LEGOLAND Windsor Resort is a LEGO-themed amusement park in Windsor, Berkshire,in England. The park opened in 1996, on the site of the former Windsor Safari Park, as the second LEGOLAND park (the first was LEGOLAND Billund, Denmark). The park is located within close distance of Windsor Castle and around 8 miles west of London Heathrow Airport. In common with other LEGOLAND parks across the world, the park's attractions consist of a mixture of LEGO-themed rides, LEGO models, and LEGO building workshops. The park was acquired by the Blackstone Group in 2005, with the LEGO Group retaining part ownership (30 percent), and is now operated by Merlin Entertainments Group. The facilities are mainly targeted at children around the ages of two and up, although the park is open to all.
In 2010, the park had 1.9 million visitors, making it the second most visited theme park in the United Kingdom (after Alton Towers), and the tenth most visited theme park in Europe.
- 1 History
- 2 Areas
- 3 Rides and attractions
- 4 Q-Bot
- 5 Retail
- 6 Annual Passes
- 7 Opening Times
- 8 Special Events
- 9 Christmas Openings
- 10 Awards
- 11 Sponsors & Partners
- 12 Notes
- 13 Website
- 14 Resources & external links
The LEGO Group began research for the development of a second LEGOLAND park after LEGOLAND Billund in 1989; over a thousand sites were considered. In January 1992, Windsor Safari Park went into receivership, and this 150-acre (0.61 km2) site was chosen as the first LEGOLAND park outside of Denmark. Throughout 1992 and 1993, planning, design, site preparation and the design and construction of models began, and new homes were secured for the safari animals. 1994 saw the installation of services, foundations and infrastructures, and in 1995, one year prior to opening, Big Ben was installed in Miniland. By this time, buildings and attractions were becoming established, and in September advanced bookings were opened for entrance tickets.
Initial opening and 1996
Final installations were completed by the beginning of 1996, and at this point the LEGOLAND Windsor staff-base was recruited. The grand opening of LEGOLAND Windsor occurred in March 1996. During its first season, the park attracted over 1.4 million guests.
The first major extension to the park was CastleLand, which opened on March 14, 1998. This was the first new area added since the park opened, and contained the Dragon, the park's first roller coaster. Also included in the new development was the LEGO Mindstorms Workshop, which opened on May 1 the same year.
1999 saw three major new additions to the park's attractions. First was The Dragon's Apprentice, which opened in time for the new season. The Balloon School was not so lucky, suffering delays in construction work, and opened in April. X-Treme Challenge, a large water flume ride, was constructed on the slope in front of St. Leonard's Mansion in time for the school summer holidays in August. At the end of the 1999 season, the Imagination Theatre was refurbished and fitted with a truss lighting grid, lighting booth, and blackout drapes, making it much more like a theater in preparation for the Christmas production of Peter Pan. On November 20, 1999, LEGOLAND Windsor opened for its first Christmas season which ended on January 3, 2000.
January 2000 saw the start of construction on the Creation Center and Rocket Racers. Due to open at the start of this season was Wave Surfer; however. delays pushed the commissioning of the ride back to April, at which time only one of the two turntables was operational, with the other up and running a couple of weeks later. At the end of the season, Bum Shaker closed, and became a picnic area. November 18 saw the start of the park's second and final Christmas Season, which concluded on January 7, 2001. One of the highlights of this festive season was the opening of The Creation Center and Rocket Racers in December.
During 2001 there were no new attractions, with the exception of The Creation Center and Rocket Racers which had opened over Christmas. At the end of the season, however, the TECHNIC Garage closed, and was refitted as a food outlet. Muscle Maker also closed, and became the Truck Stop, a set of remote-controlled model lorries that can be driven for an extra charge. Also during this time the Sky Rider is refurbished.
For the 2002 season, the I-Spy Express was renamed The Adventurer’s Express, and re-themed around jungle animals. At the end of this season, during Christmas closing, the lighting booth in the Imagination theater was fitted out with two large projectors and a large quantity of control equipment, a 36-foot (11 m) projection screen was rigged on stage, and a number of different theatrical effects machines (such as wind machines, snow machines, fog machines etc.) were installed in the truss rig, thus converting the Imagination Theater to a 4D cinema.
