Legoland Windsor


Legoland Windsor

Infobox Amusement park
name = LEGOLAND Windsor


location = Windsor, Berkshire
location2 = England
location3 = United Kingdom flagicon|UK
coordinates = 51.46351°N, 0.65114°W
address = LEGOLAND Windsor Park Ltd, Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 4AY
phone_numbers = 08705 04 04 04
homepage = [http://www.legoland.co.uk/ www.legoland.co.uk]
owner = Merlin Entertainments, 70%
Lego Group, 30%
general_manager = Vicky Brown
opening_date = March 1996
season = March to November
area = convert|150|acre|km2
rides = 50
coasters = 3
water_rides = 6
slogan = Heroes Wanted
Location map|Berkshire
label=
background=white
lat=51.46351
long=-0.65114
caption=Map of Berkshire, UK, showing the location of Legoland Windsor at 51.46351°N, 0.65114°W (grid reference mmukscaled|SU938747|100|SU938747)
float=right
width=250

Legoland Windsor is a child-oriented theme park in Windsor, Berkshire in England, themed around the Lego toy system. The park opened in 1996 on the site of what was the Windsor Safari Park, as the second Lego Group Legoland (the first was Legoland Billund in Denmark). The park is located within close distance of Windsor Castle and about 8 miles west of London Heathrow Airport. In common with the other Legolands across the world, the park's attractions consist of a mixture of Lego-themed rides, Lego models, and Lego building workshops. The park was acquired by the Blackstone Group in 2005, with the Lego Group retaining part ownership (30%), and is now operated by Merlin Entertainments. The facilities are mainly targeted at children between two and twelve, although the park is open to all.

In 2007, the park had 1.65 million visitors, making it the third most visited theme park in the United Kingdom (after Alton Towers and Thorpe Park), and 15th most visited in Europe. [cite paper
author = Themed Entertainment Association
coauthors = Economics Research Associates
title = Attraction Attendance Report
publisher = Park World
date = May 2008
url = http://www.connectingindustry.com/downloads/pwteaerasupp.pdf
format = PDF
accessdate = 2008-07-03
] __TOC__

History

The Lego Group began research for the development of a second Legoland park, after Legoland Billund, in 1989; over 1000 sites were considered.cite web|url=http://www.legoland.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/B9D22822-5ADF-4483-BF10-2E7302EF6153/0/HistoryofLEGOLANDParks2006.pdf|title=Legoland Windsor - The History of the Legoland Parks|format=PDF]

In January 1992, Windsor Safari Park went into receivership, and this convert|150|acre|km2|sing=on site was chosen as the first Legoland park outside Denmark. Throughout 1992 and 1993, planning, design, site preparation and the design and construction of models began, and new homes were secured for all the safari animals. 1994 saw the installation of services, foundations and infrastructures, and in 1995, one year prior to opening, Big Ben was installed in Miniland. By this time buildings and attractions were becoming established, and in September advanced bookings were opened for entrance tickets."Legoland Windsor: Where the Fun is Building", Park Brochure, 1995]

Final installations were completed by the beginning of 1996, and at this point the Legoland Windsor staff-base was recruited. The grand opening of Legoland Windsor occurred in March 1996. During its first season, the park attracted over 1.4 million guests.

The first major extension to the park was CastleLand, which opened on March 14 1998."Legoland Windsor Park Guide", 1998] This was the first new area added since the park opened, and contained the "Dragon", the park's first rollercoaster. Also included in the new development was the Lego Mindstorms Workshop, which opened on May 1 the same year.

1999 saw three major new additions to the parks attractions. First was the "Dragon's Apprentice", which opened in time for the new season."Legoland Windsor Park Guide", 1999] "The Balloon School" was not so lucky, suffering delays in construction work, and opened in April. "X-Treme Challenge", a large water flume ride, was constructed on the slope in front of St. Leonard's Mansion in time for the school Summer holidays in August. At the end of the 1999 season, the Imagination Theatre was refurbished, and fitted with a truss lighting grid, lighting booth, and blackout drapes, making it much more like a theatre in preparation for the Christmas production of "Peter Pan". On November 20 1999, Legoland Windsor opened for its first Christmas season, which ended on January 3 2000.

January 2000 saw the start of construction on the "Creation Centre" and "Rocket Racers". Due to open at the start of this season was "Wave Surfer", however delays pushed the commissioning of the ride back to April, at which time only one of the two turntables was operational, with the other up and running a couple of weeks later."Legoland Windsor Park Brochure", 2000] At the end of the season, "Bum Shaker" closed, and became a picnic area. November 18 saw the start of the park's second and final Christmas Season, which concluded on January 7 2001. One of the highlights of this festive season was the opening of "The Creation Centre" and "Rocket Racers" in December.

During 2001 there were no new attractions, with the exception of "The Creation Centre" and "Rocket Racers" which had opened over Christmas. At the end of the season, however, "The Technic Garage" closed, and was refitted as a food outlet. "Muscle Maker" also closed, and became the "Truck Stop", a set of remote-controlled model lorries that can be driven for an extra charge. Also during this time the "Sky Rider" is refurbished.

For the 2002 season, the "I-Spy Express" was renamed "The Adventurer’s Express", and re-themed around jungle animals. At the end of this season, during Christmas closing, the lighting booth in the Imagination theatre was fitted out with two large projectors and a large quantity of control equipment, a convert|36|ft|m|sing=on"Legoland Windsor Show Times", March 12 - July 8, 2005] projection screen was rigged on stage, and a number of different theatrical effects machines (such as wind machines, snow machines, fog machines etc.) were installed in the truss rig, thus converting the Imagination Theatre to a 4D cinema.

At the beginning of the 2003 season, the Mindstorms workshop was moved from Knights’ Kingdom to the Imagination Centre, replacing the Dacta Workshops, Robolabs was opened, and "Lego Racers 4D" was introduced in the Imagination Theatre. On June 10 Queen Elizabeth II visited Legoland Windsor, as part of British Tourism Day. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2978802.stm|title=BBC News – Royals get to grips with Legoland’s Bricks]

2004 saw the installation of the first major new ride in four years, "The Jungle Coaster", which opened in time for the new season. This and the "Wave Surfer" were designated as part of a new area, 'Adventure Land',"Legoland Windsor Park Brochure", 2004] and in line with this the bottom lake was renamed the Adventure Land Lake. Also in time for the new season was the completion of the Big Restaurant's refurbishment. At the end of the 2004 season "Rocket Racers" closed, having never been particularly popular yet always having technical problems and large, slow-moving queues. Also, the Celtic maze of "The Amazing Mazes" was gutted, and a path created straight through it.

Three new rides were built in time for the start of the 2005 season; "The Fire Academy" in 'Traffic', and "Dino Dipper" and "Dino Safari" in 'Adventure Land'. "The Adventurer’s Express" was again renamed, this time to "The Orient Express"."Legoland Windsor Park Guide", 2005] In April, Lego made the decision to sell the Legoland parks, due to rising losses across the whole company. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4417585.stm|title=BBC News – Lego to Sell Parks as Losses Rise] [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4600553.stm|title=BBC News – Ailing Lego nears Theme-park Sale] On July 13 2005, Legoland was acquired by the Blackstone Group, and control of the parks passed to Merlin Entertainments.cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4678213.stm|title=BBC News – Troubled Lego Sells Theme Parks]

At the beginning of the 2006 season "Digger Challenge" opened, and "Spellbreaker 4D" was introduced alongside "Lego Racers 4D" in the Imagination Theatre."Legoland Windsor Park Guide", 2006] The park made the news on October 28 as a fire broke out in a storage barn on site during the end of season fireworks, though no one was injured. [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/berkshire/6094788.stm|title=BBC News – Fire at Legoland during Fireworks] Over the Christmas closing period, both the Celtic maze and the nautical maze of "The Amazing Mazes" were demolished to make way for "Vikings' River Splash". The Tudor maze was renamed "Loki’s Labyrinth", but was kept closed until August 2007, as it was in the centre of the construction work for Land of the Vikings. As such, "The Amazing Mazes" ceased to be.

