Two weeks ago I took a trip to ZSL London Zoo and had a lovely time experiencing what the zoo had to offer. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house during January and enjoy the cool sunshine. Or maybe that’s just me? To be honest, most of the animals wanted to stay inside in their warm indoor enclosures. Likewise I don’t blame them one bit and can totally relate. January is that closed season lull for us theme park enthusiasts. All we want to do is hide away until the theme parks officially open again.
Anyway, a key goal of mine in 2020 is to visit more Zoos. My particular favourites in the past have included Kolmarden Zoo, Marwell Zoo and Chester Zoo. It’s always been on my list but I knew I needed to make a trip to ZSL London Zoo at some point. The zoo itself is located in Regent’s Park near Camden. Consequently it’s very easy to get to via the Tube. Don’t fret about the distance as it’s a simple 10-15 min walk from Camden Town tube station. We did have to use Google Maps to make sure we were walking in the right direction. Typical tourists ey! It wasn’t long till we arrived at Regent’s Park and saw the rather understated entrance to the Zoo.
So, how was ZSL London Zoo?
ZSL London Zoo isn’t a massive zoo. However after my visit to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in October 2018, I expected more. I shouldn’t have tried to make a direct comparison. Subsequently I ended up feeling a bit disappointed from my visit. Just to clarify there were plenty of animals to see including Tigers, Lions & African Wild Dogs. In case you weren’t aware, I’m a huge lover of big cats! Some of the ‘theming’ around the enclosures were beautiful to look at. Rainforest Life was a brilliant exhibit as it gave you a chance to see both the daytime & nocturnal Rainforest animals of Madagascar including bats!
Personally I felt a bit underwhelmed of the whole day. This wasn’t helped by the long arduous journey to get into London. Rail replacement bus services are a nightmare at times! What normally takes an hour to get to London Waterloo, took double that time. It was bad planning on our part so I’ll remember that for next time! Sadly this meant we only had about two hours to explore the Zoo fully. Not enough time in my opinion. Most reviews I have read said that this was one of the best Zoos to visit in the UK. I didn’t get that vibe! In conclusion I think a return visit is what we need for this Summer. We had a lovely time and would love to go back to see more of what the Zoo has to offer.
Find out more information about the Zoo through their official website here.
I’ve seen many photos and videos from my friends who have visited the Europa Park Magical Winter event. They’ve all told me their Europa Park Magical Winter favourite moments, and I’ve been very envious of them. In 2019, I finally made the trip over to Europa Park for their winter season – and in particular for New Year. Plus, it gave me a good rollercoaster fix during the closed season! Europa Park Magical Winter is open daily from 23rd November 2019 to 6th January 2020, with park hours open from 11am till at least 7pm (the park does extend their hours during busier periods – latest close we had was 8.30pm!)
I highly recommend everyone planning a trip to Europa Park during the winter months. It may be cold and selected rides are closed but with so many rides and attractions at the park, you will still be able to fill up your time – especially with Rulantica, the brand new, immersive water park next to Hotel Krønasår. As I am writing this, I’m already wanting to get myself back to the park as it was a wonderful way to end 2019. So, here are my Europa Park Magical Winter favourite moments.
Favourite Moment #1: Christmas Tree Lights Switch On Show
One of the best ways to end an incredibly cold day at Europa Park is the Christmas Tree Light On show. This ran from around 6.30pm each day and is located near Historama and Euro-Mir in Russia/Luxembourg. I loved watching this show and seeing all the park mascots in their winter outfits.
Favourite Moment #2: Bellevue Wheel
So, what do you do when the weather is freezing cold and incredibly misty/foggy? Why, you go on a Big Wheel right? There were blankets available which were very much needed as we travelled upwards towards the top. The views were… invisible however it was highly amusing hearing the sound of Wodan going round the track and you couldn’t see anything.
