Whilst I don’t consider myself to have started all this travelling for theme parks until 2015, the first time I entered into another country, under my own steam, specifically to visit such a place can actually be traced back to New Year’s Eve of 2013. I struggle to believe that this was seven years ago now, but let’s take a look back and try to piece together what could be considered my first ever trip report.
The visit took place during my second stay in Singapore, in which I had a lot more free time for tourist attractions than the previous year. The Malaysian edition of the Legoland chain was just over a year old by this point and had been the first new iteration of the iconic name to be constructed in a decade. This has since spawned what seems to be a bit of an over-obsession with building new properties as the Lego parks are now spreading like wildfire throughout the rest of Asia in particular – all with a disappointingly (for a select few visitors like myself) rigid lineup of attractions.
Old me knew nothing of those bitter negative thoughts though, I still had a bit of a soft spot for Legoland, with Windsor holding my earliest childhood memories of parks and rides. The local marketing throughout Singapore had been rather intensive in this period and had caught my eye on numerous occasions.
How to get there though? I’ve never hired a car over here (or anywhere by this stage of my life actually) it’s a bit… unnecessary in this particular landscape – Singapore is only 30 miles across and has easily one of the best public transport systems in the world.
Conveniently, online, they were offering organised coach tours that would pick you up from all kinds of obscure locations, take you across the border and sort out all the travel arrangements. We opted for a collection point outside a Wendy’s on a Tuesday morning (as you do) and were soon on the way.
The border crossing was rather novel to me – get off coach, go up escalator, go through passport gate, go down escalator, buy a stupidly cheap bar of Cadbury’s choclate from a newsagent, get back on coach. After another hour or so of relatively dreary sights a familiar landscape appeared through the window.
Not much of a looker, but there it is. We have arrived. There was no particular plan for the day, other than knowing we had to be back outside the entrance before the coach set off on the return journey, abandoning us forever. The ‘ride it as you see it’ approach was adopted.
And first up happened to be the Mack wild maus that has become a Legoland staple, other than back home in Windsor where the preposterous Jungle Coaster with it’s fully enclosed ‘scream shield’ cars was a surprisingly short lived attraction.
These aren’t particularly exciting, usually tamer than the traditioal wild mouse layout and other than promoting the Technic brand it all feels a little un-Lego-ey.
Though I didn’t understand the significance of such things at the time (how did I ever live without my spreadsheet?), ‘cred mode’ had been entered and next up was the smallest coaster, also now a bit of a staple, though the hardware can vary through a range of stock models. This particular one is the Zierer 190, reasonably rare for a change, unless you’re a Busch Gardens connoisseur.
And as if to complete the set, the last coaster was directly opposite. Bigger Dragon. Other than the Maybank advert this looked like it could have been anywhere in the world and memories of what I believed to be my first ever rollercoaster sprang to mind.
Windsor has a British built special by WGH transportation, but today we have another Zierer stock model currently exclusive to Legoland properties. What this did have over my last experience with the English version was that the dark ride section that makes these attractions a standout was all new, shiny and therefore not broken.
A large animatronic dragon breathes smoke onto riders with great effect and the ride seemed to captivate many of the locals here, one even striking up conversation with me about how much he loved it and was planning to stay on all morning. I suppose we were both in the infancy of our respective enthusiasms that day and I wonder whether he’s still able to enjoy things for what they are, unlike bitter old me.
The aptly named ‘observation tower’ was able to offer us views of the rides and surrounding landscape.
I always enjoy seeing what’s just beyond the boundary of a park and in this case… not much.
The next target, Dino Island was also spotted. A large log flume with, you guessed it, dinosaur theming. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?
I appreciated the little dark ride section (they’re good at those) at the top of the lift and then it proceeded to absolutely soak me. Good thing it’s stupidly hot out here in December.
Fancy a spot of lunch? It feels like I never talk about meals on here, I’m no food blog (maybe I should be, likely be more popular) and I probably come across like some robot who marches from ride to ride without need for sustenance or sleep (this does happen too). Here we are though – a chicken burger, chips and a carbonated beverage. What a delight I used to be.
Lost Kingdom Adventure is a shooting dark ride with the classic Egyptian tomb raiding theming and that ‘Johnny Thunder’ character who seems all too familiar (from Lego Island 2, the video game of course, what were you thinking of?)
I’ve just noticed it’s made by Sally Corporation from the sticker and I’m going to assume I won.
Enough rides, we’re here for Lego, right? Have a photo spam of the local creations.
I believe I heard that they were having troubles with the models melting in the heat here and at the time thought to myself “good luck with Dubai then” (having since been there, they built theirs indoors, so lesson learnt).
Wait, what’s the Death Star doing looming over the Forbidden City?
Star Wars, that’s what.
I love the more mundane touches like roadworks in exhibits. Minilands are always a highlight of the visit, as they should be.
At such a relaxed pace, one that I am yet to achieve since, there was time for one more attraction – Boating School. The thrill of being handed your own vehicle to control at a young age is remarkable and I still see the appeal even now. Maybe I should have hired a car.
But the journey back was as smooth and scenic as it had been earlier.
It may have been the timing of the visit but the park was remarkably quiet compared to expectations, something I’ve come to experience an awful lot more in this part of the world. I get disturbed if it’s the other way around now.
Back to being a food blog now, you’ll never guess what we decided to do for New Year’s after a long day at Legoland.