This rooftop spa garden is possibly the UK’s best new place to relax

You can even have your very own bath butler serving you prosecco and strawberries during your treatment

This could just possibly be the best spa I’ve ever been to – and I’ve visited more than my fair share over the years.

There is so much to tell you about this lavish spa which has been in the making for ten years and cost a mind-blowing £9.5m to create.

If the price tag doesn’t give you an idea of how palatial the spa at the highly regarded privately-owned Rudding Park Hotel is, let me try and set the scene….

As my best friend and I lazed in the sun on the rooftop spa garden beside the spa bath, while being served prosecco direct to our light-up loungers, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

We were in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, but felt a world away in sheer luxury in the newly opened, world-class spa.

Spread across three floors you will get lost (several times) as you wander around the different areas of this spa, yet you can’t escape the luxury.

Why Strictly fans will love this day out 

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The rooftop spa garden at the Rudding Park Hotel

The rooftop spa garden

Allow me to start with the unique area which truly sets this spa apart from any other I’ve been to. The rooftop spa garden is an absolute haven of peace and tranquility.

It’s a UK first and features an stunning indoor-outdoor infinity pool (which means you can swim into it from the inside), several steam rooms and saunas, panoramic experience showers and a relaxing foot spa to enhance the spa journey.

Scattered with sun loungers and chic white sofas, the garden is a gorgeous place to relax, especially when the sun is shining.

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Joanna Lovell in the spa bath on the rooftop spa garden at Rudding Park Hotel

The area was designed by horticulturist Matthew Wilson, who won the People’s Choice award for his 2016 Chelsea Flower Show offering.

Outside the herbal spa bath and cabin sauna complete the experience and drinks will be served even if you’re in the water.

Its owners really have created a world-class experience which is a destination in its own right which has an edge over anywhere else I’ve been to.

Why a Haven holiday is the easiest family break you will take 

I loved the atmospheric “experience” showers, where at the push of a button you can choose between “Caribbean rain” or a North Sea squall, with appropriate birdsong, lighting, and water temperature to match.

Step outside of these wonderful showers and you can sit and gaze outside as you enjoy a relaxing foot spa, alternating between hot and cold water to improve circulation.

The spa

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A relaxation area at Rudding Park Hotel

From the exterior, it’s obvious that the spa is a much newer building compared to the rest of the hotel. It’s floor to ceiling glass windows make it look like a creation from Grand Designs.

The theme of the spa is to reflect the beauty of Rudding Park’s natural surroundings, bringing the outdoors inside. This is why the spa is so light, airy and incredibly spacious.

As you might expect there’s a beautiful indoor pool where you can take a dip or simply laze the day away besides. It opens onto a courtyard with outdoor loungers too.

The Juniper Log Sauna also provides calming views through a glass-fronted wall, while the the herbal bath steam room uses freshly-picked rosemary to add to scents of lavender and menthol.

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The Rudding Park Hotel

There’s a circular luxury steam room with a mosaic dome and comfy seats. There are also four mind and sense zones which are relaxation areas with a twist. You can nod off in the dark sleep zone under a starlit sky, or try the audio room with personal headsets to listen to music or meditation.

For the mind, a ‘literary wall’ offers books on art, well-being and even mandala colouring-in therapy. The visual zone projects images of lapping waves, wildflower meadows and majestic mountains on the ‘video mood wall’.

You also must try the Rasul room. Here you rub thick mud all over your body before washing it off and applying a salt scrub, leaving you feeling baby-soft.

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The indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pool at the Rudding Park Hotel

Treatments

There’s 11 treatment rooms, including a couple’s room where partners can enjoy a glass of champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries in a bubble-jet copper bath, waited on by their own personal bath butler.

If that doesn’t get the tastebuds going, nothing will!

As you would expect there are a number and variety of treatments to choose from including signature treatments, facials, massages, pregnancy treatments, treatments for two, sports rehabilitation and beauty treatments.

I opted for the Flow Wellbeing massage which is designed to release any resistance or stress in the body. I was massaged from head to toe and the experience was completed with a facial.

My therapist was incredibly professional and made me feel very at ease. It was a truly amazing 50 minutes I never wanted to end.

The hotel bedrooms

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Rudding Park Hotel is one of the most highly regarded hotels in the UK, which offers luxury accommodation in a Grade-I listed regency house.

Despite the hotel being a traditional country house, the hotel interior is contemporary with high-spec furnishings.

All rooms have a 40 inch flat screen tv, a media hub, free wifi and Molton Brown toiletries. There are also eight luxury self catering lodges in the grounds.

Our ground-floor room, with its own private terrace, was complete with whirlpool bath big enough for two, or three, and a walk-in rain shower.

Next to our beds I found a pillow menu and a little card informing me of the weather forecast for the next day.

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The bath in our room at the Rudding Pak Hotel

The restaurants

Horto

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We also had the pleasure of dining in the new Horto restuarant which opened in May at around the same time as the spa.

The three AA Rosettes eatery uses seasonal ingredients from the hotel’s kitchen garden, offering à la carte dining, plus seven and eight-course tasting menus with a twist – diners are encouraged to eat each dish without seeing the menu first.

I’m not a fussy eater so I went with the “don’t look” concept and realised eating blind is something I’ve never done before, but an experience I’d recommend and like to try again.

Will my kids like the new £3m adventure park William’s Den?

The menu is ever changing, but on our visit it included Whitby crab, Yorkshire Grouse, North Sea Hallibut, Shetland Scallops, a garden carrot salad a onion tart with halzenut.

I opted for the accompanying wine flight and each glass was perfectly explained to me before it was poured.

Whilst I enjoyed the experience and could not fault the food, I could not help thinking the setting wasn’t quite right.

For a fine dining experience like this I want white table cloths and a feel of luxury. Instead this restaurant (as lovely as it is) is accessed via the spa.

The Clocktower

This is the main restaurant in the hotel where you will find modern British food with a relaxed ambience.

Guests can dine in the restaurant with its striking pink glass chandelier, or the bright and airy conservatory alongside the 400 year-old olive tree.

Here you can choose from a set menu or dine a la carte. Dishes include everything from burgers, steaks and monfish to lamp chops and fish and chips.

Our break was perfectly finished in here with a delicious breakfast, before we had to return to reality.

Perfect for…

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A romantic mini-break, special occassions, a girlie weekend or a stylish hen do.

Need to know

Where: Rudding Park is located near the former spa town of Harrogate. It’s a 13-minute drive from the station. Use postcode HG3 1JH.

Prices: The sleeping Beauty spa break including dinner, bed and breakfast, access to the spa and a 50 minute treatment each costs £177 per person.

