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?

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That’s all for now!

LOTTIE TRAVELS

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.

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That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

The many faces of rollercoaster riders

The many faces of rollercoaster riders
the many faces of rollercoaster ridersSource

I don’t quite know why this idea came into my head. Simply from compiling an email for work that I decided this would be a good blog post to write up. Random, I know! However it got me thinking about those times where I people watch when queuing up for a coaster. Even as a theme park enthusiast, you can’t deny that you’ll have many faces of rollercoaster riders.

Facial expressions of on-ride photos say a lot about how good or bad a rollercoaster is. Sometimes it’s oh so fun to just have a laugh and make whatever stupid face you like. Life is too short to be serious. Unless that is the look you are going for? Who am I to judge? Anyway, let’s delve into some of the many faces that are pulled from a wide variety of rollercoaster riders. Side note: I have no actual photos so emoji faces will represent the faces I’ve seen.

the many faces of rollercoaster riders happy face

HAPPY SMILES

Whilst there are different variations of smiles, this is probably the most recognised face you will see. You might find this one on a variety of coaster types including B&M, Intamin, Mack, maybe a Gerstlauer – I said maybe! The bigger the smile, I find the enjoyment levels of a certain ride will give you a good indicator as to how good that ride is – B&M’s make me very happy so of course, I will make the biggest smile I can. SAY CHEESE!

funny face

FUNNY FACE

Are people: Sticking their tongue out? Cross-eyed? Pulling their mouth in weird directions? What can I say, there’s many different ways people will pull funny faces. This one I love to partake in when I’m feeling silly. More so if it’s a fun kiddie cred because it’s always fun to show up the parents who look at you as if to say ‘You’re a frigging adult without a child, why are you even doing this ride?!’ Who even cares Karen? If I want to be a big kid and get myself a +1, whilst pulling a funny face to the camera, that’s what I’ll do!

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LAUGHTER OR CRY LAUGHTER

Possibly my favourite face I love to see, especially when it comes to kids! You can’t help but feel giddy inside when that sheer terror of rides on a kid’s face is completely wiped away into a big fat smile of laughter. Laughter is contagious as you say. You can’t help but share this joy with everyone around you. Sometimes this face can turn into a real cackle. Especially on kiddie creds and attractions that have you howling with laughter!

sick nausea face

FEAR MIXED WITH NAUSEA

I may not have experienced this personally, but you know that moment when you’re on a ride? More often on a flat ride, and there’s that person you can’t help but have a little look at? You see the fear in their eyes. They’re not too sure what to expect. Then the ride begins to spin and they start to have that sense of regret. Before long they’re looking a little green and you’re starting to think, ‘Shit, I do not want them to vom on me!’ You know that moment? Whilst it is amusing (sorry, not sorry!), you won’t be having the last laugh if they vom – GROSS!

the many faces of rollercoaster riders pain face

PAIN

If you have ever been on a Zamperla Volare… my sincere condolences! If you haven’t been on a Zamperla Volare… don’t do it to yourself! That pain facial expression will show you why you should always question your life choice to get that +1 on a Volare coaster. Of course, riding coasters in the rain or experiencing a painful flat ride will also make you want to scrunch your face up. That on-ride photo will show just how much pain and regret is being inflicted on yourself. Trying to smile? Don’t try to fake it, the on-ride photo never lies.

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MR (OR MRS) SERIOUS

Last but not least, Mr or Mrs Serious face. You know? That person who either has the perfect poker face or they just simply refuse to smile whilst on rides. I sometimes wonder why you would want to pull a serious face. What ever happened to just posing or making silly faces? So you can have a laugh with it all. Why would you even go to a theme park just so you can be serious? You can do that at your 9 to 5 job! Only time I would be serious is if a ride was dull or boring. Or if I agreed with my pals to pull a serious face for an on-ride photo.

So the next time you’re at a theme park, take a little moment to just people watch. Just observe what faces people are pulling. There’s so many faces rollercoaster riders make that you can’t help but chuckle to yourself. Maybe you can relate to them at one point?

What’s your favourite rollercoaster/theme park face you like to pull?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

5 reasons to visit Paultons Park

5 reasons to visit Paultons Park
Paultons Park Entrance LogoSource

With all the upcoming news about the new area Tornado Springs, coming to Paultons Park in 2020, I had to write up a blog post with my 5 reasons to visit Paultons Park. I can’t wait to experience the new area at my local park. Paultons Park is based in Ower, near Southampton, and is quite possibly, one of my favourite theme parks to visit. Might be biased since I’ve pretty much grown up with the park. There’s so much to do at Paultons. You’d be a fool to not give this fantastic theme park a visit. Given all the talks about the new 2020 area development, who isn’t talking about Paultons Park?! I thought I’d help out anyone who is planning a visit next year with my top 5 reasons to visit Paultons Park.

