Sunday, 8 November 2009


As well as popping into Canary Wharf to see how the world of high finance is getting along (badly, it would appear), I have also been to Legoland for Muffin's birthday. There is so much to say about Legoland, most of it derogatory. Miniland though is superb. As the name implies, it has scale models of many historic and well known buildings and scenes. London is particularly impressive, with Big Ben, St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace to name a few. A shame they didn't have a Canary Wharf, but I'm sure they'll get round to it. Truly excellent, with loads of hidden gems, and incredible attention to detail. Bridges open and close, trucks drive along, ships sail around canals, wind-turbines spin, cable-cars travel up and down fibre-glass mountains. Simply astounding. I could have spent hours here, but the boys wanted to move on.

Fond memories

They didn't have any rust-coloured bricks

The rest of the park sucks. Over-crowded, absurdly long queues for generally pathetic rides, inept and sullen teenage staff, and woeful access. And all for a price tag that makes you weep. A family of four would pay £130 to get in for the day, and then get assualted with an insane number of extra opportunities to spend money once they're in the park. You would think that with such a stunning entrance fee, everything beyond the threshold would be free. Nope. If you want to be able to avoid standing in queues all day watching your money disappear as you shuffle along, £10 per person. If you want to go on a bungee thing, £5. If you want a photo of yourself at the end of the 18 second Dinosaur Ride, £6. The list could go on and on. And that is before you have set foot in any of the junk-emporiums, evenly spaced every 12 feet along the entire network of paths. Hungry or Thirsty? The food and drink is all free! Just kidding! At the exit to the park there is a Berkshire County Court building made out of Duplo where you can declare yourself bankrupt; they have thought of everything.

Still, Muffin and his two friends enjoyed it, and that was the sole aim. I'm not stupid, I went fully aware that it was going to be dimsal, and an appalling rip-off. He went thinking it was going to be the most magical experience (besides birding) of his young life, and that is what he got. Actually the fireworks at the end were pretty damn good, I enjoyed those, although a cretin next to me was heard to comment "Wow, these are amazing, they must have cost a fortune!".

We won't be heading back in a hurry; I doubt this will be a problem for the continued viability of the place, it was rammed. What I draw from this is that the British public are immensely stupid. I am immensely stupid. Don't get me wrong, Lego is a stunning toy, brilliant even. Infinitely creative, instructive, stimulative, and teaches so many things from dexterity through to use of persective. I loved it, my kids love it. Legoland is therefore highly exploitative, a study in how to cynically extort money from the parents of children who live and breathe Lego, and I think that is unethical and wrong. Can I have my money back, or should I write another glowing review first?

Larus michahellis var "acrylonitrile butadiene styrene" Plastic, therefore not tickable.


  1. You know, I never went to legoland as a kid, much as I wanted to. Therefore in my head it has remained a magical place full of endless lego and happiness - all of which you just ruined.



  2. 130 pounds?! Good lord. Not even in my ballpark (that is probably a very Yank expression, sorry) for something that doesn't involve travel to a new and exciting destination. The structures themselves do look like a lot of fun, though.

  3. Never been, I ended my patronage of theme parks in 1994 vafter visiting Disneyland Paris for much the same reasons as you've written about. Hopefully my kids will appreciate the opportunities they have that are free.

  4. JA - You should be thanking me, I have just saved you £38, and a day where you can go out birding instead. I didn't get that....

  5. Alan, this is the first theme-park I have visited in the UK, and it will also be the last. It confirmed my worst suspicions.

  6. Superb analysis Jonathan, both of theme parks (Thorpe Park is the only one I ever got roped into) and Lego. However, you neglected to mention the fact that Lego has contributed to the expansion of the English language: individual pieces of Lego, lying forgotten on the carpet, have - when discovered by the sole of an unshod foot - prompted the creation of 23 new words in our lexicon. Oh, and the discovery of countless new short and pithy phrases.

    Similarly concealed pieces of Duplo, of course, have led to the presentation of traumas new to medicine...

    I'm so glad my kids are grown :o)