Regular readers of my blog will recall my snotty letter to LEGOLAND and their inadequate response following a pretty disastrous trip that I had there with my husband post-MS diagnosis and pre-children. Those readers will be thinking, why would you go back there?? And to be honest that’s a very good point. But, the promise of a queue pass and the wide, pleading eyes of 2 eager munchkins (plus 1 more who likes to copy them) meant that the pressure was just too great. And so off we went to LEGOLAND; and never before has the term ‘glutton for punishment’ been so flippin’ apt.
Anyone who knows me will know that queues are my No. 1 enemy. For me, standing for any length of time is akin to any normal person’s attempt at completing 3 consecutive triathlons followed by a weeks worth of mountain hiking and a session at the gym thrown in for good measure – it’s bloody knackering and incredibly tough on the legs. But on this particular day I didn’t need to worry about that as I was soon to be in possession of a LEGOLAND Q-BOT, a day free of queuing and full of fun lay ahead of us. All I needed to do was provide proof of my disability and I would be given access via smartphone to bypass all the queues for the rides. And all I needed to do to get this pass… was to join the long queue at Guest Services.
Oh, the irony.
The chaos that followed was comical, or at least would have been had it not been so diabolical. Being in a queue for people who couldn’t queue was a first for me. I wasn’t the only one struggling with the physical pain, but I at least had my trusty stool that I could shuffle forward with every few minutes. Aside from mobility scooters and wheelchairs I was surrounded by children and adults alike who were clearly on the autistic spectrum or had other access needs and it was beyond stressful witnessing them and their parents / carers dealing with the situation.
On finally reaching the end of the queue I was less than impressed to be greeted by a counter that was at standing height so that as you rock up in your wheelchair (or nifty little stool if you’re me) you are instantly and quite literally belittled by the members of staff looking down at you. It’s an uncomfortable feeling and an issue that I’m sure simply doesn’t cross the minds of people who design such spaces. To be frank, the whole process of getting an access pass was like some kind of twisted joke. And things didn’t get much better when I was presented with the code to unlock the pass on my phone. You see, as the name suggests, a Q-BOT is very much a 21st Century kind of thing and I’m very much a 20th Century kind of person – I still listen to Blur, wear adidas and watch ‘Friends’ every night. I just about got the hang of using the ‘app’, but it did mean depleting my phone battery to the point where I had zero juice left by the end of the day.
As it happened we only went on 3 rides, if indeed you can call a gentle circuit on a Duplo train an actual ride. Most of the day was spent walking around and, ironically again, queuing for loos (there’s no bypassing those queues!). I’m sure I am giving an unfair depiction of what is ultimately a very fun place, even if it is horribly overcrowded and devoid of benches (thank goodness for my stool). However, my kids had a fantastic day; seeing the joy and wonder on their faces far outweighed any of my own discomfort and stress. There’s no denying the fun that is to be found in a land devoted to those awesome little bricks. And, of course, my kids can’t wait to return.