Beaulieu: Sunshine, Gardens and Cars Galore

Beaulieu: Sunshine, Gardens and Cars Galore

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

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

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

So what else is there to see and do?

Beaulieu Palace House

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

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

Beaulieu Abbey Ruins

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

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

Beaulieu Gardens

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

Lots of Vroom from the past and present…

Motor Museum

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

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

World of Top Gear

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

On Screen Cars

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

Other attractions that I haven’t mentioned above include:

Monorail

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

Little Beaulieu

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

Have you visited Beaulieu?

What is your favourite attraction here?

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Chessington VIP Photography Experience Review

Chessington VIP Photography Experience Review

When Chessington World of Adventures announced their brand new VIP Photography experience, I couldn’t resist buying this for myself and my partner. Last Sunday (1st March), we thoroughly enjoyed the whole day and are now even more keen to get out there and take photos using our SLR cameras.

After 3 sessions so far, we were in the trial phase. The whole experience is still being firmed down and finalised before an official release later on this year. Due to half the theme park being shut, we weren’t able to go down to Land of the Tigers to see the Amur Tigers or head into Lorikeet Lagoon. Whilst this was disappointing for us, it’s clear that this will be included later on this year when the park is fully open.

chessington VIP photography experience owlchessington world of adventures goatchessington VIP photography experience penguinchessington world of adventures capybarachessington world of adventures otters

SO, WHAT DID YOU DO?

The Chessington VIP Photography experience was split into a fun & jam-packed itinerary. First up was an hour brief with Sally Beard, professional photographer at The Photography Boutique, teaching us about the basics of photography and how to take professional photos of animals. This was perfect for me since it’s been well over 10 years since I was taught how to use SLR cameras at college.

Afterwards, we headed into Amazu & Penguin Cove to get ourselves used to Manual mode. This was almost a good starting point to adjust the settings for ISO, aperture and shutter speed. We had front row seats to the Animal Antics show & enjoyed spending an hour on a Safari truck, taking photos of the Giraffes & Zebras in their paddock. Definitely worth adding to the bucket list!

You’re given an hour for lunch. Don’t worry about preparing any lunch as you’ll be given a VIP lunch voucher. This entitled us to a standard meal deal at any of the available food and drink outlets at Chessington. This is great for fussy eaters who can choose their favourite F&B outlet in the park – we opted for Captain’s Fish & Chips because it was quiet.

The afternoon session was pretty much flexible with the whole group. We enjoyed walking through the Trail of the Kings, front-row view of the Sea Lion Show & grabbing some cool shots of the Otters & Reindeer. This added flexibility was great as we could take as many photos as we wanted of the animals we cared the most about. Especially when feeding time came around for the Lions & Gorillas.

chessington VIP photography experience giraffechessington world of adventures zebrachessington VIP photography experience rhinochessington world of adventures monkeychessington world of adventures sea lions

So what exactly did I learn from this VIP experience?

MANUAL MODE ISN’T SCARY TO USE

That’s right. Once you know the basics of ISO, aperture & shutter speed, the rest is pretty much simple to follow. It’s so easy to let the camera automatically adjust the settings for you. Sometimes that perfect shot can look overexposed or underexposed. With manual mode, you have complete control over how the photo looks. I’m now a changed woman and will opt for manual mode – it’s a lot easier to adjust than you think!

ANIMALS CAN BE FUNNY CHARACTERS

You’ll learn throughout this course that observing the animals can showcase their personalities. When I’ve visited the zoo at Chessington, I don’t really spend a lot of time observing the animals. Sometimes it’s a quick wander around and looking into the enclosures. Then it’s time to move on and see the next animal. Having my camera out made me think about the different angles and compositions of the photo I wanted to take. And you really see how funny the animals are, from headbutting each other to refusing to stay still!

