NYE Trip Highlights | Favourite Foods

NYE Trip Highlights | Favourite Foods

During my NYE 2019 trip to Italy & Germany, I will admit I indulged on a lot of scrumptious food at Gardaland and Europa Park. There was a lot of choices available. It was almost a challenge in itself to pick what I wanted. I haven’t written about food as a blog post on here since it’s always been a bit of a trigger subject for me. However, I am going to make an exception this one time. Why? Because I wanted to give you an idea into some of the delicious dishes you can enjoy. So, let’s dive right into the highlights of my favourite foods:

Merlin Stube | Gardaland

There may not be a large choice of food here but what they do provide is made to order and very high-quality for theme park food. From chicken legs to schnitzel, there’s a good range in my opinion. You have the choice of sitting in a tiered style inside the building or enjoying the Italian sunshine outside. Due to it being busy, our group decided to sit outside on the park benches – yes, it was cold outside but with the sunshine, it still felt somewhat ‘warm’. Plus, it’s in a nice location to people watch. Prices at this restaurant are what you expect for theme park food, might be somewhat pricey to those on a smaller budget – some dishes ranged from €14 to €18 however you get a sizeable plate of food and one drink (soft drink or a pint of beer).

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Schloss Balthasar | Europa Park

Okay, as someone who isn’t that well researched on Europa Park restaurants, I had no idea this existed yet have had pictures taken outside the building! I’d probably put this up there as one of the higher-end restaurants at the park but honestly, I was super impressed with the high-quality food – it was incredibly filling and delicious. Considering this was the second medieval-themed restaurant we went to, you know Europa Park takes the upper hand when it comes to theming. Alongside the ornate building, the plate setting on the table was incredibly fancy. Sometimes the little details make all the difference to the dining experience. Prices vary from €15 to €28, you can choose from Steaks to Salads. Plus I’d highly recommend the Kaiserschmarrn for dessert – yummy!

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Captain’s Finest | Europa Park

I heard a lot of good reviews of Captain’s Finest from my friends. They were not wrong about how incredible the dining experience was. I am not 100% into my fancy restaurants so I was a tad nervous about how I dressed and my overall table manners. Silly, I know but I always want to make a good impression. I didn’t need to worry as the staff were incredibly friendly and the food was exceptional quality. About 95% of the group went for the Steak, which was cooked to perfection. I opted for the cheaper option with the Cheeseburger – not my preferred dish but it was incredible. The meat was cooked exceptionally well, plus there were so many fries. That was a downside as I would’ve loved to have enjoyed one of their many desserts. Maybe next time! A superb meal was the perfect way to end our trip to Europa Park.

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Seehaus Restaurant | Europa Park

If I hadn’t gone on this trip, I don’t think I would have discovered the amazing selection of cakes on offer here in Seehaus Restaurant. I have a very sweet tooth so this was like heaven for me – fellow cake lovers, take note and make sure you visit here on your next trip to Europa Park. Cake prices varied from €4 to €7 so pretty affordable in my eyes. Again, Europa Park is showing us how amazing their food range is on park. This was the perfect place to sit down away from the cold and enjoy a sweet treat paired with a warming hot drink. We visited here on New Years Day where temperatures had dropped to around -4°C so VERY COLD!

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Fjord Restaurant | Europa Park

Anyone looking for a sizeable Salad dish, Fjord Restaurant is the place to go! The food options here are very nautical based so plenty of fish dishes including your trusty Fish and Chips. I opted for the Chicken Salad and it did not disappoint. I wanted to stay away from ‘something and chips’ so this was the perfect choice for me – plus I wanted to feel slightly healthy. This is a self service restaurant so you can pick what you want at the food station on the ground floor. I also grabbed a small Blackberry crumble for my dessert which was delicious. They do have a separate bakery station so you can grab a slice of cake if you wanted to.

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What is your favourite restaurant in Europa Park or Gardaland?

Do you have a favourite food at Europa Park? Or indeed at Gardaland?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

Gardaland Magic Winter Event | Trip Highlights

Gardaland Magic Winter Event | Trip Highlights

Who would have known that Gardaland has its own winter event, Magic Winter, that runs throughout December and early January? Gardaland is home to Raptor & Oblivion: The Black Hole & another theme park owned by Merlin Entertainments. Located next to the beautiful Lake Garda in Italy, I’ve wanted to travel to the Italian theme parks for a while. Gardaland has always been up there ever since they built Raptor back in 2011. 

I was incredibly excited when this was planned in as part of New Year’s trip to Europa Park with my friends. Whilst there would have been a strong case of FOMO if I hadn’t gone on the trip, I was already in need of an escape from my daily life as well as the rollercoaster of a year in 2019. The best way to end a year is by going abroad and visiting some theme parks (well, the ones that are open that is!) Gardaland, in particular, was a big surprise for me! I already set my expectations low after a few people warned me of overselling fastracks & queue jumpers. My expectations were thoroughly met and I really enjoyed my visit!

I feel like Gardaland’s Magic Winter event was a truly magical experience. Given it was the end of December, the Italian sunshine still shone brightly during the trip. So here are some of my favourite Gardaland Magic Winter highlights…

Gardaland Magic Winter Song

If there’s one thing that will remain prevalent in my head from this trip, it is the incredibly catchy theme tune for the Magic Winter event. Go and give the YouTube link above a click. This was played across the whole park which did provide a rather magical and festive feel.

