7 July 2006

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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.

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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!!)

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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.


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In the Knight's Kingdom (a giant castle), there are several dragons.
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And what else would you expect to see on the ground near the dragon? Dragon footprints!
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I particularly enjoyed the small bits that they do to keep the Lego theme going. This is the men's bathroom sign.

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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.)



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Some US – that's Mount Rushmore
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Click on this picture for a movie made just for Mommy.
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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.
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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.

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(Love that detail again – notice that even the pivots are Lego branded.)

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Just before we left, we went to the building dedicated to the Lego modelers (their workshop is there) with some of their best work.


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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.

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They had a lot of artwork, all made with Lego.


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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.