I am not, by nature, a theme park sort of person. I enjoyed going to Alton Towers as a kid, but I’ve not really gone to many such places as an adult; my stomach wouldn’t survive the attempt. My adrenaline rushes come from other places; correcting a misplaced apostrophe, for example, or being a parent generally.
But, of course, life is no longer just about me. I have a son, and he rather likes theme parks and adrenaline rushes; there are very few rides he would refuse to go on. I’ve been promising him for a while that we go to one, and so Legoland was the chosen first attempt.
It coincided with Storm Dennis – where do forecasters get these names from? I’d want them to sound more dramatic; Storm Titan, Storm Destroyer of Souls, Storm Brexit – and so I was slightly cautious. Thankfully, the wind and the rain held off for most of the day, enough anyway to ensure we could enjoy our time.
Never having been to Windsor, we were confronted by a train station of baffling complexity; for a station of just a single platform, there were more entrances and exits than I could easily count, and of course I chose the wrong one, The taxi driver, however, called out, and guided me to where we needed to be – although I had to convince him first that I couldn’t get to the McDonald’s with knowing the intervening steps; no, I really haven’t been to Windsor before.
Legoland itself was a thing to behold; you can sometimes encounter places of such tackiness that it’s almost embarrassing, but not so in this case. There were so many primary colours that it felt like we were in a Disney film, but we were in a theme park for kids; we weren’t going to find many subtle lilacs and lovely shades of puce.
Of course, there was the obligatory gift shop, where a second mortgage would purchase you a keyring and, for an additional fee that could easily come from selling a kidney, you could also buy a wristband. Our little band steered the children adeptly through this maze with remarkable ease – mostly by saying, “Oh, look over there!” – and it worked.
The rides themselves were excellent, I have to say; the height restrictions were understandable, and it meant one of our group couldn’t go on a couple, but the rides were so interactive and funny. It was lovely to watch the children laughing hysterically and be enraptured in equal measure.
I was impressed that the site had put together an area for families to have picnic food; a lot of places will direct you to their on-site restaurants and insist you eat their food at prices roughly equivalent to the GDP of a small Central American republic. That option was available at Legoland, to be sure – and people seemed willing to part with their cash – but to have an alternative option was very welcome. We took advantage of that, and it helped my bank balance no end.
I’d thought we might go about 3pm, something like that, but Bryan and the small group we were in were having such a lovely time, we went for one last ride. And when I say “we,” I mean other people – and when I say “one last ride,” it ended up being the same ride twice. Do you remember those swinging ships that move that a huge swing from side to side? Yes, Bryan and the other thrill-seekers went on that with a responsible adult who foolishly volunteered; fine, I said as I walked swiftly away, you’re in charge! The screams I heard were of pure enjoyment, so I was reliably informed afterwards.
What a pleasure it was to share this with Bryan; to see the joy on his face as he met up with his extended family – which I’d kept as a surprise for him right up until the moment we arrived – was enough to gladden my jaded heart. I write this in our shared hotel room – I wasn’t bringing him all the way home in a day, I couldn’t cope with it – and he’s happy. Another adventure done; come on, Bryan, wake up, I want to go to see the street theatre!