Call: 01423 871350

Visit: http://www.ruddingpark.co.uk

 

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Stay, Play & Explore short breaks

THEY SAY: Short break including hotel and tickets to three attractions in Leicester and Leicestershire from just £139.

WE SAY: We saved at least £100 overall booking these days out and the hotel as one package. Can’t be beaten.

IT sometimes feels like you spend more on hotels and days out tickets on short breaks in the UK than you would a package holiday to Spain.

So I was quite excited to discover the Stay Play Explore website, where you can get a night in a hotel and tickets to three of ten attractions of your choice for just £139.

Run by tourism organisation Leicester Shire Promotions, the offer includes a large selection of hotels in Leicester and Leicestershire and the prices are fixed for all hotels, whatever the weather, so you won’t be stung once you’ve chosen your dates.

Booking was incredibly easy – you just choose your hotel and dates and then the days out tickets are emailed to you.

There’s a choice of ten attractions to choose from, with everywhere from Twycross Zoo and Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre to Stonehurst Family Farm and Swadlincote Ski Centre. (See bottom of this post for a full list)

It seemed perfect for our family because visiting new places and making memories is what life is all about for us.

Just remember to print three versions of the e-ticket off and take it with you to each attraction, where the barcode is scanned.

However, if one night away isn’t enough, extra nights can be added to your short break at the time of booking for a special Stay Play Explore discounted rate.

Our hotel of choice was the Hilton East Midlands Airport Hotel. It’s not small bed and breakfasts that are on offer – the deal includes nice four-star hotels, including brands such Hilton, Marriott and Jury’s Inn, as well as individual spa hotels.

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Additional child tickets are available to purchase and the Hinckley Island Hotel, Sketchley Grange and Hilton Leicester hotels have family rooms to accommodate two adults and three children if you’re a family of five.

We chose the Hilton because it was about halfway between Conkers and Twinlakes theme park – the two attractions we would visit that weekend.

Another good thing about these tickets is that they are valid from your date of arrival until December 31 that year, so you don’t have to visit all three attractions in one weekend if you don’t want to.

We chose to visit Conkers first, which is in the heart of the national forest. There’s a great mix of indoor and outdoor fun to be had here in the 120-acre area of maturing woodlands, lakes and ponds.

We spent ages walking around and enjoying being outside. The kids loved running through the maze and the wobbly bridge was also a hit with the children, who enjoyed running across it once they had climbed up it.

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Oliver & Jasmine with friends at Conkers

There’s also several assault course-type trails for teenagers and adults to have a go at.

There’s also a little train (at no extra cost), which takes you to a huge outdoor play area. The small water play area and the viewing platform, which you can climb to the top of for great views across the site, were also good fun. If you’re feeling brave, there’s also a barefoot walk where you can experience walking on timber, bark, coal, pebbles, wood and clay.

If that’s not enough, there are several outdoor adventure and experience days suitable for all the family, which can be pre-booked at an additional cost.

If the weather isn’t so great, there are things to do inside, too, with more than 100 indoor interactive exhibits for the kids to get stuck into.

We spent a full day at Conkers and left covered in mud and ready for hot bath!

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The rain never spoils our fun #friendsforlife

It wasn’t long before we arrived at The Hilton, which was an ideal base for us. Our comfortable room was complete with a double bed, a single bed and a sofa bed.

The hotel also has a 16m pool and, if you’ve got the energy, a fitness centre.

For tea we went to the Plank and Leggit pub down the road – it’s a Fayre & Square pub with an indoor fun area, so it was perfect for the kids.

The next day, after a lovely Hilton breakfast, we were up and ready for the 30-minute drive to Twinlakes Theme Park in Melton Mowbray for another full-on day of fun.

It’s billed as the East Midlands’ number one all-action, family tourist attraction and, for our children, who range in age from three to seven, it was perfect.

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Family fun #makingmemories

There’s so much to do, we didn’t know where to start and didn’t get through it all in one day.

It’s everything from a farm with falconry displays to a theme park with rides and indoor fun, too. If you’re there on a hot day, the water park is a must. There’s more than half an acre of wet and wild fun with water flumes, lagoons and slides. There’s even sun loungers to laze on – not that we got the chance for that!

The favourites for my children were the rollercoaster, the pirate ship and the huge sandy play area, oh and the boats, they were really good fun.

twinlakes.jpgI even found myself on a ride, flying through the air, lying on my stomach – it was surprisingly relaxing.

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The two attractions we chose are full days out in themselves, so we’ve saved our tickets for the National Space Centre and will visit later in the year.

I’ve worked out, for a family of four, the trip would have cost £35 for Conkers tickets, £80 at Twinlakes Theme Park, £50 at the National Space Centre and £80 for a hotel, so a total of £245. That’s a saving of more than £100 if booked through the Stay Play Explore website.

  • Reviewed July 2016

NEED TO KNOW…

You can choose three of the following ten attractions:

ATTRACTIONS:  National Space Centre, Conkers, Twycross Zoo, Twinlakes Theme Park, Stonehurst Family Farm, Swadlincote Ski Centre, Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre,  Bosworth Water Park, Conkers Outdoors, King Richard III Visitor Centre

CALL: 0116 225 4000

VISIT: www.stayplayexplore.co.uk

 

 

Sand Le Mere Holiday Park, Tunstall

THEY SAY: Unbeatable caravan holidays in Yorkshire. Enjoy our huge range of facilities, accommodation range and on-site entertainment.

WE SAY: Budget caravaning holiday by the sea. Great for kids.

 

You don’t always have to go far to feel like you’ve really got away from it all. During the May half-term I took my two children to the Sand Le Mere Holiday Village which is in Tunstall, near Withernsea and only a 40 minute drive from where we live.

It seemed funny staying somewhere so close to home, but as soon as we drove up the sweeping drive towards the caravan holiday park I instantly felt chilled and there was no stress of a long journey.

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We were staying in a luxury two-bed caravan by the sea, which was really comfortable and modern.

We opted for the welcome pack so I didn’t have to pack the essentials including tea and coffee and washing up liquid.

I did however forget the bath mat and a hand towel so my top tip is to remember these!

Oliver and Jasmine have stayed in some beautiful hotels, but they get so much more excited when we stay in a caravan – for some reason kids just love caravans.

Once they had found their bedroom they were keen to unpack and settle in before exploring.

The resort is centred around the main complex, which is home to the swimming pool, amusements, soft play and a café.

There’s also a large showbar and a restaurant bar with outside seating and a park with mini golf.

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If you need it there’s also a convenience shop, a launderette and there’s fresh water fishing in the well-stocked fishing lake.