Favourite Moment #3: Batavia in Ice
I was stunned at the sheer beauty of the ice sculptures. They were all themed to the new Piraten in Batavia ride which will be opening this year. My favourite sculpture of the entire set was of the ride logo (as shown above). There are some incredibly talented people in this world who are able to make art from ice. It’s incredible how they have the ability to craft out the key details without any mistakes. I would love to have the creative talent to do that myself!
Favourite Moment #4: Rollercoasters in the Fog!
Am I the only one who enjoys the delights of rollercoasters in adverse weather? There’s always a strange new atmosphere in theme parks when the weather is not sunny. Whether it’s raining, snowing, misty, it can be a right laugh! One of my favourite rollercoaster moments on this trip was riding Silver Star in the fog. Baring in mind, we all decided to get a front row ride. There’s nothing more ‘scary’ than the coaster track disappearing over each airtime hill. By the end of the ride, my face was frozen, my bum was cold AF but I came off cry laughing.
Favourite Moment #5: Log Fires
Have you ever been to a visitor attraction, scare event or theme park, and they have open log fires burning away? Whilst you may be wandering around in the cold, nothing beats the feeling of walking up to an open fire to keep warm. It was particularly noticeable in Gardaland and Europa Park that you were able to add logs to the fire if they were dying out – something that you wouldn’t get here in the UK! It’s pretty much a staple part of the winter season.
Are you planning a trip to Europa Park in 2020 to experience Rulantica and Piraten in Batavia?
What are your favourite moments at Europa Park Magical Winter?
Have you ever visited Europa Park for their Magical Winter event?
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).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
I’m heading off to Gardaland and Europa Park this Thursday to see in 2020 – my first time abroad during this period. It’s certainly going to be a new experience for me having always stayed in the UK and avoided booking travel during the Christmas holidays. There’s a lot of things I am looking forward to experiencing including Europa Park’s Winter Season event and my first ever visit to Gardaland. So what exactly am I packing for my New Year holiday?
I am travelling with RyanAir using hand luggage only. Sounds like an impossible task right? Not really if you plan well when it comes to your clothes and toiletries. Not gonna lie, I’ve travelled using hand luggage for various trips to Europe in order to save costs on luggage, and sometimes travelling light can save you a lot of hassle. Whilst some people might wonder how I do it – whether through the fact I am a woman, or some people might call me crazy in general and can’t fathom the thought of travelling hand luggage only. I’m here to tell and prove to you it can be done.
So what exactly am I planning to take?
Before I even start getting the suitcase open and chucking clothes into it, I actually plan out my outfits for each day of my trip. This not only helps me to avoid overpacking but it actually helps when I am out travelling. Ever feel stuck trying to figure out what outfit you want to wear each day? You won’t have that issue any more! I will write down my list using the Notes app on my iPad. With this trip in particular, there’s going to be lots of theme park days so obvious choices will be t-shirts, leggings, shorts/skirts etc.
Mix and matching outfits is the key part to packing light with hand luggage. I also have a few evening meals planned so nicer outfits are required, whether that is a nice top paired with leggings or a nice dress with tights. Ensuring outfits are easy to fold and don’t take up too much space, like thin cotton t-shirts or dresses, will really help to ensure you can take the basics with you without weighing down your case.
#1: If you can make some outfits split into multiple uses like transitioning from daytime to evening, this can really help with space.
#2: Packing cubes. If you haven’t used these before, buy some from Amazon – they are not even that expensive, but please give them a go. They have changed the way I pack my suitcase for any future trips. They really help to utilise the space in your case better – ideal for hand luggage trips.
#3: Having a designated travel outfit can really help avoid overpacking. Wearing bulky items when travelling will save you lots of space in your case – this includes hoodies & coats.
#4: Toiletries & make-up? Try to take the bare minimum and avoid anything that is liquid based. That 100ml limit and one liquids bag can be a pain in the arse but you can make it work – stick with eyeliner pencils, lipsticks, powders etc.
My packing list as follows…
Dresses x5 (Including NYE dress!)
Layers & Necessities
Thermals x1 (Top & Bottoms)
Socks x4 (Thick socks mostly cause who wants cold feet when walking around a theme park?)