However, in the ‘themed’ areas which are more of a darker theme including Raptor, the original soundtrack was playing alongside the catchy Magic Winter song. This was slightly annoying in my eyes as I couldn’t really immerse myself in the area without casually singing along to the Magic Winter song. I spent 2 days at Gardaland and I think I could recite the entire song!

gardaland magic winter raptor rollercoaster

Raptor

It has taken me 8 years but I finally rode Raptor – and it did not disappoint. I loved the transitions between each element of the ride, the first drop takes your breath away and the near misses towards the end of the ride makes for a fun and thrilling ride experience. Much prefer the back row to the front, especially with that pull off the lift hill into the first drop.

Gardaland is quite an odd layout so trying to make your way to Raptor was slightly confusing in my eyes. However, we found the entrance and I was eager to get myself on the ride. The queue line was a maze of conga line fences, and as we went when the park was relatively quiet, this wasn’t an issue for our group. You can get some pretty decent shots of the ride within the queue, and I think Wing coasters are very photogenic!

gardaland magic winter oblivion the black hole rollercoaster

Italian Sunshine

Despite it being late December, the Italian sunshine was a highlight of the trip. Yes, it was cold so you needed to wrap up warm however the sunshine has that warming effect where you can’t help but smile. When you are on holiday, there is no better feeling than enjoying a day out in the sunshine.

The main plus was being able to take photos, and enjoy the gorgeous views of the surrounding areas. The Lake Garda province of Italy is simply stunning to look at, and even better when you are heading up the lift hill on one of the main coasters. The horizon showing off the snow-topped mountains (Monte Baldo and Monte Pizzocolo) made the scenery even more beautiful.

gardaland magic winter il corsari exterior

Il Corsari

If there is one tip I can give you, don’t read up or watch any POVs of this dark ride. It is better to experience this ride without knowing exactly what happens! For a Merlin owned theme park, I was incredibly surprised that this ride exists here in Gardaland. I would have placed this in another European park. Even if purely for the theming as soon as you start walking through the queue line.

I know the pirate theme is seen a lot at theme parks and can become very saturated. However, this is now to become one of my favourite dark rides alongside the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean. Yes, it is not to the same standards and I didn’t have a clue about the storyline. The ride itself was enjoyable and offered some pretty impressive set pieces that created an immersive experience. Whatever you do, do not miss out on this ride if you are visiting Gardaland in the near future.

gardaland magic winter merlin stube restaurant

Merlin Stube

Possibly my favourite restaurant at Gardaland. This wasn’t due to 4 members of our group enjoying the delights of the refillable beer lanyards they purchased! Whilst I simply forgot to photograph my food (eating was a priority at this point), the standard of food here was exquisite. Freshly made to order, the food quality was good and prices were reasonable, depending on your budget. If you are ever in need of a good place to stop off for food, come here to Merlin Stube.

I ordered a ‘Sir Paul’, aptly named since we were dining in a medieval-style restaurant, which consisted of 3 chicken legs & a portion of chips. It was delicious however we also saw the mouth-watering desserts. We had to buy one. The Tiramisu caught my eye, and rightly so since I was in Italy. You’d think the portion size would be small… oh no. The dessert sizes were sizeable and perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. I can feel myself drooling over it now as I write this.

I had a great time exploring Gardaland and seeing what it has to offer. I’m already thinking about returning in the future during Summertime. Mainly to grab the next 3 creds shut during my trip. Plus it’ll be great to compare both the park in summer & winter – is it really as bad as some people say? Plus, there are other Italian theme parks on my hit-list including Mirabilandia and MagicLand.

Have you visited the Gardaland Magic Winter event?

What are your favourite Italian theme parks?

Do you prefer the Summer season or the Winter season at theme parks?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

The rides which scared me as a kid

The rides which scared me as a kid

Okay, here goes. I was scared of some rides as a kid. I loved visiting theme parks with my family and always had an appetite for getting my adrenaline fix from rides. The big rides were intimidating but I always wanted to give them a go. However there were a select few rides, that I can remember in the very back of my head, that truly terrified me on my first ever experience of them. I was the kid that you would see crying to my Mum or Dad in the queue saying I didn’t want to go on. We were all like that once, right?

The Fear of the Unknown…

Now, before I crack on with this post, you may notice that a familiar theme will appear. Ever heard of the Fear of the Unknown? I had a major issue with this as a kid. Granted with my hearing loss, I didn’t truly understand the world around me so it was almost like an overwhelming feeling that would take over. This perhaps caused me great anxiety and would kickstart that Fight or Flight response. 

I had a major issue with rides that were indoors or concealed. Simply put, if I couldn’t see the ride, how was I supposed to help build the confidence to go on them? My parents dragged me through the queue line, it was an overwhelming situation. My own hearing loss made things tricky to perceive the world around me. I can confirm, I did conquer these rides which no doubt helps gives you the confidence to try out even more rides.

So here are the rides which scared me as a kid…

Credit to Memories of Thorpe Park

X:/ No Way Out (1996)

I was about 5 or 6 years old when I first ventured on X:/ No Way Out. My family & I queued for a good hour before reaching the station. I cried my little heart out. If there are any old Thorpe Park goers from back in the 90s, you may remember the ride had a pre-show section right next to the station. The doors would shut in front of you and the next thing you know; doors open, the station was empty and an empty train awaited. As a result, this put me into a meltdown and I refused to go on – so yes, Mum had to take me out via the exit because I felt so scared. I didn’t realise it was a backwards ride in the dark. The irrational fear kicked in but I conquered my fear. Honestly, I’d much rather have X back – give me those lasers and lights again Thorpe!

Credit to EastCoasterGeneral

Nemesis (2001)

Oh yes, the one and only Nemesis scared me. I was 10 years old and still trying to build up my confidence for the big B&M coasters. I was fascinated by the coaster and the way it worked into the landscape. Seeing the Nemesis monster around the station was a turning point which led me to rethink about going on the ride. I felt so intimidated by the sheer speed, inversions and the Nemesis monster theming. I couldn’t bring myself to get in the queue. In contrast to a year later, I wasn’t even phased by the ride. This was probably the turning point in my theme park enthusiast ‘career’.

