Ever been on a Polarcoaster? Not even sure what that is? We weren’t either until we put on our thermals and prepared to duck and dive with the penguins on the all new Polar Xplorer ride at Legoland. We just couldn’t resist a sniff of the Antarctic on our long journey to Iceland….
Ever been on a Polarcoaster?
I’ve never ridden a roller-coaster past a penguin before. It’s weirdly exhilarating, to dip and fly through the air next to some of the quirkiest birds in nature, who are simultaneously zipping and gliding through water. I just wish there wasn’t a window separating us. But then, perhaps it’s safer? Who knows what predators lie waiting in the snow capped world of Polar Land. Yes, I know we’re supposed to be off on a hard core expedition in Iceland, but we were passing. And there were Penguins. Come on. Would you pass by?
Polar Land?…Never heard of it
Well, it’s like the Antarctic, but less frostbite and more fun. Imagine the scene; huge blocks of ice, a khaki tent for the scientists, people in furry hoods counting and monitoring the wildife and a polar bear with a cocktail relaxing by the pizza buffet.
Come on…polar bears don’t do pizza or cocktails
But they do do polo mints. They’re everywhere. This pole is the Pole with a hole. Maybe the glacier mints melted in the sunshine.
Sunshine…but you said it was Arctic!
Antarctic. You don’t get penguins in the Arctic. And there are definitely penguins here. 17 Gentoo penguins; all of them very cute. Of course they can’t fly, (they haven’t got the right joints apparently), but they can flap their wings, which gives them that comical stance when they walk. Gentoos are the third largest species in the penguin world and the only live penguins in Legoland.
Yes, you finally got there. Polar Land is the newest attraction at Legoland Billund; the mothership of all Lego parks. And with three irritable kids in the car on a never ending journey to catch the ferry to Iceland, we thought it would add a little interest and get us into the mood for cooler climes. And it does, if the mood in question is fear that we may explode when we are shaken into oblivion by a huge arm.
A polar bear’s arm?
No, keep up. The robotic arms in the Ice Pilot school. When we arrived at Legoland and picked up the site map, the kids were disappointed that their favourite ride; Power Builder, wasn’t listed. But then they found the atmospheric warehouse had been transformed into an ice pilot training facility. As trainee pilots they programme a credit card with the sequence of moves they wish to practice, then are thrown about to their hearts content while sitting strapped to a seat on the end of a large robotic arm. By the time they have done three ‘training rides,’ they are convinced they have what it takes to fly planes in cold climates. But then, perhaps it is good training for Iceland. While we don’t plan on flying any planes, we will be white water rafting, extreme biking, jeep driving and trekking to glaciers in crampons. That’s if Stuart’s back holds out.
I didn’t know he had a back problem
He didn’t. Until a few days ago when he cricked it trying to retrieve something that had fallen down the back of his seat. Probably a glacier mint. But he’s not one to let that kind of thing get in the way of fun. So after hobbling around for a few hours he decided the Polar Xplorer roller coaster might be just the thing to crick it back into place. Unbelievably it worked. Perhaps Legoland should market Polar Land as a cheap alternative to osteopathy. They could have an express lane for people who really shouldn’t have reached for that mint.
So are you adventurous? Or a theme park kind of family?
It’s not clear is it? We’re actually a bit of both. Once a year, at the end of our big trip, the kids get a treat to reward them for all the pedalling they do. In the past we’ve been to Legoland, Moomin World and Disneyland on the way home. But this time the treat has come at the start because we won’t have time on the way home. We have to race back against the clock to get Matthew back on time to start a new secondary school.
But why a long face when everyone else looks excited?
To be honest I feel a little odd about spending so much time this week in theme parks and attractions. Partlybecause we’ve haven’t even pedalled a mile yet so I don’t feel we’ve earned it. But mostly because it feels like the end of an era. Matthew is eleven now and I sense he’s growing out of this kind of fun, preferring to be thrown about in nature – whether on a raft, a bike or a horse. He needs things which challenge more than entertain him. When I think back about how excited he used to be at the very mention of Legoland, (or just the word lego) I feel nostalgic. Lego is so inextricably tied up with childhood, and I’m not sure I’m ready for his to pass. Secondary school or not.
So what’s the treat at the end of Iceland?
I’m hoping that’ll be a helicopter ride in The Faroes. Apparently they use them like buses. I think this is the last time I’ll be crashing through a Pole with penguins again this holiday. Shame. I don’t think I’d ever get bored of it.
Tell us some penguin facts you learnt at Legoland
Gentoos are 75cm tall on average. They have white bellies and black backs which provides camouflage from predators whether from above or below. And they’r not only at risk from predators but global warming and overfishing. They do their fair share of fishing themselves, eating 1kg of fish per day. That’s equivalent to a human eating 10kg of fish per day something the kids fear we might have to do in The Faroes! So who said theme parks can’t be educational?
This post is part of our 2012 Adventure Islands Season. We spent summer 2012 exploring Iceland and The Faroes, researching what’s on offer for adventure seeking families. We’re grateful to Smyril Line for help with transport, to Berghaus and Thule who helped equip us for the journey. And to Legoland Billund who provided entry to their park to help us bring you this story. All experiences, views and opinions are however, as ever, our own.
You can see a map of our journey on The Family Adventure Project Punkt! and view some exclusive behind the scenes photos and video of what we got up to.