Scarf, Hat, Gloves
Leather Jacket (Evening purpose)
It’s pretty basic but it’s amazing how I can fit 9 days worth of outfits in my carry-on suitcase without going over the 10kg from RyanAir. It’s not magic, it’s practical and sensible packing!
Have you travelled abroad only using hand luggage?
How do you pack? Do you create a list?
Do you shove everything in and hope for the best? What works for you?
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, see you all in 2020!
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,
Room on the Broom – a Magical Journey,
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.
It’s been about 4 years since I was last at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I must say, there’s been a lot of changes since my last visit! Every year I’ve always said to myself I will go during to the Hogwarts in the Snow event. And each time, I’ve either left it too late or just never found a suitable time to go. Until now…
Winter does tend to mean hibernating inside the warmth of my own house with a hot cuppa, wearing cosy clothes because it is too cold to travel anywhere outside. This year I’ve been more proactive in visiting some different winter/Christmas events. I’ve learnt not to let the cold bother me, just layer up and be on my merry way. So it was finally time to go to Hogwarts in the Snow.
I was in awe of the new areas (for me) including the Forbidden Forest & Gringotts. That’s the thing I love about this place. It takes your breath away at how grand all the sets are for the films. Not only that but everything is covered in Winter/Christmas decorations including The Great Hall being dressed up for the Yule ball in Goblet of Fire. Plus we were taught by the team on how Harry’s footprints were made in the snow when he’s wearing the invisibility cloak in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Of course, the main event is seeing the model of Hogwarts Castle covered in a dusting of snow – all done by hand from members of the crew! Did you know it takes 4 DAYS for them to transform the castle into a snowy masterpiece? It looks absolutely stunning in person, even if I’ve seen so many photos of it online. A true highlight and a perfect end to the tour in my opinion – except maybe the gift shop with too many gifts I want to buy.
Thanks to Jared/James for taking some of the photos above.
I had a great time at the Studio Tour on Saturday. And with it being James’ first time visiting, it was also great to see his reaction to everything. I can’t explain how incredible the tour is. From all the animatronics to the photo opportunities around every corner. You need to allocate at least 3 hours to really explore the tour in depth. Especially if you want to take part in the interactive elements like flying a broomstick through London! Hogwarts in the Snow runs till January 26th 2020 – tickets are selling fast so get in quick. You can find out more info and book tickets online on the official website.
On Saturday 16th November, I finally visited Longleat’s Festival of Light event. After many years of wanting to go, I planned ahead this year & tickets were booked for my birthday weekend. I couldn’t wait. If you’re a theme park geek like myself, this is a perfect closed season trip to undertake. Longleat Safari Park is located just outside Warminster in Wiltshire. Right opposite Longleat Centre Parcs in Longleat Forest. There’s a lot to see and do at the park. And with the Festival of Light event, it’s clear to see why it’s so popular among guests. Of course any event has its high and low points. So let’s crack on with my full review of Longleat Festival of Light.
Highlights from Longleat’s Festival of Light…
I was in awe at the number of lanterns they had. Considering there were probably around 100 different lanterns in total! I thought they had a dedicated area for all the lanterns. Nope, they were dotted everywhere. This actually made it into an all-encompassing event where you truly felt immersed in the park. Nothing impacted the areas near any animal enclosures which was great. You can tell they’ve worked hard to ensure this event flowed as well as it could. From 4.30pm, the lanterns were turned on and it truly felt like a winter’s event. The theme for 2019 was Myths and Legends. Regardless of whether a theme is your favourite or not, you will still have a fantastic time regardless.
Safari Park & Animal Encounters
The Safari Park is an expansive area with a wide range of animals to see from the comfort of your car (or from a VIP truck – there is an extra charge for this). It’s best to allocate at least 3 hours for the Safari. Not only does it cover a vast area of land, but there’s also a stop-off point in the African Village featuring a shop, toilets, cafe and Lemur walkthrough. Not only that but once you’ve exited the Safari Park, your day doesn’t end there. There’s plenty more animals to encounter including Crocodiles, Bats, Koalas, Lorikeets and many more. Plus, there’s a Jungle Cruise located towards the back end of the park. Sadly we didn’t get to go on this during our visit as the queue was horrifically busy. Fingers crossed we can go on this on our next visit!
