9 October 2019

How to do Legoland Windsor on a budget

After we visited Legoland Windsor, I asked on social media what people would like to find out about our day. Legoland Windsor is known for being a fun but expensive day out, so perhaps unsurprisingly most of the votes went for the "How to do Legoland Windsor on a budget" topic. 

So here we are - my tips on how to have a fun day out at Legoland Windsor on a budget. Some of these tips may be useful to you if you visit other Legoland attractions as well, but ticket details are specific to Windsor. 

A word of warning before we get started though. Despite any hacks or cheap tickets, Legoland Windsor is NOT a cheap day out. So while you can minimise the damage to your wallet, I'm afraid it will still probably be a bit painful ha ha. 

My tips are around cheap(er) tickets, tips for hotel breaks, how to get on riders without paying for a fast pass, parking costs, lunch options, and shopping for souvenirs. If you have any extra tips I'd love to hear them in the comments!

family at legoland

How to get cheap tickets?

There are a few options for avoiding paying the full ticket price - currently £60 on the day per person. Remember, under threes are for free, so don't buy a ticket for them!

My favourite: If you have store loyalty cards, then Tesco Clubcard do a fantastic deal where every pound of points you spend equals £3 for Legoland tickets. If you book the tickets at least one day before going you also get a discount from the full price. For example, I spent £36 of Tesco Clubcard points to get three tickets for us and I booked a day or two before we went. Had I waited for the day of going the price would have been about £55.

The full process is a bit faffy, but fairly quick. You log on to Tesco, go via their link to check the price for the day you want to book, go back to Tesco and buy the amount of vouchers you need. You then get emailed the code and the booking link, on which you log on and use the code to buy the tickets which are sent to you electronically.  Hey presto, cheap tickets.

Cheap ticket sites: Book early to get cheaper prices. AttractionTix and 365 Tickets both sell cheaper tickets for Legoland Windsor. It is also worth checking Legoland Windsor website for deals, and the dates are likely to be more flexible than on external sites. Deals vary so it's worth checking all three for the best prices.

Cheap on the day tickets: Every spring and summer cereal packets in UK have these two for the price of one vouchers for various amusement parks, including Legoland Windsor. Handy tip especially for people visiting UK - just go to your local supermarket and look for Kellogg's packets with the voucher! McDonald's Happy Meals do 50% discount vouchers too, keep an eye out for those as well.

The "cheapest" will probably be the Tesco Clubcard points, but if you don't have enough points or don't have the loyalty card, then the other alternatives can save you considerable money too. As an example, had our family of four (with one under three year old) bought tickets on the day, with no vouchers, it would have been £180. Instead, we spent £36 in voucher points. Bargain!

lego family models

legoland views

legoland london models

buckingham palace legoland model town

How to get a cheap hotel break?

Staying in a Legoland hotel - ain't that the dream... Definitely is for my six year old! There is a Lego pool area, character meets, Lego gifts, a Lego themed room and all kinds of Lego-mazing things, and normally this costs hundreds of pounds.

We haven't done this but there are a couple of things I've spotted during my bargain-hunting. At different times of the year there are different deals on Legoland website. One popular one is a Splash-and-Play. The resort is closed during these stays but you can stay in the hotel for a reduced price.

What you can do is, with pre-planning and cross-referencing and a bit of luck, is to check-in a day before the resort opens. You check in, have fun at the hotel, sleep, have breakfast, check out and go have fun in the resort (obviously after buying cheap day tickets via the links I've provided earlier!). Theoretically, we could have a night at a Legoland hotel for £89 and the next day tickets to the resort for £36, so a fantastic family break for £125 (plus lunch costs).

Another bargain-hunting trick would be to use the Kids go free deal, and book a check in on a day the resort is closed and check-out when it opens again. Theoretically, our family could have a break for £183, plus lunch costs.

Possibly, one day the stars are so aligned this is available to book on a school holiday, fingers crossed...

legoland windsor star wars darth vader

lego millennium falcon from star wars

star wars lego models

How to get on the rides I want without paying for a Q-bot?

