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Paultons Family Theme Park (Hampshire)
Member Name: pinkprincess24
Paultons Family Theme Park (Hampshire)
Advantages: fun, aimed at young kids, great family fun
Disadvantages: everything is expensive!
Paulton's Park is a good 3 hour drive from where I live so it's somewhere I've only been to once. It's located in Hampshire, just off J2 M27, well signposted. I went with my husband and daughter who was a month away from her 3rd birthday. She is Peppa Pig obsessed, so we mainly went for the relatively new attraction of Peppa Pig World. The main thing that attracted me to Paultons is that it is aimed at the younger children, which I found is a novelty!
Car parking is vast and there are more than enough spaces including plenty of disabled spaces. The park opens at 10.30am (although dates and times vary during the year so definitely check this on their website before making any plans) and if busy there are staff directing you where to park. You can hire buggies for the day for a nominal fee which are suitable for the under 5s or just for moving your picnic box around! Pushchairs are welcome but you do have to leave them unattended to join in the rides.
When you arrive you either join the queue to purchase a ticket (£24 per adult, £21 per child, £21.50 for seniors, children under 1 metre tall go free). It is worth noting that if you book in advance you get the tickets for about £3 cheaper each, and you skip the queue and go straight in where they scan your barcode on your booking confirmation or on your iPhone.
The theme park is not massive like you would expect, but it is pretty big so definitely worth spending a whole day there and getting early. Upon entering the park there are toilets close to the entrance which I was pleased to see were VERY child friendly. They had toilet lids that had the option of being child toilet seats (you know, the toilet training type), baby changing stations and child-height sinks with child-friendly soaps and child-height dryers. As many parents will agree, this is a novelty! For such a busy park I noted that the toilets were surprisingly clean!
For ease of reading I shall discuss Peppa Pig World first.
----PEPPA PIG WORLD---
Upon entering Paultons, there are clear signposts directing you to all the attractions including Peppa Pig World, which is a short walk across the park (less than 10 mins).
On the way to Peppa Pig World there is a park with a sandy floor and climbing equipment. My daughter rushed straight to this, as did many children and you could hear parents sighing "all this way and they go to the flipping park!" haha.
There is a big sign welcoming you to Peppa World and you can instantly see lots of bright colours, lights and the characters. It is very themed, each ride has a name - for example, "Miss Rabbit's Balloon Ride" with a picture of the character on the sign. It is worth noting that for many of the rides throughout the park, children must be 90cm tall to ride.
There are 7 Peppa rides which are:
1) "Windy Castle" - this is a hot balloon type ride which is slow and doesn't go too high, seats adults and kids
2) "George's Dinsosaur Adventure" - children get to sit on a dinosaur as it rides round a track a bit like a carousel type thing, seats one child only
3) "Daddy Pig's Car Ride" - a car ride that goes round a short track with various Peppa sounds, not powered by you, it's an automated ride, can seat adults and kids
4) "Grandpa Pig's Little Train" - same as above really but with different scenery, can seat adults and kids
5) "Grandpa Pig's Boat Trip" - my daughter loved this, it's pretty much a dingy which floats around a pool (you don't steer it) - can seat adults and kids
6) "Peppa Pig's Balloon Ride" - a balloon ride a bit like Windy Castle really, but does more spinning, can seat adults and kids
7) "Miss Rabbit's Helicopter Flight" - a helicopter ride similar to the balloon ride, can seat adults and kids
All the rides are slow enough for young children. My daughter loved them all!
The main bit to mention is that this bit of the park is often busy, and even if it's not packed, there is between a 30 minute and 45 minute wait for each ride. When you join a queue you will see a sign saying "45 minutes from here" for example, and it is true to it's word! This is probably the reason why seeing Peppa World took nearly all day! I was not pleased with the waiting times at all as we found we had a minimum 35 minute wait for each ride which is a nightmare if your child wants to go on more than once! I was gobsmacked that this is how it works given that it is aimed at the very young, who as we know are not very patient! In every queue you can expect to see crying babies, crying toddlers, tantruming toddlers, running off toddlers, and if you're lucky, sleeping ones!
