Best UK theme parks for toddlers and children 2023
Where are the best toddler-friendly rides that also cater for older kids? We’ve visited and tested a range of attractions to find the most thrilling, entertaining and best value theme parks for families
The UK has a range of exciting and family-friendly theme parks, and while it’s very easy to lump them all together, there are many variations in this category to suit all types and ages.
Forget the notion that theme parks are only good for adrenaline-fuelled older children! Many parks offer rides and activities for younger children to enjoy, so it’s worth taking the time to discover which best suits your individual family. And remember too that many parents and grandparents still enjoy a screamingly good ride every now and then.
Using a combination of journalist reviews of the UK’s top theme parks and feedback from parents who have visited with their own children, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations to offer all families a fun-filled day out.
Best UK theme parks for families — at a glance
- Best for preschool-aged children: Peppa Pig World and Paultons Park, Paultons Park tickets and TripAdvisor
- Best for thrill Seekers: Thorpe Park, Thorpe Park tickets, Picniq and TripAdvisor
- Best for interactive experiences: Flamingo Land, Flamingo Land Resort tickets, KidsPass and TripAdvisor
- Best value for money: LightWater Valley Family Adventure Park, Lightwater Valley Tickets, Kids Pass and Picniq
- Best for rainy days and children under 10: Sundown Adventureland, Sundown Adventureland tickets and TripAdvisor
- Best first theme park experience: Legoland Windsor, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort tickets, Picniq and TripAdvisor
- Best for animals and Thomas the Tank Engine fans: Drayton Manor Theme Park, Drayton Manor tickets, Kids Pass and Picniq
- Best for children of all ages: Alton Towers, Alton Towers Resort tickets, Picniq and TripAdvisor
- Best for water babies: Alton Towers Waterpark, Alton Towers Waterpark tickets and TripAdvisor
- Best for animals and bookworms: Chessington World Of Adventures, Chessington theme park and zoo tickets, Picniq and TripAdvisor
How can we make the most of our family theme park day out?
Apps: Before visiting a theme park, it is a good idea to look at the park website and to download the park app, which can be invaluable if available. Often the app includes interactive maps and gives you a good idea of queue lengths for popular rides. They can also help you plan your day so that you make the most of your time, avoiding aimless wandering, which is easy to do at the bigger parks like Alton Towers and Legoland.
Tickets: Typically, theme parks will require a full day visit and as this list includes parks from across the UK, it’s worth bearing in mind the travelling time to get to the park as well. The majority of parks have seasonal opening times also, so it’s always worth checking the website before buying tickets. Look too to see if they offer a rainy day guarantee (we all know how unpredictable the British weather can be) as places like Chessington World Of Adventures, Thorpe Park and Alton Towers all offer free return trips usually if there has been continuous rain for more than an hour and the rides haven’t been operating.
Some theme parks also offer FastTrack tickets for some of the more popular rides and you might want to look into whether they are worth the extra cost, for example, at theme parks like Thorpe Park you can buy a FastTrack ticket for up to 5 rides and as the park has a number of high-profile rides (such as the wettest water ride in the UK) you might think it’s the best option to make the most of your visit.
Look for discounts and deals on websites such as Picniq and Kids Pass, and if you're staying overnight keep an eye out for theme park ticket + accommodation packages to save money.
Money-saving tips: Visiting a theme park can be costly (admission tickets alone can be expensive) so it’s worth considering other ways you can cut costs. These money-saving hacks include:
- Bringing your own picnic and water bottles
- Taking your own buggy instead of hiring one
- Checking out where the gift shops are, to help you avoid them (or limit spending to a few pounds)
Ride restrictions: It also helps to research the ride restrictions before leaving the house. The majority of rides will have strict safety rules about riders being a certain height or whether they need to be accompanied by an adult, so it’s a good idea to measure how tall your children are before you leave home so you know which they can go on in advance – it saves upsetting children who have spent time queuing only to be told they aren’t tall enough!
The list of theme parks in this round up is aimed primarily at families with young children and there are more specific reviews on the individual theme parks on our website if you want more detail on a certain park.