Unfortunately for us we chose the worst week – weather-wise – to visit. Not only was it raining and really cold, it was also extremely windy.

 

The caravan felt like it was getting a battering from all angles and we needed the heating on, which is not what you hope for at the beginning of June.

But we were determined not to let the weather spoil our holiday and so used the entertainment planner we were given on check-in to plan activities for our four-night stay.

We swam more than we probably would have done if the weather was nicer and took advantage of the kids’ indoor activities.

We did everything from science club and art attack to family boules and bingo.

For my son the best activity he did was playing in the turbo paddlers in the pool.

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Charactar breakfast and the turbo paddlers

Many of the kids’ activities are included in the price of the holiday and you can just turn up, but there are some paid-for activities you need to book.

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They both loved the character breakfast where as well as sitting with all the other children for their own little party to eat, they met the mascot, Sandy Le Meerkat and also sang and danced with the enthusiastic entertainment’s team.

The holiday site has direct access to the beach – unfortunately for us it was too windy to brave it but I’m told it’s beautiful.

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And when the sun goes down you can enjoy live entertainment on stage and dance the night away – all included in the price.

On site as well as the static caravans you can also camp, bring your own tourer or stay in a luxury lodge with its own hot tub.

One thing I did must say is that all the staff were very friendly and welcoming.

It’s also a good base to explore Hornsea, Bridlington and Scarborough for a proper family seaside holiday.

© Jolly Family Outings

NEED TO KNOW…

WHERE: Southfield Ln, Tunstall, Yorkshire, HU12 0JF

Summer holiday prices start from £522 based on a family of four sharing a two-bedroom holiday home for seven nights. Children’s clubs, most facilities and evening entertainment are included.

 

WEB: http://www.sand-le-mere.co.uk

CALL: 01964 670403.

Redworth Hall Hotel, County Durham

 

As we drove up the sweeping drive towards Redworth Hall Hotel, I wondered whether we had made a mistake bringing the kids.

Picture the scene. A beautiful hotel, and me and my sister with four kids in tow. The website said it was family- friendly – but they all say that.  I was worried we might not fit in among other guests seeking a quiet, luxury break away.

I’m not saying our children aren’t well behaved, but I’d much rather my two- year-old threw a strop in a budget chain hotel surrounded by other stressed-out parents who understand, than in a luxury one with guests who may not be quite so forgiving.

Praying they would behave as we stepped into the amazing reception hall , I need not have worried, thanks to the lovely staff who welcomed the children with open arms. They were given a treasure hunt sheet and encouraged to explore the hotel to look for clues so for them the hotel was already a winner!

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We soon found the Great Hall, with its original Jacobean features and open fireplace, and got lost several times making our way through the building.

The hotel is secluded and tranquil, yet just minutes from the A1.

We reached our luxury room by climbing a grand, sweeping wooden staircase rising up from the Baronial Lounge.

The room was impressive with comfortable beds, sofas, and a roomy bathroom and the kids thought it was amazing.

The 1744 Restaurant serves exquisite dishes in fine surroundings and we enjoyed three courses for £25.

And the 14m hotel pool, designed in the style of Roman baths, is impressive, but the whirlpool bath, steam room, sauna and gym would have to wait until we revisit without children.

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But the icing on the cake for the kids was the soft play area. Behind a closed door lay a world of tubes and slides that didn’t infringe on the hotel at all. Directly outside is the cafe area which overlooks the pool. We visited after our evening meal (to tire the kids out before bed) so we took our wine with us and enjoyed a drink whilst they played. Our kids were the only ones in there so it was heaven for them, and not so bad for us too!

Somehow, the hotel is perfect for families, but also the ideal place for couples to seek some rest and relaxation.

  • Reviewed November 2015

 

NEED TO KNOW…

LOCATION: Redworth Hall Hotel and Country Club,  Surtees Rd, Newton Aycliffe, DL5 6NT.

CALL: 0800 808 9596.

VISIT: www.thehotelcollection.co.uk

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HAVEN: Thorpe Park caravan park, Cleethorpes

THEY SAY: Round-the-clock family fun from dawn until dusk. Our breaks are about spending quality time with your family.

WE SAY: A fantastic well-kept holiday park, right on the beach. Plenty to do for all the family and lots of places in the local area to visit too.

 

CHILDREN love caravans.

It doesn’t matter how many all-inclusive foreign holidays we go on, or how many luxury hotels we stay in – the excitement for my two when I tell them we’re going to stay in a caravan is unstoppable.

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After grabbing their sleeping bags (saves making the beds), they love choosing their bedrooms and fighting over which bed to sleep in. It’s fun, fun, fun all the way and as a family we love it.

One of my friends laughed when I said I was off in a caravan – reckons it’s not something he could imagine me doing. Granted I like my luxuries, but there’s nothing wrong with staying in a caravan. I draw the line at a tent, but if there’s heating and a shower I’m there.

We’ve got a static van, (loving named the tin box) at Thorpe Park in Cleethorpes and despite the fact we go several times a year, the kids never get bored. The holiday park is one of 36 Haven parks nationwide.

It’s a very well kept Haven park so you can be assured of a decent level of service. You can book your accommodation direct with Haven or use a private owner to rent from.

First you need to decide which van to stay in. There’s something for all budgets so you can take your pick from a standard, deluxe, prestige, summer house or platinum van, with either two or three bedrooms to sleep up to six people. Alternatively you could book a pitch and bring your touring caravan or tent. Check-in times vary depending which caravan you go for, but timings are between 1pm and 4pm.

INFO: Travel cots are available to book but are designed to go in the main living room and do not fit in the bedrooms.

If you book directly with Haven the fun passes for all your party are included in the cost of the accommodation. If you book with a private owner the passes will need to be purchased from the reception.

FUN PASSES AREAS:

Although you can still access the caravan site including all caravan areas, a large park, two fresh-water lakes, the golf course and access to the beach without the fun passes – they are needed to be able to enter the main complex where you can participate in the kids’ clubs and get unlimited access to the swimming pool, amusements, parks, activities and evening entertainment.

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Inside the pass zone, the main outdoor area is a lovely huge open space with parks, trampolines, sand areas and outside seating. You can enjoy a drink from the bar whilst sat outside in the sun whilst the children play which is really relaxing you for and fun for them!

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With these passes there’s a variety of daily Haven activities included at no extra charge – for example mini archery, fencing, make a mess craft sessions, baby sensory classes, quizzes pop up theatre and discos. They’re all run by the funstars team who are lively and friendly with the kids.

TIP: Download the Haven app to keep up to date with the daily activities.

