In our Theme Park series, our bloggers bring you the latest from the UK’s best theme parks. You’ll discover what types of families the different parks suit, the things we love and the things we would like to see changed.
BritMums Editor Nadine Hill, her husband and kids went to Thorpe Park in Surrey, to report for BritMums about the family friendliness of one of UK’s favourite theme parks.
Thorpe Park Resort, Staines Rd, Chertsey KT16 8PN www.thorpepark.com
If you are looking for non-stop excitement and a family day out of thrill rides and nerve-wracking ‘face your fear’ type challenges – head to Thorpe Park. It was my first time visiting this Surrey based theme park and I know that we will be back!
Thorpe Park: Best for older school-age children, teens and adults
My children are 8 and 13 and I’d say that this age and above are best suited to this park. While there are a few attractions suitable for younger children or nervous park-goers, the majority of what Thorpe Park rides are for thrill seekers.
Best rides for kids
Before I get to the white-knuckle rides, let me tell you what there is for younger guests. My 8-year-old son is quite happy with his feet on the ground. For him we went to Angry Birds Land, where we could watch a 4D cinematic experience, then onto King Pig’s Wild Hog Dodgems for some bumping action. He was quite content to take in the fun atmosphere at the park, whilst his more adventurous sister went on all the big rides. My son’s observant nature ended up costing us a tenner later in the day as he’d spotted people walking round with cuddly toys and giant cushion doughnuts that people had won on the “ball toss” stalls, where you pay £2 for 2 balls to land in the bucket. In the end we didn’t win but at least he had fun having a go.
There was a ride we toyed with going on as it was such a sunny day and this was the Tidal Wave. This would have been suitable for all of us to ride but the people on it came off absolutely drenched! I thought that as the weather was nice we’d dry out quickly, but they do also have full body dryers that you can pay for to get dry quicker! In the end we decided not to – we were running out of time and there was one last attraction my daughter wanted to do!
Best Thorpe Park rides for thrill seekers
My daughter (aged 13 and absolutely fearless as many teenagers are) went for the jaw droppers.
Thorpe Park doesn’t just do fairground rides, they do experiences, and you are immersed into their world for the time it takes you to complete the ride.
My daughter first headed for The Swarm, a ride set in post-apocalyptic devastation, where in the queue you watch TV screens reporting on plane crashes and the end of the world. Around you is an overturned ambulance and scenes of chaos. I joined her on The Swarm, which is also the UK’s first winged rollercoaster — that is, the seats for the ride are either side of the track, with nothing above or below you. You are suspended in the air whilst you hurl down the track at almost 100km/h. It was pretty scary but I have to say, I survived!
My husband was on duty next as he joined her for Nemesis Inferno. Spinning and swooping around 750 metres of twisting track, it looked fun, but I didn’t envy them the queue.
Saw The Ride is a terrifying looking ride based on the horror movie with a 100ft drop at a 100 degree angle – they call this ‘beyond vertical’. What that means is you don’t just drop straight down to the ground whilst on the rollercoaster. You actually tilt in and drop down at an angle – even more alarming! I got the ‘pleasure’ of accompanying my daredevil on this one, and I will tell you that whilst I came off the ride elated at actually succeeding to ride it, I only got through it by yogic deep breathing – exactly the way I endured two labours! However the worst part of this one wasn’t the 100ft drop – it was the totally unexpected plunge in the darkness we had during the first 10 seconds of the ride.
Queues at Thorpe Park
As you can imagine, the thrill rides attract the biggest audience and the queues for all of them were between 35 minutes to an hour per ride. You can pay extra for a fast track ticket to jump the queue, and if you want to ride a number of them, this is a good idea. We went “old school” and simply waited our turn. My son and I enjoyed relaxing while waiting for them, having a drink and basking in the sun. Thankfully it was a lovely day.
Tips for planning your visit
We ran out of time on our day there – I think we really needed two days to experience all that there was to do. If you are making a weekend of it, stay at the onsite Thorpe Shark Hotel, which also allows you fastrack access to the rides until 11am on your second day.
The Thorpe Park website has a very handy ride listing feature where you can search all the family-friendly rides or all the thrill rides for example, to see exactly what there is to do for your group and planning beforehand will ensure you use your time at the park efficiently.
Where to eat? There are plenty of food outlets at the park but we went for a sit down option of Inferno’s Pizza & Pasta Buffet where you can enjoy all you can eat pizza, pasta, salad and drinks for a set price of £11.95 per adult.
Price of ticket: You can save by booking in advance on the website. They offer discounts for students and for people staying at the onsite Thorpe Shark Cabins.
Park opening times: 0930-1800 at peak times but reduced hours at other times. Check the website before you visit for up to date information.
Baby change: There are 3 baby change facilities on the resort.
My top tip: The car park is chargeable and costs £6 for the day. Buy your car park ticket in advance if you book online to get a speedier exit!
Blogger vote: I give this park 10/10. It was excellent and I love the effort they put into coming up with new rides and creating an immersive experience.