"Whirly Birds" is renamed "Chopper Squadron" for the start of the 2007 season, and the Mindstorms Workshop switched from using Lego Mindstorms to the NXT system."Legoland Windsor Park Guide", 2007] In July, "Mole-in-One Golf" opened, having been given absolutely no publicity, and on August 18, after severe delays, 'Land of the Vikings' opened. The new area (which was due to open in April 2007) increased the parks' capacity by 15%, and contained the new river rapids ride "Vikings' River Splash", though the second advertised ride, "Longboat Invader", was delayed until the 2008 season. "Loki's Labyrinth" also opened, though no theming was present. For the rest of the season, "Vikings' River Splash" operated at a reduced capacity.

For the 2008 season, the park advertised a "..magnificent seven new attractions debut..." [cite web | title = EXPLORE A WHOLE NEW LAND AT LEGOLAND® WINDSOR | publisher = Legoland Windsor | date = March 2008 | url = http://www.legoland.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/354F39B9-EE15-4EB6-8702-D66903809255/0/Newfor2008b.pdf | format = pdf | accessdate = 2008-03-18] . This, however, included "Vikings' River Splash", "Loki's Labyrinth" and "Mole-in-One Golf", which had all opened in 2007. New to the park was the "Longboat Invader", "Legoland Windsor Park Guide", 2008] a Zamperla 'Rocking Tug', which was originally to open at the same time as the rest of 'Land of the Vikings'. Two new shows were introduced: "Cinderella" in the "Duplo Theatre", and "Revenge of the Aztec Queen", which replaced "The Saphire Scorpion" at the 'LEGO City Harbour'. The seventh new debut was the "Xbox Gaming Zone", in the centre of 'LEGO City'. This echoed the console area that had been present only for the first two years of the park's history. To make way for this, the "Magic Theatre" closed, after twelve long years in the park. "The Big Restaurant" was also refurbished, and renamed "City Walk", with the menu changing to that of the "Pasta Patch", which was in turn renamed "Captain Barnacle's Boatshed", selling Fish and Chips. "Cinnabon Bakery" was replaced with the "Harbourside Coffee Co. Express", and "Bricks 'n' Bits" was renamed "Cuddles Corner", selling clothing. Finally, Q-Bot was introduced at the beginning of the season.

Areas

Like many theme parks, Legoland Windsor is split into several separately themed areas, many of which match some of the themes of the Lego products themselves.

The Beginning

This is where visitors begin their journey. It incorporates the ticket booths and ticket gates, guest services, the Annual Pass room and other facilities such as toilets and cash machines. This area is accessible before the park opens, during which time a barrier closes off the rest of the park.

The "Creation Centre" (opened in 2001) is a building where children can watch the Legoland model makers build their models in the Model Maker's Workshop, and this area includes Lego representations of the Crown Jewels and the cockpit of a Virgin Boeing 747. Originally the Creation Centre was sponsored by Boeing, though it is now unsponsored.

The "Hill Train" is the only attraction that was a part of Windsor Safari Park and survived through the conversion. A funicular railway, the train travels down a curved slope, connecting The Beginning with the Wild Woods area. The journey is just over 300 metres long, and the difference in level between the top and bottom stations is approximately 27 metres. [Google Earth] Refurbished from its Windsor Safari Park days, the carriages now contain stained glass windows made from translucent Lego bricks, with the designs having been created by local school children."Legoland Windsor Souvenir Guidebook", 1997]

Imagination Centre

The Imagination centre lies just above "Miniland", and is the site of the park's educational workshops, as well as a small number of rides.

The workshops consist of the "Build & Test Workshops", areas filled with Duplo and Lego, the "Lego Mindstorms Workshop", where visitors are taught how to use the Lego Mindstorms NXT line of robotics products, and the "Robolab Workshop", which teaches different building techniques using the older Lego Mindstorms system. The workshops are sometimes closed off for school groups during term time.

Rides in the area consist of the "Space Tower", where guests can 'pull' themselves to the top of the tower, and then gently descend, and the "Sky Rider", an aerial track with powered cars, giving good views of the rest of the park. This ride was refurbished for the 2002 season, with new restraints added, a 'non-stop' loading system implemented, and the direction of the cars around the track reversed.

Also in this areas is the "Imagination Theatre", a small cinema showing 4D films. The films have changed over the years, with the theatre currently showing "Lego Racers 4D" and "Spellbreaker 4D".

