A History of LEGOLAND Windsor
In this article, we will be taking a brief look at the history of LEGOLAND Windsor. The history of this LEGO themed park begins in 1992, just after the end of our recent Windsor Safari Park article.
Following the closure of Windsor Safari Park in 1992, the LEGO group bought the site of former attraction, Winsor Safari Park, to create the first LEGOLAND Park outside of Denmark. After over 3 years of planning and construction, the park opened to the public in March 1996 with a total of 25 million bricks, 15 rides, shows and attractions. In its first season the park attracted over 1.4 million guests. Since then, the park has grown to include over 55 attractions, a 150 room hotel which is opening this season and now employs up to 155 full time staff and 775 seasonal staff to work at, and maintain this 150 acre site.
In 2005, the LEGO Group decided to sell its theme parks so that it could focus on its main toy business. After the sale, the operation of the four existing LEGOLAND parks passed to UK firm Merlin Entertainments, with the LEGO Group retaining 30% ownership of the company.
LEGOLAND Windsorâ€™s many rides and attractions include a couple of family roller coasters, a log flume, a river rapids ride, an interactive dark ride and the world famous Miniland â€“ a collection of model buildings and structures.
The Major Rides and Attractions
There have been many new additions to the park over the 16 seasons it has operated. Some of the more major additions are listed below:
1998 â€“ The first major addition to the park after it opened was Castleland. This new themed section of the park contained the large Dragon Knights Castle and The Dragon family roller coaster. This coaster was constructed by WGH Transportation Engineering, a company from South Yorkshire. It begins with a Dark Ride section taking you through a number of scenes inside the castle before it goes outside to become a fun family coaster.
1999 â€“ The Dragonâ€™s Apprentice coaster and Balloon School opened.
2000 â€“ A new water ride, Wave Rider, opened and was joined LEGO Racers and the Creation Centre during the Christmas 2000 season.
2003 â€“ LEGO Racers 4D opened in the Imagination Theatre.
2004 â€“ Jungle Coaster, a Mack Wild Mouse Roller Coaster themed to the LEGO TECHNIC system opened.
2005 â€“ Three new rides opened including The Fire Academy, Dino Dipper and Dino Safari.
2006 â€“ Digger Challenge opened.
2007 â€“ New park area, Land of the Vikings opened with Vikingâ€™s River Splash, a river rapids ride made by ABC Rides.
2008 â€“ Longboat Invader, a Zamperla Rockinâ€™ Tub opened and the Q-Bot virtual queuing system was installed at the park.
2009 â€“ Kingdom of the Pharaohs, a new ancient Egyptian themed park area opened with Scarab Bouncers and Laser Raiders, a Dark Ride made by US firm Sally Corporation.
2010 â€“ Another new park area called Pirates Landing opened complete with Jolly Rocker, Pirates Training Camp and an updated Pirates Falls Dynamite Drench. Plus a new 4D movie â€śLEGO city a Clutch Powers 4D Adventureâ€ť opened at the park.
2011 â€“ Atlantis Submarine Voyage opened, it is an underwater submarine themed Dark Ride, set it an aquarium that holds over 1 million litres of water and over 2500 fish, sharks and rays.
Some of the rides and attractions that have left the park over the years to make way for new attractions include:
- Explorerâ€™s Institute â€“ This was an indoor walkthrough attraction, located in My Town, that took guests on a journey through themed scenes including tropical jungles, ancient Egypt and ice caves. This attraction contained LEGO models of Wolves, a Polar Bear and even Santa Claus relaxing on his holiday.
- Brick-A-Dillyâ€™s Circus Show â€“ This gave young children a chance to learn some circus skills and join in with an interactive circus show.
- Jungle Coaster â€“ This popular LEGO TECHNIC themed Mack Wild Mouse Roller Coaster closed at the end of the 2009 season, after operating for six seasons. The closure was mostly due to complaints from local residents about the high levels of noise pollution that were generated by the ride.
- Rocket Racers â€“ This interactive car racing attraction was based on the LEGO Racers series of video games. This was a fun attraction but it had a troubled time at the park closing for its second and final time at the end of the 2011 season.
New for 2012
This season LEGOLAND Windsor have announced two new additions:
The first is the new LEGOLAND Windsor Resort Hotel, a unique LEGO themed hotel with 150 rooms, which promises to be fun for families with themed bedrooms and play areas. The second new addition is the LEGOLAND Star Wars Miniland Experience which will open at the park in March 2012. This new indoor, fully themed experience which has been planned with Lucasfilm Ltd, will recreate seven famous Star Wars scenes using around 1.5 million LEGO bricks.
Whilst there is currently no official news about new developments at the park beyond the 2012 season, there are many rumours that future additions over the next few years may include a new rollercoaster and another smaller ride. No matter what the park decide to add over the coming years we think it is clear to see that with the opening of their new hotel and their focus on becoming a resort destination we are definitely going to see a lot more investment at LEGOLAND Windsor, hopefully coupled with a continued increase in visitor numbers.