At the beginning of the 2003 season, the Mindstorms workshop was moved from Knights’ Kingdom to the Imagination Center, replacing the Dacta Workshops,Robolabs was opened, and LEGO Racers 4D was introduced in the Imagination Theater. On June 10 Queen Elizabeth II visited LEGOLAND Windsor, as part of British Tourism Day.
2004 saw the installation of the first major new ride in four years: the Jungle Coaster, which opened in time for the new season. This and the Wave Surfer were designated as part of a new area, 'Adventure Land', and in line with this the bottom lake was renamed the Adventure Land Lake. Also in time for the new season was the completion of the Big Restaurant's refurbishment. At the end of the 2004 season Rocket Racers closed, having never been particularly popular yet always having TECHNICal problems and large, slow-moving queues. Also, the Celtic maze of The Amazing Mazes was gutted, and a path created straight through it.
Three new rides were built in time for the start of the 2005 season; The Fire Academy in 'Traffic', and Dino Dipper and Dino Safari in Adventure Land. The Adventurer’s Express was again renamed, this time to The Orient Express. In April, LEGO made the decision to sell the LEGOLAND parks, due to rising losses across the whole company. On July 13, 2005, LEGOLAND was acquired by the Blackstone Group, and control of the parks passed to Merlin Entertainments.
At the beginning of the 2006 season Digger Challenge opened, and Spellbreaker 4D was introduced alongside LEGO Racers 4D in the Imagination Theatre. The park made the news on October 28 as a fire broke out in a storage barn on site during the end of season fireworks, though no one was injured. Over the Christmas closing period, both the Celtic maze and the nautical maze of The Amazing Mazes were demolished to make way for Vikings' River Splash. The Tudor maze was renamed Loki's Labyrinth, but was kept closed until August 2007, as it was in the centre of the construction work for Land of the Vikings. As such, The Amazing Mazes ceased to be.
Whirly Birds was renamed Chopper Squadron for the start of the 2007 season, and the LEGO Mindstorms Workshop switched from using LEGO Mindstorms to the NXT system. In July, Mole In 1 Adventure Golf opened, having been given absolutely no publicity, and on August 18, after severe delays, 'Land of the Vikings' opened. The new area (which was due to open in April 2007) increased the parks' capacity by 15%, and contained the new river rapids ride Vikings' River Splash, though the second advertised ride, Longboat Invader, was delayed until the 2008 season. Loki's Labyrinth also opened, though no theming was present. For the rest of the season, Vikings' River Splash operated at a reduced capacity.
For the 2008 season, the park advertised a "..magnificent seven new attractions debut...". This, however, included Vikings' River Splash, Loki's Labyrinth and Mole-in-One Golf, which had all opened in 2007. New to the park was the Longboat Invader, a Zamperla 'Rocking Tug', which was originally to open at the same time as the rest of 'Land of the Vikings'. Two new shows were introduced: Cinderella in the DUPLO Theatre, and The Revenge of the Aztec Queen, which replaced The Saphire Scorpion at the 'LEGO City Harbour'. The seventh new debut was the Xbox Gaming Zone, in the centre of 'LEGO City'. This echoed the console area that had been present only for the first two years of the park's history. To make way for this, the Magic Theatre closed, after twelve long years in the park. The Big Restaurant was also refurbished, and renamed City Walk Pizza & Pasta Buffet, with the menu changing to that of the Pasta Patch, which was in turn renamed Captain Barnacle's Boatshed, selling Fish and Chips. Cinnabon Bakery was replaced with the Harbourside Coffee Co. Express, and Bricks 'n' Bits was renamed Cuddles Corner, selling clothing. Finally, Q-Bot was introduced at the beginning of the season.
In 2009, the park opened its eleventh land: Kingdom of the Pharaohs. This land features a new interactive dark ride, 'Laser Raiders'. The pre-show and queue for this ride takes place in the Circus Tent, and the ride takes place in a new building behind it. Also new is a Jumping Star ride, 'Scarab Bouncers'. Also, 2009 sees the introduction Bob the Builder 4D will be shown in the Imagination Theatre alongside Spellbreaker 4-D and LEGO Racers 4D. Rocket Racers was re-opened after demand. 2009 also saw the last year of the Jungle Coaster ride, being relocated to LEGOLAND Florida.
