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Matt N’s Solo South East Jaunt 9th/10th June 2024 (9th June 2024: LEGOLAND Windsor)


Matt N

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9th June 2024: LEGOLAND Windsor

Hi guys. Today was an exciting, albeit also somewhat nerve-wracking, day for me; it was the first day of my first ever solo stay away from home. For my first solo stay away, I decided to go for a trip to LEGOLAND Windsor and Thorpe Park, two of the London area Merlin parks. This was because I felt that I should try this with something that wasn’t ridiculously far from home what with it being my first time, and even putting aside my anxieties about doing my first ever solo trip away, both LEGOLAND and Thorpe Park have new coasters for 2024 that I wanted to get on!

 

That’s probably enough of a prelude, though; let me start the first day of my trip, my day at LEGOLAND Windsor, right from the beginning.

 

I left my home in Gloucestershire at a little after 7:30 this morning to make the 30 minute drive to Bristol Parkway, a nearby major train station. After my parents dropped me in Bristol, I was able to start my train journey to Windsor, which consisted of three different legs; a train from Bristol Parkway to Reading, a train from Reading to Slough, and a train from Slough to Windsor & Eton Central. Apart from a 5 minute delay in Swindon, this all went relatively smoothly; I arrived in Windsor & Eton Central around 1h 50m after I left Bristol Parkway:

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After getting off the train in Windsor, my initial plan when I booked the trip 2 months ago had been to catch a bus from Windsor to LEGOLAND. However, I discovered a few days ago that today was the day of the Windsor Triathlon, which threw large parts of the bus route out of whack compared to my original plans. As such, I decided to resort to a backup plan and do something I’ve never done before; I actually caught an Uber. I have to say that this worked excellently; the process of securing an Uber was really easy, a driver turned up within a couple of minutes, and I got into LEGOLAND by about 11am after a 20 minute ride from near the train station:

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After entering the park, I decided to make a beeline for the main purpose of my visit…

Minifigure Speedway

Minifigure Speedway was on an advertised 45 minute queue time, so I decided to give it a go. This queue time turned out to be quite notably overstated, with the queue only taking 20 minutes; the queue moved reasonably quickly! But how was the ride? Well, I rode the Allstars side for my first go, and I have to say that it was quite good fun! I was seated in row 5, and the ride had some good speed, it was smooth, and the backwards section was quite fun without being too intense! With this being the first of these models manufactured by Zierer, I was also interested to see how the ride compared to the two Vekoma Family Boomerangs I’ve ridden. If I were pressed, I’d probably say that it was a little weaker than either of the two Vekomas I’ve done (Velociraptor and Accelerator), as the layout didn’t seem quite as punchy and the ride didn’t seem quite as refined, for lack of a better term, as the Vekoma models. Nonetheless, it’s a good, fun ride, it’s a great addition, and I think it fits this park wonderfully (LEGOLAND really needed a marginally more thrilling family coaster, in my view):

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After my ride on Minifigure Speedway, I headed over to the other coaster in LEGOLAND…

Dragon

The Dragon was on an advertised 55 minute queue, so I decided to take a ride on it. As with Minifigure Speedway, this queue turned out to be reasonably overstated, taking only 40 minutes or so. On a side note; is it me, or does The Dragon have an incredibly short queue music loop? I think it every time I ride it, but I swear that it only has about a 2 minute loop; it started to get a little grating after a 40 minute queue! But enough about the queue; how was the ride? Well, I was seated in row 12, and it was a perfectly fine ride! The dark ride section was good, with some brilliant animatronics and smells! As for the outdoor coaster section, it was smooth, and towards the back, it did have some moments of better speed than I’d previously remembered. However, it is definitely showing its age a bit, and it does seem like it hardly gets going before you hit another lift hill or brake run. Overall, though, The Dragon was fun enough for what it is, and the theming in the dark ride section was great:

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After my ride on The Dragon, I decided to head to…

Flight of the Sky Lion

Flight of the Sky Lion was on an advertised 60 minute queue, so I decided to have a ride on it. When I looked at the queue, however, I didn’t think it looked like a 60 minute queue. It looked notably shorter than the queue I waited in for it back in 2021, and that queue was itself less than 60 minutes. My hunch was proven correct; the queue was quite notably overstated, taking only 35-40 minutes or so. That’s enough about the queue, however; how was the ride? Well, I have to say that it was absolutely brilliant, and possibly better than I’d remembered from back in 2021! The film on the ride is brilliant; it draws some parallels with Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom, and it’s a very original premise for a flying theatre! It also has a brilliant soundtrack and brilliant smells, and overall, I think it’s an excellent ride! It’s a very uplifting ride, with a brilliantly immersive film and storyline, and overall, I’d personally say that it’s among my favourite dark rides in the UK:

