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Gulliver's World (Cheshire)
Member Name: CheshireJ
Gulliver's World (Cheshire)
Date: 11/08/11, updated on 12/08/11 (254 review reads)
Advantages: So much to do for the younger age group
Disadvantages: Quite run down and shabby in places
Gulliver's World is a theme park, aimed at children aged 2-13, located in Warrington (Old Hall / Westbrook area). There are over 90 attractions, although many of these are minor ones.
Despite only living a few minutes from the theme park, I'd never visited before. Part due to the fact that a friend had told me that she'd heard it was dirty.
After filling in a form to win a free birthday party at Gulliver's at the recent National Play Day in Warrington, I was handed a free child's ticket and map. After seeing how many attractions there were on the map I decided to give it a go, throw caution to the wind and take a 2- and 4-year old on my own.
We went on a Tuesday, during the school summer holidays on a day when no rain was forecast, so expected it to be quite busy. It was just before 10am when we drove onto the car park, which is free to use, part of it is grass, some concreted.
There were already around 10 families queued up at the ticket window, which opened just after 10am. They were quite efficient and the line moved quickly. Children under 90cm are admitted free, and there was a measuring stick just in front of the ticket windows, along with signs saying those without paid tickets would be measured on entering the park. My 2-year old is just under 90cm so I didn't pay for her ticket, but was given a ticket saying it was for a baby under 90cm. With the free child's ticket I only had to pay £14.75 for myself.
We then got in line for the main entrance. I was sure I'd read that the park opened at 10am, but later found out it was in fact 10:30am. By the time they opened the gates at 10:15 the line behind us was very long and I was glad we'd arrived early. No one on the gate checked my daughter's height, which surprised me as she's not that far off 90cm. Once inside we were restricted to the entrance plaza until official opening time at 10:30am.
An entertainer came on the small stage there, along with two characters, Gilly Mouse & Gully Mouse and did a song and dance routine. It was quite cheesy and I don't think many of the people gathered there were watching.
Gates to the different lands were opened a few minutes ahead of time and the masses poured in, speeding off in the direction of their chosen attractions.
Since we'd never been before and didn't know what to do first, we headed to the left towards Alices Wonderland, while most others were going towards the other side of the park.
The park is divided into nine lands, each themed differently. I can only review the attractions we actually experienced, but will mention any others of note. Plus, the ride reviews are from the point of view of taking a 2- and 4-year old.
*** Alice's Wonderland ***
The theming in this land wasn't great, with just a few large playing cards dotted about, and a large cut-out of Alice and the Mad Hatter.
Mad Hatter's Tea Party Ride
My daughter loves tea cup rides, having been on the ones at Disney World and Disneyland Paris numerous times, so I figured this would be a good first stop. We were on the first ride of the day and the three of us fitted nicely into one giant teacup on this undercover ride. To spin the cup you need to turn the wheel in the middle which my two managed easily. The ride was very bumpy, which something like that shouldn't be. It lasted a few minutes by which time my 2 year old had had enough and was crying.
These were old fashioned looking cars on a fixed track. The entrance was just an open doorway into a white building, and you had to look inside to see that it actually was a ride. We tried getting onto the ride but my 2-yr old decided she didn't want to be sat on her own and strapped in. My 4 year old wasn't tall enough to ride herself (need to be over 1.2m) so we had to abandon the plan. By the time I'd shown my youngest what the ride was like and she agreed to go on, the queue was too long.
Maze of Cards
A small, undercover maze that was way too narrow to navigate, especially with other kids running about pushing past. We didn't make it to the centre and beat a hasty retreat - after hitting dead ends a few times!
*** Western World ***
Lots of wood here, and buildings that look like a Western town, including a fort area which houses a playground and some rides.
Billy Bob's Bi-Planes
A hub and spoke ride (think Dumbo at Disney parks) featuring planes. We didn't have to wait here and got on straight away. The planes were very dicey for getting in and out of, especially for young kids. They tilted to one side when the ride was stopped which made it even worse and it was hard to climb in and out of them safely. Once inside there were lap belts to fasten you in. The planes went up in the air, and we pressed the button in our plane expecting it to control the up and down movement, but it did nothing, and all planes just went up at the same time.
Rio Grande Train Ride
Basically a small train that runs round a track a couple of times. My eldest was happy to go on herself and went on three times during the day.
