A new roller coaster aimed at pre-school children has opened at one of England’s most popular theme parks
The world’s first DUPLO rollercoaster has opened at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.
The DUPLO Dino Coaster, for children aged around two to five, is part of the attraction’s bigger improved DUPLO Valley area.
The ride has dino-themed carriages which soar around supersized DUPLO dinosaur models, 18 times bigger than if you were to build them at home.
Legoland staff think it will be the perfect first rollercoaster experience for little ones, who need to be 0.9 metres or over to ride it.
The area has also has a new show and new supersized DUPLO models, great for family selfies, plus its own official character, Dexter the Dog.
Outdoor play area Brickville has become DUPLO Playtown with a new rocket play structure for budding astronauts and there is a new puppet show at the DUPLO Puppet Theatre.
DUPLO Valley Airport has a new look with with three coloured helicopters for little pilots to choose from.
Existing family rides at DUPLO Valley include the riverboat Fairy Tale Brook ride and the DUPLO train.
Duplo Valley, Legoland Windsor
The area also hosts the resort’s outdoor water play areas – Splash Safari and Drench Towers.
Meanwhile the park has launched a new adult and toddler annual pass to be used while older children are at school.
For £49, a toddler (classed as under 0.9 metres) and adult can visit the theme park as often as they like during term time (Monday to Friday), with 20 per cent off at restaurants and a 10 per cent discount in the shops.
Children under 0.9 metres get free entry anyway to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort all year round.
Day tickets are from £29 per person when booked online in advance.
We take our children to the Hilton Bracknell after visiting Lapland UK
Hilton Bracknell, Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Where is it?
On the outskirts of Bracknell near the main A322 road, next to a Sainsbury’s supermarket and petrol station.
It’s just 10 minutes from Lapland UK (review here), around 15 minutes from Legoland Windsor (review here) and half an hour from Thorpe Park.
What is it?
A large hotel with a swimming pool and leisure centre. It has plenty of free parking on site.
Is it family friendly?
Yes, this is a popular family option in the area offering easy access to Windsor, Lapland UK and Ascot.
Children receive a welcome pack on arrival, breakfast caters for them well and there is a swimming pool to enjoy.
There were lots of children at the hotel when we stayed there and they are made to feel welcome.
We stayed in a two double bed deluxe and it was an excellent size for a family of four.
There were two comfy double beds, a large TV, good-sized bathroom with bath and shower, free bottles of water, a kettle and a useful mini-fridge. The room was spotlessly clean.
Food and drink
Breakfast was nearly all self-service with a good selection of six cereals, including cornflakes and coco pops.
There were lovely warm pastries plus all the usual hot options if you want a cooked breakfast.
Breakfast is served in a lovely, bright and spacious restaurant area. Even though the hotel was busy it was a pleasant environment to eat in. The staff were friendly and helpful throughout.
If you want to eat an evening meal then under-fives eat free with a paying adult. Children aged between six and 12 can dine from the children’s menu for £11.50. We ate elsewhere for dinner so can’t comment on how good it is!
*The swimming pool – a real bonus here are the leisure facilities. These are free for hotel users and the decent-sized pool is split into two halves with a rope. One half is for adult swimmers and the other for children and their families. It wasn’t too busy when we visited on a Saturday morning and really made our stay.
There is also a jacuzzi which children are allowed in, plus a steam room and sauna for adults.
You can collect fresh towels from the leisure centre and the changing facilities are good.
We also spotted a good-sized gym.
*Welcome pack – the small bag given to children at reception kept them entertained in our room. There were crayons, stickers to colour in, puzzles and a crossword.
Children’s welcome pack
*The staff – everyone we met from reception, housekeeping and at breakfast were very friendly. They went out of their way to help and make sure we had a pleasant stay.
*Parking – the hotel’s large car park is free and stretches around the front and side of the building. Even on a busy Friday evening there was space to park.
A busy dual carriageway is the main view from the hotel but it is handily placed next to a large Sainsbury’s supermarket and petrol station.
