Hi guys. Today, my parents and I had the first day of a 2-day theme park trip to the South of England. This trip is actually my parents’ 18th birthday present to me (my birthday is on Saturday); we were originally planning to go to Florida to ride things such as VelociCoaster and Iron Gwazi, but as you’ve probably guessed, COVID had other plans. However, that’s besides the point; Storm Chaser & Flight of the Sky Lion are a more than worthy substitute, in my opinion! I know that going on a family theme park trip in the South of England seems like a strange thing to do to celebrate one’s 18th birthday as opposed to something more grown-up, but this is a trip I was very keen to do, as Tornado Springs is the UK investment that’s excited me most since 2018, and Paultons is the most major UK park I’m yet to visit, so I’m really excited to get there! I was also keen to get a new perspective on Legoland after perhaps not giving it the fairest chance in 2017, not to mention that they had some very exciting dark rides that I was yet to ride! So before I ramble for much longer, we started with our first trip to Legoland Windsor in 4 years... 29th July 2021: Legoland Windsor I was interested to get back to Legoland, as in spite of the fact that my 2017 visit wasn’t my most pleasurable theme park experience, I feel that that was down to some of the extenuating circumstances working against us at the time (busy park, rain, mum in wheelchair), so we wanted to give the park a second chance. Also, I was keen to get on some of their new dark rides, such as Ninjago and Flight of the Sky Lion! The day didn’t get off to the greatest start, as we initially joined a 20 minute queue of traffic to get into the park, meaning we didn’t get in until around 10:30-11am. However, I’m happy to report that that was by no means a bad omen for the rest of the day, as it all went fairly smoothly from there! After parking up, we wandered into the park: One thing I’ll admit I’d forgotten about Legoland was quite how stunning the view is from on top of the hill; the view of Windsor and the surrounding area is phenomenal: After getting in, we walked down the hill towards our first ride... Lego Ninjago: The Ride Ninjago was on an advertised 20 minute queue, so we decided to start there. However, once we got into the queue, it looked rather long, and we suspected that 20 minutes may have been somewhat of an underestimate. Our suspicions were correct, as the queue ultimately turned out to be closer to 50-55 minutes. On a more positive note, however, Ninjago has a very nice queue, with some nice posters explaining the story to you, as well as play areas for the kids to play with Lego in while us grown-ups queue; a nice idea that I’m surprised more parks don’t do, although I’ll admit it did make me jump when kids kept running past! But enough rambling about the queue; how was the ride? Well, I was interested to see how the hand gesture technology worked, and I’ve got to say, I thought Ninjago was an excellent dark ride; I was incredibly impressed! The ride feels very dynamic, and has lots of effects relating to the different scenes in the ride (such as hot air in scenes relating to heat, and cold air in scenes relating to the cold, as well as some nice smoke)! The 3D also worked really well and added a great element to the experience, and the gesturing was surprisingly not too hard to grasp; in spite of not being that great at interactive dark rides, I managed a score of 49,500, which I was quite satisfied with, but my mum & dad both beat me, with my dad reaching 82,900! It was certainly far more satisfactory than my last Duel tally of 3,100, anyway! Overall, Ninjago was an excellent interactive dark ride, in my opinion, that definitely exceeded expectations; we all thoroughly enjoyed it: After our excellent ride on Ninjago, we headed onto another dark ride... Haunted House Monster Party Haunted House Monster Party was on only a 25 minute queue, so we joined it. I have to say, the facade and queue for this are yet again very nicely done; the front haunted house facade is very detailed, and while the queue perhaps isn’t laden with scenery, there are some nice details in there too! So, how was the ride? Well, I thought that it was a very nice Madhouse, personally; I do rather like Hex, and while this lacks quite the degree of drama and ambience that Hex has, I think it’s a very fun ride in its own right, personally, with a catchy soundtrack and fun theming; I thought things like the projectors within the Madhouse itself were a particularly clever effect, and I also thought that smells were very well utilised within the attraction! The kids certainly seemed wowed by it; in our group, there were certainly a few children who seemed to genuinely think we were going upside down, and there were a fair few screaming kids when we did “go upside down”! Overall, I thought