What is LEGOLAND Windsor UK like with Covid-19 guidelines in place now that the theme park has recently reopened? Is it worth going? We look to answer these questions following our recent family visit in July 2020. To do so, we will look at what has changed, what is new, what is closed and what the queue times are like.
We will have a look at ticket prices pre and post covid, and surprisingly, there isn’t much difference. What about if you have an annual Merlin pass, what sort of value is there and should we be thinking of renewing them (or not)?
Time codes to the Video:
0:00 Introduction – LEGOLAND Windsor UK
0:36 What has Changed?
5:00 What is New?
5:45 What was Closed?
7:45 What are Queue Times Like?
8:40 Is it Worth it?!
9:05 Ticket Prices very Similar to Pre-Covid?!
10:25 Is the Value there in Visiting?
11:05 Thoughts on Annual Merlin Passes
11:55 What do you think? Would you go?!
12:10 Summing up and closing
Transcript from the Show
G’day Everyone, Matt Elder of Family Bricks here. What is LEGOLAND Windsor UK like now it has reopened with covid 19 measures in place? Is it worth going, what has changed, what is the experience like etc.? We will cover this in the video and give our thoughts and first hand experience as a family.
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We spent the day at LEGOLAND Windsor UK July 15th, 2020 – a week and a half after it reopened. So it has had some time to bed in the new corona virus safety guidelines. Technically some fee-paying schools have finished, other government schools had kids being homeschooled who may have ended up at LEGOLAND. It wasn’t quite yet full-blown school summer holidays but getting close.
I think first up start running through what has changed.
So What has changed?
LEGOLAND park hours have been reduced with rides from 10am to 4pm, with the park closing at 5pm. This is down from 10am to 6pm for rides. So the day is 25% shorter.
In the car park when you first arrive, seems that everyone leaves a car space in between cars. No official signs nor car marshals but that just seemed to be the practice.
As you enter, there are now painted markings and stamps everywhere on the ground. You’ll have to join the socially distanced queue and some people have to cycle back as they just try to join a queue like normal without realizing it. There is always some muppet who will just be trying to deliberately queue jump as well .
On the way in, there are temperature checks. I hope this is only a temporary thing.
You also basically can’t buy tickets at the gate. They all have to be pre-purchased before hand. Not that it is a bad thing as I’ve shown before on our video “How to Save Money at LEGOLAND”, purchasing online the day before will be half the price (click video link here)
This covid-19 reopening of LEGOLAND Windsor UK has been branded as having park numbers significantly down. You do notice that the park isn’t crazy busy and numbers are down, but not to the point of being a ghost town – there are still a fair number of people about.
The park is now largely cashless and you need to be using cards everywhere … apart from boats in mini-land that are still coin operated.
There are space markings between people and arrows to keep left all over the place. People kinda keep to it and does feel like nice attempt, but more symbolic than anything else. You are at a theme park aimed at 2-12 year olds, anyone with kids will know you try your best but they are young kids.
Unsurprisingly, there is hand sanitizer everywhere and a lot of rides have it at the exit, which can slow the exiting process down.
Rides are getting sanitized every 30 minutes. This was always the thing that was going to be interesting in how they implement. I thought, for some reason, it would be done after each family unit used something (the logistics of which would have been a nightmare). Nope. Rides are generally given a spray every 30 minutes. Other staff members walk around with spray backpacks hitting fences and other common objects that get touched.
Qbot, which has been rebranded as “Reserve & Ride” isn’t open (the rebranding makes sense as what the heck was a Qbot anyhow?!). Having said that, we did see a number of people using the fasttrack system with barcode passes. So maybe they are still operating through the VIP system, or some sort of disabled system I don’t know.
The Duplo playground is signed to be 1 family per structure, that just didn’t happen. Kids are running everywhere and just having a good time. I don’t see how that could ever be realistically implemented and feels like it is there so they can say they had a sign up.
On the other hand, the pirates playground was pretty much the same as before. 1 or 2 of the slides may have been closed but nothing major.
