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Non-Disney Theme Parks
Topic: Halloween Legoland Windsor, Hampton Court & CWOA

Wed 10/26/2011 5:07a
I have been working like a mad man, and winter is coming near. As the kids have the week off, we decided to take a four day mini break making using of our annual passes, free hotel rooms and other loyalty perks to have a budget break. But of course, being halloween, it means there is a lot going on to make life more enjoyable. Thankfully a very different picture from when i came to the UK 25 years ago and people looked at me blankly when I asked how they were celebrating the best holiday of the year.

We got to legoland and the kids did not know where we were going, the whole trip, every part of it, was a surprise. When we arrived, there was a Scooby Doo funhouse, the theme for the events this week. The kids would wait until next time.

We were expecting crowds and therefore decided to concentrate on the Halloween testivities. We enjoyed exploring the decorations, booked Mikey in for the 3pm robotics workshop, made some lego Halloween decorations, took part in a mad scientist workshop, met Scobby Doo, and then tried the new Atlantis attraction.

I have to say, I fell in love with this. It beats the subs at Disneyland or the old 20k attraction in WDW. You get into a submarine (like the underwater boats in the Caymans) and travel through a massive sea life aquarium filled with lego models and real sea life including sharks and rays. We thought it was fantastic and well worth the long wait (which moved continually thanks to no fast pass rubbish - well some pay for it, but it is an upcharge that many do not take). I thought this was a wonderful attraction.

We enjoyed mini land, and then Mikey and I did the robotics workshop, while the girls enjoyed Bob the Builder 3D and some character meet and greets.

We then decided a little food was in order, so enjoyed a meal of bbq spare ribs and fries, and then a spin on the Spinning Spider (think tea cups but not as restricted as Disney's neutered version).

We headed to Miniland to get a view of the fireworks as nornally it is a good area, but people were facing in all sorts of directions. I asked a security guard which way to face. We had a little chat, and he said if we did not mind walking, the best area is the patio over the lake near the wave racer, mexican cantina and the new hotel. They shoot them off from this area. And the view was fantastic.

The fireworks were spectacular, better than Disney's offerings (though Legoland does only fire them off 7 nights a year - so not much more than Disneyland Paris, but a lot less than Disneyland or WDW). The music was Scooby Doo/Halloween themed and they were great. I had to laugh though, as afterwards they played an instrumental version of Disney's Haunted Mansion's version of Grimm Grinning Ghosts follwed by some of the Halloween music written for Disneyland Paris. Even in the main fireworks, the finale was set to the score from the Incredibles. Lol.

After the fireworks, several attractions were open for at least an hour, so we took advantage of the much shorter queues for Lego Lazer Raiders (Sarah and I tied with 17,000 points on this lego/indiana jone type version of Buzz/Men In Black). Then the kids enjoyed a couple of rides on the Scarab Bouncers.

WE took the hill train back up toe the Beginning and explored the shops breaking down and buying the very cool Lego Star wars and Lego City Advent Calendars for this year.

Exhausted, we got a refill of drink (we have AP refillable mugs we can use all year in Merlin parks) and headed to the car (as APers we were parking in priority - making it easier to leave.

WE drove to Slough where we were booked into the Holiday Inn Express and between road works and a nightmare to get parked, the kids were away with the fairies. In bed for midnight, as the next 3 days would require rest - another day in Legoland with dear friends, Hampton Court Palace, Swimming and Chessington World of Adventures.
u k fan
Wed 10/26/2011 5:30a
Dave, I'm looking forward to day 2 of your trip report!

Being from the UK, but with lots of American friends in my childhood I knew all about Hallowe'en 25 years ago. I grew up going to Spook Alleys etc. and I once won a costume competition dressed as the Schmoo so that'll give you some sort of idea about the era I'm talking about!!!
Wed 10/26/2011 5:35a
Lol, you were fortunate. In luton, there was nothing for Halloween when I moved here, and the one time I decorated, our yard was vandalised. When I went to Arlington, still nothing. And nothing at university in 1993, in 1994 ,I organised a charity rocky horror costume party that was a huge success, it is still running now in the trust I set up.

Not many photos for day 2 and I was't going to share some unless your family are happy for me to do so?
u k fan
Wed 10/26/2011 5:39a
I don't mind as long as the Witness Protection Programme aren't looking.

Yeah, we always had parties for Hallowe'en at church (which was quite controversial). A few of the spook alleys were genuinely quite scary!!!
Wed 10/26/2011 5:45a
Cool, I have some cute ones of some of the kids. sadly we were so busy nattering or playing with all the kids, I didn't snap many off on day two.
Wed 10/26/2011 6:07a
Ok, Day 2 - Legoland with the UKFAN Posse

Now, where to begin? The nightmare that was the breakfast queue at the Holiday Inn Express slough - 40 people lining up when we arrived, made the Santa Fe at DLP seem like an intimate meal. I have to say, in all the years I have used the Interconntinental hotels, this was the worst breakfast experience we had. Food was ok, staff friendly, but too many people for such a small hotel. A little like Disney's Newport Bay Club ;-)

But no, that is not the best place to start. We did have a slow start due to a late night the night before and the breakfast crowds, but where is the interest in that? No, let's start at Legoland. We got there and text our friends to see where they were. While waiting for a response (they were in Atlantis), we let the kids play in the Scooby Doo fun house, they loved it.

