It happens that I'm in London for the weekend that the LegoLand theme park opens for the season. Officially it doesn't open until Saturday (well, that's today), but I learned from the grapevine that they were secretly opening a day early for annual pass holders. As it happens I had a free voucher for an annual pass because I bought a bunch of sets that I'd have bought anyway before Christmas.
After landing in Gatwick, I got the train up to Blackwater, where I met with David, Stuart and Naomi. From there it was about a half hour up to Windsor.
The others already had their annual passes, so I went to get mine sorted out. There was a little girl ahead of me in the queue, sitting on the counter, having her annual pass bought for her. The man behind the counter asked her "and do you know when your birthday is?" The poor child's face suddenly fell, and in a very sad voice she replied, "I've had my birthday." Realising his blunder the man quickly reassured her that it was okay, she could still have her pass and a parent provided the necessary details.
My pass sorted, I rejoined the others and after a browse around the shop, we headed down towards Miniland. We spent a good while browsing around the fantastic models, trying to spot what was new this year, and arguing over whether we'd seen a particular model before. It was a bit tricky, because while there weren't any major new sections, there were quite a few new models that had been slotted into existing displays. The last time I saw it was back in December, when we had a sneaky behind the scenes look while it was closed, so it was good to see it with the water features filled and cars, trucks, trains and boats scurrying about. We did notice a DLR train that had overshot its buffers.
After that we headed down to the Jungle Coaster, which is the best roller coaster in the park, because we thought we ought to get to it before there was a big crowd. We needn't have worried - there was no queue at all. We got straight on, and when we got to the end we had to wait until they got another couple of cars off before we could get off. We went around a second time, but even that was a matter of getting out of our car and into one a couple ahead of us. First time I've ever been on a roller coaster that had a longer queue to get off than to get on!
After wandering around and jumping on a couple of silly kiddy rides, we stopped for a bite to eat (fish and chips). We then found the Pick-a-Brick store, which has now moved from the area near the entrance and is slightly larger. There were some quite good parts available, and I bought a little bit more than I really should have, but you can never have too many Lego bricks, can you?
After a little more wandering, we found ourselves back at the Jungle Coaster, and there was still no queue. Well, why not? We then tried out some JCB diggers and took a train ride around the park before finding ourselves at the castle and popping on to the Dragon Coaster.
As it was getting cold, we started heading back to the entrance area, but we stopped to have a look at the works on the new Viking ride. This is going to be a huge water ride where you are guaranteed to get wet. It sounds a lot of fun, and it certainly looks like they are moving a lot of earth to build it. Apparently they expect to have it finished this summer, so I'll have to come back to see it in action.
It was a fun day out, and it's great to be in a place like that when there aren't too many others there and the queues aren't too long. I picked up a couple on nice things in the shop, most notably a Harry Potter set for less than half price. Special thanks must go to Phil, who we met at the end of the day and very kindly went out of his way to give me a lift over to Stef's.
More photos here