One of the complaints I've heard about Legoland is that you are just queuing and queuing all day, when people with Q-Bots (these are fast passes) whizz past you. Well, yes, and they pay for the privilege.

What you can do on a budget though is download the Legoland app, and check the queue times for various rides, and jump in where they are at their lowest. The app also gives you start times for character meets and shows.

Another handy trick is to get to the resort really early and go to your most-wanted popular ride first, or alternatively, leave it very late and join the queue about five minutes before closing time as they let you wait until everyone has done the ride. You won't then have to spend loads of time waiting during the day if the ride you are after is one of the most popular ones.

If you've got a baby or a toddler with you who can't go on the rides, remember to ask for the Parent Swap once you have queued. The parent with the baby waits at the priority entrance, and after the ride you swap so the other parent gets in too without waiting. And bonus, you can take your big kid twice, yay!

carousel legoland windsor

monster house party ride legoland windsor

legoland windsor ride

Do you have to pay for parking?

Sorry, yes, you do. You can save £1 if you pay online or via the app though. There was no-one manning the gates when we left (very late) on the day, so not sure how often these are checked.

What to do for food if you are on a budget?

This one is easy - take a picnic! There are plenty of places to sit down and have a packed lunch, and indoor locations too if the weather looks poorly. You could also, if you buy a ticket via AttractionTix365 Tickets or Legoland Windsor website, go for a combined ticket and meal option, where you pay £7-8 for a lunch (burgers usually). There is also a McDonald's a short drive away in Slough, which may be a cheaper option if you can wait until after the day.

For drinks, there are plenty of spaces to fill your water bottle so bring a reusable one! Alternatively, there was a deal where you can buy a cup for £8 and re-fill it with soft drinks as much as you want. You could probably share one for the parents anyway ha ha. We drank water, and the kids had a carton of juice with their packed lunch.

wild side legoland character meet

lego friends girls character meet legoland windsor

legoland windsor pirate show

What about shopping at the resort?

Let's face it - kids always want to buy something. I wanted to do our day on a budget and it to act as a bit of a learning experience, so we asked our daughter to bring her weekly allowance money. She had £10. With that she bought herself a small Lego Friends model, and she really loves it.

Most of the items are quite expensive, and if you want to give kids spending money I'd give minimum £5. That would buy them a key ring, or a small lego bag. £10 would buy you a small Lego model or maybe a tiny soft toy. The cheapest Legoland exclusive model I saw was £17, so if you want an exclusive item, budget about £20.

And if your kids are into those Lego minifigure surprise bags with characters, bring the extras as you can swap them in the stores, for free!

What else to bring with you?

Don't forget your swimming costumes and towels - if you want to go to the splash play areas and don't want to spend extra money in the shop! Sunscreen is handy too on a sunny day. There are apparently free sunscreen dispensers, although I didn't spot them, and they may also run out on sunny summer days.

lego character biscuit

What a mega-post but I hope that was helpful to you!

While it is not a cheap day out, Legoland Windsor is fun and you don't have to spend hundreds on the day. We spent about £36 in Tesco vouchers for the tickets, £9 for coffee and biscuits at Costa, £7 for parking and then of course petrol, the packed lunch costs, £9 for a toy (which our daughter paid from her weekly allowance anyway), and £25 for McDonald's on our way back home, so all in all our day at Legoland Windsor cost less than £100. Not the cheapest day out but something you can certainly do as a treat!
Tips and tricks on how to get cheap tickets to Legoland Windsor, and how have a great day out in Legoland Windsor on a budget.

Tips and tricks on how to get cheap tickets to Legoland Windsor, and how have a great day out in Legoland Windsor on a budget.

Tips and tricks on how to get cheap tickets to Legoland Windsor, and how have a great day out in Legoland Windsor on a budget.

What are your tips for doing Legoland Windsor on a budget?

