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Little Peoples Theme Park
Gulliver's Theme Park (Milton Keynes)
Member Name: Meggysmum
Gulliver's Theme Park (Milton Keynes)
Date: 24/08/09, updated on 16/01/10 (258 review reads)
Advantages: Compact area and suitable for young children
Disadvantages: Some attractions tired looking and staff not very interested.
Finding entertaining places to take children in the summer holidays can sometimes be a little tricky. When my children were younger we discovered Gulliversland at Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. We have visited several times but our last visit was last year so my review may not be comprehensive regarding any recent changes. However since there have not been many enormous changes over the last 8 years I am sure most of it will be relevant!
The park has recently had a name change to "Gullivers Milton Keynes", I think this is because the owners have several parks further north and they all had similar names so I think they now all have the same name just with the place name after it. This would certainly make sense for merchandising purposes.
Gullivers opened in Milton Keynes in 1999. It has always marketed itself as a family Theme Park particularly aimed at children aged 2 to 13. This year my children are 12 and 15 and I would say they have probably outgrown it now but it was certainly ideal when they were slightly younger. The site itself is quite compact. This is good for younger children (and parents!) as they do not get too tired walking around, this is also a benefit when children are older as they are able to go around with a friend but are never too far away if you need to get to them.
Gullivers is easy to find by following the brown signs as you head towards Milton Keynes. This is an area I find very difficult to navigate but I can always get to the park easily. (However getting home again is another story!). The car park is large and even when I have been on a lovely day during the summer holidays there has never been a problem to park. Parking is free.
The entrance fee for adults and children over 90cm tall is £12.50, for some reason OAPs are £11.50. I do not know what the current policy is on disabled visitors, several years ago my friend took her brother who has Downs Syndrome, when she asked for a disabled and carers ticket which she usually buys elsewhere she was told that because he could walk he had to pay full price. She was surprised by this and said it was the first time she had encountered that attitude. It is one Theme Park that does not seem to have many offers so you usually have to pay full price.
The park is split into several areas with particular themes. I cannot possibly review all the attractions in each section but thought I would give an overview.
Once you have paid and entered the park you end up in Main Street. There is a lovely traditional looking carousel with an upstairs deck that my children have always loved. This area also houses a gift and a sweet shop and a snack bar. At the end of the day there is a little show here with the parks mascot (a mouse) dancing and singing which is a nice way of rounding off the day. There is also a restaurant but this is sometimes closed for functions so if you hope to eat here it is probably worth checking before planning. A little further along there is an indoor play area aimed at young children.
---Lilliput Land castle---
The castle contains a fast food type restaurant. The food we had here was OK but I always feel it is very dark inside so prefer not to eat here. There is a ride through story of Gulliver's travels, the models are animated but unfortunately they do look very tired and in need of some TLC, however this is a restful few minutes so I always like to go on to get a sit down! On the next floor of the castle there is an enchanted wood which is a walkthrough attraction with interactive displays, young children can sometimes be a little scared but older children seem to like it. This emerges into another soft play area suitable for older children. This is a good area but it does get very hot and there is no air-conditioning and no water-fountain or snack outlet.
This houses the usual tea-cup ride which I avoid now as it makes me sick but my children whizz around very fast on that for quite a while happily! There is an aerial cycleway but beware! I had previously visited Legoland where you sit on an aerial ride and it carries you around, on this ride you have to pedal! I am only 5'2" and I really struggle to reach the pedals so I find it very hard work, my children couldn't reach so I had to do all the work and on a hot day I thought it would never end! However I suppose it made me feel less guilt about the ice-cream later. There is a small simulator of travels through Egypt which I thought was quite good but sometimes they squash a lot of people on so you can get very familiar with total strangers! For children there is a fire-engine based attraction that sees them get very wet so is really on suitable for a warm day.
This is my children's favourite area of the park as it contains the best rides. There is a cracking little coaster called the Python, it is only small but is a great introduction to roller-coasters and it does go quite fast. There is also a pirate ship and a flying carpet as well as a large chair-swing carousel. There is also a river ride, this is certainly not worth queuing for, the first time my son went on this he was only 4 and he found it dull, it is very slow and passes a couple of very sorry looking animal models, the queue tends to be long so we don't bother now.
This area has the Log Flume, I find this a bit of a disappointment as there is no scenery and it is not terribly exciting but you do get very wet. This is the one ride in the park that I have probably found the most unreliable, it seems to break down frequently and this is not managed well. One year we had queued quite a long time and when we got to the front it stopped, we were told to go away as they would close it for an hour or so, we asked for a ticket or something so that we wouldn't have to queue again but we were told they didn't do such things which I felt was poor customer service.
Also here you will find the Runaway Mine train and the silver mine where you are in a truck and have to shoot at targets as you go through the mine. This is great fun as if you hit the target it activates an animatronics. There is also an animatronics show here which is embarrassingly bad but it is undercover so I have sat in there to get away from the rain!
This is a brightly coloured area with several attractions. The dodgems and the Tugboat ride are probably the most popular and are good fun. There is also something called the Cheese-Factory which is a roller-coaster in the dark. The only problem is the fact that it is not very dark at all! There are several play-areas here with ball cannons, water mazes and diggers so children usually spend a lot of time here.
Looking on their website this year they appear to have opened a new indoor area called Gully Town which looks like it has play shops and garages aimed at a young age range which looks nice. In general a lot of the attractions are undercover and so is most of the queuing. I have been there on wet days and it hasn't spoilt our enjoyment.
I find that like many such places the food is expensive so I tend to take a picnic. Due to the size of the place it is not a big deal to pop back to the car to fetch it at lunch time (they operate a hand-stamp system to let you back in). There is no specific picnic area but there are plenty of benches and walls to sit on.
Gulliver's is nice and clean and the toilets were always spotless when we visited. There are nappy changing areas but I have not used those. The park is attractively laid out. I am lucky enough to have been to Disneyland which is probably why I feel some of the attractions here look a bit tired and could do with a little attention to detail but overall it offers an enjoyable day.
The only thing that bothers me about the park was the lack of attention to security of children which I feel they need to address. In one instance my friend and I and our four children got on the Mine train and the attendant put another child on with us. I explained that the child was not with us (she was about 5) and that she didn't appear to have parents about. He said it didn't matter and sent her off with us. When we got off I wanted the staff-member to keep her there and call for assistance but he wouldn't. I ended up having to look after the child who would me she didn't know where her parents were, luckily she spotted them as I walked her towards customer services but I felt that it was an irresponsible attitude. The other instance was on the Silver Mine when I was on the cart with my son and my daughter was in the one behind on her own (they wouldn't let us squash 3 in one cart). It took me a minute to realise that her cart hadn't come out behind us. I went straight to the attendant and explained and he said it had stopped. I asked him what to do and he just shrugged. At that point my daughter walked out of the doors, she had decided to get out when everything stopped, and considering it was very dark in there she was very brave but probably not very safe.
Now I have read back over this review it makes the place sound awful. It isn't! It is a great day out for a young family with lots that you can do together. We have probably been about 8 or 10 times and have only had a couple of incidents. The children love the idea of a theme park where they can go on virtually anything. There are a couple of height restrictions so do check the website. Due to the target market it is never unbearably busy and there are not coachloads of teenagers or young adults as you can get at Thorpe park etc so it feels nice and friendly. Opening times vary and it is not open everyday out of season. We have found that when we have visited on a nice day the park seems to stay open slightly past its stated closing time and we have never felt in a rush to leave. I have given it four stars because it is good fun but I wish they would pay some attention to staff training.
Summary: Ideal for young families
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