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  • Writer's pictureImogen Hall

How to plan a trip to the Land of Lego

Me and my sister as Minifigures. Can you guess which one I am?

How long before we stop taking those cancelled or postponed trips when the world went into lockdown in 2020? It’s not just those that were booked but also the ideas, plans and dreams for travel that had to stop when the world did in the spring of 2020. We’re certainly not taking it for granted that we can travel again.

Back in the autumn of 2020, Harry sat some challenging school exams. He has loved Lego all his life, and we had heard rave reports from other families about trips to the home of the brick, Billund, in Denmark. It seemed to be the perfect reward for working hard, and in January 2020 we duly booked a trip, only to get those refunds and credit notes a few months later. Fast forward two years, and we’d pretty much forgotten about the idea when my sister and brother-in-law suggested we go together. Their children are younger than ours, but the love of Lego is strong, and they have a penchant for Scandinavia, so it felt like the stars were aligning.

Some hardcore planning ensued as we worked out how to accommodate kids of various ages and slightly different budgets and priorities. We all think the planning paid off; not only did we spread the cost by booking quite a few things in advance, but we also knew what we were doing most days, so the only logistics we had to worry about was feeding everyone.

Here’s what we did and how we did it for those of you thinking of a similar trip, which is something we very much recommend.

Living the Lego Dream

Stating the obvious, the main star in Billund’s crown is the fact that it is the home of Lego. You can find the headquarters, the first-ever Legoland theme park and the relatively new Lego House in close proximity. Even though we had timed our visit for when the Danish schools returned in early August, Legoland was still incredibly popular. Be prepared to navigate crowds. Part of the theme park experience is queuing for the rides, so snacks, water and a good dose of parental patience are a good idea. Maybe we were lucky, but we only ever waited an hour, and it was impressive to watch our 5-year-old niece wait 45 minutes to go on Flying Eagle roller coaster (which she loved, by the way). Other tips for managing the queues are to get into the park as it opens and head straight to your desired ride or be prepared to stick around until the end of the day when people start going home, and there’s a more relaxed vibe. The opening hours vary so it’s worth checking when the attractions will run until. We booked tickets in advance for two days - these don’t have to be consecutive - and by the end of the second one, everyone had done what they wanted. As a theme park, Legoland works well for different ages of kids as we could take the baby niece off to Duploland while the teenagers threw themselves up and down rides which give you a bit more of a thrill. We could then come together to marvel at Miniland and get involved in different experiences, such as working together to put out a fire or watching a water-based acrobatics show. As you might expect, the food is super expensive inside the park, and we recommend bringing a picnic. And we wouldn’t bank on being able to supplement it as the queues for the food kiosks were insane. On one notable occasion, we had to abandon a line to get ice cream as it was moving so slowly. But, this summer was one of staff shortages so the experience may be different at another point. A few people asked us how the Danish Legoland compares to Windsor. Our perspective is that although there are similar rides at both, the Danish version offers more variety and generally feels a bit more loved. And because you have to travel by air or train to get there, you have a readymade reason why you can’t take any enormous Lego sets home - although that didn’t seem to put other people off.

Making friends at Lego HQ

Staying with the theme, the Lego Hou is the creative antidote to the adrenalin rush of Legoland. It starts with the building, designed to look like Lego bricks, and continues inside with total immersion in everything small, plastic and block-like. And that’s in reality and digital formats. It’s quite an intense experience as there are, predictably, lots of people all doing the same as you. After a few hours, the heady mix of brick creativity, digital interaction and proximity to strangers meant we had all had enough. Booking tickets to enable small doses and return visits may be a better way to spend time at the Lego House, especially with small or neurodiverse children. There are colour-coded zones, with a variety of activities in each. We used robots to race each other, trying to create natural environments for bees to survive as we did, and created mini-figures of ourselves to use on different magazine covers. Then we designed fish that came alive on the screen and made fast racing cars, intricate flowers and a stop-motion video. To showcase the digital world of Lego, you have a wristband to save each creation. And when you leave, you get a set of six red bricks with a unique combination just for you. There’s also a masterpiece gallery, a museum of Lego and, of course, a shop and restaurant. As usual, take food to save money. The Lego House is undoubtedly fun, educational, inspiring and exciting, but prepare for overwhelm and plan accordingly. It’s also worth noting that if you have babies or toddlers in tow, there are Duplo areas, but the focus is on creating and building so older children get more out of it. In contrast, the last Lego-themed thing we did was a simple walk around the headquarters. It is an interesting building to look at in itself and allows you to step back to your childhood and get a photo with a giant Lego figure as they used to look. It is a designated trail with some thought-provoking signs and even a couple of wooden activity stations for the kids.