Character meet and greets are now done behind a velvet rope. This Frankenstein came out and kids queued up in front of the velvet rope for a happy snap. For those youngsters who like to get up close and personal for a hug, this isn’t happening.
Food can be different – Pizza and Pasta gone from buffet to set menu – to be fair, for about the same price felt was about the same amount of food (just no salad however). Place is sparse so don’t know how they will continue to make money. The place was refurb just before lockdown so has a fresh feel to it. Other food outlets, if they are open, generally have socially distanced queuing.
The Pirate Ship only had people seated every other seated row. It makes sense but means the ride takes 50% fewer people.
For the spider ride, everyone had to wear masks. It was one of the few rides that was compulsory.
In general throughout the park, it felt like only a quarter of people would be wearing masks. Pretty much all staff had masks with some having full face shields.
The carpark exit has finally seen some commonsense prevail. Previously it would bottle neck you into a single lane to make sure you paid the carparking fee – which was always infuriating and would take up to an hour just to get out of the car park and pay.
Here it was 2 lanes out with no car parking fee. I think that is wise as leaving and then having to pay for the carpark given all the restrictions and things not being open, probably wouldn’t go down too well and be a bit like a slap in the face. On the other hand, the car park would have made them a small fortune and now that golden goose is gone.
What is New?
Lets have a look at what we’ve noticed is new in the park.
The Duplo Dino Coaster is a younger kids aged rollercoaster. It is a gentle ride that basically goes around the track twice per ride. The general area has been refreshed, along with the Duplo playground next to it.
Some old and tired lego models near the pirates area has been swapped out for minifigure versions.
The exterior to Altantis submarine ride has also been refreshed. It may have been rebranded as Deep Sea Adventure…or might be confusing it with LEGOLAND Dubai.
In Miniland you can notice a number parts of models have been refreshed. Didn’t really see any new models that had been added. Maybe some train carriages and engines are new but they would be replaced aged ones.
What Was Closed?
Now we’ll take a look at what was closed as it felt like a significant chunk of the park. All of these felt like they were outright closed, not necessarily closed for the day which happens from time to time:
- Monster Party Haunted House
- Squid Surfers – admittedly this whole area is being revamped with an additional LEGO Movie like complex being built. But still, it is another ride / area that isn’t available.
- Atlantis Submarine / Deep Sea Adventure
- Laser Raiders
- Playstation Game Center that is next to Laser Raiders
- LEGO Reef Display
- Minifigures & More – The Ultimate Brick Store
- Heartlake City Shows that usually ran half a dozen times a day are now gone. So if you want to watch a show while having something to eat, its not going to happen.
- Miniland LEGO Ninjago stage and shows
- Duplo Valley Theater stage
- Model Making Center with LEGO models
- Star Wars Display. This was actually removed at the beginning of the year due to a licensing issue with Disney. Believe they don’t want any Star Wars outside of Disney parks due to Galaxy’s edge. So believe Florida, California and Toyko LEGOLANDs all had there Star Wars Exhibits permanently taken away this year. It was a good display, and something else to look at, particularly if it was raining. Now just a closed space.
- Most LEGO retail stores in the park are closed. Big LEGO store and Ninjago one seemed to be the only ones opened.
- Big LEGO store was also annoying as they have retired sets on display as for sale but when ask, they are allegedly “out of stock”. If they are not for sale, just remove the things and don’t have them looking like they are for sale wasting everyone’s time.
- Duplo water park is closed – to be fair generally only open on hot days but given the streams on the way down the hill are closed, I don’t see this reopening.
- Hill top café was also closed.
So there are a number of attractions there that were previously in our Top 10 Things to do at LEGOLAND Windsor Video, which a year on from when they video was made, are now closed or gone. Links around the video for this Top 10 video https://youtu.be/ONozu1K2qcM
So on the whole, what were queue times like? For the first hour they were really good, which is pretty standard for LEGOLAND Windsor. Throughout the day, these times would climb. On most of the main rides, it felt like times were 30-45 minutes. It felt like queuing was bearable. And slightly faster than pre covid, but not massively different.
