LOVE, LIFE AND LEGOLAND
Pew pew! I aim with care and shoot the Egyptian pottery. Concentrating hard, I then rapidly dispose of a menacing cobra and some overhanging bats. An ancient door opens and, sadly, the ride comes to an end. My family and I follow the exit signs, emerging from the dark and noise of the pyramid into the light and serenity of the theme park.
We are at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, a twenty-four-year-old, 150 acre attraction that has welcomed more than twenty-five million visitors thus far.
The origin of the LEGO bricks required to build the park are uncertain – they may have come from a large, European factory, or from Britain’s one and only LEGO mine, which is on display in the park and run by some industrious looking moles. Clearly, the latter explanation seems far more likely.
Stripping off my poncho, I am grateful to see the deluge of rain has currently ceased. Everywhere I look, brightly-coloured LEGO blocks have been used to build various models – a young family, complete with a LEGO dog, a pair of giraffes and, of course, Miniland. What better way to explore the world than to meander around the various “countries”, each featuring iconic monuments and landmarks, all built using LEGO bricks. However, while Big Ben is impressive and the Forbidden City is suitably epic, it’s the little details that really impress me. In London, a model lady can be seen emerging from a train station carrying her shopping, while in Australia, a LEGO couple can be seen sunbathing near a prowling shark.
Apparently, the smallest models are Trafalgar Square’s pigeons, made using just five LEGO bricks each.
Entering the toilet block, we are welcomed by the sweet smell of bubble gum. Enticing and uplifting, we decide all bathrooms should feature this sugary smell. It’s a small thing, yet it makes the experience so much more palatable.
My sister and I enter Knight’s Kingdom, a magnificent, grey castle where evocative music brings to mind mischief and magic. Climbing aboard the long, serpent-like dragon, we are guided through some of the castle rooms – in one, a tawny owl clad in a graduation hat perches on a book, in another, Merlin is at work producing a new potion and, as we pass through the kitchen, an amazing aroma overpowers our senses. My mind scrambles to describe it – burnt caramel? Sweet coffee? Some mystical concoction of the two? It’s a small touch, but one that really brings the medieval citadel to life.
Suddenly, the dragon increases his speed, leaving the castle and ascending slowly, slowly, only to… drop! We fall, fast and free, the wind whipping through our hair as the dragon tears through the autumn air. We soar up, down, and around, before snaking our way to the fortress. We alight from his back, thank the castle staff and leave the royal residence.
Entering the land of the Vikings, my sister and I promptly claim the two huge LEGO dragons on display as our own, one a burning red and the other a frosty blue. Our dad obligingly takes our photos, then we board a small, circular vessel and sail down the river. Bump! We hurtle into the river bank. Splash! Icy water pours in, soaking my sister’s leg, but thankfully missing mine… Bump! We crash again, our small boat spinning in the churning water of the rapids, racing past some well-dressed LEGO mice sitting atop some barrels. Crash! With a final collision, we reach the end of the ride.
As the air grows cooler and the park begins to close, we walk back to the car, tired but contented.
Close to the entrance, LEGO versions of the Easter Island moai statues are belting out rock music.
It seems to me that LEGOLAND pays great attention to even the tiniest detail, from the meticulously built models to the ambient sounds that enhance the park’s atmosphere.
Often, it’s easy to overlook life’s little details.
Doing the laundry, buying someone a coffee, listening with empathy, these acts of love may not make the headlines, yet they can make a real, tangible difference to someone’s life.
Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that can make the biggest impact.