7 July 2006
We caught the 8:43 am train to Slough, and then a train to Windsor, and then a bus, and we finally made it to Legoland by 11 am. The kids are such seasoned travelers now – they just go with the flow.
Legoland is not a tourist trap – it's nearly as high quality as a Disney park, but with a different story. Instead of being about Disney, it's about the adventures that kids can have with Lego. The settings for the park – a castle, pirates, a circus – are directly out of Lego toy sets. That's the theme that they carry through everywhere.
The attractions are different then. There are roller coasters and a carousel, but there are also lots of activities that you walk through to see the amazing Lego models that have been built – they serve to inspire and motivate the Lego builders who visit. For example, we went on a "Fairy Tale Brook" ride that is a boat ride through fairy tales, all created with Lego. It was great fun. (It got delayed for awhile, though – today is one year since the London Bombings, and we were standing in line for that at 11:55. They cleared everyone off, shut down the ride, and had our two minutes of silence at noon. And then...they forgot to bring the key to start it back up!!)
We went on other rides that rocked. The 4-D movies (animated with Lego characters and props) were well-done and funny. (At one point, a character has to shoe a horse. He picks up a regular horseshoe, but tosses it. He picks up a gold horseshoe, but tosses that, too. Then he picks up a square horseshoe. Of course! This is a Lego horse which has square feet!)
Katie and I went on a roller coaster ride, The Dragon, that was Disneyesque in their setup. The pre-story is communicated while standing in line – with all the witches, wizards, and other props made out of Lego. Then the roller coaster starts by weaving through scenarios like from "Pirates" or "It's a Small World" about the castle and the dragon – but again, all made out of Lego!
One of the things that I love about Disney Imagineering is the attention to detail, and Legoland does that. Everywhere you look, there are bits of Lego – people in the crowd, animals in the bushes.
In the Knight's Kingdom (a giant castle), there are several dragons.
And what else would you expect to see on the ground near the dragon? Dragon footprints!
I particularly enjoyed the small bits that they do to keep the Lego theme going. This is the men's bathroom sign.
One of our favorite parts today was "Miniland" – an incredibly detailed model of several, mostly European cities. It has sensors and motors – it moves and responds. Wow. (Yeah, as you can see, we are sporting lovely Legoland ponchos. The 78+clouds turn into barely-70-and-rain until about 1.)
Some US – that's Mount Rushmore
Click on this picture for a movie made just for Mommy.
I took way too many pictures and movies of mini-land, but I think that this is my favorite movie. It's big – about 6mb. It shows both the detail, and the motion.
Our favorite ride was definitely the Wave Surfer. Think of those rides where you're in a car on a spoke of a big wheel with five other card, or an airplane where you can control going up and down. Now, put the ride on water, and give you a (Lego-branded of course) ski jet – it even has connector bumps on the front to make it look like it was Lego assembled.
(Love that detail again – notice that even the pivots are Lego branded.)
Just before we left, we went to the building dedicated to the Lego modelers (their workshop is there) with some of their best work.
The most amazing was this 70%-size mockup of a Boeing 747 cockpit. All the knobs, displays, EVERYTHING is Lego! The notes on it said that this was the largest model they ever made.
They had a lot of artwork, all made with Lego.
We stayed past closing at 5, then took the bus to Windsor. We had an Indian meal there (what a cool town Windsor is!), then caught the train back to Slough, and then a PACKED train back to Oxford.
A typical family discussion at dinner.
Daddy: Jenny, you're reading TONS these days!
Matthew: Yeah, you're going to become just like me.
Daddy: Y'know, tall, brown haired, cut short...
Jenny: And boring! (ducks)
Home at 8:45, we got to talk to Mommy via Skype at 9:15 before everyone headed to bed. We're going to try to make the 8:43 train to Moreton-in-Marsh tomorrow and go biking in the Cotswalds.