Miniland

Miniland is an example of a Miniature park in Lego form; it consists of a number of large Lego models and landscapes depicting towns and cities from around the world. Nearly 40 million Lego bricks were used to construct the models, which tend to be on a 1 to 20 scale. The models change frequently from year to year, and contain many animated and moving pieces. A London section now includes many new buildings including the Gherkin, the Millennium Bridge, a rotating London Eye and Canary Wharf. Other famous London landmarks modelled in Lego include St Paul's Cathedral, Horseguards Parade (with the Queen) and Tower Bridge. A train system operated, modelled on the Docklands Light Railway.

An England section includes Brighton Pier, the Angel of the North, Smiths Arms Wiltshire (the smallest pub in Britain) and Stonehenge. A Scotland area includes Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, Eilean Donan, Jedburgh Abbey, Blair Atholl and Loch Ness.

Numerous other countries feature including Sweden, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Part way through the 2001 season an audio tour was introduced to Miniland, but it was removed at the end of the season.

Animation within Miniland

Miniland contains a large number of animated models, many of which interact with each other. Cars, lorries and buses all appear to move and steer on their own, never leaving their set paths, yet not using any rails. These operate using cables buried beneath the paths that emit a low-level radio wave specific to each vehicle. The vehicles pick up this signal, and use it to steer. When a vehicle reaches one of the charging points dotted around its track, it stops, and charges its battery for a set amount of time. Outside park opening hours, the vehicles stop on the charging points and recharge overnight.

The trains work in a similar fashion to the road vehicles, but follow tracks instead of radio signals. When a train approaches a station, the train passes over 'slow down bars', which tell an onboard microprocessor to slow the motor. When a train reaches a charging point, one of which is located at each station, it stops for a set period to recharge its battery. Unlike the road vehicles, the trains can go forwards, backwards, and vary their speed.

The boats use a simpler method of operation - they are attached to rubber loops, visible beneath the water, driven by motors. A piece of metal on the hull of the boat allow sensors along the boat's track to detect the boat, so that bridges can be raised and lowered, and locks opened and closed, at the appropriate points.

Controlling all these vehicles, along with sound and lighting effects, is a bank of 14 computers. These computers are connected to the various models, speakers and other effects using 300 kilometres of underground cabling.

Duplo Land

Previously named 'Explore land' and 'Duplo Gardens', this area is aimed at younger children.

Attractions include "Fairy Tale Brook", where riders board a boat which drifts past tableaux from popular fairy tales and "Chopper Squadron" - (renamed from 'Whirly Birds' for the 2007 season), featuring twelve mock helicopters with the ability to rotate and move up and down at the riders control.

The "Mole-in-One Golf" attraction opened at the beginning of July 2007, and is one of only a few attractions incurring an additional charge. The attraction features two nine-hole minigolf courses, a yellow course and a more difficult red course.

Also in the area is "Extreme Team Challenge" (opened in 2006, originally named 'X-treme Challenge'), a pair of 100 m water slides which guests ride down in rubber dinghies reaching speeds of convert|35|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on."Legoland Windsor: The Official Guide", 2006]

Other child-friendly attractions in the area include the "Duplo Playground" play area, the "Waterworks", containing fountains, water cannons, and other water play items guaranteed to get young children wet, and the "Duplo Train", a short narrow-gauge railway. In addition, regular puppet shows are performed at the "Duplo Theatre' (previously 'willow stage')' for young children.

Traffic

This area is themed around transport, and features the popular and well-advertised "Driving School", where children can drive a Lego car around an area of intersecting tracks complete with traffic lights and road signs. Before taking to the wheel, children watch an instructional video, and when their driving time is up, they are presented with a mock license. The attraction is only open to children aged between 6 and 13 years old, with older children and adults not admitted. A smaller version of the attraction called "L-Drivers" is open to children aged between 3 and 5, featuring smaller cars with a single pedal. Driving School is currently sponsored by Fiat, and has in the past been sponsored by Ford and Vauxhall.

In a similar vein to Driving School, "Boating School" lets guests take control of boats around a course of waterways. This attraction is open to all. "Balloon School", opened since the 1999 season, lets visitors take a convert|40|ft|m|abbr=on ride into the sky in a mock hot air balloon, enjoying a good view of Legoland.

The newest attraction for the area, "Fire Academy" (opened in 2006), is a ride for groups of 2-4. Guests board a 'fire engine' vehicle, which they must power to a mock-up of a burning building, where they pump water cannons before returning to the start.