Coral Reef Waterworld, The Look Out Discovery Centre and Go Ape Bracknell are all less than a mile away.
There are lots of family favourites within a few miles including Lapland UK, Windsor Castle, Legoland Windsor and Thorpe Park.
We take our children to ‘Lapland’ in the UK for a full family festive experience
It is one of the country’s most popular Christmas days out for families who want to experience Lapland without the cost of travelling to Finland.
So here is all you need to know about Lapland UK, plus our top tips for visiting and please watch our video below!
What is it?
A full Christmas experience for children which tells the story of Father Christmas, complete with elves, snow, a personalized Santa visit, toy making, gingerbread decorating, ice skating and more.
Where is it?
In ‘Lapland’ accessed by magic from Lapland UK, in Whitmoor Forest near Ascot in Berkshire.
How it works
1. Children get a special invitation each to visit ‘Lapland’ through the post telling them they have been chosen to help Santa make toys. There is a special app you can use so that two of the elves you will meet, appear on your invitation through your phone to talk and build the excitement.
2. When you get there and check in, each child is given an Elf Passport to have stamped at various points. You can also buy Jingles here – elf money that the children can spend there – £1 is one Elf Jingle.
A pouch of Jingles
3. The tour starts in a round room where elves tell the Father Christmas story, teach elf rhymes and the elf wave and build up the excitement for the children (Little Folk) and adults (Big Folk) until finally opening the doors to ‘Lapland’.
The doors to Lapland
4. You walk past snow-topped cabins to the toy workshop. Here, as in other places around the site, children have the option of entering through much smaller doors than the adults, which is a nice touch.
5. Inside the workshop, they are entertained by more elves and then each child helps to make a toy (a soft snowman our year, which they stuffed and added buttons to and a nose and scarf etc), which they hand over to be wrapped for Santa to deliver to children on Christmas Eve.
6. Then it’s through one of several magical tree tunnels to the next area, a kitchen where Mother Christmas is waiting, she talks to the children, they decorate gingerbread biscuits then listen to a story.
Mother Christmas tells a story
7. After that it is on to the Elf Village where you have an hour-and-a-half free time to ice skate on the outdoor rink, visit husky dogs and spend your Jingles in the toy and sweet shops, food and drink outlets. There is even a special post office where children can write a letter to Santa, have it sealed and post it themselves.
8. Then it’s on to the main event – visiting Father Christmas. You walk through a magical forest, past elf homes and past the reindeer to a waiting area.
Elves come and out and call each family group through using just the children’s names. Then you are taken down a winding path to visit Santa in a log cabin, who amazes the children by knowing special details about them. He gives them a present (soft husky toy dogs when we went) and they find their names in his good book. They have a photograph taken by an elf.
Are they in his good book?
9. In the next area, you collect your free photograph and are slipped a toy like the one your child made earlier so that Santa can deliver it on Christmas Eve. Then it’s out through a gift shop where there are lots of accessories you can buy for your husky! And then it’s out the door and back into the car park in ‘England’.
What is included in the price at Lapland UK?
*An elf passport.
*Making a toy activity.
*A version of the toy they made in the toy factory to take away secretly to give them on Christmas day.
*The gingerbread that the children decorate.
*Ice skating and hire of skates.
*Meeting Father Christmas.
*A gift from Santa – soft toy husky dogs our year.
*A printed family picture from the Santa visit.
What costs extra at Lapland UK?
*Food and drink.
*Extra pictures from the Santa visit.
What did we think?
This is a magical Christmas day out for young children and very well organized. The staff are all fantastic, taking on the role of elves and reindeer and the children loved it. It is a fabulous four hours of festive entertainment.
Is Lapland UK worth the cost?
This is a staggeringly expensive Christmas experience. It is a shame this costs so much money as it just isn’t possible for many people, particularly bigger families.