27 August 2019

Our review of The Very Hungry Caterpillar show

The Very Hungry Caterpillar show must be one of the best ways to get your young kids initiated into the world of theatre. Using puppets to explore the rhythmic classics from the well-known author and illustrator Eric Carle, young kids are loving the action. 

We were invited to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar show in London, at the Trobadour White City Theatre for review purposes. The show will be there until 1st September, after which it will tour around UK.

mum and daughters at the very hungry caterpillar show

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show ran through four Eric Carle books. In 2019 run they were Brown Bear, Brown Bear, The Very Lonely Firefly, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The stories presented may change occasionally, and in the past Mister Seahorse and The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse have also been treated to theatre magic.  

The show was very child-friendly, and unsurprisingly due to the very young audience, it was occasionally quite noisy with the occasional cry. It was a relaxed kids-oriented show, so you didn't have to feel bad if your child was a bit unruly or acted, well, like children do! 

The children were mostly mesmerised by the stage, and loved the rhythmic telling of the stories. By the time we got to the all-time favourite caterpillar story, the audience joined in and some little ones could not contain their excitement and shouted out the lines when the puppeteers weren't quite as quick with the lines as they'd like.

10 little rubberducks story

brown bear story

caterpillar puppet

caterpillar turned butterfly puppet finale

The show was beautiful, and I enjoyed seeing how true to the books the puppet characters and the stage were. I had with me a one year old and a six year old, who both thoroughly enjoyed the show. The one year old was mesmerised by the stage, and stayed quiet and watching intently most of the one hour show. I was a bit worried my six year old would find it too babyish and slow for her, but in fact, she was excited and loved repeating the lines along with the puppeteers. 

It would have been nice if there had been a chance to have a closer look at the puppets in the foyer after the show, although I can appreciate it might be difficult to organise with so many young children around. It would also have been good if there had been any small activities like crafting for kids to do while waiting for the show. The theatre is situated next to a big grassy area though so in good weather kids can run around a bit if you get there early.

mum and daughters at the very hungry caterpillar show

All in all, we had a great time. The one hour show was perfect for young kids with the recommended age is 1+ (under 18 month olds can enter as babes in arms). The theatre is also very close to Westfield shopping centre, so perfect if you want to go shopping or have a meal after the show. 

You might also like: Our day with the dinosaurs in London: Dinosaur World Live and Our amazingly fun first visit to Zippos Circus

26 August 2019

"It's like a ball gown!": David Charles Childrenswear review

Now, who wouldn't love a luxurious party dress?

David Charles Childrenswear is an iconic British brand specialising in high-end designer dresses for 2-16 year old girls. They are the dresses you see little princesses and young actresses wear at parties and film premieres. And now also my six year old daughter, who was lucky enough to be asked to choose her own party dress from the David Charles spring/summer 2019 selection to review.

girl in pink heart sunglasses, David Charles Childrenswear gold and cream shift dress, in front of pink flowers

"Ooh, it's like a ball gown!" my daughter exclaimed as she examined the dress. In her words, it was "amazing".

She had chosen the Cream and Gold Shift Dress and it really was a dress fit for a little princess.

The dress is a comfortable shift dress, more of an A-line than a straight, and has three layers - cotton bottom layer, a sheer polyester tulle layer with white dots in the middle, and a sheer polyester tulle layer with golden embroidery on top. The bottom layer has a bit of tulle to puff up the dress and the on the top layer, on the shoulder there is a layered flower corsage from the embroidered tulle and small costume pearls. Overall the quality of the materials and the workmanship is top notch, and I can't spot any mistakes anywhere.

I liked that the bottom layer was cotton, making it comfortable on the skin. The white dots in the middle layer and the golden embroidery on the top layer made for an interesting combination, playful and whimsical. The embroidery, golden leafs and branches, is incredibly detailed and well executed. Corsage just adds to the special event vibes of the dress.

girl with pink heart sunglasses and corsage on David Charles Childrenswear dress

corsage David Charles Childrenswear

girl in a cream and gold thread David Charles Childrenswear luxury dress

golden embroidery David Charles Childrenswear

see-through tulle David Charles Childrenswear

The dress came presented with its own special padded silky hanger, adding to the feeling of luxury. Overall, the dress is a very luxurious and beautiful creation for a little girl. 

