A colorful map of Europe had commandeered our kitchen table. Armed with pens, scratch paper and a few glasses of red wine, my husband and I were working to come up with a realistic plan of attack. We had only been in Germany for a little less than a year, but we were already feeling the pressure to make the most of the rest of our projected time overseas with limited resources.
In the end, exciting, high-profile cities like Barcelona and London, a relaxing, family-friendly Mediterranean cruise and even a trek to Disneyland Paris made the top of our wish list, but Legoland Deutschland was never a serious contender.
That is, until we were invited to join another military family on a trip to celebrate their son’s 5th birthday.
I had no idea how much fun we were going to have until I saw the expressions of sheer joy on our boys’ faces as we made our way to the park’s entrance. Sometimes, the most memorable adventures end up being the ones you never thought much about going on in the first place.
[Tweet “The most memorable adventures = the 1s you never thought about 1st. #milfam”]
If you are considering planning a trip to Legoland Deutschland in the near future, these tips are for you.
Make it a trip with friends
Although the brick-shaped fries and miniature European cityscapes built entirely out of Legos were pretty amazing, my favorite part about our experience at Legoland Deutschland was being able to enjoy it with good company.
While we probably would have had a great time, anyway, if we had gone on our own, making memories with another family made the trip even more special. Like any relationship, we deepen bonds of friendship with the time we spend together. Our boys had a blast taking in the sights, exploring the attractions and going on rides with their buddies, and I especially enjoyed the little moments I spent getting to know my girlfriend, Lori, better.
Bring plenty of snacks and water
If the thought of waiting in line to spend €3 on a bottle of water makes you cringe, bring along a backpack filled with your family’s favorite snacks and beverages. Although we were not sure whether or not they would allow us to bring them into the park, we packed fresh fruit, crackers and juice boxes, anyway. Thankfully, they ushered us through the gates without any issue, and we were able to put our euros away for tasty meals at the park’s sit-down restaurants.
Spend the night in a barrel
A Lego-themed camping barrel, that is! While we could have chosen to stay off-site in a budget hotel room with more amenities (like its own private bathroom), we wanted to see what the European “glamping” (glam + camping) craze is all about.
These tiny, adorable, wine barrel-shaped houses look like they belong in The Shire; I half-expected a friendly hobbit to greet us at the door after our long journey to Legoland Feriendorf.
At first, we were a little concerned about the quality of sleep — or lack thereof — we might be getting in the close quarters with two little ones, we ended up having one of the coziest, memorable nights of any of our family vacations so far. The boys had so much fun, and my husband and I felt like kids ourselves, getting to snuggle up in the loft.
Take advantage of packaged deals
When it comes to squeezing as much as I can out of our family’s tight budget, I am all about packaged deals. After doing my research and browsing the seasonal discounts only available online, we decided on a special that offered 2-day park passes, a 1 night’s stay in a camping barrel at Legoland Feriendorf, along with free parking and breakfast for what we would have paid if we had chosen to stay in a local hotel. Score!
Watch for discounted group trips through your installation’s MWR office
Throughout the year, the MWR organizes discounted group trips to attractions like Legoland throughout Europe, providing round-trip transportation to service members and their families.
Visit your installation’s website once a month to keep yourself up to date on the deals being offered in your community throughout the seasons.
[Tweet “OCONUS #milfams: Use MWR for discounts on travel to save $$ abroad!”]
Consider an annual pass at the end of your stay
If you end up enjoying your time at the park as much as we did, you have the opportunity to credit the amount you already spent on park entrance fees toward annual passes. There are several options to choose from, and many include free entry to other Legoland attractions, aquariums and museums, along with perks like shop and restaurant discounts in the park.
We have been back from our trip for just a few weeks, and our boys are already asking to go back.
To be completely honest, we were surprised by Legoland Deutschland. While the food was a bit pricey (what you would expect at any amusement park), the staff was kind and helpful, the park was clean and accommodating to families with young children and the camping was plenty comfortable.
This trip has definitely encouraged us to revisit our wish list and build in a little flexibility so we can make extra room for more unexpected adventures.
Courtney is a military spouse, mom of 2 boys, graduate student, and part-time writer-editor for a travel & lifestyle magazine serving military families stationed in Europe. She has a heart for our troops and their families and hopes to share what little she has learned along the way to help others overcome the unique challenges of military life. You can follow her adventures at her blog, Courtney At Home, or through her social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.