A festive visit to Chessington World of Adventures

A festive visit to Chessington World of Adventures

On Saturday 5th December, I took a trip to Chessington World of Adventures for their Winter’s Tail event. With the UK currently in a tier system, I was fortunate to be able to travel up and experience what was going to be my final theme park fix of 2020. Considering this year has turned into a real topsy turvy year, I’m glad I’ve managed to get my theme park fix throughout the final 6 months of the year. Very grateful for that!

I’ve visited Chessington’s winter event over the last few years and it’s been the perfect excuse to get into the festive spirit. The park itself is adorned with Christmas decorations and lights, it’s a truly magical experience for everyone. Arriving around 1.30pm, it was obvious that I wanted to have a little peek of the construction of both Blue Barnacle and ‘Croc Drop’. There’s been plenty of changes over the last 4 weeks or so since I was last at the park for their Halloween season. You can check out the latest updates on Chessington Buzz and Theme Park Guide.

As I was wandering around the park, I have noticed a number of photo spots this year including the giant Nutcracker prince located at the entrance to Wild Asia. Perfect for Instagrammers wanting to get that shot for the ‘gram! There are a number of rides open throughout Winter’s Tail including Vampire, The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, SeaStorm, ‘Jingle’ Bus and so much more. There’s a lot to keep families and enthusiasts entertained. It was a given that I would get a ride on Vampire at night – well, two rides as it was freezing cold!

I took a stroll into the Magical Christmas Kitchen, located in Wild Asia (former spots for Halloween scare mazes Spyders, Curse of the Lost Tomb & The Krypt). This was a really cute interactive walkthrough with several decorations. So many photo opportunities can be had within here. With the current COVID restrictions, you are required to wear a mask when inside this attraction as well as using the hand sanitisers when you first enter. Also, children will be able to claim a free cookie at the end of this walkthrough. Fear not adults as you can collect a hot drink and snack from Vegan Street Dogs outlet in Mexicana. The hot chocolate was perfect for warming up my cold fingers!

You can also walk through the Father Christmas Grottos and meet the main man himself. You may even bump into an array of Elves too. Once you’ve met Father Christmas/Santa, you’ll then receive a golden ticket which gives children the chance to pick out a toy, a reindeer or polar bear, within the Toy Workshop. A truly exciting opportunity for the kids to get into the Christmas spirit.

I also couldn’t forget the new ‘The Wild Christmas Panto’. A pantomime with a twist when you’ve got the Gruffalo involved. Located on the Mane Stage, it’s a great way to split up your day whilst you take in all the Christmas goodness around the park. The pantomime itself may not have been made for me but I couldn’t help but join in with all the actions and saying ‘Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is!’ Alongside this, there are several areas where festive singers are around the park singing your favourite Christmas songs. Perfect way to build up the atmosphere around the park plus the singers were fantastic, highly talented cast this year!

All in all, it was a truly wonderful, festive day at Chessington World of Adventures. If you’re looking for a festive day out in the Surrey, then Chessington is the perfect place to go to.

LOTTIE TRAVELS

LIFE IN LOCKDOWN 2.0: UPDATE

LIFE IN LOCKDOWN 2.0: UPDATE

So, here we are once again. My blog has been quiet over the last few weeks. The UK went into a second lockdown at the start of November, I celebrated my 29th birthday yesterday and now we’re all trying to to finding new ways to keep ourselves entertained. Surviving lockdown has been tough on all of us, especially when all you want to do is enjoy the good things in life like exploring new places and socialising with your friends. It’s a crap time, especially as winter fast approaches.

I’ve been fortunate that lockdown hasn’t impacted me as much. I send my love and thoughts to anyone who has been severely affected! I made the most of my birthday and have been trying to keep myself amused during my weekends with no plans… not that I had many plans in the first place but the freedom to go out and about is not within reach right now.

So, what have I been doing in my ‘spare time’?

Watching TikToks

Ah, TikTok. A lockdown companion that has become very addictive for me. However I can’t help but spend endless hours watching videos/reels from various people around the world. My For You page is mostly filled with cat videos but sometimes the odd funny clip or foodie style videos creep in. I have had to put a time limit for this app as you can spend mindless hours scrolling through TikTok!

Happy Colour iPhone app

Paint by numbers, something I have seen constantly mentioned by influencers on Instagram. I have taken the ‘easier’ option by finding the Happy Colour app on my phone however I have spent a good few hours using this app to help boost my mood or keep me distracted from my own thoughts. This is a free app to download and there are plenty of pictures to colour in.

Running/Dancing

Running became my new routine back in the first lockdown and despite the weather being changeable, I’ve tried to continue this in lockdown 2.0. Alongside this, I’ve tried to incorporate dancing as part of my exercise regime. Granted the shorter days have made this difficult. A huge part of me wants to be cosy in bed and I don’t seem to have as much energy compared to the Spring/Summer months.

