Turning four in style: LEGOLAND Manchester and Monster Kidz, Leeds, review.

For many the month of January is a long, cold, miserable month of frugality, shivering beneath blankets at home while wishing payday would bloody well hurry up. For our household it’s been slightly different ever since Small Fry came along because her birthday is mid-January. Every year since she was born the celebrations have become wilder, longer, with more friends high on e-numbers, more money spent on activities and parties and higher expectations to manage each time. So this time, on her fourth birthday, the weekend was reminiscent of one of the decadent scenes near the end of DiCaprio’s The Wolf of Wall Street, but with with any illicit substances replaced by sweeties. We ate a lot of sweeties. 

  
This year her birthday fell on a Friday and as it’s the last time for many years that she’ll be able to do something on a weekday birthday other than go to school, we had a family trip to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester. Her favourite presents of a My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Flip and Whirl and a Lottie Doll dressed in wellies and a mac – but with a superhero outfit on hand just in case – came in the car with us. 

There are several potential sub-plots to this blog post. Including the aceness of the Lottie Doll which promotes gender equality and healthy body image. 

There is also the potential to branch out to discuss the fact that my newly acquired slow cooker managed to produce one of the most disgusting meals I’ve ever made while we were out. But I think that’s a story for another post. Suffice to say, it smelled like a cow shed but we ate it anyway as there was no alternative. 

  
LEGOLAND was brilliantly entertaining. We booked a special adult and toddler (under 5) ticket for £13.50 with an additional person costing the same. We didn’t need to pay for the baby, so it came to £27 – and was totally worth it. We all had our favourite bits – a ride which involved pedalling fast to get your car to fly was Ben’s choice, along with the 4D special effects cinema, which showed two different films. Small Fry loved the miniature LEGO city of Manchester and the Blackpool scene and I got super competitive and enjoyed every minute of building cars to race down very high ramps. Small Fry was just old enough for the attraction and older children would definitely relish the experience too. She was still too young for a couple of things – a track to drive a car along was a bit too much (she couldn’t steer – although that could just be her channelling her great-grandma’s driving skills), she was frightened by a tunnel covered slide in the soft play area and a shoot-em-up ride at the very start of the attraction saw Ben emerging triumphant with a million zombie-killing points and Small Fry being carried by him weeping with fear. 

  
The cafe also sucked, with overpriced cardboard sandwiches and expensive machine-made coffee providing limited options. 

But the whole place was very clean, undercover and toasty warm and the staff were great. We could have easily spent another couple of hours on top of the five hours we were there. Next time we go we might smuggle in a picnic though.

The following day was party day. A cake which looked fit to hardwire any youngsters for the week following consumption was the only thing we had to contribute to the event at Monster Kidz in Bramley, Leeds. They even did the party bags, which at £8.95 per child seemed like brilliant value. 

  
The only compromise at Monster Kidz is the fact it’s open the the public at the same time as the party. This is no problem as it’s a huge play gym and there’s room for everyone, although I was slightly wracked with nerves when two parents left their children at the party in my care. What if they got lost/broke/went off with a stranger/were abducted by a pack of wolves? It turns out they were fine and it was a new experience to chalk up on the list for me. The kids all got down to some hardcore playing. This was followed by food, presented in a private room which boasted a table, the head of which was adorned with a birthday throne. Small Fry accepted the role of birthday royalty quite readily and was heard lording over her loyal subjects at one point with the words: “Everybody, everybody! Listen to me!” She ate nothing healthy, barely anything savory, loads of sweets and had a brilliant time. 
  

 

Sunday arrived at 6.30am – despite the birthday girl being so tired she could barely stand the night before – with a small voice in the dark saying: “I’m too excited to sleep, what are we doing today?”

Well, playing in the snow was a pretty cool way to finish an amazing weekend. 

  
Blue Monday was more like ‘Come Down’ Monday. As most people reserve their hedonistic party weekends for later in the year, we in Bramley show how it’s done in January. Now, where’s that leftover cake/bag of sweets/pop? And where did my healthy eating/clean living plan go? (for more on that see my yet-to-be-written Crock-Pots, hen dos and Wheelie Fit Mums post… Coming soon!)

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