Attractions Twin Theme Parks

A Twin Theme Park Adventure

Written by Kirstie Pelling

A Twin Theme Park Adventure

In our family there’s a well established tradition that if you cycle at least 1500 kilometres without complaining, you’ll be rewarded with a day out to a theme park. (Ok, I admit there may be some low level grumbling from everyone including myself, but no one has ever seriously demanded that the conversion rate be re-assessed.)

Our kids are no strangers to theme parks

It seems to work. When we cycled end to end of New Zealand, the kids were rewarded with Disneyland LA on the way home, and we all felt good.. When we biked from Amsterdam to Venice we surprised them with Disneyland Paris on the way back and it made their trip. And when we biked The Baltics, it was Legoland Billund that provided the icing on the cake and the long term memories. By contrast all we could offer them at the end of the Santiago Pilgrimage route across Spain was a service at the Cathedral. They might have got closer to heaven than they get to on the water shoot but they definitely weren’t as motivated!

A reward without the work? Surely not?

But family tradition was threatened when I visited World Travel Market in London last autumn. I had just finished talking to Croatia about the potential for biking their country and was on my way to enquire about being ‘Inspired by Iceland‘ on our summer trip this year, when I passed Great Britain. With the Olympics on the way and The Queen celebrating a big year it was a colourful and enticing area. But what drew my eye wasn’t world class sport or royal heritage; it was a night in an adventure room and a stroll around Hogwarts. The new Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel was due to open in the spring, within a few days of the Warner Brothers Making of Harry Potter Studio Tours. And I had this idea…for once in our family life, why not have a weekend away that wasn’t a reward or an education but just fun?

Why not have a weekend that’s pure fun?

A Twin Theme Park weekend. What’s that?

“A theme park weekend?” said Matthew, suspiciously, wondering what the catch was.

“Where is Windsor, and how far is it from Watford?” asked Cameron, doing the mental maths and trying to establish how much effort he’d have to put in.

“Will we sleep at Hogwarts instead of a tent?” enquired Hannah hopefully. “That would be well-ace.”

I confess I’m not a theme park fan in general. For me the magic of Disneyland got lost in the endless queue for the Dumbo ride, and shooting Zurg stopped being interesting on the fifth go round. But Stuart and I both love Lego. In fact, now the kids are growing up I miss it, (although I don’t miss clearing it out of the hoover.)

And Harry Potter is the default choice of film if everyone is arguing about what to watch. Even Granny happily got excited about the demise of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named on our Christmas Day movie night, before she fell asleep with her party hat on. The idea of finding out how the films were created and entering that magical world is extremely appealing to us all.

So we are doing it. Windsor’s Legoland followed by Watford’s Harry Potter. This weekend.

Matthew loves competitions and Mum loves Dobby

While the kids are hugely excited about both theme parks, the conversation has now turned into a furious debate about which attraction will be better. Matthew argues that Legoland Windsor is likely to have giraffe coat hangers, a safe full of presents and competitions. Matthew lives for competitions.

“But Harry Potter would have Dobby. Mum loves Dobby,” says Cameron, dancing around the room.

The marking system will decide.

The marking systems are highly sophisticated, personal and subjective

Score cards and ratings

The kids have been busy making score cards and intend to award points under the following categories.

“Harry Potter is going to make our friends the most jealous. It doesn’t even open until 31st March and it’s already booked up until September,” says Matthew, who has been reading early reviews in the British newspapers. He makes a note on his marking sheet.

“Dad, he’s marking them already,” Cameron shouts.

“You can’t start judging them until we get there,” Stuart reminds him.

I chuckle to myself at their home made marking system that mirrors their school books. You can take the pedalling out of the theme park weekend, but they’ll still turn it into an education. It’s clear that family tradition is well engrained. .

Never mind Potter vs Voldemort, this is Potter vs Legoland

I’m pushing for our theme park weekend to be about fun. But we’ll let you know what the scores are on our return. In case you ever want to use it as a reward…

Read more about our Twin Theme Park Adventure:

Are you a theme park nut? Can you have an adventure at one? Do they have anything to teach us? 

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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