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Pint Sized Fun
Gulliver's World (Cheshire)
Member Name: shroud
Gulliver's World (Cheshire)
Date: 18/09/07, updated on 18/09/07 (1351 review reads)
Advantages: inexpensive, rides suitable for ages 3 and up, reasonable variety of rides.
Disadvantages: A bit more attention could be paid to some areas of the park
Quite often the motive for going is what draws people. if you want to go to the Yorkshire Moors, for example, you are probably NOT after thrill seeking adventure with wild and hairy rides. No, that would be a trip to the West Midlands and a holiday at Alton Towers. Our motive for choosing here was quite simple, however. Our local Guides had arranged a rip for local Brownies and Rainbows to share two coaches and go on a field trip. Gulliver's World was chosen because it had rides that catered especially to the 10 and under set and it was not too far away so we could leave at a reasonable time to get there soon after opening, and arrive home at a reasonable hour after leaving at closing time.
As my daughter is in Rainbows, and I am a parent helper for her unit, we went. This was my 5 year old daughter's first trip to a theme park and she was apprehensive as well as terribly excited. I paid our money for the trip, looked at the site information from the company website, and was wondering what we would find after reading reviews online that were quite mixed.
~~~Where is it?~~~
This branch of Gulliver's World is located in Warrington, Cheshire. We travelled by coach for about an hour from just outside Stoke On Trent, so if wanting a thrill seeking holiday, it would be possible to choose a base in Stoke and go to Gulliver's World one day and Alton towers the next. That way younger and older members of the family would get all the thrills they could possibly desire.
~~~How Much? AND, When Are They Open?~~~
We did not pay the gate price, obviously, as we went with a group and so our fees included entry at the group discounted rate, as well as the hire of the coach. ordinary gate prices however are (at this time):
Children over 90 cm: £10.30
Children under 90 cm: free
All prices include parking and with very few exceptions you pay nothing extra to get on the rides or to enter the attractions. You can either purchase these tickets at the gate on the day, or book the tickets online. The website appears to take just about any card that exists, including Visa Electron. Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more paying persons, but you have to ring the number onsite to arrange this. The number is easily obtained from the booking page on the website (www.gulliversfun.co.uk)
The park is open from roughly 10 am-5 pm. I say roughly as they vary the times by the date, even during the same month, and it is therefore best to check on the website for the particular dates you wish to go. They also hold special events throughout he year, most notably at Christmas, and it is there you can get further information about these.
If Warrington is too far, the website also has links to their sister parks at Matlock Baths and Milton Keynes, including the Milton Keynes eco park which just opened this year. Opening times and gate prices for these may vary, so if attending those, check the prices first, as I only have given those for Warrington (which IS what the review is for!).
The way to the park was well signed and they had a very large and well appointed car park with plenty of car and coach parking. There was no need to hike 20 miles to the gates either, which was rather nice. Going on a Sunday morning and arriving at 1030 am when the park had just opened, the queue was non existent to get in despite other groups and families already being there ahead of us, and more arriving steadily behind us. My first impressions were of cleanliness and how well landscaped with trees, flowers, and shrubs the park seemed to be. Gate staff offered us free maps to find our way around. To be quite honest, we did not really need these, as everything is clearly signposted and in any event, the paths all connect to make a full circle so it is nearly impossible to get lost. Toilets and eating areas are also marked on the map, but again, we did not need the map to find these, as when you entered each theme area, toilet facilities, snack bars and gift shops, and picnic tables were all visible and clearly signed.
You can also view a map of the park on the website, and it gives you an idea of what sort of rides there are as well.
The park is separated into different themed areas. Upon entering the park, immediately to the left is an Alice in Wonderland themed area. The first ride you encounter is the very traditional tea cup ride. next to this is the brand new for 2007 ride, The Joker. This is one of those fairground rides where about 5 of you get in, sit down, get lifted straight up then dropped really fast as if you got on a lift that was broken. While the girls liked the teacup ride, none would go on the Joker, and those we did see go on it all appeared to be over 10 years old. There are a few rides like this aimed at the older children and parents, and all seemed to be newer rides. I am guessing Gulliver's World is trying to get a little interest from older siblings and parents for return visits.
Next to the Joker on the other side is a ride called the Card Maze. It is simple a maze made of tall painted playing cards. Another bit of whimsical fun, and definitely aimed at the younger end of the crowd. There were shouts of glee from children inside aged about 3-6, but older ones did not seem quite so enamoured. Our girls elected to skip it, as they had their eye on the next attraction over, the vintage car ride. This is one of those rides where you have a track laid out and old fashioned Model T type cars follow the track bout in a sort of circular pattern. I went on this with them and the children quite enjoyed pretending to drive and I have to admit it was not that tedious a few minutes! And it was literally a few minutes, roughly a five minute ride, and no more. The children did not seem to mind, and admittedly, for younger children with shorter attention spans, this is great.