Learning British Sign Language

I have been meaning to learn British Sign Language for years. As someone with a hearing disability, I want to expand my knowledge in this area, particularly as I’m passionate that more people should at least know the basics of sign language. The Deaf community is vast and I find it beautiful that they have a language for them to communicate away from speech. Hopefully as time goes on, I will be able to finish and receive a certificate in BSL.

Finding old CBBC shows on YouTube

Am I really 29 years old or have I just regressed back to 10 year old me? This has been a recent discovery of mine and I’ve been in my element. Maybe rewatching CBBC shows like Raven and Jungle Run has allowed me to remind myself of the happier times back when I was a kid. Adulting can be tiring and sometimes the kid in us needs to be let loose every so often!

How have you all been doing during the second UK lockdown?

How have you been keeping busy in lockdown 2.0?

Any suggestions of what else to do through winter?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Four

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Four

The final full day at Center Parcs has arrived. It’s definitely a bittersweet day. On the one hand, you still have one more day to enjoy the many activities and restaurants the village has to offer. On the other hand, check out day is fast approaching! I’ve said this in pretty all my blog posts but you just cannot beat waking up in the forest – bit of a broken record but it’s so true.

Thursday = Running Mk.2, Bowling, High Ropes & Swimming

Running… again

Started off the day running again, didn’t I? Since it was technically our last full day to enjoy as many activities as possible, I had to get one more run in. This time I wanted to do a different route which went past some lodges I’ve previously stayed in within the Maple area. I think some people would try to plan a route, whereas I just went for a jog around the area without knowing where each road/pathway would take me. All part of the adventure though!

I took this opportunity to take some early morning photos too. It’s quite eerie being outside when there’s only a handful of people out and about, especially during these unprecedented times. Granted the sun was still shining so it made for a fun run around the lake, the Plaza and the Village Square. One thing I did enjoy was waving to fellow runners and cyclists alike. Yes, it may be strange times but this felt like a bit of normality has restored for us all.

Bowling

After relaxing from my morning run, it was time to enjoy a game or two of Bowling. A 45 minute session is more than enough for 2 people but if you’re a family of 4 or more, I would recommend booking the 1 hour slot so you can get at least 2 games in. The main Bowling area is within the Plaza, on the lower level right next to the entrance to the Subtropical Swimming Paradise waterpark. Whilst this is dimly lit with UV lighting, it has a nice ambiance to the area.

There are 8 lanes, with 4 lanes out of action to allow for social distancing between household groups. These lanes are in between set lanes so make sure you note down what lane is given to you on your booking. Before entering, you’ll need to wear a face mask until you have reached your designated area – I’m not 100% sure if this has changed and if you’ll need to wear a mask at all times, please check with Center Parcs! You can order bar snacks and drinks to your table via a QR code which will be served to you by a member of staff.

I never feel like I am good at Bowling because it’s been a very long time since I last played. However I won the 2 games we played so I must have some skill – or that competitive side of me couldn’t bear losing haha!

High Ropes

I’ve done a few Go Ape courses over the last few years so of course, had to book the Aerial Adventure High Ropes activity. Whilst this course isn’t the most difficult of courses to get through, you still need to be energetic and have a good amount of strength in your arms and legs. For me, I was a little concerned as the last time I did a Go Ape course, I had to get help from an instructor to pull me up from a Tarzan Swing net. Given I have spent the last 9 months or so working on my resistance training with dumbbells, I thought this would have helped me.

Thankfully, I noticed a big difference in my strength. Yes, my core balance is not where I would like it to be, but I managed to climb the ropes and work my way through the course without needing the help of an instructor. Some elements were trickier than others and it may not be the longest of courses. The finale zip wire is probably the main event as you fly above the lake – with many spectators watching you. Definitely a highlight for any thrillseekers.

As we made our way back to the lodge, we had a bit of time to make a spot of dinner before enjoying our final session in the waterpark. Again, we did an evening session purely because it’s way more fun to enjoy a waterpark in the dark!

Check-Out Day & Final Overview

As our final day drew to a close, it meant we only had a few hours left in our lodge. Check-out day did begin with an early start as you need to leave your lodge by 9am – an hour earlier from pre-COVID times. Once we packed up our bits in our car and headed back to the car park, we enjoyed a short stroll through the village towards the Sports Cafe for a bit of breakfast. As with all the new restrictions in place, you will need to leave the village by 1pm on check-out day.

Overall, the staycation has been extremely pleasant and I didn’t once feel unsafe. All staff members made you feel welcome and were always happy to help. One-way systems and signage stating COVID measures were clear and easy to understand. Honestly, Center Parcs has done a great job of making their villages safe and secure in 2020. I won’t hesitate to make a return trip over the next year or so with my family again – Longleat holds a lot of sentimental value to me. Until next time Center Parcs.

