Off-Topic: Lalandia Billund (Vacation)

Another Summer vacation has come around, and as usual that causes a blog post or two on Summer tips and comments on places where I have been. This year, we went down to Denmark to visit the city of Billund, home to Legoland and Lalandia. Lalandia is an interesting mix of indoors activity center and camping village. We rented a house there for our vacation, and are overall very pleased with the place.

The houses at Lalandia are all very new, the block where we stayed (the one furthest away from the central building) cannot be more than two years old. They have not finished the roads yet, nor are the lawns completely grown up.

Everything feels fresh and new, and you cannot complain about the standard of the houses.You have a fully equipped kitchen, as well as a dishwasher and a washing machine – families with children is clearly the target audience. You do need to bring some basic household supplies with you from home, there are no spices, washing powder, or dishwasher tables available in the houses. You have to pay for electricity and water in addition to the basic rent, which feels unnecessarily stingy as the basic rent is pretty high and the cost for utilities ends up being about one or two percent of the cost. I guess it is a way to steer people towards not wasting resources, though.

Lalandia is intended mainly for visitors who come by car. Each house has two parking spaces in front of it, and the idea is clearly that several families can share a house. The smallest houses are sufficient for four adults, we rented a six-person house (which worked well with five adults and two children), and there are also eight-person houses available in a few different styles. Since the place is next door to Billund Airport, you could also fly in, distances are short enough that you don’t really need a car during your stay anyway (you can literally walk from the airport terminal to Lalandia and Legoland). The airport does cause the occasional burst of noise as aircraft take off, but is was not really bothersome while we where there.

Since you are likely to cook most of your food yourself, you also need to go buy it somewhere. There is a somewhat pricey “supermarket” in the main building, which is almost impossible to avoid thanks to its convenient location and good opening hours. Shopping in downtown Billund is about ten minutes walk away, but this being a small town, shop hours are pretty poor, 9-18 or 9-19, shorter on Saturdays and closed (!) on Sundays. This was  a surprise for someone used to Swedish shop hours which tend to be 10-22 all days all weeks. Try to arrive on a weekday, or bring lots of supplies for the first day.

It also seems that Denmark is not quite as credit-card-friendly as other countries. If you use a foreign card, they charge you, the customer, the 2.5 to 3% charge that the credit card company charges the store. This is something I have only seen in very small shops living on tight margins in Sweden, and in the Netherlands. In everyday life, this never happens in Sweden or the US, or in most other countries. The fact that Denmark is outside the Eurozone makes some of these charges possible, since the tougher EU rules against card charges currently only applies to transactions in Euros. To be fair, Lalandia actually has lower credit card charges than other places in Billund.

I read a number of online reviews of Lalandia, and they tended to complain that Denmark is expensive. I can agree, it feels about 20-25% more expensive than Sweden, but it is not astronomical or any worse than downtown München or Paris or London.

Lalandia itself is really not about the houses or the food or credit card charges, though. It is a waterpark, and the hangar-like main building contains the Aquadome, biggest waterpark I have ever seen. It also holds a fairly camp indoor fake Mediterranean town square (with a roof painted like a blue sky), an indoors playground, a gym, and several restaurants (which we never tried). It reminds me of the plastic fake milieus in Disneyland Florida.

The Aquadome is just fantastic! It is claimed to be the biggest water park in Scandinavia, and I can certainly believe that. It is all indoors, except a small section on the outside that you can swim out to from the inside. It has the best water slides I have ever tried, all of which require you to use some form of craft to go down. They also all leave the building and come back in, making for a very dramatic ride. See the picture below for how the water slides protrude from the building. The biggest tube is a water slide where you ride four people at once, on a four-person rubber raft!

There were pools with activities suitable for children as small as one year, and all the way up to those who rather 40 than 4 years old.  Very impressive. You need several visits to explore all the options, and fortunately unlimited access is part of the package with the holiday homes.

It is annoying that they do not allow you to bring your own food inside. Since we have some allergies in the family, it is not that easy to find food that is safe, and we would much prefer to bring our own. Overall, you do get the feeling that they are trying a bit too hard to make you part with your money; it is a bit too aggressive to feel entirely right.

Legoland Denmark is right across the street from Lalandia’s main building, and I will write a separate blog post about that.

A final note is that the ownership structure of Lalandia is interesting. Each house is actually privately owned, and the Lalandia company is just a broker organizing the renting-out of the houses. The are still selling houses, and claim that the yearly cost with mortgages is no higher than the cost of renting for a week. It does look like quite a few Norwegians have taken up on the offer, judging from the large number of expensive cars from Norway we saw parked in front of something like half the houses.

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