Selecting the Best U.K. Theme Park to Visit

Selecting the Best U.K. Theme Park to Visit

I was outside my daughter’s school the other day chatting with another parent when the subject of theme parks came up. This family was going to visit Alton Towers, to the obvious excitement of the 7-year son. Mum did not seem so keen. “It’s costing a small fortune “, she groaned, because we have to stay in a hotel overnight. It’s too far to drive there and back in a day”. I asked why they had chosen Alton Towers, since there are other theme parks that are much closer to us in the south of England. “Oh,” came back the reply, “I thought Alton Towers was the only real theme park in England”. It turned out that the trip was basically the idea of the 7-year-old boy, who under pressure not to be left out of the playground hierarchy had pestered them into agreeing to go.

This family is likely to have a disappointing trip. They had basically decided to go to Alton Towers without doing any research on the alternatives or even considering whether Alton Towers was suitable for their 7-year child. It is important that you research the U.K. theme parks before you visit to ensure that the theme park is suitable for the age range of any children that you are taking with you. I suggest that you browse the theme park’s web site with each child to see what appeals to them, and check out the height restrictions for the rides they get excited about. No point in getting the kids all hyper about a particular ride it they won’t be allowed on. Height restrictions ARE strictly imposed and only when you reach the head of the queue will you find out if you are not allowed on the ride. Queueing a long time for a ride that you can’t go on is a real waste of time and money.

Beware peer pressure from over-excited children and fathers. Make sure that the child is really sure that they want to go and that you are not just going for yourself or Dad or because of some boastful child in the playground! Beware of childish bravado, which dissolves just as you are about the board the ride. This has happened to me time and time again and is a great time waster.

If this is to be your first visit to a theme park try and go off peak. They can be very crowded at peak times with long queues. It can all be a bit confusing and disorientating for both parents and children. Try and accept that you may not be able to do everything, particularly on your first visit, and this will lessen the tears. OK, so it’s an expensive day out and you want your money’s worth, but more importantly you want it to be enjoyable. By the way, many of the parks will give you reduced price (or even free) entry for return trips to the park, so bare in mind that it may be relatively cheap to come back another day. Look out for the promotions on the web site, but often you will find that these reduced “return” visit offers are only advertised inside the park.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you must try and manage expectations. That way disappointment is less likely.

In general Legoland Windsor is aimed at children of 10 or under, with many Lego based rides which older children will find embarrassingly tame.

Chessington World of Adventures has been re-focused in recent years to appeal to the pre- and early teen market, i.e. 8-15, Some rides will appeal to older children, such as Vampire and Dragons Fury , but they may find many of the attractions too tame. There are sufficient rides to keep real youngsters happy too.

Thorpe Park is really suited to adventurous teenagers, as is Alton Park.

You should also not forget to consider other fun parks that may be more local and suited to your child’s age. These include :

Paultons Park in Hampshire

Flambards in Cornwall

American Adventure in Derbyshire

Camelot Theme Park in Lancashire

Crealy Park in Devon and Cornwall

Gullivers in Warrington, Matlock Bath and Milton Keynes

M & D Theme Park in Scotland

And of course many other amusement and theme parks of various sizes