The theme music to Legoland in Berkshire is the theme music to The Exorcist. It appears from speakers hidden in the grass. I hear it as I wander out of some un-enchanted wood filled with Lego: we have lost our ancient woods and need new ones. These ones smell slightly of drains. The Exorcist music is a joke for parents; or perhaps an acknowledgment that there is something demonic at Legoland. You can, from the fake hills — everything is fake here, and that is both bewitching and awful — see Windsor Castle, which probably means that from Windsor Castle you can see Legoland.
I wonder if Legoland will outlive the monarchy; if Legoland and the monarchy have a lot in common. I wonder if the Queen — and all politicians — could be made of Lego and still function adequately, or even better. This could be the Lego election. That is not an abnormal fantasy for this column. Sometimes I think all politicians should be played by actors. They would do it so well.
Legoland is a theme park containing, more fascinatingly, a tiny Lego world with real cities but tweaked slightly, as if in a dreamscape. It also has the least nutritional food of any theme park in Britain, which, were I a theme park, is not a race I would like to win. Merlin Entertainments, which owns Legoland — and also Thorpe Park and Alton Towers and, horribly for the surviving Plantagenets, Warwick Castle — have confused Lego with life. Too much Lego can do that to you. Now they think we can actually eat Lego.
Last year the Soil Association, which is concerned with child nutrition, did a learned survey and concluded that Legoland should rename itself ‘Deep Fried Crap Land’. Legoland refused to rename itself ‘Deep Fried Crap Land’, although I would go there and I think it would actually work in America. They said instead: our food is not deep-fried crap. There is salad lurking here like dragon gold. I paraphrase.
We leave the Land of the Vikings, in which there are no Vikings, and visit the City Walk Pizza and Pasta restaurant. It is in Heartlake City, which I thought was called Heartache City, but I was not wearing my spectacles; in any case, it is the feminine part of Legoland. It is filled with children and parents in varying states of theme-park derangement syndrome, which makes children glassy and remote and parents scream pointlessly from the tea-cup ride. For some reason there is a giant fish suspended from the ceiling. It is possibly the most nutritious thing here, and it is not even made of food.
Initially, it is happiness. We are hungry from our non-engagement with nonexistent Vikings and the barn is brightly coloured in yellow and orange, like a child’s drawing. The walls are painted like Lego and there are drawings of pizza on the wall. You pay £25 for two and receive a plate. You approach a long metal bar, on which is piled pizza — vegetarian and pork —and pasta al pomodoro, although they do not call it that, which is fair, because it does not taste like that. There is, as Legoland said, a large and dreary salad bar which is deserted, as if sarin gas hit the salad bar, and only the salad bar.
It is all-you-can-eat. That is the business model here: the only way to get value for money at Legoland is to poison yourself. We are obedient capitalists, so we forget the salad and eat the hot, gloopy pizza and the lumpy, unloved spaghetti. We then feel obediently unwell. It is nauseating, but I like the garlic bread; it is hot and fierce and tastes slightly of mud. It is slightly more authentic than the Lego wood.