Which village is your absolute favourite to visit?

What other activities are an absolute must-do?

Who is planning a trip to Center Parcs over the next few months?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Three

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Three

After starting off the day on Tuesday with a run, I wanted to have a chill morning since I was on holiday. Whenever I reach that midway point of a holiday, I always want to make the most of my time because time flies when you are having fun. The Center Parcs lodges are the perfect way to enjoy a cosy break away from the bustle of activities. As always, the beautiful sunshine meant I spent a bit of time enjoying the outdoor area of our lodge – listening to the birds and peaceful breeze through the trees.

Wednesday = Falconry, Mini-Golf & Bella Italia Dinner

Falconry

I was so excited to have this booked. It’s been on the bucket list and I was a little concerned that COVID was going to ruin my original plan. Thankfully, with the new COVID measures in place, they were able to continue the Falconry. Before the session started, you had to sanitize your hands and there was a total of 7 people in our group. It was the perfect size as we were all able to be included in the experience without feeling concerned about social distancing.

The session lasts for 1 hour and includes a brief introduction to Falconry followed by at least 45 minutes holding a variety of birds. I couldn’t wait as I’ve always been fascinated by birds, especially birds of prey and owls. We were all given an official Falconry glove to wear and had the opportunity to take photos – be mindful that some of the birds do fidget a lot and burst mode can be your best friend!

As a group, we held a Kestrel, a hawk and Laughing Kookaburra. There was also the opportunity to see a Vulture up close too but learning about their personalities, this guy in particular was named Scratch and enjoyed nipping people’s ankles when standing up, so we were asked by the instructor to sit down.

Honestly, the activity is pretty pricey (£45 per person) depending on what your budget is however, I think it’s worth it. It was truly fascinating and something unique to add to your Center Parcs break.

Mini-Golf

After Falconry we decided to head on over to the Sports Cafe in the Sports Plaza for some lunch – well, I already had a spot of lunch at the lodge but that didn’t stop me from consuming an ice-cream sundae and cheeky cocktail. As with most restaurants around the village, you will need to book a slot for a table – make sure to keep your email confirmation if booking on the same day! Once seated at a table, you can scan a QR code and order your food & drinks via your phone. Not gonna lie, I really hope this becomes the norm once COVID settles down.

After filling our faces, we headed over to our next activity for the day, Adventure Mini-Golf. Mini-golf is the perfect pastime for families, couples and friends. The mini-golf at Center Parcs is a good way to spend some time outside that isn’t too strenuous, especially when the weather is nice. Located right near the lake, you have a really nice view. The course is split into two 9 hole courses and we decided to pay for 18 holes so you have the chance to play both courses. There are 2 themes based around fantasy which is great for the kids to get involved – they even have small golf clubs for them which was so sweet.

Bella Italia

Last time I was at Center Parcs Longleat, the main Italian restaurant was Strada. It seems like the contracts have changed over to Bella Italia since my last visit. I wasn’t complaining since I do enjoy a good Pizza. In the similar way to Huck’s, you will be shown to your table once your time slot has passed. You will need to keep a mask on as you walk through the restaurant, which can then be taken off once seated. One thing I did notice was how the staff asked if we preferred our waitress to wear a mask or not. In our case we said the waitress didn’t need to wear a mask but it was nice of the team to ask.

My standard order at any Bella Italia is pretty plain and simple. One Margherita pizza followed by Tiramisu for dessert. Honestly, it was the perfect meal and we didn’t feel rushed at all. The food was cooked to perfection and came in good time, probably waited around 20 minutes if that after placing our order. There was a little issue with the card machines – who else remembers back in the 90s having to impress a debit/credit card onto a cheque like system and fill in your details/sign the paper so that a card payment can be made. It was surreal but the waitress was very apologetic, fantastic customer service from the whole team!

With Bella Italia being near the main pathway out of the Plaza, we enjoyed a slow stroll back to our lodge. With the warm weather, this meant the evenings were clear and you could see the stars in the sky. And it’s not every day you can wander through the forest, staring at the stars above you. A truly magical moment that you can’t find anywhere else.

Is anyone planning a trip to Center Parcs in the next few months?

Are staycations the way forward for the time being?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Two

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part Two

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the forest. The one thing that I can never get over when having a stay at a Center Parcs village is opening the curtains and staring into the quiet bliss of the forest around you. With the weather being glorious, I couldn’t help but open the patio door and embrace the cool September breeze – yes, it may have reached 26 degrees during the day, it was still cold in the mornings. I do miss that feeling each day but hey ho, I’ll be back real soon!