For the 2010 season, which opened on March 20, the Big Shop has improved and a new area, Pirates Landing has been opened in place of Wild Woods, with existing rides being rethemed and the Jolly Rocker being opened. 2010 also sees a new 4-D movie, LEGO City A Clutch Powers 4-D Adventure. The Revenge of the Aztec Queen show was replaced with Pirates of Skeleton Bay.
A Sea-Life based attraction, Atlantis Submarine Voyage, was opened on May 20. This was built on the site formerly occupied by the Dino Dipper, which was moved and renamed as Knights' Quest. Rocket Racers closed for a second and final time on October 10.
Like all LEGOLAND parks, the park is split into separate areas:-
- The Beginning
- Imagination Centre
- DUPLO Land - formerly Explore Land and DUPLO Gardens.
- LEGO City - formerly My Town.
- Kingdom of the Pharaohs - formerly part of LEGO City's Brickidilly's Circus Rides.
- Land of the Vikings
- Pirates Landing - formerly known as Wild Woods.
- Knight's Kingdom - formerly known as Castle Land.
- Adventure Land
- Kingdom of the Pharaohs
Rides and attractions
At the beginning of the 2008 season, LEGOLAND Windsor introduced a Q-Bot queueing system. For a small charge, parties can hire a small pager-like device on which they can reserve places in queues virtually. The system is designed to ensure that those with Q-Bot would have to 'queue' for the same amount of time as those without, but those with Q-Bot could spend that time elsewhere in the park, either queuing for another ride, eating lunch or just wandering. The initial contract between Lo-Q, the company that developed the Q-Bot system, and LEGOLAND Windsor, was for two years.
Retail within the park can be split into two distinct categories: food and drink, and souvenirs. Unlike other British theme parks, such as Thorpe Park and Alton Towers, all food and drink outlets within LEGOLAND Windsor are currently owned and operated by the park
Annual Passes are cheaper than visiting the park two times. Prices start from £36 for a Basic Annual Pass and £51 for a Full Annual Pass. Full Annual Pass holders can obtain up to 10% off inside the park’s shops and restaurants; there are ‘kids go free’ offers at UK SEA LIFE Centres and Vue Cinemas and up to 20% off at Buyagift.com. The Basic Annual Pass only allows access during off-peak times, outside of busy holiday dates and excludes access to LEGOLAND Special Events. The Full Annual Pass which allows guests unlimited access to the park throughout the season.
The Merlin Annual Pass offers entry to all of the Merlin attractions in the UK for 12 months. Attractions include LEGOLAND Windsor, Chessington World of Adventures and Zoo, THORPE PARK, Alton Towers resort, Madame Tussauds London, London Eye, The Dungeons, SEA LIFE Centres, Warwick Castle and Seal Sanctuaries. Prices begin from £125 per individual pass or for £375 for a family pass. The Merlin Annual Pass comes with many benefits such as 20% off at the Alton Towers Hotel and 20% off shopping and eating in certain attractions
LEGOLAND is open from mid-March to the beginning of November each year, though it is closed on most Tuesdays and Wednesdays in May, September and October. During this time, the park operates a variable opening times system, which roughly follows the school holidays in the UK. The park always opens at 10am. By default, the park closes at 5pm. During the Easter holidays, other select public holidays (such as bank holidays), weekends in June, July, September and October, and during the end of season celebrations and fireworks, the park closes at 6pm. During the summer holidays, (late July to the beginning of September), the park closes at 7pm. During the After-Dark event, which is held in the Easter holidays, the park closes at 9pm. Each year these times change slightly, though they usually follow this pattern.
Each year LEGOLAND Windsor hosts a number of special events. Most are annual, and take place year on year, but occasionally one-off events are held. Annual events include After Dark, LEGOLAND Live, LEGOLAND Windsor fireworks and Amazing Machines.