LEGO City

The area of 'LEGO City', previously called 'My Town', is a mock-up of a small Lego town.

One of the most visible attractions in the area is the "LEGO City Harbour", a set where live stunt shows are performed at intervals throughout the day (currently 'The Revenge of the Aztec Queen'), including dives from the top of a lighthouse into the harbour below.

Also in this area is the boarding point for "Orient Expedition", a train ride that takes visitors around Lego City, Traffic and Adventure Land, with safari animals constructed of Lego placed along the track. Originally named the I-Spy Express, the models around the track had consisted of a family of badgers having a picnic. For the 2002 season the ride was renamed 'The Adventurer's Express', and the models replaced with those on view now, and then for the 2005 season the ride was given its current name and a few new models added. Also in LEGO City is "Digger Challenge", which offers guests the chance to operate a mock hydraulic digger. The attraction is sponsored by JCB.

Indoor attractions in this area include the "Explorer's Institute", featuring Lego models themed around the jungle, ancient Egypt and the Arctic, the "Magic Theatre", which contains a number of optical illusions, and the "Xbox Gaming Zone", the area's newest attraction.

A small area themed as "Brickadilly's Fairground Rides" contains a Carousel, Chairoplane, a small Ferris wheel, and the "Brickadilly's Circus Tent", which used to be used for circus shows such as "The Toy Box", but is now used only for special events.

Land of the Vikings

The newest area of the park, Land of the Vikings opened in 2007, increasing the park's capacity by 15%. Situated behind the Hill Train, the main attraction is the "Viking's River Splash", a river rapids ride. Built by ABC Rides, the ride is a traditional rapids ride with nine-seat rafts, interactive water features, and the 'Troll Wash', where buckets of water are emptied from the top of a four metre high bridge across the water channel.

Also in the area is the "Longboat Invader", a swinging, spinning boat ride originally due to open in 2007, but delayed until the start of the 2008 season. The ride is a 'Rocking Tug' by Zamperla.

Other rides now considered part of the area are "Loki's Labyrinth", which was previously the Tudor themed hedge maze of the Amazing Mazes, now re-branded with a Viking theme, and "Spinning Spider", a spinning teacups style ride with a spider theme, previously considered part of the 'Wild Woods'.

Wild Woods

This area has a loose Pirate theme.

The main attraction is "Pirate Falls", a log flume featuring several pirate lego models, and ending with the traditional splash drop.

Also in the area is the attraction "The Rat Trap", a three-storey labyrinth of walkways, scramble nets and chutes, containing interactive elements, and clues to follow with a mystery to solve, and the "Enchanted Forest", a woodland area featuring lego model animals.

For an extra charge, visitors can also join the "Panning For Gold" attraction, where guests can pan for gold in troughs containing sand and fools gold, which can then be exchanged for a medallion. There is also an area containing remote controlled lego lorries called the "Truck Stop".

Knights' Kingdom

Previously known as 'CastleLand', this area was the first extension to the park after it opened, opening in 1998. It consists of a castle-shaped building at the bottom of the park.

The main attraction of the area is "The Dragon", a roller coaster that starts as an indoor ride, the trains passing lego-constructed tableaux, before exiting the castle building for a faster, more rollercoaster-like outdoor section. The trains can reach speeds of around convert|30|mi/h|km/h|abbr=on. The ride was constructed by WGH Transportation.

As a complement to The Dragon, "The Dragon's Apprentice" is a smaller rollercoaster for younger children. The ride opened in 1999.

Adventure Land

The second newest area of the park (after 'Land of the Vikings'), Adventure Land is situated at the bottom of the park behind the newly named 'Adventure Land Lake'.

The most popular attraction of the area is the "Jungle Coaster". Built in 2004 by MACK, this is a Wild Mouse style rollercoaster, with 400 metres of track, a highest point of 16 metres, and a top speed of 60 km/h. The cars have a Lego Technic theme.

Other attractions of the area include the "Wave Surfer", where riders swing round on a gondola suspended over water, trying to avoid jets of water activated by spectators, the "Dino Safari", a car ride featuring lego model dinosaurs, and "Dino Dipper", a MACK 'Old Train' ride, featuring a loop of cars travelling at high speeds over bumps.

