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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Paulton's Park - A review

We were very lucky to win a free family ticket to Paulton's Park via a competition they were running on twitter this summer. A family ticket could cost up to £130 (although cheaper if booked in advance) so is not to be sniffed at. Southampton is however a loooooong way to drive from the North East. We had survived the drive before though and visited Paulton's Park solely to enjoy Peppa Pig world (read about that trip which goes into detail about Peppa Pig World here) when our children were just 9 months, 2 years and 4 years. I persuaded myself it was a good idea to make the journey again and now that our children were older (3.5 years, 5 years and 7 years) it would be good to see what the rest of the park had to offer.

This time, we decided to stay at Henley on Thames (read more here). It was the perfect place to break our journey up. Henley is situated approximately 1 hr 20 mins (in a car) North of the park so we left after breakfast and arrived at the park just after opening which was perfect. Children under 1 metres are admitted free of charge - our free ticket let four of us in and although our 3 year old is borderline 1 metre tall, they let him in for free too. I was also impressed that parking was free as this is not the case with most theme parks these days.

It was a glorious sunny day on the day of our visit and we decided to start our day on the double decker carousel and a train ride around the park. I was really happy that we could go on these rides together as a family of 5. Then we split up a little and I went on a few of the smaller rides with my youngest whilst hubby drew the short straw and got to go on the pirate ship with the older two. I was really pleased that we only queued for rides for a few minutes or were able to walk straight onto the rides without queuing - I think that fact that not all of the school's in the area had broken up for summer yet definitely helped so it is worth doing your research to find local term times before you visit.

After spending time on the rides we decided to walk through the zoo area and enjoyed looking at the various animals and birds (and it was in the shade which is a definite plus). There aren't lots of animals and the zoo is small but it is a nice to have something different than going on rides to do and does break up your time.

As I have mentioned, it was a hot sunny day. Temperatures peaked at 28 degrees! There was lots of shade available if needed and I was really pleased to see lots of bottled water machine's dispensing ice cold bottles for only £1.20.

After the zoo we went on to investigate The Land Of the Dinosaurs. This area of the park is set in marshland and there are 13 model dinosaurs for you to discover - including the infamous T-Rex. There were sound effects throughout and the atmosphere was very realistic - we really felt as though we were exploring a pre-historic jungle. My daughter in particular is dinosaur mad and they were her favourite topic at school last year - it was great to see our children all putting their knowledge into practice and naming all of the dinosaurs. See, theme parks can be educational!

As midday approached we all really needed to cool off. We had packed the children's swimsuits and towels and left them in a locker near the park entrance (locker's cost £1 - you need to add another £1 coin every time you open your locker. Change machines are located nearby). We quickly got them changed (we couldn't find any changing rooms so it was a quick change behind a towel job) and they ran into the water kingdom. I have never seen them all so excited. They worked as a team to move water, run from fountains, dive under water features and dodge water shoots. It all looked like great fun. They were in there for well over an hour and we enjoyed a cool drink at picnic tables overlooking the park.

We had to drag our children from the water kingdom to re-fuel. We had packed a picnic and again, left it in our locker. We were spoilt for choice of places to enjoy it - we ended up choosing a shaded spot under a tree by the lake in one of the park's gardens. It was a beautiful and peaceful place tp enjoy our lunch in peace.

Now although my children are older and Peppa Pig rarely graces our TV screens anymore, there is no doubt Peppa has been a big part of their lives! Everybody was really keen to return to Peppa Pig Land again.

As our children were still in their swimsuits, we paid the Muddy Puddle section a visit first of all - which is basically a small area with tamer water features where children can pretend to jump up and down in muddy puddles - just like Peppa and George. (Without the mess though - there is no actual mud).

Then it was onto Mr Potato's playground which the children loved. The thing with Peppa Pig World is you need to fully embrace it - expect to hear Peppa Pig music constantly and all of the little touches (such as a duck pond exactly as it is in the series) make you think you are actually walking around some sort of parallel Peppa Pig universe.

We left the rides of Peppa Pig land until near the end of our day and the queues were very short or again no queue at all. We managed to get on most rides with the boat ride being a favourite!

We again needed some respite from the shade and headed the Peppa Pig indoor softplay. I was disappointed that they wouldn't let my daughter in though as she didn't have any socks (she was wearing sandals). I think they should sell socks at the softplay entrance at cost price to avoid disappointment. In fairness, it does tell you on Paulton Park's website but I didn't think to read up about the Peppa Pig section as we had been before. The boys went into the softplay with daddy and I took Heidi to see the meerkats and we went on a few more rides.

A trip to Peppa Pig World is not complete without a visit to Miss.Rabbit's ice cream hut and Peppa Pig's house. This was a lovely way to wind down and finish our day.

We did pass the penguins on leaving the park and realised a talk was about to start. Our children soon got bored though as they couldn't really see and the talk was actually pre-recorded so not very engaging.

Overall, we had a lovely day in Paulton's park. There were some real highlights (water kingdom, land of the dinosaurs and Mr. Potato's playground) but there were some disappointments too (penguin show and not being allowed in soft play). We have now spent two full days at Paulton's park and I think that this is the optimum time needed to explore everywhere on the park (although there are some things we haven't tried such as the 4D cinema). We do love Paulton's as it has a nice family feel to it. If your family loves Peppa Pig it is certainly worth the trip. We were pleased to make the trip again but did say it was probably the last time we would visit as it is a long way to travel.


1 comment

  1. The waterpark looks so good. We're going to book up this week. I'll be praying for sunshine until we go!

    Cat x


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