5 reasons to visit Paultons Park

#1: LOST KINGDOM

Well, the most recent development at the park, Lost Kingdom, is certainly reason enough to warrant a visit. The theming within this area just shows how much Paultons love to immerse their visitors. Let’s not forget the fantastic ride line-up within this area. Including the 2 Vekoma rollercoasters, Flight of the Pterosaur and Velociraptor. They are such fantastic rides for both thrillseekers and families with young children. Not only that, you’ve got a small range of flat rides within the area to keep your kids amused. It really is one of those parts of the park you cannot miss.

5 reasons to visit Paultons ParkSource

#2: GARDENS

Within the heart of Paultons Park is the beautiful gardens. The perfect place to enjoy those quiet moments where you need take a breather from all the action. Whilst it’s a tranquil area, there is also the opportunity to meet some amazing birds including owls, flamingos and more. It might not be on par with the gardens at Alton Towers but you just can’t beat the fact that this park houses a lot of beauty within. Definitely worth exploring when you next visit Paultons Park.

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#3: PEPPA PIG WORLD

The investment that really put Paultons Park on the map – quite literally. If you have young children, you’re going to be spending a very good chunk of your day within this area. To be honest, there’s plenty of rides and attractions in this area. There’s even a chance to meet Peppa and her family too! Whilst it might get incredibly busy and is not aimed at the thrillseekers, it can really break up the day. Even if you just want to enjoy the theming and maybe be act like a big kid on all the rides. I’m not judging you here!

5 reasons to visit Paultons ParkSource

#4: NEW DEVELOPMENTS

Paultons Park has really turned into the park to watch. I remember the days where the park was pretty plain but had quirky features including THE best park mascot, Percy the Owl. ‘It’s a Hoot Hoot!’ will always stay with me. However, I’ve loved seeing how Paultons has evolved. Theming has become such a huge part of their development strategy and I’m loving the care and attention to detail. Tornado Springs is really going to bring the crowds in, especially with the signs of a new coaster and flat rides! I’m going to spend a good chunk of my time this year following the upcoming construction updates.

5 reasons to visit Paultons Park

#5: GENERAL PARK CLEANLINESS & MAINTENANCE

Now, whenever I’ve visited Paultons, even back in the 90s, I’ve never seen any of the rides (that I’m aware of) break down. I’ve never seen the whole park being in such a state i.e. overflowing rubbish bins etc. The gardens and surrounding park areas are always well kept and look fresh & tidy. The rides are always well maintained. I find the park always ensures they have a full ride line-up whenever they are open. Or at the very least, ensure ride reliability is as good as it can be. I can assure you, you won’t have a bad day out at Paultons Park. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s a park where I’ve never had a bad visit!

And there you have it, my 5 reasons to visit Paultons Park. If you’re thinking about making a trip to the park but unsure. Just do it. You won’t regret it at all, trust me! If you aren’t thinking about a trip here, why ever not? Wait for 2020 by all means but if you’re sat there thinking; ‘It’s a kids park’, ‘It doesn’t have any thrilling rides!’. All I can say is, you can have way more fun here than at a bigger, more thrilling theme park. Just saying!

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

What I Love About Theme Parks

What I Love About Theme Parks

1102487_10151796228949800_1475324573_oYou know when some people still don’t understand your hobby with theme parks? Yeah, that’s me. I don’t really need to justify why I love theme parks so much but maybe you want to find out why I love them so much – to be honest, 90% of my blog is about theme parks so that’s a hint… No one will be able to separate me from my love of theme parks – it’s a part of my life and it’s going to stay that way! *wink*

Continue reading “What I Love About Theme Parks”

My top memories of Loggers Leap

My top memories of Loggers Leap
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On 20th February 2019, Thorpe Park officially announced the closure of Loggers Leap, after many years of speculation as to whether the ride would return to the park line-up. I feel quite sad about this as Loggers was a firm favourite of mine and I have many childhood memories riding this with family and friends alike. Is this really the end of log flumes in the UK as we know it?

Continue reading “My top memories of Loggers Leap”

My Most Anticipated Theme Parks for 2019

My Most Anticipated Theme Parks for 2019

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Well, you know it’s that last stretch of closed season when you start seeing an influx of theme park trips coming together within the community. Not gonna lie, I bloody love trawling through rcdb, coast2coaster trying to work out which parks are on my hit list to visit. Now that I have spent a good 2 years staying within the UK, it’s time for me to spread my wings and go travelling again!

Continue reading “My Most Anticipated Theme Parks for 2019”