After getting off the car ride we passed a landscaped lake. We could see ducks on it and there were also pirates to be seen across the water. The path alongside the lake led us up to the next themed area, which was a wild west themed area, complete with painted model horses in a small corral. Western world has more attractions than the first. There is a playa rea especially for under 5's, a full sized wooden fort for the children to explore and play hide and seek on, a panning for gold attraction (one of the few things that cost extra. Not sure how much extra as we passed by this as it began to rain heavily). There was a barrel ride, which was not that exciting. A first glance it appears to be a tea cup ride, but no doing...you are not able to turn the wheel to spin and the barrels just waltz slowly for all of about 5 minutes. Whoopie do! The girls were happy enough, but slightly disappointed they could not spin the barrels as they did with the tea cups. Also in this section was a mini roller coaster type ride, which once the rain let up to mere sprinkles, they opened up. Even my Nervous Nellie had a great time on this. The height is not so towering as an adult sized ride, though from the perspective of a much shorter 5 or 6 year old, it is gigantic. The speed is fast, but not zooming, but it has plenty of turns and dips to make this enjoyable even for more seasoned coaster rider. I can say this taste of the thrills of coasters made the girls beeline later to the larger mine ride one. Wheeeeeeee! Looking on the map, you will see other "attractions" listed, such as Indian Island. These are just statues to look at pretty much. I can understand them try to make the place look more exciting, but listing the DECORATIONS seems a bit much.
From Western World, we wandered on up the path to Circus World. This has some cute rides and activities for the smallest visitor. There is a toddler friendly merry go round type ride featuring luridly painted circus animals and pre-school TV rip off characters that look like they were made by the same people who supplied those cheesy rides outside supermarkets until the mid 80's when the supermarkets began paying for genuinely licensed rides. Not that this reduces the appeal to your average 3 to 5 year old. Slowly turning luridly bright critters seem to be majorly exciting, judging by the number of children riding and the fact that even the 6 year olds in the our own group wanted to ride-THREE times! Next to this ride is a building where face painting is done, at a then advertised price of £3.50 per face. We passed on that and went on to the puppet display. It appeared to have marionettes behind heavy Plexiglas, and a recording was playing while the mouth of a grandma looking puppet moved. It was telling a short story to the children already there, so we waited until the end, while looking at all the puppets in the themed displays, and then when she began again, had a listen. It was all rather 1950's disney Small World type stuff, but it struck gold with all the children there, proving that things do not need to be the most hi tech to give thrills or keep children entertained.
From here you walk on past the Smuggler's Wharf. A large coaster stretches through this area, and the height restrictions on it mean children and adults only about 12 and up can ride it. There is also a swinging pirate ship, which the girls decided NOT to ride on as they thought it looked too scary. So we passed on through this area quickly, and were on to the Count's Castle area. Here there was a Tudor looking place with a rather silly haunted house. Only the under 10's found it remotely scary, but I would not recommend it for children under 6 or the easily scared. It was all black light stuff, more "Small World" type posed puppets in gruesome poses (including one where people are eating a man at a dinner table, which I thought was an odd thing to put in a CHILDREN's theme park). and piped crackly laughter and such. Outside the house of horrors, there was a Victorian style carousel. ride. This is a two story traditional wooden horse and fanciful roosters ride complete with lights and old fashioned music. We grabbed a cuppa from the nearby snack hut as the girls went on this about 6 or 7 times before we could get them to move on. Once they would move on and we had finished the actually quite nice and very reasonably priced tea, we stopped at the dodge em's cars. This ride had a queue, but we stood in it for less than 15 minutes from the end of the queuing area to getting in the cars time. An adult or child over 12 has to be in the car with younger children at all times, so while one of us three adults stood in the queue with the others, the other two of us sat in a car while the various girls got a go. The staff were very helpful with this, I must say.
After this bit of fun, we walked along towards Water world. there are various play areas here, involving various bits of equipment and sand, but as it was a soggy day, I will confess we did not look closely and rather quickly ushered the girls past them. There was also a log flume ride, which only myself and one of the girls would go on. It is a rather mild one, as you would expect at a junior theme park. The log boat takes you for a gentle meander round a channel, surrounded by pretty plants, then comes into a covered area with a small water fall in it, hoists you up, and drops you with a small splash. Not very high, nor very far, but enough to make your tummy flutter and to engender a small squeal. They snap photos at the crucial moment, and you can take your number to the nearby photo booth and purchase your picture for a reasonable cost (I think it was about £3). The price is the same whether you want it in a magnet holder, a keyring, or in a paper frame. Further along the path we stopped at gentle water ride that we all ventured on. It was the sort with round rubber rafts and you gently meander along the "stream". This was quite pleasant, and lasted several minutes. The plantings were done to give a jungle feel, and a neo Mayan type statue and art adorned one section. Even the most timid of the group happily rode on this one. We ended up going on twice.