The first of many play areas was located here, although it was one of the few we didn't try.
*** Circus World ***
This area looked abandoned when we first entered, with some attractions covered up and not in use. What I first thought were carnival type games turned out to be mini rides. Looking at the map now I see that there are a few attractions in this area we didn't see. I'm not sure if it's because they were closed or just very badly signed.
Toy Town Ride
A kind of higgledy-piggledy carousel featuring different animals. Quite dark and lacking any colour of character apart from the animals.
Anyone in their 30's and 40's probably remembers this ride from their younger days. This was probably one of the original models from the early 80's by the looks of it! Only four ladybirds each seating 4 people, but surprisingly never a long wait.
Four riders could sit in one of the clown seats which rotated slowly, or two riders could sit in the front clown seat which bounced around. My daughter did both and enjoyed it.
Aladdin's Circus Ride
One we nearly missed. Hidden away between the back of the ladybird and clown rides with no clear signage. My daughter went on alone so I didn't get to see the inside proper, but it looked to be just a train style ride round a shoddy looking indoor track.
We went in a soft play area after lunch, but looking at the map, there are three listed in this area, and none look to be in the location we went to, so I'm not sure which we went in! A few big kids running about in here who were clearly over the height limit which was clearly posted.
*** Smuggler's Wharf***
We didn't venture into this mini area as it looked to be rides for older kids, such as the pirate ship.
*** Lilliput Land ***
This is at the centre of the park and houses the most dining places. Buildings were themed after castles. Location of a birthday party room which can be hired, but didn't look very big at all.
Castle Play Area
A large Little Tikes-style castle-themed play area which was suitable for toddlers as well as older ones. Wavy slides and a spiral slide, plus climbing frames and tunnels to crawl through. My girls loved playing here, especially on the slides. There were a decent number of tables and chairs for parents, with a snack place next door.
The horses on the lower level moved back and forth rather than up and down once the ride was in motion. Kids under 90cm had to sit on one of the horses on the upper level which didn't move, and had to be accompanied by an adult, stood with them. Large ride capacity meant no wait times both times we rode.
*** Water World ***
Not sure why this is called Water World, as there are more non-water attractions that those with water! Home of the log flume which we didn't go on, and at the entrance was advertised as not being open due to the weather. Surprising as it was forecast dry all day. By the time we got around to this area the log flume was running and continued to be all day. We only did one attraction here, despite intending to try out the Logger's Leap Sand Play area which featured lots of sand and digging tools, we never made it back there.
Similar to the Veteran Cars ride mentioned above, but the cars were supposed to look like tractors. This was the only real time we queued all day, and had a 15 minute wait. There are only four tractors on the ride, each seating up to four people, but it was slow loading and slow moving once it got going and some cars were only going with two riders on. Twice round the simple track with not much to look at along the way, but fun for kids to sit in the front and pretend to steer. A ride photo was taken and available to buy at the nearby snack kiosk. I think photos were £3.75 and keyrings or magnets were £3.75 too.
*** Adventure World ***
Slight jungle theming going on in this land. Most major rides were more for older kids so we only did a couple of things.
Small jeep cars that go around a basic track. It didn't look very big for adults so I sent the kids on alone. When studying the map whilst they were riding I discovered it was a "kids under 90cm must be accompanied" ride, yet they'd never bothered to measure my youngest.
Jungle Play Area
Another Little Tikes style climbing frame and slide which my two loved playing on. I was shocked at one point (when we were nearby and not on the play area) to see an older boy actually climbing on the roof part which clearly wasn't the done thing.
*** Gully Town ***
Apart from Gully's Outdoor Play area (similar to the others) this was all indoors in one building. My kids absolutely loved it here and we must have spent an hour inside. Inside the building were separate little role-play areas specially for little ones, each in their own room or mini building. I would happily pay separately to take my girls to something like this, it was great! There was a mini snack bar and a reasonable amount of seating for adults.
Lots of Little Tikes cars and ride-ons, with a child-sized garage building, complete with mini ramp to drive up onto.
Sofas, working TV, and play kitchen with lots of play food, pans and things.
Child-size supermarket with packets of food, counter and till.
a mini soft play area with slide and ball pool.
My girl's favourite! Lots of mini armchairs lined up in rows in front of a stage. At the back was a control deck where kids could change the songs playing (lots of modern songs on) and control the stage lighting. They spent ages in here dancing about on stage.
