Living just twenty minutes drive from Legoland Windsor, my LEGO-fanatic son hasn't been short of trips to the park in his lifetime. And he never tires of it – which is great for him, but less so for me, because as much as I DO love LEGO at 39, there is only so many times I can be impressed with Mini World or a ride on a Duplo Train.
But when we had opportunity to visit the original park in Denmark even my jaded heart skipped a beat – because there's LEGOLAND, and there's LEGOLAND Billund...
The Billund park opened in 1968, and was built next to the original LEGO factory – and, (mega handily for visitors) right next to Billund Airport. We flew in from Birmingham on bmi's new six-times-a-week direct service, and were in the park and ready to party less than an hour after landing – LEGOLAND is LITERALLY minutes from the airport.
But of course, the question is, WHY would you fly there from the UK, when we have our very own park close to London and a host of other attractions?
Well, firstly, it's a great place to take young children as a 'taster' flight – a just 1hr and 40 minutes in duration, it is manageable with even the youngest of kids – and Billund, though only a small village, is the perfect place for families to enjoy a long weekend, LEGOLAND aside.
The Lalandia holiday resort is right next door and is Scandinavia's biggest water park. Billed as a 'tropical holiday and activity centre', it has 837 holiday homes within its grounds, as well as camping and caravanning pitches.
Comprising two bedrooms, a shower room and kitchen-diner, the little hut was cosy, clean, and made for the perfect base. I was traveling with just one child, but for a weekend, it would have been perfectly adequate for two adults and two kids.
The second night, we took the all-of-five-minutes walk over to LEGOLAND to check into the on-site hotel. We've stayed at the Windsor resort before and loved it – so our expectations were high.
We were not disappointed. In fact (whispers) my ten-year-old preferred the Billund hotel to Windsor – apparently the restaurant was 'better' (chef made him a special vegetarian pasta, as although the food was AMAZING and plentiful on the buffets, at dinner time, it was lacking on the meat or fish free).
Also, we had stayed in a themed room at Windsor, and at Billund, we had a huge double room, un-themed but amazingly bright, airy, and with fabulous views over the park, which my son seemed to prefer (the LEGOLAND aerial train practically went past our window. We did much waving). There was also a vast amount of Lego in the room to play with, which was brilliant but meant William took some persuading to actually go out into the park...
Yes, it is LEGOLAND, and yes we've all been before, but you never truly see or do everything no matter how many times you go to one of the parks (we have now done the hatrick of Windsor, Florida and Billund and I have yet to set foot on the pirate ship ride for instance!)
Oh, and if the kids ever DO tire of all things LEGO (as if!) the Givskud safari park is around 30 minutes drive out of Billund and well worth the journey. I can honestly say that before my visit there, I had never fed a camel an apple, or been on a bus with a pride of lions lunching on a dead horse just feet away... (yes, those are blood stains round their muzzles in the pic above!).
bmi regional flies five times a week from Birmingham to Billund from £59 per person one way including 30-minute check-in, complimentary in-flight refreshments and bar service and 20kg checked baggage.
Day entry to Lalandia Aquadome costs £24 (adults) and £15 (children aged 3-11), under 3s free.
Entrance to Givskud Zoo costs £22 (adults) and £15 (children aged 3-11 years), under 3s free. Price includes admission and Safari Bus tour.