Packing for my New Year holiday

Packing for my New Year holiday

I’m heading off to Gardaland and Europa Park this Thursday to see in 2020 – my first time abroad during this period. It’s certainly going to be a new experience for me having always stayed in the UK and avoided booking travel during the Christmas holidays. There’s a lot of things I am looking forward to experiencing including Europa Park’s Winter Season event and my first ever visit to Gardaland. So what exactly am I packing for my New Year holiday?

I am travelling with RyanAir using hand luggage only. Sounds like an impossible task right? Not really if you plan well when it comes to your clothes and toiletries. Not gonna lie, I’ve travelled using hand luggage for various trips to Europe in order to save costs on luggage, and sometimes travelling light can save you a lot of hassle. Whilst some people might wonder how I do it – whether through the fact I am a woman, or some people might call me crazy in general and can’t fathom the thought of travelling hand luggage only. I’m here to tell and prove to you it can be done.

packing new year holiday passport

So what exactly am I planning to take?

Before I even start getting the suitcase open and chucking clothes into it, I actually plan out my outfits for each day of my trip. This not only helps me to avoid overpacking but it actually helps when I am out travelling. Ever feel stuck trying to figure out what outfit you want to wear each day? You won’t have that issue any more! I will write down my list using the Notes app on my iPad. With this trip in particular, there’s going to be lots of theme park days so obvious choices will be t-shirts, leggings, shorts/skirts etc.

Mix and matching outfits is the key part to packing light with hand luggage. I also have a few evening meals planned so nicer outfits are required, whether that is a nice top paired with leggings or a nice dress with tights. Ensuring outfits are easy to fold and don’t take up too much space, like thin cotton t-shirts or dresses, will really help to ensure you can take the basics with you without weighing down your case.

packing new year holiday hotel kronosar europa park

Top Tips:

#1: If you can make some outfits split into multiple uses like transitioning from daytime to evening, this can really help with space.

#2: Packing cubes. If you haven’t used these before, buy some from Amazon – they are not even that expensive, but please give them a go. They have changed the way I pack my suitcase for any future trips. They really help to utilise the space in your case better – ideal for hand luggage trips.

#3: Having a designated travel outfit can really help avoid overpacking. Wearing bulky items when travelling will save you lots of space in your case – this includes hoodies & coats.

#4: Toiletries & make-up? Try to take the bare minimum and avoid anything that is liquid based. That 100ml limit and one liquids bag can be a pain in the arse but you can make it work – stick with eyeliner pencils, lipsticks, powders etc.

packing new year holiday europa park logo on floor

My packing list as follows…

Clothing

  • T-Shirts x5
  • Jeans/Jeggings x1
  • Shorts/Skirt x2
  • Leggings x1
  • Dresses x5 (Including NYE dress!)

Layers & Necessities

  • Underwear x9
  • Bra x1
  • Thermals x1 (Top & Bottoms)
  • Tights x2
  • Socks x4 (Thick socks mostly cause who wants cold feet when walking around a theme park?)
  • Scarf, Hat, Gloves
  • Leather Jacket (Evening purpose)
  • Superdry Jacket

It’s pretty basic but it’s amazing how I can fit 9 days worth of outfits in my carry-on suitcase without going over the 10kg from RyanAir. It’s not magic, it’s practical and sensible packing!

Have you travelled abroad only using hand luggage?

How do you pack? Do you create a list?

Do you shove everything in and hope for the best? What works for you?

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, see you all in 2020!

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

My Top 10 UK Coasters

My Top 10 UK Coasters

Something I have stumbled across on YouTube a lot is people ranking the UK coasters into a top 10 list. It’s very interesting seeing everyone’s opinions on all the different UK coasters, and in particular how people rank them. I have been looking at my current top 10 coaster list (it’s changed a lot after this year, and better left for another blog post entirely) but when I started thinking about UK coasters in particular, one question popped into my head. Where do they rank in a top 10 list for me?

