Family fun

Exploring two of the UK’s hottest new openings, which are perfect with kids this summer


Lego Mythica at Legoland Windsor

Marking its 25th anniversary this year, Legoland Windsor is celebrating with the opening of its new Mythica zone — a multi-million pound section added to the theme park, inhabited by 13 beasts inspired in part by Greek myth.

As you walk in, you’re greeted by Maximus — a winged lion with steely blue eyes and a slightly odd bright blue quiff — created using a mind-boggling 685,530 Lego bricks glued together.

The other 12 creatures (assembled with another million-plus bricks), include two, three and four-headed inventions based on ideas submitted by fans of the last year, as well as mythology.

All boast brilliant, bright colours, most can fly and the majority have terrifying jaws and the ability to spit fire at whoever they want: the exception is a cute multicoloured critter called Bitsandbob who looks like a cross between a Shetland pony and a unicorn. It can fly and cough up rainbows though.

All in all, this new realm makes for a riot of colour and a fresh touch to the park, along with new rides.

The showpiece is the Flight of the Sky Lion ride: a hair-raising five-minute film projected on an enormous 25-metre-tall screen, taking you on a journey with the fearsome Maximus over land, lava and sea, ducking and diving at a ferocious pace.

Strapped into a carriage that hardly moves, it feels utterly thrilling and there are plenty of heart-stopping moments. Getting sprayed with mist as we zipped through a waterfall, someone in the same (socially-distanced) carriage hollered, ‘This is awesome!’

The Mythica land also includes a ‘drop tower’ named Fire and Ice Freefall, which cranks you up into the air, then lowers you back to the ground at a relatively sedate pace.

For my children, Jack and Sammy, aged six and seven years respectively, the Hydra’s Challenge was perfect — a water attraction that sees you zoom around a course on your own mini-hydrofoil while onlookers push buttons to blast water jets and try to soak you.

But although the bulk of the money has gone into the rides, the surprising highlight for my sons was the simple Creation Station block; big buckets of bright new bricks to create your own magical beast. I joined in too, making my own garish, three-headed monsters and proudly placing them on the wall line-up.

More than 20 million people have visited the park since it opened, but this new realm is proof that Legoland has lost none of the charm and energy that I remember from my own first trip 25 years ago.

The Museum of the Home, London

It has taken three years (including pandemic-related postponement) and more than £18 million, but London’s Museum of the Home has reopened in time for the summer with almost double the space.

And while the former Geffrye Museum has kept its period rooms through time, joined by a Victorian parlour set for a séance, and 1976 front room of an African-Caribbean family home, there’s a big emphasis on interactive fun for kids as well as tackling everything from slavery to feminism and homelessness as part of the displays.

Outside the gardens trace similar trends, from Tudor-style knot gardens to practical vegetable patches and romantic flowering cottage gardens.

Wander through the new Home galleries, created on a lower level of the original 18th century almshouses, and you stroll through several hundred years of changing fashions as well as getting to see developments in technology — plenty of which was standard in most homes just a few decades ago, much to the amusement of younger visitors.

Even more entertaining is a touchscreen game to squash bedbugs, both oddly addictive and mildly itchy. Next to this, a display of various products used to keep homes clean over the centuries — complete with scents to smell and a feeling that the cures were often worse than the original problem.

Throw in puzzles and decoding, several trails for kids to follow, Mario Kart on an original SNES games console and the chance for visitors to vote on the big questions, such as whether you keep your ketchup in the fridge or cupboard, and it’s impressively entertaining for all ages.

Other collections show the impact of religion at home, with a mezuzah included in the display, plus videos of artists and performance poetry looking at the question of what makes a home in multicultural Britain.


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