Cool Coasters: The 10 best theme parks in the UK
With parents hoping the weather improves and saving the best for last, it’s no surprise that theme parks are one of the most popular days out towards the end of the summer school holidays. So, as the rollercoaster ride of the summer holidays climbs to its peak before speeding down to the start of school, we’re looking at the top 10 theme parks loved by families in Britain, to help you decide which to pick for your family of thrill seekers.
From teacups to toboggans, there are amusement parks here for all ages:
Alton Towers, Staffordshire and Thorpe Park, SurreyWe’re kicking off with a double whammy of attractions you must have on a list of the top 10 UK theme parks:
Alton Towers, covers all bases for all ages. For the boldest of teenagers there’s classic rides like Rita and Oblivion. Tiny tots can enjoy CBeebies Land, where they can see Furchester Hotel Live or take a ride on the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom. After a busy day exploring the park, you can even calm down with Iggle Piggle on the In the Night Garden Magical Boat Ride.
Best for: Families with toddlers, teenagers or a mix of ages
Thorpe Park, provides equally brilliant thrills. Ages 4+ can laugh through Angry Birds 4D, with immersive special effects. Big kids can brave The Swarm, Saw and Stealth – one of Europe’s fastest roller coasters. It also has a fabulous water play area, Amity Beach (water and play = always popular with toddlers) and a whole section of rides for smaller children.
Best for: Families and adrenaline junkies alike
Legoland, BerkshireYou don’t have to be a lover of the small plastic bricks from Denmark to have a good time here. In fact, even if you’ve trodden on them in bare feet more times than you care to remember, we think you’ll find something to love at Legoland, with over 55 rides to choose from. Car mad kids can even get their first “driving licence” in the Legoland driving school.
Best for: children ages 3-12 and serious Legophiles
Drayton Manor, StaffordshireDrayton Manor is more than just a theme park – alongside world class rides, there’s a zoo with over 100 animals, a dinosaur park and a crazy golf course. Oh – and did we forget to mention? – it’s home to Thomas Land with 25 rides and attractions based on the beloved tank engine. Parents of train loving little ones often visit for that last one alone.
Best for: Train lovers and families with a wide range of interests
Flamingo Land, MaltonDon’t be fooled by the name – there’s loads more at Flamingo Land than the birds themselves. The wide range of wild animals here includes lions, tigers and baboons, but the number of rides is equally impressive. With a focus on family rides, there are also extreme experiences for the most adventurous, such as Velocity, giving you the chance to experience superbike racing. If something more sedate is required there’s the Peter Rabbit Adventure – you might even run into Peter and Lily too!
Best for: Animal lovers, older kids, young families
Chessington World of Adventures, Greater LondonA ticket to Chessington gets you access to not one but ten lands, including a Zoo, the Sea Life Centre, The Gruffalo Arena and the Pirate Cove. There’s sure to be something here that captures the imagination.
Best for: Explorers of all ages
Blackpool Pleasure Beach, LancashireDescribed as Europe’s most “ride-intensive” theme park, Blackpool Pleasure Beach includes the continent’s tallest rollercoaster – The Big One – which reaches top speeds of 87mph. You can enjoy some good old-fashioned fun on The Big Dipper (entirely made of wood), while away the hours in the arcade and take in year-round shows. However, there’s plenty for the little ones, with Nickelodeon World taking up a quarter of the park map. With attractions featuring Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer and the popular pups of Paw Patrol there’ll be big smiles all round.
Best for: All round, top notch entertainment
Best for: Anyone who loves diggers
Gulliver’s Kingdom, DerbyshireThis UK theme park is geared towards children ages 2 to 12, but that doesn’t limit the number of rides on offer, such as the Switchback roller coaster and the Log Flume, all set against the stunning background of the Derbyshire countryside. The attractions in Toy Land at Gulliver’s Kingdom are perfect for the under 5s.
Best for: The youngest ones only!
M&D’sScotland’s favourite theme park, M&D’s, is found in the beautiful scenery of Strathclyde Country Park. This attraction is perfect whatever the weather – if it’s less clement outside you can take advantage of the great soft play and Scotland’s only indoor Tropical Rainforest.
Best for: Fun and adventure whatever the weather
Paultons Family Theme ParkPaulton’s just had to make it onto our round up of the best theme parks in the UK for families, because it’s home to Peppa Pig. Spin, whirl and twirl through different rides and even come face to face with the famous character and her little brother, George. Peppa is just one part of the attraction though, with 70 other rides, games and sports to explore there’s something for everyone.
Best for: Fans of Peppa
Honourable mentions of UK theme parks you should also check out:
- Oakwood, Pembrokeshire. This is the place to go for young storybook fans. You can visit Neverland and the magical creations of Roald Dahl all in one day/.
- Lightwater Valley, North Yorkshire. Lightwater Valley classes its rides and experiences into Mini (age 1-5), Mega (5-9) and Ultimate Adventures (for those over 1.2 metres), enabling you to tailor your day to the ages and interests in your family perfectly.
- Twin Lakes Park, Leicestershire. Water is one of the key USPs of this theme park, with boating lakes and the longest beach in the Midlands! Quite a draw if you live in the landlocked county.
Your kids are too young for some of the rides? Choose one of the best theme parks for kids under 7.
Want more fun? Discover UK's best indoor water parks, best mini golf courses, or find out which of the UK's 10 best zoos is near you...or go really adventurous and plan a safari in the UK, or a dinosaur-themed day out!