For an extra charge, visitors can also have a go on the seven metre "Climbing Wall".

Q-Bot

At the beginning of the 2008 season, Legoland Windsor introduced a Q-Bot queueing system.cite web | title = Legoland Windsor selects Lo-Q to reduce physical waiting time | publisher = Blooloop.com | date = 2008-02-17 | url = http://www.blooloop.com/PressReleases/Legoland-Windsor-selects-Lo-Q-to-reduce-physical-waiting-time/700 | accessdate = 2008-03-18] For a small charge, parties can hire a small pager-like device on which they can reserve places in queues virtually. The system is designed to ensure that those with Q-Bot would have to 'queue' for the same amount of time as those without, but those with Q-Bot could spend that time elsewhere in the park, either queuing for another ride, eating lunch or just wandering. The initial contract between Lo-Q, the company that developed the Q-Bot system, and Legoland Windsor, is for two years.

Retail

Retail within the park can be split into two distinct categories: food and drink, and souvenirs.

Food and drink

Unlike other UK theme parks, all food and drink outlets within Legoland Windsor are currently owned and operated by the park, with the exception of the recently closed Cinnabon. The main outlets are as follows:

*"Pit Stop Café" - Located in The Beginning, the Pit Stop Café serves main meals. Previously named the 'Hill Top Café', it was rebranded in 2001 and themed around racing, as it is situated next to the now closed "Rocket Racers" attraction.
*"Captain Barnacle's Boatshed" - Situated in Duplo Land, Captain Barnacle's Boatshed sells fish and chips and other similar foods. Named 'Pasta Patch' from 1996-2008, this outlet used to serve pasta and pizza before being replaced by City Walk for the 2008 season.
*"Fish & Chips Takeaway" - Located next to Captain Barnacle's Boatshed.
*"Baguette Bar" - Situated in Traffic, the Baguette Bar has had numerous different themes since the park opened, including Lego ranges such as Bionicle.
*"City Walk" - City Walk is the parks main Restaurant, as is located next to the Lego City Harbour. The restaurant was refurbished and rebranded for the 2008 season, taking the place of the closed Pasta Patch by selling pasta and pizza. City Walk was originally named the Big Restaurant, and was previously refurbished for the 2004 season, to include a nautical theme, and as such was used to promote Sea Life Centres, another chain of attractions owned by Merlin Entertainments.
*"Harbourside Coffee Co." - A small coffee shop in the corner of City Walk, selling a variety of beverages and pastries.
*"Burger Ranch" - Opposite the Wave Surfer in Adventure Land, the Burger Ranch offers fast-food such as burgers and chips.
*"Crossed Ribs BBQ" - Located in the Wild Woods, Crossed Ribs BBQ serves main meals, and has a large seating area with good views of the drop of Pirate Falls.
*"Knights' Table Rotisserie" - Situated in Knights' Kingdom, the Knights' Table Rotisserie serves main meals.
*"Papa Mole's Ice Cream and Coffee Shop" - Serving ice cream, mini doughnuts and coffee, Papa Mole's is situated in the Imagination Centre.
*"Ice Cream and Doughnuts" - Occupying what was previously the Technic Garage in Lego City, this outlet too serves ice cream, mini doughnuts and coffee.
*"Cadbury Café" - Sited behind the Adventure Land Lake, the Cadbury Café is sponsored by Cadbury's and sells ice cream, chocolates and hot and cold beverages.
*"Sweet Stop" - Located next to the top station of the Hill Train, this is a 'pick and mix' sweet shop.
*"Castle Candy" - Situated in Knights' Kingdom, this second 'pick and mix' sweet shop opened for the 2007 season.
*"Harbourside Coffe Co. Express" - Located just outside the ticket gates, this outlet used to sell Cinnabon produce, but is now a small coffee shop.
*"Carts and Stands" - Located around the park are many carts and stands, selling goods ranging from chocolate waffle sticks and ice cream to coffee and candyfloss. During the summer months barbecues are set up next to the top and bottom stations of the Hill Train and next to City Walk, to sell burgers and hot dogs.

ouvenirs

There are a number of outlets within the park selling both Legoland-specific souvenirs and general Lego products. The main outlets are as follows:

