Been meaning to write this for ages (well, since March 19th :P), but here's a trip review of the Annual Pass day at Legoland. Also, I've thrown in a bit of yesterday's visit, just for good measure ;).
So, on Friday 19th March I got to the park at around 09:30, and there were already some large-ish queues to get into the park:
Rushed down to Pirates Landing, (the renamed Wild Woods), and collected my collector brick
(seventh I’ve got – really like the concept!). While we waited behind the red ribbon, Jolly Rocker was testing
The ribbon was then cut by a competition winning family, who then got first ride on Jolly Rocker. I was at the opening of Kingdom of the Pharaohs last year, which was a lovely little occasion, with Vicky Brown (general manager) giving a short speech to the assembled crowds, and then a shower of confetti as the ribbon was cut. In contrast, this year consisted of about one sentence from an anonymous staff member, which was a bit of a shame.
Strangely, the Jolly Rocker was still testing once the land was open – I’d have thought they’d time it so that all was open. Also, Pirate Falls Dynamite Drench was still void of water. So, had a bit of a wander and took some pictures of Pirates Training Camp, which is a renamed and slightly extended Rat Trap:
^It's interesting to note that yesterday that blue chipping had gone, and had been replaced with normal brown chipping. Real, real shame, as it looked good.
It was nice that they had three really rather funny pirates walking around and interacting with guests:Jolly Rocker
So, when I noticed that the Jolly Rocker was up and running, I rushed over. Not that I needed to, as there was barely a queue (though there is a really
long queue line, consisting of three separate cattle-pens with no options to skip any and shorten it…).
Got to the air gates (not seen air gates on a swinging ship before – seems like a good idea), but as the cycle before me came to an end, the ride suffered some, well, technical
difficulties. I won’t elaborate too much, but take a look at the two photos below, of before maintenance came, and after they had done what was needed. Suffice to say there was a slight problem with these falling off on the other side, and so maintenance decided to speed up the process on this side:
Once that was sorted, I got on. Now, I don’t reckon it swings as high as it could – I’ve never been too fond of the Black Buccaneer at Chessie, as it really makes me feel queasy. With this, however, I was absolutely fine. Either I’ve become more of a man ( :D ), or they’re just playing cautious with their settings. Also, the health and safety surrounding the ride is a bit OTT. Each row can have no more than five (fine), but there must
be an adult at each end of the row, in case the kids fall out. Also, absolutely no removing of hands from safety bars whilst the ride is in motion – the soundtrack (which I’ll come onto) is constantly being interrupted by staff telling riders to “hold on, please”, when anyone dares to stick their arms up.
That second point is very irritating, but the first point is a killer, as it makes loading the ride really rather slow and laborious – something that really shouldn’t be the case if they’ve gone to the trouble of installing air gates.
I read somewhere that the theming is poor – I really don’t feel that to be the case (aside from on the sides of the actual ship itself, where… well, the pictures above speak for themselves :P). The overall look of the ship, with the mast and sails, is quite nice. The area around the ship is beautifully planted, with a real Caribbean theme. There’s also a few rather nice Lego models, and a nice swath of blue chipping under the ship to make it look like sea. A few barrels dotted around really finalise the look.
(not the best picture ever, sadly, doesn't show the plants)
Also, the ambient soundtrack is rather awesome, with the Jolly Rocker using the park’s second Tussaud’s sound system. The queue line regularly gets jokes and interesting snippets from a lively pirate narrator, who also provides the safety announcements for the ride itself.From yesterday
: Oh dear, Jolly Rocker was really experiencing some issues yesterday. The ‘missing’ theming has now been screwed on, but the restraint system is really playing up, with riders having to be manually released from the ship quite often, after which it appears the whole ride needs resetting :no:. I don’t see why they’re having issues so soon…
...at least the Tussaud's system is getting well used, with the pirate often stating "we seem to be having a spot of bother on our decks..." :PPirate Falls Dynamite Drench
Well, not much to say here, sadly. Barely an upgrade at all – all that’s really been changed is that there’s new audio in the drop shed (something about playing with fire and dynamite being a bad idea), and four new water cannons have been added just after the drop, with triggers on ‘dry land’:
…except on the AP day, only three of them worked, and yesterday none of them did. Really nothing that justifies the new 'Dynamite Drench' tag line.
On the plus side, a lot of the theming has been retouched, and animatronics that haven’t worked for years have started working again!Pirates of Skeleton Bay
A new show for the Lego City Harbour for 2010, to tie in with Pirates Landing, and it’s actually really rather excellent! Take a look at some extracts here
The story, to be honest, is a bit poor, a bit lacking, but it’s more than made up by the action, which is highly amusing and quite well choreographed. Also, it makes a lovely change having two narrators with mics – just makes the whole thing feel less ‘wooden'.Jungle Coaster (or lack thereof)
All that’s left of the Jungle Coaster is a few footers, a car, and the station structure (though that’s in ruins). The area is boarded off with advertisements for the forthcoming hotel:Lego City: A Clutch Powers 4D Adventure
This year’s new 4D film. It’s brilliant :D. Uses 3D and extra 4D effects really well, without the feeling that they’re being used for the sake of being used. If anything, a little too much water…
I like how they never get rid of films, so the Imagination Theatre is now home to four different 4D films – makes for great variety :).The Dragon
The only other thing I can see, that has really been ballsed up, is the Dragon Coaster, which they are now running on three trains (having always run on two before). Now, for one reason or another (well, one being that kids must
sit to the left of adults…), the loading time of the Dragon is really rather slow. Now, with three trains running, you always get one in the station, one on the inside/outside before lift hill 2, and one on the traction wheels outside the station. This means that by the time the train on the ride has reached LH2, it always
has to stop, for a good 20-30 seconds, while train in the station is filled and dispatched, the train in front moved into the station, and the block cleared. This completely kills the coaster section. Half the train is adamant that the ride has broken down, and the other half is sitting weeping at how an already simple ride could’ve been ruined. Shame. Doesn’t help that the traction wheels on lift hill two seem to really dislike restarting with a train on them – there’s a rather ominous electric-buzzing, following by a bit of vibration, and then the train slowly starts moving forward, until enough momentum is gained for the motors to relax and happily push it up the hill.
This is sadly a case of capacity at the expense of the ride experience :no:.Elsewhere
Not a huge amount to report elsewhere. A few food outlets have had a rename (for example, the Jungle Café is now the Mexican Cantina, i.e. the same as in other Merlin Parks), and the Big Shop has had two extensions, making it quite massive.
So, that’s it really. The Jolly Rocker is a nice addition, though health and safety is over the top, and reliability seems to be an issue. Theming, however, is excellent, and the new harbour show is equally good. The Dragon, however, has been slayed :no:.
There are more photos dotted around my site, cllw.co.uk
Hope that, for a first trip report, this was OK :D