Monday, October 15, 2012

A Travel Treat for the Kids - Legoland!

I find that many of our trips, while adjusted to a degree for the boys (trips to aquariums, childrens museums, etc), they are not necessarily for the boys in the sense that they could care less about where we go and what we do.  I know I just said in my last entry that we do a lot of this travel for them and yes, it's true to a point.  We know they don't really appreciate it at their ages but hopefully someday they will look back and recognize how lucky they were to have these experiences and to see some of the most amazing places in Europe.  But we are also doing it for Josh and I.  WE also want to see the world.  We just adjust ourselves for little children and their needs.  But every now and again we try to plan something that is just for them.  Hence, Legoland.  

Originally I had wanted to go to Legoland Denmark as I'd wanted to go to Copenhagen and I'm pretty sure that legos originated in Denmark as well.  But flights were pretty cost prohibitive and it turns out Legoland is a good three hour drive from Copenhagen.  With only a 3 day weekend we decided to stay a little closer and head to Legoland, Windsor (UK).  However, knowing that Legoland would not take all three days and Josh was going to London at the end of the month for the Patriot's game, I had to come up with a plan for the rest of the long weekend.  And so with lots of recommendations from friends, we decided to combine Legoland with a trip to the Cotswolds.  Don't worry, you'll get a post on the Cotswolds too :)

Like our trip to Ireland last summer, in England, as I'm sure you know, they drive on the wrong side of the road.  So after an already stressful flight (kid-wise), we hit the road in the dark and rain to Legoland, about a 45 minute drive from Gatwick Airport.  The car was an automatic so in fact, I would have driven it but I'm going to call it... I totally was a wimp (not my original choice of word but this is a family friendly blog afterall) and not once did I drive the car.  I just couldn't bring myself to drive on the wrong side of the road!!!
No puking on this airplane!  Go Liam!

Our sweet Volvo SUV automatic... that I did not drive despite being automatic

And yet, I felt the need to constantly backseat drive Josh (god love his patience) the entire ride to Legoland.  I'm sure his high speeds were a result of his need to get to Windsor as quick as humanly possible in order to make me stop.  I'm surprised he didn't pull over to the (wrong) side of the road and kick my ass out the door.  As with Ireland, as the days went by, I stopped pressing my imaginary break constantly, though I did tell him every time he crossed into another lane.  

We got to Legoland slightly worse for the wear.  Tired and hungry but as Liam mentioned, puke free. Woo hoo!!  Always a bonus. The kids ran right into the hotel and were immediately mesmerized by everything Lego. And that included the Lego store (and clepto Liam tried to take stuff from the store!). Aidan was demanding the green ninja from Ninjago.  Of course, not thinking of the fact that we were going to Legoland, I had already purchased said ninja on Amazon and had my in laws ship it here for Christmas.  In the end I had to come clean and say it was for a special occasion   I probably could have just held on to it since eventually they will lose the ninjas that they got (the next day, not that night).

The lobby of the Legoland Resort, complete with a pit of legos

Mom & Dad's part of the pirate themed room - there were bunkbeds for the boys in an adjoining room

We had dinner in the restaurant in the hotel which closes at 9.  Given that everything opens at 9 in BCN, this felt strange.  And during the (buffet) meal we felt highly pressured to eat since they were closing within the hour and starting to close down parts of the restaurant.  However, since it was a buffet, Aidan was in heaven.  And yes, this was their "high" end restaurant which price wise, it certainly was... quality, hmmm not so much!  But beggars can't be choosers and it was late and we were hungry!  

Part of the play area outside the restaurant

A lot of adorable lego structures were all around the hotel including in the restaurant

Liam built a gun with legos in the play area... the joys of boys

Where we had dinner the first night

The kids played in the play space after dinner til they were on the verge of collapsing from exhaustion. But they had huge smiles on their faces that were so great to see.  Nothing makes a parent happier than a smiling child.
More of the indoor playarea - the kids loved running around with other kids and having lego battles!

Liam "shooting" Aidan with his gun... Aidan proceeded to throw him to the floor and kick him.  Nice brotherly love...

After he's been yelled at for kicking his brother

Liam playing dead

We came back to the room to do our treasure hunt (a bonus to the premium room that we paid extra for) only to find our treasure chest... Empty.  Yes empty. I'm still annoyed by it.  Liam and I went downstairs and said something to the receptionist who gave us a small Lego gift but I suspect not the premium gift.  I ran into the housekeeping people the next morning and mentioned it to her and she apologized and said she'd leave a gift that day - and it turned out to be the same mini set that they had gotten the night before and she didn't put it in the treasure chest either - just left it on the desk for them.  No the kids don't need more Legos, but if I paid for it, then I expect to get what I paid for and dammit my kids wanted to go on a treasure hunt, after all we were in a pirate room!

Hallway on the pirate floor - cool maps on the wall and the rugs looked like a treasure map.

Doors to the pirate rooms, pretty cool!

Since we got in late on Thursday night we didn't actually make it to Legoland til Friday morning.  Guests of the hotel get to go into the park 1/2 hr earlier than everyone else.  By that they mean the 2 rides that are open 1/2 hour earlier as there were barriers blocking everyone else.  But honestly, the longest wait we had during the entire day was maybe 15 minutes.  So it wasn't too bad.