Tuesday = Running, Badminton & Waterpark

Morning run

2020 has pretty much changed the way I view health and fitness. I started off the year regretting all my food and fitness decisions from 2019 and I wanted to change. Lockdown happened which exposed me to finding more motivation to exercise including starting to run. Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever be interested in running as a hobby but never say never.

I knew before this staycation that I wanted to get at least 2 runs in. You may be thinking, ‘you’re on holiday? What the hell?’ Center Parcs is your own holiday. You can make your break as chilled or as exciting as you want it to be. I enjoy exercising and sometimes I feel a little sad when I don’t get my exercise fix in each day. Since I normally do strength/resistance workouts at home, I wasn’t going to continue this on my holiday. This is where running comes in.

The sunny weather was the best excuse to get out of the lodge first thing in the morning. Now I’m in no way saying I ran a 5k – that is a far off goal that I may not ever achieve. I did manage to reach near 4k but I was focused on doing run/walk intervals. Longleat Forest is very hilly in places so at times, I had to walk a bit longer up the hills. This didn’t stop me from running to the Sports Plaza area which includes a massive lake. The views around the forest and is one way to really see the whole village.

Badminton

After my morning run and spending a fair bit of time chilling out in the lodge, it was time to start off our staycation with a bit of Badminton. For me, it wouldn’t be a Center Parcs holiday without a Badminton session. With the current COVID situation, you had to wear a mask as you walked into the Sports Plaza. All equipment is loaned out to you for your session, located in a quiet corner where you won’t cross paths of other guests. You didn’t need to wear a mask as part of your session.

As I am writing this post now, you will be required to wear a mask during your activity – so please do read up on the rules before your session!

Badminton sessions are booked for 1 hour however 45 mins of play and then 15 mins required for essential cleaning. I did notice some other guests continued their activity past the 45 mins which was a bit disappointing to see. Badminton may not be everyone’s cup of tea however this does take me back to my PE lessons at secondary school. I’ve always been fairly good at playing at Badminton even if sometimes my coordination is out of place.

Subtropical Swimming Paradise

With the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, you will be required to book your 2-hour slots. I stayed for the midweek break (Monday to Friday) therefore I was able to book 2x 2-hour slots. I opted for the later sessions in the evening as I hoped it would be quieter and more opportunity to enjoy the night in the outdoor area. Nighttime does seem to transform the waterpark into a new experience. The darkness adds to the atmosphere and transform the slides/flumes into a thrilling experience.

The outdoor rapids as part of the waterpark are a highlight. I remember the ones at Longleat Forest being particularly fun and exhilarating. Again, another change that was implemented as part of COVID is the lifeguard will be in control of separating groups at the start of the rapids. Generally, you would be able to go in regardless of how many people are about in the area. Whilst I do miss seeing other people’s reactions and experience in the rapids, it was nice to have the Rapids to yourself as you could pretty much take over the whole space without worrying about bashing into someone.

A new experience for me was experience the 2 new slides, Typhoon (double raft slide) and Tropical Cyclone (the family raft slide). I thoroughly enjoy both, especially when you are able to pick your theme for the slide. The lighting package is fun but maybe I was expecting a bit more – guess looking at pro-slide POVs are spoiling me. They are both incredibly fun and certainly give you plenty of opportunities for water to rush into your face – still wonder how my contact lenses stayed in place! Overall, it was a really good first session and couldn’t wait to go again on the Thursday evening.

What is your favourite activity at Center Parcs?

Chilled out break or high impact break?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part One

Center Parcs Longleat Forest Staycation – Part One

It’s been long awaited but I finally went to Center Parcs in Longleat Forest. Originally I was meant to go in May 2020 but COVID-19 had other ideas so I was gutted. Especially when the weather decided to be heatwave weather back then. I didn’t have any issue this time round as the weather gods answered my prayers and gave me lovely weather for my staycation break.

Center Parcs has a lot of sentimental value to me as it was always a big holiday for my family when I was growing up. And Longleat Forest is only around an hour and a half away from my house so it’s my local Center Parcs. I couldn’t wait to get back and explore the village, see how it’s grown and expanded since my last visit in 2012 for my 21st birthday.

Monday = Check-in Day

Like a big kid, I was very excited to get on the road and head on over to Longleat Forest. Check-in time was 2pm which was painless for us however I do miss having the opportunity to arrive at Center Parcs early and explore the village on the first day of your stay. Understandable given they need to monitor numbers of people within the village.

Quick and easy, you’ll drive towards the Arrivals Lodge and meet your first friendly member of staff. Simply tell them your booking number and they hand you over your wristbands for your stay and a Village map. Then it’s the drive to the car park to park up and depending on what time you arrive, wait until the barriers are open for you to drive up to your lodge or park up and walk into the village to have an explore.