NO PRESSURE TO TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS

When you’re in Auto mode, it’s easy to get trigger happy and take 1000s of photos. In manual mode, you don’t take nearly as many photos. Why? Because you’ll be spending more time focusing on getting the settings right for that perfect shot. After taking each photo, I was always checking over what I took to see if the exposure was correct, my depth of field was looking sharp etc. It might take a bit more work but the finished results were amazing!

PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS, AMATEURS & EXPERTS

This course is perfect for anyone with an interest in photography. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never worked with manual mode on an SLR or you’ve taken so many professional photos that you want to branch out into animal photography, this course is designed for everyone. I would say I’m a beginner with an interest and passion for photography. Yes, there were 3 other photographers with way more experience than me (my partner included) but that didn’t stop me from doing this course.

To conclude, I’d highly recommend doing this VIP Photography experience from Chessington. It was priced at £100 per person (during the trial period) which I feel was pretty reasonable. Considering you get at least 5 hours of photography, 1-hour editing workshop & lunch included. Of course, the price & course structure will be different when the course launches later this year. Would I do it again? Almost definitely. Even if just to get some fab close up shots of the Amur tigers!

chessington VIP photography experience foxchessington VIP photography experience zebrachessington world of adventures giraffechessington world of adventures reindeerchessington world of adventures ostrich

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

 

My trip to ZSL London Zoo | Review

My trip to ZSL London Zoo | Review

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.

Have you ever visited ZSL London Zoo?

What are your favourite Zoos in the UK?

And just for fun, what’s your favourite animal?

trip to zsl london zooflamingoes in a pondtrip to ZSL London Zootiger sleeping on platform in enclosuretrip to ZSL London Zootrip to ZSL London Zoolion lying on the groundtrip to ZSL London Zoomonkey sitting in the treetrip to ZSL London Zootwo lemurs sitting on perchafrican wild dogs eating their lunch

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Festival of Light Review | Longleat Safari Park

Festival of Light Review | Longleat Safari Park

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.

the uk's largest hedge maze sign at longleat safari parkhedge maze at longleat safari parkkoala eating in the treebat hanging upside down on treecrocodile floating in the waterpizza piazza restaurant signcadbury hot chocolate with bbq chicken pizzafestival of light review

Highlights from Longleat’s Festival of Light…

Beautiful Lanterns

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!

Projection Mapping

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!

Pizza Piazza

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.

longleat house with star constellation projectionlarge griffon lanternfairy sat on toadstool with a flutestampede of flying horsesunicorn lanternfestival of light reviewfestival of light reviewfestival of light review

Lowlights from Longleat’s Festival of Light…

Too busy

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.

star lights in purplefestival of light reviewfestival of light reviewfestival of light reviewfestival of light review

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.

That’s all for now!Lottie xoxo

 

Haunted House Monster Party | Review

Haunted House Monster Party | Review

haunted house monster party

Haunted House Monster Party is now officially open at Legoland Windsor for the 2019 season! Lord Vampyre invites you to his Monster Party where he’ll literally turn the whole house UPSIDE DOWN. On Saturday 12th April, I travelled up to Legoland Windsor to experience the new attraction for myself. My first impressions of the ride were good.

haunted house monster partyhaunted house monster party

I will admit that I hadn’t really followed the construction of this ride. However, when I found out it was going to be a Vekoma Madhouse, I knew this was something to keep on my radar. If any of you have experienced Hex at Alton Towers, you’re going to enjoy Haunted House Monster Party. There’s even a few Hex style Easter Eggs inside the attraction. This made my ‘theme park enthusiast’ self internally scream with joy.