The sizing was accurate, perhaps a bit on the smaller side. I chose the size 7, as my daughter is six  years old and I wanted her to be able to wear it through the year. She is of average height and build for her age. The length of the dress was good and is slightly loose still, which works well in a shift dress. 

The retail price of this dress is £295 (in the current sales it is £189). I could see myself buying a dress like this for a very special occasion, such as if we were getting married and she was our flower girl or for another once in a lifetime event. Normally however, it would be out of our price range for regular party wear.

David Charles Childrenswear cream and gold shift dress

girl in cream and gold dress by David Charles Childrenswear

girl in cream and gold dress

If this is in your price range for kids party wear, or you are looking for that very special dress for a special occasion David Charles do stunning high end designer dresses fit for little princesses.

My personal favourite from the spring/summer collection was the Yellow Floral Swing Dress, which has a gorgeous and intricate embroidered floral pattern. The delicate pale pastel floral pattern makes the dress quite special, and has a very couture feel to it. It is unlike any other child dress I've seen before and really quite special. My daughter was more keen on the golden embroidery though, so that's the one we got. 

All in all, I found David Charles Childrenswear dresses to be truly one of a kind pieces. Gorgeous and intricate "ball gowns" suited for a very special occasion for a very special little girl. They are well worth a look if you are looking for something luxurious and different for a special occasion. 

And  as some of the special offers start from £59 for a dress, you might find incredible bargains for your little star for the special occasion, whether it is a wedding, or a family event or an important party.

girl in David Charles Childrenswear dress pretending to be a ballet dancer

7 August 2019

Our day with the dinosaurs in London: Dinosaur World Live!

Last week we were invited to review the new/old show in town - Dinosaur World Live - which is running until 1st September 2019. A mix of stage show, puppetry, and audience interaction geared towards the kids. And my, don't the kids love it! The show is old in the sense that it is back again after a successful 2018 run - and new in the sense that this year it is located in a new area - Trobadour Wembley Park theatre. 

meeting a dinosaur

petting a dinosaur

Our whole family attended the show - mum, dad, six year old and a toddler. It was a fun show. We got introduced to the dinosaurs by Miranda, an energetic and happy explorer, and got to see several of them, ranging from the well-known Triceratops and T-Rex to more obscure Segnosaurus. 

The dinosaurs were fantastic, and it was incredibly interesting from an adult point of view to watch the interaction between the puppet and puppeteer, and how they moved. So skilful, both the puppeteers and the construction. My six year old didn't even notice the puppeteers, so deeply was she enthralled by the living, moving, and shrieking dinosaurs.

I also enjoyed how interactive the show was, and how the audience was drawn into the jokes. It was fun to participate by shouting and clapping and all and made the show particularly child-friendly. Few lucky kids were also invited to the stage to directly interact with a dinosaur. As for the story, there wasn't much of a story and the show was more of introducing one dinosaur after another, with a bit of information about the species, some jokes and then the presenter interacting with the puppet. It worked for the little kids, but I would suspect tweens and teens would find it boring.

stegosaurus dinosaur world live puppet

t rex puppetry

trobadour theatre wembley park

theatre trobadour wembley park

dino merchandise

dino egg

posing inside a dino egg

posing inside a dino egg

The age recommendation is 3+, but you can bring in younger ones too. My one year old was mesmerised by the puppets, and seemed to enjoy the show. Surprisingly for her age, she stayed mostly put and watched the stage with interest. My six year old, loved the show and the dinosaurs, and was excited how audience was drawn in to the story. There are a couple of somewhat scary dinosaurs that can scare the younger audience members, but overall, a fun experience for all ages. You get to meet and greet one or two dinosaurs after the show as well, so kids are bound to love that. 