Gully's Builder's Merchants
A house frame and lots of foam bricks to "build" the house - great fun!
Santa's Post Office
Not sure where Santa came into it as it just looked like a regular post office to me! Counter and post office play things, plus a post box, pretend letters and post bag.
Percy Nipper's Pirate Ship
Not operating when we were there, but looked to be a mini pirate ship ride.
*** The Lost World ***
Very aptly named as it took us a while to find this land, and we weren't the only ones as we saw someone else asking the way. Lots of foliage and dinosaurs dotted about. The Observation Tower here looked like a fun way to see the park from up high but my girls refused to go on.
Dizzy Dino's Play Area
One of two play areas here, both of which mine insisted on trying. Much the same as the others in the park.
Junior Dino Cavalcade
An undercover carousel type ride featuring dinosaur creatures. Some small that kids come climb on easily, others quite big, some of which didn't look to have a proper seat on. Slow-moving, but lasted a decent amount of time and no wait.
Two large, covered sandpits. One had a "dinosaur" skeleton buried which you could dig with your hands to uncover. The other had fossils, again to uncover by digging.
*** Food ***
Having read negative reports about food there on Tripadvisor before we went, I took a packed lunch for us all. We ate it in the café I Circus World where I bought a large fries for £1.95 (small was £1.20) to supplement what I'd taken. The fries were freshly cooked but not quite done enough. The only other food we got was ice cream, which was very reasonably priced, costing £3.70 for a Mr Whippy one and two push up lollies.
*** Pricing ***
Kids under 90cm - free
OAPs - £13.75
Season passes are available.
I noted that a fish and chip meal, including drink, was available for £4.95.
Face painting cost £4.50, but didn't look to be of great quality.
*** Overall Thoughts and Comments ***
There were many rides we didn't go on, mostly because of height restrictions. Although we barely queued all day, it might have been a different story if we'd gone on the rides for older ones. The park appeared to be busy that day and one employee told me there were seven coach parties booked in.
Most rides look very tired, dated and in need of a good paint job. A lick of paint round the whole park would make such a difference. That said, it's not something that kids notice or that spoils their enjoyment.
My two girls thoroughly enjoyed the day, and we only left just before the park closed at 5pm.
It's especially good to have somewhere like this geared more towards the younger age group. Places like Alton Towers and Blackpool Pleasure Beach (which we've both been to) have relatively few rides for little ones, and charge extortionate amounts for the "pleasure.
I left the pushchair outside all of the rides we did and it remained safe each time.
The staff we encountered were all friendly and polite enough. One young man concerned me though. We went to buy ice cream, and my youngest took the top off her lolly before we paid and the man serving came around the counter and was teasing her about it, then tickled her neck/squeezed her shoulder, which I thought was very inappropriate.
The entrance to rides was not always very clear, and sometimes shared with the exit. Many rides didn't have a defined queue area which when you've got parents waiting at the exit for their kids to come out, can end up in a bit of a muddle trying to work out who was there first and who is actually going on the ride.
They boast that over 50% of their rides and attractions are undercover, which looked to be true, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the queue area is undercover. You could find yourself getting very wet if it rains!
There was a complete lack of signposting, making it tricky to find your way around the park.
Toilet facilities were good, with at least one lots of toilets, plus baby changing, in each land.
I think we'll definitely return here, and may consider getting a season pass next year then we can visit more often. My eldest loves the small fairground rides and it was nice not having to say she couldn't go on because Mummy didn't have enough pennies left! As for what I'd heard originally about the place being dirty, I'd say it was more shabby than dirty. The only places I noticed weren't very clean were outdoor tables at snack counters.
Opening hours vary throughout the year, and are displayed on the website. Special offers are run, such as Grandparent weekends, where Grandparents get in free.
If you join up to the facebook group you'll get to see special offers, giveaways and competitions (link on their website).
Lots of special events run through the year, including Christmas & Halloween events, plus appearances by the likes of Fireman Sam and Peppa Pig.
Splash Zone is a separately priced water play place located on the same site. It features water slides, fountains and such like with no standing water, making it safe for young kids. We've not been there yet but intend to go soon.
Gulliver's theme Parks can also be found in Milton Keynes and Matlock, Bath.
The website is www.GulliversFun.co.uk
Summary: Overall a good day out which I'd recommend if you have kids aged 3-10
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