Viking Splash in particular had reduced hours. It didn’t open til 12 and then closed at 4pm. So you only had a 4 hour window. We saw long queues and then 5 or 6 rafts go around completely empty – didn’t make any sense.
The LEGO City Firefighters was also frustrating. There would be lengthy queues but only 1 side open, thereby reducing ride capacity by 50%. When you have some many things closed and heavily restricted, this seemed like an easy win to have both sections open.
Is it worth it?
Given what has changed, whats new, what’s closed and the general experience, is the park worth it at the moment post lockdown? We’d have to say no. We have Merlin passes that run out in a few months, pre covid we were minded to renew them, post covid, if things continue like this, just minded to let them lapse as don’t see the value there. If there is a significant price reduction or some other great value add to the Merlin Pass, we may reconsider.
For casual visits, prices have dipped a little bit when compared with last year but with shorter hours, a significant portion of the park not open, shows not happening, in real terms, it is probably significantly more expensive. General hours are now 25% less time, prices only down around 12% for a heck of a lot less theme park.
While queue times are down as a straw pole experience today was, still looking 30-45 minute wait times for major rides when the day gets going, seemed to be average. Most we saw was a 55 minute wait time. Peak wait times pre covid seemed to be 60-90 minutes. So wait downs are down but still lengthy times to be in queues
How accurate queue times are post covid might be a little misleading. Rides were frequently “at capacity” and effectively closed so you couldn’t even queue – taking more rides out of circulation and depressing real wait times.
We previously did a video on “How to save money at LEGOLAND Windsor UK”. Most of that still applies if you are looking to save money (although VIP points may have changed slightly). Link around the video.
Q-bot / Reserve & Ride
At this stage the old Q-bot system, or what they are calling now the “Reserve & Ride” system hasn’t opened, but website indicates it will soon. So it might be worth checking out that Q-bot video where we give a full breakdown of how it worked, as it isn’t necessarily straight forward. However, if only half the park open / functioning properly, you’d have to question if there is any value in it.
We get that there is a dramatic reduction in crowds so would be putting pressure on ticket prices. If you look at the value, you aren’t paying a great deal less but getting a lot less for your money. The value just is not there.
If it is your first time going to the park or only been once or twice in the past, you could be very disappointed.
Covid 19 Anxiety and High Risk Groups
If you are in a high risk covid group or have anxiety around the whole situation, this probably isn’t going to be for you
The kids enjoyed themselves today but this may have been possibly more because they randomly meet friends from school, so got to go on rides with them and the queues didn’t feel as painful if they had their friends to chat with. Having the annual Merlin passes, we’d been a number of times before and been on everything so didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything.
We will probably go back maybe another time or two during summer while we run our passes down. If you’d only just bought Merlin passes, you couldn’t be forgiven for thinking they aren’t great value at the moment.
It becomes a catch-22 situation. They open the door with reduced crowd numbers so fewer rides are open but then charge around the same, because you need the revenue to cover the numbers of people who aren’t there. As a park operator you are in a good position to have momentum moving forward for whenever covid restrictions lift but having it open must be losing money, and an awkward experience as a guest.
LEGOLAND has always been one of the more expensive day out attractions in the UK, so it has always felt on the expensive side pre covid-19. Close half the park and attractions at similar pricing levels and longish wait times, that is a hard sell.
What do you think?
What do you think? Would you go? Have you been recently, was it value for you? What did you think of the day out? Will you be going any time again soon? Have we managed to sway you one way or the other?
If you’d like to take a virtual tour of the whole park in under 3 minutes, be sure to check out our “Do Not Go to LEGOLAND before seeing this video”. https://youtu.be/_k_ouEuvUxE
Or If you’d like to find out more about the Holiday House with a LEGO wall and theme, be sure to check out this video here.
Alternatively here are some other videos you might be interested in. That’s it from us here at Family Bricks, hit that thumbs up if you found something useful in this video. Until next time when we talk about all things LEGO and lifestyle.
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