Normally I take my annual trip to Legoland Windsor in the summer months. But knowing this was opening in April, I knew I couldn’t wait and had to experience this for myself. Living about an hour or so away from the park, it would be stupid not to make an earlier visit. Even if the weather was very up and down all day! Spoilers ahead from this point on…

haunted house monster partyhaunted house monster party entrance signhaunted house monster party

At first glance, the actual façade of the building looks very impressive – depending on what angle you are standing at. You can’t miss the massive black warehouse at the rear though. This houses the ride system for anyone remotely interested in the engineering behind the ride. Granted the park have tried to add some ‘colour’ by painting spooky drawings on to the exterior. For me, it would’ve been nice to have the warehouse hidden by the impressive exterior. Honestly, they’ve done a good job despite all this!

haunted house monster partyhaunted house monster party queue line and buntinghaunted house monster party photo opportunity

The cattlepen queue line might look horrific but there are some great interactive elements to keep your children entertained. There’s even a photo opportunity too! Once you’ve been batched, one for each side of the ride, you wait in anticipation for the main doors to open. There’s even a creaky door sound effect to make it feel like the house you’re entering is old and haunted. So spooooooky!

As you step inside there’s an impressive portrait of Lord Vampyre and Spider Lady. Plus you’ll find a few other character portraits as you enter the main pre-show area. The UV lighting made those ordinary portraits extraordinary. Based on the many kids’ reactions, I think they were in awe of the whole thing! For those with disabled guests, there is a lift system that will take you up to the pre-show area. Great to see the park catering for everyone. Fab work Legoland.

haunted house monster partyspider lady and vampyre plaques in legohaunted house monster party

Once inside the pre-show area, my favourite part was the disco balls lighting up the room. It’s almost time to boogie! All the guests (or snacks as Lord Vampyre likes to call us!) wait in anticipation for the main banqueting hall. Firstly, we were greeted by Lord Vampyre as he explains why he loves to party. He also describes how his fang-tastic potion will make the whole house turn upside down. Plenty of lighting effects were used so you were completely immersed in the experience. I couldn’t wait for the main attraction!

Then it was time to step inside the ride. The main banquet table was filled with lego style food and drink. There was a grand fireplace at one side, a massive clock on the other and benches either side as you take your seat. Unlike Hex, each seat is separated for each guest. I assumed this is a new style safety system Vekoma has built for the ride. This did help people to know how many people could be seated per section. As I took my seat, I was in awe at the decoration inside. Yes, I spotted some similarities to Hex!

haunted house monster partyboo! haunt ya later gravestone lego modelhaunted house monster party

Now, the main attraction was… on first impression, I had to take a moment to take it all in. The music was fantastic and so catchy. So much so, I still had it in my head all day. Oh my god, Lord Vampyre was the DJ with a school disco set up… I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at how utterly amazing and unexpected that was. As an adult, I bloody loved it all. This style of ride doesn’t affect me but if you do suffer from motion sickness, then this might not be the best ride for you. However, I think it’s worth it even if just for the music itself. So fab!

You can tell as you exit the ride, the faces on all the kids is enough to show that Legoland are on to a winner with this attraction. So many kids were smiling and laughing, the parents were also joining in! The atmosphere is just perfect – for a Haunted House themed attraction, this provides that upbeat feel without kids feeling too intimidated or scared. It’s perfect and Legoland have done a good job!

you're invited to a spooktacular monster party vampire xoxo letterhaunted house monster partylego spider modelhaunted house monster party

It would be pretty damn cool if Legoland released a lego set so you can create this Haunted House exterior with all the characters. And maaaaaybe a pin badge too for us pin badge collectors? Subtle hint Legoland! I want to return just to re-ride this attraction. And listen to the amazing soundtrack too! Overall, this is the perfect staple attraction for families visiting the park this year – don’t miss out!

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

Favourite Water Parks

Favourite Water Parks

As the sun shines away with beautiful blue skies, I daydream about lazing beside a pool or cooling down at a water park. I believe that a water park really adds to any holiday, regardless of whether it is in the UK or abroad. From fast slides to a wave pool, private cabanas to a ‘beach’, there is something for everyone!

I have visited a fair few water parks in my time and I can’t resist visiting them. It is a nice break away from the hustle and bustle of theme parks and rollercoasters. Instead you can get your adrenaline fix with the water slides or enjoy a relaxing journey in a lazy river. With so much to choose from, you won’t ever be bored. So, let’s crack on with my favourite water parks.