Credit to British Theme Park Archives

Terror Tomb (1998)

Mummies. A man intent on stealing a jewel in a Forbidden Tomb. Snakes. Scarabs. Darkness. Couldn’t really go wrong with this dark ride being a theatrical experience. I had no idea what to expect when I first headed into the queue. I have vague memories of the ride including the intense darkness to Abdab looking very scary when he was cursed. Granted after my first ride, I wanted to go back on it. It’s weird how you can build up so much fear and emotion around a particular object or event. Then you find out it was absolutely fine and you love it.

Credit to British Theme Park Archives

Wicked Witches Haunt (1996)

Noticing a trend in this post yet? Where I was scared of rides that are concealed in a building. I only have one main memory from Wicked Witches Haunt and that was the skeleton chandelier in the station. You knew you were in for a dark and scary experience when you saw that hanging above your head. Your typical omnimover dark ride that whilst is simple in concept, add a dark overlay theme and kids will come off feeling terrified. I loved the ride once I got a bit older and was incredibly saddened when the ride was caught in the fire of 2001. A true part of Thorpe’s history in my eyes.

Which rides scared you as a kid?

Did you always enjoy theme parks & rides as a kid?

When did you start building your love & enthusiasm for theme parks?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

My Top 10 UK Coasters

My Top 10 UK Coasters

Something I have stumbled across on YouTube a lot is people ranking the UK coasters into a top 10 list. It’s very interesting seeing everyone’s opinions on all the different UK coasters, and in particular how people rank them. I have been looking at my current top 10 coaster list (it’s changed a lot after this year, and better left for another blog post entirely) but when I started thinking about UK coasters in particular, one question popped into my head. Where do they rank in a top 10 list for me?

When it comes to writing down all the UK coasters that I love, easy-peasy. When it comes to ranking them out of 10… boy, this was tricky! Each coaster offers a different unique experience yet how do you rate each one against each other to know where they slot in on a top 10 list. What I can conclude is that there are some gems here in the UK which can easily be forgotten when you start travelling around the world. We may slate that our theme parks & coasters don’t match up to the ones abroad, but honestly, we’ve got some good coasters to be shouting about.

top 10 uk coasters nemesis alton towers

1: Nemesis, Alton Towers

I think this is a given since this is featured quite high in my top 10 coasters list. And I know there’s plenty of people who will disagree and say it is overhyped. I’m not going to disagree with you HOWEVER in my opinion, Nemesis at Alton Towers is up there as one of the best, if not THE best in the UK. It is a classic B&M invert that ticks all the boxes – especially when she gets warmed up on a hot day, back row is crazy at times!

top 10 uk coasters wickerman alton towers

2: Wicker Man, Alton Towers

I had to think about this one but in all fairness, Wicker Man does provide a good all round experience. From the pre-show to the fire effects on the Wicker Man statue (or Big Bob as some people like to refer it), you can’t deny that this ride is great for everyone. It may not be the most thrilling against the likes of Troy but it’s still great for the UK.

megafobia oakwood

3: Megafobia, Oakwood

My first time to Oakwood was in 2016. The main draw for me was to finally experience one of the best coasters in the UK, Megafobia. The reason I have placed this behind Wicker Man is purely down to my memory being bad and I can’t really remember too much of the ride experience – apart from the first 2 drops. They were insane. Granted I wish this coaster was located more central in the UK than in the far corner of Wales, but I guess it gives me an excuse to do a road trip.

top 10 uk coasters stealth thorpe park

4: Stealth, Thorpe Park

I still remember my first time on Stealth in 2006, looking up at the 205ft coaster, pondering what it is going to feel like on the ride. I remember screaming but coming off the ride thinking, ‘HOLY CRAP, that was AMAZING!’ Stealth is just as re-rideable as it was in 2006 in my opinion. I love watching people’s reaction of the ride whenever I’m in the Amity area. Stealth does look daunting but it’s certainly one of the best rides at Thorpe Park – and really adds to Thorpe Park‘s skyline when you drive past from Chertsey.

oblivion alton towers

5: Oblivion, Alton Towers

The one drop wonder and the first B&M Dive Machine to be manufactured, opened in 1998. Oblivion delivers a good overall ride experience to the ride line-up at Alton Towers. This is a ride that everyone associates with Alton Towers, and for good reasons too. I love the adrenaline rush that it gives. Plus, when you have a loose enough restraint, you’ll float happily in your seat as you drop down into the pit.

top 10 uk coasters vampire chessington world of adventures

6: Vampire, Chessington World of Adventures

Vampire will always have a soft spot in my heart. My first initial memories of the ride with the Arrow bat trains and the spooky feel of Transylvania was enough to terrify the kids. Granted I was around 7 years old when I first visited Chessington. It was a fantastic ride and it still is to this day. With the purple Vekoma trains, I love the exposed feeling you get with the ride. It still packs in some great swings through the trees and is overall a firm favourite at Chessington – the long queues it gets during peak times says a lot!

top 10 uk coasters the swarm thorpe park

7: The Swarm, Thorpe Park

Wing coasters are one of my favourites from B&M, after Inverted coasters of course. Majority of people may slate them for being too tame or unexciting, and I can understand that. However, there are some variations of this ride that actually show you can make a Wing coaster more intense – hello Fenix at Toverland. For what The Swarm provides as a ride, is something simple and fun as part of the ride line-up at Thorpe Park. It doesn’t need to be thrilling in my eyes and there are some cool inversions that add to the overall ride experience, including the in-line twist above the station and the Zero-G roll.

