Any half-decent six-year-old pirate in training knows that all you really need when it comes to a good pirate game is a lot of imagination. No matter if your cutlass is made of cardboard or your pistol is a banana… as long as you’ve got plenty of “arrh, me hearties” attitude, you’re good to go.
That said, full immersion into pirate nirvana, in the form of the Legoland Windsor Resort and Hotel, takes this to another level entirely – and it’s one my own six-year-old pirate wannabe appreciated to the full.
We visited the resort on April 17th and 18th 2014 – a busy time, as the second day was Good Friday and therefore a Bank Holiday. We had booked a Premium Pirate Room at the hotel on site, but a last-minute reshuffle due to refurbishment work overrunning meant we had to swap to a Premium Adventure room (think Indiana Jones). Luckily, the helpful staff arranged for Pirate-themed bedding anyway, so we had the best of both worlds – bright, piratey soft furnishings combined with lots of creepy-crawly “adventure” detailing including spiders and snakes. Perfect.
The park, too, has lots to offer the wannabe pirate. One of its lands is called “Pirate Shores” and, aside from the excellent rides, even the piped background music lends a jaunty sea shanty air. There are shops selling the requisite pirate accoutrements, and lots for both older and younger children to do. The best bit, though, has to be the Pirates of Skeleton Bay live-action show which takes place several times throughout the day. This is a fun, gymnastics-packed, humorous show which is really excellently executed (pardon the pun, yes, several unfortunate pirates do take a tumble from the distinctive striped lighthouse) and engaging for the whole family. If you happen to sit right at the front on the steps, you might find one of four big red buttons on posts – my little pirate got to “man” one of these buttons, which meant he was called on during the show to press it and set off some water chutes: “Pirate Number One, press your button!” To say he was a proud pirate would be understating it.
We were accompanied on our piratey mission by big sister, who is 10, and I have to say pretty much everything met with her approval too. The hotel enchanted her – the attention to detail was marvellous, and the small thoughtful touches such as a low-level buffet in the restaurant and the theming throughout meant that both children now want to live there permanently.
Other highlights were, from the kids’ point of view, the Star Wars exhibition (when he’s not being a pirate, this is my boy’s primary obsession), the Atlantis ride (gentle but really effective) and the Dragon rollercoaster (big enough for thrills, but not too scary). From the parents’ point of view, I’d have to say the QBot (yes I know it doesn’t exactly teach equality and fairness etc. but it made a huge difference to our enjoyment of the first day, when we had it, and we missed it sorely on day two, when we didn’t) and the fact that the Skyline bar at the hotel enables you to indulge in a post-park drink while the kids enjoy laid-on entertainment.
If you look at the reviews online of Legoland, you’ll find a real mix of those who adore it and find its bright, primary-coloured world spot-on, and those who find the queues and general expense just too much to stomach. As for us, I’d say yes, it’s a pricey treat, but a completely fabulous experience which the kids are still talking about and will remember for a long time. And our photos and memories from the trip are the best kind of pirate treasure ever.