1. Peppa Pig World and Paultons Park, Hampshire
— Best for preschool aged children
Family ticket from £155 | Best for ages 2-5 and 6-8 | Best in good weather | Free onsite parking | Southampton Central station 9 miles | Early access ticket includes a Peppa meet and greet
Paultons Park is made up of five themed areas and offers a variety of rides and activities for young children. Of course, Peppa Pig world is the big draw and, for pre-schoolers who love Peppa, this is paradise. Expect gentle, character themed-rides and play areas. MFM reviewer Catrina, who visited with her two children aged 5 and 3 and her in-laws, who were in their 70s, says: “There was no doubting the enjoyment on my in-laws’ faces that came from watching their grandchildren.”
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Rides like George’s Dinosaur Adventure and Grampy Rabbit’s Sailing Club are very popular and Peppa and George make scheduled appearances throughout the day outside the school house. It’s tempting, with Peppa-obsessed children, to head straight to this area but if you can bribe your piggy enthusiasts to wait until after lunch, it is much quieter. The main part of the park is geared up for school-aged children, though there is still a lot for little ones to enjoy. MFM mum Catrina, says: “My youngest loves Peppa Pig but we downloaded the App which showed us that some of the more gentle rides elsewhere weren’t that busy so we went there first and didn’t have to queue.”
The park has lots of toilets that are clean and well maintained. There are lots of food stalls and eateries dotted around the main park but plenty of picnic designated grassy areas too.
The other themed areas of Paultons include Critter Creek, which is next to Peppa Pig world and is suitable for pre-schoolers and up. Lost Kingdom is a dinosaur-themed world and also perfect for pre-schoolers and upwards who don’t mind loud roaring sounds. MFM reviewer Sarah, who visited with her almost 6-year-old son and almost 3-year-old daughter, says: “We all loved the Raging River Ride Log Flume. Children have to be 0.95m to ride and I sat with my son in a ‘log’ as we dropped 11m at over 35mph. Yes, we got pretty wet – so pack a change of clothes for everyone if you can!”
If you have children who love animals, Little Africa offers them a bit of a break from all the rides and a chance to see meerkats and an array of creepy crawlies. Older children, meanwhile, will get an adrenaline fix visiting Tornado Springs, the newest area of the park, which has a 1950s Americana theme.
If the weather isn’t great, there isn’t a lot to do. The huge gift shop at the entrance and exit might be hard to resist.
Pros: Designed with families in mind, free parking, handy app, queue times clearly displayed, good for all ages, lovely garden areas
Cons: Not a lot of indoor activities, some queues for Peppa Pig World rides can be too long, queues can move slowly because rides are small
Read the full MadeForMums Peppa Pig World and Paultons Park family days out review
Book tickets at: Paultons Park tickets and TripAdvisor
2. Thorpe Park, Surrey
— Best for thrillseekers
Family ticket from £156 | Best for ages 7+ | Dry weather attraction | Onsite parking from £7| Staines station 3 miles | Fastrack tickets available
If you have older children keen to try some of the most record-breaking rides in the country (think wettest, highest, fastest, most loop-the-loops etc) then Thorpe Park is for you. When I visited with my three children, ages 12, 9 and 6 years old, it was definitely the older two that had the most exhilarating time. We purchased fast track tickets on the Thorpe Park app ( definitely worth a download for accurate queueing times and for quick check height-restrictions) which meant they could try the most popular rides with relative ease.
The park is one of the smaller ones, meaning you don’t have the long walks in between the various areas but it can feel quite busy too. There are plenty of toilets and plenty of restaurants to choose from (plus donuts, sweets and Slushy stalls) but you can bring in your own picnic. We also liked the fact that there were lots of water stations/fountains dotted around.
There is limited shade, so if you are going in the warmer months and queuing, make sure you keep the suntan lotion topped up. There isn’t a lot to do if the weather is bad.
Stealth was the longest queue for my children but they will say the 40 seconds they were on the ride was worth the wait. Other rides that earned my eldest son serious kudos points at school the next day were Nemesis Inferno, The Walking Dead: The Ride (an indoor rollercoaster that terrified him), The Swarm, Saw: The Ride (the first horror movie themed rollercoaster in the world) and Colossus (the world’s first 10 loop rollercoaster). However, with the head-spinning/body flipping rides come queasy riders and several times while in the queue the ride was closed because a rider had been sick.