We then got a text back, telling us that the UKFAN posse were at the Boat Driving School. So we quickly made our way through the gates, got some drink refills, and then headed to the Hill train. As we pulled in to the lower station, we bumped into some moss people, said hello and made our way to join UKfan and his family.

Now, a little back story may be in order. 11 years ago, I started posting on a website called Laughing Place, where I brefriended someone called UKFAN, a person who shared a number of opinions as I did about all things Disney, and was not frightened to debate when we did not see eye to eye. As person with a fab sense of humour and wit as well. Little did I know back then that we would make strong family friends, on both sides.

We had a chance meeting when Sarah was carrying Mikey, going to a preview of stitch. We were dressed in Hawaiian shirts with lais and a cuddley stitch (why wouldn't you). Apparently we were the jokes of one family with a dark sense of humour. Fast forward a little bit, and we ended up finally meeting properly. And hitting it off like a house on fire, not with just UKFAN, but his whole family. WE both have enjoyed seeing little ones come into the world, celebrating with each other, vacationing in DLP and WDW together, and sharing the sadder parts of life together too.

Sadly, life has a habit of putting obsticles in the way, and although we only see each other 2 or 3 times a year because of work, life etc., it is as if no time has passed between visits. Sadly as some of you know, one of our dear friends departed too soon. But she was thought of most of the day, and we all shared an amazing day together making new memories. It had been a long time since my kids have mingled with UKFAN's neices and nephews, but they all got on like a house on fire in no time. And once again, the kids made me laugh most of the day. Seeing UKFAN and his mom were a delight as always - humour, pathos, some dark humour, it made the day fly by.

As it was a day really about visiting each other in a fun place and watching the amazing fireworks, none of us had our hearts set on many attractions. We took a spin on the train (and got wet as we had an evil train driver that slowed as we passed the fountains ;-).

We went on the Dino Safari. We had too many little ones for adults to ride properly, so Legoland kindly lent us a cast member, it was brilliant customer service.

We enjoyed a lovely (and great value) meal together in the all you can eat pizza and pasta place - and the kids played with lego allowing us to chat for even longer). The kids had fun in the driving school and then we went for a spin on the spinning spider. UKFAN had the older kids (8, 8, 6) and I had the younger ones (6,6,4) and we had a blast. Kiz got some amazing speed up while my crew had me in stitches as Jessica begged to go faster, Reece just giggled and giggled and Jar said "Stop....please stop" very calmly. It was hilarious!

We took the kids around the Scooby doo trail (a little disappointing, but they had some very funny streetmousephere Moss Monsters). And then it was time to go for the fireworks.

They were very good once again. The youngest, Jar, had a fantastic look of wonder on his face, the second oldest kid thought it started to get boring. Lol. But I think we had a great time (I know I did).

It was getting late and cold, one of our number had a headache, and another (Jessica - was cold, tired and grumpy). The boys were all in great spirits though. And we sadly said our goodbyes at the end of another awesome day.

The kids were asleep before we left the car park. And we made our way to the Holiday Inn in Sutton for 2 free nights. Another surprise for the kids.

The next day, Hampton Court Palace.

u k fan
Wed 10/26/2011 6:49a
Dave, 2 of our kids were asleep before we left the car park and the other 2 weren't far behind.

It really was a fun day.

I had a great time watching the kids on driving school, but the highlight was definitely the Spinning Spider. I love a good spin, but even I was pleased it ended. The kids were literally stuck to the side of the car!

The meal was great. I'd planned to stop at McD's or similar on the way home, but we had delicious, all you can eat food for probably only about £10 more and the kids got to play while we talked so it was ideal. I'll definitely be going back.

And I have to commend Legoland on their service. The CMs were exceptional without exception(!) and much better than some of my DLP experiences. A CM offering to ride with Mikey was incredible!

Regarding the Scooby Fireworks, the viewing area as suggested by the CM was fantastic, but the story was nowhere near as good as previous efforts. The fireworks themselves were excellent though.

It was awesome to see you guys. Let's not leave it 6 months again.

Thinking long-term I think a Muppets Meet might be in order.

It was a weird weekend for me as I met up with several LPers on Saturday too. Both days were filled with happy (and sad) memories.

Oh, and sorry we thought you were weird at the Lilo & Stitch screening. We were just glad we weren't the weirdest!!!
Wed 10/26/2011 7:00a
Lol. Mikey said "Kieran is even better than you daddy, when can I ride with him again". ROTFLMAO!

There is no doubt, even if it is not the finest dining, with the AP discount, the City Walk restaurant is a great deal. The pizza was good and the garlic bread was ace (pasta was a bit dodgy and the salada was ok). But a great deal considering we were in a theme park.

I have always felt the Legoland cast are excellent, certainly the best in Britain, and they do give other parks a run for their money internationally (actually I think I do have more of a soft spot for Legoland cast).

Agreed re the fireworks. Previous years have been better in the story department (Indiana Jones was my fav year, though the Star wars year was awesome too).

as for taking the mickey all those year ago, don't worry, I know you guys are as wierd as us, I think that is why our families adopted each other. And yes, we are up for a Muppet Meet, absolutely!
Wed 10/26/2011 7:29a
Pictures of day 2:
u k fan
Wed 10/26/2011 7:43a
Dave, what's funny is that Mikey was insistent that he should be the only one to spin us as you were the fastest and he has your DNA so he would also be fastest!!!

All times are Pacific Time (US)

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