Team Thompson Kick off Their Big Adventure… in Windsor

With three children in the family aged nine, seven and five, Ally Thompson decided to forsake long haul flights to foreign climes this year in favour of some easy-to-reach, high-octane fun

In March last year, having priced a ferry crossing versus a short flight from Belfast to London Heathrow and car hire, the flights were booked and tickets for the main attraction were organised.

A very excited family of five finally arrived into Windsor on a Wednesday morning at the end of June for Stage One of our Big Adventure.

We dropped the hire car and luggage at a child friendly Airbnb we had found online and went to explore the historic town.

Windsor sits on the banks of the River Thames and is home to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It seemed like an obvious choice for our day trip into the town but we weren’t sure how Molly, our five-year-old, would cope with several hours of exploration.

We needn’t have worried… the free family multi-media tour ensured that all three kids were entertained en route as we journeyed back in time with Horace, a timeless tutor, and Tommy, his pupil. A free Family Activity Trail Map also made sure that we didn’t miss Queen Mary’s impressive Dolls’ House, Henry VIII’s Armour and the Changing of the Guard.

In total, we spent four hours at the Castle and could easily have stayed longer if it hadn’t been closing time!

Windsor proved to be a good warm up for the fun that we were about to experience over the next two days of our trip. On the Thursday morning we headed back towards Heathrow again and checked into the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a two-day LEGOLAND Special. The package gave us one night’s B&B in a generous sized family room, access to the hotel pool and two days’ of LEGOLAND Windsor Resort tickets.

The kids loved the warm welcome, activity packs and tokens for bedtime hot milk and cookies in the bar… but first, there was LEGOLAND to tackle!

Two years ago we braved Disneyland Paris so we decided to visit LEGOLAND knowing full well how big the queues for rides might be. However, it was midweek and the English schools were yet to break for the summer holidays so we were pleasantly surprised. Having downloaded the LEGOLAND App ahead of our trip, it was easy to see the wait times for each ride (live updates) and to plan accordingly.

I had read about the park’s new Ninjango ride the week before so we decided to head for it first before it became too crowded. It was 10.30am and the queue took less than five minutes. It’s a 4D interactive family ride that provided plenty of thrills for the start of our day (Isaac, aged seven, rates this as his favourite) as we battled through ice, wind and fire.

As the queues were still small, we grabbed the opportunity for a second go before moving on to Nexo Knights Kingdom and the Dragon roller coaster (Molly, aged five, gave this her biggest thumbs up of the trip).

The girls got to choose next so it was a trip to Heartlake City to have their photos taken with favourite characters before boarding Mia’s Riding Adventure (Libby, aged nine, has a cast iron stomach and declared this her favourite ride)… lets just say I’m glad we did this one before lunch!

Having squeezed in a quick supermarket stop before arriving at the park, we grabbed a seat at the Heartlake Harbour Arena where we were able to bask in the sunshine with our picnic while watching a musical show performed by all the Heartlake characters. As the day got hotter and hotter, we moved onto Duplo Valley with swimsuits and sun cream at the ready for Drench Towers.

A good hour of getting thoroughly soaked then drying off in the sunshine with an ice cream.

Exhausted but very happy, we returned to the hotel for a top-notch family dinner in the Eriki Indian Restaurant on the ground floor and an early night ahead of Day Two at LEGOLAND!

Friday proved to be a lot busier with school groups so we were relieved that we had managed to fit in so many of the more popular attractions the day before.

Instead of the adrenaline-fuelled rides, we opted for a more leisurely approach in the morning with a stroll through Miniland, an underwater adventure courtesy of the Atlantis Submarine Voyage and some 4D action in the Lego Theatre. Another picnic and live Pirate Show at the Harbour took us into the afternoon when we opted to queue for some of our family favourites from the day before.

The day finished with a tour of the Lego Star Wars Miniland Model Display and the obligatory visit to the shop for Lego memorabilia… laden with mini figures, we waved goodbye to LEGOLAND and set off for Stage Two of our Adventure…

Family tickets can be purchased in advance for Windsor Castle at –

LEGOLAND hotel and park packages can be booked at – (new for 2018 is the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel)