Congrats! You’ve made it this far after reading Part One of my Halloween season roundup. Part Two has plenty more to discuss with a wide selection of scare attractions from around the UK. Some were fab, some were mediocre and others were downright awful. It goes to show that everyone has a completely different experience when visiting, from how the scare mazes are portrayed to whether the amount of actors makes a difference to increasing the intensity. I’ll let you decide if you agree with my reviews. Let’s get on with this!
Can you believe it? 2018 season is coming to an end this weekend. Halloween is over for another year and now I have to entertain myself for the closed season. It has been one hell of a season and for October, I have done a wide range of scare attractions and mazes – 51 to be exact. There have been highs and lows but it’s been a truly wonderful way to finish off the season (yes, I will be at the Alton Towers Fireworks but you know what I mean!)
Oh boy, where do I even begin with Dr Frights? One word, brilliant.
The atmosphere was fun and the low lighting within each attraction and queue line added to the suspense and anticipation, making you feel uneasy at times, not really knowing what to expect from each of the mazes.
Some pros of the night included the batching of groups. Forget these crazy batching levels of up to 15 people – it is the number of people in your group. So, if you are a group of 2, that is your group size. This is a big perk for me as the actors can really get plenty of jump scares in. Plus, there’s a simple traffic light system at the start of each attraction – ‘wait for the green light’ – which is your cue to begin your journey into each of the mazes. This was great as it meant you had a good enough gap between groups – I wish this was a system used at scare mazes at the Merlin parks.
Not only are there scare mazes, there is a bar area within the marquee area that you can venture to. However, the biggest thing to note is that you MUST complete ALL FOUR MAZES before you can enter this area. I really like this idea as it helps to keep those who can get really drunk and spoil the mazes. It provides some peace of mind that the actors aren’t going to be at risk with drunken people. Great idea Dr. Frights, I feel this worked really well to keep the event fun and enjoyable for everyone.
So let’s crack on with the reason for visiting Dr Frights, and talk about my thoughts on the mazes.
‘Karloff’s Movie Theatre’ welcomes you to step inside scenes from your favourite scary movies. Come face to face with the most feared characters in horror, including Freddy, Jason and Michael plus many more. This a brand new version of the constant fan favourite!
First maze of the night and it definitely set the scene for what was going to be an epic night. Essentially you walk through some of the famous Halloween horror films including Freddy Krueger, Pennywise and Michael Myers. The set pieces in this maze were impressive, it really felt like you were a part of the films – and as someone who isn’t a huge fan of horror films – I really enjoyed this maze. The actors made good use of the space to really get those jump scares in. Definitely a good starting point if you are new to the event!
Do you like human sacrifices? Blood rituals? Banging tunes? Axe wielding bunnymen? Then you’ll love the ‘5 Point Temple’. An abandoned chapel converted into a twisted satanic nightclub by a bizzare and deadly cult. This maze doesn’t get it’s name for nothing. It will mess you up!
After a good start to the maze line-up, I was expecting the same level of jump scares as Hollywood Horror 3. The title says it all really, WHAT THE HELL? In my opinion, this was the weakest maze of the night for me personally however that is more down to my personal preference of a maze having a storyline or contingency within. The randomness did make me chuckle a lot, especially with the likes of seeing Santa halfway through, what the hell was that about? The actors were on top form and really added to the experience. There were moments I caught up with the group ahead of me therefore I could tell where the scares were – one of the good things I found were some of the actors making the most of the area they had including following me at various points.
Step inside the haunted corridors of ‘Heavensgate Hospital’. Escape a psychopathic doctor and his legion of nightmare nurses that stalk the building. This is an extremely intense, adrenaline fuelled experience like no other. You have been warned!
Now. If there’s one thing I have a soft spot for is hospital style mazes, especially with the likes of Asylum at Thorpe Park many years ago! I didn’t know what to expect, but it really did impress me thoroughly. There were plenty of moments where the actors really got me, especially in the first scene with the bed and one patient grabbed my ankle as I walked past! I wasn’t expecting it at all but it’s those moments that make a maze for me. Of course, with any sort of hospital style maze, there’s going to be a strobe maze. Say hello to Asylum’s baby brother/sister. It was trippy. It was disorientating. And the actors knew exactly how to get you, I had two actors with me at the end of the maze singing Ring a Roses in my ear! Fantastic work and best maze of the night for me.