For the four of us it was over £450 on a weekday – which works out at over £100 an hour. We were lucky enough to be treated to it for a special family birthday. I don’t think we would be able to justify doing it again another year.
If you can afford it and want to splash out, make sure your children are the right ages to appreciate it, I would say, no younger than three and of an age where they still believe in the magic of Christmas.
Top tips for Lapland UK
*Do take advantage of the app to make your child’s invitation come to life, it is a magical start to the experience.
*Get there half an hour before your time slot to park, walk to the start, check in etc. You can not start the experience until your time slot so there is no point getting there any earlier.
*Buy Jingles at the start – £1 is 1 Elf Jingle, they come in a red velvet pouch. Children can use them to pay for things in the Elf Village and you can cash in those you don’t use at the end. We bought ours £5 worth each and it was enough (a lead for the toy husky from Santa was just £3 in the gift shop at the end, but beware there are lots of toys which cost a lot more)!
*Personalise your visit online. Make sure Santa has all the details he needs to show your child that he knows all about them. But don’t worry if you don’t get chance to do this as you can tell them at the desk when you are waiting to see the Big Man (just make sure little ears can’t hear you)!
*Ice rink – children can have skates which go over their shoes and are easier to balance on instead of proper ones. There are also support penguins for young children to hold on to or stand on.
*Consider taking a change of clothes in case children fall over on the ice rink. It was raining when we went and there is no cover so the surface was wet even though staff were frantically trying to keep the water off it.
*You could spend a lot of money in the Elfen Village if you aren’t careful as a lot of it is shops and food and drink outlets so take your time doing the ice rink and the Santa letter writing!
Our five-year-old’s verdict
“We saw Father Christmas and he gave us some huskies. And we went in the Enchanted Forest. It was fantastic! I liked seeing Santa Claus best.”
We take our children to LEGOLAND theme park in Windsor and share our highlights and advice
What is it?
LEGOLAND Windsor is a theme park for children based around LEGO toy building bricks. It has more than 55 rides and attractions and opened in 1996 – the second LEGOLAND – the first was LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark – read our review of that here.
Where is it?
It is in Windsor, Berkshire in England.
* Lego Ninjago The Ride
This is an interactive 4D ride. You sit four to a vehicle, put on 3D glasses and travel around a series of screens to battle enemies. You fire at them by using ninja hand movements which are detected by sensors while also feeling blasts of air and heat. Your scores are in front of you so you can see who does the best.
It was a little scary for our four-year-old daughter but great fun for our older son.
The queues are long for this popular ride, which opened as part of Ninjago World! in 2017. You can’t cut down waiting time with Q-BOTS on this ride, you have to pay extra to skip the queue, using an additional Q-Bot add-on, which costs from £3 to £5 per person.
*Atlantis Submarine Voyage
This submarine ride to find the lost city of Atlantis was a highlight for our children and as it had one of the shortest queues, we did it twice in a row.
*The LEGO 4D Movie Theatre
We saw Lego Ninjago – Master of the 4th Dimension at this 4D cinema.
This is amazing for Ninjago fans, who can watch their favourite characters in stunning 3D while also getting the fourth dimension experience of being sprayed with water and fake snow and feeling the heat of fire (there are dry seats at the side for anyone who doesn’t want to get wet).
*LEGO Star Wars Miniland Model Display
This indoor display was a welcome bonus on a wet day. But it is also a great walk through the most famous scenes from Star Wars films, made from 1.5 million LEGO bricks.
Explore the world in LEGO form at Miniland with famous sites and monuments from different countries built of the small bricks.
Just the very fact that this is all about LEGO is such a thrill for children – they are at LEGOLAND, LEGO is everywhere you look and the shops are full of LEGO sets.
What did we think?
This theme park obviously has the wow factor for LEGO fans, who will be excited as soon as they know they are going to LEGOLAND.
On the downside, it is showing its age in places and the queues are long for some of the rides.
An outdoor Ninjago show
But it is otherwise perfectly pitched for young children. There are a good variety of attractions, shows and play areas and it is set in nice parkland.
