Legoland Windsor is a theme park for older kids, but it's a great sensory adventure for little ones too.
While all of the big kids are busy at school mid-week, Legoland is queue-free and full of fun for toddlers and pre-schoolers alike. And there's loads for them to do, from going on a submarine trip to see tropical fish to making cupcakes on a touchscreen to getting snowed on. Here is our advice for making the most of Legoland with a toddler:
- Under-threes get in free, but if you don't live too far away, then the Pre-school Legoland Annual Pass is well worth getting. It buys a year's unlimited entry for a child aged three to five years and an accompanying adult from Monday to Friday during school term-time (subject to opening times) for £60.
- Download the Little Explorer's Guide from legoland.co.uk/Plan/Under-3/ before you go: it's packed with information relevant to visiting with little ones. When you get there, look for the teddy bear symbol on the map: it shows you which rides are most suited to youngsters.
- Get there before the park officially opens at 10am. New for this year is an opening show at 9.55am on the Miniland Lawn, where tots can join in a countdown to open the park with life-size Lego characters.
- Ask for a Lost Parent wristband when you buy your tickets at the ticket booths or collect them from Ticket Collection. You can write your telephone number on it and attach it around your youngster's wrist. Just knowing it's there makes it much easier to relax.
- If you're visiting to celebrate a birthday, then go to Guest Services (there's one at The Beginning and another in Heartlake City) and ask for your youngster's name to be added to the birthday boards around the resort – he'll think he's famous!
- Leave plenty of time to wander around Miniland, the model 'village' made of nearly 40 million Lego bricks. Toddlers love it. Everything's at their height, there are boats and cars and trains tootling about, and the low fences mean you don't have to worry about them touching, but they can actually see everything. And the wide paths let you keep an eye on where he's off to without holding onto his hand all the time.
- There's a Lego pony called Bella outside Mia's Riding Adventure. And if you stroke its nose and tickle under its chin, it neighs. Forget all the big rides – this lump of plastic is the one thing that youngsters always want to go back and see just one more time!
- Once the water warms up at the end of May, there are two live shows in the lake area of Heartlake City: Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show and Lego Friends to the Rescue. Youngsters really enjoy them, but get there well before the show start-time so there's room to sit down on the steps for a good view. This is a great spot to have your packed lunch too.
- You can buy baby food from Heartlake Café and Hill Top Café. All the cafés and restaurants will give you a jug of hot water to warm your own baby food.
- Don't miss the puppet shows on in the Duplo Valley Theatre either. This year's shows are The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella and The Pied Piper. Watch a show before you go for a boat ride around Fairy Tale Brook to get in the fairy-tale mood.
- If the weather's good, take swimsuits and towels, and go and find the giant new arrival in the toddler water-play area, Splash Safari – a super-sized Duplo whale. Take a £1 coin too, so you can stash your wet cozzies in a locker once you're all done. Check on the website if this area is open before you go, as it's seasonal.
- The new 4D movie showing in the Imagination Centre, 'The Lego Movie 4D, A New Adventure', is a fab sensory experience for young and old alike (this is where the snow is!). But if you have a youngster, then sit at the back or to the sides of the theatre – if you sit in the centre, the effects are a bit too much for a little one to handle and you're likely to get wet!
- There's a Baby Care Centre in Heartlake City, with an area to feed your baby and change nappies. It was revamped last year, so although there are baby-changing facilities and extra-large cubicles with additional seating for children in the toilet blocks throughout the resort, the Baby Care Centre is much nicer.
- All getting a bit too much? Head to the Enchanted Forest for a quiet walk through the trees to find the woodland creatures.
Head to legoland.co.uk for more information.