The carnival has come to town and has set up shop on ‘Mumma Beef’s Farm’! Witness a blood soaked showdown like no other as killer clowns take on cannibal hillbillies in a twisted game of murder and mayhem. The rules are simple, whichever team kills the most carnival goers (that’s you) wins! Let the game commence!
I knew there was going to be a chainsaw in one maze at Dr Frights. And I was not disappointed. This maze was fantastic and I loved walking in to see the majority of the maze – almost like giving you a false sense of security. Each section is split between clowns and hillbillies. I really liked this as you didn’t know who to expect around each corner. As I only really noticed at different points in the maze, you will get split up from your group. I was held up at one point but once another group came along, I was allowed to ‘leave’ so to speak. I have dealt with mazes where you are split up, Sub Species, I’m looking at you, and it doesn’t phase me. Basically, ‘meet you at the exit’ is said among my group. As you wind around the maze, you can hear (and smell) the chainsaws as you approach the end of the maze. I have certainly gained a sense of bravery towards chainsaws now so they don’t phase me too much. HOWEVER, when there’s two quite literally on my arse and feeling the heat on my hand, that’s enough to send me running out of the maze. It has to be up there as one of my favourite mazes I have done this year alongside Shock Therapy.
Overall, I had a truly fantastic experience at Dr Frights. The maze line-up was strong and there were plenty of scares along the way – something that has been lacking at different scare events I have done. If you have time to visit Dr Frights, do it. You seriously won’t regret it. You can still book tickets for the event this year, both online or on the door (cash only). The event has several nights available, from 25th October to 31st October (closed on 29th October.) Based at White Nurseries, right next to the A45 near Northampton, it is easily accessible via car with plenty of free parking right outside the event. The venue is all indoors so come rain or shine, you can still enjoy all the attractions. There is a food van and bar area where you will be able to purchase food and drink as well as toilet facilities. Give it a go and let me know what you think.
That’s all for now!
I must say, 2018 seems to have flown by considering it feels like only yesterday it was the 2017 Halloween season. I am not complaining by any means as it is my absolute favourite time of year! This year was going to be a good one when Thorpe Park started announcing their new mazes and scare zones for 2018. I couldn’t wait to get started when I visited for the Press Night on Thursday 4th October.
Well… you did not disappoint Thorpe. You really made this into a truly terrifying experience and I cannot wait to experience this maze even further. The fact that before you even begin, you have to walk past a small section of the maze where the ‘inhabitants’ are all waiting for you – yes, they can see you. As you venture forward, you are greeted to a standard school bus – bright yellow but oh so awesome. Do you actually walk inside the bus? Yes. Is there interaction in the bus? Yes. It’s one of the most unique start to a maze I have ever endured. I loved wandering through the maze and experiencing the somewhat ‘crazy’ inhabitants of ‘Sanctum’. There are twists and turns throughout the maze with a very scary surprise within the middle of the maze – no spoilers here chaps, just enter into the depths of Do or Die, and try not to get killed. Tip: Do this in the dark!
Okay. First impressions? Nice outdoor theming. Good intro into the attraction, you are explorers travelling to the mysterious Vulcan Peak but with a slight twist, you must be ‘blindfolded’ on your journey. In layman terms, it’s a scare maze where you wear a hooded bag over your head, with only the guidance of a rope to make your way through it. These sorts of mazes – that I have done (3 prior to this one) – can be very hit and miss in terms of scares. Unfortunately, this was the weakest one of them all. There wasn’t anything going for it apart from one slight touch of my hand. I would like to try this again and hopefully I will get a better runthrough but I was pretty disappointed considering this was a new maze for 2018.
Located within the Zombie Hunt area, I was very excited to explore these woods… As the story goes, the once pleasant surroundings of Dead Creek Woods have taken an apocalyptic turn and the main water source has been infected with a deadly virus. Keep an eye out as zombie residents roam around the area. I very much enjoyed this maze, and when you end up having a small group of 2 people, the ‘residents’ really get a chance to pounce at you from all angles. I would say this is the perfect starting point for anyone new to scare attractions – there might be a small surprise near the middle but I promise you it is worth it. Great addition Thorpe!