A brilliant part of Peppa World is the mockups they have of the characters' homes. You can see Peppa's house which is a mock up of the house on the hill as you see in the programme. You can go inside where there are Peppa, George, Mummy & Daddy Pig figures (you can't touch them) and can take photos etc. This is lovely for the kids as they can say they've been in Peppa's house! There's also Grandpa Pig's house, Grandad Dog's Garage, the School, the Library and the Campervan. All of these are identical to the ones you see in the programme and excellent for photo taking.
The rides offer photos that are taken mid-ride and priced at the extortionate rates you would expect. You can purchase them from Pedro Pony's Ride Photos. There is also something called Peppa Pig's Magic Studio which is one of those places where you can be in the picture and put yourself in a Peppa picture.
There is also Peppa Pig's Toy Shop, a huge shop dedicated to Peppa. It wasn't extremely overpriced though it was more expensive than you could buy elsewhere. It sells stuffed toys in various sizes, t-shirts (including 'mummy pig' and 'daddy pig' for mummies and daddies!), caps, umbrellas, purses, cutlery, plates, bags, toys, everything you could possibly imagine. Naturally kids are drawn to it and you leave bankrupt.
For food, there is Daddy Pig's Big Tummy Cafe which serves light meals and snacks at extortionate prices. Another attraction is Miss Rabbit's Ice Cream Parlour - though I was saddened to see there is no further sight or mention of Miss Rabbit and it is in fact, a normal ice cream parlour serving basic ice creams at extortionate prices. There are also a couple of soft play areas, designed for young kids and with a cafe inside for the grownups. We didn't get chance to go into this and didn't fancy it much as we wanted to go on all the rides, but it looked big and fun.
You can also stay at the attached hotel and they regularly run offers, more info can be found on their website.
There are a few game stalls dotted around with the characters' names. These are expensive. One of them was a Candy Cat throwing game where you throw balls into a bucket to win. The signs and indeed the staff's instructions were very unclear and despite me winning (according to the signs and instructions) I was told I did not win. I later complained and was told that on my next visit I could claim a free teddy. When I then said I didn't know if - or when - I could make the hour journey again, I received no further reply. Poor customer service but this is from a contractor that runs the games not Paulton's.
---THE REST OF THE PARK---
I was pleased to see that the rest of the park also caters for young children, however it also appeals to older children, teenagers and adults alike.
There are 10 'thrill' rides, of which some have a minimum age / height so are not suitable for under 5s, and are the usual theme park type rides like log flumes, roller coasters, pirate ships, vertical rides etc. These are great for older kids, teens and adults.
There are 5 rides for younger children (under 5s) which are typical carousel type rides - a ladybird, tractor and rabbit. These are the kind where a child sits in the cart and it goes round in a slow circle. There's also a gentle seal ride which is basically a floating type ride where the child sits in a seal and gently floats around a small circle - this is nice but it does go down a slight hill which terrified my daughter.
There are 8 family rides which are things like trains, helter skelter, go karts, tea cups and a gentle rollercoaster. I would say these are suitable for younger children but perhaps not the more nervous kids as the rollercoaster is possibly a bit too fast for them.
There are a handful of attractions too - panning for gold which costs £2.50, adventure golf, two parks including one for the under 5s, an interactive 'dinosaur' land with 13 dinosaurs and various noises, trampolines (fixed into the ground so suitable for all), one of those rides where you go into an inflatable ball like a hamster's wheel on water, a water park (no deep water just jets that splash the kids, stationary water guns etc and seats nearby for adults, closed in the colder months. We didn't use this as a lot of older/bigger kids were running riot and I was worried my toddler would be knocked over), there is a train that everyone can sit on that takes you all around the park and lasts about 15 minutes or so.
It is worth noting that nearly all rides have a minimum height or age restriction, or need an adult to accompany children. Signs and measuring charts are at each ride and the attendant will measure children who appear to be too small.
There are a few places to eat selling light meals and snacks but they are expensive - a salad is just shy of £5! There is very limited choice too, the kids meals are chicken nuggets or sausages with chips for example. However as you are most likely taking them to Paulton's for a treat, I suppose treat food is ok just this once, as is paying an extortionate amount for an ice cream!
We arrived at 11am and stayed until closing, it really did take that long to do everything. Getting out of the car park took almost half an hour as it was so busy, but to be expected.
All in all, a great day out and I would go again - if it were nearer!
Summary: A great day out for the kids!
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