When it comes to writing down all the UK coasters that I love, easy-peasy. When it comes to ranking them out of 10… boy, this was tricky! Each coaster offers a different unique experience yet how do you rate each one against each other to know where they slot in on a top 10 list. What I can conclude is that there are some gems here in the UK which can easily be forgotten when you start travelling around the world. We may slate that our theme parks & coasters don’t match up to the ones abroad, but honestly, we’ve got some good coasters to be shouting about.

top 10 uk coasters nemesis alton towers

1: Nemesis, Alton Towers

I think this is a given since this is featured quite high in my top 10 coasters list. And I know there’s plenty of people who will disagree and say it is overhyped. I’m not going to disagree with you HOWEVER in my opinion, Nemesis at Alton Towers is up there as one of the best, if not THE best in the UK. It is a classic B&M invert that ticks all the boxes – especially when she gets warmed up on a hot day, back row is crazy at times!

top 10 uk coasters wickerman alton towers

2: Wicker Man, Alton Towers

I had to think about this one but in all fairness, Wicker Man does provide a good all round experience. From the pre-show to the fire effects on the Wicker Man statue (or Big Bob as some people like to refer it), you can’t deny that this ride is great for everyone. It may not be the most thrilling against the likes of Troy but it’s still great for the UK.

megafobia oakwood

3: Megafobia, Oakwood

My first time to Oakwood was in 2016. The main draw for me was to finally experience one of the best coasters in the UK, Megafobia. The reason I have placed this behind Wicker Man is purely down to my memory being bad and I can’t really remember too much of the ride experience – apart from the first 2 drops. They were insane. Granted I wish this coaster was located more central in the UK than in the far corner of Wales, but I guess it gives me an excuse to do a road trip.

top 10 uk coasters stealth thorpe park

4: Stealth, Thorpe Park

I still remember my first time on Stealth in 2006, looking up at the 205ft coaster, pondering what it is going to feel like on the ride. I remember screaming but coming off the ride thinking, ‘HOLY CRAP, that was AMAZING!’ Stealth is just as re-rideable as it was in 2006 in my opinion. I love watching people’s reaction of the ride whenever I’m in the Amity area. Stealth does look daunting but it’s certainly one of the best rides at Thorpe Park – and really adds to Thorpe Park‘s skyline when you drive past from Chertsey.

oblivion alton towers

5: Oblivion, Alton Towers

The one drop wonder and the first B&M Dive Machine to be manufactured, opened in 1998. Oblivion delivers a good overall ride experience to the ride line-up at Alton Towers. This is a ride that everyone associates with Alton Towers, and for good reasons too. I love the adrenaline rush that it gives. Plus, when you have a loose enough restraint, you’ll float happily in your seat as you drop down into the pit.

top 10 uk coasters vampire chessington world of adventures

6: Vampire, Chessington World of Adventures

Vampire will always have a soft spot in my heart. My first initial memories of the ride with the Arrow bat trains and the spooky feel of Transylvania was enough to terrify the kids. Granted I was around 7 years old when I first visited Chessington. It was a fantastic ride and it still is to this day. With the purple Vekoma trains, I love the exposed feeling you get with the ride. It still packs in some great swings through the trees and is overall a firm favourite at Chessington – the long queues it gets during peak times says a lot!

top 10 uk coasters the swarm thorpe park

7: The Swarm, Thorpe Park

Wing coasters are one of my favourites from B&M, after Inverted coasters of course. Majority of people may slate them for being too tame or unexciting, and I can understand that. However, there are some variations of this ride that actually show you can make a Wing coaster more intense – hello Fenix at Toverland. For what The Swarm provides as a ride, is something simple and fun as part of the ride line-up at Thorpe Park. It doesn’t need to be thrilling in my eyes and there are some cool inversions that add to the overall ride experience, including the in-line twist above the station and the Zero-G roll.

icon blackpool pleasure beach

8: Icon, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

I’ve already written a full blog post on my thoughts of Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, but it is nowhere near as good as people are saying it is. Definitely not number one in the UK, that’s for sure. It is a decent coaster and the best one at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I can’t say I came off feeling thrilled, especially since it needs a lot of warming up to give you the better ride experience. There’s little pockets of airtime during the first half but the second half of the ride fell flat for me. The best way I could give it this spot is purely for the fact I would ride Icon over The Smiler.

the smiler alton towers

9: The Smiler, Alton Towers

Okay, I probably don’t ride The Smiler as much as some people so why is it in my top 10 UK coasters? It’s pretty decent when you look at the ride as a whole. All the elements work well together, plus you can’t deny that when the trains dual for each half, it’s pretty mesmerising to watch – and take photos of. I can’t say it’s up there as one of my favourite Gerstlauer coasters I have ridden. Depending on the train you get, it will either be a somewhat smooth ride or it can be a pretty rough ride. That final section after the Cobra Roll and 2 barrel rolls is pretty horrible to go through, even if you do manage to brace yourself.