The park was pretty much what I expected since I had looked at the website.  I was hoping the website was wrong.  The park was clean and fun to look at but there wasn't a ton to do.  There weren't as many rides as I had hoped and definitely not a lot of rides for an adventurer like Aidan.  And yet, the kids were perfectly content.  They loved looking at all the sculptures made of Legos - from small replicas of cities around the world to huge dinosaurs and rocket ships, everything was made of Legos.  One sign I read said that there were 25,000,000 legos used in the building of Legoland, Windsor.  I believe it!!

View from our room of the back of the hotel leading into Legoland

Exhausted but oh so cute!

The treasure chest that hid...NOTHING!

Wall decoration in our room

Pirate sentry by the elevator

Inspecting his map at breakfast

Another view of our room with all the lego accessories

Our first foray into Legoland - look Mom!!!

It's a giant spider!

Liam is totally ready to get his Legos on!

Our first ride - Atlantis!

It took you "deep" below the depths of the ocean where we saw sharks, other fish and...

Neptune made of Legos

After the ride there was a mini aquarium (by mini I mean 3 displays) where you could pop your head into the middle.  Liam got a kick out of this...

Liam posing with the Atlantis guy

Outside Atlantis

I thought this was the oddest thing I've ever seen... and who wants to be the one to empty these containers and where do you actually recycle the gum to??

Reminds me of a picture I have of Aidan sticking his fingers up a fake ox at the Childrens Museum in Boston

Hmmm...Josh seems rather focused on his phone rather than the ride (as exciting of a ride as it was)

Lego dinosaurs!

Lego zoo animals - life size believe it or not!

Liam actually got his lego drivers license...the little bugger has his European license before I do!!!

Driving and trying not to hit the kid in front of him (he drives a bit like his dad)

Liam and I were also in one of these helicopters and Liam was turning ours around and around and around!!!!

Mini land - this was pretty amazing I have to say.  The attention to detail was incredible - I can't imagine the hours it took to put these things together!

This truck actually drove - I'm going with the assumption there is a magnet under the road that does it because there was no track on the ground...

Space shuttle was as tall as me!

Shots of London's mini land

The soldiers marched along the track

Mini land Stonehenge

Mount Rushmore

OMG Grass!!!!!

This  was pretty cool - you had to build a "building" and put it on the platform and the platform shakes (how hard depends on the dial) to see just how secure your building is... for future architects ;)

Racing the car he built

Aidan could have spent all day in here building cars

Liam's new Ninjago sweatshirt - he insisted on wearing it right away!

Mom, it's Kai!!!!!

Mini Star Wars... Josh was in his element here

More mini Star Wars

Lego Millennium Falcon


Downed AT-AT

Return of the Jedi...

Life sized Lego Darth Vader

We bribed them with lego guys to take a picture with Chewy...

The Brits are pretty serious about their signage!!!

I think this was the only non Lego thing in the park!

Huge lego dragon!

Liam shooting water at the rafters (which included Josh and Aidan)

Josh and Aidan ducking for cover from Liam!

Finishing their ride

Josh got pretty soaked on that ride

Me with the boys on the teacups...notice the giant lego spider in the background!

The "highlight" of the day was when we accidentally took Liam on a rollercoaster.  Now, like me, Liam is not a big ride person.  Especially since he gets motion sick.  Wild he's our wild child, he's not adventurous when it comes to this stuff - that's Aidan.  So when we were in the Knight's Kingdom part of the park, we went inside a castle.  The name of the ride didn't specify what it was.  So we just kept walking through the castle.  We got to the top and there was a row of cars for us to get into.  Yes, they looked like rollercoaster cars, but they also looked like the same kind of cars we were in for a much  more tranquil ride earlier in the day.

Now mind you, I HATE rollercoasters.  HATE THEM... with a passion.  You can't pay me enough money to go on them.  So when we first got on I had an oh shit moment.  But then we started to go thru an area that reminded me of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride - more visual than anything.  So not sure why we are locked in to these seats.  Then... then I saw sunlight and I knew.  And I'll admit I said the words Oh Shit out loud.  I was seated with Liam who immediately started to scream as though his life depended on it.  He was terrified!  And so it was my job to calm him.  Like with flying, this is my moment to push my fears to the side and focus on his needs.  I keep telling him he was safe and it was ok... I think I was trying to convince myself of the same.  After we got off he tried so hard to be brave and told us that "those were crocodile tears" - but then Josh asked him if he wanted to go again and the poor kid had to admit that they weren't crocodile tears but real and "please don't make me do it again!".  In the end, the rollercoaster was a short ride and not as bad as I thought it would be.  Poor Liam was fairly traumatized though and every ride after that he double checked if it was a rollercoaster first.  We told him how proud we were of him and what a big boy he was for doing such a big ride.

Josh and Aidan on the smaller rollercoaster after we did the "big" one

The rollercoaster was hidden behind this castle - in my defense, how could I have known it was there???

Another shot of our cool room - the bunkbeds

And our side of the room

Because the park was relatively small in size, I'd compare it to Tibidabo here in Barcelona, we were able to do it in under a day.  The kids really enjoyed it and Aidan said he'd like to go back but this time he'd like to play with more legos, his only disappointment on the trip.  He seemed to think there would be more creative freeform construction at Legoland and not so much about the rides.  Since we were done early, we decided to go visit the Queen at her weekend home at Windsor Castle...


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