun.

The headline event – and newly opened for 2017 – is the multi-dimensional Ninjago which is a totally immerses experience quite unlike anything else on site. The ride is the first attraction in the UK to use 4D effects of heat, smoke and wind, while riders virtually throw fire balls, shock waves, ice and lightning using nothing but their hands as they as they score points battling against snake tribes, skeleton ghosts and King of the Skulkuns. The adventure ultimately culminates by facing The Great Devourer – a giant serpent who can only be defeated by you and your family working together and demonstrating the best Spinjitzu moves. The technology is impressive, and the attraction is already proving to be one of the most – if not the most – popular rides on site.

One of the joys of Legoland though is that it is not all about the stealer line-up of rides – although they are definitely one of its biggest draws. At the very heart of the park is Miniland which to this day remains one of the most popular areas of the whole park. And it’s not hard to see why. Here you will find famous cityscapes from around the globe faithfully recreated in miniature to painstakingly detailed specs – right down to the Eurostar that makes its way from the stunning London scene under the channel to the French quarter. Such is their attention to detail that just this week Legoland builders even removed Big Ben from their three-metre high Elizabeth Tower for ‘maintenance’. But visitors only had to endure four days without its hourly chimes. Lego maintenance happily only takes a fraction of the time!

Legoland certainly knows its target audience (those aged 3-12) but the beauty of the resort is that it appeals to anyone who has ever spent a rainy afternoon building their own kingdom out of the universally-loved colourful plastic bricks. There’s something about seeing imagination transformed into something real in front of you that reawakens your inner child.

Though thankfully, I don’t have to go back to school next week.


The newest addition to the resort is the Legoland Castle Hotel – home to 2.1million Lego bricks and 657 models. This is ultimate immersion for families wanting the full Lego experience. Here they can choose between 61 wizard or knight-themed rooms, each boasting their own Lego characters and bursting with character. Each Knight room is home to a 17kg Lego dragon which took 60 hours to build, while the Wizard rooms have their own family of three owls which took 90 hours to build. There are even hidden clues in the carpets and the walls that lead quest-followers to a safe bursting with Lego surprises.

Prices at the Legoland Castle Hotel start from £572 for a family room (2 adults / 2 children) including breakfast, access to the leisure and entertainment facilities at the Legoland Hotel, park tickets for two days plus Lego gifts and collectables. www.legoland.co.uk/castle


More than 600 tonnes of water is pumped through Duplo Valley every hour.

The Jolly Rocker tests young buccaneers’ head for heights with a maximum swing that takes the boat’s hull to a heady 18 metres.

Castaway Camp has 82.5 metres of rope making up the dozens of scramble nets that connect mighty fortresses and formidable battleships.

Around 5million Lego bricks were used to create the 16 fairy tale scenes depicted on Fairy Tale Brook.

Pirate Shores has a giant Lego crocodile, which is comprised of more than 85,000 individual bricks and at full length is more than 3.5metres long.

The animals in Splash Safari were moulded in Canada and travelled 7,500km in specially designed containers.

In Brickville you can enter a caveman’s house, town garage, clown’s cake shop, police station, fire academy and a fairytale castle.


If you can’t quite bring yourself to allow a get-away that is entirely play-orientated, you’re in luck as Legoland overlooks one of the country’s finest real castles. Windsor Castle is one of the first things you will notice as you make your way through the turnstiles at Legoland. Being built into the side of the hill, the resort offers an unrivalled view of the castle below. And this summer is the ideal time to pay a visit to Windsor Castle, as Her Maj has allowed visitors to visit the iconic central round tower, which is usually way off limits for guests. Planning ahead for a visit to the castle is vital though, as the queue for on-the-day tickets regularly snakes its way round the block. No Q-Bot here.

Included in a standard entry ticket (£20.50 for adults/£12 for under 17s) are the awe-inspiring State Rooms, home to some of the finest works of art from the Royal Collection; Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, which dates from 1923 and recreates an aristocratic home of the era in perfect miniature (though without a LEGO brick in sight) and St George’s Chapel – one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the realm.

But if you’re feeling slightly more energetic, you can take on the Round Tower’s 200 steps and climb to the very top of the castle where you will be rewarded with some simply stunning views out over the royal borough and beyond. The tower, which is home to the royal archives, is open for tours until September 30.