Check-in time for the lodge was 4pm. As expected with pretty much every Center Parcs stay I have had, there’s always a busy queue to get into the village. We may have waited 10 minutes but security were very efficient in getting us through the barrier to drive to our lodge. As we were located right near the Plaza area in Longleat, this was a quick 2 min drive therefore we were all unpacked quickly.

Once unpacked, we did pop into the ParcMarket in the Plaza to get some more food bits, mainly frozen and chilled food. We went to Morrisons in Warminster prior to arriving at Center Parcs for the bulk of our shopping. Lodges are self-catering so it’s a great way to save some money if you don’t want to eat out all the time at Center Parcs.

1 Bedroom Executive Lodge Tour

So, originally our booking was to stay in the Redwood Apartments. However with COVID closing Center Parcs, we had to move our booking to a later date and they gave us an extra £100 towards our booking. This extra money meant we were able to upgrade our stay to a 1 bedroom lodge. And boy was it the best decision we made.

For a couple, this lodge was the perfect size for us. From the pictures below, you can see that we had plenty of space in the kitchen and lounge, a nice outdoor seating area and the bedroom was very sizeable! It really felt like having a little house in the forest. Perfect.

Amenities we had:

  • Basic kitchen appliances (microwave, cooker, kettle, coffee machine, dishwasher)
  • TV with Blu-ray player
  • Wine/Bottle Cooler
  • Basic washing equipment (dishwasher tablets, washing up liquid, tea towel, oven gloves, kitchen cloth)
  • Hydrobath
  • Separate walk-in shower

Evening entertainment

We’re not real party animals but we did book to eat dinner at Huck’s, located in the lower section of the Plaza. Serving all kinds of American food like burgers, ribs and chicken. There’s something for any fast food fanatic. As with most restaurants in the current COVID situation, the menu was limited but for what they had on offer, it was perfect for everybody.

Staff were very friendly and accommodating. You do have to book your restaurant reservations so there are no walk-ins. One thing we did find is that they were strict with their timings so if you arrive early for your booking, you will have to loiter around the Plaza area until your time slot is available. This may be an annoyance to some people but it was understandable given the current situation.

Another thing to remember is that within any indoor areas, you are required to wear a face mask (unless exempt or under the age of 11 I believe this was at the time we went). Plus there are one way systems in place both outdoors and indoors, depending on how wide the pathways are. From what we found, most people were compliant without any issues which was great to see.

After stuffing our faces in Huck’s, we decided to take a slow stroll back to our lodge and checked out the Rapids in the waterpark. Longleat has a walkway out of the Plaza which runs alongside the Rapids – the recognisable sound of the water flowing through really bought back a lot of memories for me. I was very happy to be back!

Has anyone been to Center Parcs before?

Which village is your favourite to visit?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

My top 5 most anticipated Intamin coasters

My top 5 most anticipated Intamin coasters

From my top 5 most anticipated B&M coasters, I bring to you the next blog instalment featuring one of the more ‘out there’ and experimental type of rollercoaster manufacturer in my eyes: Intamin. With the likes of Taron and Expedition GeForce as key coasters I’ve loved along my travels across Europe, I can’t help but want to explore more of the Intamin offerings around the world. Whilst I will always remain a faithful fan of B&M, I can’t help but find Intamin’s latest creations grabbing my attention.

So, which Intamin coasters are my most anticipated?

Note: this list is in no particular order.

Taiga, Linnamäki

After riding other Intamin Blitz coasters such as Taron and Cheetah Hunt, I’ve always been fascinated as to what the next instalment of Blitz coasters could become. Taiga came along in 2019 with its gorgeous blue track and unique style train design. Located within Linnanmäki in Finland, it’s definitely given me a good excuse to get a trip sorted back to the Scandinavian countries. Plus reading the reviews from several people within the theme park realm just makes me want to find out what Taiga is made of – wonder if it’ll make it into my top 10?

Flying Aces, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

So, fun little back story. I didn’t really know much about the Dubai parks until my brother took a trip out to Dubai a few years ago and decided to take a trip to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. Me being a typical theme park geek was extremely jealous and ever since, Dubai/Abu Dhabi has been on the bucket list for a very long time. So it’s not surprise that Flying Aces and Formula Rossa are included on this list. Flying Aces has one hell of a quirky layout that looks to throw you all over the place. Bring it on I say.

Formula Rossa, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Top speed of 149.1mph in 4.9 seconds… Fastest rollercoaster in the world and I WANT IT. Is it bragging rights? Maybe. Is it a bucket list coaster you want because your brother got the cred before you? Yes. I’m not even ashamed to say that. Of course the coaster itself looks insane and videos don’t really do it justice in my eyes. I want to be there and experience the sheer speed of Formula Rossa for myself, just might take me a few years until I can get a Dubai trip penned in.