Haunted House Monster Party was a fun Madhouse, and I was glad we were able to ride: After Haunted House Monster Party, we headed to yet another dark ride... Flight of the Sky Lion After having had a 90 minute queue earlier in the day, Sky Lion had dropped to a mere 40 minutes, so we decided it would be worth joining. When we approached, a host out the front told us it would be “about an hour”, but in all honesty, the 40 minute time on the entrance seemed more accurate, as we only waited around 35 minutes before being admitted into the pre-show. So, how was the ride? Well, I’ll do a bit of a longer review of the ride & area later on in the relevant topic, but I’ll admit that I was very impressed, and thought that Sky Lion was an absolutely excellent dark ride! The motions are very convincing, and on the whole, I thought the ride worked very well: The area of Mythica is also really nice, with some very impressive models; it’s very detailed in areas, and looks fantastic on the whole: After Sky Lion, the day changed course a little, as we headed onto our first coaster of the day... Dragon Dragon was on a 40 minute queue, so we decided to give it a go. I already had this credit from our 2017 visit to Legoland, when I rode it with my Nan, but I remember it being quite fun for what it was, and my parents had never ridden before, so we decided to give it a go. The 40 minute queue time ended up fairly accurate, possibly even slightly overestimated, as we ultimately waited only around 30-35 minutes. So, how was the ride? Well, we were seated in the very front row, and I must say that the dark ride section was better than I’d remembered, with some excellent Lego models and as with many of the rides at Legoland, strong use of smells! In terms of the coaster section itself, it was perfectly fun for what it is, and very smooth, with one or two nice moments of speed for a family coaster! It doesn’t seem to take too long for it to begin to feel like it’s struggling a little pacing-wise, however, and it’s also a shorter ride than I’d remembered, with lift hills taking up a fair bit of the ride duration. Regardless, Dragon was still a good fun family coaster that I rather enjoyed, although my parents were less than impressed: After Dragon, we decided to take things a little slower, and we took a relaxing ride on the Hill Train: After that, we decided to take a look around Miniland. I’ll admit that I find the models in this area so impressive, and I think you can spend a fair bit of time in Miniland alone, personally: Finally, we decided to have a quick look around the Model Making exhibit: After that, it was getting to around 3:30-4pm, by which point we decided it would probably be best to get going. We needed to get to our Premier Inn near Paultons Park in decent time for an evening restaurant reservation, so we couldn’t really have stayed much later anyway. Overall, I’ve got to say I was really pleasantly surprised by Legoland today; I certainly think I owe the park an apology after rating it less than highly following my 2017 trip, as now I’ve had a day to ride more of the attractions and get more of a feel for it, I must say that the park is really nice for what it is! Although I wouldn’t have called it quiet, the park pathways seemed less crowded and hard to navigate than on my last visit, and I must say that this made me realise some of Legoland’s strongest points; the park is actually really well-themed, with very clear themed areas, and I dare say that they have perhaps the strongest selection of non-coaster rides in the UK, with 5 dark rides, 3 water rides, and a fair few family flat rides! I’d possibly suggest they could do with a slightly more thrilling family roller coaster now, to even things out a little and match the thrill level & quality of the likes of Sky Lion, but that’s a very minor thing; the park isn’t really focused on coasters! Overall, I must say that the park is far nicer than I’d previously given it credit for, and as much as it’s not really aimed at our age group, we did have a really nice day at Legoland Windsor! As one last bonus; as a collector of theme park maps, one thing I’ve been able to relish today is getting my hands on my first new paper theme park maps since 2019, with us being handed a Legoland map on entry and me taking a Paultons map from the pile of maps in the hotel reception! I know it seems minor, but I’ll admit that it felt nice to be able to have paper maps again; it felt like a real dose of normality: Thanks for reading my first trip report from the trip; I hope you enjoyed it! Tomorrow, I’ll be reporting back from my first ever visit to Paultons Park and Tornado Springs; I’m so excited to experience Paultons for the first time! P.S. Apologies for the current lack of images; the Premier Inn free wi-fi is not the fastest for uploading images over, so they’ll be coming a bit later.