top 10 uk coasters flight of the pterosaur

10: Flight of the Pterosaur, Paultons Park

And finally, in at number 10 is Flight of the Pterosaur at Paultons Park. I love these new Vekoma suspended coasters that have been appearing over the last few years. They’re so fun to ride and perfect for parks looking to add a ‘bigger’ style coaster for the kids/families. Paultons Park has come from leaps and bounds to be the one theme park to watch out for in the UK. Who knows, Storm Chaser that is currently under construction in the new Tornado Springs area might creep into this list next year.

What are your top 10 UK coasters?

Do you agree with my rankings?

Is Nemesis your number one UK coaster?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

2019 Review | My Highs and Lows

2019 Review | My Highs and Lows

Christmas is fast approaching, and 2020 not far behind. It’s a good time for me to write up a 2019 review, highlighting the highs and lows. It’s been a rollercoaster year for me. I’m hoping for a more positive year in 2020. Fingers crossed I can make that happen!

Like a rollercoaster, the beginning of the year started off with hope and positivity through my work and general life. I felt ready to take on the year head first. First of all I wanted to continue to gain more experience within Marketing. Secondly I had some great holidays booked to Europe which always gives you motivation to go to work, right? It was shaping up to be a great year from start to finish. Then Summer came around and I lost my motivation. Through my job, my life and I felt rather helpless over my general health. This left me neglecting my blog, the people who’ve stood by me all the way and who I am as a person. This probably explains why I ended up very ill between October and November. Crazy how stress & general illness can get to you.

I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I wondered where I was heading from a 27 year old to a 28 year old. It’s so easy to get scooped up into other people’s lives and think, why am I not where they are: moved out of the parents house, married with my soul mate, enjoying lots of holidays, earning a reasonable salary based on my age & gaining more work experience? Consequently I’m now ending the year taking on the mistakes I have made. I’m learning from them and trying to fight my way back to where I was at the start of 2019. I’m ready for whatever 2020 throws at me and to embrace a better version of me (with the addition of hearing aids!).

Aside from my self reflection & low points, there’s been some key memories from 2019 that has made this year a jolly good one…

2019 review highs and lows heide park horizon

Favourite Theme Park: There’s been a lot of theme parks I have stumbled into this year, both revisited and brand new for me. It’s been one hell of an adventure and I’d love to hope that 2020 will be in a similar vein – even if its one major trip abroad, I will be happy. So which theme park was my favourite from this year? It has to be Heide Park. The park is certainly one of the prettiest parks I have visited under the Merlin portfolio, a lot of beautiful scenery around and the lake gives some great views of a coaster horizon. Plus, there’s Colossos & Flug Der Damonen which were fab in my eyes. If you are heading to Hamburg, make sure to tag on a day trip or two to Heide Park.

2019 review highs and lows zadra wooden rollercoaster energylandia

Favourite Rollercoaster: Well… I’ve gained well over 100 new creds this year, and a few have been some pretty solid coasters. So which one was my all time favourite? Zadra. It has to be Zadra for me. There is not a single ride I have ridden that compares to it. It was phenomenal to ride. The airtime wasn’t painful compared to Untamed. The sheer speed from start to finish was pretty damn impressive – and it maintained this throughout the day, even to the point it was incredibly fast. Anybody who is going to Energylandia in 2020 are in for a treat.

2019 review highs and lows longleat house

Favourite Visitor Attraction: Away from theme parks, I’m an avid traveller so I enjoy exploring an array of visitor attractions around the UK. From Moors Valley Country Park to Longleat Safari Park, I’ve explored some pretty cool places. I’m hoping to go exploring even more in 2020. So my favourite place to visit was Longleat for their Festival of Light event. It was a magical experience to see all the lanterns and explore the Safari Park – always a plus when you’ve get the chance to see Amur Tigers, Lions, Wolves & more.

2019 review highs and lows meeting john wardley

Favourite Memory: Meeting John Wardley will forever be my absolute favourite memory from this year. I fangirled a lot. I can now tick this moment off my lifetime bucket list. You know that list of celebrities you’d love to meet. It was a fantastic opportunity to have chat with him about his passion for rollercoasters. He was a truly humble and inspirational guy to so many people in the theme park community.