Maverick, Cedar Point

Cedar Point is top of my list of US parks I want to visit. Whilst the number of coasters is a huge draw to up my coaster count, there’s a couple of coasters here that have been on my radar for a few years. Maverick is, surprise surprise, an Intamin Blitz coaster that’s been highly regarded within the theme park realm. So it’s not a surprise that I’ve added this to my list. Maverick has a cool layout but looks pretty relentless with some fast transitions.

Velocicoaster*, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

*Not the confirmed name as I write this post.

This coaster went up real quick ey?! Following the construction of this new coaster on YouTube and Twitter has certainly given me lots of excitement for next year’s trip. And it’s definitely helped to beat some of the boredom with the 2020 lockdown. Some of the inversions and transitions that you can see during the construction look insane, this is one coaster everyone needs to watch. Plus once all the theming pieces are in place too, I think we’re all excited to see the finished product.

I’m also going to make a special mention to the new coaster coming to Walibi Belgium in 2021 too. That thing looks bloody epic and I hope to have a Belgium trip planned next year – provided COVID-19 behaves and doesn’t disrupt plans too much.

Which Intamin coasters are on your bucket list?

Have I missed any notable Intamin coasters?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

My top 5 most anticipated B&M coasters

My top 5 most anticipated B&M coasters

Since travelling abroad has become a somewhat far distant reality for me (and many others) at the moment, I can’t help myself from pining for new theme parks to explore. From staring at Coast2Coaster looking at the next cluster of parks I want to travel to, there’s always a bucket list of coasters that I want to add to my coaster count.

So guess who thought it would be good to write up a little series on my blog about my 5 most anticipated coasters – segmented by coaster manufacturer? Yep, that’s me. My blog has slowed right down at the moment due to no real travel plans, so it felt right with my 100th post to start up a little series of blog posts.

B&M has to be the first manufacturer since I’m a sucker for their coasters. They’re smooth, fun and photogenic – I could spend a long time taking photos of stunning B&M coasters, hello Fenix! Not only that but I’ve always had a big infatuation with their rides since I was a kid. Nemesis at Alton Towers has always played a big part in my journey to hitting up the ‘big boy’ coasters.

There are also some great hidden gems in the B&M world which provide a punch. No matter what, I’ll always have a soft spot for B&M and nothing will change that.

So, which B&M coasters are my most anticipated?

Note: this list is in no particular order.

Alpengeist, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

This B&M invert has been on my mind ever since I discovered B&M inverts existed so effectively after I rode Nemesis for the first time. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews of Alpengeist and can’t help myself from swooning over this coaster. Not only does the layout look exhilarating but the colour scheme is great for the theme of this coaster. Hopefully I’ll have a US road trip booked so I can head on over to Busch Gardens Williamsburg over the next couple of years.

Daemonen, Tivoli Gardens

Now I wouldn’t normally go for a Floorless B&M as one of my most anticipated coasters but this one in particular intrigues me. Not only is Daemonen located at Tivoli Gardens, my most anticipated park that I want to travel to in Europe. It also has some stunning photo opportunities that make me want to get my Canon camera out and spend so much time photographing the coaster.

Mako, Seaworld Orlando

As soon as Mako was announced I wanted to head back to Orlando in a hurry – obviously I decided to hold fire since there’s been so many fantastic new additions within the Orlando parks. I loved Shambhala at PortAventura so it’s no surprise that I eagerly anticipate this to be the same or better. Roll on next year when I should have the chance to ride Mako (provided the COVID-19 situation improves!)

Thunderbird, Holiday World

So who else in 2015 was curious when B&M announced a launched Wing coaster? Cause I certainly was. The colour scheme is so cool – that orange track is the perfect contrast against the teal-style blue & yellow train. Again another coaster located in the US that is on the bucket list so no surprise that I’ve included this coaster on my most anticipated B&M coasters list. Plus the way Thunderbird winds through the landscape, it’s only made me more excited to see how this rides.

Katun, Mirabilandia

Finally, Katun has certainly been on my list for a fair few years. The Italian parks have always been on my radar when looking at cred road trips, just a shame they are all far from each other so takes some extra planning. I’ve read reviews from people saying Katun is intense and a pretty cool B&M invert. Since this type of B&M coaster is my favourite, I really hope to see how well it rides when I get the chance to head over to Mirabilandia over the next couple of years.

Which B&M coasters are on your bucket list?

Have I missed any notable B&M coasters?

What type of B&M coaster do you like?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Beaulieu: Sunshine, Gardens and Cars Galore

Beaulieu: Sunshine, Gardens and Cars Galore

July was the month we were all waiting for. Lockdown restrictions easing meant the travel & leisure industry could start to pick things up again. The pro of that being us avid travellers could start making plans to fill our weekends – within reason and following the Government guidelines. This led to me wanting to return to a place I haven’t been to since 2011. Beaulieu National Motor Museum.