Haven also run tons of additional paid-for activities on site including pool parties, the zip wire, the climbing wall, nature classes, fencing, archery, biking, mini golf, water walkers and swimming lessons, to list a few.

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Water Walkers and the trampoline.

TIP: You can book your activities online before you come under ‘My account’ in your holiday confirmation online.

Oliver loves the turbo paddlers. The 30 min class is £4 and is taught by an instructor who is in the pool with the little ones. They play games and learn how to manoeuvre them across the pool. The pool is closed during the sessions so the kids (no more than eight) have it to themselves.FotorCreated

In the passes area there’s also a mini fairground which you can buy tokens for and pay for each ride, including helter-skelter, dodgems, bouncy castle and a few smaller rides individually.

Indoors the pool is a big part of the complex and is a massive fun pool with indoor slide, baby pool and Jacuzzi. Outside, when it’s warmer the lazy river is open, along with the outdoor tube slides and there’s plenty of sunbeds too.

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© Haven

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Outdoors pool fun!

There’s also a big amusements hall, a soft play area, the showbar for the evening entertainment and a large bar/lounge/restaurant area which has been refurbished for 2016.

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The whole park is flat so it’s pretty easy to get around, but there is a land train which goes around the site and there are also bikes you can hire. On a recent trip my sister and I had the best laugh trying to transport four kids with us at the back pedaling. *Shout out to the kind bloke who pushed us up the hill when we started going backwards!*

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The beach is accessible from directly from the site. It’s just literally sand and sea but is fairly private and only used by Haven guests. If you want to be on the seafront near the amusements, shops, bars and cafes you will need to go into town which is less than ten minutes away by car.

You can also visit the main seafront via the open top bus which comes onto the Thorpe Park site.

On site there’s a Spar shop, but not too far down the road is a massive Tesco Extra if you wanted to do a big shop whilst you’re here.

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Don’t forget their scooters for getting around!

INFO: There’s free Wi-Fi in the Carousel Bar

There’s also plenty to do in the local area making it the perfect base for day trips. Pleasure Island Theme Park which is just a stone’s throw away, as is the Jungle Zoo and Cleethorpes Light Coast Railway. On the seafront there’s everything you would expect including amusements, the pier, a massive beach, cafes, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops.

A little further up the road in Lincolnshire is Hall Farm Park, Rand Farm Park, Woodside Wildlife Park and Pink Pig Farm. Not too far are also the cities of Lincoln and Hull which are both worth a visit.

You could easily spend a week away at Thorpe Park with all the activities and events on-site, plus visits to Cleethorpes and other local attractions.

You can also get day passes for Thorpe Park if you’re not planning on staying over.

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  • Reviewed April 2015

 

NEED TO KNOW…

LOCATION: Thorpe Park Holiday Park, Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, DN35 OPW

OPEN: The park opens from March 31 until October 1.

PRICES: Vary depending on length of stay and time of year. Check website.

CALL: 0333 202 5256

VISIT: www.haven.com/parks/lincolnshire/thorpe-park

 

 

 

Gullivers Kingdom, Matlock Bath

 

THEY SAY: Derbyshire’s Best Family Day Out. The wide range of rides and attractions makes Gullivers Kingdom one of the best theme parks for children in the UK.

WE SAY: Fab day out. Great family feel to the park. Good value for money too.

IF you want a theme park without the teenage crowd, Gullivers Kingdom is for you. There’s three parks across the country and so far we’ve only sampled the one in Matlock Bath. However we love the family-feel about the place and will definitely make a trip to the others in Warrington and Milton Keynes.

The family theme park is aimed at children aged between three and 13 so was perfect for our party which included children from the age of two to nine. It’s very family orientated, there are no bars and no alcohol is permitted. Unlike other large theme parks, you won’t come across groups of teenagers, as not one guest who isn’t part of a family can enter.

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There’s everything from teacups and a pirate ship to a log flume and rollercoasters.

I didn’t have to pay for my two-year-old daughter Jasmine, as those shorter than 90cm go free, yet she could still go on 11 of 23 rides and enjoy all of the shows, play areas and interactive experiences.

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For Oliver (four) and myself, tickets totaled £30, which was brilliant value for money for a full day out. I spent more at Hull Fair the week before, within the hour!

My son loved Western World, where you can explore little buildings, including a bank, a church and a jail. He also loved operating the diggers, which surprisingly didn’t need extra money to operate.

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It also has to be said that the staff on each and every ride were friendly and helpful – with one staff member even charging my phone for me. (Can’t be without it too long or I come out in a rash!)

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The theme park is set on a hill, so you do need a bit of energy to get around it, but it offers amazing views over Matlock and was probably the only form of exercise I got in 2015!

TIP: There’s a chairlift and a travellator  and you can get your pram on both to make the uphill sections easier.

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The other added bonus is car parking is free.

If you enter your child’s height here, you can see if there are any ride restrictions for them before you go.

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I was in two minds whether to allow my children on the log flume or not. They’re only four and two, but they wanted to go on so we gave it a go. It was lovely at first on the flat stretches – but as soon as we made our way up I knew it was a bit of a mistake! Lets just say we only went on it once!

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STAYING OVER

There isn’t a hotel on site at Matlock Bath. We decided to stay over and make a weekend of it. We chose the Bateman’s Mill Hotel, just a 20 minute-drive from the park.

A warm and friendly welcome awaited us when we checked in at the 18th-century converted mill, and our massive family room was really comfortable.

The next day, we enjoyed a full English breakfast before setting off back home. Staying over turned a day out into a memorable weekend away.

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Need to know…

LOCATION: Temple Walk, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, DE4 3PG

OPEN: March to December, excluding November.

PRICES: Children measuring under 90cm go free. £15 if booked online for those taller than 90cm.

FACILITIES:

  • Lockers
  • Wheelchair hire
  • Cash point
  • Dedicated smoking areas

BABY:

  • Mother’s feeding room
  • Microwave facilities in the restuarants
  • Baby change rooms in each area of the park
  • First Aid point

PARKING: Free

VISIT: www.gulliverskingdom.co.uk

HOTEL: www.batemansmillhotel.co.uk

 

SIMILAR ATTRACTIONS:

Lightwater Valley, North Yorkshire

Flamingoland, North Yorkshire

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers Resort, Staffordshire

Thorpe Park Resort, Surrey

THEY SAY: One of the first theme parks in the UK. 20 miles from central London. 

WE SAY: Best for older children. The highlight for us was the splashpark and beach.

I nearly passed out as I opened my car door and stepped out from the air conditioning into a 34C heat. I chose the hottest day of the year to visit Thorpe Park theme park and it felt like we were abroad.

Due to the weather, we headed straight for the beach and splashpark area. There was no way I was going to queue with two young children for rides in that sort of heat!

Armed with swimming costumes and buckets and spades, we headed straight for Amity Beach, which lies in the heart of the resort.

 

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TIP: Use the one-time height check for younger guests to avoid having to get them measured at every ride.

 

We got ourselves a couple of sun loungers, a parasol and made a base, where we stayed for the next few hours enjoying the slides and paddling in the pool.It was so relaxing you could easily forget you were in the centre of a theme park.

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I could have stayed there all day actually. I can honestly say it was one of the best family days we had in summer 2015. There’s slides for different age groups and the kids were having a brilliant time but with more than 30 rides and attractions, it was time to explore.

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Mummy and Jasmine

For the younger riders, there is the Flying Fish rollercoaster, (need to be a minimum of 0.9m tall), the Teacups (need to be 1.1m tall) Mr Monkey’s banana ride, (need to be at least 0.9m tall), the rocky express train ride (need to be 0.9m), the dodgems (minimum of 1.1m tall) and the Angry Birds 4D experience. However I don’t really think Thorpe Park is the place to go if you’ve only got pre-school aged children. It’s definitely more of a place for older kids. Check the resort map here.

For those who are a little taller, there is the log flume, rumba rapids, quantum magic carpet ride and the Vortex giant spinning pendulum.

And for the real daredevils, there’s the Swarm, which is the UK’s first winged roller coaster; Samurai, which reaches forces of up to 5Gs as you spin 360 degrees; and Stealth, one of Europe’s fastest and tallest rollercoasters.

TIP: If your children are under the height restriction but you still want to ride, try Parent Swap, where one parent queues on behalf of both.

There are plenty of places to eat and drink and, with free wi-fi, you can tweet your experiences as you go.

Parents can also still enjoy the height- restricted rides when visiting with toddlers, and you only have to queue once. After swapping over, the second rider gains entry to the ride via the ride exit. A voucher is required to use this service, pop in and collect one from guest services.

And the fun doesn’t have to end at the end of the day.

During the summer months, there are a programme of evening events including Island Beats and Ministry Of Sound music nights.

As the sun goes down, the park comes alive with a soundtrack of swooshing rides and amazing music.

Guests can upgrade their tickets for just £10 to book in for Island beats.

STAYING OVER

There is a Thorpe Park Hotel on site. If you stay over in this hotel, your second day in the theme park is free. Hotel rooms include a buffet breakfast. Hotel guests can also get a free Fastt-track pass which is valid until 11am. Parking is also free at the hotel.

Due to cost, and the fact we were going into Windsor the next day, we choose to stay at the Christopher Hotel in Eton.

Just 20 minutes drive from Thorpe Park, Eton is a beautiful town best known as the location of Eton College – a famous public school attended by the Royals.

The hotel was really nice and family friendly. The rooms had their own front door onto the driveway so there was no traipsing through corridors or faffing about with lifts and stairs. We parked right outside our room.

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Our room at the Christopher Hote
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Breakfast at the Christopher Hotel

 

Need to know…

LOCATION: Staines Road, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 8PN

OPEN: Seven days a week. Opening hours depend on season. Check website.

FACILITIES:

  • Free wifi
  • Buggy hire (£9)
  • Three baby changing facilities
  • lockers
  • First Aid point
  • Wheelchair hire (£50 deposit)

PARKING:  £6 per day. They advise to buy a car parking ticekt online in advance. There’s a barrier system so make sure you have your ticket handy when leaving.

PRICES: Vary. Online booking in advance is cheaper. Online day ticket: £27.99. Children under the age of three enter for free.

CALL: 0871 663 1673.

E-MAIL: enquiries@thorpe-park.co.uk 

VISIT: http://www.thorpepark.com

Hotel:  www.thechristopher.co.uk

SIMILAR ATTRACTIONS:

Alton Towers

Lightwater Valley

Flamingoland

 

 

Thomas Land @ Drayton Manor Theme Park

THEY SAY: Drayton Manor features some of the biggest, wettest and scariest rides around! There’s also a host of fantastic family entertainment and Drayton Zoo.

WE SAY: A fab day out. Well worth a visit, even if your children are not particularly into Thomas the Tank.

THOMAS LAND AT CHRISTMAS

Thomas Land at Christmas is magical. Fact. We had such a fantastic time in December 2014 that we went back in 2015 – and I don’t even like going to the same place twice!

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Waiting for Thomas at the station #tooexciting

You will find Thomas Land in the Drayton Manor theme park. At Christmas and February half term Thomas Land is open, as well as a few smaller rides from the main park.

The first time we went, in 2014, as we walked into Drayton Manor, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was playing and I instantly felt festive.

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You can’t fail to feel festive!

The kids had already clocked the huge Christmas tree, which was lit up in the distance, changing colour as we passed, and they could hardly contain their excitement.

We were one of the first families to arrive in the park that morning because we had stayed over in the Drayton Manor Hotel the previous evening. Click here to view a map of the park.

Thomas Land boasts 12 themed rides, but at Christmas there’s also others in Drayton Manor open including the carousel, dodgems and big wheel. There is also an indoor play area, a 4D cinema, and it will grow with an expansion due to open next year.

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2014: You can’t fake that kind true excitement.

Everywhere we went there was Christmas music and lights and beautiful trees and decorations and great lenghts had been gone to with the fake snow – to the point every tree was covered which really added to the magic.

I was impressed at the amount of outdoor patio heater areas to keep everyone warm and the staff on every ride were helpful and friendly.

 

 

 

 

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2015: Jasmine and Mummy at the station #christmasfun

TIP: There’s plenty of outdoor seating so you’re welcome to take a picnic

My son, Oliver, was so impressed Thomas the Tank had a red shiny nose and loved watching him on his turntable.

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We joined in with a live show with the Fat Controller and his friends who sang Walking In A Winter Wonderland from the station balcony – now if that doesn’t make you feel festive, nothing will.

Snow also falls at least three times a day in Thomas Land over the Christmas period, mulled wine is on offer and there is also an ice skating rink (charged extra at £2 per person).

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2015: We love the carousel

We also paid extra to meet Father Christmas in his Castle of Dreams, which was a lovely experience. You can pre-book and that way are given a time to join the queue to save time.

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Oliver, 3. Drayton Manor Christmas 2014

Santa really took his time with us and asked lots of questions and we brought home a special gift – a lovely keepsake Drayton Manor snow globe.

In 2015 we actually visited after Christmas. I admit it was a little strange seeing Santa after the big day – I’ve never done that before. I did think about not bothering going to see him, but the Castle Of Dreams is so impressive, and it was included in the ticket price, so we went inside and I’m so glad we did.