Our top tips
*The rides open at 10am but the front of the park opens at 9.30am so to get a good parking space and be first at one of the more popular rides, get there early. You can kill time in the shop and look around Miniland but at 10am there is a stampede to the rides.
*Parking costs £6 and you can pay in advance. For an extra £6 you can secure priority parking nearer the entrance. We were there fairly early both days and managed to get good spots without the extra charge.
*Q-BOTS passes save a lot of queuing time but they are expensive. We had Q-BOTS Express passes and hardly had to wait at all on the rides where we used them. In the cold and rain when we went, this was a huge relief and a big bonus and the staff treat you like royalty (although there is definitely some guilt to be felt at skipping on ahead of others patiently waiting their turn). You collect a device or use the system on your mobile phone as we did. You can only use it on one ride at a time.
See here for all our information and advice on beating the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor with the Q-BOTS ride reservation system and options.
*Buggies can be left outside rides at the owner’s own risk.
*Be aware that there is not much to do indoors if the weather is bad so be well prepared with umbrellas and waterproofs. When it is raining particularly hard or you need to dry off for a bit, aim for attractions like the LEGO 4D cinema, Star Wars display, X-BOX Gaming Zone and Atlantis Submarine Voyage. Some of the queues for the bigger, indoor rides are also undercover – like the Ninjago Ride and Laser Raiders. Umbrellas and rain ponchos can be bought. (There is also free sun cream available around the site which I thought was a great idea).
*Check out height restrictions so you don’t have disappointed children. Staff are very strict and always check – for lots of rides children have to be over 0.9 metres (with a parent) and 1.3 metres to go on alone.
*There are obviously lots of temping LEGO sets and other LEGO products you can buy from shops. You can pay for your purchases and collect later as the shops can get busy at the end of the day.
*Take swimming costumes if you plan to try out Splash Safari where toddlers can splash and enjoy water features and DUPLO-themed animals.
Food: Picnics are allowed but there aren’t many picnic spots and even less under cover, as we discovered on our first day, standing up to eat our sandwiches, huddled under a shelter.
There are various restaurants and food stalls around the park, but it is quite pricey. We had a nice pasta pot at one stall on our second day, which helped to warm us up.
Opening hours: Varies depending on the day and time of year.
Cost: Tickets bought in advance online are £32, £37 or £47 per person depending on the day. On the gate they are £47, £52 and £60.
Look out for two-for-one offers and other discounts, plus you can use Tesco Clubcard vouchers or a Merlin Annual Pass.
Annual passes are also available as well as prices for short breaks, staying at one of the two LEGOLAND hotels.
Best for: Children aged three/four (0.9 metres in height) to 10.
Time needed: A full day or more.
Access and restrictions: LEGOLAND has a lot in place for guests with additional needs. It is a hilly site but there is a hill train, which has a carriage for wheelchairs and buggies. There is a Ride Access Pass for those who struggle to queue, a Wheelchair Access Pass, so people in wheelchairs can access the rides, disabled toilets and a Changing Places facility. There is also a sensory space.
Make sure your children enjoy their time at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with our time-saving tips and advice on everything from parking to eating and queueing
1. Before you go
Buy your tickets online to save time and money, then you can go straight to the turnstiles when you arrive.
Plan which rides your children want to try and check out a map of the park.
Don’t forget to measure your child’s height to see which rides they can go on to save upset as they are very strict.
You must pay for parking before you leave the park – to save time, pay in advance online before you arrive.
Parking is £6 or £12 for a closer car park, which isn’t worth the extra if you plan to arrive early as you can aim for car parks B or C and drive up each row as far as possible to be close to the entrance.
3. Park opening
The park opens at 9.30am but you can only get as far as Miniland until the rides open at 10am (unless you are a hotel guest).
But if you do get there at 9.30am, you will get a good parking space, save time queuing for tickets and Q-Bots and be able to see around Miniland (or shop in the Big Shop) before the 10am rush to the rides.
