THE UK'S 10 BEST THEME PARKS
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Thorpe Park, Surrey
All aboard Derren Brown’s Ghost Train which opened in July 2016, after three years in the making. This head-spinning, 10-15 minute train journey includes exhilarating live-action sequences, 4D special effects, and grand-scale illusions. Also new is I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! experience and there are some of the highest and fastest rides in Europe here too.
Drayton Manor, Staffordshire
The new Tamarin Trail takes adventurers through beautiful gardens, allowing kids and adults to come face-to-face with a troop of mischievous Marmosets and Tamarins. The park is also home to Europe’s only Thomas Land, which last year underwent a £2.5m expansion, including new rides. There are white-knuckle rides, including the stand-up rollercoaster, Shockwave, and 54-meter drop tower, Apocalypse.
Warwick Castle, Warwickshire
Although not officially a theme park, this medieval castle offers history, magic, myth and adventure to suit all ages, and is now home to the UK's first fully-interactive multi-sensory Horrible Histories Maze, giving visitors a fiendishly fun and fascinating experience getting lost in time. The aim is not to reach the centre, but re-order the muddle that mischievous Rattus Rattus has made of time. From July, you can sleep over in the new riverside medieval-themed woodland lodges of Knight’s Village and join in with jester and knight school in the evenings.
Chessington World of Adventures, Surrey
Following Pandamonium in 2016, last year saw The Gruffalo riverboat open at Chessington, which boasts over 40 rides and attractions. In addition, there’s a new-look Trail of the Kings, in which adventurers seek out treasures as they walk among jungle giants, and explorer glamping tents.
Scotland’s biggest theme park boasts the Giant Condor, a ride that soars up to 30m and provides awesome views over the rest of the park, Strathclyde Park and Lanarkshire. Other big draws include Tsunami, Scotland’s only inverted rollercoaster, Tornado, Big Apple and the Runaway Mine train rollercoaster.
Alton Towers, Staffordshire
Alton Towers' adrenalin rushes include Nemesis, Rita and Oblivion and Galactica, a rollercoaster with integrated virtual reality. Spring 2018 will also see the opening of Wicker Man, a 57.7-foot-tall ride, while the theme park is also home to the UK’s first Rollercoaster Restaurant.
Paultons Park, Hampshire
Lost Kingdom, an immersive dinosaur theme park world, opened in 2016. Costing £9m to build, it’s located within four acres of Jurassic landscape and includes two family rollercoaster rides, Jurassic-themed family rides and a dinosaur adventure play park, along with a Jurassic Jeep expedition. Also located within Paultons Park is Peppa Pig World and, new for 2018, Little Africa.
Legoland regularly updates its attractions, with 2016's Lego Nexo Knights one of its best additions. The immersive 4D animated adventure created especially for Legoland used wind, water and smoke to bring the battle to life around you. The park also has the 500,000 Lego brick Death Star, one of the most impressive and biggest models ever created for Legoland and in 2018 Miniland, a recreation of iconic landmarks from around the globe. There are loads of rides, many without height restrictions, as well as the large “splash and play” in Duplo Valley.Legoland, Berkshire
Legoland regularly updates its attractions, with 2016's Lego Nexo Knights one of its best additions. The immersive 4D animated adventure created especially for Legoland used wind, water and smoke to bring the battle to life around you. The park also has the 500,000 Lego brick Death Star, one of the most impressive and biggest models ever created for Legoland and in 2018 Miniland, a recreation of iconic landmarks from around the globe. There are loads of rides, many without height restrictions, as well as the large “splash and play” in Duplo Valley.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire
There are 125 rides and attractions across the 42 acres at the end of Blackpool’s promenade, including the steel mega-coaster Big One, Nickelodeon Land and the Wallace & Gromit ride, Thrill-O-Matic. New ride ICON is set to open in Spring 2018, a £16.25m rollercoaster which cuts through the Big One.
New Forest Water Park, Hampshire
The UK’s first outdoor aqua park doubled its size in 2016, with new on-water installations of monkey bars, hurdles, wiggle bridges and lifeguard tower. Based on Total Wipeout, it’s all about embracing your inner Ninja Warrior. The family-run park offers camping facilities, a clubhouse and activities including kayaking. Ages 6+.
Gulliver's World, Warrington
Warrington's family-run theme park is designed especially for kids aged between two and 13 and has over 80 rides. Attractions include the Ghost House, Pirates Play Area and Amazon Climb.