Typhoon Lagoon Walt Disney World ImageSource

Typhoon Lagoon | Walt Disney World

I think if you were to ask people about Typhoon Lagoon, most would probably mention the insane wave pool. Honestly, you need to be a strong swimmer to withstand the powerful wave in the wave pool – reaching heights of 6ft! Of course, it is not just the wave pool that is the main attraction, there are plenty of water slides including the thrilling ‘Crush ‘n’ Gusher’. You can walk into a Disney water park and be transported into a completely different world! Definitely my favourite of the Walt Disney World Water Parks.

Aquatica Seaworld Orlando Concept Art ImageSource

Aquatica | Seaworld Orlando

This was a brand-new water park for me when I visited Orlando back in 2015. Whilst it may not be as well themed as the Disney water parks, thrillseekers will love the range of water slides on offer here. From body slides to family fun water slides and two lazy rivers! One is your typical lazy river with floats where as the other one, known as ‘Roa’s Rapids’ is a fast style rapids. I know this water park has expanded a lot since my last visit which makes me even more excited about visiting again when I plan my next trip to Florida.

Sandcastle Waterpark Blackpool Entrance Image

Sandcastle Waterpark | Blackpool

Are you even a Brit if you haven’t been to the UK’s largest indoor water park? Sandcastle is well known for being the best water park in the UK, and it’s obvious as to why. It’s huge. There’s lots of a slides including a master blaster and the interesting half pipe style water slide, Sidewinder – it’s so great, especially when you go down backwards! Due to its sheer size, there is so much to do that you could spend way more than a couple of hours here – the slides here are more than enough to keep you entertained.

Blizzard Beach Walt Disney World ImageSource

Blizzard Beach | Walt Disney World

What better way to represent a water park in Disney, in Florida, than with a crocodile/alligator trying to ride the wave on skis. It’s so random but so apt for a Disney. Creativity at its finest in my opinion. I do find Blizzard Beach visually stunning – from the fake snow around the park to the ski style lifts taking you to the top of Mount Gushmore and the ski slope peak of Summit Plummit. Trust me, the first time you look at this ride, you are going to be thinking ‘what the bloody hell is up with that slide??’ I do rate Typhoon Lagoon higher than Blizzard Beach but that doesn’t mean to say I don’t like the park. It has plenty of fun slides (body slides, racing slides, family slides etc.), places to chill out as well as some cool, relaxing rapids.

Alton Towers Waterpark ImageSource

Alton Towers Waterpark (formerly Cariba Creek)

Taking you back to the UK now, and a water park that is fun for all the family. Yes, it is not a massive water park but what Alton Towers waterpark has is enough for a good couple of hours of fun. The bucket as part of the Wacky Waterworks area is possibly the highlight of this place – even if you are an adult. The Master Blaster is a pretty fun slide that winds all around the water park, with a photo opportunity at the bottom – personally not sure this works well as half the time in my experience, I come out backwards. Let’s not forget the ‘racing’ style slides too: Rush ‘n’ Rampage as well as the outdoor pool area with the ‘Flash Floods’ slides. If you think about it, there is plenty to keep you entertained for a morning or afternoon – especially if you are staying on resort!

Splashdown Poole Slide Image
Source

Splashdown | Poole

As a southerner, you will know this water park very well. I certainly remember having some great times here as a kid. There’s so many cool slides to explore here with a range of intensities for thrillseekers and those who are less adventurous. Thrillseekers can enjoy The Screamer, Velocity, Baron’s Revenge, Infinity, Zambezi Drop and Dragon’s Lair. There’s so much to do here that it is a perfect option for an afternoon out with a few friends.