Try to at least be in and down to Miniland for at least 9.50am, it’s about a five minute walk from the entrance. In good weather they put on a small show while you wait.
3. Laser Raiders and Lego Ninjago The Ride
The longest queues are for the Ninjago ride and Laser Raiders. They are quite close together so try to get to your preferred one as soon as the park opens at 10am to prevent a long wait. (A lot of people have this idea, so don’t hang about)! Then do the other ride at lunchtime. The shortest queues are usually around 12 to 1pm while people have lunch. So jump on the ride you didn’t do first thing at lunchtime to minimise queuing.
4. Work backwards
Head for the Atlantis Submarine Voyage or Dragon roller coaster quite early in the day. These are in the two furthest areas from the entrance (unless you are staying at the hotel) and it pays off to do a long walk first and work your way back towards the entrance. You will be walking in the opposite way to most of the crowds.
5. Bring a picnic
Picnic areas are limited (especially undercover) but there are benches and grassy areas you can sit on to eat. To really save time, eat your sandwiches in the queue for a ride. If you are buying lunch there, the quickest snacks to buy are hot dogs, noodles or pasta pots, which you can also eat on the go. If you get noodles or pasta (£4.95 to £6.95), ask for a spare pot! The portions are large for a child, so you can split the food between two children. Makes for a more affordable lunch and cools it down more quickly too.
We have written in detail about the Q-Bot system here, where you can pay to jump ride queues at LEGOLAND.
It works on a handheld device you borrow or on your mobile phone. We recommend downloading it on to your phone – staff show you how and the Wi-Fi and phone signal is good in the park.
Essentially, you book on to a ride from anywhere in the park, via your device/phone. Instead of waiting in a queue, you wait while going on other rides or doing anything else you want and when the countdown on your device is up, you go through the special Q-Bots entrance of your chosen ride. You don’t have to go at the exact time, just as soon as you are ready. Your waiting/countdown time depends on which Q-Bots system you have chosen, there are three – regular, express and ultimate, costing a hefty £24, £40 or £90 per person. But they save you long waits and can be used on more than 20 rides.
To maximise the Q’Bot’s value, book your next ride as soon as staff have scanned your code to let you on the ride before.
Also consider the one-off Q-Bot on busy rides – they can be worth it to save an hour’s queuing with tired children.
Read our detailed guide on LEGOLAND’s Q-Bot system here.
7. Afternoon rest and a film
Use the 4D movie cinema as a chance to rest tired legs and sit down for 30 minutes.
If it is raining and you want to dry off, avoid the middle seats as you’ll get sprayed with more water as part of the 4D experience!
8. The shops
LEGOLAND has no shortage of LEGO shops. To save time, the Big Shop at the entrance has almost everything the smaller stores have under one roof, so you may be able to persuade your child to just look around just the one, although we didn’t!
The main store does get busy after 3pm so if you have a window before then and want to buy something, take it.
You can buy from any store and collect at the end of the day from The Big Shop or have purchases sent to the resort hotels, if you are staying in one of them.
9. No queues
Some of the rides and attractions can have no wait so to make sure you don’t spend all day queueing, do some of these throughout the day – Brickville, Castaway Camp, Miniland, the DUPLO Theatre Puppet Show, Splash Safari and the Star Wars Miniland Model Display.
Miss the traffic through Windsor to the M4 by turning right at the roundabout when you leave LEGOLAND.
And if you did run out of time and want to return, you can upgrade to an annual pass and have your entry fee refunded.
All you need to know about Q-Bots at LEGOLAND Windsor – how they work, how much they cost and are they worth it?
What is it?
The Q-Bot system helps you avoid the (often long) queues at Legoland Windsor – at a price.
Using the system means you don’t have to physically queue for the included rides – there are more than 20 rides included in the service.
How does it work?
