Taking a special school holiday trip to a galaxy far, far away could have been asking for trouble, writes Steve Sims
Especially when your back seat passengers are prone to asking the driver “are we there yet?” on even the shortests of journeys.
But thankfully The Force was with me and the world of Star Wars was simply 50 miles and an hour’s motorway drive away coutesy of Legoland Windsor’s newest addition to their themepark.
My two kids were VERY excited when I told them the night before where we were heading for our latest family outing to relieve the boredom of six weeks off school.
But dad was equally champing at the bit to sample the Star Wars Miniland Experience and as the famous theme tune pumped out from the speakers as we waited in the queue to enter the attraction the anticipation was building.
Inside were famous scenes from the six movies, made out of 1.5 million Lego bricks. Fun for the children as the characters and ships/buildings were brought to life through clever lighting, sounds and moving parts, but fascinating for parents who grew up to know and love these films.
Next stop was Land of the Vikings, which meant, having ignored the warning sign stating that we might get soaked, hopping in a Viking River Splash boat and being taken on a twisting fast-moving journey through the rapids with jets of water being fired at us from all angles.
Needing to dry out, the next few rides in the Knights Kingdom and Pirates Landing zones helped us achieve this – the Longboat Invader swinging us from side to side, followed by Knights Quest which spun dry us a bit more and then the Dragon’s Apprentice mini-rollercoaster.
Lunchtime had arrived and (I can’t think why) my children ate their picnic in record time.
Moving on to Kingdom of the Pharoahs the highlight here was Laser Raiders. Placed in a kart on a track we each had a laser gun to shoot targets as they appeared. It was quite tough for the kids (who only hit one target between them), but they enjoyed it nevertheless.
Next stop was Miniland – a model village which isn’t technically a village as millions of bricks have been used to build well-known landmarks from the UK, the rest of Europe and the USA. My son spent most of his time chasing the trains across the vast landscape.
As the weather turned to offer up a dramatic display of lightning and then a prolonged period of heavy rain, it was time to think about heading back up the hill to The Beginning.
With my children only really getting into Lego in the last six months, they were amazed by the vast amount of choice on offer in the Legoland shop - and my wallet took a pounding!
My son opted for a Cars 2 Mac set and my daughter a Lego Friends Riding Stables and as soon as they got home they launched into the construction work.
With so much to do, it really is a struggle to fit everything into a day, so next time we’ll be seriously considering a stay at the Legoland Hotel, which only opened in March, and is right in the middle of the park.
Another tip – kindly offered up by one of the ride operators – is to go on the most popular rides – Laser Raiders, The Dragon rollercoaster and Atlantis – in the last hour of the day to avoid the longer queues.
Alternatively pay a bit extra and hire a Q-bot device which means you don’t have to queue at all and instead get a notification when it’s your turn to get on a ride.
To find out more about Legoland have a look at www.legoland.co.uk.
And if you don’t have any children yourself, volunteer to take your nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends’ kids, neighbours’ kids... just find an excuse to join in the fun!