2019 review highs and lows rock of ages mayflower southampton

Favourite Musical: Rock of Ages was a true delight to watch. The film has always been a guilty pleasure of mine so as soon as I saw it was heading to the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, I had to buy tickets. It had the jokes & gags to get me belly laughing. Likewise the actors & actresses singing ability were incredible. If it comes back on tour, I’d happily watch it again, and I think you should too.

What have been your highs and lows of 2019?

What has been your favourite memory from this year?

Any new theme parks or rollercoasters you’ve ridden that’s been a tick of the bucket list?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

 

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.

chessington winters tail review chessington winters tail reviewchristmas tree and chessington adventure tree carouselchessington winters tail review gruffalo kitchenchessington winters tail review christmas decorationschessington winters tail review santa sleighchessington winters tail review safari skywaychessington winters tail review gruffalo posinglogo on groundgingerbread familychessington winters tail reviewrhino lights statue and santa sleighsantas sleighlights and christmas wreathchessington winters tail review

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

Hogwarts In The Snow 2019 | Review

Hogwarts In The Snow 2019 | Review

warner bros studio tour the making of harry potter entrance

It’s been about 4 years since I was last at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I must say, there’s been a lot of changes since my last visit! Every year I’ve always said to myself I will go during to the Hogwarts in the Snow event. And each time, I’ve either left it too late or just never found a suitable time to go. Until now…

Winter does tend to mean hibernating inside the warmth of my own house with a hot cuppa, wearing cosy clothes because it is too cold to travel anywhere outside. This year I’ve been more proactive in visiting some different winter/Christmas events. I’ve learnt not to let the cold bother me, just layer up and be on my merry way. So it was finally time to go to Hogwarts in the Snow.

I was in awe of the new areas (for me) including the Forbidden Forest & Gringotts. That’s the thing I love about this place. It takes your breath away at how grand all the sets are for the films. Not only that but everything is covered in Winter/Christmas decorations including The Great Hall being dressed up for the Yule ball in Goblet of Fire. Plus we were taught by the team on how Harry’s footprints were made in the snow when he’s wearing the invisibility cloak in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Of course, the main event is seeing the model of Hogwarts Castle covered in a dusting of snow – all done by hand from members of the crew! Did you know it takes 4 DAYS for them to transform the castle into a snowy masterpiece? It looks absolutely stunning in person, even if I’ve seen so many photos of it online. A true highlight and a perfect end to the tour in my opinion – except maybe the gift shop with too many gifts I want to buy.

dragon overlooking crowd of peoplehogwarts in the snowslytherin crest and school uniformyule ball ice sculpture yule ball costumes harry potterhogwarts in the snowgryffindor common roomhogwarts ticking clockweasley's kitchenhogwarts in the snowhogwarts expresshogwarts letters flying all over the placehogwarts in the snowgringotts bank auditoriumgringotts bank vault of bellatrix lestrangehogwarts in the snowdiagon alley harry potterfootprints in the snowhogwarts in the snowhogwarts in the snowThanks to Jared/James for taking some of the photos above.

I had a great time at the Studio Tour on Saturday. And with it being James’ first time visiting, it was also great to see his reaction to everything. I can’t explain how incredible the tour is. From all the animatronics to the photo opportunities around every corner. You need to allocate at least 3 hours to really explore the tour in depth. Especially if you want to take part in the interactive elements like flying a broomstick through London! Hogwarts in the Snow runs till January 26th 2020 – tickets are selling fast so get in quick. You can find out more info and book tickets online on the official website.

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.

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

 

How to prepare for a theme park trip abroad

How to prepare for a theme park trip abroad

how to prepare for a theme park trip abroad

As you can imagine, I love going abroad. Travelling + theme parks = a very happy Lottie! So much so I am off to Poland tomorrow! But does anyone ever wonder how to prepare for a theme park trip abroad? From the dreaded packing routine: How many outfits do you need? Is the suitcase going to be big enough? to the major essentials of planning (boarding passes, park tickets etc). You know you need to get your brain into gear so you don’t forget anything!

Trust me, I haven’t forgotten anything in the past but I do end up using all my energy getting prepared for my holiday. More so than when I’m actually on the road, travelling to that next theme park destination. Yes, preparing for a holiday is common sense but sometimes a little helping hand can help you be on your way. Read on for my top tips on how to prepare for a theme park trip abroad.