A Day at the Beach, a Day of Drenching and some real live Vikings We broke up the Lego days with three different things, all of which proved very successful in their own right. The first was a day spent in Lalandia’s water park. LaLandia is a Centre Parcs-type resort right next to Legoland, and many families choose to stay there. We didn’t, as the number of children we had tipped us into a more expensive accommodation bracket, and there was no leeway on this due to Danish legislation. So instead, we paid for a day in the water park and stayed there all day. Many people know that the Halls love a waterpark, and Lalandia did not disappoint. There is a good range of rides, a decent wave pool, a variety of equipment and pools for younger kids and babies. Crucially for Winnie, there was a wild river that she must have gone down with her cousin at least 20 times. The only downside was that our goggles got stolen, the food was expensive and very average, and we did notice that there weren’t as many lifeguards as we’ve seen at other parks. Officially you aren’t allowed to bring food in, but we could see experienced regulars who had smuggled in their own supplies.

Putting those new warfare skills to good use

After all the time in theme parks, water parks and interactive experiences, the adults in our party were crying out for a bit of time in the natural world. We fixed this first with a day spent in the lovely medieval town of Ribe, about an hour’s drive from Billund. Ribe is notably home to the Ribe Viking Centre where you get to pay some kroner to hang out with Vikings (OK, not actual Vikings but people living and working as Vikings did). It was pretty fascinating - some of the hosts seemed to have taken on their characters completely, whereas others were happy to chat and educate us. The kids whittled sticks, stamped coins and took a lesson in warfare while we all watched a battle and learnt about silver threading, net making and weaving. Harry also learnt when not to cross a Viking when he dared to pick up an axe without being told he could do so. As living museums go, Ribe Viking Centre certainly brought the Viking way of life to the fore, and we will all remember it for many years. And then, on our very last day, we drove in the opposite direction to the beach at Sønder Bjert. We were blessed with the sun, few people and a great little ice cream shop. The water was shallow so there wasn’t much swimming but plenty of beach combing, ball games and dozing in the sunshine. Although it was an hour’s drive, we found we enjoyed the experience of seeing a bit more of this part of Denmark: the countryside is very easy on the eye with low rolling hills, fields of yellow wheat or lush pasture, and not much traffic on the road.

Where to stay With staying at Lalandia ruled out due to cost, we started a frantic search for a rental place. Luckily Airbnb delivered a complex including an aparthotel and a large property to rent in Vorbasse, which is 8 minutes easy drive from Billund. It had loads of space and, crucially for our group, a large garden with a trampoline, sand pit, slide, bbq and football goals. We also discovered a local park two minutes away with a zip wire and football pitch. After the days spent immersed in Lego, water or Vikings, some lovely evenings were spent kicking a ball about and playing together in the calm evening sunlight and we even managed a couple of runs in the early morning.

Nature's antidote to all that plastic: the view from our accommodation

How to get there If you are flying and live in the south of Britain, it’s a straightforward and quick journey from London Stansted to Billund - and if you book ahead, the tickets shouldn’t break the bank either. In a summer of chaos for the UK’s airports, we were lucky to have a straightforward journey back with no delays. As we’re flying less now and love a train journey, we chose to travel to Billund by train and fly home. Our journey took us from London St Pancras to Hamburg in one day, where we spent 48 hours exploring this rather lovely city before travelling to Kolding in Denmark in three hours. From Kolding, we picked up a hire car, discovering that my licence was out of date at the same time (top tip: check your driving licence is in date), to drive the hour to Billund.

Costs Denmark, like most of Scandinavia, is famously expensive, so keeping an eye on your daily costs is crucial if you don’t want to break the bank. We self-catered wherever we could and saved money for little treats like pastries or ice creams. Booking the main attractions online and in advance helped save money and with hindsight also worked for a group of different aged kids because everyone already knew what was planned for the day.

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