Instead of the usual, “What would you like for Christmas?” conversations, Santa asked all about our Christmas, and he told the children the three secrets to Christmas.

He asked them to close their eyes and then, while he told them the secrets, he dropped a present into their hands.

Aged two, five, seven and nine, my children and niece and nephew all thought he was truly magical.

And before home time, there is also a magical fireworks display.

TIP: Book online to save a lot of money. Print your tickets and go straight to the gates when you arrive. There’s no need to join the queue at the ticket booths if you have printed your tickets.

I think Oliver’s favourite was Terence’s driving school, where he could ride the engine around the yard himself.

He also loved Harold’s helicopter tours and steering Sodor’s classic cars. Since our visit in 2014, there’s a whole new area in Thomas Land with plenty of new rides. To read about the expansion, click here.

But it’s more than just rides, there is also a zoo home to 100 animals from all over the world, including endangered species. We even saw reindeer.

There is also a dino trail, which Oliver absolutely loved and wanted to know what each dinosaur was called.

I think we will definitely go back in summer next year, when it will look different again. It will be worth the journey back to experience all rides, including water slides, the big wheel, dodgems, chairlift and live shows – to name a few.

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2015: Santa’s elves paint Oliver’s face #toocute

 

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2015: Jasmine, 2, with no idea which train?!

STAYING OVER

Staying over at the Drayton Manor Hotel really made our into a proper mini-brea.

When we arrived at the hotel, just a stone’s throw from the entrance to the theme park, the kids were given a bag full of goodies, including a teddy bear and Thomas book and were able to get excited about the next day ahead, having seen all the train displays in the hotel.

I’d thoroughly recommend staying over, the hotel is four star and was more like a business hotel and actually hosts weddings – much better than some I’ve stayed in at other large theme parks. Parking is free.

Despite being contemporary and stylish, it’s obviously well catered for children.

Mine enjoyed playing with the trains table in the restaurant, which kept them amused while we waited for our food. Just one bit of advice though, either take your own train for the track, or rent one for £10 deposit, but get it from reception before you sit down to dinner, as they don’t have them in the restaurant.

It’s not cheep and cheerful – the food is of a high standard, with duck and steak on the menu, to name just a couple of choices.

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Children playing, parents relaxing – at the Drayton Manor Hotel

There’s also camping and caravaning options. Click here for details.

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2014: Sign of a good time! My three and one-year-old were shattered! #wayhome

Location, times, prices, facilities and weblink

LOCATION: Drayton Manor Park, Near Tamworth, Staffordshire. B78 3TW

PRICES:  Cheaper online.

Winter Prices: Adults £15 (£30 on the gate), £10 for four to 11 year olds (£20 on the gate) and £5 for children aged two and under.

OPEN: Depends on season. Check website.

FACILITIES:

Baby

  • Changing facilities in all toilets
  • Nursing private cubicle at The Grill Inn
  • Pushchair hire £6
  • Nappies and other essential baby care items can be purchased from the Toy Shop
  • Baby food can be purchased from Teashop, Knapford Station Café, First and Last coffee stop and Mrs Kyndley’s kitchen.

 

  • First Aid centre
  • Lost Property
  • Lockers next to Emily’s playcentre. £1 for two hours.
  • Cash Points at Guest Services
  • Free Parking

CALL: 0844 4721950.

WEB: www.draytonmanor.co.uk

 

SIMILAR PLACES:

CBeebies Land at Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Flamingoland, North Yorkshire

Legoland, South East England

Lightwater Valley, North Yorkshire

 

 

 

Paultons Park: Home of Peppa Pig World

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FOR US, the main reason for visiting Paultons Park was to take the kids to Peppa Pig World.

The cartoon is the only show my two-year-old daughter wants to watch, so I knew it would be a magical trip for her, and my four-year-old son and was keen to visit before they grow out of it!

Peppa Pig World (PPW) is inside the Paultons Park theme park and opened in 2011. You need to pay to enter the theme park as PPW doesn’t have its own entrance.

Paultons Park has more than 60 rides and attractions, with everything from gentle rides to thrill-seeker fast rides, so even without Peppa Pig World to explore, there is plenty to do. Click here to see a resort map.

TIP: Children measuring under 1m get in for free, but they can still go on every ride in Peppa Pig World and plenty of others in the main park too! 

Nearly all the rides in the park are suitable for children (who measure over 1m) so there’s a simple pricing system where anyone over this height pays the same amount as an adult.

TIP: Have your children measured as you enter Paultons Park – that way, they get a wristband if they are over 1m tall, so they don’t have to be measured at every ride.

To make our trip even more fun, we went with my best friend Lucy, and her sons Ruben, 6 and Hugo 4.

As soon as we walked into Peppa Pig World, we could see the excitement on their faces as they recognised everything from the programme, such as Peppa’s house, the campervan and Daddy Pig’s car. It was heaven for them. Then, when they realised they could climb inside some of them for a ride, it was like a dream come true.

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Grandpa’s little Train goes choo, choo, choo

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There are seven themed rides inside Peppa Pig World, but it’s really spacious and with the splash park and adventure playground, it is actually bigger than it sounds. If it’s hot, don’t forget the costumes and towels. As you would expect, for the younger audience, they’re all gentle rides – perfect for pre-schoolers.

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Everything is bright and colourful and the music plays at each ride. It really is such a good fun atmosphere, you can’t fail to enjoy it.

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Peppa Pig World – view from the Windy Castle ride

I think Windy Castle was our favourite ride. We climbed into the tame-looking gondola and rode to the top of the hill but, thanks to the self-spin system that our children got to grips with straight away, Lucy and I left in a spin.

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Windy Castle ride

I personally loved Grandpa’s boat trip, but my son’s favourite was George’s dinosaur adventure ride – I think because he got to ride the dinosaur all by himself.

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Mummy, Oliver & Jasmine on Grandpa’s Boat ride

There’s also Miss Rabbit’s helicopter flight, which gives good views over the park – as does Peppa’s balloon ride.

We caught a glimpse of the characters wandering around the park several times during our two-day visit, and my son really wanted a photo with Peppa Pig, so we queued up to meet them properly, which they loved. You can check the chalk board at the School House  to see Peppa & George appearance times throughout the day.

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I decided to hire a double pushchair whilst there as we didn’t have space in the car to take ours. They were so easy to push and the kids loved them – however they don’t come with a rain cover.

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Unfortunately, the heavens opened on our second day there and we had to run for cover, but luckily there was George’s Spaceship indoor playzone to keep the little ones amused while it passed. Make sure the kids have socks if they want to play in the indoor fun zones.

TIP:  Purchase your tickets online in advance to enter the Park quickly and avoid waiting to buy tickets at the admission kiosks when you arrive.

The family-friendly attention to detail is impressive. All of the toilets have additional toddler seats, for example. There are low sinks and Daddy Pig’s Big Tummy Café has rocket-shaped high chairs.

It was hard to drag the children out of Peppa Pig World, but we did explore the rest of the park and go on other rides. Despite all being fairly young, they enjoyed many rides, including the carousel, the pirate ship, the teacups, the Viking boats and the trekking tractor ride. If white knuckle rides are your thing it’s this part of the park you need to be in.

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Pirate Ship ride in Paultons Park

 

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On the carousel

There is also a variety of things to do away from the rides, including a 4-D cinema, adventure golf, dinosaurs, animated shows, play areas and animals and other exotic birds to see. If you are lucky enough to visit on a hot day and have very young children, it’s a good idea to take a bucket and spade for the sandy play areas.

There’s plenty of room for picnicking and several places to also buy food.

We will have to go back because we missed the penguin feeding, which my son keeps reminding me about. It’s definitley worth keeping in mind to head for the rides at the back of the Park first when you arrive because the closest rides tend to be more popular in the morning. Also leave the bigger thrill rides until lunch when most people are eating or at the end of the day.

The newest attraction was the new mini-land, Critter Creek – a fully themed world of strange mixed-up creatures known as Curious Critters. It’s based on Professor Blast’s adventures.

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Windy Castle #selfiestick!

TIP: Pick up one of the “lost child contact” stickers and place it on your child’s back, where he/she cannot reach it with his/her hand.

For us, it was worth an almost five-hour car journey from East Yorkshire. We loved every second of our visit. However, it’s not a trip you could make in a day – unless of course you’re local. We booked a short-break holiday on the Peppa Pig World website, which included two days at the theme park for the price of one, and an overnight stay at a nearby hotel, including breakfast.

We chose Hilton Southampton. It’s only a 15-minute drive to the park and we love Hilton hotels. You know you can never go wrong with a Hilton. They are always guaranteed to be nice and the delicious breakfast sets you up for the day.

The hotel is all geared up for families, with children’s menus, cots and highchairs. The children even got balloons and a welcome pack on arrival.

The Hilton is easy to find and set in wooded gardens, minutes from the docks.

We loved it there and would definitely recommend as a place to stay.

The staff were so friendly and couldn’t do enough for us. They are used to people staying and going to the park and are happy to help in any way they can, including filling my daughter’s bottle with milk before bed.

  • Reviewed May 2015

NEED TO KNOW…

Location: Paultons Park,  Ower, Romsey, Hampshire, SO51 6AL.

Opening hours: Depends on season.

Prices: Adults and children over 1m: £30. Or £25.75 if booked online. Children under 1m tall enter free.

Facilities:

  • Baby: The Baby Care Centre has facilities for feeding and changing babies and a separate room for breastfeeding. Baby changing facilities are also provided in ladies and gents toilets within the Park. Baby bottle and food heating is available at restaurants and kiosks. Strollers are available for hire from the Guest Information desk £8 for a single and £12 for a double. Tot Swap allows parents to enjoy the height restricted rides when visiting the park with Toddlers. Queue for the first go with the largest part of the group then ask for a Tot Swap ticket from the ride operator when you get off and the second group (no more than two people) can return to the ride via the exit for their go on the stated time on the ticket.
  • Eating & drinking: Several family restaurants, including Pizza & Pasta and The Burger Kitchen. There’s also a number of food stands ranging from hot dogs, ice cream, crepes, chocolate waffles, salt and flavoured pretzels, popcorn, candy floss, themed cookies and hot and cold drinks.
  • Wifi: Download the FastConnect app and register your device at home to connect automatically to free WiFi in certain zones of the park.
  • Other: Lockers throughout the park (£1 which is non-refundable) Large lockers are also available for £5 per day.

Parking: Free

Call: 023 80814442

Visit: http://www.paultonspark.com

Hotel we chose: Hilton Southampton, Bracken Place, Chilworth, Southampton, SO16 3NG. Visit http://www.hilton.com or call 023 8070 2700

Follow us on Twitter: @Jollydaysout

 

Similar attractions:

Gulliver’s Kingdom, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

CBeebies Land, Alton Towers, Staffordshire

Thomas Land, Drayton Manor Theme Park, Staffordshire

Legoland, Windsor

Flamingoland, Malton, North Yorkshire

Lightwater Valley, North Yorkshire

 

 

 

Flamingo Land, Malton, North Yorkshire

THEY SAY: Yorkshire’s ultimate Theme Park attraction & the UK’s most visited Zoo, plus a luxury Resort Village, for fantastic family days out, holidays & short breaks.

WE SAY: Fantastic theme park with something for all ages and great in all weather.

We’ve been to Flamingo Land at least five times in the last five years. We’ve been in the height of summer, in winter when just the zoo and the rides in Muddy Duck Farm and Children’s Planet are open, and we’ve also been right at the start of the main season (in March) when it’s cold, but everything is open and it’s very quiet  (this is when you get the rides to yourselves and don’t queue for anything.)

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 IF YOU’VE got children of different ages it can be hard to find a family day out to suit them all. There aren’t that many places which can cater for babies and toddlers at the same time as putting a smile on your teenagers’ faces.

But Flamingo Land has something for everyone, and even plenty for the adults too. (And by that, I mean a pub with places to sit outside overlooking the sandpit, Costa Coffee and several restaurants.)

I think I can safely say the Splish Splosh interactive water play area was the highlight of the day for my three-year-old son Oliver.

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He loved climbing on the pirate ship, where he could man the water cannons. Down below he could run through fountains, dart through tunnels and even have a go at water hopscotch.

Unfortunately, we had no idea it existed and so hadn’t packed the appropriate clothing – therefore he ended up running about in his pants. #mummyfail (Note to self for next time)

See the park map here

The park is divided up into seven different areas, which makes it easy to choose at a distance the places you most want to visit. The only problem is deciding where to go first because there is so much to do.

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I want that one!

We really loved the Dino Stone Park – a prehistoric playground too, which was new for last the 2014 season.

In this area there are five themed rides, including a children’s roller coaster, but our favourite was the high-flying aerial adventure where the faster you pedal, the higher you go.

Our children also loved looking for the life-like terrifying creatures, including an Allosaurus, Pteranodon, Brachiosaurus and Triceratops from 65 million years ago.

Another favourite for us was the outdoor playground and sand area in Children’s Planet. It was just like being abroad, the children happily played in the sand while I enjoyed a glass of wine, sat outside of The Coach House Country Pub. (Well, we were staying on site so it wasn’t like I was going to be driving.)