icon blackpool pleasure beach

8: Icon, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

I’ve already written a full blog post on my thoughts of Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, but it is nowhere near as good as people are saying it is. Definitely not number one in the UK, that’s for sure. It is a decent coaster and the best one at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I can’t say I came off feeling thrilled, especially since it needs a lot of warming up to give you the better ride experience. There’s little pockets of airtime during the first half but the second half of the ride fell flat for me. The best way I could give it this spot is purely for the fact I would ride Icon over The Smiler.

the smiler alton towers

9: The Smiler, Alton Towers

Okay, I probably don’t ride The Smiler as much as some people so why is it in my top 10 UK coasters? It’s pretty decent when you look at the ride as a whole. All the elements work well together, plus you can’t deny that when the trains dual for each half, it’s pretty mesmerising to watch – and take photos of. I can’t say it’s up there as one of my favourite Gerstlauer coasters I have ridden. Depending on the train you get, it will either be a somewhat smooth ride or it can be a pretty rough ride. That final section after the Cobra Roll and 2 barrel rolls is pretty horrible to go through, even if you do manage to brace yourself.

top 10 uk coasters flight of the pterosaur

10: Flight of the Pterosaur, Paultons Park

And finally, in at number 10 is Flight of the Pterosaur at Paultons Park. I love these new Vekoma suspended coasters that have been appearing over the last few years. They’re so fun to ride and perfect for parks looking to add a ‘bigger’ style coaster for the kids/families. Paultons Park has come from leaps and bounds to be the one theme park to watch out for in the UK. Who knows, Storm Chaser that is currently under construction in the new Tornado Springs area might creep into this list next year.

What are your top 10 UK coasters?

Do you agree with my rankings?

Is Nemesis your number one UK coaster?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

2019 Review | My Highs and Lows

2019 Review | My Highs and Lows

Christmas is fast approaching, and 2020 not far behind. It’s a good time for me to write up a 2019 review, highlighting the highs and lows. It’s been a rollercoaster year for me. I’m hoping for a more positive year in 2020. Fingers crossed I can make that happen!

Like a rollercoaster, the beginning of the year started off with hope and positivity through my work and general life. I felt ready to take on the year head first. First of all I wanted to continue to gain more experience within Marketing. Secondly I had some great holidays booked to Europe which always gives you motivation to go to work, right? It was shaping up to be a great year from start to finish. Then Summer came around and I lost my motivation. Through my job, my life and I felt rather helpless over my general health. This left me neglecting my blog, the people who’ve stood by me all the way and who I am as a person. This probably explains why I ended up very ill between October and November. Crazy how stress & general illness can get to you.

I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I wondered where I was heading from a 27 year old to a 28 year old. It’s so easy to get scooped up into other people’s lives and think, why am I not where they are: moved out of the parents house, married with my soul mate, enjoying lots of holidays, earning a reasonable salary based on my age & gaining more work experience? Consequently I’m now ending the year taking on the mistakes I have made. I’m learning from them and trying to fight my way back to where I was at the start of 2019. I’m ready for whatever 2020 throws at me and to embrace a better version of me (with the addition of hearing aids!).

Aside from my self reflection & low points, there’s been some key memories from 2019 that has made this year a jolly good one…

2019 review highs and lows heide park horizon

Favourite Theme Park: There’s been a lot of theme parks I have stumbled into this year, both revisited and brand new for me. It’s been one hell of an adventure and I’d love to hope that 2020 will be in a similar vein – even if its one major trip abroad, I will be happy. So which theme park was my favourite from this year? It has to be Heide Park. The park is certainly one of the prettiest parks I have visited under the Merlin portfolio, a lot of beautiful scenery around and the lake gives some great views of a coaster horizon. Plus, there’s Colossos & Flug Der Damonen which were fab in my eyes. If you are heading to Hamburg, make sure to tag on a day trip or two to Heide Park.

2019 review highs and lows zadra wooden rollercoaster energylandia

Favourite Rollercoaster: Well… I’ve gained well over 100 new creds this year, and a few have been some pretty solid coasters. So which one was my all time favourite? Zadra. It has to be Zadra for me. There is not a single ride I have ridden that compares to it. It was phenomenal to ride. The airtime wasn’t painful compared to Untamed. The sheer speed from start to finish was pretty damn impressive – and it maintained this throughout the day, even to the point it was incredibly fast. Anybody who is going to Energylandia in 2020 are in for a treat.

2019 review highs and lows longleat house

Favourite Visitor Attraction: Away from theme parks, I’m an avid traveller so I enjoy exploring an array of visitor attractions around the UK. From Moors Valley Country Park to Longleat Safari Park, I’ve explored some pretty cool places. I’m hoping to go exploring even more in 2020. So my favourite place to visit was Longleat for their Festival of Light event. It was a magical experience to see all the lanterns and explore the Safari Park – always a plus when you’ve get the chance to see Amur Tigers, Lions, Wolves & more.

2019 review highs and lows meeting john wardley

Favourite Memory: Meeting John Wardley will forever be my absolute favourite memory from this year. I fangirled a lot. I can now tick this moment off my lifetime bucket list. You know that list of celebrities you’d love to meet. It was a fantastic opportunity to have chat with him about his passion for rollercoasters. He was a truly humble and inspirational guy to so many people in the theme park community.

2019 review highs and lows rock of ages mayflower southampton

Favourite Musical: Rock of Ages was a true delight to watch. The film has always been a guilty pleasure of mine so as soon as I saw it was heading to the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, I had to buy tickets. It had the jokes & gags to get me belly laughing. Likewise the actors & actresses singing ability were incredible. If it comes back on tour, I’d happily watch it again, and I think you should too.

What have been your highs and lows of 2019?