*"The Big Shop" - The park's main store, The Big Shop sells the widest selection of Lego products anywhere in the UK, as well as a large number of Legoland souvenirs. The Big Shop is located in The Beginning, and is open for a large proportion of the time when Legoland is closed during winter.
*"Kids Wear" - Situated opposite The Big Shop, Kids Wear sells a large range of Lego children's clothing.
*"Cuddles Corner" - Located in Duplo Land, Cuddles Corner sells stuffed toys and clothing. Previously Bricks 'n' Bits, the shop used to sell Lego by weight in 'pick and mix' containers.
*"Brick Brothers Souvenir Co" - Situated in Lego City, Brick Brothers is the parks main souvenir store.
*"Turret Shop" - Located in Knights' Kingdom, the Turret Shop sells a large range of Lego products with medieval themes.
*"On-ride Photography" - On-ride Photography is available for Driving School, L-Drivers, Pirate Falls, The Dragon, The Dragon's Apprentice, the Jungle Coaster and Viking's River Splash. From May 2008, there will also be roaming photographers, with prints being purchaseable from a small hut in the Beginning.
*"Carts and Stands" - Various carts and stands are located around the park selling souvenirs and other small products. During special events such as the fireworks or after-dark event, there are often extra carts selling glowsticks and other appropriate items.

Operating calendar

Legoland is open from mid-March to the beginning of November each year, though it is closed on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays in May, September and October. During this time, the park operates a variable opening times system, which roughly follows the school holidays in the UK.

The park always opens at 10am. By default, the park closes at 5pm. During the Easter holidays, other select public holidays (such as bank holidays), weekends in June, July, September and October, and during the end of season celebrations and fireworks, the park closes at 6pm. During the summer holidays, (late July to the beginning of September), the park closes at 7pm. During the After-Dark event, which is held in the Easter holidays, the park closes at 9pm.

Each year these times change slightly, though they usually follow this pattern.

pecial events

Each year Legoland Windsor hosts a number of special events. Most are annual, and take place year on year, but occasionally one-off events are held. Regular events are as follows:

After Dark

Held during the Easter School Holidays, the After Dark event spans three days, during which the park’s opening hours are extended to 9pm.

As the name suggests, most of the event takes place after sunset, when a laser show can be observed over the Lego City Harbour, or, in more recent years, over the Adventure Land Lake. This is often accompanied by small pyrotechnics, and in recent years water displays.

To celebrate Legoland’s 10th Anniversary in 2006, a large water projection screen was created over the Adventure Land Lake, and was used to project various images onto, including the 10th Anniversary logo.

These events are also given themes, for example the 2007 event was given a Batman theme.

Most rides within the park usually stay open until the park closes at 9pm. This excludes certain rides such as Boating School and Fairy Tale Brook, which close at dusk as they do not have sufficient lighting; a large safety issue as they are water rides. Rides such as the Dragon Coaster become very popular after dark, as without trackside lighting they take on the feel of an indoor dark ride.

Legoland Live!

A recent addition to the parks special events, Legoland Live is a concert aimed at young children, which takes place in July at the start of school summer holidays.

Various activities are held around the park, such as circus skills workshops within Brickadilly’s Circus Tent. Entertainers in costume also walk around the park.

The highlight is a concert-style performance, showcasing performers for young children. For example, the 2007 Legoland Live! concert featured Barney & Friends, Bob the Builder and Pingu.

Amazing Machines

Another recent addition to the special events calendar is Amazing Machines, which is held over a weekend in September.

Monster Trucks and motorbikes perform various stunts in the arena. Classical vehicles are also brought into the park and are showcased in various different areas.

Fireworks

By far the most popular special event is the end of season fireworks, and this is the only event to have occurred every year since the park opened in 1996. Usually spanning two weekends, the end of season fireworks often bring the park to capacity.

Activities take place around the park all day, and have included such things as treasure hunts and dance workshops. Rides usually close one hour before the show commences, and some reopen after the show to alleviate congestion on the exit roads.

The fireworks are usually fired from Adventure Land, with the whole area being cordoned off and used as a firing area and fall-out zone. The exit road also constitutes part of the fall-out zone, and so during the show it is not possible to leave the park. The show is regularly described as one of the largest firework displays in the south of England.