Lockers are available as you come through the entrance and you can easily avoid the gift shop. Having visited with older children, we were able to stay the whole day. It did mean however, that at closing time there was a big queue lasting roughly 30 minutes to leave the carpark.
While we have mentioned some of the biggest rides at Thorpe park, the whole family enjoyed the Rumba Rapids. My 6 year-old also liked the Teacup ride and the Wild Hog Dodgems but was distracted by the large number of fairground games that were dotted around the park and cost extra money.
Amity Beach is an area exclusively for families with toddlers/pre-schoolers. Having a sandy beach area and shallow pool is always fun for little ones and better than sitting in a buggy waiting for their older brothers/sisters.
Pros: Exciting rides, home to some of the country’s most record breaking rides, clean park, accessible to all, good app
Cons: Long queues for popular rides, rides closing without explanation, not ideal for families with young children
Read the full MadeForMums Thorpe Park Resort family days out review
Book tickets at: Thorpe Park tickets, Picniq and TripAdvisor
3. Flamingo Land, Malton, North Yorkshire
— Best for interactive experiences
Family ticket from £150 | Best for ages 2+ | All-weather attraction | Free onsite parking | Malton station 8 miles | Lots of extra interactive experiences (bookable in advance)
Flamingo Land is one of those rare parks that gives equal attention to both animals and rides. It offers eight different types of accommodation, including Riverside Cottages or holiday lodges. There is also an area for camping.
The best way to get your bearings is to take a ride on the Dakar Express. This is a 19th century steam locomotive replica that takes you right around the park. Starting with the zoo area, there are hundreds of animals to visit, including farm animals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and birds.
The park has good access for the buggies and pushchairs throughout. The Animal encounters are worth the extra £25-£30 per person if you are visiting as a special treat as there are opportunities to feed lemurs, giraffes, meerkats or a sea lion. Or you could go backstage at the penguin encounter and throw them fish. Children do have to be 8 years and older for these experiences although there are plenty of other interactive animal events for younger ones, like the Keeper Talks sessions.
There is also an exclusive ‘walk on the wild side’ experience you can book if you are staying at the park (£20 pp, under 3’s go free) which takes you on a tour of the giraffe, hippo and rhino houses. There is a real ‘teaching vibe’ in the zoo area of Flamingo Land. Kids of all ages will enjoy visiting the meerkat enclosure and there is also the Children’s Planet play area, designed using recycled materials, which allows children to mimic the balancing and climbing skills of the meerkats.
But apart from all the learning, there are lots of rides that cater for all ages at the park. Some of the more popular for older children above 1.2m tall include: Mumbo Jumbo rollercoaster and Sik, a brand new ride for 2022. If you have time, we recommend the Lost River Ride. It starts as a gentle riverboat safari past the rhinos, zebra and more but ends with you going over the Lost River falls and you plunge 60 feet into the plunge pool below. You will get wet! Children have to be 1m tall to ride this with an adult.
MFM reviewer Laura, who visited with her 3-year-old son, says: “I was impressed by the number of rides my 3-year-old could go on. There’s a minimum 0.9m height restriction on many rides but kids below this are able to ride accompanied by an adult so can try out more adventurous rides than the usual cups and saucers.”
There are plenty of picnic spaces available around the park if you didn’t want to eat at one of the many food outlets either.
Pros: Lots of rides, suitable for all ages, theme park and zoo in one
Cons: Pricey, long queues on main attractions, maintenance closures on some rides
Read the full MadeForMums Flamingo Land family days out review
Book tickets at: Flamingo Land Resort tickets, KidsPass and TripAdvisor
4. Lightwater Valley theme park, North Yorkshire
— Best value for money
Family ticket from £80 | Best for ages 0-8 | Best in good weather | Free onsite parking | Thirsk station 16 miles (no park buses at weekends) | Treetop Trail tickets available separately
With reasonable pricing - compared to the bigger/more well-known theme parks - you feel less pressure to do everything and anything that’s on offer. You could, for example, just buy a Treetop Trail ticket (from £7.50), which allows you to venture up to the woodland canopy which covers over 2,000 square metres of picturesque forest and has springy nets to jump onto. There is no height restriction but it’s over 5-year-olds only on the main nets while there are smaller nets for 3 -7 year olds.