The projection mapping on Longleat House is new for 2019, and boy, I’ve seen projection mapping done really well along my travels. This is up there as one of my favourites. The facade of Longleat House is beautiful enough on its own but the projection mapping at night really adds to the atmosphere. It can be easy to miss if guests aren’t heading towards the front of the house once the lanterns have been turned on. Projections on the house included star constellations, mythical creatures and legends. It was beautifully portrayed and I couldn’t stop watching (and taking photos). If you are heading to Longleat Festival of Light this year, do not miss this!
There’s plenty of eateries around the park which is very important when it comes to feeding the family. One place that delivered high-quality food, fantastic customer service and an all-round great experience was Pizza Piazza. This place was quite hidden without the help of the park map. Serving a fab range of Pizzas & meal deals. It’s perfect for families on a budget. The average price was around £10 for a Margherita Pizza, £14 for a Texas BBQ/Meat Feast Pizza and £2.50 for either a soft drink or hot beverage. Meal Deals were also available from £15 to £25 depending on your group size. The food was high quality and incredibly filling, highly recommend. If you’re on the move, you can have a takeaway which I think is fantastic for families/groups on the move or if you can’t find a table to sit at during busy periods.
Lowlights from Longleat’s Festival of Light…
Okay, I understand that this event has grown in popularity over the years. Saturday’s visit was incredibly busy. It was very difficult to enjoy the experience without getting in people’s way or trying to manoeuvre the crowds. I’m not a huge lover of crowds anyway and can get very overwhelmed in these situations. However, there was a distinct lack of crowd control. Having more marshalls in different places to help ease congestion. A lot of people were standing in the way or stopping in awkward spots. Consequently, this meant us photographers couldn’t get the shot we wanted. If you are a family with young children, please keep in mind how busy certain areas get. If you can, please keep your children close at all times or try to wait until a quieter period.
A lot to cover in one day
Take it from me, you’ll need a plan to make the most of your day at Longleat. We arrived at Longleat around 12pm so didn’t get a full day at the park. Longleat opens at 10am, Safari Park opens from 9.30am. There is a LOT to cover if you really want to make the most of your visit. Aside from the Jungle Cruise and Longleat House, we still covered at least 85% of the park. Something to keep in mind if you’re looking to attend in the future. The main Festival of Light event gives you around 3 hours to walk the park and see the lanterns. The lanterns are switched on around 4.30pm. I believe this is ample time to take photos and see them all. With plenty of planning before your visit, you’ll be able to enjoy everything that Longleat has to offer.
Lack of signposts
For an event that becomes incredibly busy at this time of year, the signposts around this park are either too small to see or lacking in different areas. Whilst you have a park map to guide you, it’s still tricky to find what you are looking for. The layout of Longleat Adventure Park isn’t very logical in my opinion. There’s a lot of different walkways that steer off the main path. Some places seem hidden away so make sure you have that park map handy! Some temporary event signage to guide people around the park would help massively. This would help with the crowd control as there were a lot of people stopping in the middle of pathways looking lost. Given the number of guests on park, this caused a lot of congestion and didn’t help with the flow for people who were looking for shops, toilets and food places.
Despite the lowlights, I had a great time and would definitely recommend this event for anyone who’s looking for a weekend day trip with family & friends. Travelling from afar? There’s plenty of places to stay in the nearby area including Warminster, Salisbury and more. If this is your first time, enjoy it and make sure to allocate at least 3 hours for the Safari Park – it’s big!
Longleat Festival of Light runs on selected dates from 9th November to 5th January 2020. Hurry, tickets are selling fast and you don’t want to miss out on this amazing event – buy tickets on their website or find out more about the Festival of Light here.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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
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.
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?