What has been your favourite memory from this year?

Any new theme parks or rollercoasters you’ve ridden that’s been a tick of the bucket list?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

 

Chessington World of Adventures | Winters Tail Review

Chessington World of Adventures | Winters Tail Review

There’s nothing better than getting into the Christmas Spirit this December with a festive trip to Chessington World of Adventures for their Winter’s Tail event. I had a great time visiting the event last year. It was only right that I return this year. Even if just to get my Vampire fix and enjoy the delights of Chessington dressed up in Christmas theming. So let’s crack on with my Chessington Winters Tail review.

There’s a lot to see and do, even if the majority of the theme park is shut for the winter. The main highlight of this event is for kids to meet up with Father Christmas in his Grotto. And if they’re really good, they might receive an early Christmas present! The way Chessington does this is through winding around the many Grottos with Santa’s elves guiding you along the way is both magical and fun for all the family. Beware that this can get extremely popular with families! It’s going to be very busy throughout the day, even if you arrive at your allocated time slot.

Another special feature of Winter’s Tail is to visit The Gruffalo Kitchen for some cookie decorating. I do have a small soft spot for baking – even though I don’t bake as much as I would like! Having this opportunity to be creative and decorate cookies is one of the best ways to get into the festive spirit. Regardless of how old you are, it’s certainly adds that extra special treat to your day. Located to the left of Pizza Pasta Buffet in Adventure Point, this will also get very busy so ensure you allocate enough time during your visit to do this.

At 1pm, 2pm, 5pm and 6pm, you can get your dancing shoes on and join in with the Gruffalo and Stick Man Christmas Groove. Located in the Gruffalo Arena, I find Chessington do a fantastic job with their shows throughout the year. This was no exception. With a host of familiar and catchy Christmas songs to get you in the mood, it’s one to watch during your visit to Chessington Winter’s Tail. Plus, I thought it was even better compared to last year, the storyline was easy to follow and the interaction with the kids was perfect. Fab job by Chessington’s Entertainments team.

Did I forget to mention that there are a selection of rides open too? Last year, they announced Vampire would open throughout November & December for the first time during winter. I secretly fangirled and knew I had to visit. And of course, Vampire is back open this year – a perfect way to get those final nighttime rides in before 2019 ends. The area of Vampire was perfectly lit up to get those perfect shots – Chessington does a great job with nighttime lighting so fellow photographers, get your cameras at the ready.

Other rides open during Winter’s Tail include:

  • The Gruffalo River Ride,
  • Tiny Truckers,
  • Room on the Broom – a Magical Journey,
  • SeaStorm,
  • Adventure Tree Carousel,
  • AMAZU Treetop Adventure
  • Plus you have the Zoo & SeaLife open to explore!

I hope my Chessington Winters Tail review has given you a good insight into the event. So why not get yourself over to Chessington and have some festive fun at Winter’s Tail. It’s advised to pre-book your tickets, prices are from £18.50 for non Annual Passholders, and from £18 for Annual Passholders. Granted paying extra for a seasonal event can put people off but honestly, it’s worth it to get into the Christmas spirit. And I’m sure your kids will love you for it too, parents! You can find out more information & book tickets on Chessington’s website.

chessington winters tail review chessington winters tail reviewchristmas tree and chessington adventure tree carouselchessington winters tail review gruffalo kitchenchessington winters tail review christmas decorationschessington winters tail review santa sleighchessington winters tail review safari skywaychessington winters tail review gruffalo posinglogo on groundgingerbread familychessington winters tail reviewrhino lights statue and santa sleighsantas sleighlights and christmas wreathchessington winters tail review

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

3 misconceptions about my hearing loss

3 misconceptions about my hearing loss

3 misconceptions hearing loss

A bit of a different topic on the blog tonight – away from all the travel and theme park talk! I didn’t think I would have the confidence to write about this subject on my blog. Honestly, I don’t want to hide something is a part of my identity. After a few hospital visits this year, I’ve come to learn more about where my hearing loss has come from and how to deal with it. So I want to debunk 3 misconceptions about my hearing loss.

A short history into my hearing loss…

I’ve always been diagnosed with High-Frequency Hearing Loss since birth. From this, I would say my childhood was somewhat difficult. I misunderstood the world around me & had a wide variety of friendship fall-outs. I was bullied for the way I talked and coming across as dumb in a variety of subjects at school. It’s amazing how one psychologist told my parents I wouldn’t make it past Year 2 at mainstream school. Well, here I am. At 27 (almost 28) years old with a career in Marketing. I’ve achieved a 2:1 degree, 3 A-Levels and 10 GCSE’s!

After several hospital appointments and an MRI scan, I’ve been diagnosed with a genetic disorder, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. The nerves in my inner ear are damaged therefore the signals to my brain can’t function properly to help me hear at a normal range. Simply put, my inner ear anatomy has developed differently to everyone else. In turn, this has affected hearing in both ears. It is more high frequencies that I struggle with. So mainly softer sounds, whispers, female voices & conversations in an environment with a lot of background noise. However, I can continue to live my life as normal.

Even though various audiologists told me hearing aids won’t help me, it’s quite the opposite! So, in fact, I’ll be getting a pair in due course. My disability, whilst hidden, has provided me with a lot of challenges. Especially when it comes to people perceiving me. In particular, there are 3 misconceptions about me and my hearing loss that I want to debunk. I don’t want the world to treat me any differently. I’d like them to have more of an understanding of the struggles that I contend with on a daily basis. Believe me, my hearing can be great one day and then terrible the next.