During the Christmases of 1999 and 2000, LEGOLAND Windsor opened for special "Christmas Seasons". During these seasons, the park operated as normal (i.e. all rides were open), but with special shows, events and attractions relevant to the season. For the 1999 Christmas season (November 20, 1999 – January 3, 2000), the following attractions were present:
- Santa’s Toy Factory – Located in Brickadilly’s Circus Tent, this consisted of a walkthrough attraction depicting Santa’s post room, with actors playing the part of elves, and a show in the main arena, centred around the toy workshop, where Santa makes Christmas presents.
- Peter Pan’s Christmas Adventure – Performed in the Imagination Theatre, this was an adaptation of the story of Peter Pan, in which Captain Hook and his side kick Smee try to prevent Peter and Wendy from reaching the North Pole to meet Father Christmas. The show included a number of musical pieces, a lot of wire work, and a number of theatrical effects including snow.
- Cinderella’s Puppet Pantomime – Performed on the Willow Stage, this was a puppet version of Cinderella, with a comic twist.
Snowball Express – For the duration of the season, the Orient Expedition (then the I-Spy Express) was renamed the Snowball Express. The engine was decorated with fake snow and other Christmas related items, as were the various models around the track, and a snow machine was installed on the platform.
- Treasure Trail – Located in the Pavilions (a marquee in the area behind what is now the Digger Challenge) was a set of Christmas related LEGO models.
- Miniland Illuminations – Many Christmas lights were installed across Miniland, and each evening an illumination ceremony was held to switch them on.
- Twelve Days of Christmas – A model was made for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and these were scattered across the park.
- Millennium Celebrations – To mark the new Millennium, a show was performed on the staging across the My Town Harbour on December 31, 1999, including music, audience participation and pyrotechnics. It was performed three times during the day, each time on the hour, and recognising that the new Millennium had begun in a particular country.
For the 2000 Christmas season (November 18, 2000 – January 7, 2001), the same attractions were put in place, with the following exceptions:
- The LEGO Creation Centre and Rocket Racers were completed in December 2000, and were highlighted as key new attractions for the Christmas season.
- Santa’s Toy Factory was replaced with Santa’s Christmas Grotto, which incurred an extra charge.
- The I-Spy Express kept its name for the season, and played showcase to the Twelve Days of Christmas models, which were placed around the track as opposed to around the whole park.
- The Millennium celebrations were clearly not held, but neither were they replaced with any kind of New Year celebrations.
In the years following these two festive seasons, the park has opened the Big Shop during the time between seasons, as well as the rest of the Beginning (much like the beginning of a standard day, with the exception being that the main path to the rest of the park is boarded off as opposed to roped off). During these periods the Big Shop has had large sales, and one year a KUKA Robocoaster was installed.
During some winters, LEGOLAND has been open for shopping at the weekends.
Since opening in 1996, the Park has won a number of awards:
- Voted UK's Number One Family Attraction by Group Leisure Magazine, 1999
- Best UK Attraction for Children, issued by Yandell Publishing in 2002
- Best Family Visitor Attraction in the 2007 Tommy's Parent Friendly Awards
Sponsors & Partners
As of 2012 the parks current sponsors are:
- Egyptair - sponsor Kingdom of the Pharaohs and Laser Raiders
- XBOX 360 - sponsor Gaming Zone
- Panasonic - provide TV screens and sponsor Rocket Racers
- Imperial Leather
- FIAT - sponsor Driving School
- TT Games - publish games available in the Gaming Zone
- JCB - sponsor Digger Challenge
- Coca-Cola (1996–present)
- Case IH Agriculture
- London Duck Tours - sponsors Pirate Falls Dynamite Drench. Model in Miniland.
Former sponsors or partners include;
- Apple (1996 - ????) 
- BT (1996 - ????)
- Cow & Gate (1996 - ????)
- Eurodollar (1996 - ????)
- Ford (1996 - ????)
- Marriott (1996 - ????)
- Mars (1996 - ????)
- P&O European Ferries (1996 - ????)
- LEGOLAND Windsor entrance tickets feature an image of a famous or current LEGO theme. For example; City, BIONICLE and Power Miners.
- Brochure 2010
- Theme Park Brochures
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