If you are based down South, especially within the Hampshire/Dorset area, you may be aware of Beaulieu. Known for being the home of the Montagu family and houses a very impressive collection of cars, both old and new. Some people may not feel like Beaulieu is on their list of places to visit because they have a lack of interest in cars. I concur as it’s more than just the motor museum.

Note: You don’t need to wear a mask when visiting Beaulieu. All staff had face coverings and kept their distance from guests. Honestly, with the capped capacity, it almost felt a bit like normal despite the social distancing measures in place.

So what else is there to see and do?

Beaulieu Palace House

One of the standout attractions at Beaulieu is the beautiful Beaulieu Palace House, home to the Montague family. Anybody who loves stately homes will adore this. The building itself has some stunning gothic architecture, overlooking the Beaulieu river millpond and vast Garden area. With the new Government guidelines, they have implemented a new one-way system which worked really well. Certain rooms with public access were restricted to one household (due to entry and exit being via the same door).

The staff were happy to help answer questions about the home and provide some interesting facts. Most of the artwork, paintings and needlework on display in the house has been created by Lord Montagu’s mother, Belinda. I do enjoy walking around a stately home and seeing history unfold as you walk through the different rooms. Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to live in such a grand place as your home.

Beaulieu Abbey Ruins

Am I the only person that loves wandering around some ruins? Not only is it the perfect way to take some creative photographs but discovering the history surrounding them makes it more fascinating. The 800-year-old Abbey has an interesting history behind it including being the home to monks, a falconry, destroyed by Henry VIII in 1538 and so much more.

Not only do you have the Abbey ruins, there is a working Parish Church (closed during our visit) and one of the buildings decked out as an entertainment venue for weddings etc. I can see why many people would want to get married here – the setting is just too perfect! So make sure to walk down towards the Abbey ruins and explore this area.

Beaulieu Gardens

As you make your way towards the bottom end of the grounds, there are some beautifully stunning gardens to enjoy. Photographers will enjoy spending time taking photos here – especially when playing around with manual mode like myself. A nice feature in the gardens which I haven’t seen before was a topiary set-up to Alice in Wonderland, based off the original book by Lewis Carroll. It’s a nice way to break up the day as you take in the flowers, fauna and see the monorail going past above you.

Lots of Vroom from the past and present…

Motor Museum

Most people will know Beaulieu for its extensive collection of classic cars, motorbikes and more – there’s at least 280 different models. Most cars within the motor museum are part of the main Montagu collection however there have been many donations over the years. Once again there was a one-way system in place so guests can maintain social distancing. The museum is fairly sizeable therefore you won’t feel concerned about getting close to other households. Before you enter the museum, you are also given the option to use the hand sanitizer provided.

Once inside, you can follow the whole museum round, exploring the many different types of cars on show. My main focus and fascination here has always been with F1, Le Mans etc. since my brother and dad are into their motorsports! There were some new additions for this year including The Bear motorbike that’s been ridden around the world. A great way to spend a couple of hours seeing the different cars throughout history – it’s amazing how much cars have changed.

World of Top Gear

Top Gear is well known amongst motor enthusiasts. At Beaulieu, you have the opportunity to see some of the most notable creations from the show from both the old series with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and the new series with Matt LeBlanc, Paddy McGuinness, Chris Harris etc. I may not be a die hard fan of the show but it’s actually cool seeing the cars featured here – some are the actual cars from the TV series. You’ll also have the chance to see The Stig too. As per the new rules and regulations at the moment, select ‘selfie spots’ are closed off to the public.

On Screen Cars

Famous cars from some of your favourite movies and TV shows are also featured here at Beaulieu. This include Mr. Beans, Only Fools & Horses Van, the Ford Anglia from Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets plus many more. It’s nice to have this feature here as it provides a nice bit of nostalgia. Whilst this is only a small area next to the World of Top Gear, it’s worth having a little wander inside. Again, as per Government guidelines, this is also a one-way system.

Other attractions that I haven’t mentioned above include:

Monorail

The monorail that takes you from the entrance area near World of Top Gear down towards the Gardens/Palace House. There are normally 2 monorail stations so you have the opportunity to get off at each stop however due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, they’ve closed off one station therefore you take one lap around the grounds. A quick 10 minute journey that is perfect for the whole family.

Little Beaulieu

New for 2020, this play area has been created for the whole family to let off steam. What is great is that the architecture has been inspired by the real history of the Beaulieu area, including a nod to the Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey. The whole area looks great and features a perfect sitting area for adults to keep an eye on their little ones. Unfortunately the site was closed during our visit but Beaulieu are making plans to get the area ready to re-open under the new Government guidelines. Keep updated on the Beaulieu website.

Have you visited Beaulieu?