Misconception #1: I’m ignorant

Whilst I’m sure there are people who probably don’t assume this about me but in the past I have found people can have a full-blown chat with me and I won’t even realise they are talking to me – this is particularly prevalent when I’m at work completing a project. I am not ignoring you or coming across as being rude, generally if there’s a lot of background noise and your voice is on the quiet side, I will struggle to hear you. The only way I’d be able to focus is via lip reading. Yes, you might need to grab my attention more. Trust me, it’s better than assuming I’m ignoring you. I will apologise if I don’t hear you at first glance – just be patient and I will catch up.

Misconception #2: Distance myself from others

This sort of fits in with my social anxiety. Sometimes I find it difficult to get involved in conversations. Particularly when I can’t hear everybody in the convo with lots of background noise etc. I don’t want to be that person who has to ask people to repeat themselves. Whether that is because I’m too shy to ask or I’m feeling overwhelmed by a social situation. I don’t want people to assume I don’t want to be involved with their group conversations. I just find it difficult coping with social situations as a whole. Add in my added hearing loss, it makes it more of a challenge. A little bit of patience goes a long way to helping me out.

Misconception #3: I’m deafer than I actually am

This one is probably the most prevalent in my life. Understandably with any kind of hearing loss, nobody knows how much I can hear, apart from myself. Shouting at the top of your voice is not necessary. Speak as normal unless I ask you to speak up slightly if I cannot hear what you are saying. My hearing loss, in particular, is fairly mild therefore I can still hear at a good range but require a bit of assistance with softer sounds and background noise. One more thing, please don’t get put off if I’m lip reading. It’s something I do rely on at times to understand a conversation. There’s nothing in your teeth or on your lips, I promise!

Hopefully, this has given you a little more insight into my own personal hearing loss. Maybe you have a friend or family member with hearing loss, or suffers from the same genetic disorder I have, feel free to ask me any questions – I won’t bite! Just remember that we’re all human. We should all be treated equally.

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

How to prepare for a theme park trip abroad

How to prepare for a theme park trip abroad

how to prepare for a theme park trip abroad

As you can imagine, I love going abroad. Travelling + theme parks = a very happy Lottie! So much so I am off to Poland tomorrow! But does anyone ever wonder how to prepare for a theme park trip abroad? From the dreaded packing routine: How many outfits do you need? Is the suitcase going to be big enough? to the major essentials of planning (boarding passes, park tickets etc). You know you need to get your brain into gear so you don’t forget anything!

Trust me, I haven’t forgotten anything in the past but I do end up using all my energy getting prepared for my holiday. More so than when I’m actually on the road, travelling to that next theme park destination. Yes, preparing for a holiday is common sense but sometimes a little helping hand can help you be on your way. Read on for my top tips on how to prepare for a theme park trip abroad.

Park tickets

Now that we live in a world where technology is at the palm of our hand, gone are the days where you need to print everything. I love that you can now show off the PDF park tickets on your phone. Or if you’ve been to Hansa Park recently and own an iPhone, your ticket sits nicely in your Wallet app! It makes life so much easier as you’ll have your phone on you at all times.

Pro tip: To avoid those mishaps with WiFi or lack of internet, open up the PDF/e-mail ticket on your phone and take a screenshot. That way you can still show off your ticket at the entrance without worrying about no internet! Of course, certain theme parks around the world will send you park tickets in the post. Make sure you have these to hand when you are packing for your trip.

Park Opening Times/Info

Okay, you should do this in the trip planning stages. However sometimes a week or so before you fly out, it’s best to double-check park opening hours & extra information. We all know park hours are subject to change and even days can change. Although this is very rare! The last thing you want to happen is to arrive at your destination and find that you have less time at the park than you first anticipated. If you’re lucky, you might find hours have been extended!

Car Hire/Hotel Booking Confirmations

In a similar vein to park tickets, you can keep all your booking confirmations on your smartphone. Just remember to take screenshots of booking confirmation numbers, arrival dates, payment confirmation details etc. Your internet can be temperamental so don’t get caught out. Of course, printing off the confirmation details won’t hurt. I know that for hotels, especially if you have booked through Hotels.com, Booking.com or AccorHotels, you can view all your bookings on their apps – incredibly handy to have!

Sat Nav

Whether you choose to use your smartphone or an actual Sat Nav unit, make sure you update the maps. Don’t get caught short when you suddenly find a road or motorway no longer exists! My preferred app to use is Waze as it provides you with the most up to date maps, it’s super easy to set up and it’s FREE! Other options include Google Maps or Apple Maps (depending on your smartphone of choice). Don’t forget to pack chargers and any other accessories such as phone holders and USB car chargers. Whilst most new cars have USB facilities, you can’t guarantee you’ll get them in your hire car. Be prepared for any eventualities!

Public Transport Info (if travelling via Public Transport)

If you are travelling via public transport, make sure you’ve done plenty of research including bus/train timetables, stations near the attractions, any shuttle buses that need pre-booking etc. My preferred choice is to get a hire car where I can but if I need to travel anywhere by public transport, research is key. Make sure you know where you’re going. The last thing you want is to appear lost in a foreign country as this will make you a prime target for scammers etc. Stay safe at all times.

Essential Toiletries including First Aid Kit

Sounds like common sense right? But I’m sure there’s a handful of people who may have forgotten something for their trip. What do I class as essential toiletries? Anything from Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Deodorant, Toothpaste, Toothbrush etc. Anything that is a basic need for your everyday routine. Also, add a First Aid Kit whilst you are at it. I might go overboard in this respect by packing a lot of first aid bits but ‘You never know what may strike at any given moment!‘ I’ll pack plasters, tissues, paracetamol, ibuprofen, vitamins, contraceptive pill (if applicable!), Strepsils, Bonjela, Anthisan etc. Ladies, if you know your time of the month is due during your holiday, make sure to pack your pads & tampons too.