Right. For anyone thinking that this is going to be the same as previous Blair Witch mazes, you will be very much mistaken! This has really turned into a fab maze, and I really mean it. It’s tight, it’s spooky and it’s fab. The actors have great opportunity to give some up close scares and perfect hiding spots. I was very impressed by this maze and is certainly up there as one of the best of the Fright Nights mazes I have done. Give it a go, you won’t regret it. Remember, never spend the night, never look in her eyes and never turn away from the corner.
First off, I want to say how sad I was when it was first announced that The Big Top scare maze was not returning for 2018. When it came about that it was coming back as a scare zone, I was very nervous about how this would be executed. In all honesty, the roaming actors were on fire! The interaction when asking what happened to their big top tent is fantastic – burnt down, destroyed, ‘MATCHES!’ – I bloody loved it. Having a chance to see the scare zone show within the Dome on press night was great too. It created a massive build-up with the iconic IMAScore soundtrack – yaaaaaaas! – before the ‘freaks’ were unleashed to us all. Well done Thorpe, you’ve done a good job!
Vampires. YES, YES, BLOODY HELL YES! If you don’t know, I love any TV shows or films that contain vampires (more Buffy the Vampire Slayer/The Vampire Diaries than the Twilight Saga). I love the fact that Thorpe have decided to branch out into Vampires for this year. Meeting the cast of Amity High was a pleasure – might have flirted a bit with Jackson, the prom King and found a new boyfriend with one of the ‘T-Bird’-esque guys. The interaction with them is incredible, I will be returning to find out more about their back story into how they became Vampires – who knows, maybe I could join their clan? 😉
Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with Fright Nights and the new scare attractions they have for this year. There is plenty to choose from – SAW Alive, Platform 15 and The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare return too! – so you will be spoilt for choice. I actually cannot pick one favourite for this year, they were good – apart from Vulcan Peak, that definitely needs some more work in terms of scares!
That’s all for now!
I always like reading about everyone’s favourites and non-favourite rides and attractions in the enthusiast world. There are so many different variety of opinions, that is what makes this community so interesting. So, as I have already provided my top 10 list, and my bucket list rides/coasters, I thought I would start writing about dark rides. Moreover, the dark rides that I consider to be my ‘Top Dark Rides’.
Now, as I started writing this list, I was going to write a simple list of dark rides I have ridden in my lifetime so far, both past and present, and including Europe and Florida. Well, I didn’t quite anticipate the amount of dark rides I have ridden and how many I loved so much that they need to be included in this list. So I will be splitting this list into THREE blog posts. Yep, 3. So, let’s crack on with ‘part 1’ of my list, My Top UK Dark Rides.
HEX: THE LEGEND OF THE TOWERS
I don’t think I know of anyone who doesn’t have a soft spot for Hex. It all begins as soon as you walk inside the queueline. The creepy darkness of the Towers adds to the atmosphere, as you are told the brief story of ‘The Legend of the Towers’ and what is to come. The narrative and story are pretty much a clever take on what is a true tale – ever visited the Chained Oak Tree? The ride hardware is disorientating to those unknown about the workings of the ride, but the theming inside is beautifully creative and can we just take a moment to appreciate THAT soundtrack. The haunting violins and orchestral theme – gives me Goosebumps every time I ride.
WALLACE & GROMIT’S THRILL-O-MATIC
Now where can you find a ride that is quintessentially British and colourful… Any true Brit will know the stories of Wallace and Gromit – if you haven’t, who even are you? – and now there is a beautifully crafted dark ride at Blackpool that depicts all the various stories for you. From Wallace’s wrong trousers to travelling to the Moon made of Cheese! ‘Cheese Gromit!’ And do you want to know the absolute best part of this ride? You get to ride along in a giant slipper!! The fact this ride is located at Blackpool, it is just perfect for the ride line-up. It has that re-rideability where you won’t ever tire of being on it.