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After my ride on Flight of the Sky Lion, I headed back over to Minifigure Speedway to try and get the other credit. I was psyching myself up to try asking for the Legends side, but I thankfully got assigned it by pot luck without needing to ask. As for the ride itself, I was seated in row 8, and it was similar to the ride I had on Allstars earlier in the day; fast, fun and smooth! However, I’d say it felt a tad punchier, and I’d probably say that I marginally preferred Legends to Allstars, if I had to pick. These coasters are an excellent addition to LEGOLAND overall, however; they’re really good fun and fit the park like a glove. I’ll write a longer review at some stage, but my views of the investment overall are definitely positive:

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After my ride on Minifigure Speedway, I decided to head to a dark ride…

Haunted House Monster Party

Haunted House Monster Party was on an advertised 45 minute queue time, so I decided to have a go on it. Continuing the running theme of overstated queue times, the queue time for Haunted House Monster Party was fairly overstated, with the queue actually taking only 15-20 minutes. You can never complain when a queue is overstated, and that was a frequent theme for me at LEGOLAND today! So, how was the ride? Well, it was very good fun! The illusion aspect is always very cleverly executed on these madhouses, and while it’s not quite Hex at Alton Towers, Haunted House Monster Party is a fun and quirky take on the concept! I think the lighting sequence and the whole idea of the ride being a big disco is a really fun concept, and the ride has an awesome soundtrack that really serves to do the concept justice, in my view! Overall, then, Haunted House Monster Party was a good, fun ride that I definitely enjoyed my ride on:

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After my ride on Haunted House Monster Party, I decided to head to yet another dark ride…

Lego Ninjago: The Ride

Ninjago was on an advertised 60 minute queue, so I decided to give it a go. I wondered if Ninjago would continue the theme of largely overstated queue times, but Ninjago‘s queue time stayed true to its word, with the queue taking 60-65 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, I remembered really enjoying Ninjago on my last visit to LEGOLAND in 2021, and today was no exception; the ride was really good fun! I think the shooting technology is very clever, and a very novel concept, even if I probably looked like a complete idiot flailing my arms at a screen! I also think the 3D and screens are good quality in there, the ride system is quite good, and there’s some nice physical theming in there as well, although the ride is mostly screen-based. I will digress that the ride is a little taxing on the arms, with my arms definitely feeling a bit tired by the end of the ride, but overall, Ninjago was really good fun! In terms of my score, I got 45,500, which I was very pleased with given that I am typically very poor at interactive dark rides anyway and was basically flailing my arms around aimlessly with little strategy:

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After Ninjago, I had originally intended to go for another ride on Flight of the Sky Lion, but my phone battery was unfortunately flagging. As I was on my own, I did not want to take any risks with regard to my phone battery (I needed my phone for my Uber, train ticket and hotel reservation), so I decided to end my day at LEGOLAND there. It was already around 4:15pm anyway, so given the park closed at 5pm, I would likely only have had one more ride even if I had stayed. Nonetheless, I think some form of portable phone charger or battery pack might be a good investment for the next time I go on a solo trip:

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To get out of LEGOLAND, I once again decided to take an Uber. As with earlier, the process worked brilliantly, and I was back in Windsor town centre within around 10-15 minutes.

 

To get to my hotel, I had to go to the other station in Windsor, Windsor & Eton Riverside, and catch a 15 minute train to Staines. The journey went very smoothly, and the very flash South Western Railway train, complete with plug sockets, gave me a prime opportunity to give my phone some much needed charge:

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After getting off the train in Staines, I took a short walk to the Staines Premier Inn, my hotel for the night. Check in was very easy, which made for a nice end to the day:

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So, that brings the first day of this trip to an end! I had a really good day; it was nice to get back to LEGOLAND, and while I didn’t get on absolutely loads, I was pleased with what I did get on and managed to satisfy my primary aim of getting the +2 of Minifigure Speedway. Those two coasters are good fun, and a great addition to the lineup at LEGOLAND, in my view! LEGOLAND was developing a really solid non-coaster lineup, with dark rides being a particular strength, so it’s nice to see the coaster lineup getting a bit of attention.

 

On a personal note, I was also very pleased with how today went in terms of the logistics. As I mentioned earlier, this is my first ever solo stay away, and compared to earlier solo trips I’ve done, this one has entailed slightly more complexity, so I’m pleased that I’ve managed to pull it off without a hitch thus far (I’m hoping I haven’t tempted fate there…).

 

Thanks for reading; I hope you’ve enjoyed this report! Tomorrow, I’ll be heading to Thorpe Park, so keep your eyes peeled for that report! While my chances of getting on Hyperia aren’t looking terribly good, I rarely have a bad day at Thorpe, particularly on a midweek day in term time, so it should be fun!

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