What is your favourite attraction here?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

The 5 Interesting Rides at Skyline Park

The 5 Interesting Rides at Skyline Park

Skyline Park was a park that presented itself as something that could’ve been built in RCT. It was spacious. There were 7 creds to grab plus some other flat rides to explore. This was the next park on our German road trip in June 2019. I didn’t have high expectations but after visiting Bayern Park, I was expecting something on the same level. I was very wrong. Sometimes a little research does help!

Before I begin this post, when I say interesting rides, I mean memorable but maybe not for the right reasons.

Overall park expectations

As I said above, the park layout reminded me very much of a RCT park. The rides and coasters are all spread out across a big space. Our plan of attack was to head towards the back end of the park where Sky Dragster was and work our way back to the park entrance. This definitely worked well for us as the longest queue of the day was for Sky Dragster – low throughputs so it was a painful wait.

The park is split into different sections with a small cluster of rides but generally, there were no trees/fauna dotted about the park. When you’ve travelled to Bayern Park first, it can feel a bit like a downgrade. Unique creds and rides can be a good way for a park to bring in the guests but if you leave out theming and landscaping, they may be left disappointed, in my eyes.

Whilst I am all for parks having their unique style, open plan theme parks can look a tad bland. Adding a bit of theming can bring some atmosphere to an area. I view theme parks as a place for escaping reality and placing a bunch of coasters/rides into a open plan space will only do so much. Skyline Park has more potential with the unique creds it has in the area. And here are five in particular that I remember well.

Sky Rider

This was a popular ride that would feature in my RCT creations as a kid. Why? Because it’s rare and unique. Caripro coasters are few and far between. The only other Caripro coaster I’ve ridden is a BatFlyer at Plopsaland De Panne in 2013. It’s been a while but I remember Vleermuis being fun and somewhat awkward to get in and out of the ride.

Sky Rider is a fun experience where you sit on the ride inwards. Not sure why but I’m not a huge fan of this seating arrangement. Yes, it’s a rarity but I don’t feel there is any real benefit to the ride experience. Caripro are renowned for their unique style of coasters but I wish they thought more about the logistics of riders getting in and out of the ride train.

Ghost Train

The Ghost Train. Oh boy. Where do I start? I’ve ridden a fair few ghost trains over the last few years. Some have been good. Others, not so much. This one on the outside, had a lot going for it. It looked big and a little daunting. So you’d be right that I was a little bit nervous as I stepped aboard the ride vehicle.

Well… it wasn’t scary. It wasn’t thrilling. It was disappointing to say the least. It was coming to the end of our day at Skyline Park so I was hoping this ghost train would give us a good final farewell. Sadly, that wasn’t meant to be. For a large ghost train, I was expecting more to it including some actual jump scares. Disappointment galore.

Sky Dragster

Following on the list of ‘unique’ creds at Skyline Park, we’ve got Sky Dragster. This Maurer Spike Dragster coaster is the only one of its kind in the world – although I believe one is being planned (or built) on a cruise ship. Do correct me if I’m wrong. Since there’s not much talk about this coaster, I had no idea what to expect.

First off, it has VERY slow throughputs. It says a lot that this was the first ride of the day and we queued for around an hour if I remember correctly. It may have been less but effectively, the park was dead and pretty much all rides were walk on… apart from Sky Dragster. I wouldn’t say I came off the ride feeling anything other than, ‘well, that’s different’. It’s okay and definitely a rare cred to have on your coaster count.

Sky Wheel

My first view of this coaster was dread. When I see a coaster that not only looks different from your traditional style coasters, I can’t help but find myself thinking the worst. I had no idea how this was going to ride or whether I would enjoy it. Safe to say, I did not enjoy it. I’ve never ridden a Maurer SkyLoop before so I had no idea what to expect.

The ride effectively starts by ascending up towards the first ‘corner’ – say hello to major hangtime which I despise! – and then gravity takes hold as it winds along the track back towards the station. Sometimes it does go through twice – depends on which SkyLoop you ride, there’s 10 to choose from (according to RCDB) including Sky Wheel.

Log Flume

Wherever I go travelling, I’ll always make sure to give any local log flumes a go. They’re becoming a dying breed in the UK, especially with the loss of Loggers Leap at Thorpe Park and The Flume at Alton Towers. This Wildwasserbahn was impressively long and a fun experience.

I believe this is a travelling model (correct me if I’m wrong.) The experience as a whole was fun. Plenty of lifthills and drops to keep you feeling the anticipation of getting soaked. Located next to Sky Dragster at the top end of the park, I’d certainly recommend giving this a go when visiting Skyline Park. It’ll be one of the only ‘good’ rides at the park.

Have you visited Skyline Park before?

What rides & attractions are you wanting to try out?

LOTTIE TRAVELS