|The children with the Q-bot|
Whining and tiredness are never good on days out - even those which have gone well. So, if you were offered the opportunity to have a great outing with the kids and as little whining at possible, would you take it? Even if it was against your better nature?
I ask because I have done just that. I queue jumped at Legoland, had a great time, and felt a mixture of guilt and delight. But overall, it was worth it.
All this was thanks to the Q-Bot, a small, hand-held device which looks like a child’s tamagotchi toy. It’s small, but very powerful – enabling you to jump the Legoland queues. It may all seem very un-English, and it certainly gave me a little bit of a bad conscience. But did it increase the fun we had? You bet.
Having kids makes you go to places you never thought you would visit. And that’s certainly true of Legoland, a theme park for the under 12’s. It’s located in a beautiful setting near Windsor and contains lots of Lego recreations of cities and countries. The kids, however, are not really that interested in the London Eye made out of small blocks, but instead gravitate towards the rides. And it’s the rides which cause all that tiredness and frustration.…..
My children love Legoland. It’s got excellent, child-friendly rides, is clean and has lots of places to eat. It’s also expensive and tiring. And there’s definitely a lot of waiting around. On last year’s trip we didn’t even attempt to line up for the latest ride, the Egyptian themed Laser Raiders. The waiting time was estimated to be an hour and a half, impossible for a then 4-year-old to manage. We had already waited 40 minutes to go on the roller coaster only to see another family zip in before us just as we were about to go on.
The other family, it emerged had Q-Bots with them. We had never heard of these, but soon discovered that they are a virtual queuing system. We thought this was very unfair. Until we had one ourselves.
We weren’t sure exactly what we were letting ourselves in for, if the Q-Bots were really necessary, or if they were something we felt comfortable with. It turns out that they were a real benefit - even though I wish that wasn’t true.
The Q-Bot is described as a “virtual queuing system” which you pay extra for. The cost is £10 per person, which means even more expense for your day out (the basic Legoland cost is £38 per adult, and £28 per child, which is really steep for one day).
Each family is given one fob, which lets you reserve a place in a queue. In other words, instead of spending an hour in the queue for Laser Raiders, you programme the ride in to the Q-Bot and it tells you (via a helpful beep) when your place is ready. You can turn up at that time or after and in the meantime of course, you can try out other things (or have a snack/lunch).
You can only reserve one ride at a time and not all rides can be booked. If you wanted to split up and book one adult and one child on one ride, and one adult and one child on another, that’s not possible, as you’ve only got one fob. You can cancel your ride if you change your mind.
The argument is that you are still queuing, just not in person, because the Q-bot is doing it for you. It’s certainly an easier way to queue.
I’d say that on this trip we went on more rides than we ever have done before. We tried out Laser Raiders first, and, although it was fun, I think I’d have cried if I’d queued for it for an hour (it wasn’t that good!). We planned what we wanted to do and the Q-Bot made everything so much easier.
I can’t bring myself to like the Q-Bot, as it does seem unfair and also somehow wrong (if you’ve paid all that money to get in, how ridiculous to pay more once you’re there). But I can’t deny that it saved us a lot of time and turned a good day into a brilliant one. And if you can handle the unpleasant looks from other people as you move to the front of the queue, so much the better!
This article first appeared in The Times online.