Lightwater Valley has a real family feel, possibly because it has been open for the past 30 years and is clearly set up to cater for all members of the family – with a slight refocusing in the past two years to make it more attractive for families with younger children.
Bringing a buggy is a good idea as there isn’t a ‘frantic’ vibe to the site, making strolling a pleasure. The circus skills area and the daily disco in the show barn are a hit with all ages.
Face painting and a meet and greet session with Ebor, the resident dragon, are included in the ticket price. There are plenty of clean toilet blocks plus plenty of food outlets if you didn’t want to bring a picnic. If the weather is bad you will find yourself getting rather wet unless you come prepared as this is mostly outdoors.
The Lightwater Express train is a good way to start your day as it takes you around the perimeter of the park. The Go Safari area is a big hit with toddlers and pre-schoolers as it has the Jungle Jump, a big inflatable pillow and the Jumping Kanagroo ride too.
There are lots of play areas too. Adventure Play and Outdoor Play are always popular, while Discovery Woods is a creepy-crawly-fan paradise and an interactive nature trial.
Pros: Family feel, friendly staff, plenty of picnic areas, accessible grounds, plentiful baby changing, free parking
Cons: Almost exclusively outdoors, difficult to reach on public transport, nothing for older children
Read the full MadeForMums Lightwater Valley family days out review
Book tickets at: Lightwater Valley Tickets, Kids Pass and Picniq
5. Sundown Adventureland, Nottinghamshire
— Best for rainy days
Family ticket from £64 | Best for ages 0-10 | All-weather attraction | Free onsite parking | East Retford station 7 miles | Downloadable map or paper copies available
You might feel like you are taking a trip back in time when you visit this theme park but chances are that your young children (it’s billed for 10-year-olds and below) won’t mind it looking quaint. This traditional, family attraction is celebrating its 50th anniversary and - though you may get freaked out by the antique dolls glaring at you from a window in Market Square - it is still doing lots right.
It doesn’t try to compete with the big guns of Alton Towers or Thorpe Park, there are over 30 rides and attractions and all of them are for children under 10 years old. In fact, there are rides, like the Monkey Mayhem Driving School of mini monster trucks, that don’t allow riders over 1.4m.
There is plenty of space for buggies and pushchairs across the park and it’s not so big that little legs will be tired. There are plenty of toilets and baby change areas (basic but completely useable) and maps are either available to download or you can get a paper copy when you enter the park. There is no app but there are plenty of friendly and helpful staff wandering around. MFM reviewer Kay, who visited with her six-year-old and 13-month-old daughter says: “Staff across the park were excellent – the service really stood out and they had a sense of humour with the kids. Even the younger staff members were engaging and had top chat with our little people.”
For youngsters who might need a nap during the day, Sandown has very recently opened up accommodation at Wild Acre Village, which has three different styles of cabins to pop back to. They even accommodate multiple generations and the park is ideal for grandparents to accompany little ones.
Storybook Village is fun to explore and spot some of your children’s favourite nursery rhyme characters like Humpty Dumpty, Snow White and Aladdin. Lollipoppet Castle is the most amazing sweet-themed - and scented - building your children are ever likely to see.
This is an all-weather attraction so even if you suddenly find yourself running for cover in a downpour, you’ll be pleased there is plenty to do inside too. Crash Landings is a mega huge, four storey Jungle themed soft play climbing area and will probably tire out even the most energetic little legs. The best bit is that there is a café inside too.
The Angry Birds play zone, which is outside, involves climbing walls, tunnels and even a giant dummy catapult. There is plenty of seating around this play section for adults.
You can bring your own food and snacks into the park but food isn’t overly expensive if you wanted a hot meal.
Pros: Sweet rides for younger children, affordable cafes, terrific staff, old-school charm,
Cons: Some parts are a bit tatty, not for families who want white-knuckle rides, children over 10 would find it boring
Read the full MadeForMums Sundown Adventure land family days out review
Book tickets at: Sundown Adventureland tickets and TripAdvisor
6. Legoland Windsor, Berkshire
— Best for first theme park experience
Family ticket from £128 | Best for children aged 2 -11 | All-weather attraction | Onsite parking from £7 | Windsor City Centre 2 miles (regular shuttle buses)
If you are looking to visit your child’s first ever theme park, Legoland Windsor fits the bill and also appeals to a broad range of ages. With 12 areas to enjoy, you can expect to do a lot of walking and the large area that is quite hilly, so for little legs it’s essential to bring a pushchair (although buggies and double buggies can be hired from the park too).
Children under 90cm go free but it’s worth measuring your children before you leave the house as there are strict height measurements in place. If you have a varying age and height range of children, it’s good to bring along more adults so you can divide and conquer the different zones. Most of the rides require any child under 1.3m to be accompanied by an adult.
MFM reviewer Puneet found certain rides tricky when she took her 4 children on her own and says: “My two eldest children would choose a ride and while my third child was technically allowed on, she was just short of the 1.3m height you need to go on without an adult. And since my youngest was less than 1m, and not allowed on at all, three of us had to sit these rides out.”
There is however, a Parent Swap facility on most of the rides whereby you queue as normal and then accompany alternate children on the ride, while the other child waits with supervisors.
The Legoland Express is a family friendly train ride that is suitable for all ages and takes you around the whole park. If you wanted areas that don’t require queuing then Castaway Camp is a big climbing play area – although it can get very busy.
Legoland is an outdoor park so come prepared with extra clothes for the water rides and layers if it turns colder as you are quite exposed. There are lots of big indoor rides however.
There is a Fastrack ticket version available called Reserve & Ride which is a system that queues for you, leaving you more time to explore the park. We recommend you visit the website to find out more about this as well as making a plan for your day.
There are two hotels available on site to stay in, the Legoland Resort Hotel and the Castle Hotel, both of which are comparatively pricey.
Pros: Entertainment for toddlers to pre-teens, activities as well as rides, nicely maintained grounds, can bring own food
Cons: Expensive tickets, long queues, can get busy and easy to spend additional money, making a plan for the day is essential
Read the full MadeForMums Legoland Windsor family days out review and find out about the best Legoland rides for 2 to 4 year olds and the best Legoland rides for 6 to 9 year olds.
Book tickets at: LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort tickets, Picniq and TripAdvisor
7. Drayton Manor Theme Park, Staffordshire
— Best for animals and Thomas the Tank Engine fans
Family ticket from £110 | Best for Thomas fans and ages 4-12 | Dry weather attraction | Onsite parking £6 | Tamworth station 3 miles
Drayton manor is a park that ticks a lot of boxes for families with children of varying ages. The rides range from relaxing to scarily fast, there is a themed Thomas the Tank Engine area and a big zoo too. Tweens can also get their theme park fix of big ride thrills but without the extremes of the bigger, more daunting rides at places like Alton Towers or Thorpe Park.
When we visited, my children were a lot younger (7 and 4 years old) and we went on a particularly chilly day - there isn’t much to do inside. They do offer a ‘Rainy Day Guarantee’ for £2 per person which will give you a return visit for free if there is more than 30mm rainfall during the park’s opening hours - handy if you are going out of season.
We were naturally pulled towards the zoo area first as the children were keen to see animals. It is huge and home to over 500 animals, including endangered species. MFM reviewer, Janet, who visited with her children aged 6 and 5 says: “We loved the zoo and one of the zoo keepers was the friendliest chap ever with such a passion for his work and conservation.”
Thomas Land was also a big hit with our children and you could easily spend a day here too, as sometimes queuing can take a while on some of the more popular, character-themed rides.
There are plenty of picnic benches but there are also hot food outlets dotted around the park. You will need a buggy or pushchair if you are coming with younger children as there is a lot of walking – especially if you are planning on trying to fit in the zoo and Thomas land in one day. The hotel but it might be an option worth exploring.
Coming back for another day would also give you chance, if you had older children, to try out some other rides – as well as Thomas land there is Adventure Cove and Vikings. Vikings is brand new area that opened this year and has Viking-themed rollercoasters. Adventure Cove meanwhile has Stormforce 10 - a reverse shute water ride - and Shockwave - a stand-up rollercoaster - but both are very popular, so expect big queues.