Subtropical Swimming Paradise Logo

Center Parcs ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’ (Longleat, Elveden & Woburn)

I’ve combined all of these into one as I seriously recommend this to anyone who visits Center Parcs. It is part of your stay with no extra money required to use the facilities. There’s fab slides including Tropical Cyclone, travel down on a float with 3 other people into a funnel – just watch out for the water splash which may get you in the face if you’re not careful. Each swimming complex is different at each Center Parcs Village but all have the same facilities from a fun wave pool, rapids, children’s splash pool area and at some places, a nice relaxing jacuzzi pool.

This is a short list – probably because I haven’t really focused too much on visiting water parks, but that doesn’t mean to say that I won’t visit them more regularly. When the weather is hot and sunny, a water park is just as good a day out as a theme park. Coming up soon on the blog, I will be writing a ‘small’ wish list of water parks I really want to visit. What are your favourites? Are there any I should make a visit too? Let me know in the comments below.

That’s all for now.

LOTTIE TRAVELS

A Tigerrific Event at Chessington

A Tigerrific Event at Chessington

 

Source

Apologies for the long delay on writing this!

On Saturday 28thApril, I was very kindly invited to the Media Event for Land of the Tiger/Tiger Rock at Chessington World of Adventures alongside Chessington Buzz – go give them a follow on social media, links will be below! Honestly… I was impressed.

The whole area has been transformed into a completely new land with four new additions to the area, Amur Tigers. If you think this is just a glorified retheme, you are very much mistaken. It has been done very well and exactly what was needed for an area that was looking extremely tired and somewhat dated.

 

As you enter the Land of the Tiger, the first vantage point is the new ‘Land of the Tiger’ entrance where you might get a chance to see the Amur Tigers in their new home. There is a bridge for them to cross right above you as you walk under! Great for taking photos of the four gorgeous Amur Tigers, Tsar, Kyra, Olga and Kalinka.

Once you have walked under the bridge, you are met with Tiger Rock’s final drop and the impressive new tiger face rock structure. It looks amazing at first viewing! Compared with what used to be Dragon Falls, it is very much a fab improvement – especially when the Buddha heads rockwork at each side of the drop was removed in 2014.

One thing you might notice from this area is the fact the pathway that used to run from Mystic East towards Tomb Blaster and past Peeking Heights is gone. It is now part of an enclosure for the Tigers. In a way, it is a shame that this path has been removed as it was a good access point to the area from Forbidden Kingdom. However, I feel they have made good use of the space for an enclosure.

 

The enclosures are very sizeable for the area with plenty of space for the Tigers to roam around. We noticed during the event and from the Zoo team that the Tigers are following the boats as they go past certain parts of the enclosures – in particular the section where you come out from the tunnel after the first drop towards the second lift hill. Since this event was the first time guests have been on the ride, the Tigers are fascinated by people going past in the boats. It was very cute watching them!

The main path around and towards the entrance to the ride is very much the same. The ‘famous’ Buddha still stands which in some ways fits in with the area, but I did find it looked a bit tired. As you head down towards the Food and Beverages units in this area, the original signs are still in view – hopefully these will be changed to fit in with the new theme as it is only a reminder of the old Mystic East area. I guess this is dependent on whether these outlets are going to be opened. I personally feel the area should be completely transformed, including all signs allowing guests to be completely immersed in the area.

 

Source

Walking past the Buddha area, you’ll get a chance to see the ‘new’ tunnel. You wouldn’t think the Dragon was here! On the surface, it is nothing special… until you go on the ride and see some pretty impressive features and effects – but I’ll get to that later. Some people might think the Dragon was more impressive than the tunnel and, in some ways, I agree. I was expecting more from the tunnel but you need to remember that we are now within Land of the Tiger. You don’t want to saturate the area with too many ‘Tiger statues’ etc. Of course, it is down to personal preference how the area should look.

As you edge closer towards the entrance plaza, the buildings in this area have been repainted in vibrant colours. My main worry… How long will this paint last before it becomes faded and tired? I hope it will last in order to keep the area looking fresh and colourful. Another thing worth noting is the fence as you head towards the entrance plaza, past the tunnel has also been given a lick of paint – bright orange!