After the show, I would definitely encourage you to walk around Wembley Park area - it was surprisingly nice! It has gone over a serious regeneration effort, and there were many fun settings great for social media photos, a kids play park with climbing frames and slides, a great big outlet complex and another complex for small independent shops, restaurants, and a water fountain area kids loved playing in.

dinosaur family photo

dinosaur family photo

petting a dinosaur as a family

Top tips:

  • You get to meet and greet a dinosaur after the show! Not sure how close you get as there can be a lot of audience but I'm sure kids will find it fun. We were in a press show so got a chance for a quick photo-shoot - probably not totally reflective of the real deal.
  • You can take photos during the show! It's dark though so I'd recommend just enjoying the show. 
  • Few kids got to go on stage so this may cause a bit of jealousy... I explained that everyone got to meet a dinosaur after the show and that you just have to be grateful for what you get, so just be prepared this might be an issue with younger kids. 
  • The theatre is lovely and has a good bar so it's quite nice to come there in time and chill a bit before the show. There is also a crafting area for kids!
  • Go to Wembley Park afterwards - it is such a nice family day out!

16 July 2019

How to get the most out of Kidzania London

During the Easter holidays we were invited by Nintendo to check out Kidzania London and Nintendo's workshops. It was fab to get to finally check out the place. Kidzania is such a unique experience - it is labelled as "an indoor city run by kids". Essentially it is a city for children where the kids do various tasks, earn money (and spend it too on some tasks) and at the end of the day, they can use their wages to buy themselves a treat. There are Kidzanias in several big cities in the world, and we went to review Kidzania London. In this post I wanted to give a few tips on how to get the most out of Kidzania on your next visit!

For our visit we got to enjoy a special seasonal Easter Egg hunt Nintendo-style - we played Yoshi on Nintendo Switch and afterwards went off to find Yoshi's eggs all around Kidzania - and earned good few Kidzania dollars for it. This activity was a special one for Easter only, but all year around Nintendo also has a Labo Workshop where kids get to create a Labo toy, and take it and their Kidzania dollars home - a sweet deal for little gamers!

As tips for the experience, there is quite a lot to say about how to make the most out of Kidzania!

in front of kidzania

kidzania london tips

entrance to kidzania

What ages get the most out of Kidzania?

Get the most out of it by bringing kids under twelve! We took our five year old and our baby with us and all had a fabulous time at Kidzania. All in all I think the city is best for kids from four years onwards, up to maybe twelve years. 

There are some workshops that are good for younger guests too and they get face painting for free, so if you've got kids with young siblings they can enjoy the fun too. We didn't test these workshops as our baby was still too young but she enjoyed the Kindergarten - a quiet space where babies and young ones can stretch their legs and play with suitable baby toys. For kids older than twelve - tthey might enjoy workshops like the Labo workshop by Nintendo or media and music related workshops.

job centre kidzania

playing nintendo at kidzania

kidzania street

kidzania yoshis world

What were the "best" activities?

Get the most out of it by choosing the right activities for right ages! For the younger side, the firemen activity was a very popular one - and I can see why. The kids got to do a fire safety training, ride in a firetruck and then spray water on a "burning" building. Unsurprisingly, the queue for this activity was very long. Paramedic activity was also popular, and involved riding in an ambulance to the same burning building and helping the firefighters. My daughter loved both and would have been quite happy to do them again and again...

There were a lot of medically related workshops, great for younger kids. In addition to the paramedic activity, my daughter also tried the surgeon activity, dentist activity, and a vet activity. She also eyed the nursing activity, where the kids are paediatric nurses and take care of Luvabella dolls, but the queue was long and we suggested trying some other areas too. In all these activities kids really got in there and played with the sets and were absolutely fascinated by the activities.

My daughter also tried the British Airways pilot activity, which she loved, and an air-duct technician activity, which involved kids climbing through tunnels (CCTV monitored of course) which was a good physical activity and got her excited.

Older kids would probably enjoy workshops such as being a news anchor, or making burgers or nut bars, and there were dancing and music related workshops as well that would suit older kids well.

