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Review: Atlantis Submarine Voyage at LEGOLAND Windsor

Atlantis Submarine Voyage entrance
Our rating:
4
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Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (4 votes)
(1 user review)

LEGOLAND Windsor has opened its new ride for the 2011 season, Atlantis Submarine Voyage. The first-of-its-kind attraction combines a dark ride with Sea Life Marine exhibits, and takes guests on a journey to the lost underwater city of Atlantis. It's an intriguing addition - but does the end product deliver on the concept's promise?

Owner Merlin Entertainments Group has previously located smaller Sea Life attractions in its theme parks, including the Sharkbait Reef aquarium at Alton Towers. However, Atlantis Submarine Voyage represents the company's first attempt to incorporate the Sea Life brand into an actual ride - and could be a sign of things to come at the chain's other parks if it proves a success.

Atlantis Submarine Voyage certainly features all the required elements to appeal to LEGOLAND Windor's core audience of children aged 2-12 - including exciting submarine vehicles, exotic fish and, of course, lots and lots of LEGO. Does it combine these effectively to produce a great family theme park attraction? Read on to find out.

A new landmark

LEGOLAND Windsor has located Atlantis Submarine Voyage in the Adventure Land area at the rear of the park, and it's immediately obvious on seeing the attraction's exterior that it is a major addition. The imposing ride building is centred around a mock pyramid, and the attractive landscaping surrounding it ensures that it looks worth every bit of the £8 million that the park has invested in building it.

Atlantis Submarine Voyage exterior

Atlantis Submarine Voyage occupies an enormous building.

The large size of the building is necessary in order to house the 1-million-litre ocean tank within, which houses over 50 species of sharks, rays and tropical fish. It also hosts a small aquarium, along with a store selling LEGO Atlantis merchandise.

Atlantis Submarine Voyage submarine model image

LEGO isn't commonly viewed as a viable submarine construction material.

As with many elements of LEGOLAND parks, the building seems even more impressive when viewing it up close. Then, it becomes clear that many of its features are actually constructed (at least partially) using LEGO bricks, from the large "Atlantis" sign on the pyramid, to the murals on the walls. Even the replica submarine located at the ride's entrance is made up of thousands of the tiny bricks.

Waiting to submerge

Perhaps surprisingly given the size of the ride building, the majority of Atlantis Submarine Voyage's queue is located outdoors. Unfortunately, the area features little shade or rain cover, meaning that on both hot and wet days it is unlikely to offer an enjoyable wait for parents with impatient children.

The beach scene is the only point of interest in the dull exterior queue.

Although the queue is relatively bland, there are some elements designed to keep waiting riders entertained. As well as signs providing background on the some of the fish that can be seen during the ride, there is also a small scene showing some of the LEGO Atlantis characters having a cookout. Once inside, the distractions step up a notch, with interactive touch screens and a pre-ride video explaining the features of the submarine.

Touchscreen image

An interactive touchscreen livens up the indoor queue section.

Although the lack of shade is a concern, parents will at least be relieved to hear that Atlantis Submarine Voyage does not suffer from the crippling capacity problems that plague many of LEGOLAND Windsor's most popular attractions. Unlike the agonisingly slow-moving queues for favourites such as Driving School and Boating School, the queue for the new ride moves along at a brisk pace due to the continuous loading system it employs.

Climbing on board

Atlantis Submarine Voyage features a fleet of 8 yellow vehicles, which are suspended from rails and partially submerged in the enormous water tank. The boarding process is extremely efficient, with riders sent down either a red or a blue line, and sitting in the corresponding red or blue zone in the submarine.

Atlantis Submarine Voyage station

The submarines move continuously as they pass through the station.

Staff manning the new ride were very keen to get guests onto the submarines as quickly as possible, which is refreshing to see in a UK theme park. However, the first time we rode we found them to be a little overzealous - adding us to the already-large crowd on a departing vehicle. Although the official capacity of each vehicle is 14, we discovered that this leads to a very cramped ride. Indeed, we were unable to sit on the proper seats, and ended up perched on the entry/exit steps, unable to see properly out of the windows. This completely destroyed the ride experience, and we advise requesting to ride again if you suffer from the same problem.

Atlantis Submarine Voyage interior

Sitting on the submarine's steps does not offer the best view.

When loaded sensibly (with 10-12 guests), the air-conditioned submarines offer a good mix between comfort and convincing theming. As well as a range of windows and portholes to peer out of, there is also plenty of eye-candy inside the vehicles. This includes screens which provide information on the fish that can be seen swimming alongside the submarine.

Information screen image

Information screens supplement the ride's audio track.

We've read some complaints that the windows in Atlantis Submarine Voyage's vehicles are not large enough for adults to comfortably view the fish. We didn't find this a huge problem, although we were happy to lean forward to get a better view. Children - the main audience for the ride - shouldn't suffer from the same problem.

Heading to Atlantis

You can view a full video ride-through on Atlantis Submarine Voyage below:

Atlantis Submarine Voyage's storyline is fairly lightweight, and centres on a trip to catalogue the fish lurking in the lost city. While it doesn't add greatly to the ride experience, it does provide a convenient excuse to prompt kids to push buttons at key moments - adding a fun degree of interactivity to the trip.