The actual entrance of the ride still holds the same framework but with a fresh lick of paint and the added addition of a 3D style Tiger Rock logo, it is looking great! The orange and black tiger stripes adds to the whole entrance. In some ways, you don’t need a big fancy pants entrance to be impressive. The best part is still to come!

 

The station is quite simply… AMAZING! I didn’t know what to expect or what Chessington was going to come up with. I am extremely impressed! The mural on the onload side of the station is simply sublime. The purple UV style lighting, the cutouts of the tigers and bonzai style trees… the whole thing was mesmerising. I couldn’t stop looking at it, it was that beautiful. Plus, as you venture up the stairs and work your way round the top part of the station, you’ll notice a geometric style tiger head at the end as riders pass under to start their journey on the ride.

Want to know another great thing about the station? There is a lighting show within the station that is shown every 5 minutes, perfect for the busier days when you are waiting in the station. Keep an eye out! *wink wink*

Despite the ride layout being the same, there are some cool effects within the ‘basic’ tunnel. At first glance as you enter the tunnel, there is nothing but darkness. As you weave through the ‘s-bend’, there are impressive murals to your left which show off some tiger heads in UV paint. In essence you are to become one with the ‘Spirit of the Tiger.’ Might not sound impressive until you turn the final corner and see a mighty tiger head shaped boulder with lights and smoke effects. Truly a ‘WOW’ moment for all guests and fans alike!

 

What can I say, I enjoyed my experience within the new area and a massive thank you once again to Chessington for putting together a fab event. Land of the Tiger and Tiger Rock open to the public this Saturday 5thMay so why not go ahead and pop down to Chessington World of Adventures.

Follow Chessington Buzz on their social media channels below:

Facebook: @ChessingtonBuzz

Twitter: @ChessingtonBuzz

Instagram: @chessingtonbuzz

That’s all for now…

LOTTIE TRAVELS

Air > Galactica

Air > Galactica
AltonTowersGalacticaPosterSource

Remember this whole craze that has been growing in the theme park industry, virtual reality being added to a rollercoaster? Yeah, I hate it. There, I said it. I hate the idea of it. I wish it would go away and never come back. I’m not too sure if many other enthusiasts share the same opinion, but I just don’t get why it is something to be considered.

My only real take on this is Galactica at Alton Towers and maybe in a similar way, Derren Brown’s Ghost Train at Thorpe Park, but I just don’t like the idea of wearing a virtual reality headset. As a glasses wearer, it’s a pain in the arse! I understand that with the way technology is advancing so much these days, it’s nice to try out new ideas BUT why not just keep the two things separate?

Alton-Towers-The-new-ride-GalacticaSource

With regards to Galactica, I really enjoyed Air. I have a soft spot for B&M flying coasters and yet it was decided to add VR to what was a throughput machine. Now, there is long waiting times and the faff of the VR headsets – cleaning them etc. It’s a pain in the arse. I have experienced the VR on Galactica, and as much as it is impressive they turned it into a space theme, I don’t like the fact they have ruined a practically good coaster to begin with.

I miss Air! I’m probably in the minority that really like the ride. Okay, it’s nothing thrilling or intense but it doesn’t need to be – other B&M coaster types can do that for you, look at Nemesis that’s next door! It was designed to give you that flying feeling, a chilled out ride experience. The VR takes that feeling away from you – it’s a gimmick.

galactica-2
Source

As a personal opinion, I don’t like gimmicks unless they really do work the ride. Galactica, I’m sorry, is one big gimmick. I like that you have the option to ride without the VR headset, and after my first experience of Galactica, I have since ridden without VR. I enjoy the coaster as it is and nothing is going to change that.

Maybe the only positive addition with Galactica is the portal. Don’t get me wrong, the way it is lit up at night is impressive – doesn’t change the ride experience though. I’m waiting for the day when the VR gets taken away. You don’t need VR on a coaster to make it better. Big bosses, stop ruining perfectly good rollercoasters with it!

That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS