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A Guide to the UK’s Theme Parks

Theme parks in the UK have always been a popular attraction and throughout the country, there are nearly 30 to choose from. They range in size and type, some designed for families, some with a distinct feeling of nostalgia and some unashamedly looking to scare the life out of you. A theme park guarantees a day or more of entertainment for all ages and is a particularly popular day out during the holidays.

Here, we look at 5 of the best theme parks in the UK:

Alton Towers

Of the larger parks, the first to be considered is Alton Towers, the UK’s most popular park. The park is based in Alton, Staffordshire, ST10 4DB, in the very middle of the country. Being between Stoke on Trent and Uttoxeter off the A50, it is easy to access from both the M1 motorway at junctions 23a and 34a and the M6 at junctions 15 and 16.

The park is open from the end of March to the beginning of November, but has a special opening week in the February half term. Admissions start at 9.30am, with rides opening half an hour later. The season dictates closing, with 7pm being the latest time except for special occasions. It is cheaper to buy online before you go, with day tickets starting at £24.48 for children and £31.68 for adults. Family tickets, senior and disabled tickets are available, as well as 2 day prices.

There are 12 themed lands to choose from, ranging from relaxing gardens to Old MacDonald’s Farmyard, to X –Sector, for the not so faint-hearted. Two hotels are available on site that are open all year round, close to the Waterpark, the Spa and the 9 hole golf course. Rides to look out for include Nemesis, Oblivion, Air, Rita and Thirteen, although there are over 30 rides and a multitude of other attractions.

Drayton Manor

Not too far away is Drayton Manor, the largest family run park in the country. Found in Tamworth, Staffordshire, B78 3TW, it is near to Birmingham and Coventry and can be accessed via junctions 9 and 10 of the M42 or junction T2 off the M6 Toll. It is open from Mid March to the end of October, although the Zoo tends to be open even when the park is closed. Gates open at 9.30am and close around 5 or 6pm.

Tickets are marginally cheaper if booked online, starting at £23 for adults and children, with concessions for seniors and disabled available at the gate only, as are family tickets. The park consists of 6 themed areas, which include Action, Aerial, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pirate Cove, Thomas Land and Zoo, Farm and Museum, offering a range of activities for all ages.

The most well known rides include Shockwave, Stormforce 10 and Apocalypse, as well as G-Force, Splash Canyon and Pandemonium, with the new Ben 10 – Ultimate Mission roller coaster becoming more popular.

Legoland Windsor

Travel down south to enjoy the uniqueness of Legoland, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 4AY, near Windsor and just outside of the M25. Accessible from junction 6 of the M4, junction 3 of the M3 and junction 13 of the M25, the ease of access makes it a good venue from all directions. It is set in beautiful scenery near the picturesque town of Windsor and is built from over 53 million Lego bricks.

The season runs from the beginning of April to the beginning of November and guests are allowed in from 9.30am to anytime between 5 and 8pm, depending on the time of year. Online day prices start at £26.10 for children and £34.20 for adults. No other option is available online, although 2 day passes, seniors and annual tickets are available on the gate.

The park covers 11 themed areas, where children and adults alike can enjoy a range of rides, drives and splashes and get to play with a lot of Lego. Although the rides in themselves, such as the Wave Surfer, Atlantis – Submarine Voyage, the Dragon roller coaster, the Jolly Rocker and the Vikings River Splash, are great fun, spend time marvelling at the workmanship and the intricacies of the buildings. Soon, the new hotel will be complete, enabling you to stay and play.

Thorpe Park

Travel around the M25 to find Thorpe Park, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 8PN. It is easy to access off junctions 11 and 13 of the M25 and is only 20 miles from the city of London, making it a popular destination. It is open mid March to early November and the gates invite visitors in from 9.30 or 10am and close at 5-8pm, depending on the season. Online prices start from £24 for children and £27.60 for adults. Family tickets, senior and disabled tickets are available to purchase on the gate.

Thorpe Park has been described as the most thrilling park in the UK, with a huge range of outstanding rides. There are 7 main areas, including Amity Cove, Calypso Quay, Canada Creek, Lost City, Neptune’s Kingdom, Ranger County and SAW Island. Rides of note include Slammer, SAW and Tidal Wave. The roller coasters include Colossus, Nemesis Inferno and Europe’s tallest and fastest launched coaster, Stealth. The new Storm Surge is planned for 2012.

Chessington World of Adventures

Last but not least of Britain’s big five is Chessington World of Adventures, the ultimate for families. Not far from Thorpe Park, it is situated in Chessington, Surrey, KT9 2NE, only 12 miles from London. It can be reached from junction 9 or 10 of the M25 or direct from London along the A3-A243. Opening times are end of March to end of October, with gates open between 10am and 5-6pm. Online prices start from £19 for children and £27 for adults, with family tickets, concessions and annual passes available at the gate.

The ten themed areas appeal to children under 12, but there is a range to suit all ages, including the Vampire, Bubbleworks, Tomb Blaster and Rameses Revenge, as well as the famous Chessington Zoo and Sea Life Centre.

Scattered around the country are many more parks, including Oakwood in Wales, Fantasy Island in Skegness and Flambards in the West Country, to name but a few.

Wherever you are in the UK, if you enjoy full on entertainment and thrills, you will always find a theme park to suit your needs. While the parks are now coming to close, they will no doubt continue their success in 2012.

Picture by Fellowship of the rich,

One Response to A Guide to the UK’s Theme Parks

  1. stephen west Reply

    November 24, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Having been to several theme parks across the UK for me Chessington World of Adventures is without doubt the best run and is easily accessible for most Londoners and those in the home counties with its close links to the M25.

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