run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Thursday 4 July 2019

Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park: the best family theme park

“It’s the REAL PEPPA PIG!” the beam on my toddler’s face as he squealed with joy at the enormous cuddly Peppa handing out high-fives and cuddles made our 730am trafficky drive out of London to Paultons Park worth it. It’s the theme park that hosts Peppa Pig World - a paean to the pre-schooler’s porcine favourite - and our two- and four-year-olds had the “best day ever!” (I quote.) So did we. Here’s why we rate it:

We’ve been to other theme parks with our young kids: Legoland (great but queue-packed, and there are a fair few no-go rides for tots). Chessington (a lot of fun but again, very large and a lot exclusively available to bigger kids).

But Paultons and Peppa Pig World (which is a park inside the park - included in the Paultons ticket price) beat them all. Why? First of all, it’s more relaxed, less crazed - there are beautiful gardens intermingling with the rides, giving tired toddlers (and parents) time out from the rides and thrills. 

It was cleaner and better-kept: the toilets, even in the busiest parts of the park, were immaculate all day long (and they *all* had mini toddler loo seats built in and little sinks too - making the loo breaks so much easier!). There are also whole buildings devoted to baby care for nappy changes and breastfeeding etc. 

Paultons was also less ‘pushy’ than other theme parks; sure you could buy photos, but staff happily snapped us with Peppa and co on our own camera too. There are tons of picnic areas as well as restaurants; it wasn’t about selling all the time. There were also little electronic ride-ons (like Thomas the Tank Engine and tractors and Peppa) dotted around, but instead of chucking in a pound, they were all free so no need to say no/upset begging toddler eyes! The staff were really friendly and kind too.

What else was great? The queues were more manageable - we went on a weekday (see top tips below) and never had more than a 10m wait for rides. Even compared to weekday trips to other theme parks, this was smoother. Mainly we walked straight on. There were loads of rides for even the smallest toddler: carousels and George Dinosaur rides; Windy Castle spins and a ride round Granny and Grandpa Pig’s garden; train rides and car drives, boat ones and helicopters. And that was just in the Peppa part of the park.

Stroll across manicured gardens for five minutes and the rest of Paultons Park unfolded: a string of rollercoasters if that’s your thing (they even have tot/parent swap areas so both parents can go on rides but only queue once). I’m no adrenaline junkie but we loved the log flume, (the height limit was generous too - 95cm-high kids were allowed) plus the small kids’ digger and seal rides.

If you bring a picnic (we did; the food options weren’t overly exciting) it’s easy to spend the whole day at Paultons without shelling out anymore than your entrance price. 

We loved the animals too - exotic birds, meerkats and more, plus an insect/aquarium area with clownfish and turtles and chameleons and cockroaches that tiny man was fascinated by - almost all was at his height too.
Another toddler-friendly feature was that Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World was all walkable and fairly compact compared to other theme parks. Our four-year-old was happy walking around all day without a buggy (nb scooters aren’t allowed). Also, the queue-hoppers in place at other theme parks - which often mean queues move super-slowly as hoppers jump in all the time) is only part of the VIP ticket at Paultons - which costs errr £190 each! As a result we didn’t see anyone with it when we were there so all queues moved more smoothly (and democratically!).

There are also lots of free play areas for the kids: well-kept playgrounds and a really great Peppa-themed soft play - the cleanest we’d ever been to!- with a cool fire-fuelled hot air balloon inside.

We went on a sunny day and made the most of two fab splash parks too: take swimwear and a change of clothes as kids all loved it. 

Our other top tips are:

* Try to arrive at opening time and head straight to Peppa Pig World (bear to the right hand side as you enter the turnstiles). Jump onto your favourite rides before the queues build; in our experience this began to happen at about 1130, when we headed to the rest of Paultons Park which was quieter.

* You can look (and we definitely will continue looking!) but in our experience Paultons don't do discount 2 for 1 etc tickets - you generally have to pay full price.

* Peppa Pig World then quietens down a lot after lunch - when we headed back after 3 it was queue-free again.

* Make sure you know the height of your child(ren) before you visit so you can steer the kids away from rides they can't go on before they get excited.

*On entering the park pick up one of the "lost child contact" stickers, fill in your phone number and stick it on your child's back - an initiative every family-friendly place should introduce!

* Plan your day around the live shows so you don’t end up criss-crossing the park. Our youngest LOVED the meet-and-greet with Peppa, our four-year-old was agog and enthralled by the live dinosaur show.

* Queue swap with your other half if you can: one of us queued to meet Peppa whilst the other took the kids to soft play - it kept everyone happy!

* Remember to bring socks for you and your kids if they want to play in the soft play ("Indoor Playzone") in Peppa Pig World - you can't go in with bare feet. 

* Take swimming stuff and a change of clothes (or welly boots in colder weather) for the Water Kingdom splash play.

Thanks to Paultons Park for inviting us to visit - rest assured we’re seriously gobby and only rave about places we really love.

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