If it’s bigger rides you are after you won’t be disappointed. Extreme rides include the Cliff Hanger, which is one of the tallest in Europe, so you can’t miss it. The vertical drop ride guarantees to have you screaming for more.

The Flip Flop – a swinging, rotating ride isn’t for the faint-hearted, either.

The newest white-knuckle ride is Hero – an £8m investment that delivers the sensation of free flight. Riders are suspended side-by-side and launched through swooping turns and breathtaking drops to experience zero gravity.

TIP: Dogs are welcome in most areas of the theme park, but not in the zoo.

Family rides include the balloon ride, tractor ride, the wagon wheel, and lost river ride, to name a few. There are also several scenic rides including the monorail and cable cars. There is also a massive indoor children’s area, if it does happen to rain.

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Can you guess what it is yet?!

You will practically get the rides to yourselves if you go at the beginning of the summer season. The downside is that it’s still fairly cold (March) and it’s full price – but the best part is the park is very very quiet so there’s no queuing.

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No queues

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If it’s animals you like, you’ve come to the right place. In the zoo you can see everything from lions, camels, giraffes and sea lions to the hippopotamus, lemurs, kangaroos and meerkats, not to mention the usual farm animals. Make sure you walk along the treetop walkway past the kangaroos for a great view of the penguins.

TIP: The water rides and gift shops are busiest at the end of the day 

No visit is complete without a go on the cable cars either where you can be transported from near the massive Kumali rollercoaster right across to near where the lemurs are. It’s the perfect way to take in the sights. For animal enthusiasts, your journey will include great views of the giraffes and white rhinos.

There’s also the People Mover overhead monorail to get from one side of the park to the other. You can catch it from either Muddy Duck Farm (Next to the caterpillar ride) or – at the opposite end, from Seaside Adventure (near the climb on water pirate ship) to save walking across the park.

And a third option to get about the park is the the Daktari Express vintage train which travels around the centre of the theme park in a circle. There’s three stations along the way to get on and off at, or stay on for the full 20 minute ride. The train takes in part of the zoo too, so if you don’t fancy walking round it’s a great way to see some of the animals including giraffes, hippos, zebra, ostriches and a few more.

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You get a great view of the animals from the Daktari Express

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And if it’s indoor fun you’re after, Flamingo Land has that covered, too. HMS Bounty is an indoor soft play zone with a pirate ship theme. There’s a cafe inside and plenty of chairs.

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TIP: If you don’t like queues the best time of year to go to Flamingo Land is either right at the beginning of the main season or right at the end of the main season.

STAYING OVER

Flamingo Land has its own holiday resort, so if you did think it was too far to go in one day you can stay over and make a holiday of it.

You can choose to stay in either a Scandinavian style log cabin, Riverside Cottages, caravan or you can camp.

We hired a “Gold standard” caravan and were very impressed. The three-bedroom caravan was brand new for the 2015 season, extremely clean and welcoming, and just a stone’s throw from the entrance to the park.

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The kids loved the caravan

TIP: It was extremely reasonable to stay over because if you do book accommodation you automatically get unlimited access to the park and zoo throughout your stay, so it cost us very little more to stay over.

This private, self contained complex, has a leisure and fitness centre, featuring two pools, a fully equipped gym, sauna and jacuzzi. There’s also a nine-hole parkland golf course, supermarket and takeaways. There is also the club with a programme packed with comedy, cabaret, live music and dance.

Whether you stay for just one night or make a holiday of it, I fail to see how you can’t have a fantastic time which is worth every penny.

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I’ve got this….. lets roll!

There’s an entertainment complex, with its family friendly Zoo Bar and Gourmet Grill which  delivers a packed programme of inclusive night-time entertainment for you to enjoy.

Jasmine started pole dancing at a young age whilst at the evening entertainment at the Riverside One entertainment arena. There’s a packed programme of live entertainment at the all-weather stage. This includes a daily Farewell Show featuring Flamingo Land’s very own mascots, Mia & Mylo Meerkat. During a fun packed performance combining acrobatics, live music and dance, the cast are frequently joined by a variety of special guests.

 

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There’s several restaurants, plus a wealth of cafes, takeaways and bars so you won’t be stuck for places to eat

  • Reviewed August 2014 and March 2016

 

Flamingo Land in WINTER

Firstly, it’s a lot cheaper to go to Flamingo Land in Winter. Off-peak entry is £10pp which I think is a bargain, actually.

We had our first picnic of the year at Flamingo Land in 2015 – despite it only being February. OK so they look cold, but we enjoyed it, honestly! On the plus side, we didn’t need to pack the cool bag!

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We were under the impression it was only the zoo that would be open, but there are also plenty of rides open for the younger children.

Children’s Planet, including Reptile River, Muddy Duck Farm, Treetop Walkway and the Aquarium were all open.

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Muddy Duck Tractors

In the zoo, the kids enjoyed watching the flamingos, penguins, giraffes, and monkeys, to name a few.

There were also two walk-through enclosures open, which provided a truly unrestricted view and the opportunity for up-close encounters with lemur and wallaby families.

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Good old fashioned fun in the adventure playground

Winter at Flamingo Land is a great opportunity to catch up with the progress of the new arrivals, too, especially Kuasa, Bulan and Mentari, the Sumatran tiger cubs.

And, if you look up into the trees as you walk away from the Sumatran tiger enclosure, you’ll catch a glimpse of the red pandas.

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For animal-lovers of all ages, there are free keeper talks, shows and Meet a Creature sessions from 11am each day.

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Jade and Abigail looking at the flamingos

Simply wait by the meeting point sign, located at each of the relevant enclosures, or make your way to the education centre at times listed on the website.

Despite it being cold the kids didn’t mind at all. We wrapped up well and went from one ride to another, with a few pit stops in the many cafes to warm up!

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We love Flamingo Land because it’s far enough away to feel like you’ve had a full family day out, but close enough to home to visit in one day.

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It’s also really good for children of different ages because, when the whole park is open, there really is something for everyone, with plenty for adults, too.

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#Roadtrip
  • Reviewed February 2015 & March 2016

 

NEED TO KNOW…

LOCATION: Kirby Misperton, Malton, Yorkshire YO17 6UX

OPEN: From March to November from 10am to 4pm, 5pm, or 6pm, depending on time of season. The zoo and a few rides are also open in winter.

PRICES: Adults and children over four: £31. (£37 on the gate). No charge for children three and under (proof of age may be required)  In Winter: Adults £10.

CALL: 0871 911 8000

VISIT: www.flamingoland.co.uk