Yes, I did touch upon this in my Favourite Water Rides blog post but technically, it is not your traditional dark ride. There is no denying how totally awesome this ride is. Even if the wetness levels are so ridiculous, it shouldn’t be in a place such as Blackpool. Sorry Mandy! I seriously want to know what the creator of this ride was smoking when they designed this. It is completely insane with the effects, say hello to water and fire! This ride is a great water ride – and literally has every opportunity to soak you through and through. The theming just takes this ride from being a bog-standard water ride indoors to one hell of a experience. The soundtrack is truly captivating, and you won’t forget it in a hurry. Yes, I love this ride for the theatrical elements but when it comes to the wetness levels – it needs to be a damn hot day for me to warrant a ride on it. Or if I’m well prepared with several ponchos, boots/wellies and clothes I don’t mind getting drenched in.
SPIRIT OF LONDON
I don’t know if some people forget about the existence of this dark ride, but it needs to be added to my list. Yes, it is almost like a ride that you would find at one of your typical Disney parks – an omnimover with insane amount of theming and use of space – it’s bloody huge. It is a sizeable attraction that gives you the story of London so it’s perfect as an educational ride for the family/kids. If there is one thing you should not miss when visiting Madame Tussauds, it’s Spirit of London.
THE GRUFFALO RIVER RIDE ADVENTURE
I must say, I was very nervous when it was announced that Gruffalo would be taking over from Bubbleworks. Not to say that a retheme was needed, I totally agree, it was very much needed. But using an IP, it’s a risky business in my opinion. However, I must say I was thoroughly impressed with this transformation. The theming was very well executed within the budgets that Chessington received, and I love the interaction the elements have with the ride. Kids adore this ride, just by simply watching their reaction once they’ve come off the ride! The smells, the soundtrack and sound effects throughout the ride tell the story of the Gruffalo really well, and this why I had to add it to my list.
I had to add this to my list. It is by means not a world class dark ride attraction, but I just love the ride being a part of a chocolate factory tour. The ‘Beanmobile’, yes that is what it is called, takes you on a ‘gentle ride through a chocolate wonderland full of familiar characters’. It’s quaint, has all the famous characters known to Cadbury’s and a simple dark ride that should be ridden at least once on your trip to Cadbury World.
WICKED WITCHES HAUNT
I remember being haunted by this ride as a child. The entrance to the ride was insane with a massive witch animatronic looking down at guests as you walk into the ride queue. As a small kid, this was terrifying. That, once you entered the ride station that was dimly lit, the darkness just added to the creepy atmosphere. Unfortunately, I do not have many memories of this ride but from what I can remember, this was a true 90s style attraction that had that creepy-factor.
I only had one go on this dark ride at Pleasurewood Hills back in 2013. I can tell you now, it was a damn good attraction. If you loved all things spooky and scary, this was the attraction for you. It was totally unexpected for a park such as Pleasurewood Hills, that I would describe as a ‘cute little family theme park’. The ride had live actors throughout the ride and having experienced a few ghost trains with live actors, this was like a scare maze mixed with a ride. It was gory and graphic at times – no wonder it had an age-restriction! Such a shame it closed!
Where do I even begin with this? The crazy storyline, Abdab turning into a zombie/mummy, the ‘Juke Box Jewel’ finale, the darkness inside the ride. Yep, I don’t know why but I just have a flurry of memories of me wondering what the hell this ride was about whilst being terrorised by the scary characters! It isn’t an omnimover by any means but it didn’t need to be. You were immersed in the ride as soon as you entered the queueline, and once on the ride, you were on the journey with Abdab. Seriously, I wish this ride lasted so much longer than it did – why did it have to become an interactive dark ride? Whyyyyyy!
PROFESSOR BURP’S BUBBLEWORKS
One thing you can be certain of, Chessington liked their crazy themes back in the day. The Sparks Group did a completely fab job bringing creativity to life, which is where Professor Burp’s Bubbleworks comes in. It was a lighthearted attraction that not only smelt absolutely amazing but it was bright pink. Within the Transylvania area, you had a ‘scary’ rollercoaster themed to Vampires yet within this same area was a bright and colourful ‘Pop Factory’, run by a mad professor! It was crazy, it was fun, it was everything you needed for a family attraction. As you float into the different areas in the ‘factory’, once again, it was a truly immersive dark ride. And let’s not forget about the fabulous fountain finale with the strobe lights – disorientating yet fantastic!
