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Paultons Family Theme Park (Hampshire)
Member Name: markysparky
Paultons Family Theme Park (Hampshire)
Advantages: A great way to spend a day, lots to do
Disadvantages: Not as enticing for kids over 13 years old, on site food poor value
Paultons Park is a large theme park situated at Ower, just off the M27, in Hampshire. It's about a 15 minute drive from either Southampton or Romsey and takes about 25 minutes to travel there from, my home town, Salisbury.
I first visited Paultons nearly 20 years ago - taking the young son of a friend there for the day. It was a good day out for me and my charge. I now have my own family, with 2 kids aged 9 and 7, and we've been to Paultons about 12 times in the last 6 years. The park has developed steadily in the many years since my first visit and there has been an ongoing programme of improvements (general facilities and rides). Paultons covers a massive acreage and there is no shortage of space for expansion.
The first thing to note is that this is a park designed and aimed at kids of, I would say, 2 to 13 years old. There are no massively stomach-churning rides of the kind you would expect at Thorpe Park or Alton Towers. There are, however, over 50 rides and other significant attractions that will delight most families.
For the one off entrance fee, virtually all of the rides are free. You can pay extra to have a go on some go-karts (about £3 a time from memory) or on one of the "water cannon" side stalls. Other extras that you may wish to stump up for include an outdoor climbing wall (properly supervised and with all safety harnesses) and a "shoot a football through a target hole to win a soft toy" affair. I resent having to pay extra for such things and therefore do not = there is so much to enjoy wlsewhere within the park. The 2009 fees are basically £17.50 for each person (adult or child over 1m) and with children under 1m getting in for free when accompanied by an adult. It seems harsh to charge adults such a fee as there are few rides that they will want to go on, other than when necessary to accompany a child. Family tickets can also be purchased and a family of 4 can get in for £66. Small discounts apply if you buy online in advance.
The admission prices are fair value and allow you to roam throughout the park from opening at 10am through to closing (5.30 in peak season). My kids will be tired out after 5 hours at the park and will have experienced a lot of rides in that time. The rides are well spaced out and there are also riverside walks (including a walk where very large dinosaur figures are hidden in the foliage), caged exotic birds, owls and the like together with a penguin pool, pens with wallabies, ostriches, flamingoes. There are some indoor attractions - one with a Wind in The Willows theme and another will some pretty good nursery rhyme automated scenes (the Magic Forest).
There are a number of food kiosks where you can buy ice creams, chips, sweets and burgers plus a couple of restaurants. I found the prices in the restaurants excessive and don't find them good value. Much better, where possible, to take your own picnic - there is a generous number of seating and tables in all corners of the park. The large carparks are easy to return to, just a short walk from the heart of the park, so you can leave your food and drink in the car until needed. There are a few toilet blocks but, as is often the case in such places, not enough for the number of punters on a busy day.
Each ride has clear signs showing any minimum and/or maximum height and age restrictions. Many rides require an adult to accompany a younger child. Thr rides are all kept clean and shiny and give me the impression of being well looked after and maintained. A member of staff is present at each of the rides, although off-peak you often find one person looking after 2 rides - operating one whilst the second is temporarily closed and then switching to the second, closing the other.
In peak, school holiday, season there are obviously big crowds at Paultons but the area there is so vast it rarely seems overcrowded (other than in the near vicinity of the most popular rides ). The longest I've ever had to wait for a ride is about 30 minutes and that was exceptional (queueing for the Colbra roller coaster ride - one of the park's biggest and most popular attractions). Typical waiting times are often between 0 and 10 minutes off peak season (April, May, September, October) and up to 30 minutes in those busy, hot summer days.
The park does claim to have attractions for all weather but I would suggest that you are only going to get real value for money on a dry day.
For the younger children, Paultons has:
- a large covered bouncy castle
- low level covered mini trampolines
- various outdoor play areas (swings, slides, pirate boats, climbing frames, see-saws and more)
- A slow moving train ride (the Rabbit Ride)
- Various appropriately- sized roundabouts and other rides which move from side to side or vertically
- A teacup ride
- A digger ride
- A seal ride
- A mini (frog) roller coaster
- Viking boat ride (boats rotate around central support - very sedate)
For the older kids:
- The Cobra roller coaster ride (a full size coaster)
- The Stinger roller coaster (a smaller scale but still fast and twisty coaster)
- A large "swingboat"
- The Jumping Bean vertical drop ride (12m high)
- One of those old-fashioned looking swing chair rides
- A log flume ride which takes you up to 11m and drops you down with up to 1.5 g-force and gets you very wet (although you can spend a £1 to use the walk in body dryer located near the exit to this ride)
- The Wave Runner (my daughter's favourite) which is a water coaster - you sit in a dinghy carriage and sliding down a long undulating slide.
Family rides include:
- A minature train ride where you sit in open sided carriages and are taken for an 8 to 10 minute trip around one section of the park
- A 6 lane Astroglide slide (where you sit on one of those coir mats)
- Trekking Tractors - a sedate, rail tracked ride, on a full size tractor
I'm not going to list the whole 40 rides especially when you can see them all on www.paultonspark.co.uk a great site with everything you need to know about opening times, prices, etc.
So, phew (I've written a lot more than I'd originally intended), a great day out for families with young children. Easy to get to, plenty of parking and a fantastic place to take a picnic. Kids tend to love it there and it's great being a parent as you do get to go on some rides (which is fun if you're a big kid like me) and you can watch your children have such a good time.
Summary: A superb place to take young kids