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Paultons Family Theme Park (Hampshire)
Member Name: azana
Paultons Family Theme Park (Hampshire)
Date: 05/04/09, updated on 06/04/09 (517 review reads)
Advantages: Great amusement park for families - no queues
Disadvantages: Looks are deceiving when you get there
We visited Paultons Park recently for the second time, we are a family of four with 2 children under 6. We had an absolutely fantastic time, Paultons is a very good park for families.
Paultons is situated in Ower, on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire. It is a short distance from junction 2 of the M27 and actually suprisingly in reach for anyone living on the outskirts of London or near the M3. By train you would have to take a taxi from Romsey station.
Once you arrive parking is ample and free.
Children under 1 metre are free - this is strictly enforced but in my mind actually quite fair. If you have a 90cm toddler (as I do) they will not pay to get in but can go on the majority of the rides. Adults and children over 1 metre were £17.50, we paid £50 for a family of 3 ticket. There are currenty no Tesco deals for entrance of vouchers to be had so I think you pay that price, or if you are a local perhaps investigate a season ticket (£65 upgrade on the day I visited). If you are a local with a child under 1 metre that actually strikes me as a bargain - as it was the entrance is not cheap but we were there for 5 hours solid so I suppose it equated to £10 per hour, which seemed ok.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance, but for us this would have meant a £1 saving by the time we paid transaction charges so not worth it in our case as we weren't sure on the way if the weather would be suitable.
The park itself:
A word of warning, when you arrive you might think you have come to something rather disappointing. The buildings and entrance are not really very impressive as they are not solid brick - think run down pier rather than Disneyland. This is a shame as actually once you are inside the park is absolutely fantastic.
Thinking about the park I realised that I have actually been to a worryingly big amount of parks in my time - from Alton Towers, Drayton Manor via Chessington, Legoland and Disneyland I've been to a fair few. Now Disney this isn't (I think Disney is in its own league but that is another review), but for younger children this park is a lot better than more flash and expensive competitors. To me it beats Legoland (which I actually live within 20 minutes of and once had a season ticket) hands down with young children.
On both times I have been I have barely queued - bearing in mind that it has been on busy weekends, compared to other more expensive parks that in itself is a huge boon. My children were able to stay on the rides for two or three turns and I managed to go straight onto the two more hardcore adult rides with no waiting.
The park is charming in a very English way - apparently it started 25 years ago as a country park and grew from there and it has retained that charm - it doesn't seem too much like a huge corporate money making machine but rather fun - the staff were very jolly on the day I went and perhaps as the sun was shining it just seemed a nice place to be. The gardens are beautiful and there are also a number of birds and animals to see - from flamingos to huge tortoises and penguins. There are several play areas with slides and mini playhouses for all ages of children and a new water park play (new for 2009), similar to the one at Legoland. This looked very popular even on the sunny April day I visited - so pack swimsuits if the weather looks nice.
There are 31 rides in all - counting from the park guide. Of these 17 have no height restriction, these being the tamer rides. We really enjoyed the tractor ride - the whole family rode on a big tractor through a very manicured and well maintained garden. The digger ride and "Seal Falls" - mini log flume were very popular with my children - not the most new of rides but still great fun. There was a train, bouncy castle and quite a few rides for smaller children.
For adults new this year (2009) was "The Edge" - this was absolutely fantastic and made my day! It looked quite daunting, consisting of a sort of flying saucer which went along a track up and down, the riders being perched on the rim of the saucer looking out. It looked quite scary but was an absolutely fantastic ride, exhilerating and not vomit inducing at all - I loved it! Children over 7 and 1.2m could ride the edge.
There is also one very decent rollercoaster - the Cobra for adults and children over 1.1metre. Everyone is also bound to enjoy the Waverider - a big water slide which you ride down in a rubber dingy.
It is a little bit mean that you have to pay extra for the go-karts (£3.95 a car) and the climbing wall, in my opinion these could have been included.
Overall the rides are really best suited for families and youger children will have the most fun in my opinion. We found plenty to do to keep us busy the whole time we were there and left with the sound of "one more ride please!" ringing in our ears. Since we went my children have been talking of nothing else - the two and a half year old has taken to looking at the park guide and pointing out her favourite bits of the park.
Food and shops:
We sampled some chips - which were nice enough - there is various food around the park but also space to picnic. We got the opportunity to try "New Forest Icecream", which was very good - from what I saw I don't think the park would win any healthy eating awards - but let's face it that wouldn't be what you would expect at a theme park anyway!
There was a wide range of merchandise available from swimsuits cunningly next to the water park to cups, and pocket money toys.
As I said earlier we really had a fantastic time this weekend, as we did last time we went. This park is just pitched right for us, and on a sunny day it is pretty perfect - though I imagine in the rain it would be much less fun.
If you are considering visiting the park's website at www.paultonspark.co.uk
is pretty comprehensive, though does manage to avoid showing you those rather grotty buildings at the entrance - don't let them put you off when you arrive. A lot of people we were chatting to on the way round were also having a great time and surprised by how good the park was and based on this, and my own experience I can thoroughly recommend Paulton's for a day out. If you are not convinced I know a 2 year old who has a rather well worn map who could do a very good job of selling it to you!
Summary: A great family day out near the New Forest
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