Some 10 million people visit UK theme parks every year – impressive to say that many of them only operate during the summer months of the year. With a variety of things to see and do, including zoos, activities and the latest in death-defying roller-coasters, it should come as no surprise that these places are a hotbed for families and friends seeking a day of fun and frolics. Here are just a few of the more popular UK Theme Parks, and what you can expect to find when you get there..
Alton Towers is the most popular theme park in the UK with some of the most exciting rides in the world. The names of the rides alone should be tempting enough for the most hardcore theme park goers: Nemesis, Oblivion, Ripsaw and Rita – Queen of Speed, expect to hurtle through the air at lightening speeds, be spun, twisted, pushed, pulled, and dropped from great heights. But Alton Towers is a family friendly theme park, with a number of live shows and rides for the younger and even senior members of the family. The park itself is divided into a number of areas that you can walk around at a leisurely pace, or take a more birds-eye view on one of the cable car lifts. There are far too many things to do in just one day, even if you buy a fast track ticket that gets you to the front of the queues, but Alton Towers is a resort in its own right, with a grand hotel that is not only open all year round, but has its own exclusive entertainment for guests including themed rooms, restaurants and access to events. Children under the age of 4 have free entry and it is advisable to buy tickets online to get a discount, usually a significant one too.
Equally well known and popular, Thorpe Park offers a host of rides for all the family. It is divided into 8 ‘themed lands, each with their own attractions such as the Lost City’s ‘Vortex’ and ‘Quantum’ or the Canada Creek ‘Loggers Leep’ and ‘Canada Creek Railway’. The ‘Colossus’ ride is a world record breaking 10 loop roller coaster where riders sit in sideless trains and rise a whopping 100ft before being thrust around a massive 850m track at speeds of up to 65kmph. One of its more popular and original rides includes the ‘Tidal Wave’ which plunges a massive 85ft into a huge wall of water. The park itself is easily reached as it is sited between junctions 11 and 13 of the M25 and is open between February and November. Ticket prices start from £21 for children to £33 for adults, though there are concessions and discounts for group bookings.
This has to be one of the most unique theme parks in the world given its homage to the famous and popular childrens’ toy and there are a number of remarkable and impressive monuments, people and attractions featuring some 53 million LEGO bricks. Legoland Windsor is spread over 150 acres of beautiful parkland, it is divided into 9 themed lands with a number of rides and attractions for people of all ages. ‘Miniland’ includes a number of famous scenes from the US and Europe made from LEGO, including miniature buildings, vehicles and bridges. The ‘Wild Woods’ is more interactive with a trail through ‘The Rat Trap’, a number of rides including the ‘Spinning Spider’ and guests can pan for gold at the ‘Pirate Goldwash’ or explore the three amazing mazes. Open between March and November, Legoland in just two miles from Windsor. At the gates, tickets start from £22 for children and £35 for adults.
Chessington World of Adventures
Chessington boasts a more obvious spread of rides aimed at different age groups of the family, with those specifically for younger children, teenagers and adults. There are 10 themed lands in all, including ‘Beanoland’ an homage to the famous comic with rides such as ‘Roger the Dodgers Dodgems’ and ‘The Bash Street Bus’. There’s also ‘Mexicana’ which is a Mexican themed village giving a nod to the wild west with rides including the ‘Rattlesnake Ride’ and ‘The Runaway Train’, and even ‘Animal Land’ – an extraordinary zoo that features a relatively new Monkey and bird garden as well as big cats, gorillas and the delights of the ‘Creepy Caves’. The park is open from March to December, and the zoo is open individually when the theme park is closed. Between Junctions 9 and 10 of the M25, it is easy to find and tickets at the gate will cost £21 for children and £32 for adults.
Perhaps lesser known than some of the other theme parks, Drayton Manor is the UK’s largest family owned theme park with recent additions from 2008. Divided into 8 themed lands including ‘Peel Plaza’ which is the dining hotspot as well as home to a number of smaller attractions such as crazy golf, or ‘Pirate Cove’ which features a number of family rides such as the ‘Pirates Adventure’ indoor dark ride and the ‘Jolly Roger’ rock-n-tug boat. Drayton Manor also boasts a zoo, museum and farm as well as a kiosk, gift shop and more cafes. It’s open between March and November, and is located near Tamworth in Staffordshire (Reach it from Junctions 9 and 10 of the M42). Tickets at the gate cost £19 for children and £25 for adults, though there are a number of concessions too.
UK Theme Parks
There are many more theme parks in and around the UK and as the examples above show, most of them operate during the same months of the year. Standard opening times are from 9 or 10am until 5pm though there are several, such as Alton Towers, that make the most of the shorter days in winter and extend opening times until 9pm. Discount Vouchers can usually be found when booked in advance, on line or in large groups, and all of the theme parks researched have disabled access and cater to the interests of younger children. So with all the fun just waiting to be had .. what are you waiting for?