The concept of theme parks dates back to the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago and boy have they come a long way since then! With thrills and shows galore, these modern-day entertainment hubs go from strength to strength and are a great way to entertain kids of all ages during the holidays – particularly in the summer.
But where to go? There is just so much choice. So to help you choose, we’ve taken a long hard look around the country and come up with our top UK theme parks. See if you agree…
This sprawling theme park is a unique experience and an absolute must for all Lego fans out there! Given the Lego theme, this park is particularly well suited to families with children aged 12 and under and there is also loads to keep even the smallest kids and toddlers happy too. So, if you're looking for stomach-in-the-mouth rollercoasters, Legoland is not for you, but it is a fabulous choice for everything else!
Set in lovely grounds (actually the site of the former Windsor Safari Park), it still has some of the charms of the original Danish parent park, with plenty of giraffes, crocodiles and pirates made out of Lego bricks scattered among the rides.
Prepare for a soaking on their wet and wild water rides, follow a pirate trail that’ll leave you wetter than walking the plank or join a Viking fleet where you’ll battle sea monsters and rough waters. Sign the whole family up for some high energy fun at the Fire Academy or take to the skies with the Chopper Squadron. Steer your own course on the Driving School or be captain of your vessel at the Boating School. You can be behind the wheel of a Lego car at Lego City Driving School or help the Lego City Coastguard HQ in your own Lego boat. Or you can ride a fearsome Dragon through a medieval castle or discover the lost metropolis of Atlantis in a Submarine.
If you’re looking to keep you younger children entertained (and exhausted!), then Legoland Windsor Resort is the place to go.
Now if you are a true thrill-seeker, this one certainly IS for you.
Set in an amazing 800 acres of grounds, Alton Towers was once the Staffordshire seat of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Today, the ruined neo-Gothic mansion is at the centre of the Alton Towers Resort, with four hotels and a water park as well as the famous rollercoasters.
With adrenaline-pumping experiences on six of the UK's top roller coasters, Alton Towers is home to over 50 incredible rides and attractions along with fabulous live entertainment and lots of food and drink. Rides range from the incredible Galactica, the world’s first roller coaster fully dedicated to virtual reality for the older children amongst us and based on the Resort’s iconic flying roller coaster, through to Phoebe, Funella, Furgus, Elmo and Cookie Monster at The Furchester Hotel Live Show, or taking the controls in a Vroomster on the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom ride.
In every sense, Alton Towers really is ‘all in’!
Paultons Family Theme Park
On the edge of New Forest National Park in Hampshire, Paultons Family Theme Park sits in 140 acres of attractive parkland and is best recognised as home to Peppa Pig World as well as 60 rides and attractions.
The Peppa Pig phenomena has grown hugely over the last few years and this theme park, largely dedicated to the animated adventures of Peppa and her friends has become increasingly popular for families with younger children. Meet Peppa and all her friends as the cartoons most popular characters appear every day that the Park is open for photo opportunities with their loving fans on the veranda in front of the schoolhouse.
Two brand new Peppa Pig World rides are now open: The Queen’s Flying Coach Ride will take families on a tour around the newly extended part of Peppa Pig World in individual coaches on a monorail that starts from the top of the Queen’s castle, a signature point of the attraction. Children and parents will also be able to hop aboard boats at Grampy Rabbit’s Sailing Club where they can cruise along the new water route around Peppa Pig World and discover Pirate Island.
Longleat Safari Park
In many ways, Longleat shouldn’t really qualify as it is not a theme park in the traditional sense. But there is just so much to do, particularly for the children, that we thought we had to bend the rules just a little bit…
Nestled within 900 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped grounds and set in the shadow of some of the best surviving examples of Elizabethan architecture, Longleat is the UK’s original Safari Park. It offers an abundance of exciting attractions including the Jungle Kingdom and Animal Adventure, both of which allow you to really get up-close and personal with some truly amazing animals. Alternatively, why not jump on board the Longleat Railway for an exciting ride around the park or take a trip on the Jungle Cruise boat, where you’ll experience the thrill of their sea lions as they swim alongside you plus an unmissable opportunity to see the magnificent gorillas?
Let the kids run riot in the incredible Adventure Castle, complete with rope bridges, zip wires, slides and a Medieval keep or the famous Longleat Hedge Maze and join in the mayhem on their Rockin’ Rhino ride. For those looking for something more sedate, the impressive Longleat House and Grounds has it all as one of the finest Elizabethan stately homes in the country.
Of course, there are many other theme parks around the country and one of the most spectacular rollercoasters in the country is at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which although not a theme park in the traditional sense, offers a whole load of exciting rides and attractions in a unique seaside setting!
As you’d expect, there are lots of options for visiting all of these great theme parks but if you’re travelling by coach from South or West Wales, you won’t do much better for choice and value than Leisuretime. Check out our more Theme Park here on our website.