I want to say this is just a few dark rides, but I seem to have rambled on for ages! You cannot beat a good quality dark ride at a theme park – sometimes you need to remember and appreciate what is available right on your doorstep. Even though we may get spoilt by fantastic quality dark rides abroad, we have to give some love to our dark rides here in the UK.
That’s all for now!
I feel like this is a subject that isn’t really touched upon within the enthusiast world or if it does, it turns into a massive discussion/debate (I’m making a massive assumption here!). Anywho, I have been a long-time enthusiast and have observed how the community, as it were, has changed. And there are some negative points that I feel like sharing. Judge me all you want, maybe some enthusiasts might relate?
Anyway, let’s crack on with this post.
#1: When competition gets out of control
Yes, I am talking about the people who are so hellbent on making out they are the best enthusiast who has ridden x number of coasters and been to x number of places. And I mean, the bragging enthusiasts. Yes, you have ridden the best rollercoaster in the world or you have ridden 1000 coasters around the world. Well done! Just tone down the bragging about how ‘amazing’ you are for achieving it. Also, just because someone may have 100 creds and you tell them they need to get out more, understand that we all have different lifestyles and financial situations. We’ll get there eventually, and if you don’t care about cred grabbing, you do you. This is your hobby, so make it your own.
#2: Opinions are no longer listened to
A healthy debate on social media is perfectly fine. We are all human are we not? But if you are seriously hellbent (this word, again) on dragging people down because their opinion is different to yours, take a second to just think about how much of an idiot you are making yourself out to be. Everyone is different. We all think differently. We all have different tastes and OPINIONS. Allow everyone to discuss these without turning it into a crazy discussion about why someone is wrong. Opinions are not facts. Understand the difference before you knock someone down, especially on social media. We all know we have comfort behind a computer/phone screen.
#3 Cliquey groups
This is something that I know cannot be avoided. However, if you have newcomers wanting to join in on meet-ups, this can put them off majorly. I remember going on my first theme park enthusiast meet up back in 2012 and I was not even remotely put off because everyone made an effort to welcome me to the group. Yes, it is incredibly nerve-wrecking but there are nice people in the group! You will be able to spot them as they will generally be your first point of contact.
#4 My hobby being judged by those not ‘in the know’
This is a bugbear I feel we all can share. We live in a judgemental society, I get that. But at least, let me live my own life and have my own hobbies that may not fit the ‘mould’ as it were. I love theme parks. I enjoy learning about the engineering behind rollercoasters. That is who I am and I am not going to change just because I have chosen a hobby that isn’t what ‘you’, the general public, believe is not ‘conventional’.
#5 EXPENSIVE HOBBY!!
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. It is expensive to go to theme parks but I know that it is achievable if you budget well and get the best deals when it comes to travelling abroad. Yes, I envy those who can travel around the world for theme parks but at the end of the day, I will get there myself and it will be fab! At the moment, I am trying to save up to go abroad again as I am really missing visiting parks in Europe and I want to explore Asia and America too. Sometimes, you need a bit of patience, and a money tree… And to those naysayers… yes, I know it is expensive but who cares. It’s my hobby, not yours.
These are just a few of my annoyances as a theme park enthusiast, maybe you have some of your own that I have not included? Leave me a comment below.
That’s all for now!
‘Flowing through Rapids, whooshing on a Dinghy, coasting on a water coaster, these are a few of my favourite things…’
Deary me, sorry for getting slightly musical there! Following on from my Favourite Log Flumes blog post, I thought I’d write about my favourite water rides. There’s so many types of water ride out there that I’ve decided to just make one list on here. Along the way, I have travelled to a fair few theme parks and there’s been a few water rides that have really caught my heart. They are the perfect way to balance out attraction line-ups at any theme park and with it being Summer right now, great for the hot sunny weather.
As I started writing this, I thought the list was going to be short and sweet. And it has grown quite massively so I have had to keep things rather brief before I bore you too much. So, let’s crack on with my favourites! Note: These are not in any particular order.
