The UK features an excellent collection of theme parks situated throughout the country. From the sprawling 910-acre Alton Towers to Blackpool’s record-breaking pleasure beach, each one offers a great day out for the whole family. Here are our top five picks.
Alton Towers, Staffordshire
Situated in Staffordshire near the village of Alton, this famous theme park opened way back in 1980 and has grown to become the most visited in the UK. The park covers 910 acres and features a massive range of activities and attractions.
At the time of writing, it’s divided into ten themed areas including : CBeebies Land, Dark Forest, Forbidden Valley, Gloomy Wood, Katanga Canyon, Mutiny Bay, The Gardens, Towers Street and the X-Sector.
A cable car system travels between Towers Street, Forbidden Valley and the Towers and affords some superb views. There are ten high-adrenalin rides, of which the most popular are Nemesis, Oblivion, The Smiler and the Wicker Man – a £16 million wooden roller-coaster which was unveiled in 2018.
There’s also plenty to occupy younger visitors including a playhouse, a mini-driving school, a sensory garden and numerous carousel rides. See our post on holiday accommodation near Alton Towers for some top-rated options.
Thorpe Park, Surrey
Despite rather humble origins as a gravel pit, Thorpe Park has gradually developed into a fully-fledged amusement park. After being opened by Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979, lakes and parkland were developed on-site, followed by a Celtic Farm and Norman Castle.
A series of permanent attractions were then installed during the 1980s and 90s including Space Station Zero – the park’s very first roller-coaster.
These have since been joined by Stealth, Swarm and Nemesis Inferno. While these should satisfy thrill-seekers, kids will probably get a kick out of the popular CBeebies Land which is home to themed rides and a host of interactive experiences based on classic TV programmes.
Lego Land, Berkshire
This park is of course inspired by the famous building-block toys. The original site actually formed part of Windsor Safari Park before being acquired by the Lego Group in the early 90s. It’s organised into eleven themed ‘lands’ that comprise a colourful assortment of attractions.
Miniland is a major highlight and depicts miniature cities from around the world. Some 40 million bricks went into the construction of these bustling little metropolises.
They include famous landmarks like the London Eye, Times Square and Buckingham Palace that are vividly brought to life by a fully-operational train line, a variety of animated models and cable-powered cars. There are also more than 30 rides found throughout Lego Land, most of which will appeal to under-13s.
Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Surrey
Chessington World of Adventures originally opened as a zoo in the 1930s. Since then, the resort has evolved into a highly-rated theme park that’s split into different zones loosely based on various world cultures. Mexicana is inspired by the Old West, Adventure Point is a kind of English market square and the Forbidden Kingdom is based on Arabia.
Of the 40 or so rides, highlights include Kobra, Vampire, Dragon’s Fury and Tomb Blaster. But it’s not just about gravity-defying roller-coasters.
There’s an excellent array of activities and attractions geared towards children such as a traditional swinging ship, a wave swinger and soft play areas. The zoo is still very much in operation as well and houses around 1000 animals and exotic species.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool
Blackpool Pleasure Beach is another popular UK theme park that boasts an excellent range of family rides. There’s also a variety of record-breaking roller-coasters like the Big One which was, at one point, the tallest, fastest and steepest in the world.
Its 65 degree incline certainly makes for a white-knuckle experience as do the four wooden roller-coasters: the Big Dipper, the Blue Flyer, Grand National and Nickelodeon Streak. Also well worth the price of admission is Valhalla – a massive indoor flume ride which takes more than six minutes to complete.
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