Park tickets

Now that we live in a world where technology is at the palm of our hand, gone are the days where you need to print everything. I love that you can now show off the PDF park tickets on your phone. Or if you’ve been to Hansa Park recently and own an iPhone, your ticket sits nicely in your Wallet app! It makes life so much easier as you’ll have your phone on you at all times.

Pro tip: To avoid those mishaps with WiFi or lack of internet, open up the PDF/e-mail ticket on your phone and take a screenshot. That way you can still show off your ticket at the entrance without worrying about no internet! Of course, certain theme parks around the world will send you park tickets in the post. Make sure you have these to hand when you are packing for your trip.

Park Opening Times/Info

Okay, you should do this in the trip planning stages. However sometimes a week or so before you fly out, it’s best to double-check park opening hours & extra information. We all know park hours are subject to change and even days can change. Although this is very rare! The last thing you want to happen is to arrive at your destination and find that you have less time at the park than you first anticipated. If you’re lucky, you might find hours have been extended!

Car Hire/Hotel Booking Confirmations

In a similar vein to park tickets, you can keep all your booking confirmations on your smartphone. Just remember to take screenshots of booking confirmation numbers, arrival dates, payment confirmation details etc. Your internet can be temperamental so don’t get caught out. Of course, printing off the confirmation details won’t hurt. I know that for hotels, especially if you have booked through Hotels.com, Booking.com or AccorHotels, you can view all your bookings on their apps – incredibly handy to have!

Sat Nav

Whether you choose to use your smartphone or an actual Sat Nav unit, make sure you update the maps. Don’t get caught short when you suddenly find a road or motorway no longer exists! My preferred app to use is Waze as it provides you with the most up to date maps, it’s super easy to set up and it’s FREE! Other options include Google Maps or Apple Maps (depending on your smartphone of choice). Don’t forget to pack chargers and any other accessories such as phone holders and USB car chargers. Whilst most new cars have USB facilities, you can’t guarantee you’ll get them in your hire car. Be prepared for any eventualities!

Public Transport Info (if travelling via Public Transport)

If you are travelling via public transport, make sure you’ve done plenty of research including bus/train timetables, stations near the attractions, any shuttle buses that need pre-booking etc. My preferred choice is to get a hire car where I can but if I need to travel anywhere by public transport, research is key. Make sure you know where you’re going. The last thing you want is to appear lost in a foreign country as this will make you a prime target for scammers etc. Stay safe at all times.

Essential Toiletries including First Aid Kit

Sounds like common sense right? But I’m sure there’s a handful of people who may have forgotten something for their trip. What do I class as essential toiletries? Anything from Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Deodorant, Toothpaste, Toothbrush etc. Anything that is a basic need for your everyday routine. Also, add a First Aid Kit whilst you are at it. I might go overboard in this respect by packing a lot of first aid bits but ‘You never know what may strike at any given moment!‘ I’ll pack plasters, tissues, paracetamol, ibuprofen, vitamins, contraceptive pill (if applicable!), Strepsils, Bonjela, Anthisan etc. Ladies, if you know your time of the month is due during your holiday, make sure to pack your pads & tampons too.

Travel Money and Passport

What? I left the most basic and important thing till last?! Passport is mandatory, obviously! Pro tip: Put your passport in your suitcase when you start your packing and you won’t have to worry about it being left behind. Okay, I have left getting travel money to the last minute before – NEVER AGAIN! Obviously, the earlier you can buy your travel money, the better rates you will get. ALWAYS AVOID GETTING MONEY AT THE AIRPORT!

There’s plenty of comparison sites online where you can compare the different rates. However, just recently I’ve been introduced to Monzo (back in June!) and I bloody love it. Easy to transfer money from my own bank account and no need to worry about conversion rates. The standard credit card exchange rate fee applies. Plus you don’t need to inform them every time you travel. My favourite part is the spending notifications you get. Very easy to keep track of how much you have spent and converts it straight back into pounds from your destination currency. So fab!

I hope this has given you some handy tips on how to prepare for a theme park trip abroad. If you have any tips of your own, please leave them in the comments below. Sharing is caring.

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.

pasaje del terror blackpool tickets in persons hand

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

 

Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 | Review

Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 | Review

alton towers scarefest review entrance sign

Every year I always make sure to plan a visit to Alton Towers for Scarefest. This year was no exception. You can read my 2017 review here. Scarefest is one of my favourite Halloween events from the Merlin theme parks (excluding Legoland). I love that as soon as you walk through the turnstiles, the view of Towers Street is beautiful. As you gaze below with the Towers straight ahead across the lake. You don’t get a better view than that. Read on for my full Alton Towers Scarefest 2019 review.

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Alton Towers Scarefest as a whole…

Each year, Towers Street is adorned with pumpkins and fantastic photo opportunities. I loved it all. Add in the mix of music and you’re taken away from reality and into the world of Scarefest. When they added in the Scarefest sign at the bottom of Towers Street, I knew this was going to become an ideal spot for photos. But the best new addition? The rollercoaster themed pumpkin heads. My particular faves were Thirteen, Wicker Man and Nemesis.

I could tell there was some effort for the ‘spooky theming’ within Fountain Square by Hex. There was black and white bunting dotted around this area. Plus you had your usual Pumpkin photo spots near X-Sector and Mutiny Bay – ideal for kids. And the famous skeletons in one of gondolas on the Skyride – if you manage to spot it! As for the rest of the park, there was little to no spooky theming at all. Even if you include the lighting around the coasters after dark. Okay, Alton Towers does cover a large amount of space and it would take time to decorate all possible areas. But with a lack of Halloween atmosphere around the park, it can really feel like Scarefest starts and ends on Towers Street. This is a shame!

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I’ve always enjoyed Alton Towers’ scare mazes. Purely because they can be beautifully themed and have the added bonus of using the Towers as space to house 3 of them this year. You’ve got to the pay for the mazes which is a bit of a bummer. Honestly, I don’t think the main 3 scare maze ticket bundle was worth the price. Yes, it wouldn’t be Scarefest without the mazes but the price is expensive – not great if you’re on a budget. Even then, you don’t want to fork out more money to have a re-run in your favourite maze. Hopefully, they can work on this for next season!

Note: there may be some scare maze spoilers from this point.

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ALTONVILLE MINE TOURS

Altonville Mine Tours hasn’t always been my favourite maze at Towers. This year has changed my opinion. I don’t know how I ended up at the front of the group when I exited the maze. During the batching process, I started off towards the back of the group. I guess that’s what makes it more fun. There were so many moments with actors coming at me in all directions. I was stroked and they enjoyed pulling my hair. In such a confined space, who wouldn’t feel exposed and vulnerable. I loved it!

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SUB SPECIES

Sub Species used to be terrifying and I’ve always wondered whether I would come out alive. The last couple of years, it has lost its touch and become tamer than when it first opened in 2015. This year, it seemed to be filled with more dead ends and actors constantly making you go round in circles. This may not be for the faint-hearted but honestly, getting lost adds to the fun. Am I right? The scares might still be lacking but it was still enjoyable. Definitely feel like Sub Species has run its course and could do with being replaced with another maze for next year.

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PROJECT 42

Project 42, I have no words to be honest. Last year, I had a fantastic run through when I was at the back of the group. Actors grabbing me from different angles and giving me some good jump scares. The story didn’t really make much sense in my eyes. It still doesn’t to be fair. The maze felt disjointed and there were no real scares coming from the actors. Whilst zombies are a common scare maze theme, Project 42 just didn’t offer anything at all. Plus it is still VERY loud in the finale. This is coming from a girl who has a hearing disability and I still found it deafening! Project 42 shouldn’t come back next year, even if it is nice to walk through the Nemesis Sub Terra building.

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DARKEST DEPTHS

Darkest Depths was spooky, fun and beautifully themed. You wouldn’t think this whole maze is pretty much set up in shipping containers. I wish I had the chance to experience this maze when it was dark outside. There were a couple of moments where actors popped in and out through the containers, in turn letting the light outside draw in. This ruined the experience for me. I know that couldn’t be helped! Away from that, you truly felt immersed in the story. From smell pods making you feel like you were on the Mutiny ship to the water effects of the Kraken winding its way through the ship. It’s great for a family scare maze and a fantastic new addition to the Scarefest line-up.

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THE ATTIC: TERROR OF THE TOWERS

This was the surprise of the weekend. If I wasn’t pressed for time on Sunday, I would have easily bought another ticket. It was so good. Alton Towers have returned to using the conservatory as space for The Attic queue line. This gave me nostalgic vibes of The Sanctuary back in 2012-2014. The theming of this maze was pretty grand if you ask me. Lots of Victorian vibes from the queue and first scene. It almost felt like we were on a ghostly tour to find the Governess. And you did honestly feel like you were going up into the Attic after the 3/4 flights of stairs.