Valhalla | Blackpool Pleasure Beach
This ride. Everyone knows Valhalla. If you don’t, you are not a true geek. I’m torn between loving this ride and hating it purely for the insane wetness levels that is achieved. And for a place like Blackpool, it just doesn’t seem to be the best place for such a soaking wet ride. And I don’t really believe there has ever been a person who has managed to come off ‘bone-dry’, even ponchos don’t keep you safe! Pack some flip flops, protect your bag and possessions (or find a locker!) and just immerse yourself in the experience and brace yourself – YOU WILL GET SOAKED!
Journey to Atlantis | SeaWorld Orlando
This ride is certainly an interesting one. Part dark water ride, part water coaster. I love the theatrical elements of this ride within the dark ride section. As the rides name suggests, it is your journey to the mythical land of Atlantis, which has a few secrets of its own. Now, I haven’t been on this ride since 2015 so I know the storyline has changed away from the ‘evil Siren Mermaids’ who trick you whilst on your journey. I personally did like this element but can understand this might have been quite scary for the children. Anyway, this ride is great – especially the fun little coaster section towards the end of the ride!
River Quest | Phantasialand
You haven’t experienced a good rapids if you haven’t ridden River Quest. It is EPIC! I won’t be giving out spoilers simply because you need to experience the ride to find out the wonder and surprises in store. The theming around the ride is incredible, just like the whole park tbh. But River Quest has that special beauty about it that makes us geeks praise it so much. You MUST ride this when you make a visit to Phantasialand, just prepare yourself for a soaking.
Pirates of the Caribbean | Disney Parks
I enjoy this ride very much. Just having the ‘Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho, A Pirate’s Life for Me’ soundtrack playing is enough to get you in the mood. I also enjoy the DLP version as it has that super cool interaction with the Captain Jack’s – Restaurant des Pirates or formerly known as The Blue Lagoon restaurant. As you travel through the seas, and encounter a variety of pirates along the way, you could be in for a splashing time! A must-ride at any Disney park – I mean, hello, Shanghai Disneyland’s version just looks out of this world.
Traitor: Boat Ride to Hell | The London Dungeons Tooley Street
I did write a blog post last year about what I missed from the Tooley Street, click here to read, and this attraction is on that list. The first time I went on this ride, it was truly terrifying. The natural darkness of the railway arches that housed The London Dungeons just made this ride even more scary. Plus, as you travelled through Traitor’s Gate, and upwards towards the drop before returning to earth, backwards. As a kid, you’d be very scared – unless you were a tough cookie in which case, props to you!
Waschzuber-Rafting | Erlebnispark Tripsdrill
The one thing to note about these Rapids, they are hard to find! You could easily miss these if you didn’t know they were around. And it is honestly so worth doing as they are not only crazy, but such fun to ride. You have a potential to get wet, as you do on a Hafema Rapids – just look at River Quest. Although this ride doesn’t have the same crazy, steep drops as River Quest in Phantasialand, they are just as good. Make sure you don’t miss out on riding these.
Jungle Cruise | Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
I love, love, love this ride so much. If anything, the gags will make you crease up laughing every time – even if they can be bad at times! Learning about the history of this ride, the jokes and gags were not a part of the original ride in Disneyland California. It was a more educational ride through the ‘jungle’. I’m so glad they added jokes in as it becomes a light-hearted attraction that is fun for the whole family.
Krokobahn | Familypark Austria
I’m laughing to myself just thinking about this ride. You’d think that the staff would say, 1 adult per boat, since you know, this is a mini flume ride. Let’s just say that the operator wanted to have some shits and giggles, watching 2 adults ride this flume ride. Yes, the boat was struggling to carry us along. Yes, the lift hill creaked like crazy as we travelled up it. Yes, we got stuck at the bottom of the drop and had to use our body weight to drag us along. It was bloody hilarious and if you ever have a bunch of friends with you, give it a go. You will get soaked too.
Popeye’s & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges | Universal Islands of Adventure
There’s not really much to say than in the Florida heat, this is a very much needed ride. Basically, wear your swimming gear underneath your clothes, bring a pair of flip flops and embrace the wetness. No matter how many times I have ridden these rapids, I have always come off soaked – even more so than the likes River Quest – and that is saying something.