Adventure World was just next door. Here we stopped for ice creams and drinks, used the toilets, and us grown ups had another cuppa. The prices were very good, with the ice cream being normal shop type prices. There was a ride the girls went on a few times while we watched with our cups of tea, as it was a children only ride. It was one of those where the children sit on a bench, get fastened in, then it lifts the bench up and down. They thought this was great fun. After this bit of joy, the sun had came out again in full, so we went over to the swings. This rather traditional fairground ride has the chairs on chains and the ride swings them out. the other two adults volunteered me to go on that as they looked nervous, and so I went on with the merry band while they watched from the fence. After we went on once, I agreed to queue up a further 3 times. The seats are rather on the small size though, so be warned, adults over a size 12 and who are not 5 foot or under will find the seats not the most comfortable. there was also a mid sized roller coaster in this general area. The height restriction meant our shortest five year old JUST made it, and this ride was faster than the previous one at Western World. It was also a LOT jerkier, with whiplash inducing tight turns. The mine carts really did not offer a lot of help against this. The dips were also a bit steeper, and its speed was greater. We had to warn the girls to hold on super tight due to the jerkiness and suddenness of this ride. Again, a photo op was on hand during the biggest dip, and you took your number to the nearby photocentre. prices were the same as the previous place.
The next, and last section, is themed "The Lost World". Here we have some painted dinosaurs and other prehistoric statues peeping through foliage and rising up from a "swamp". They were decent enough, but not very exciting. There were no sound effects, nor any informational plaques about which would have been nice as the girls kept asking about each one as they saw it. In the midst of this is a nature type trail you can go on. It is basically just a meander through a small planting of trees and seems a nod towards the attempt at being environmentally conscious. Plonked down in the midst of the themed area, we have a few fair ground rides and a large block of toilets (each area had a block, with disabled access and baby change facilities), as well as the obligatory snack shack, tables, and gift shop common to all the other areas, but themed towards.........you guessed it...dinosaurs! I have to say I found these rides REALLY cheesy, but again, the girls were ecstatic. The tastes of a 5-6 year old and the tastes of a thirty something differ widely! The first ride was a bunch of eggs with baby dinos painted about. You get in the eggs, and its a tea cup sort of spinning ride. Wow, how original. Well, the girls thought so anyway! The next ride was a small ride on a track, with the rider sat upon small dinosaurs. It was aimed at ages 3 and up, and inexplicably (to us at least), all the girls wanted to waste about 20 minutes riding this. The last ride was one of those rise up in the air observationy looking things, which we passed on, as it was getting late.
A short walk away there WAS a train ride though. This miniature steam train ride took us from by the entrance, and back through the Lost World. During the tunnel bit, you could see they had a lack of storage space as Christmas decorations and North Pole signs could be easily seen. strangely, the girls did not notice this, though we adults did. The ride was nice enough, but I personally felt that the sight of those made the ride seem cheap and gave a chicken outfit feel to the park that was by the large previously missing. These decorations and signs would have easily fit into the £99 garden shed they sell at B and Q.
Once back at the entrance area, we saw a cashpoint, toilets, and a rather large gift shop. This gift shop sold nearly every souvenir imaginable and lots of sweets and other items to help you empty your bank account. There was also the mascot on hand, and this lion costumed fellow stood happily for photo ops with the kids as parents and scout and guide leaders snapped away. There was also a restaurant there, but we ignored this as it was closing time now, after 5 pm, and we went back to our coach to return home. All the girls seemed to have had a grand time despite the weather, and most fell asleep during the 1 hour drive back.
So, do I think it value for money? I do, actually. Most theme parks give token nods to this age group, and for group outings or a family birthday trip, on a nice day, or to alleviate boredom on a sunny school holiday period, this is just the ticket. Not too expensive, nor too cheap and tawdry (aside from the Christmas themed stuf mis-step and the ill judged Haunted House display). A quicky glance as we dashed past the too soggy play areas had revealed jungle gyms and adventure playground type equipment for the young, as well as diggers and what not. So something for everyone, and I was impressed with the well maintained and generous offerings of toilets, snacks, outdoor tables, undercover picnic tables, well placed and not left to overflow bins, and what not. I fully intend to take my own children back for a summer birthday treat, knowing now which rides to try to rush them past, as when the sun is shining and all the play areas open and suitable, there would be simply too much to do to go on nearly every ride.
Summary: Nice family day out, for families with children aged 3-12
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