Rays image

Rays appear super-sized next to the LEGO Atlantis models.
Image © LEGOLAND Windsor

The city of Atlantis itself, recreated in miniature, is relatively underwhelming. However, it is merely a sideshow next to the fascinating array of creatures that can be viewed through the windows of the submarine. Although most of the species can be seen in other Sea Life centres, the size of the tank and the underwater viewpoint do make the attraction feel like a new and unique experience.

Shark and submarine

The ride system minimises noise so as not to disturb the fish.
Image © LEGOLAND Windsor

Provided you have a seat, you are guaranteed to get a great view of the marine creatures throughout the ride. Although a little on the short side, Atlantis Submarine Voyage should offer excellent re-ride value, as there is always scope to try and spot different fish on each journey.

Post-ride experience

Atlantis Submarine Voyage aquarium

The aquarium consists of two small tanks.

After disembarking from the submarines, riders are filtered into a small aquarium which sits alongside it. This features several small tanks holding a variety of different fish, along with a touch pool area where guests can get up close and personal with a variety of creatures.

Touch pool

Touch pools are a common feature at Sea Life centres.

It's too much to expect a major Sea Life centre alongside Atlantis Submarine Voyage, which is designed to offer an altogether different experience. However, we were a little disappointed that it wasn't possible to view any areas of the main tank on-foot. In all likelihood, this was simply too complicated and expensive to achieve.

Stocking up on toys

Atlantis Sub Store image

Parents are likely to leave the Atlantis Sub Store with lighter wallets.

After leaving the aquarium, parents might grimace to see extensive displays of pricey LEGO Atlantis merchandise greet them in the Atlantis Sub Store. Toys on offer include a range of vehicles (such as the Undersea Explorer and the Neptune Carrier), alongside buildings such as the Atlantis Exploration HQ.

Our thoughts

Although our first experience on the ride was very disappointing due to the overloading of our submarine, Atlantis Submarine Voyage is still a very strong addition to LEGOLAND Windsor's attraction line-up. The combination of an interesting and educational Sea Life exhibit with (at least for younger children) an exciting ride experience proves to be a real winner.

Shark and pyramid

The fish, not the scenery, are the highlight of Atlantis Submarine Voyage.

Although we'd have preferred a slightly longer ride experience, the throughput of Atlantis Submarine Voyage is one of its major strengths. It's easy to spend hours waiting in line for some of LEGOLAND Windsor's other attractions, so it's a relief to see an attraction that can both entertain and keep the queues moving.

While there's room for improvement in potential future installations of similar attractions at other LEGOLAND parks (more expansive Atlantis scenery would be at the top of the list), Atlantis Submarine Voyage largely lives up to its potential. For parents with young children, we strongly recommend a trip to LEGOLAND Windsor to check it out.

You can view more images of LEGOLAND Windsor's latest addition in our Atlantis Submarine Voyage gallery. You can also add your own review and rating of the ride.

You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions through Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section, and by signing up for our weekly newsletter.


There are 3 comments.

Great review!

I do think you're overly harsh regarding the filling of the subs. Clearly your first ride was somewhat a disaster, which is really unfortunate, but having now ridden over 20 times (err... OK, so I'm perhaps overly enthusiastic :P ), I've not once seen this problem, so I definitely think your initial experience was completely atypical. I'd never say that the subs can 'comfortably' fit 14, but they can fit 14 without it being too squashed.

Regarding the viewing of the tank from foot, I do agree that that would've been awesome, but I can see two reasons why it didn't happen: firstly, the tank is below ground level, so (as you said) having the 'guest-facing' attraction on two levels would've been very pricey. Also, it'd be difficult to do it without any such viewing windows being visible from the subs, and of course once you can see something like that from the subs you've ruined the whole theme in a way.

Really nice review, though - fantastic to see Legoland finally getting praise in enthusiast circles!

Well I must say that reading the above reviews it would be worth going, now that I have been I can honestly say that I was... ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTED!

What a complete and utter waste of nearly 2 hours of my life, of which all but about 2minutes was actually spent queueing.

The line seemed to go on for ages, with very little to entertain the children waiting, and after such a long time waiting I was expecting something special.

However we got into the "submarine" and the doors shut. Now to call it a submarine is a joke.... it doesn't actually go underwater, all it really is, is a boat, with glass windows in the lower half to see through, and a cover over the top.

The voice on the intercom system was not very clear, and we were confussed by what the computer screens were trying to show us. So, we just decided to look out the windows at the fish, sharks, and odd lego made thing...

As we settled in to enjoy the ride, oh low and behold it was over!

Sorry but even it was free, and there was no queue, I would not be going back on this ride! (or back to this park!)

Count yourself lucky ! We went in 2011 on a two day for the price of one. Three hours was spent waiting to get into the "ride". Q bot people were jumping in constantly.

I am not surprised that there were a fight at legoland regarding people jumping in. Q Bots should be banned or they should wait a little bit longer.

For the entire duration , thats at least 14 hours spent at Legoland, we eventually got onto just 6 rides....the rest of the time was spent queuing. Including hotel and food there, we spent over £400.

My advise is to goto Alton Towers, better value for money for the kids. I didn't even have to wait over 30 mins for any of the children rides, most were just walk in.

If you go for the adult rides then of course the queue will be longer.

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