The LEGOLAND Windsor theme park has introduced a new, state-of-the-art "flying theatre" ride for 2021 - and I was able to ride it before its opening to the general public on May 29. And I have to say that it's quite the breath-taker, taking a flight-sim-like experience and giving it an incredibly immersive, sensorily stunning, LEGO-shaped twist or twelve. It's good, then, and I'll get into why, below.
The Flight of the Sky Lion is a brand-new installation at the heart of a new 'land' at the theme park, MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures. This new LEGO theme is all about the imagination of kids, with several fantastical-looking, expertly brick-built creatures in the area based on designs from LEGO's most important audience. (Well, I guess we adults pay for the sets, most of the time, but you know what I mean.) There's a fire-and-ice dragon, a dog with the tail feathers of a peacock, an alicorn, and a chimera with the head of an eagle, lion, and shark. And then there's the Sky Lion itself, Maximus, who looms large over MYTHICA from the outside of the ride that bears his name.
Check out MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures in the video below...
The MYTHICA area offers two other rides. There's Hydra's Challenge, which is a reskin of the old SQUID Surfer, where you board a vessel spinning around in a circle as the water beneath explodes around you. Fire and Ice Freefall is your classic what-goes-up-must-come-down affair, with seats set around two towers that lift users up before dropping them back down to earth. There's a Creature Creation station for park-goers to build their own fantasy animals, and Creature Encounter, where the land's mascot, Bits and Bobs (like, a cuddly horse-dragon-eagle thing), can be met. There's also a restaurant and a small (but tall!) play area, but all of this is really just extras - the main event being The Flight of the Sky Lion, the first ride of its kind in the UK.
Attendees take a seat on a gondola which is ostensibly attached beneath Maximus, who takes riders on a tour of some wonderfully varied worlds. Your seat doesn't really go anywhere, but will gently tip forwards and back, enough that loose footwear and backpacks are left in a storage area before the ride commences. All the real movement - and there's enough to feel your stomach lurch and your lungs empty - comes via the huge screen that wraps around in front of you on an inverted dome, filling almost all of your vision (look around and you'll spy the other gondolas, filled with other riders, and where the Mythical realm meets the real world at the screen's edges - but that's losing sight of the thrills before you).
To return to a previous comparison: if you've ever been on one of those flight sims that rocks you around its insides on a virtual roller coaster, you'll be one step to understanding what The Flight of the Sky Lion is all about. Because it's that, but so much more. There's no track on screen, though - you're soaring through the air, swooping down through a jungle canopy, emerging into a beautiful vista of waterfalls (which, thanks to some practical effects, you can absolutely feel on your skin).
There's fiery lava and encounters with beasts both exceptionally cute and decidedly threatening - but fret not as Maximus will take care of those nasties. Go with the flow of this ride, really commit to the spectacle on screen, and while you've not actually travelled anywhere, it really will make you feel that you've rocketed through a whole other dimension. Unlike other, older LEGOLAND attractions like Laser Raiders and Ninjago: The Ride, which do roll you around a course, this indoor adventure truly does move you, like little else.
The only downside to my ride on The Flight of the Sky Lion was its promised smells - as in, I didn't smell anything. Or at least, I didn't notice - but with a thick face-covering across my mouth and nose, maybe that's to be expected. When COVID precautions lift, no doubt this ride will be an even greater rush for the senses.
MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures opens to the general public at LEGOLAND Windsor on May 29. Anyone on the fence about attending a theme park right now - and I understand the concerns - will be pleased to know that the resort has a lot of very clearly communicated COVID-19 measures in place, and I witnessed staff on a few occasions remind guests about the need to wear masks and maintain space. Guest numbers are limited, too, and the park never felt overly crowded - in a way it has been, on past, pre-pandemic visits. But only you know if you're ready for such a large public space as this - and if you choose to wait, Maximus will be waiting for you.
Thanks to LEGOLAND Windsor for accommodating my family and I on this preview day for MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures. In the interest of transparency, access to the park was free of charge, fast-track access was provided for other attractions, and limited vouchers were provided to use at on-site food and beverage outlets and gift shops. None of this influences my opinion of the Sky Lion ride or the park's new land, but it did help keep two very demanding and short-fused children a little less argumentative.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read