Jurassic Park River Adventure | Universal Islands of Adventure
Like Jurassic Park? Love Dinosaurs? Love a water ride? Then you’ll love Jurassic Park River Adventure. It starts off a gentle ride that looks fun for all the family, and with the classic Jurassic Park theme playing, you are taken away from reality and into a different world. And these sorts of ride that are immersive are what I love and want in a theme park! But wait, all is not as it seems as you travel further into the depths of the ride and something seems a bit amiss. You never know, you might see a mighty big T-Rex…
Grand Canyon Rapids | PortAventura
Ever get bored of the Rapids in the UK? Well, you’ll be in for a good treat when you try out these rapids. They are fast moving and will get you wet – perfect for that Spanish sunshine. This was my first real experience of trying out a rapids in a foreign country and my god, they make our UK rapids laughable – yes, I’m looking at you Rumba Rapids!
Special mention to… Wildalpenbahn at Wiener Prater
I didn’t ride this (and yes, I wish I did now!) but let’s just say, watching your friends spin like crazy and hearing their ‘screams’ from the top… it’s an interesting experience in itself.
There’s plenty on this list that have given me some very fond memories. What are your favourites? Are there any I have missed that’s worth a mention? Let me know in the comments below.
That’s all for now.
I have been visiting Chessington a lot lately. Despite it being something to do at the weekends, I just have that certain bond with the park. Having almost grown up with the place, with my first visit back in 1998, I still enjoy making a trip here. Having a zoo and theme park in one place, there is plenty of stuff to do for both adults and children alike.
If you are ever in the area or a Merlin Annual Passholder, it is worth a trip! I believe there are 5 things that you must do when visiting the park. Read on to find out more!
#1: Visit the Zoo
Not only have you got the theme park, you have a very sizeable zoo to explore. From Trail of the Kings to Wanyama Village to the SeaLife Centre and more! I love visiting the Zoo, even if the park is rammed, it is a perfect way to get away from the hustle and bustle and watch the animals. There’s so many you can see including Lions, Tigers, Gorillas, Giraffes, Sealions, Zebras, Meerkats and more. Don’t ever miss out on the Zoo on your visit. It is worth having a nice stroll around.
#2: Ride the Vampire
This is a classic at the park and one of my favourite rides here. It may not be the same as it was with the old trains, but it is still fun. The purple trains are fab – don’t diss them – and I love having the feeling of your legs dangling on a suspended coaster. There is also that turn around coming out of the tunnel, still packs a punch! Yes, it may get pretty long queues throughout the day but out of all the rides at the park, this is a MUST.
#3: Grab yourself a Nitrogenie
If you are an ice cream fanatic, then you will LOVE Nitrogenie. Simply for the fact that not only it is so deliciously good, it is made with Liquid Nitrogen. The fact you can watch your ice cream being made through the window is fascinating. There’s plenty of flavours to choose from and with the latest addition of making milkshakes, this is like a go-to place for ice cream/milkshakes. Treat yourself everybody!
#4: Visit Tiger Rock and Land of the Tigers
Now that the new area has been opened to the public for a couple of months, you’d be daft not to head towards this beautifully, colourful place. Not only that, they have got 4 gorgeous Amur Tigers in the area. The tiger rock feature above the final drop of the log flume is so fab – it’s literally a picturesque hotspot. And the music of the area is so calming that you could just spend the whole day wandering around there – okay, maybe not the whole day!
#5: Walk through Lorikeet Lagoon
Now, I’m fully aware that this attraction is open on peak days but this is something you need to tick off your list if you visit Chessington. And it is highly recommended to buy some of the nectar too – you will soon learn how popular you become with the Lorikeets! Plus, some of your money goes towards the Chessington Conservation Fund so it’s for a good cause. I love the interaction with the Lorikeets – not just for the fact that they are bloody gorgeous to look at – it’s a fab experience for both adults and children. Great photo opportunities too so if you want to make some great memories, give this attraction a visit!
#6: Try out Not Dogs!