Travel Money and Passport

What? I left the most basic and important thing till last?! Passport is mandatory, obviously! Pro tip: Put your passport in your suitcase when you start your packing and you won’t have to worry about it being left behind. Okay, I have left getting travel money to the last minute before – NEVER AGAIN! Obviously, the earlier you can buy your travel money, the better rates you will get. ALWAYS AVOID GETTING MONEY AT THE AIRPORT!

There’s plenty of comparison sites online where you can compare the different rates. However, just recently I’ve been introduced to Monzo (back in June!) and I bloody love it. Easy to transfer money from my own bank account and no need to worry about conversion rates. The standard credit card exchange rate fee applies. Plus you don’t need to inform them every time you travel. My favourite part is the spending notifications you get. Very easy to keep track of how much you have spent and converts it straight back into pounds from your destination currency. So fab!

I hope this has given you some handy tips on how to prepare for a theme park trip abroad. If you have any tips of your own, please leave them in the comments below. Sharing is caring.

That’s all for now!Lottie xoxo

Riding Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Riding Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

I will put my hands up now and say that I didn’t intend to leave riding Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach till October 2019. But ya know, life happens etc. In my defence, as a lowly Southerner near the South Coast, travelling to Blackpool is quite the trek. 5 hours of driving to be exact. Having to plan this into my weekend plans can be tricky. However, I wanted to make my way up to Alton Towers for Scarefest. This made it the ideal opportunity to tag on a visit to Blackpool.

icon blackpool pleasure beach entrance sign

After the long trek to our hotel in Derby, it meant there was only a 2-hour drive to Blackpool from the hotel. Making this so much better than the arduous 5-hour drive direct from down south. I knew I was only really here for one thing: ICON! After reading so many reviews from other enthusiasts and bloggers, I needed to get a ride on it and form my own opinion. I took my seat, back left which is apparently the best seat, and waited in anticipation for the first launch. I’ve seen many POVs of the ride. It’s easy to say that a ride can look slow or the launch doesn’t look powerful. You can’t really judge a ride from a POV until you’ve ridden it, in my opinion. Icon had a lot of potential and I came off my first ride thinking, ‘That was fun’.

icon blackpool pleasure beachicon blackpool pleasure beachicon blackpool pleasure beach

A positive review right? Well, yes, it is a positive review. I did like Icon. But when you’ve heard lots of people saying how amazing it is and it’s their number one UK coaster, I didn’t get that vibe at all. I’m impressed with some of the elements that it packs into such a tiny space. However, I felt more could’ve happened. Especially when you’re waiting for airtime and it doesn’t happen until the last moment of the airtime hill. Of course, I had to give the ride a chance to warm up. Most people say that in the afternoon, the ride packs a punch and gives a better ride experience.

I do agree. After 2 more rides on Icon in the afternoon, it definitely warmed up. It’s a good coaster experience as a whole. My bugbear is that a coaster shouldn’t need to rely heavily on warming up to be a great coaster. That and after the second launch, the ride loses its momentum pretty quickly. It’s almost like you’re gliding through the final section before the brake-run. I wasn’t expecting it to be a thrill machine by any means but this is not the best coaster in the UK. There I said it.

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Comparing this to other coasters I’ve ridden, Icon could’ve been so much more. It’s fun and hands down the best ride at the Pleasure Beach. However, I’d take Nemesis and Wicker Man over Icon. If you’re like me and haven’t had the chance to ride Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, definitely give it a go. It’s great to have a Mack Mega coaster here in the UK. Depending on where you live, it won’t require too much travel time.

Overall, it was a good day at Blackpool and I even did Valhalla in October! INSTANT REGRET might I add. We also had a ride on the other coasters including Nash, Big Dipper and The Big One. There isn’t much for me at Blackpool if I’m honest. I don’t see myself returning any time soon now that I’ve finally ridden Icon. No doubt I’ll be waiting for their next big investment before I plan a return trip. For now, thanks for a fun time Blackpool.

pasaje del terror blackpool entrance sign

PASAJE DEL TERROR

As it’s spooky season, it seemed fitting to add Pasaje del Terror on to the weekend trip. Especially with it being right outside the Blackpool Pleasure Beach entrance. I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it was a scare maze that lasted for approx. 10 minutes. Not much is given away on the outside. Even with the video promoting the attraction at the entrance, you don’t really know what creatures you will encounter inside. I don’t know whether I had high expectations but I left feeling particularly disappointed.

You’ve got your usual horror film characters including Chuckie doll, Billy from SAW, Michael Myers from Halloween etc. The theming within here was incredible. This was great to see however it was lacking in scares. I may not scare easily within scare mazes as I’ve done my fair share of them, both in the UK and abroad. I didn’t get any jump scares or felt like an actor was going pop out around the corner. Whether the actors were focusing more on the group behind me who proper scaredy-cats, is anyone’s guess. It’s a shame as I wanted to like Pasaje del Terror. It didn’t tick any of the boxes for me. Was it worth the £8.50? In my experience, no. I’d suggest giving it a go if you haven’t already.

pasaje del terror blackpool tickets in persons hand

Don’t forget Blackpool Pleasure Beach are getting into the Halloween spirit with Vampire Pleasure Beach and will also be increasing the scares with their new event, Journey to Hell Freak Nights, from 27th October to 31st October. For more details, check out their website here.

What are your thoughts on Icon?

Do you think Icon is a good investment for Blackpool Pleasure Beach?