Standing anywhere in the park and using a device you collect or your mobile phone, you reserve a place on a ride and are given a countdown waiting time (or no waiting time if you pick the most expensive Q-Bot option). So instead of waiting in the queue you can go on other rides or do other things. At any point after the time is up (you don’t have to be there at the exact moment), you go through the ride’s Q-Bot entrance where you will be able to bypass the normal queue.
You can make a reservation on only one ride at a time.
There are different types of Q-Bot at various prices.
Q-Bot Regular (£25 per person) – You do not have to physically queue but your wait – or your countdown – is as long as that for the people queuing.
Q-Bot Express (£40) – This cuts the waiting time in half eg if the normal queue is 40 minutes, you only have to wait 20 minutes (doing what you please elsewhere) before you can access the ride.
Q-Bot Ultimate (£90) – No waiting time at all. Just book the ride and go straight through the Q-Bot entrance. Q-Bot Ultimate also Includes a free add-on for the popular rides not included in the Regular or Express options.
You can also buy:
Q-Bot One Shot (£5 to £7 per person) – This allows you to use a Q-Bot at one included ride of your choice.
Which rides are included?
Most of the rides included are many of those for smaller children. They are spread evenly throughout the park.
When we visited, the following rides were included: Aero Nomad, Apprentice, Atlantis Submarine, Balloon School, DUPLO Train, DUPLO Valley Airport, Desert Chase, Driving School, Fairy Tale Brook, Fire Academy, Jolly Rocker, Knights’ Quest, L-Drivers, Mia’s Riding Adventure, Pirate Falls Treasure, Raft Racers, Scarab Bouncers, Sky Rider, Spinning Spider, Squid Surfer, The Dragon, Thunder Blazer and Vikings’ River Splash.
However the most popular rides – and the ones with the longest queues – are NOT included in Q-Bot Express or Q-Bot Ultimate.
Ninjago The Ride, Laser Raiders and Coastguard HQ can only be used with an ADDITIONAL Q-Bot add-on which costs from £3 to £5 per person.
Where do you get Q-Bots from?
There is a Q-Bot office just inside the main entrance at Windsor on the right and another at Heartlake City within the park.
There you can register and either collect your hand held device (after you have paid a £50 deposit) or the staff set it up for you on your mobile phone. It takes a couple of minutes to organise.
We chose to use the system via a mobile phone site as you don’t have to carry an extra device around with you or return anything at the end.
You can also pre-book for Q-Bots via the LEGOLAND website but you still have to go into the Q-Bot office.
Our review of Q-Bots
We used the Q-Bot Express for two days and there is no doubt it makes the park a more pleasurable experience.
You can get around so many more rides and if you work it correctly you can virtually hop from one ride to another without queuing all day.
It was a very rainy weekend and queuing for long periods would have been miserable.
The whole system is well designed and works seamlessly, the staff are very good at getting you on the ride as soon as possible, the collection system is well organised and the mobile phone site works really well.
However the cost, at £180 for a family of four for a day (for the Express, Q-Bot Regular would be £100), is substantial.
Our Top Tips for Q-Bots at Legoland
*To benefit most from the Q-Bot system, book your next ride as soon as you can – basically, as soon as staff have scanned the code to let you on the ride before.
*Don’t wait until your countdown time is at 0 before going through the Q-Bot entrance. Go in at about two to three minutes, as often (especially on the indoor and larger rides) even the Q-Bot entrance has a short walk and wait before you board your ride.
*Check your dates and the weather. LEGOLAND will be much busier on a sunny day in the school holidays or at the weekend, than a rainy midweek day in October, when the Q-Bot system won’t save you as much time.
*It doesn’t cost any more to book Q-Bots on the day, so you can always wait and see when you arrive what the queues are like, if you can’t decide.
*One way to make Q-Bot cost effective is to use it as a means of cutting your visit from two days to one. On any school holiday or weekend it would be nearly impossible to see all of the park in one day without a Q-Bot. So it may be worth investing in a Q-Bot instead of a second day’s admission. That could add up for you.