I may be slightly biased and say that this place is so delicious that as I’m writing this, I really want one right now. Seriously, you’d be mad not to try out the Not Dogs – it isn’t just a place specifically for vegetarians and vegans. Read my review here and you might be able to understand why I bloody love the place. Trust me, just do it and grab yourself a quick bite to eat here. You won’t regret it.
Of course, this is only my opinion. There may be things I haven’t even included on here but I honestly feel like these are truly the must do things when visiting Chessington. If I haven’t included anything that needs to be mentioned, leave me a comment below.
That’s all for now!
It is almost a necessity of any theme park geek to own (or have owned) an Annual Pass to any theme park. With a wide variety of theme parks around the globe, there’s plenty of options for you to choose from. In the UK, the Merlin Annual Pass is the ‘main’ choice to choose from however there are smaller theme parks around the UK that offer season/annual passes such as Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Paultons Park.
I currently own a Merlin Annual Pass which allows me to visit up to 32 ‘magical worlds’ as they describe it. And in 2014, I was once an owner of a Europa Park Annual Pass – although I so wonder why I haven’t purchased another one since! In my opinion, depending on an individual’s circumstances, it is worth it if you can use it to it’s ‘full potential’. By that, I mean making use of the pass by visiting the attraction/s on offer, utilising the discounts available to you and if applicable, enjoying the perks on offer such as special events.
So, let’s get on with some of the perks of being a passholder (for any theme park around the world!)…
Free Year-Round Entry
As a theme park geek, it would seem abnormal of me to not visit theme parks regularly. But with the sheer cost of entry prices, it can be off putting! However, with an annual pass, you get entry into the selected theme parks for free, all year round! What is not to love about that? Since I live along the South Coast, I can really make the most of my Merlin Annual Pass with local attractions such as Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures. There are also Legoland Windsor and the London Midway attractions (London Eye, Madame Tussauds, London Dungeons etc.) Of course, if I wanted to travel further afield, I can visit Alton Towers as a weekend trip or visit the other Midway attractions around the UK (Birmingham/Blackpool/Brighton/York et.al.)
Free/Discounted entry for your friends and family
This perk is one of my favourites! I have friends who don’t have annual passes which can make getting into theme parks expensive or difficult to achieve – 2-for-1’s are great for a group but if it’s just you and one other mate, it’s tricky! Having the opportunity to provide free tickets or discounted entry makes you very popular with your mates!
Discounts on food/drinks, accommodation & MERCH!
I love theme park merch. I love it even more when I can get a discount off it. Even though the Merlin Annual Pass offers 20%, this is actually very reasonable – especially with the sheer cost of food at the parks these days. Okay, it is marginally cheaper to bring in your own food/picnic but that sometimes involves lugging it around with you for the first part of the day. Besides, there are a wide variety of food options at theme parks – some more than others but it isn’t all burger & chips or pizzas. There is also the benefit of gaining discount for the park hotels, making your stay even cheaper and still be right on the doorstep of your favourite theme park! The discount is very welcome in my eyes and perfect for buying merch – give me all the pins!
Allow yourself to be immersed with theme park passholder events. These are definitely worth attending as you’ll be one of the first to experience new rides or attractions, special events such as Halloween – I know Thorpe Park do a Passholder Fright Nights preview event – and many more. This is certainly a good chance to enjoy the theme parks without the busy queues and to feel like you get that little extra for being a passholder. Definitely a worthwhile perk, especially for families!
Entry to ‘partner’ theme parks
I know when I had the Europa Park Annual Pass, I was able to get free entry into Phantasialand and Liseberg (plus other attractions!). This is a perk that honestly, is the best thing and makes that big expense of purchasing a pass more worthwhile. It is great have a year’s free entry into one of your favourite theme parks, but to be able to experience more theme park with ‘free entry’ as well – even if it’s for one day, is great! Don’t mind me, I’m off to purchase another Europa Park Annual Pass (or Clubcard) as they call it!
So, as you can see here, these are a few reasons why being a passholder is a good investment! Of course, depending on which annual pass level you have determines which perks are available to you. Remember that for the ‘basic’ Annual Passes (no matter which theme park) will have restrictions. What Annual Passes do you hold, if any? Let me know in the comments below!
That’s all for now!
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
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
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
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
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 (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
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.
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.