I've wanted to go to Legoland® in Windsor for years, but somehow never got round to it. So when my son asked if we could go as a sixth birthday treat, I didn't need much persuading.
However, when asking around amongst my mum chums for tips on how to make the most of the day, one message came through loud and clear: don't go in the school holidays, or summer weekends, it's too busy.
But if your children are school-aged, what other choices do you have? So on a wet July weekend, off we went. And we found that, with a little preparation, a summer holiday trip can be just as fun as any other time of year.
These are my tips to help you make the most out of your summer holiday outing to Legoland:
Leave extra time for your journey
On paper, the last part of the drive should have taken us about 10 minutes, but traffic slowed to a crawl and it took about half an hour. Leave a little earlier than you think you need to.
Don't be scared of bad weather
We went on a showery day, which turned out to be absolutely perfect, since the rain kept the crowds at bay. I would still think twice if it was due to rain all day, but if it's a scattered showers kind of day, then you'll probably be fine. You get a bit wet on some of the rides, so a bit of extra rain makes little difference.
Go to the newer bits first
The Kingdom of the Pharoahs is new this year, and consequently seems to be the most popular.
Plan what you want to see before you set off.
There's a nice interactive map on the website, where you can plan where you want to visit before you leave home.
Measure your children before you go.
Suitability of rides varies depending on the height of your child. There is still plenty for tinies to do, so it's not like they miss out. But there's no point in getting your child excited about a particular ride if it turns out they can't go on it.
Do the attractions without queues in the middle of the day
Queues tend to be at their shortest at the start and the end of the day. I observed many people leaving from around 4.30pm, when the park was open until 6pm (7pm on some days in summer). So if you can pace yourself, it's possible to get on to busy rides much more easily at the end of the day. At peak time, stick to attractions without queues, such as Miniland, Rat Trap or Loki's Labyrinth.
Take a picnic
That way you'll save yourself time and money. There are lots of pleasant places to sit and have your picnic, and lockers if you don't fancy lugging your lunch round with you all day.
If you or your child has a disability
You may need to bring some sort of documentation. The park is very well equipped for people with disabilities, and there is a special pass scheme for people who have difficulties with understanding queueing or social interaction. More details here.
Keep your eye open for special offers
There are lots of special offers this year to reduce the cost of your visit. You can use Tesco clubcard points to buy tickets, or get them in advance online.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
So I'm relieved to report that Legoland is perfectly doable during the school holidays. Yes, it's busy and you will have to queue, but isn't that the case everywhere? Preparation, preparation, preparation is the key to making sure you get the most out of your day out.