The incredible story of the safari park just outside London that became Legoland

The incredible story of the safari park just outside London that became Legoland

Believe it or not, there was life before Legoland Windsor opened to the public in 1996 – in fact, life has never been better.

Before the Danish toy maker decided to open its second park in the world, those of a certain age enjoyed and experienced the most incredible attraction of all time, on the same site.

It was called Windsor Safari Park and it was great.

The owners presented the attraction as “the African adventure” and they were certainly not mistaken.

It is hard to say how incredible Windsor Safari Park was and the total devastation suffered by thousands of families when the doors closed in 1992.

Masai African elephants who adopted two orphaned elephants
(Image: Daily Mirror)

The best part was easily the huge drive through the compound, where families slowly maneuvered their cars through what can only be described as the “Berkshire Serengeti”.

The owners of the park, who created the attraction in 1969, were not mistaken. You came face to face with all the big animals – lions, tigers, cheetahs, bears and baboons.

Young tigers at Windsor Safari Park in 1980.
(Image: Mirrorpix)

And who could forget the baboons ?! If you didn’t have the antenna torn off from your car, you were disappointed and wanted a refund.

Absolute monsters, but so funny – it was extraordinary.

There were even rumors that a tiger once bit a car tire until it exploded, but like an excited child who only added to the thrill.

Princess Beatrice and Fergie were regular visitors
(Image: Daily Mirror)

In other parts of the park, there was an elephant enclosure, a lake of hippos, camels, llamas, giraffes, chimpanzees, raptors and parrots.

Another star attraction in the park was the Dolphinarium, where members of the public attended a spectacular show involving an orca, dolphins and seals performing outrageous tricks.

In the 1970s, the killer whale was called “ Ramu ” but due to its enormous size, it was transferred to SeaWorld in San Diego in 1976.

From the late 1970s to the closing of the parks, “Winnie” was the star of the show and the public took her into their hearts.

Dolphins gather to listen at Windsor Safari Park
(Image: Daily Mirror)

In 1991, laws changed in the United Kingdom, making it impossible to keep captive killer whales, and Winnie was also transferred to SeaWorld in America where she died in 2002.

Captive killer whales and dolphins in Windsor Safari Park were often the subject of much controversy throughout its opening.

In 1988, the park was sold to new owners who wanted to bring more safari-themed rides to compete with local rivals Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park.

Until 1988, the Windsor Safari Park was almost entirely dependent on animals, with the exception of the incredible toboggan run and the huge rainbow ball pools.

Baboons terrorized anyone entering the compound
(Image: Daily Mirror)

Unfortunately, in 1992 the park announced its closure, the time of thousands of visitors for some reason had passed and it could no longer survive.

It was a very sad time for many and the animals were shipped all over the world to different zoos and water parks.

However, you can still capture a bit of magic from the days of Windsor Safari Park by hopping on the hill train on your next visit to Legoland Windsor.

For a park that has amused those who have visited it so much, it is unfortunately the only attraction that has survived.