The main viewing areas are the Lego City Harbour, and the bottom of Miniland. At these locations, large public address systems are set up which play the music for the show. There is also a pre-display show, with special lighting effects and sometimes video, which ties in with the theme of the event. As the park is on a moderately steep hill, and the fireworks are detonated from the bottom, it is possible to have a good view from most of the park, though it is not possible to hear the music or see the pre-show from many areas.

The event is always themed, usually around a range of Lego products. Previous themes have included Rock Raiders, Lego Insectoids and Bionicle.

Christmas openings

During the Christmases of 1999 and 2000, Legoland Windsor opened for special "Christmas Seasons". During these seasons, the park operated as normal (i.e. all rides were open), but with special shows, events and attractions relevant to the season.

For the 1999 Christmas season (November 20, 1999January 3, 2000), the following attractions were present:"Christmas at Legoland Park Guide", 1999]

* Santa’s Toy Factory – Located in Brickadilly’s Circus Tent, this consisted of a walkthrough attraction depicting Santa’s post room, with actors playing the part of elves, and a show in the main arena, centred around the toy workshop, where Santa makes Christmas presents.
* Peter Pan’s Christmas Adventure – Performed in the Imagination Theatre, this was an adaptation of the story of Peter Pan, in which Captain Hook and his side kick Smee try to prevent Peter and Wendy from reaching the North Pole to meet Father Christmas."Christmas at Legoland Show Times", 1999] The show included a number of musical pieces, a lot of wire work, and a number of theatrical effects including snow.
* Cinderella’s Puppet Pantomime – Performed on the Willow Stage, this was a puppet version of Cinderella, with a comic twist.
* Snowball Express – For the duration of the season, the "Orient Expedition" (then the "I-Spy Express") was renamed the "Snowball Express". The engine was decorated with fake snow and other Christmas related items, as were the various models around the track, and a snow machine was installed on the platform.
* Treasure Trail – Located in the "Pavilions" (a marquee in the area behind what is now the "Digger Challenge") was a set of Christmas related Lego models.
* Miniland Illuminations – Many Christmas lights were installed across Miniland, and each evening an illumination ceremony was held to switch them on.
* Twelve Days of Christmas – A model was made for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and these were scattered across the park.
* Millennium Celebrations – To mark the new Millennium, a show was performed on the staging across the "My Town Harbour" on December 31, 1999, including music, audience participation and pyrotechnics. It was performed three times during the day, each time on the hour, and recognising that the new Millennium had begun in a particular country.

For the 2000 Christmas season (November 18, 2000January 7, 2001), the same attractions were put in place, with the following exceptions:"Christmas at Legoland", Promotional Leaflet, 2000]

* The Lego Creation Centre and Rocket Racers were completed in December 2000, and were highlighted as key new attractions for the Christmas season.
* Santa’s Toy Factory was replaced with Santa’s Christmas Grotto, which incurred an extra charge.
* The I-Spy Express kept its name for the season, and played showcase to the Twelve Days of Christmas models, which were placed around the track as opposed to around the whole park.
* The Millennium celebrations were clearly not held, but neither were they replaced with any kind of New Year celebrations.

In the years following these two festive seasons, the park has opened the Big Shop during the time between seasons, as well as the rest of the Beginning (much like the beginning of a standard day, with the exception being that the main path to the rest of the park is boarded off as opposed to roped off). During these periods the Big Shop has had large sales, and one year a KUKA Robocoaster was installed.

Awards

Since opening in 1996 the Park has won a number of awards:

* Voted UK's Number One Family Attraction by Group Leisure Magazine, 1999
* Best UK Attraction for Children, issued by Yandell Publishing in 2002
* Best Family Visitor Attraction in the 2007 Tommy's Parent Friendly Awards

References

External links

* [http://www.legoland.co.uk/ Legoland Windsor]
* [http://www.legoland.co.uk/Static/Map/index.html?languageId=uk&rideId=undefined&swf=legoland_parkmap_uk.swf&xmlurl=Admin/Webforms/generatexml.aspx&presentationstatus=1 Legoland Windsor Park Map] (Flash Animation)
* [http://www.themeparks-uk.com/legoland_windsor_guide.html Legoland Guide @ ThemeParks-UK]
* [http://www.themeparkjunkies.co.uk/index.php?act=parkguide&park=14&rgp=9 Legoland Guide at Theme Park Junkies]


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