How to get the most out of the activities?

Realistically, eight is pretty much the maximum amount you can do in the four hour session. Depending on the time of the day there may be quite long queues for some activities, so it is worth either trying to jump in when the queue is short, or try look for quieter workshops to maximise fun. Firefighting and British Airways pilot activities had very long queues all day long, so for those ones you will just have to wait.

Get the most out of it by having a look before coming and checking the activities the kids definitely want to do. Try get through these at the beginning to make sure they won't be disappointed when the time runs out. Do allow some time for just exploring and going to workshops that look fun.

kidzania firefighter academy

kidzania firefighters

kidzania firetruckkidzania firefighting activity

How to get the most out of lunch time?

You are not supposed to bring your own lunch, but realistically, you could if you wanted to. There were plenty of places to sit down and grab a quick sandwich. There was a Costa Coffee and The Fire House, so you could have a coffee and a treat, or a quick fast food munch (burger, pizza, hot dog, fries, pasta etc.). The prices were as expected, not in any way inflated. 

Get the most out of it by maximising playtime by food activities! There was three workshops where kids could make food and eat! A wrap factory, a burger kitchen and a fruit and nut bar lab - although small additional surcharges may apply to these. 

Otherwise, we just waited it out until we got out and went to a restaurant at the shopping centre to eat. Plenty of choice and you won't waste time sitting around when you could be playing. 

How to get the most out of it as a parent?

As a parent, you are pretty much just waiting around. Get the most out of it by bringing a book and charging your phone! You could go and chill in the adult only area too if you need a bit more quiet.  

Older kids (over eight years old) can be let loose and you could just go shopping at Westfield, but younger ones need supervising. If you do let your older kids go freely, you can check their last location using these handy location boards inside Kidzania. Kids scan their wristbands at all the workshops and you can locate them easily that way. No kids are allowed to leave without a parent, so that's one worry off your shoulders. 

kidzania dentist

kidzania road

kidzania british airways

How to get most out of it if you need good accessibility?

We brought a pram and it was seriously irritating. There are two lifts - of which one was broken - and the other locked. It was often difficult to find staff to help us, and this is something Kidzania should think about more. Perhaps Kidzania should give families with prams or accessibility issues a key fob to open the lifts themselves. Get the most out of it by asking staff for help with lifts - there are good workshops upstairs and they are slightly less busy than downstairs. 

How to get the most out of the Kidzania dollars?

Get the most out of it by encouraging your kids to spend what they earn inside Kidzania with going for the fun activities! Unfortunately Kidzania dollars will get you very little in the gift shop so better use them for fun inside the venue. 

If kids do have some Kidzania dollars and are lacking just a little when in the shop, worth asking at the till if they can round it up... After all, it is fake money and the prizes are cheap.

kidzania baby room

kidzania surgery

kidzania adult room

kidzania pet surgery

kidzania air conditioning activity

kidzania air ducts

Top tips on how to get the most out of Kidzania:
  • Maximise kids playtime by getting hungry kids try one of the food related activities where they can also eat! (small surcharges may apply) - or bring small snacks. 
  • Bring a book and charge your phone as an adult you will be waiting around a lot - great for small life admin tasks or getting ahead on reading for fun.
  • Choose a few must-attend workshops ahead of time and visit them at first to avoid missing out.  
  • If you do miss out on one activity, you can buy additional playtime - not sure how much this costs though as we didn't use it. 
  • Lockers and pram storage costs a few quid, so if you can, leave bulky items home. Less time spent faffing, more time spent playing. 
  • Accessibility is a bit of an issue, but lifts are available if you ask staff. Go upstairs as there are good workshops there too. 
  • Encourage kids to spend their Kidzos on activities rather than to save them for the gift shop. Gifts are very cheap and not too exciting, and you won't get much for Kidzos. They are more valuable for the play activities. 

 Have you been to Kidzania and what would you say as your top tip?

Our review and top tips for Kidzania London having been there with a 5 year old and a baby - accessibility, workshops, the full experience and all.

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