Jump scares came at me from all angles. Especially considering I was at the back of the group. Actors were running between rooms which freaked me out. You didn’t know where they would be lurking as soon as you turned the corner. The storyline was a little hard to follow within the maze. However, you understood the main jist with the children and the Governess. I don’t know why but scare mazes with ghostly children can be particularly creepy. Do not miss out on this maze when you make a visit to Scarefest this year.

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So if you haven’t already made plans to visit Scarefest this year, don’t wait any longer! Alton Towers Scarefest will be back from 18th October to 3rd November, so grab your maze tickets and experience this spooktacular event for yourself.

What is your favourite maze at Alton Towers Scarefest 2019?

Do you think more could be done for Alton Towers Scarefest?

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo

Moors Valley Country Park | Top 5 Things to Do

Moors Valley Country Park | Top 5 Things to Do

moors valley country park top 5 things to do

I have spent many years as a youngster with my family, exploring the beauty and wonder of Moors Valley Country Park. Located near Ringwood in the New Forest, Moors Valley is one of those places you need to experience if you’re in the local area. There’s so much to see and do that I’ve compiled my top 5 things to do at Moors Valley Country Park in this blog post. It’s become my favourite destination in the spring/summer when the sun is shining.

One thing I’ve found is that some people may not realise what activities are available to do in the country park. There’s so much to see and do for the whole family, with your significant other or even by yourself. Trust me, it’s so peaceful spending some time wandering around. It’s a perfect pick-me-up when you’re feeling down! You will be spoilt for choice. Whilst I might be biased as I have grown up visiting here, this is a must-do for everyone. So let me give you 5 top things you can do when visiting Moors Valley Country Park.

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Steam Railway

Any train fans will not want to miss the Moors Valley Steam Railway. These mini style steam trains travel along the banks of Moors Lake. Winding through tunnels, tight curves and small inclines. This is the perfect way to enjoy the stunning views and experience a true steam train ride. There may be a small upcharge for the train. Depends on whether you choose a roundtrip or one way trip to either Lakeside or Kingsclere station. I feel like this is something you cannot miss!

Play Trail/Tree Top Trail

My fondest memories of the Tree Top Trail is when I was a kid and seeing these massive wooden structures of creatures. You could climb inside them, climb on top of them and were the perfect photo spots. That may have been 15 years or so ago but the structures are still around to this day! Designed mainly for kids but adults, you can join in too. It doesn’t matter about being judged, it’s all about having fun!

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Go Ape Treetop Courses

I bloody love Go Ape courses. Yes, they are challenging but they provide 2/3 hours of high adrenaline fun. Climb through the trees with various routes to choose from. There’s an adult and a junior course so you can decide how brave you’re feeling. You don’t need to have maxed out fitness levels to do these. Although it does help massively! There’s water at the start of each section of the course to keep you hydrated. Perfect for a really hot day, just like what we had! This is an upcharge attraction but highly recommend for all thrillseekers out there. And remember the important rule, ALWAYS STAY ATTACHED!

Go Ape Forest Segways

I’m going to put my hand up now and say that I’ve never ridden a Segway before. If you have, let me know in the comments below as I’d love to hear your experiences. It’s on my bucket list of things I’d love to do one day! Segways are available as part of the Go Ape area of Moors Valley. Costing around £35 per person. Travel through the forest on a Segway, what better way to travel right? Although I can imagine I’d struggle to get my balance…

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Cycle/Walking Trails

Finally, for the avid exercise gurus, there’s plenty of trails to explore for both walkers and cyclists. If you own a bike, bring it along with you and cycle along the many trails. All trails are waymarked depending on difficulty and length. Don’t fret if you do not own a bike as you can hire one at the Moors Valley cycle hire centre. Times vary from 1 hour to the whole day. I’m not one for cycling personally. I much prefer a gentle walk around the forest, especially towards the Lookout as it’s the perfect spot to take plenty of photos! Fitness gurus can enjoy the Fitness trail with exercise stations positioned along a 2-mile route within the forest. There’s something for everyone here, regardless of your desired sport.

That’s all for now!

Lottie xoxo