Have you ever visited Pasaje Del Terror?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

 

Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 | Review

Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 | Review

alton towers scarefest review entrance sign

Every year I always make sure to plan a visit to Alton Towers for Scarefest. This year was no exception. You can read my 2017 review here. Scarefest is one of my favourite Halloween events from the Merlin theme parks (excluding Legoland). I love that as soon as you walk through the turnstiles, the view of Towers Street is beautiful. As you gaze below with the Towers straight ahead across the lake. You don’t get a better view than that. Read on for my full Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 review.

alton towers scarefest reviewtowers street at alton towers dressed up for Scarefestalton towers scarefest reviewalton towers scarefest review

Alton Towers Scarefest as a whole…

Each year, Towers Street is adorned with pumpkins and fantastic photo opportunities. I loved it all. Add in the mix of music and you’re taken away from reality and into the world of Scarefest. When they added in the Scarefest sign at the bottom of Towers Street, I knew this was going to become an ideal spot for photos. But the best new addition? The rollercoaster themed pumpkin heads. My particular faves were Thirteen, Wicker Man and Nemesis.

I could tell there was some effort for the ‘spooky theming’ within Fountain Square by Hex. There was black and white bunting dotted around this area. Plus you had your usual Pumpkin photo spots near X-Sector and Mutiny Bay – ideal for kids. And the famous skeletons in one of gondolas on the Skyride – if you manage to spot it! As for the rest of the park, there was little to no spooky theming at all. Even if you include the lighting around the coasters after dark. Okay, Alton Towers does cover a large amount of space and it would take time to decorate all possible areas. But with a lack of Halloween atmosphere around the park, it can really feel like Scarefest starts and ends on Towers Street. This is a shame!

alton towers scarefest reviewalton towers scarefest reviewscarefest hearse parked up on grassscare sign at bottom of towers street alton towers

I’ve always enjoyed Alton Towers’ scare mazes. Purely because they can be beautifully themed and have the added bonus of using the Towers as space to house 3 of them this year. You’ve got to the pay for the mazes which is a bit of a bummer. Honestly, I don’t think the main 3 scare maze ticket bundle was worth the price. Yes, it wouldn’t be Scarefest without the mazes but the price is expensive – not great if you’re on a budget. Even then, you don’t want to fork out more money to have a re-run in your favourite maze. Hopefully, they can work on this for next season!

Note: there may be some scare maze spoilers from this point.

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ALTONVILLE MINE TOURS

Altonville Mine Tours hasn’t always been my favourite maze at Towers. This year has changed my opinion. I don’t know how I ended up at the front of the group when I exited the maze. During the batching process, I started off towards the back of the group. I guess that’s what makes it more fun. There were so many moments with actors coming at me in all directions. I was stroked and they enjoyed pulling my hair. In such a confined space, who wouldn’t feel exposed and vulnerable. I loved it!

sub species entrance signsub species scare mazesub species scare maze exit

SUB SPECIES

Sub Species used to be terrifying and I’ve always wondered whether I would come out alive. The last couple of years, it has lost its touch and become tamer than when it first opened in 2015. This year, it seemed to be filled with more dead ends and actors constantly making you go round in circles. This may not be for the faint-hearted but honestly, getting lost adds to the fun. Am I right? The scares might still be lacking but it was still enjoyable. Definitely feel like Sub Species has run its course and could do with being replaced with another maze for next year.

project 42 scare maze

PROJECT 42

Project 42, I have no words to be honest. Last year, I had a fantastic run through when I was at the back of the group. Actors grabbing me from different angles and giving me some good jump scares. The story didn’t really make much sense in my eyes. It still doesn’t to be fair. The maze felt disjointed and there were no real scares coming from the actors. Whilst zombies are a common scare maze theme, Project 42 just didn’t offer anything at all. Plus it is still VERY loud in the finale. This is coming from a girl who has a hearing disability and I still found it deafening! Project 42 shouldn’t come back next year, even if it is nice to walk through the Nemesis Sub Terra building.

darkest depths scare maze signdarkest depth scare maze

DARKEST DEPTHS

Darkest Depths was spooky, fun and beautifully themed. You wouldn’t think this whole maze is pretty much set up in shipping containers. I wish I had the chance to experience this maze when it was dark outside. There were a couple of moments where actors popped in and out through the containers, in turn letting the light outside draw in. This ruined the experience for me. I know that couldn’t be helped! Away from that, you truly felt immersed in the story. From smell pods making you feel like you were on the Mutiny ship to the water effects of the Kraken winding its way through the ship. It’s great for a family scare maze and a fantastic new addition to the Scarefest line-up.

the attic scare maze entrance signalton towers scarefest reviewalton towers gardens with conservatory

THE ATTIC: TERROR OF THE TOWERS

This was the surprise of the weekend. If I wasn’t pressed for time on Sunday, I would have easily bought another ticket. It was so good. Alton Towers have returned to using the conservatory as space for The Attic queue line. This gave me nostalgic vibes of The Sanctuary back in 2012-2014. The theming of this maze was pretty grand if you ask me. Lots of Victorian vibes from the queue and first scene. It almost felt like we were on a ghostly tour to find the Governess. And you did honestly feel like you were going up into the Attic after the 3/4 flights of stairs.

Jump scares came at me from all angles. Especially considering I was at the back of the group. Actors were running between rooms which freaked me out. You didn’t know where they would be lurking as soon as you turned the corner. The storyline was a little hard to follow within the maze. However, you understood the main jist with the children and the Governess. I don’t know why but scare mazes with ghostly children can be particularly creepy. Do not miss out on this maze when you make a visit to Scarefest this year.

alton towers lake

So if you haven’t already made plans to visit Scarefest this year, don’t wait any longer! Alton Towers Scarefest will be back from 18th October to 3rd November, so grab your maze tickets and experience this spooktacular event for yourself.

What is your favourite maze at Alton Towers Scarefest 2019?

Do you think more could be done for Alton Towers Scarefest?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo