Park Review

8

 
Flamingo Land
Dragon Coaster
Flip Flop
Kumali
The Lost River
Mischief Mansion
Mumbo Jumbo
Navigator
Runaway Mine Train
Splash Battle
Velocity
Voodoo
Wagon Wheel
Zooom!
Zoo Monorail

If there's a park in the UK to keep an eye on it's this one. It's been adding new rides at a rapid rate, and has been listed as one of the top 25 most visited parks in Europe. Not only does it have some great rides, it also has a large zoo which is an attraction in it's own right. If anything it was the zoo that saved the day on my most recent visit.

The first problem I acknowledge is more me getting an irritation off my chest, rather than a big issue. When we last visited it was part of an overnighter and we had a rucksack with a change of cloths, that we planned to store in a locker while we went round the park. It turned out they don't have any lockers or anywhere else to store possessions. What was particularly annoying was when I spotted a load of fruit machines (adult gambling in a family park) in the corridor outside the toilets by the entrance, that would have been a logical place for lockers. I can't think of another mid sized or larger park that doesn't have some form of luggage storage, so this feels like an oversight.

 

The real problem we had on our visit though was how the park handled the large number of visitors. We knew it would be a moderately busy day, so there would be some queuing. I don't want to criticize a park just because it gets busy, but some slow and frustrating queues are a problem though. The worst example was on Mumbo Jumbo. We queued for an hour because they only had 2 cars on the track, the other 2 being visible in the storage area. It was notable on a lot of the major rides that the queues were longer than they had to be due to slow loading, that could be remedied with an extra member of staff or two, or by using more of the available ride vehicles. Again this was on a day we knew would be moderately busy, so I feel more should have been done to rectify this.

If these problems are solved, or you just go on a quiet day your left with a great park to enjoy. The zoo section is a great asset. Unlike a lot of parks where the animal area is mainly a good crowd break, here it's an attraction in it's own right. The highlight is the Lost Kingdom Area, which has some great large enclosures, and includes some rides that offer some unique views of the animals.

The roller coaster collection is impressive. With Velocity and Kumali providing two great signature coasters, backed up by some good thrill and family coasters it's one of the UK's most impressive collections. It's lacking a truly world class coaster, but with the collection it already has it could become a major world player with the addition of the right coaster.

To back up the coasters there are some good thrill rides and water rides. One noticeable absence is the lack of dark rides. There are a few small ones around the zoo and farm area, but there are none in the main rides area. The addition of one or two major dark rides is something I think would help the park, and not just through the addition of a good family ride. It's been no secret that the park set out to drop it's fairground feel it once had, and for the most part, given the limited space they have for rides, they've been successful. I think the addition of a good dark ride would help cement this.

Overall this is a great park that deserves to be recognised as one of the top parks in the country. If you can avoid the problems with the queues it is a must do. Even on a busier day, as long as your willing to accept you won't do everything in one day it still offers a great day out. It's already one of the UK's major parks and has the potential, if the right investment is made, to make an impact on the world stage.