10 brand new family things to do in 2015

2015's new rides, shows and lands at the UK's top theme park attractions

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Hogwarts Express at Harry Potter World Studio Tour

What is it? A big new arrival at Harry Potter World (real name Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter) near Watford, north of London. It’s a lifesize recreation of Platform 9¾ complete with the original Hogwarts Express steam engine.

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Highlights? Climbing aboard the train’s carriage and posing with the luggage trolley as it disappears through the platform wall.

Age best for: 8+

Read our family review of Harry Potter World here

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Madagascar Penguins at Chessington World of Adventures

What is it? A live action show at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey. The show is called Penguins of Madagascar Live: Operation Cheezy Dibbles and stars the characters from DreamWorks’ Penguins of Madagascar – but no real penguins.

Highlights? The show is inclusive, so park representatives get children involved by teaching them the ‘Penguin Shake dance’ at the beginning of the show. They then get them up to dance with the cast at the end – a great way to work off excess energy!

Age best for: 4+

Visit the Chessington website

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Critter Creek at Paultons Park

What is it? A creepy-crawly mini-land at Paultons Park in Hampshire. The land features the brand new Cat-O-Pillar family-friendly rollercoaster, plus the Expedition Express train ride and the Beastie Burrow, where families can step inside a giant tree trunk and come face-to-face with real fish, bugs and reptiles.

Highlights? Don’t forget, Paultons Park is also home to Peppa Pig World!

Best for: 4+

Visit the Paultons Park website

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Expanded Thomas Land at Drayton Manor

What is it? Two new attractions at Thomas Land at Drayton Manor, Staffordshire. Flynn the Fire Engine is equipped with on-board hoses so riders can help to put any fires out, while Captain’s Sea Adventure, introduces 6 rotating Captain lifeboat carriages, complete with their own cannons to squirt water. There’s also a brand new Sodor Airport with a top-level viewing platform and rooms that can be hired for parties.

Highlights? Water fun with squirting, splashing and hose firing

Best for: 2-6 year olds

Visit the Drayton Manor website

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Octonauts rollercoaster at Alton Towers

What is it? Alton Towers Theme Park in Staffordshire continues to build its pre-school attractions – this time introducing its first rollercoaster aimed at under-7s. The My First Coaster is an Octonauts ride in CBeebiesLand.

Highlights? An early introduction to the world of rollercoasters for thrill-seekers over 0.9m in height

Best for: 2-6 year olds

Visit the Alton Towers website

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Time Tower at Warwick Castle

What is it? An immersive audio and visual experience at Warwick Castle in Warwickshire. The multimedia show tells the story of Warwick Castle’s history with 3D scanning, 3D modelling, projection mapping and 4D effects.

Highlights? For fans of dark history, Warwick Castle’s has plenty of bloodshed, treachery and destruction from the Middle Ages, War of The Roses, The Tudors and the Victorian era.

Best for: 8+

Visit the Warwick Castle website

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National Videogame Arcade – Game City

What is it? A brand new  5-storey cultural centre in Nottingham that’s all about video games. It’s part video game gallery, part museum and part educational centre. Curators hope to encourage visitors to make their own games as well as play on the interactive exhibits.

Highlights?  Mission Control: a machine that allows members of the public to customise a virtual world in real time.

Best for: 5+

Visit the National Videogame Arcade website

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Jurassic Seas at Sea Life Brighton

What is it? A new exhibit at Sea Life Brighton that reveals the weird and wonderful creatures that have outlived the dinosaurs. There are interactive displays to learn about evolution and real creatures that are still around today – including Charlie, the Snakeneck Turtle.

Highlights? A state-of-the-art technology tank that lets you ‘feed’ a deadly Plesiosaurus.

Best for: 5+

Visit the Sea Life Brighton website

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Penguin Island at Sea Life Scarborough

What is it? A new Penguin area at Sea Life Scarborough. Built as an island, it allows you to walk side by side with penguins and you may get to feed them a fish for lunch.

Highlights? Getting closer to a colony of Humboldt penguins than ever before.

Best for: 3+

Visit the Sea Life Scarborough website

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Revamped Driving School at LegoLand

What is it? The ever-popular Lego City Driving School at LegoLand in Windsor has had a facelift. It now has more Fiat cars, a new driving lane and a newly revamped training area.

Highlights? More cars mean more drivers can get underway at the same time. In theory this should mean less of a wait – but it’s one of the most popular rides at LegoLand, and with its revamp, it’s likely to be busier than ever.

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Best for: 6-13 year olds

Find out the best rides for 2, 3 and 4 year olds at LegoLand – plus how to beat the queues

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