Pros: Plenty for rides to suit all ages, nice zoo area, friendly staff
Cons: Long queues during peak times, a lot to see in one day
Read the full MadeForMums Drayton Manor family days out review
Book tickets at: Drayton Manor tickets, Kids Pass and Picniq
8. Alton Towers, Staffordshire
— Best for children of all ages
Advanced tickets cost from £36 for age 3+ | Best for all ages | All-weather attraction | Onsite parking from £6 | Uttoxeter train station 9 miles | On-the-day tickets cost an eye watering £65
Alton Towers admission tickets are very costly, so it’s worth looking out for discounted/promotional tickets as well as buying your tickets online in advance. The largest theme park in the UK covers 370 hectares (or 3.7km²), and has 10 themed areas. While this is good during busy periods, as there is lots of space, it also means there is lots of walking to do. When I visited with a three-year-old we found that walking from the carpark to the entrance was quite a struggle. We didn’t have to wait too long for the monorail but it can be quite an exhausting start to your day. There is an express parking option which allows you to park much closer but this does cost £18.
The best thing we did was to download the app and plan our visit. The site is lovely and flat and accessibility is not an issue but pushchairs aren’t allowed in most of the ride queues. So, you might be holding your baby/toddler for some potentially long periods of time.
CBeebies Land is definitely the most popular area for younger children, with 14 rides and attractions. Justin’s house Pie-O-Matic Factory, Hey Duggee’s Big Adventure Badge and Andy’s Adventures Dinosaur Dig are all wonderful fun for pre-schoolers and JoJo & Gran Gran At Home, which is an imaginative play area, could certainly take up a good chunk of your visit.
MFM reviewer, Laura, who visited with her six year old and three year old sons says: “Duggee’s Big Adventure Badge is a playground with slides, tunnels, and trampolines and my boys could have spent an hour in there alone.”
Alton Towers doesn’t just do little ones though. It’s worth checking out the website for Fasttrack passes (expensive but potentially worth it) so you can try and fit in as many white-knuckle rides as you can in one day. Lie-down and fly on Galactica, an intense roller-coaster that will have you soaring through space, or why not see if you can squeeze in a ride on Rita, Th13teen, Wickerman, The Smiler or Oblivion.
Once you are back down to earth, sort of, head back up in the skies for a gentler paced adventure on Sky Ride, a constant flow of gondolas that take you around the park.
If you are going to struggle to fit in everything in one day, Alton Towers also offers a wide range of accommodation to choose from.
Pros: Themed areas for younger kids, huge range of rides and attractions for all ages, adrenaline fuelled rides for older children
Cons: High ticket and food prices, long queues during holidays, FastTrack tickets are pricey and can’t be used everywhere
Read the full MadeForMums Alton Towers family days out review
Book tickets at: Alton Towers Resort tickets, Picniq and TripAdvisor
9. Alton Towers Waterpark, Staffordshire
— Best for water babies of any age
Two adult and two children from £62 | Best for ages 2-12+ | All-weather attraction | Onsite parking £6 | Uttoxeter train station 9 miles | Advance bookings only, with timed entry slots
Waterparks are always a big hit with children but finding one that caters for all ages isn’t always easy. Alton Towers Waterpark, however, does. MFM reviewer, Laura, who visited Alton Towers Waterpark with her six-year-old and three-year-old sons at the beginning of May says, “What I loved most was how warm it was in the Waterpark, both indoors and in the outdoor pools.”
Tickets to the Alton Towers Theme Park do not include Waterpark entry so you have to book it separately but as it’s on the same site, it’s worth visiting. A timed entry system is in place.
For older children there’s the Master Blaster, a very popular slide which twists and turns around the whole of the Waterpark and can therefore get quite busy. The Rush ‘N’ Rampage high-speed slides and the Flash Floods: Outdoor Flume Adventures are also good for confident, older children meanwhile Little Leak is an area designed for toddlers and babies. This is a shallow pool where they can paddle, slide and play. Wacky Waterworks Treehouse has over 70 interactive water features and is suitable for pre-school children, with smaller slides for those under 1.1m.
