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

 

September Holiday | Trip Highlights

September Holiday | Trip Highlights

Well, last week flew by! I’ve returned to work today and already getting this blog post written up. I had a bloody good time visiting some fab theme parks across Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. And I gained a total of 48 new creds. Not bad for a week long road trip. It is refreshing to visit new parks and see how different they are to my home parks. Believe me, our UK parks could learn a thing or two about throughputs and theming. I’m definitely suffering from the ol’ post holiday blues right now. So let’s boost my mood with a reflection of my September holiday trip highlights, here on Lottie Travels.

HANSA PARK

I did no research for Hansa Park before I visited last Tuesday. I should do this more often because the park exceeded my expectations! Obviously, I knew about Kärnan and what the ride did. That wasn’t much of a surprise. Although I must say that sensation on the lift hill was incredibly unique. I’ve never felt so scared before getting on a rollercoaster in all my life. Except for when I was a small kid.

It was more about how beautiful the park was. Some areas were more picturesque, with great theming compared to other areas. I think I was expecting more of an amusement park vibe. It has a very deceiving entrance. Plus, the fact the car park is across the road and you need to cross a bridge to get to the park. I’ll definitely return for their next big investment. It’s a park I highly recommend visiting if you are in the Hamburg area. It’s only an hour drive away!

FLUCH VON NOVGOROD @ HANSA PARK

Where do I begin with this ride? I had no clue about this ride at all. I haven’t seen any pictures, although the park are very strict on the no photo policy of their rides. They definitely have a sense of secrecy and mystery. Which I’m all for to be honest. The queue line is understated with some theming elements here and there. However as soon as you enter the station building, this is where the theming comes alive. It felt like you were entering a scare attraction so I definitely got those Halloween vibes!

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Gerstlauer Eurofighters. I get Gerstache regardless so I was slightly apprehensive as to whether I would enjoy this ride or not. In all fairness, this is possibly my favourite Eurofighter I have done. There’s pre-show scenes before you enter the launch – and that is one hell of a snappy launch! – before you take on the outdoor section which is visible in the park. Then it’s the vertical lift hill with more thematic scenes. Before long you’re completing the layout with what seems like very steep overbank, before you enter the station again. I loved this ride despite the slight Gerstache I got. I wish SAW The Ride at Thorpe Park was like this!

AVALON & FENIX @ TOVERLAND

I couldn’t help looking at the pictures of this area as soon as it opened. Honestly pictures won’t ever do it justice. Toverland is a truly magical place that needs to be seen through your very own eyes. The theming is so beautiful. And let’s take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous Fenix is as a coaster. Yes, I’m a B&M fangirl but honestly, it is truly a beautiful sight to behold – as it sweeps over Merlin’s Quest and around the area.

I loved how many photo opportunities there were in this area alone. It’s almost as if Toverland planned this and I WISH MORE PARKS DID THIS! I love photography and there are some unique angles you can get. Fenix is one hell of an awesome Wing coaster – my favourite of the 3 I have ridden. Sorry The Swarm! I was not expecting to get that much airtime from the airtime hill after the first drop! All the inversions and elements on this ride blend together to create a truly fun experience for the whole family. I definitely preferred the back row to the front.

FLUG DER DÄMONEN @ HEIDE PARK

Okay, this one is more sitting under the B&M fangirl part of me but who cares, I loved Flug der Dämonen at Heide Park. I’m amazed at how well it fits into that compact space in the Transylvania area. I love the music by IMAscore. I love all their music to be fair, so call me a fangirl again! The trains are the same as The Swarm, just with fangs instead of guns. Honestly I loved this ride more.

The ride experience itself certainly packs some great inversions and elements. Not as many near miss elements as I would’ve liked but it’s still a great coaster. My 2nd favourite wing coaster after Fenix. My one gripe is the lack of places to take photos of this ride. With it being a quiet few days on park last week, I couldn’t take advantage of taking photos within the queue line. A bit of a bummer but couldn’t be helped! Still, Flug Der Damonen is a solid coaster at Heide Park.

UNTAMED @ WALIBI HOLLAND

My new number 2 coaster, Untamed was a beast. No POV will ever do justice as to how much frigging airtime you get on this coaster. Seriously, get yourself down to Walibi Holland and ride Untamed before making judgement from a POV. And yes, your thighs will hurt after several goes with your hands up. Seriously, who keeps their hands down on an RMC? I may not have gained massive bruises. But after 6 goes, I honestly felt like my thighs were going to fall off.

My favourite moment was the double up section and barrel roll towards the end of the ride. I’ve never experienced a coaster where that much airtime made me cry with laughter. It’s so fab and I’m glad this coaster isn’t too far away from me travel wise. It didn’t quite beat Wildfire at Kolmården for me. Wildfire didn’t make my thighs hurt so Untamed loses points in that respect. The station was pretty cool looking with all the foliage. I think I spent more time looking at the trains – they’re so pretty!

VAN HELSING’S FACTORY @ MOVIE PARK GERMANY

I’ve wanted to get myself to Movie Park Germany for a good 7 years now. That time finally came last week. I love the Van Helsing genre and film, so I was incredibly excited to try this out for myself. With it being an indoor coaster, POVs doesn’t give too much away. So you can’t really work out what happens. It may only be a Gerstlauer bobsled coaster but honestly, the theming in this ride is so damn cool.

They even sell some epic Van Helsing merch in the gift shop at the exit, including an axe! The coaster might be somewhat mediocre on its own if you stripped it of it’s theming but as a whole package, it’s one hell of a fun ride. I almost found it hard to keep an eye on all the theming as you rush by, and those mouse turns with the sneaky dip in between was unexpected – quite a nifty little trick there! I would go back to this park just for this ride alone.

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EXCALIBUR RAPIDS @ MOVIE PARK GERMANY

Going along the same theme, I didn’t do much research into these rapids at Movie Park Germany. Again, I’m glad I didn’t. The only thing I knew was that the station was indoors. The rest of the ride I had no clue what to expect. The theming was incredibly impressive right down to the finale scene. Add in the cute and magical music from IMAscore and you’ve got yourself a ride to be proud of.

You really cannot see much of this ride from the exterior at all. Even the warehouse building is hidden by trees and foliage as you walk to the entrance. This really gives us ‘new visitors’ a chance to build up the anticipation when riding. The rapids themselves, manufactured by Intamin, were pretty fun too. It might not be a soaker like River Quest at Phantasialand but they’re incredibly fast. Perfectly enjoyable for the whole family! Don’t miss out on Excalibur. Make sure to head towards Nickelodeon Land and they’re right at the back near the new Paw Patrol area!

Looking back now, I have a lot of memories to take away from this holiday. Hopefully this has given you some insight into the parks & coasters. Thanks for reading my September holiday trip highlights on my blog, Lottie Travels. More holiday content will be written up in due course!

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo