The best theme parks this Easter holiday – and the best rides!
If life is a rollercoaster, the only option is to ride it – so here’s your family guide to Britain’s best theme parks, from opening dates to the hottest new rides and attractions in town
Alton Towers – opened Saturday 21 March
The Alton Towers Resort Theme Park has a great selection of family attractions and thrill rides… head deep underground and experience the terrifying Nemesis Sub-Terra, explore the ‘Forbidden Valley’ area for Nemesis, Air and Ripsaw or stop off for the unforgettable The Smiler – it holds the record for ‘most loops in a rollercoaster’!
New for 2015 is the Enchanted Forest Tree Top Quest. A fantastic high ropes course – set within the brand new Enchanted Village development – with both adult and junior courses. The high ropes course – for those with a head for heights – consists of 19 8m-high thrilling obstacles, while the low ropes cater for younger children and those who want to keep their feet a little bit closer to the ground.
Thorpe Park – opened 12 March
Thorpe Park is home to some of Europe’s most extreme rollercoasters. Brave the UK’s first winged rollercoaster, THE SWARM, face your fears on SAW – The Ride and take on the ‘Unholy Trinity’ of Stealth, Colossus and Nemesis Inferno. For younger theme park fans, there’s the chance to get an adrenaline apprenticeship with thrilling and fun rides including X, Rocky Express and Storm in a Teacup.
New for 2015 – Discover the world’s first I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Here! Maze. Thorpe Park Resort’s newest attraction allows brave adventurers to wander through the jungle and face the iconic trials, undertaken by some of your favourite celebrities, from the award-winning TV show.
Test your mettle by reaching through a series of creepy crevices, which house some of the jungle’s inhospitable inhabitants, and retrieve the prized stars to allow your passage to the next trial: the Chambers of Horror…
Chessington World of Adventures – opened 18 March
Chessington World of Adventures, which is slightly overshadowed by Thorpe Park and Alton Towers in terms of big rides, consists of 40 family-friendly rides and attractions set within ten themed lands – from Wild Asia to Transylvania.
The Surrey adventure land was a zoo before it was a theme park, and is still home to over 1,000 animals including lions and gorillas.
And new for 2015 is ‘The Year of the Penguins’. DreamWorks’ Penguins of Madagascar descend on Chessington for an exclusive new live show “Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles”. The show features animatronic characters that sing, dance and talk – helping to bring their secret mission to life. After-show meet and greets with the Penguins mean guests can strike a pose alongside their favourite characters, before joining the agent birds on a top secret operation on the new Penguins of Madagascar ride. And that’s not all – guests at the Resort Hotel can now sleep in the special DreamWorks Penguins of Madagascar themed bedrooms at the Chessington Safari Hotel.
Drayton Manor – opened 21 March
High-adrenalin rides used to be the main draw at this Staffordshire theme park but in recent years it’s become more family-focused. Thomas Land is based on the Thomas the Tank Engine stories, with a dozen rides featuring well-known trains and other characters such as The Fat Controller.
And the new and improved Thomas Land that opens its doors on Wednesday 8 April – after undergoing a huge £2.5 million expansion – will see the attraction bigger and better than ever. Come face to face with new characters like Flynn the Fire Engine or try Captain’s splash-filled Sea Adventure. The exciting new Thomas Land will also see the arrival of the brand new two-storey Sodor Airport. In traditional terminal style, it has a top-level balcony for VIP ‘travellers’ with not-to-be-missed views of Thomas Land. The area also has five themed rooms that will be available for private hire from this summer.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach – opened 28 March
Occupying a 42-acre plot on Blackpool’s seafront, this 113-year-old amusement park is packed with big-thrill roller coasters – like the famous Big Dipper – as well as children’s rides and fairground stalls. Also on offer: an ice-skating arena, evening shows and crazy golf, for which there are separate charges.
And Blackpool Pleasure Beach is reaching for the skies with a brand new ride for 2015. They’ve joined forces with the world-famous Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, to launch the world’s first aerobatic-themed ride.
The brand new ride will feature a control tower – from which novice pilots will be prepared for takeoff – before the 72ft high, 12-seat white-knuckle ride takes you on a 360-degree tour of the skies. Not one for the faint of heart!