There were lots of lifeguards on duty which made the park feel very safe but there is also a strict adult-to-child ratio for welfare too: one adult (aged 16+) to one child aged 4 or under or one adult to two children aged 5, 6, or 7. And children under 8 years of age must always have a supervising adult (16+) with them in the water.
There is a map you can download and there is food available to buy (chicken goujons and chips, jacket potatoes etc), including a very popular ice cream shack. You can’t bring in your own picnic however, so it can be expensive. There are lots of individual and family changing facilities - lockers and swim nappies can be purchased from the Waterpark shop.
Pros: Fun for both young families and older children, good lifeguard presence, variety of water slides, poolside food available, warm temperature throughout
Cons: Time restriction may apply during busy periods, no picnic options, long queue for Master Blaster, a strict adult to child ratio is in place
Read the full MadeForMums Alton Towers Waterpark family days out review
Book tickets at: Alton Towers Waterpark tickets and TripAdvisor
10. Chessington World Of Adventures, Surrey
— Best for animals and bookworms
Family ticket from £156 | Best for ages 6+ | Dry-day attraction | Onsite parking from £4 | Chessington South station 1 mile | Reserve & Ride ticket options available
Chessington World of Adventures holds fond memories for my husband and I who can remember when The Vampire Ride (riders must be 1.1m and taller) was the scariest, newest ride on offer. And as it’s still going strong some 20 years later!
This is what Chessington gets right overall – it doesn’t try to be an all-singing, all-dancing scary ride theme park and yet it does move with the times - there is a Gruffalo ride which is of course a big hit with all pre-schoolers who love Julia Donaldson’s books.
It’s worth looking at the map on the website or downloading the App before you leave home. MFM parent reviewer Puneet, who visited with children aged 12, 8 and 5, says; “I did feel pressured by time and queues. It’s not a huge resort but if you don’t know where you are going, you can end up wasting time.”
There are several places to get food and snacks around the resort but plenty of space for picnics too. If you are here for the rides, your children will get to try most if they are 1.3m and taller. The website tells you exactly what height is required for each ride. Croc Drop and Dragon’s Fury Kobra are all quite popular rides for little thrill seekers and Tiger Rock is the log flume not to be missed. As long as children are 0.9m they can go on a few rides including the Jungle Rangers, Tuk Tuk Turmoil bumper cars, Canopy Capers, and the Scorpion Express Roller Coaster but there isn’t as much choice for them as opposed to if they were over 1m tall.
If your children aren’t keen on rides and want animal experiences instead, the website is the best starting point to plan your zoo journey and there is a great trail question sheet that you can print off. Zufari – Ride into Africa! is a theme park adventure and safari combined and there are animals such as rhinos, tigers and giraffes to spot. If you want to walk around the zoo instead, it’s just as fun, with lions to watch, among other animals.
If you are trying to fit in rides and animal experiences we would definitely recommend doing Chessington over two days - the Azteca and Safari hotel and Glamping options look tempting.
Like most of the theme parks, this is a dry weather attraction and there isn’t a lot of shade if it gets hot so bring sunhats and suncream. We found Chessington to be clean and there were lots of toilets and baby change-facilities available.
Pros: Recognisable story rides, animal encounters, screens displaying queueing times
Cons: Long queues for best rides, expensive food and drink, lack of variety of rides for those under 1m.
Read the full MadeForMums Chessington World of Adventures Resort family days out review
Book tickets at: Chessington theme park and zoo tickets, Picniq and TripAdvisor
How we tested
When visiting these theme parks for review we focused on what theme parks work best for different aged children and why, if they are value for money, if they cater for a range of ages or a limited age-range, if they are accessible to wheelchairs and buggy friendly and if they, above all, are enjoyable for the age range they cater for.
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of a sources, including our independent reviews and Top Testers Club. Every year, hundreds of locations are visited and reviewed on behalf of MadeForMums to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations. Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it's a carefully selected group of theme parks, each of which we believe is best for different requirements and situations. We don’t just tell you what is best, through our visits and research, we help you discover what is best for your family day out.
About the authorAbi Smith has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 15 years and has written more than six lifestyle books. A regular MadeForMum’s reviewer, she has visited theme parks all over the world with her three children aged 12, 9 and 7 years old.
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